The paper explores the effects German propaganda produced on the units of the 408th rifle division of the Red Army during World War II. The focus is made on the peculiar aspects characterizing the way the division was activated, as well as the methods of influence on the unit, used by the adversary. The materials analyzed include archival documents from the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense, Podolsk, Russian Federation, as well as reminiscences of World War II, narrated by Soviet and German military leaders. Summing up his findings, the author concludes that the 408th rifle division, which was formed in the Armenian SSR and had predominantly Armenian personnel, was deployed on the front line in September 1942, where it was engaged in combat operations against German troops. Germans capitalized on a comprehensive arsenal of psychological levers against the 408th Division, which were put in action by the Armenian Legions who fought on the side of the German army. Psychological influence was generated through the use of sound broadcasting, individual night conversations with Soviet patrols, as well as the use of printed propaganda — leaflets. With the retreat of Soviet troops and the quick abbreviated training of personnel before combat operations, all these factors resulted in mass defection of Red Army soldiers to the enemy, desertion and self-mutilation. In the end, the 408th Division was discontinued.
Source: Konstantin V. Taran (2021). Influence of German Propaganda on the Combat Effectiveness of Soviet Units in 1942 (as illustrated by the 408th Rifle Division). Propaganda in the World and Local Conflicts. 8(1): 23-31
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