Lengthy DS in Cyrillic, signed on the first page in blue pencil by Stalin, fifteen pages, 8.5 x 12, May 1938. Top secret minutes of a meeting of the Main Military Council of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (WPRA). A remarkable document outlining plans and requirements for “the purpose of reinforcing the defense of the borders of the USSR and expanding existing Fortified Localities.” Among the guidelines established for the construction of new fortifications are: “1) Fortified Localities shall have the following operational-tactical purpose: a) to reliably safeguard major operation routes or areas, as well as to serve as strongholds for field force defensive actions and offensive operations, and; b) to serve as a secure foothold for the maneuvers of our forces in the event of an enemy offensive against adjacent operation routes…2) A center of resistance must be the mainstay of a Fortified Locality and must in all instances have the perimeter defense of both the center as a whole and the strongholds that comprise it.…A center of resistance must have a reliable perimeter system of antipersonnel and antitank obstacles, which shall be erected along major routes during peacetime and along other routes during a mobilization period, to which end a detailed plan must be prepared, and all the necessary building materials, wire, mines, and so forth must be procured during peacetime. A combat outpost field position shall be created 1-3 km ahead of the forward edge of centers of resistance, which shall consist of individual strongholds (a platoon per two branches) that share mutual fire support. The most important individual sections of a combat outpost position shall be outfitted in advance with permanent field fortification equipment.” The document lists a variety of the features required, including “artillery/machine-gun caponiers (45-mm guns paired with machine guns),” “reinforced-concrete points with frontal shelling,” “casemated heavy batteries (4 weapons each) of 107- or 122-mm guns,” “searchlight shelters,” “underground shelters for center-of-resistance forces and field forces,” and “underground connecting tunnels—depending upon the terrain.”
It goes on to outline strength and protection requirements, including: “The most formidable combat fortifications as far as firepower, with resistance to a direct hit from one 203-mm concrete-piercing projectile, shall be disposed at the forward edge…rear fortification resistance must be not less than to one direct hit from a 155-mm projectile…The armored hoods on a turret for ATD weapons (a 45-mm gun) must be designed for resistance to one direct hit from a 76-mm armor-piercing projectile.” Additional security and infrastructure concerns are also addressed: “The installation of remote-control alarms and devices for automatically opening fire shall be envisioned in combat fortifications…All the fortifications must have concealed emergency exits…Water supply for drinking and machine-gun cooling within the fortifications must be individual, from wells inside…The shelters for field forces shall be erected in the depths of centers of resistance and must have resistance to one hit by a 203-mm concrete-piercing projectile, as well as reliable protection against chemical agents. These fortifications must generally be built on counter slopes, sunk into a mountain, under a rock overhang, etc…The principal type of communications of a center of resistance shall be the telephone using an underground cable…Spaced tree cutting shall be performed and a camouflage cover shall be retained from it with a depth of up to 100 meters ahead of the forward edge…There shall be reserve ammunition storage areas for each center of resistance and they shall be designed for providing ammunition reserves for 3 days of intense fighting without conveyance from the depths. The storage areas shall be built in mountains whenever possible (bunkers) and under the ground when necessary.” In fine condition, with expected document wear. Accompanied by a complete English translation.
In the aftermath of World War I most European countries recognized the necessity of fortifying their borders for protection from outside invasion. Stalin launched a plan for the Soviet Union’s western border—commonly called the ‘Stalin Line’—beginning in 1927. By this time in 1938, Hitler’s desire for expansion was evident; he had annexed Austria two months earlier and had the Sudetenland in his sights. In a political move to expand and protect Soviet borders, Stalin soon signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact non-aggression agreement with Germany in August 1939. With this treaty in place, the Soviet Union redirected resources to fortifying their new land further west in the ‘Molotov Line.’ The fortifications described in this document were temporarily closed and most weaponry put in storage. When Germany decided to break their agreement and invade the USSR in 1941, this proved catastrophic—the ‘Malatov Line’ was unfinished, and the ‘Stalin Line’ was mostly abandoned and in disrepair. Unable to defend against the German onslaught, the Red Army had to initiate a scorched-earth policy in order to save Moscow. An absolutely extraordinary Russian military document from the years preceding World War II. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.