Review: Soviet Partisan 1941-44, by Nik Cornish

In some parts of Europe, the stunning victories enjoyed by Hitler’s armed forces resulted in docile, subservient populations that were keen to avoid any further trouble. Whole countries remained safe havens for German troops, who faced little serious opposition, and certainly no armed opposition. Though the civilian populations in these countries may have hated the Nazi occupiers, they sometimes seemed content to wait for someone to liberate them. But this was not the case in the occupied regions of the Soviet Union, where thousands of armed partisans did their very best to wreck havoc and terrorize the occupiers. Many Soviet citizens collaborated, hundreds of thousands of them even serving eventually in the German armed forces. But many more fought against the Germans — eventually defeating the Third Reich and bringing it crashing down in Berlin.

In this short book, Nik Cornish gives a good overview of the Soviet partisan movement. I learned much — for example, I was not aware that partisans were often deployed by aircraft, and that the Soviets could even manage to fly partisan commanders to Moscow for a conference with Stalin. Nor did I know that the partisan movement was formally dissolved in 1944 — presumably when there were no longer any occupied territories for them to operate in as the war was now being fought in Germany itself. The book is full of illustrations of partisan equipment and weapons which will be of interest to specialists.