This image is the cover for the book Penalty Strike, Stackpole Military History Series

Penalty Strike, Stackpole Military History Series

From a decorated officer, an extremely rare account of a World War II Soviet military unit comprised of prisoners of war.

Made up of soldiers who conducted “unauthorized retreats,” former POWs deemed untrustworthy, and Gulag prisoners, the Red Army’s penal units carried out some of the most terrifying assignments on the Eastern Front, such as storming German machine-gun nests. Alexander Pyl’cyn led his penal company in the Soviets’ massive offensive in the summer of 1944, the Vistula-Oder operation into eastern Germany, and the bitter assault on Berlin in 1945. He survived the war, but 80 percent of his men did not.

Alexander Pyl’cyn, drafted into the Red Army at eighteen in 1941 and wounded three times, earned the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Great Patriotic War, and the Order of the Red Star for his actions during World War II.

Alexander V. Pyl'cyn

Alexander V. Pyl'cyn was a company commander in a Red Army officers' penal battalion on the Eastern Front 1944-45.