Soviet special operations units in WWII?

Oct 2015
901
Norway
#1
In spite of being intersted in world war II and special operations I know very little about that type of operations and units in the USSR. I think the events on the eastern front has gotten much deserved attention in the later years, I think I'm not alone in this. We know about the Commandos, Brandenburgers, Rangers, Decima Flottiglia MAS, SAS etc, but many of us don't know of a single Soviet special forces unit from back then. The same goes for their missions.
Can any members from the ex-Soviet countries or other members who are knowledgable about these things please help?
 
Oct 2015
901
Norway
#2
Personally I've read about Viktor Leonov and the Naval Scouts. I also know the Soviets tried out combat divers before the war and had that type of unit(s) during WWII.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#3
As I understand, such units, such as the US Navy SEALS and US Rangers tend to operate covertly.

Is it likely the Soviets had covert units, which they kept secret?l I can certainly believe the possibility; it would appeal to the paranoid Stalin.
 
Oct 2015
8
heaven is a little country in Britain called Wales
#6
There is a book that contains info on operations conducted by the Naval scouts. I'm sure they were mainly concentrated in the top part of the northern theatre. I shall check which book of you wish.
 
Oct 2015
901
Norway
#7
Is the book "Blood on the shore"? That's the book Viktor Leonov wrote about his service in WWII. His unit operated in the Arctic.

I think it was SMERSH ("Death to spies") that investigated Hitler's death and brought his remains to Moscow. I think the unit was mainly for counter-inteligence and internal Security, especially in the military. Duties checking if soldiers were loyal to the regime, questioning prisoners, hunting foreign agents etc.
"Wet operations" or assassinations were also something SMERSH did. I think they were behind the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico and the disapearance of Raol Wallenberg, but I'm not 100% sure. They are perhaps best know today as the nemisis of James Bond in Ian Fleming's novels.
There were SMERSH units attached to the fronts, but I don't know if they were used for special operations behind enemy lines.


SMERSH officers examining the remains of Josef Goebbels

87b08531ebfc9090fd63ff7efdf0c9dc.jpg
 
Last edited:
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#8
Weren't they tasked with delivering Hitler (or his body) from Berlin back to Stalin?

I hadn't heard that. I have heard the rumour (from a TV show?) that Stalin used Hitler's skull for an ash tray. I think that's one of those things which should be true, even if it isn't.
 
Oct 2015
901
Norway
#9
I've found mention of a unit called 181. ORO, an abrivation of "special reconnaissence unit". Earlier in the war it was named 1st special volunteer unit for sailors.
The unit operated on the north coasts of the USSR, Finland and Norway. The unit was formed in 1941 and they recruited 70 soldiers among the best athletes in the fleet, and obviously all were communnist party or Komsomol members They were trained in parachuting, camouflage, skiing and other skills.They even had their own special uniforms.
Their mission was inteligence gathering, often by snatching prisoners. 181. ORO often used submarines for infiltration and exfiltration and on occation they were-re-supplied via parachute. This was needed because tehy spent long periods behind enenmy lines.

There was also a combat diver unit named RON. It would be really nice if any Russians could give us more information, because this is an interestign part of history and little has been written about it in languages I know.