People's Commissar's 100 grams are one of the most mythologized pages of Russian military history. After the war, this practice was skillfully used by propagandists to create a cliché of an eternally drunk Russian soldier who thoughtlessly went into the attack. Needless to say, this image of the Red Army soldier in propaganda perfectly fits the national stereotype about the relationship between Russians and alcohol. But what about the situation in reality?
The tradition of distributing alcohol among the troops and the navy existed long before the appearance of the Soviet Union. However, in general, there has always been a negative attitude towards alcohol consumption in the army. The Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army was no exception in this regard. An exceptional situation was the state of affairs at the front during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. After an unsuccessful offensive, the Red Army found itself in an extremely disastrous situation. Due to improper planning, the troops suffered large non-combat, primarily sanitary losses.
An inspection of the People's Commissar of Defense Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov was sent to the front. As a result of the work of the commission, it was decided, among other things, to radically increase the rations and supply of Soviet soldiers. Among other things, military personnel began to be obliged to issue 50 grams of lard, 50 grams of fat for rubbing on the skin, 100 grams of vodka in the infantry and 50 grams of brandy in the aviation and tank forces. The rations were increased to raise morale and reduce the number of frostbite (on the Karelian Isthmus that winter, frosts fell to -40). The soldiers greeted the proposal of the commissars with well-known enthusiasm, for which they immediately called 50-100 grams of alcohol "People's Commissars" in honor of Kliment Voroshilov.
In all other parts of the Red Army that were not involved in the Finnish front, alcohol was prohibited. Until 1941, there was no longer any issue of vodka among the troops. Already after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, due to the extremely difficult situation at the front, an order was issued on August 22, 1941 No. GKO-562s "On the introduction of vodka for supply in the active Red Army." This order ordered to organize from September 1 of the same year the issuance of 100 grams of 40-degree vodka in all army units fighting on the first line. Once a day, soldiers and commanders were allowed to issue no more than 100 grams of alcohol.
By the spring of 1942, the situation had changed. The order of August 22 was changed. Now 100 grams of vodka once a day could be given only to those soldiers who participated in offensive operations. Drinking alcohol was purely voluntary. According to the memoirs of veterans, only those who wanted to drink drank. Most often, these were young, untrained soldiers, as well as non-communist servicemen. The "grandfathers" who were fired upon before the battle generally treated vodka badly at the front. By the summer of 1942, the rate allowed to issue 50 grams of vodka per day to workers in the rear and to the wounded in hospitals, if medical reasons permit. On the Transcaucasian front, instead of 100 grams of vodka, they gave out 200 grams of port or 300 grams of dry wine. Also, a portion of alcohol was allowed to be given to all military personnel on the days of major public holidays.
In 1943, the issue of vodka among the troops was greatly reduced. Pouring "People's Commissars" on a permanent basis was now prohibited. The issuance of 100 grams was allowed to be resumed only by decision of the councils of the fronts and individual armies. At the same time, the distribution of 100 grams of vodka to all military personnel on the days of major public holidays was preserved. Thus, it is easy to guess that the image of the real "People's Commissars" is extremely weakly in tune with the cliché about the drunken Red Army. After the victory in 1945, all alcohol consumption in the USSR troops was abolished. The only exception was the navy, where to this day they issue 100 grams of dry wine.
Continuing the topic, read about how Soviet soldiers left many autographs on the Reichstag: what happened to them after the war.