|Already during the first weeks of the Germano-Soviet
war first reconnaissance and subversive units were parachuted in the
enemy rears or transferred across the frontlines in order to carry
intelligence operations on behalf of the special cells of the General
Staff, fronts and armies, as well as autonomous specialized units
organized in the "Big Land". First groups started operating in
Lithuania and White Russia, as well as in eastern Poland. The latter
included Poles, veterans of the Polish campaign 1939 and interned in
the USSR. Those recruited for the Soviet intelligence, were trained in
the intelligence centre Skhodnya near Moscow.
At the night from 16 to 17 September 1941 in the German rears in the
vicinity of the lake Domzheritskoye (the basin of the river Berezina),
some 18-20 kilometres from the town of Lepel (province of Vitebsk),
landed a 55-men strong airborne special operations partisan detachment
commanded by Col. Grigoriy Linkov (Batya). This detachment played a
significant role in flaring up the partisan war in Byelorussia and in
the north-west areas of the Ukraine. It was created in Moscow by the
Chief Intelligence Executive (Glavnoye
Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye - GRU) of the General Staff of the
Red Army. There Linkov created the nucleus
of the Central Intelligence Base, which reported directly to the Chief
Intelligence Executive of the General Staff in Moscow.
In the beginning of 1942 from the airfield Vnukovo near Moscov took off
11 reconnaissance and sabotage groups, which were parachuted in the
Western Ukraine and Byelorussia. Among them was an 18-men group under
the command of the famous Soviet skater Konstantin Kudryavtsev
(Volodya). The group made its base in the vicinity of the town
Vasilishki, but operated in the whole province of Grodno, and used to
meke incursions to Poland and even East Prussia.
In the summer of 1942 near Bereza-Kartuzskaya in the province of Brest
landed another group trained in Skhodnya under the command of Capt.
Yosif Topkin and Capt. Vasiliy Tsvetkov. Among other special groups and
detachments parachuted in the enemy rears the group under the command
of Col. Dmitry Medvedev, parachuted in the spring of 1942 in Volhynia.
The group grew to hundreds of partisans and operated in the forests
around Rovno. Medvedev's main task was to penetrate the seat of the
Reich's commissar of the
Ukraine Gauleiter Erich Koch.
To do that to Rovno was sent a partisan, who perfectly spoke German
language and knew German culture. His name was Nikolay Kuznetsov. He
created a special intelligence group inside the city, composed of
citizens and Poles. Posing as Lieutenant, later Captain, Paul Siebert,
he had for months infiltrated the German garrison with his people, who
used to collect valuable information. Among others, he informed the
Soviet command about the preparations for the German offensive on the
Kursk Salient, and plans to eliminate the leaders of the anti-fascist
coalition during the conference in Teheran. In the autumn of 1943
Kuznetsov's people made several bold, successful attempts on
high-ranking German officers: judge and SA-Oberführer
Alfred Funk, commander of special commando troops Maj.-Gen. Max Ilgen,
high-ranking official of the Reich's Commissariat Ukraine Paul Dargel, and General
Hermann Knuth, deputy Reich's Commissar for the Ukraine.
Another source of intelligence information were regiments of the Border
Guards, which before the war served on the western frontiers of the
Soviet Union. They formed groups and detachments, which were
transferred to the deep enemy rears, where they used to attack German
headquarters, destroy storages, blow up bridges, dismantle railways,
but first of all collect information about deployed troops, their
armament and fortifications.
In 1943, after Red Army's great successes on all the fronts, the Soviet
command decided to intensify underground operations in Western
Byelorussia and Ukraine. In the second half of 1943 there were
parachuted groups under the command of Capt. Roman Romkowski (Ryszard),
Mieczysław Lesz, Maj. Konstantin Gruzdev (Stoikiye Group) and Maj. Nikolay
Khmelyevtsev (Dalniye Group).
However, most of the intelligence data were coming to the "Big Land"
from the partisan detachments, and underground cells in towns and
cities. In 1942-1943 partisan brigades, groups and detachments worked
intensively on expanding their intelligence operations. Each unit as a
rule had a special intelligence cell to collect information. They
focused on tracing transfers of the troops from one sector of the front
to another, reinforcements from Germany, as well as from the West and
the Balkans, identification of the cargo and destinations, detection of
the airfields, storages, road and bridge constructions, etc.
In the autumn 1942 the partisan intelligence detected a massive
transfer of the German forces to the East front: one armoured division,
three infantry divisions, two alpine rifles divisiona and an SS cavalry
division. In July 1942 the Bryansk Headquarters of the Partisan
Movement through its intelligence network in towns and railway stations
identified 160 military transports passing the railway node in Roslavl en route to Orel and Kursk -
altogether 7 infantry divisions, 400 tanks, 160 guns, 1,600 trucks and
lorries, and 33,000 tons of ammunition. Partisans of the province of
Leningrad detected 197 enemy garrisons, 67 bases and storages, 35
airfields, and 12 headquarters. They also identified the headquarters
of the Army Group North in
During the battle of Dnieper towards the end of 1943, partisans scouted
the enemy defences along the western banks of the Dnieper and Donets,
as well as the German forces concentrated along Kharkov. Partisans of
the province of Orel delivered detailed information about the German
defences, troops, communications and airfields to the headquarters of
the Bryansk Front.
Between January and May 1944, before the Red Army's major offensive in
Byelorussia (commenced on 23 June 1944), partisans detected 27
headquarters, 193 military posts, 598 tactical units, and 36 airfields.
They also scouted German defences around Minsk, Vitebsk, Orsha and
Bobruisk, and got hold on 500 important documents, maps, operational
orders and directives.
In 1944 the Soviet partisan movement spread into Poland and
Czechoslovakia, which were soon to become the battleground of the
progressing East front. Dozens of partisan units made their way to
those areas on foot, while airborne reconnaissance groups were
parachuted from the air. In the province of Lublin operated several
partisan brigades from the Ukraine and Byelorussia, as well as several
parachuted reconnaissance and diversion groups. In May 1944, in the
south-western part of the province of Lublin, landed a group under the
command of Lt.-Col. Valentin Pelikh (Galicki), who transformed his
group into a special secret unit, which amalgamated several Polish and
Soviet partisan detachments. Pelikh had made contacts with the Polish
underground, and particularly with the commander of the Lublin District
of the People's Army. His group had a long-range radio-station, through
which the partisans were promptly informing the Soviet command about the
moves of the German troops in the Polish territories, about the
transports with troops, equipment and supplies for the front,
fortification works, and the moods among the German soldiers.
On the turn on 1944 and 1945 intelligence services of the Red Army and
other intelligence centres sent dozens of reconnaissance and sabotage
groups to East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, Bohemia and Moravia, and
even to the German territories beyond the River Oder.