People's Commissars 100 grams. History and facts

People's Commissars 100 grams. History and facts
People's Commissars 100 grams. History and facts
People's Commissars 100 grams. History and facts

People's Commissars' 100 grams became almost legendary, many front-line soldiers, both rank and file, and officers left fond memories of this norm. The townsfolk have also heard about it, but their knowledge of the subject, as is often the case, is very superficial. In reality, however, there were restrictions in the Red Army on the issue of "front-line" one hundred grams of vodka. The issue depended on many factors, not only on the location of the military units, but also on the season.

When the People's Commissars 100 grams were introduced

The decision to issue alcohol (vodka) to the soldiers of the Red Army was officially adopted on August 22, 1941, exactly 80 years ago. It was on this day that the State Defense Committee of the USSR officially adopted a resolution "On the introduction of vodka for supply in the current Red Army." The document, which bore the "secret" stamp, was signed by the chairman of the committee, Joseph Stalin.

It is curious that, according to the recollections of some front-line soldiers, vodka began to be distributed even earlier. Perhaps the extradition began already in July 1941 at the very beginning of the war, so in August the decision was only formalized retroactively. The adopted resolution stated that 40-degree vodka should be dispensed from September 1, 1941. For the Red Army men and the commanding staff of the first line of the active army, it was ordered to issue 100 grams of vodka per person per day.

Already on August 25, 1941, Lieutenant General Andrei Khrulev, who at that time held the post of Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, prepared and signed Order No. 0320, clarifying the GKO decree. The order stipulated that along with the fighters who fought the enemy on the front line, the pilots performing combat missions, as well as the engineering and technical staff of the airfields of the active army, were to receive vodka.

It should be noted that the practice of dispensing strong alcohol in the Red Army existed even before the start of the Great Patriotic War. For the first time massively alcohol appeared at the front during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. Then, in January 1940, the People's Commissar of Defense Kliment Voroshilov put forward a proposal to give the Red Army soldiers 100 grams of vodka and 50 grams of bacon per day.

This decision was directly related to the difficult weather conditions that were established at the front. The winter was very harsh; on the Karelian Isthmus, frosts reached -40 degrees, which led to numerous frostbites and diseases among the military personnel. Voroshilov's proposal was satisfied and rivers of strong alcohol flowed to the front. At the same time, the vodka delivery rate was doubled for tankers, and the vodka was replaced with cognac for the pilots.


The resulting portion of vodka quickly established itself in everyday life as "People's Commissars" or "Voroshilov's" 100 grams. Dispensing of vodka in units began on January 10, 1940. After the end of hostilities, the distribution of strong alcohol to the troops was immediately stopped. From January 10 to early March 1940, the soldiers and commanders of the Red Army drank more than 10 tons of vodka and 8, 8 tons of brandy.

Why was it necessary to issue vodka at the front

After the release of the GKO decree, real rivers of vodka flowed to the front. On the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, a 40-degree drink was transported in railway tanks, about 43-46 tanks were sent every month. On the ground, vodka was poured into a more suitable container for the rear services, usually various barrels or milk cans were used for this.It was in such a container that vodka reached units and subunits at the front. If the distilleries were close to the front, the product could be shipped directly in glass containers.

The volumes sent to the front were enormous. For example, in the period from November 25 to December 31, 1942, the Karelian Front received 364 thousand liters of vodka, the Stalingrad Front - 407 thousand liters, the Western Front - almost one million liters. The Transcaucasian Front received the largest amount of alcohol during the specified time - 1.2 million liters. But this had its own regional specificity. In the Caucasus, vodka was replaced by wine and port at the rate of 300 grams of dry wine or 200 grams of port per person.

Why it was necessary to issue vodka to the soldiers of the Red Army is still not known exactly. We can say that the reason for the issuance of strong alcohol in the howling army remains an unsolved mystery, although 80 years have passed since the signing of the famous GKO decree.

During the war with Finland, given the harsh weather conditions in winter, this decision could be explained. Vodka made it easier to endure the cold at least at the level of sensations, while strong alcohol could be effectively used for grinding. However, in 1941, the decision to issue 40-degree vodka was made in the summer during the warm season. Currently, there are several main versions that explain the adoption of such a decision.


According to the first version, alcohol was supposed to dull the fear of the enemy among the Red Army and the commanding staff. In the first months of the war, this was especially true when Hitler's troops were advancing in all directions and seemed like an invincible force.

The second version is based on the fact that strong alcohol was not supposed to relieve the soldiers' fear of the enemy, but to help relax and relieve stress after the soldiers took part in heavy battles. According to the third version, drinking alcohol before the attack could reduce sensitivity, relieve pain and suffering when injured. So the consequences of pain shock and torment were smoothed out until the moment when the orderlies would not help the fighter.

At the same time, the climatic version can still be considered the main version. The vodka was supposed to brighten up the harsh trench everyday life and field conditions, especially in winter. During the Great Patriotic War, decisions on the issuance of 40-degree vodka were edited many times. In winter, the list of those who were entitled to "People's Commissars" 100 grams usually grew, and in the summer months, on the contrary, decreased.

In this regard, alcohol ration, most likely, was still considered as a means of making life easier in the harsh climatic conditions of the Russian winter. This is partly confirmed by the petition of General Khrulev, who in the winter of 1944-1945 proposed to Stalin to reduce the "winter period" during which a greater number of servicemen received alcohol. This decision was explained by the fact that the hostilities moved to the territory of Europe, where the climate was milder.

How have the norms for dispensing alcohol changed?

During the war, the norms of issue and the categories of servicemen who were entitled to "People's Commissars" 100 grams of vodka were constantly changing. By the spring of 1942, the issue rate was changed. In its final form, the new GKO decree was issued on June 6, 1942. "People's Commissars 100 grams" were retained only for units of the front line, whose fighters and commanders carried out offensive operations. The rest of the front line soldiers were now entitled to 100 grams of vodka only on holidays, which included both public and revolutionary holidays.


Again, the issue rate was changed on November 12, before the start of the offensive near Stalingrad. This change once again emphasizes that the extradition was still associated with the support of soldiers in winter conditions. Now 100 grams were again issued to all fighters who were on the front line and were fighting.For rear servicemen, which included construction battalions, regimental and divisional reserves, the delivery rate was reduced to 50 grams. The same amount could be received by the wounded in the rear, but only with the permission of the medical personnel.

Once again, the issuance rates were changed on April 30, 1943. GKO decree No. 3272 ordered from May 3 (after the holidays on May 1 and 2), 1943, to stop the daily mass distribution of vodka to the personnel of the active army.

From May 3, 100 grams of vodka was issued only to those servicemen of the front line units who were conducting offensive operations. At the same time, which particular armies and formations needed to issue vodka, the military councils of the fronts and individual armies had to decide. The rest of the active army was given 100 grams of People's Commissars per person only on public and revolutionary holidays.

At the same time, after the Battle of Kursk, the contingent of those who could count on getting alcohol expanded. For the first time, railway troops and NKVD units began to receive strong alcoholic beverages. The Soviet army completely refused to issue alcohol to servicemen only in May 1945 after the victory in the Great Patriotic War.

The consumption of vodka was purely voluntary. Those who refused the People's Commissar's 100 grams received monetary compensation in the amount of 10 rubles. But due to inflation, there was little benefit from this money, which was credited to a special monetary certificate. Therefore, non-drinkers often used vodka as a universal means of exchange for various things necessary in everyday life.

People's Commissariat Snack

It should be noted that the issue of supplying the army was not limited to only one vodka. We can say that a snack was also supplied to the troops for her. So, for example, on July 15, 1941, the State Defense Committee issued a decree number 160, according to which semi-smoked sausage with the addition of 20% soybean mass was accepted for the supply of the Red Army. For each soldier of the Red Army, it was ordered to issue 110 grams of this product per day. Naturally, the norm has remained largely on paper, but the fact remains.


At the same time, if the soldiers and commanders could see sausage only on holidays and often only trophy, then the situation with pickles was better. The GKO dealt with issues of supplying the army not only with traditional food products, which included bread, cereals, meat, but also pickles. For example, in June 1943, a GKO decree was approved, according to which it was necessary to procure 405 thousand tons of sauerkraut, 61 thousand tons of pickled cucumbers and 27 thousand tons of pickled tomatoes. Obviously, at the front all this was not consumed in the form of a vitamin salad.

At the same time, the manufacture of pickles, as well as the supply of strong alcohol to the front, were a matter of state importance. The plans for salting vegetables for the front were supervised by the leaders of 57 regions, territories and republics of the Soviet Union.

Was vodka given in the tsarist army?

Issuing alcohol to servicemen was not some kind of know-how of the Soviet era. In different periods, starting from the 18th century, alcohol was present in one form or another in both the army and the navy. This is largely attributed to the beginning of the Peter the Great era. Emperor Peter I noticed that in Europe alcohol was regularly given to sailors, and transferred the experience to Russia.

First, alcohol appeared in the navy, then in the army. Dispensing rates were measured in a cup (about 120 grams). A sailor on sailing was given a glass a day; in the ground forces, three glasses a week were usually issued. But only in the case of difficult campaigns or participation in hostilities. The rest of the time, alcohol could be dispensed on holidays.


Some non-drinking soldiers of the tsarist army even had the opportunity to earn on their sobriety. Voluntarily refusing the prescribed alcohol allowance, they received a small compensation in monetary terms.

At the same time, the growth of alcohol consumption in Russia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and the increasing study of this issue, including the establishment of the obvious harm of alcohol to the body, contributed to the fact that the practice of issuing glasses in the army and navy was abandoned. After the defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1908, the military department completely abolished the issue of alcohol. At the same time, the sale of alcoholic beverages was also prohibited in shops and canteens at military units.

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