Shtrafbats

Was thinking about how there are far too many reviewers, and far too few movies worth reviewing. It might be fun to review the movies that should have been made, instead. Someone ought to make a movie about the life of Konstantin Rokossovsky – an officer arrested and tortured by Stalin (ended up with denailed fingers and steel teeth) who became one of the top Soviet generals. The story would be focused on his command of 16th Army in the final defense of Moscow – an army group composed entirely of penal battalions. The Legion of the Damned.

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104 Responses to Shtrafbats

  1. Paul Rain says:

    I think there will be a song by Sabaton about Rokossovsky a century before you will see Hollyweird make a movie about him.

  2. Smithie says:

    There hasn’t been a good Gulag Archipelago movie, has there?

    One historical movie that I’d really like to see would be about the defense of Malta by the Knights of St. John. That or the defense of Vienna. Either one would be very “timely”, which is a word many reviewers seem to misuse quite laughably these days.

    • gcochran9 says:

      My oldest son made the same suggestion – The Great Siege

      Siege of Vienna – Drawing of the Dark?

    • gyddyn says:

      Right now it’s impossible in Russia, ’cause NKVD is good guys (for the time being, we’re working to make it change). Made in USA/Europe – it’ll be Klukva&Samovar (c) 😦
      “The great siege” is a good idea. You’ll get free publicity, at least 🙂

      • reiner Tor says:

        I don’t think the NKVD is good guys in Russia, at least not in the eyes of officialdom. I’ve seen complaints by Russian Stalinists that Russian TV keeps putting out anti-communist “propaganda.” (I guess they are just showing documentaries about how communists kept murdering Russians for decades or something.) Which is one of the reasons why the communists’ voting base in Russia keeps getting older. Putin some years (a decade?) ago had a huge movie made about the White Admiral Kolchak. Despite his chekist background, I don’t think he doesn’t like communism much.

        • gyddyn says:

          Ahhh, I always forget that right now I’m not in my Russian “current culture bubble” :-).

          Right now it’s FSB/KGB/(all the acronyms)/CheKa who runs Russia. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the ruling class is from this organisation, but that’s a good approximation (like “every USA president was WASP”. Even Kennedy&Obama were more WASP than anything else, IMHO).
          But it’s impossible to tell that NKVD=SS/Lenin=Hitler or something like that (https://philologist.livejournal.com/10122221.html) and museums of Gulag are remade into museums of Gulag (http://blog.victimsofcommunism.org/perm-36-erasing-the-gulags/).
          “Russian Stalinists” always moan. That’s like “extreme environmentalists”/”antifa” for the broader Left.
          There’s a “movement” that is “pro-monarchist”. Because everyone likes banners and uniforms. But – read p.0 :-).

    • tautology says:

      Vienna would sport a cavalry charge that would but the Rohirim to shame.

    • There was “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch.” 1960’s, Jason Robards, I think. I remember a few fragments of getting to stay up to see it. When I later read the book, I didn’t find the fragments I remembered, so maybe the accuracy wasn’t good.

    • Hugh Mann says:

      Ernle Bradford’s “The Great Siege” reads like a thriller. The number of close calls – the death of Dragut, talismanic corsair leader, the hidden battery which destroyed a small Janissary armada, the cavalry raid from Mdina on the Turkish camp just as their army was breaking into the city, leading to the attack being abandoned.

      Could be an epic film.

  3. gyddyn says:

    Sorry, but 16th Army was not made up of penal batallions. I hate to use wiki, but as a short introduction it’d work:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Army_(Soviet_Union)#On_1_October_1941

    Any way, with losses of infantry in the range of 200% during operation, everyone was damned.

    P.S.: I doubt the possibility of making a good and accurate movie about “old time”. Market won’t buy that.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I find several references claiming that the 16th was made up of of penal battalions, but no details. You may well be right.

      • DK says:

        Greg, shtrafbats were instituted in the summer 1942. The Battle of Moscow happened in the late 1941.

        And in any case, no way the whole Army would be formed from shtrafbats – the risk is too high.

      • gyddyn says:

        I’d not say that this is a huge mistake. Lot’s of people confuse the situation. And Soviet forces during 1941-42 had a lot of stop-gap units of questionable quality (lots of rifle brigades (not divisions)).

        • Toddy Cat says:

          The sheer loos of life on the Eastern Front in WWII is mind-boggling. “War without Mercy” indeed…

    • Zenit says:

      2000? 20 years too early. The time is now. With Cold War 2.0 heating up, we can hope to finally see some good Russkie Commie bashing on the big screen.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Russkie bashing certainly, but not Commie bashing – the people who make our movies are still far too Pro-Commie for that; Hell, one of the heroes of the big Oscar-winning movie “The Shape of Water” is a Soviet agent! As a matter of fact, that’s one of the reasons the Left hates Russia now – they killed the Big Red Dream. Look for lots of hate directed at Russians pre-1917 and post- 2000 or so. Movies about evil Putin operatives or the Kishinev Massacre in 1903 are pretty good bets.

        • Zenit says:

          If Communism was the factor, then Russia would be hated from 1991, when it abandoned communism, and the major villains would be arch traitors Gorbachev and Yeltsin who sold the party, Soviet Union and world proletariat.
          This was… not the case. Russia falling to ruins under Yeltsin was just fine, cheered both by Left and Right as perfect example of democracy and capitalism.

          • Ivan says:

            I think Toddy Cat may have a good point.

            American Left’s reaction to Gorbachev’s reforms was more nuanced that you describe. From my conversations with some left specimen in this country in the early 90’s, the impression was that they were rather worried about the direction USSR was moving in, i.e. away from their beloved commie paradise. Some other more moderate lefties I talked to at the time had a hope that Gorbachev/Yeltsin would implement a more humane socialist model, a sort of Chech “Socialismus s lidskou tváří”. Since their hopes did not materialize, a good deal of their current resentment is based on that disappointment I’d imagine.

          • Ivan says:

            I think Toddy Cat may have a good point.

            American Left’s reaction to Gorbachev’s reforms was more nuanced that you describe. From my conversations with some left specimen in this country in the early 90’s, the impression was that they were rather worried about the direction USSR was moving in, i.e. away from their beloved commie paradise. Some other more moderate lefties I talked to at the time had a hope that Gorbachev/Yeltsin would implement a more humane socialist model, a sort of Chech “Socialismus s lidskou tváří”. Since their hopes did not materialize, a good deal of their current resentment is based on that disappointment I’d imagine.

          • Toddy Cat says:

            But Zenit, in Hollywood and on the Left, Russia IS hated from 1991 onward. Yeltsin was hated by the Left, it was the Neocons and the moderate Right who loved him.

            You seem to see “Western” opinion about Russia as monolithic. It’s not, I can assure you.

            • Zenit says:

              In practice, it is monolithic. How exactly were Clinton and Blair hating Yeltsin? In my time line, they loved him and moved heavens and earth to ensure he will stay in power as long as possible.

              • Ivan says:

                In this country, some milder left commie wannabes’ hope was that Gorbachev/Yeltsin reforms would transform USSR into a sort of “socialism with a human face”. Others more radical I talked to (’91, Cambridge, MA) were happy with the status quo and were terribly apprehensive of the direction Gorbachev took the country in (“you’ll lose all the good things USSR brought you” was a typical comment).

                Clinton/Blair can tentatively be placed in the first category. Both groups are likely terribly disappointed now, hence a good deal of hatred.

              • Ivan says:

                In this country, some milder strain of left’s hope was that Gorbachev/Yeltsin reforms would transform USSR into a sort of “socialism with a human face”. Others more radical I talked to (’91, Cambridge, MA) were happy with the status quo and were terribly apprehensive of the direction Gorbachev took the country in (“you’ll lose all the good things USSR brought you” was a typical comment).

                Clinton/Blair can tentatively be placed in the first category. Both groups are likely terribly disappointed now, hence a good deal of hatred.

              • Ivan says:

                This is odd. Another comment did not go through. Is wordpress filtering out ?

                Did not use any swear words. Wonder what’s happening…

              • gcochran9 says:

                It wasn’t me.. but I found it after the filter kicked it.

          • Ivan says:

            I think Toddy Cat may have a good point.

            American Left’s reaction to Gorbachev’s reforms was more nuanced that you describe. From my conversations with some left specimen in this country in the early 90’s, the impression was that they were rather worried about the direction USSR was moving in, i.e. away from their beloved commie paradise. Some other more moderate lefties I talked to at the time had a hope that Gorbachev/Yeltsin would implement a more humane socialist model, a sort of Chech “Socialismus s lidskou tváří”. Since their hopes did not materialize, a good deal of their current resentment is based on that disappointment I’d imagine.

          • Ivan says:

            I think Toddy Cat may have a good point.

            American Left’s reaction to Gorbachev’s reforms was more nuanced that you describe. From my conversations with some left specimen in this country in the early 90’s, the impression was that they were rather worried about the direction USSR was moving in, i.e. away from their beloved commie paradise. Some other more moderate lefties I talked to at the time had a hope that Gorbachev/Yeltsin would implement a more humane socialist model, a sort of Chech “Socialismus s lidskou tváří”. Since their hopes did not materialize, a good deal of their current resentment is based on that disappointment I’d imagine.

          • Ivan says:

            I’ve posted my comments, several times actually, but none went through. Not sure why it was rejected.

            The gist was that TC may very well have a good point based on my conversations with local Left folks in the early 90’s.

            • Zenit says:

              “Left” as Clinton, Blair and Mitterrand, or “left” as United World’s Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party of five members?

              • Ivan says:

                As I wrote, both were disappointed but to a different degree.

                Now, Trump is obviously a catalyst, an amplifier of that hatred/disappontment, or rather the real target, that makes both groups act as one in this regard. Russia just happens to be the best tool at their disposal to get rid of the devil.

              • Toddy Cat says:

                The line between “Moderate Left” ( Clinton, Blair, Mitterand) and Neocons was actually always pretty thin, and has essentially become nonexistent since Trump’s election. The description “Anti-Anti-Communist” fits guys like Blair and Clinton best. Rather than being overtly pro-Communist, they tended to be against the people who were against the Communists. A subtle distinction, but not without consequences. But in any case, if you think that Western opinion on Russia is monolithic, you are grossly oversimplifying. And if you think that Hollywood was anti-Soviet, well, there’s a book you can read…

                https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Party-Communism-American-Industry/dp/0761513760

            • Zenit says:

              Me too 😉
              Does not seems to be censorship, just some glitch when replying to overly long subthread.

        • akarlin says:

          Pre-1917, it was liberals and the left who were far less enamoured of Russia, for whom it was the “gendarme of Europe.”

          In this sense, the Communist period was a aberration, with ideological patterns of Russophobia returning to their historical norms.

        • Ivan says:

          In this country, some milder strain of left’s hope was that Gorbachev/Yeltsin reforms would transform the USSR into a sort of “socialism with a human face”. Others more radical I talked to (’91, Cambridge, MA) were happy with the status quo and were terribly apprehensive of the direction Gorbachev took the country in (“you’ll lose all the good things the USSR brought you” was a typical comment).

          Clinton/Blair can tentatively be placed in the first category. Both groups are likely terribly disappointed now, hence a good deal of hatred.

  4. Cpluskx says:

    My requests:
    Prequel for the Matrix (the second renaissance)
    Silmarillion

    For historical movies:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMmaBzfCCwZ2KqaBJjkj0fw/videos

  5. Baruch Kogan says:

    Time travel was one of Konstantin Konstantinovich’s many talents. He was able to bring penal battalions, established in the summer of 1942, back to the Battle of Moscow. The Germans had no chance.

    On a serious note, Rokossovski was far from the only military victim of the repressions who was later returned to duty.

  6. harpersnotes says:

    Stanislaw Lem’s fictitious criticisms of nonexisting books – some of them are in his 1971 book A Perfect Vacuum. (I might still have that around my place somewhere. Never quite got around to reading it though. From a review somewhere I got the impression it plays around with post-modernism and pokes some fun at it. But maybe that review was just some fiction of my imagination.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Perfect_Vacuum

  7. Zenit says:

    There is Russian series about penal battalions. The war nerds, as usual, moan it is unrealistic, ahistorical and whitewashed.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425715/

  8. The Z Blog says:

    Of course, Rokossovsky would have to be played by Idris Elba. Stalin’s decision to release him from prison would come after Stalin took a ride on a train and heard a transvestite singing the Soviet national anthem.

  9. JMcG says:

    I’d like to see someone take a crack at Neal Stephenson’s System of the World Books.
    Siege of Vienna, Battle of Aughrim, Newton, Leibniz, Damascus steel, the Manila Galleon. It has it all.

  10. inertial says:

    Total number of people who ever served in shtrafbats or other penal units was 427,910, or 1.24% of the those who served in the Red Army during. But thanks to Cold War propaganda you’d think it was 100%. Whole army made up of shtrafbats? LOL.

    Incidentally, Red Army’s penal battalions were explicitly based on those in the Wehrmacht. Yet how often do you hear about the German shtrafbats?

    • Recusant says:

      What? Didn’t you spend your teenage years reading Sven Hassel novels? SS Penal Battalion fantasy. Wonderful, but probably not great literature!

      • inertial says:

        Strafbattalion. Created by Hitler in 1939.

        The Soviets had borrowed not just the concept but even the name.

        • syonredux says:

          The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS….brutal bunch of guys…..

          “The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (German: 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS), also known as the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger (1944),[1] or the Dirlewanger Brigade, was a unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Composed of criminals expected to die fighting in the front-line, the unit was led by Oskar Dirlewanger. Originally formed for counter-insurgency duties against the Polish resistance, the unit was used in the Bandenbekämpfung actions in the occupied Europe. During its operations it engaged in the rape, pillaging and mass murder of civilians.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/36th_Waffen_Grenadier_Division_of_the_SS

  11. Zenit says:

    If you want to make box office shattering blockbuster, anything connected with real history or any kind of reality whatsoever is not the way to go.

    Look at long term trends of most popular movies since 1950’s, and you will see that the proportion of “realistic” movies is steadily shrinking, all the way to zero.
    (For our purpose – realistic movies depict something that happened or could have happened or real Earth, no aliens, no starships, no superheroes, no cartoon animals, no vampires, no wizards)

    Does it mean that we want to escape our disgusting reality at any cost? Does it mean that our imagination expanded so much that reality does not suffice anymore? Does it mean anything at all? Discuss, if you want.

    http://www.filmsite.org/boxoffice2.html
    “Real world” movies among the decade’s top ten

    1950’s
    The Ten Commandments (1956)
    Ben-Hur (1959)
    The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
    This is Cinerama (1952)
    The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

    1960’s
    The Sound of Music (1965)
    Doctor Zhivago (1965)
    The Graduate (1967)
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
    My Fair Lady (1964)
    Thunderball (1965)
    Funny Girl (1968)

    1970’s
    Jaws (1975)
    Grease (1978)
    The Sting (1973)
    National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
    The Godfather (1972)

    1980’s
    Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

    1990’s
    Titanic (1997)
    Forrest Gump (1994)
    Home Alone (1990)

    2000’s
    The Passion of the Christ (2004)
    (intended as fully realistic depiction of Jesus’ death, including Satan)

    2010’s
    Wall to wall superheroes, aliens and cartoon animals. Who needs reality?

    • Maybe give “Dunkirk” a try? I know it has no Americans in it but (and I know this will come as a shock) there was a war going on before the yanks worked out which side they were on and finally joined in

      • gcochran9 says:

        “yanks worked out which side they were on”

        You must be thinking of the Irish, who never did decide.

      • JMcG says:

        I think it was the Soviets who were allied with Hitler from 8/39 until June 1941. You can ask the Finns, the Poles, the Baltic states…
        The Brits and the French declared war on Germany after the Polish Invasion. I believed they both looked sheepishly at their feet when Uncle Joe rolled in from the east.
        Cambridge Five my backside.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      10,000 BC was possibly the most historically inaccurate movie of all time. Nobody gave a shit. Apocalypto was given all kinds of scathing criticism for not being accurate, but what they were really mad at was it painted the pre-Columbians as being very warlike and violent which is exactly what they were. Sometimes I waste 10 minutes looking through the thousands of films provided by my cable provider looking for a movie that actually tells me something about the real world that isn’t complete bullshit and I can’t find a thing.

      Back when we had book stores, a quaint thing from our past, one tiny corner in the back of the store was labeled non fiction. Even in the non fiction area it could have been subdivided further into 75% entertaining bullshit and 25% honest to God non fiction. If reality doesn’t kill, fuck, or provoke drama outbursts, who cares.

      • Jacob says:

        I think people prefer fiction over fact. History has tons of killing, fucking, and drama, but it’s not escapist if it actually happened. Fiction and out-of-context/inaccurate history are also perfect for people who believe things that are wrong, because the truth won’t support their nonsense but an allegory written by a similarly deluded person will.

        I’m not a credible critic here. I just paid $5.50 to some wacky Pinko “bookstore” for a “colonial literature” novel just because I want to impress a woman who happens to be into that sort of crap.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Sometimes not trying to impress is the best way to impress.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Invite her over for pizza and watching a DVD of ZULU.

            • Jacob says:

              That sounds way more fun Dr. Cochran, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve read about some of the numerical asymmetries of those battles and thought it’d be a blast to see a representation of that.

              Full context, I got the silly book because she recommended it. Was that a good idea, was that a bad idea?

              • gcochran9 says:

                You know, as so often, my N is just too small to impart any great confidence in what I may have learned from experience.

                For example, judging from my experience, if you’re visiting an Ivy League school with a friend and end up sitting in an extremely comfortable overstuffed chair watching a movie – and a then pretty young lady ends up snuggling with you in that same chair while you watch that movie – and that movie is the ultimate chick flick, The Dirty Dozen – maybe she’s interested. But N = 1, so who can be sure?

                Zulu is a great movie. Almost a musical!

              • Jacob says:

                My mom is the only woman in my nuclear family, so it could be difficult integrating her into our movie watching patterns. “Chick flick” was our term for “movie with a woman in it.”

                Uh, meta-analysis of Robino 2017, Robino 2015, and your sample (Cochran 1842) gives us an n=3. All the same results: women do not care what movie you put on.

                I will return here, either a lucky idiot with a phone number, or a crestfallen idiot short $5.50.

            • syonredux says:

              “Zulu is a great movie. Almost a musical!”

              Indeed:

        • mtkennedy21 says:

          I’m looking forward to the “Raid At Entebbe,” coming out in 10 days.

  12. The Big Red Scary says:

    I’d like to see Reply of the Zaporizhian Cossaks starring Andrew Dice Clay, who would look great with a khokhol.

  13. AppSocRes says:

    “Burnt by the Sun” was a good and historically accurate Russian movie about one victim of Stalin’s pre-WW II purge of the generals. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnt_by_the_Sun. It’s not quite the movie you were talking about but still well-done and moving.

    • gyddyn says:

      It was an awful movie made for Oscar. Now author is preaching Stalinism and bowing to Putin :).

      • Ivan says:

        Disagree on the first movie — it was quite good, historically speaking,regardless of the director/protagonist qualities as a human being. Perhaps, I mis-remember — I saw it in 1995.

        The second movie was pretty awful and historically inaccurate, in part for the same reason as the recent Russian “Shtrafbat” movie is. In no particular order:

        Penal battalions (shtrafbats) had permanent and temporary staff. Permanent staff (commanding officers) that were in charge of the battalion were ordinary officers, never convicted. Temporary staff consisted of convicted officers sent to “shtrafbats” for real or concocted crimes.
        Convicted privates and GULAG prisoners served in penal companies “shtrafnaya rota”) that were also led by ordinary officers and never by “zeks”.
        Information about “zagradotryads” (blocking detachments) is contradictory. My close relative who had the misfortune of spending one month in “shtrafbat” claimed that his unit did not have a “zagranotryad” whilst a penal company nearby was guarded by SMERSH. According to him, if you were lucky to survive a ferocious battle, they could release you (and transfer back to the original detachment or elsewhere) before your sentence expired and restore your military rank.

  14. arch1 says:

    Sheesh talk about abusive management. Wikipedia adds that R endured two nighttime mock executions into the bargain. And that he said nothing to family about his treatment except to explain why he always carried a pistol (so as not to be taken alive again).

    • gcochran9 says:

      Apparently Stalin would joke – with him – about having pulled out his fingernails.

      • Smithie says:

        People often say Stalin was super paranoid. I don’t know if a paranoid guy would tweak so many guys that had a reason to hate him, which makes me think their analysis is pure crud.

        • Hugh Mann says:

          a/c/t Chris Bellamy’s Absolute War, when Stalin retreated to his dacha as the Wehrmacht rolled over Ukraine, after a couple of weeks the Politburo headed out there to beg him to come back and take control – Stalin thought they’d come to arrest him.

          • Zenit says:

            Well, this is old fake news made by Kruschev to make himself look good by making Stalin look completely incompetent.

            https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/operation-barbarossa-9-popular-myths-busted/

            Main shows that Stalin’s official working day on 22 June 1941 began at 05:45am and ended at 16:45. On 23 June, when the Soviet dictator was supposed to have suffered from his ‘collapse,’ he worked for 22 hours and 35 minutes. Following such an exhausting day, Stalin’s shortest working day was 24 June, lasting a little over five hours. This might be the nucleus of Khrushchev’s allegations.

            However, for 25/26 June, Stalin held 24 hours of meetings. On 27 June, according to Main, “his recorded working days ran to a little over 10 hours and, possibly as a result of this physically and mentally punishing schedule. His working day for 28 June again lasted a little over 5 hours”.

            Thus, far from ceasing to “do anything whatever”, Stalin worked for 168 hours during the entire week of 22–28 June.

      • SMack says:

        Someone may have taken your suggestion before you made it. The character of Koulikov in Enemy at the Gates is a steel-toothed victim of the Lubyanka, sprung for the sake of his skill as a sniper.

  15. DataExplorer says:

    If you re-imagined Rokossovsky as a black female, then your screen play may gain some traction in Hollywood. Start writing…

  16. dave chamberlin says:

    I want a movie based around a hero who figured out how to stop war elephants. For those of you that don’t know war elephants were once upon a time the ultimate weapon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_elephant. 4 archers sat in a basket on top while the elephant lumbered forward like an unstoppable tank. Elephants are damned skittish so war elephants were prepped for battle by getting them drunk on red wine. The drunken elephants had red mouths so it looked like they had been drinking blood. Somebody figured out how to spook the elephants and make them reverse direction and trample their own army, our hero in this movie. The elephants are charging forward, mouths all a bloody, banners fluttering, horns sounding, it looks like certain death for our hero’s army. Everybody is freaking the fuck out.

    Not our hero, he says….”Wait…..wait…..wait….now! Light the piglets!”
    Piglets dripping in flammable oil are lit on fire and once lit commence to make a horrible screeching and run full speed under the feet of the stampeding war elephants. Burning fiercely and tailing a plume of oily black smoke the piglets make horrible racket making every war elephant make a sudden 180 knocking off all their riders and stampede back over their own army.

    Kind of a short movie, but hey we are all squirming in short attention span theatre these days.

    • MawBTS says:

      Does anyone else feel like bacon after reading that?

      The Romans developed their own strategy for dealing with Carthaginian war elephants: split the formation, and allow them to pass right through your line.

  17. “To the White Sea,” based on the novel by James Dickey, produced/directed by the Coen brothers. (This was in the works for a while, but seems to have fallen through.)

  18. MawBTS says:

    Admiral Yi Sun-sin.

    He was a 16th century Korean naval commander with a background similar to Rokossovsky’s. He was talented enough to make his rivals jealous, and they implicated him in a plot. He was imprisoned, and cruelly tortured.

    When Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan in 1585, he launched a devastating invasion against the Korean peninsula. Despite his rocky relationship with the crown, Yi was hastily reinstated as admiral, and he smashed the Japanese fleet in a series of huge battles (in one case, he prevailed with 13 ships against an enemy fleet of 133).

    His secret weapon was the Geobukseon, or “turtle ship”, terrifying behemoths armed with sulfur gas throwers, iron spikes, and batteries of cannon. They were fully enclosed, and their spiky surfaces defeated Japanese attempts to board them. Some sources state that the turtle ships were armor-plated. If this is true, they were history’s first ironclad ships by hundreds of years.

    At the final battle at Noryang Point, Yi Sun-sin was slain by an arquebus. His final words were “”The war is at its height — wear my armor and beat my war drums. Do not announce my death.”

  19. syonredux says:

    What would I like to see….Perhaps Ridley Scott’s aborted project about William Eaton’s role in the First Barbary War? That 600 mile march from Alexandria to Derne would look great on the big screen

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Eaton_(soldier)#The_war_with_Tripoli_and_the_Battle_of_Derne

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Conquest of New Spain.

      • syonredux says:

        Oof. Talk about uber-unWOKE. Imagine SJWs watching a realistic depiction of, say, Bernal Diaz’s account of the Aztecs performing human sacrifice and engaging in cannibalism:

        “On these altars were idols with evil looking bodies, and that every night five Indians had been sacrificed before them; their chests had been cut open, and their arms and thighs had been cut off. The walls were covered with blood. We stood greatly amazed and gave the island the name isleta de Sacrificios [Islet of Sacrifices].”

        “They strike open the wretched Indian’s chest with flint knives and hastily tear out the palpitating heart which, with the blood, they present to the idols […]. They cut off the arms, thighs and head, eating the arms and thighs at ceremonial banquets. The head they hang up on a beam, and the body is […] given to the beasts of prey.”

        “Every day we saw sacrificed before us three, four or five Indians whose hearts were offered to the idols and their blood plastered on the walls, and their feet, arms and legs of the victims were cut off and eaten, just as in our country we eat beef bought from the butchers. I even believe that they sell it by retain in the tianguez as they call their markets”

        • gcochran9 says:

          Only Cortez was fully awake. Him and von Neumann.

        • gcochran9 says:

          So who plays Cortez, Montezuma, Malinche, Alvarado?

          • Jacob says:

            Obviously Tyler Perry.

            I’m a lucky idiot, by the way. Wrote “If lost, please text Jacob Robino at -****” on the inside cover of that book she had recommended and set it on a table in the office she works at, right before her shift. She texted me, I grabbed the book, later I asked her to hang out & she said yes.

            That woman you told me about, did she end up producing all of those NMSQT high scorers? Setting a high bar there.

    • Smithie says:

      For a desert theme, I like the story behind “Skeletons on the Zahara.”

  20. Ivan says:

    I think Toddy Cat may have a good point.

    American Left’s reaction to Gorbachev’s reforms was more nuanced that you describe. From my conversations with some left specimen in this country in the early 90’s, the impression was that they were rather worried about the direction USSR was moving in, i.e. away from their beloved commie paradise. Some other more moderate lefties I talked to at the time had a hope that Gorbachev/Yeltsin would implement a more humane socialist model, a sort of Chech “Socialismus s lidskou tváří”. Since their hopes did not materialize, a good deal of their current resentment is based on that disappointment I’d imagine.

    P.S. Not sure why I cannot post. Apologies for multiple posts if all of them go through !

  21. j says:

    The concept of Penal Batallions seems to have disappeared after WWII. I never heard that a modern army has them. Israel has fought a number of desperate wars yet I never heard of Penal Batallions. The policy here is extremely liberal, it is rather easy to be discharged and young criminals are given chance after chance to re-join the army. No antimilitary or subversive talk is punished, foreign humanitarian NGOs are publicly inciting soldiers to desert. Our enemies are so sanguinary and monstrous (remember ISIS decapitation video clips) that our fighting morale is not diminished. I doubt those Russian and German penal formation were effective. Rotten apples make sour Apfelschtrudel.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      ” I doubt those Russian and German penal formation were effective. Rotten apples make sour Apfelschtrudel.”

      I think that is generally true – more harm than good unless only used for digging trenches etc – but I read somewhere (could have been wrong?) that Russian soldiers who escaped the early German envelopments and got back to Russian lines were arrested which if true would mean the resulting penal battalions would actually have all the best dudes from the original front lines.

      • gyddyn says:

        Using penal formations for non-combat duties result in larger share of your population after the war being descendant from those, whom you suppose to be “bad guys”. So it makes perfect sense to use this human resources as substitute for more valuable people (from your point of view).

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          if you’re using them to clear minefields or something then maybe but personally i don’t think criminals make good regular soldiers. if it was me i’d parachute them behind enemy lines before attacking somewhere else.

  22. Zenit says:

    Toddy Cat says:
    March 7, 2018 at 10:01 am

    And if you think that Hollywood was anti-Soviet, well, there’s a book you can read…

    https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Party-Communism-American-Industry/dp/0761513760

    We are talking about 1980’s and 1990’s, not 30’s and 40’s.

    Hollywood was not full of hardcore Cold Warriors ready to nuke the commies to the stone age. This does not means it wanted USSR to win.

    If Hollywood was pro-Soviet, where are the movies celebrating USSR as worker’s paradise and communism as bright future of mankind? In 1980’s Hollywood movies, Soviets were just mooks who needed to be gunned down by Rambo, brutes who needed to be pummeled by Rocky, or doofuses from Moscow on the Hudson who needed to be educated and taught about civilization.

  23. Ananda H. says:

    Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. No one would believe that someone like him could have even existed if we didn’t know that he did. “Austrian Balt German renowned as bully and psychopathic lunatic in youth sets out on quest to destroy Communism and Mongolian Jewry, revive Mongol empire in 20th century with pan-monarchist cavalry army, all while cultivating intense study of Lamaist Buddhism and intimidating wavering (slightly less insane) followers with displays of his psychic powers”

  24. Gringo says:

    Simon Sebag Montefiore, better known for his biographies of Stalin, has written a novel about a prison battalion in WW2: Red Sky at Noon.

  25. James Baird says:

    Still waiting for a movie about the NIka Riots. I can even see Hollywood making it – it has an impassioned speech by a Strong Women saving the day, and you could even shoehorn the obligatory anti-Christian message into it if you wanted…

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