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Penal military unit

Penal battalions, penal companies, etc., are military formations consisting of convicted persons for which military service in such units was either the assigned punishment or an alternative to imprisonment or capital punishment.


  • France 1
  • Great Britain 2
  • Italy 3
  • Nazi Germany 4
  • Saudi Arabia and Syria 5
  • Soviet Union 6
  • United States 7
  • References in culture 8
  • Notes 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Great Britain


Nazi Germany

  • See Afrika-Brigade 999 (AKA Bewährungseinheiten 999, Strafbataillon 999, Bewährungstruppe 999, Division 999).
  • See Dirlewanger Brigade (AKA SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger, later 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS).

Saudi Arabia and Syria

There have been reports that convicts from Saudi prisons have been set free prematurely on the condition that they will join in the Syrian Civil War against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.[1]

Soviet Union

United States

References in culture


  1. ^

See also


  • Conquest, Robert, Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps, Methuen Press, (1978) ISBN 978-0-670-41499-4
  • Hatch, Gardner N., American Ex-prisoners of War: Non Solum Armis, Turner Publishing Company, (1988), ISBN 978-1-56311-624-7
  • Krivosheev, G.F. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the twentieth century, London, Greenhill Books, 1997, ISBN 978-1-85367-280-4, available online (in Russian) [1].
  • Lebed, Alexander (Gen.), My Life and My Country, Regnery Publishing, Inc. (1997) ISBN 978-0-89526-422-0
  • Manazeev, Igor, A 'Penal' Corps on the Kalinin Front, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 3, September 2002 OCLC 201968754
  • Mawdsley, Evan, The Stalin Years: The Soviet Union 1929-1953, Manchester University Press (2003), ISBN 978-0-7190-6377-0
  • Suvorov, Viktor, Inside The Soviet Army, Hamish Hamilton (1982), ISBN 0-241-10889-6
  • Tolstoy, Nikolai, Stalin's Secret War, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston (1981), ISBN 0-03-047266-0
  • Toppe, Alfred, Night Combat, Diane Publishing (1998), ISBN 978-0-7881-7080-5

External links

  • Yefim Golbraikh memoirs, including his serving commander of a penal company (Russian)
  • Article on Penal Units from Voice of Russia
  • [2]
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