Joseph Stalin’s Order Number 270

I’ve been listening to a really fantastic history podcast, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. The most recent episode is Ghosts of the Ostfront II. It is the second part of a show that deals with what the Russians refer to as The Great Patriotic War, the theatre of war between the German Third Reich and the old Soviet Union during World War Two.

I learned something I had never heard of before, something called Order No. 270.

At the onset of war between Germany and the Soviets, German troops, thanks to their blitzkrieg tactics, were making great strides deep into the Soviet Union. Large groups of Soviet soldiers were simply giving up and surrendering to the advancing Germans without putting up much of a fight.

On August 16, 1941, Joseph Stalin issued Order No. 270. It stated that any Soviet soldier that willingly surrendered to the Germans would be considered a “malicious deserter”.  Their family would be arrested as a family of an “oath breaker” and betrayer of the Motherland. Soviet soldiers that found themselves encircled by German soldiers were to fight to the death or to try to reach their own lines. Those who chose to be captured instead of escaping or committing suicide were to be killed if at all possible.  Family members of Soviet soldiers captured by the Germans would be totally cut off from all state allowances and assistance.

How completely crazy is that? Could you imagine if a soldier in Iraq was captured by insurgents and his or her family back home was rounded up by the FBI and thrown into jail?

Talk about not supporting the troops.

More proof Thomas Edison was a dick

When Thomas Edison wasn’t running around stealing inventions that weren’t his own, he was publicly electrocuting defenseless animals. He was trying to make Nikola Tesla’s Alternating Current (AC) look somehow more dangerous than his own Direct Current (DC). He would normally electrocute stray dogs and cats, but one time he got to fry an elephant.

Boing Boing has a link to a YouTube video of Edison’s elephant electrocution. I’m not into animal cruelty so I’m not posting a link to the video.

Thomas Edison was an asshole

Not only was Thomas Edison a major asshole, he was wrong. AC voltage is no more dangerous than DC. It’s current that is deadly, not voltage. High voltage normally means high current. It doesn’t matter what version of voltage it is.

The worst I’ve ever been shocked was not with AC, but good old DC. I once accidentally brushed up against high-current 28 volts and it felt like I was hit with a baseball bat. I’ve done the same with AC voltage as high as 460 volts and it didn’t hurt nearly as bad. Current kills, not voltage.

I think most people associate DC voltage as being safer than AC voltage because most of the DC they are familiar with is the low voltage, low current variety. For instance, the voltage found on a computer’s USB bus. It’s normally at around 5 volts with around 500 mA in current. Wall socket AC voltage, on the other hand, is around 120 volts with around 10 to 20 amps on each circuit.