While the German Army cut deep through the Russian interior and swept aside all opposition, an unforeseen enemy was gathering behind the front lines. From farmers and housewives, to displaced Red Army soldiers, small bands of guerilla fighters came together to strike out against the invaders.
Targeting supply convoys and lines of communication, these impromptu soldiers made lightning fast raids on positions where the Germans were the weakest. They lived off the land and stolen supplies from the enemy. Vanishing back into the countryside, they recruited followers from local villages and towns.
Partisan harassment became a thorn in the side of the German high command and officers ordered their men to stamp out this resistance. They ruthlessly suppressed anyone suspected of opposing the German Army by burning down villages and executing suspected insurgents. Weapons caches and stores of food were destroyed as supportive civilians were murdered without impunity.
Realizing the importance of these groups, Red Army specialists and political officers were embedded with partisan units across the country. Russian propaganda hailed them as heroes and many guerilla leaders would be awarded for their actions during the war. And as the tide of battle turned decisively in their favor, many groups were assimilated into front-line Red Army infantry units.
Despite the increasing amount of support given to these small bands, the life of a partisan was short and brutal. No quarter was given to any such combatant captured. The ever-professional German Army regarded partisan tactics with particular disgust. As such, both sides committed horrendous atrocities that would become a hallmark of war on the Eastern Front.
The Vanquished follows one such group, as they grapple with not only the Germans, but their own internal divisions, which many prove more fatal than any enemy bullet.
Assistant Producer Adam Bednar speaks about His character, Ivan, and the role of the Russian Partisans in The Vanquished.