So, for instance, the first penal unit was deployed on the Stalingrad front in advance of the invading Germans. Of the 929 disgraced officers who were sent, 300 survived. Some soldiers who actually had been sentenced to death penalty were instead assigned to one of these battalions -- everyone involved knew it was basically the same thing.
Pictured: Not a safe place.
It's hard to nail down what exactly was the worst job for a penal battalion member. Mine-clearing has to be way up there -- and it almost certainly had the shortest life expectancy. Among them were people whose job it was to just dig up the mines and hope they didn't explode in their faces, but then there were the "tramplers" -- guys who ran ahead of advancing troops, with the intention of tripping any mines that might be up there. If you did your job well, you'd wind up in bloody chunks scattered all over the battlefield.
So, yeah, you'd definitely hate to be one of the unlucky few who served in the -- wait, what's that? Over 400,000 troops had to serve in the penal units?
That is hard core, ladies and gentlemen. We don't know if we should be more amazed that the Soviets ever lost a battle, or that they ever managed to win one.
For people who made Rambo-ade out of their shitty wartime jobs, check out 5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy. Or, for proof that old-timey folk didn't need war to give kids shitty jobs, check out The 6 Worst Jobs Ever (Were Done by Children).
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