2nd Commander tank group Colonel General Heinz Guderian
Thus, the Stalinist empire was presented as the “smithy of the Nazi army,” when German pilots and tankers were trained in the USSR. Even the big names of German military leaders such as Goering and Guderian, allegedly trained in Soviet schools, were called.
At the same time, a number of important facts are omitted. In particular, when the Soviet-German military cooperation began, the Third Reich simply did not exist! 1922-1933 was the time of the completely democratic Weimar Republic, with which Moscow collaborated. At the same time, a strong communist party and socialists acted in Germany, which inspired hope for the future victory of socialism in Berlin. And the Nazis were then a marginal group in which they did not see the threat.
Motives for cooperation
The fact was that Germany and Russia suffered the most from the First World War, were losers. In this case, the Germans in the conditions of the Versailles political system were very limited in the military, military-technical sphere.
The question also arises: who studied with whom? Germany in 1913 was the second industrial power in the world (after the United States), was an industrial, technological giant. And Russia was an agro-industrial country, which was dependent on advanced Western technologies. Almost all complex machines and mechanisms, such as machine tools and steam locomotives, were imported into the country. The First World War very well showed the entire degree of backwardness of Russia and from the advanced powers of the West. So, if the Second Reich during the war produced 47,3 thousand combat aircraft, then Russia - only 3,5 thousand. Things were even worse with the production of engines. In peacetime, Russia practically did not produce aviation motors. The war forced the creation of the production of aircraft engines. In 1916, about 1400 aircraft engines were produced, but this was very small. And the allies, engaged in emergency reinforcement of their Air Force, tried not to share engines. Therefore, even the aircraft built in Russia could not be lifted into the air, there were no engines. As a result, the Germans dominated the air.
Things were even worse with tanks. This type of weapons in pre-revolutionary Russia was never put into production. The first Soviet tank "Freedom Fighter comrade Lenin, "copied from the French tank Renault, would have been released by the Krasnoye Sormovo plant in Nizhny Novgorod only in 1920 and adopted for service in 1921. After that, there was a long pause in the Soviet machine-tool industry - before 1927, Germany in October 1917 launched the heavy tank A7V, which took part in battles and several other prototypes.
Also, Russia greatly lost to Germany by the availability of qualified personnel, scientific and technical personnel. Compulsory secondary education was introduced in Germany as early as 1871. In Russia, on the eve of the 1917 revolution, most of the population was illiterate.
Plus world war, revolution, brutal Civil War and intervention, mass emigration and devastation, the consequences of which Russia overcame most of the 20-s. Moscow was in international isolation. It is clear that under such conditions we had to learn from the Germans, and only they could teach us anything useful. The rest of the Western powers saw in Russia the prey, the “pie” that needed to be gutted. The West demanded the payment of royal debts and debts of the Provisional Government, to take responsibility for all losses from the actions of the Soviet and previous governments or local authorities, to return all nationalized enterprises to foreigners, to provide access to Russia's resources and wealth (concessions).
Only deceived, humiliated and robbed Germans could become our partners. Unlike other Western powers, Germany did not insist on the return of debts. An agreement with Berlin was concluded through a mutual rejection of claims. Germany recognized the nationalization of German state and private property in Soviet Russia. For Soviet Russia, which lagged behind the advanced countries by 50-100 years, cooperation with an industrial and technologically advanced country was vital.
The Germans were also interested in such cooperation. According to the Treaty of Versailles of 28 on June 1919, defeated Germany was subject to severe military restrictions. The German army (Reichswehr) was reduced to 100 thousand people, officers should have been no more than 4 thousand people. The General Staff was dissolved and banned from having. The general conscription was canceled, the army was completed by voluntary recruitment. It was forbidden to have heavy weapons - artillery in excess of the established caliber, tanks and military aircraft. The fleet was limited to several old ships, the submarine fleet was banned.
Unsurprisingly, in such a situation, the two loser powers, rogue states, reached out to each other. In April 1922, at the Genoa Conference, Germany and Russia signed the Rapallo Agreement, which provoked a sharp disapproval of the “world community”.
Thus, the choice in favor of Germany was quite obvious and reasonable. Firstly, the then Germany was a completely democratic state, the Nazis had not yet come to power and generally had no influence on the country's politics. Secondly, Germany was a traditional economic partner of Russia. The German state, despite the severe defeat, remained a powerful industrial power with developed mechanical engineering, energy, chemical industry, etc. Cooperation with the Germans could help us in the restoration and development of the national economy. Thirdly, Berlin, unlike other Western powers, did not insist on paying off old debts, recognized the nationalization in Soviet Russia.
Military cooperation. Lipetsk Aviation School
The Rapallo Treaty did not contain military articles. However, the foundations for mutually beneficial Soviet-German military cooperation were obvious. Berlin needed proving grounds to test tanks and planes without the knowledge of the victorious powers. And we needed German advanced experience in the production and use of advanced weapons. As a result, in the middle of the 1920-s, a number of joint facilities were created in the USSR: an aviation school in Lipetsk, a tank school in Kazan, two aerochemical stations (training grounds) - near Moscow (Podosinki) and in the Saratov region near Volsk.
The agreement on the establishment of an aviation school in Lipetsk was signed in Moscow in April 1925. In summer, the school was open for training of flight personnel. The school was led by German officers: Major Walter Star (in 1925-1930), Major Maximilian Mar (1930-1931) and Captain Gotlob Muller (1932-1933). The flight business was taught by the Germans. As the educational process developed, the number of German personnel grew to 140 people. Moscow provided an airfield in Lipetsk and a former factory for storing aircraft and aviation materials. The machines themselves, aircraft parts and materials were provided by the Germans. The base of the fleet was Fokker D-XIII fighters purchased in the Netherlands. At that time it was a pretty modern car. Transport aircraft and bombers were also purchased. The Fokker company, after the Versailles Agreement, was urgently transferred to Holland. During the Ruhr crisis of 1922-1925 caused by the occupation of the "industrial heart" of Germany by the Franco-Belgian forces, the German military illegally purchased 100 aircraft of different models. Officially for the Argentine Air Force. As a result, some of these aircraft appeared in the USSR.
The creation of the school was beneficial to the USSR. Our pilots, mechanics trained in it, workers improved their qualifications. Pilots were given the opportunity to learn various new tactics known in Germany, England, France and the United States. The country received a material base. The main expenses were borne by the Germans. Thus, contrary to myth, it was not we who taught the Germans, but the Germans, who prepared their own and our pilots with us for their money. Along with our mechanics, introducing to the advanced technical culture. It is also worth dispelling the myth that the fascist sword was forged in the USSR. The contribution of the Lipetsk school to the creation of the German Air Force was small. Throughout its existence, 120 fighter pilots and 100 observer pilots were trained or retrained in it. For comparison: by the 1932, Germany was able to train about 2000 pilots in its illegal flight schools in Braunschweig and Rechlin. The school in Lipetsk was closed in 1933 (as well as other projects), after Hitler came to power, when the Rapallo Agreement lost its significance for Germany and the USSR. The buildings and a significant part of the equipment received the Soviet side. Since January 1934, the Air Force Higher Flight and Tactical School (VLTSH) began to operate on the basis of the liquidated facility.
It is worth noting that the future Reich Marshal Goering did not study in Lipetsk. As an active participant in the famous “beer coup” in 1923, Goering fled abroad. He was convicted in absentia by a German court and declared a state criminal. Therefore, his appearance at the Reichswehr site was a very strange phenomenon. In addition, after the First World War, Goering, as a famous ace, was offered to join the Reichswehr, but he refused for ideological reasons, since he was in opposition to the Weimar Republic.
Fighters Fokker D.XIII in Lipetsk. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org
Tank school in Kazan and the Tomka chemical facility
An agreement on its creation was signed in 1926. The school was created on the basis of the Kargopol cavalry barracks. The conditions under which the Kazan school was created were similar to Lipetsk. The head and teachers are Germans, but they incurred basic material expenses. The heads of the school were Lieutenant Colonel Mulbrant, von Radlmeier and Colonel Joseph Harpe. Training tanks were provided by the Germans. In 1929, 10 tanks arrived from Germany. First, the teaching staff was trained, then the training of German and Soviet cadets began. Before the school was closed in 1933, three graduations of German students were made - a total of 30 people, on our part, 65 people were trained.
Thus, the Germans taught, they also borne the basic material costs, prepared the material base. That is, the Germans trained their own and our tankers with their money. Guderian, contrary to the myth common in the 1990 years, did not study at the Kazan school. Heinz Wilhelm Guderian really once visited Kazan (in the summer of 1932), but only as an inspector with his boss, General Lutz. He could not study at the tank school, since he had already graduated from the military academy and had a large rank - lieutenant colonel.
An agreement on joint aerochemical tests was signed in 1926. The Soviet side provided the landfill and provided the conditions for its work. The Germans took upon themselves the training of Soviet specialists. They incurred basic material expenses, bought all the equipment. Moreover, if in aviation and tank facilities the emphasis was on training, in the field of military chemistry, research tasks were mainly pursued. Initial tests were carried out near Moscow at the Podosinki training ground.
In 1927, construction work was carried out at the Tomka chemical test site in the Volsk region of the Saratov Region. Joint tests were transferred there. Chemical attack methods were being worked out, new sights created by the Germans, and means of protection were tested. These tests were very useful for the USSR. After all, in this area I had to start almost from scratch. As a result, the country was able in less than 10 years to create its own chemical troops, organize a scientific base, and establish chemical production weapons and remedies. New ammunition equipped with mustard gas, phosgene and diphosgene was adopted, remote chemical shells and new fuses, new air bombs were tested.
Thanks to Germany, our country, which in the 1920s was weakened, mainly an agrarian country, was able to get up to speed with chemical armies on a par with the armies of leading world powers. A whole galaxy of talented military chemists has appeared in the USSR. It is not surprising that during the Great Patriotic War the Third Reich did not dare to use chemical weapons against the USSR.
Germany helped make the USSR the foremost military power
Thus, as a result of the implementation of Soviet-German military projects, the Red Army received qualified personnel of pilots, mechanics, tank crews and chemists. And when, after the Nazis came to power, joint projects were closed, the Germans, leaving, left us with a lot of valuable property and equipment (in millions of German marks). We also received first-class educational institutions. The Higher Flight and Tactical School of the Red Army Air Force was opened in Lipetsk, and a tank school in Kazan. In “Tomsk” a chemical testing ground, part of the property went to the development of the Institute of Chemical Defense.
In addition, cooperation with the Germans in the development of modern weapons was very important. Germany was the only channel for us through which we could study the achievements in military affairs abroad, learn from the experience of German specialists. So, the Germans gave us about a dozen instructions on conducting military operations in the air. The German aircraft designer E. Heinkel, by order of the Soviet Air Force, developed the HD-37 fighter, which we adopted and released in 1931-1934. (I-7). Heinkel also built for the USSR a naval reconnaissance officer He-55 - KR-1, which was in service until 1938. The Germans built for us aircraft catapults on ships. German experience was used in the construction of tanks: in the T-28 - the suspension of the Krupp tank, in the T-26, BT and T-28 - the welded hulls of German tanks, surveillance devices, electrical equipment, radio equipment, in the T-28 and T-35 - internal placement crew in the bow, etc. German successes were also used in the development of anti-aircraft, anti-tank and tank artillery, underwater fleet.
As a result, we can safely say that it was Germany that helped us create the advanced Red Army. The Germans taught us, not we them. The Germans helped lay the USSR the foundations of an advanced military-industrial complex: tank, aviation, chemical and other industries. Moscow intelligently and skillfully used the difficulties of Germany in the development of the Union and its defenses.