Buying the myth: Russian Film Sticks With The Fiction

Historians are saying that a Russian film portraying the defense of Moscow during the Second World War is false.

The new movie, 28 Men, borrows from Soviet mythology in which 28 soldiers from the 316th Rifle Division composed mostly of recruits from the Kyrgyz and Kazakh Soviet republics held their ground in 1941 against the Wehrmacht. The men were part of a larger division commanded by Maj. Gen. Ivan Panfilov. They all died but not before destroying 18 German tanks.

Russian television broadcast the film being viewed by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital in Central Asia.

But an investigation in 1948 by a Soviet team determined that the tale was invented by a journalist from Krasnaya Szezda, the Red Army’s newspaper. The results weren’t publicized.


Last year in June, director Sergei Mironenko of the Russian State Archive, naming historical papers, said the tale was a myth. He suffered a pointed rebuttal from the culture minister.

Mironenko in March this year was fired from his position.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and other government officials have also discussed the need to oppose the fabrication of history or recasting history. They resist interpretations of the Second World War or other instances of Soviet history that don’t follow the official line, BBC News reported.

Non-state liberal broadcaster Dozhd came under attack accused of smearing the memory of WWII veterans by questioning whether citizens of Leningrad could have been spared by letting Nazi forces have the city.

Any public conversation has been discouraged by a contentious law instituted in 2014 against the restoration of Nazi philosophy. The daily newspaper Kommersant reported in July about a 200,000 rouble ($3,200) fine imposed on Vladimir Luzgin, a blogger in the Urals from the Perm region, for reposting a story about the war on network VK, a social network.

The court held that Luzgin re-posted an article knowing it was false about the joint invasion of Poland by Russian and German forces on September 1, 1939.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE