Wednesday, September 24, 2008


For those interested in how many Soviets, civilians and military personnel, died in the Second World War here is an excellent breakdown created by an Axis History Forum member Nick Terry:

There are so many different estimates simply because most of them are done by incompetent researchers.

Here's how TOTAL demographic losses were calculated by Goskomstat (State Statistics Committee) during the Gorbachev period:

USSR population on 22 June 1941 -- 196.7

USSR population on 31 Dec 1945 -- 170.5

Of them, born before 22.06.41 -- 159.5

Total population loss -- 37.2

Children prematurely died during the war -- 1.3

Natural mortality est. from 1940 level -- 11.9

Total EXCESS population loss during the war -- 26.6

Note that this includes emigration. Number of emigrants is estimated at 600,000. Therefore, the official estimated of war deaths is 26 million. However, an American demographer named Maksudov pointed out the unsanctioned emigration of ethnic Poles. Since the number is unknown, and it is also uncertain whether it was taken into account in the original Goskomstat estimates, the number of deaths might be reduced. So, 26 million should be treated as the highest bound, probably around 25 million -- lowest.

Correspondingly, since military casualties are better accounted than civilian, the number of civilian deaths is calculated by subtracting military losses from total losses. The most reliable estimate for now is Krivosheev's, which gives us 8.6 million military demographic casualties. Therefore, total civilian losses are in the area of 16.4 - 17.4 million. It should be noted that they include losses of partisans, people's militia units, and conscripts who were called up but weren't put on strength in their units before perishing (applies to the first month of the war).

The total civilian losses consist of a combination of civilians directly murdered by the occupiers and civilians who prematurely died due to worsened living conditions (starvation, epidemics) both on the occupied territories and on the homefront.

A post-war commission made the following estimate of the mortality attributed DIRECTLY to the occupiers:

Deliberately exterminated: 7,420,379

Died as slave laborers in Germany: 2,164,313

Died of the harsh conditions of the occupation regime: 4,100,000

Total: 13,684,692

That leaves us with 1.8-2.8 million excess deaths on the homefront, including mass starvation of civilians in Leningrad and other besieged cities.

Sources: Krivosheev, "Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka"; Harrison, "Accounting for War"

Here are numbers regarding German POWs from recent Russian statistics:

"According to German figures, between 35 and 37 per cent of the 3,155,000 German soldiers in Soviet captivity perished. A recent Russian statistical count gives a slightly different picture: between 1941 and 1945, a total of 3,576,300 Wehrmacht and SS soldiers were captured by the Soviets. Of this total, 551,500 were immediately released in May 1945, and the remainder were sent to be interned. A total of 220,000 Soviet citizens in Wehrmacht service and 14,100 Germans branded as war criminals were sent to special NKVD camps, and another 57,000 men died during transportation to POW camps. Out of a total of 2,733,739 Wehrmacht soldiers held in Soviet POW camps, 381,067 died, and 2,352,672 were repatriated to Germany." "Barbarossa" by Christer Bergstrom pg. 120.

It was brought to my attention that in my reviews I don't always provide the relevant information in my reviews when I criticize an author's work. This might happen for two reasons, either I'm simply too lazy to do the work (happens to us all) or I've already provided the information, sources, facts, figures, etc, in another review. Thus, I decided that I'll make separate posts with relevant information which I often find missing or misinterpreted from many author's works. First, the Soviet POW situation, what happened to them after the war:

At the end of 1941 first special (i.e.“filtration”) camps were set for
- returning POWs and troops that were encircled by the German Army,
- civilian collaborators and
- civilians of draft age who have resided on the territory occupied by the Germans.According to an article published in “Свободная мысль” (“Free Thought”) magazine (1997, №9, page 96) by two “Memorial” researchers, A. Kokurin and N. Petrov, by March 1st , 1944, a total 312,594 Soviet POWs and former Red Army servicemen who were “encircled” by the Germans were checked by NKVD. Of those:- back to military service: 223,272 (71.4%)
- to work in defence industry: 5,716 (1.8%)
- to continue service in NKVD convoy troops 4,337 (1.4%),
- to hospitals for treatment 1,529 (0.5%),
- died while in “filtration” camps 1,779 (0.6%),
- sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (2.6%),
- arrested 11,283 (3.6%).The remaining 56,403 POWs (18.1%) were still in special camps as of March 1st, 1944.

An article in “Военно-исторический журнал” (“Military-Historical Magazine”), 1997, №5. page 32, by A. Mejen’kov corroborates the above: a total of 317,594 POWs went through special camps between October 1941 and March 1944. Their “fate” is very similar (with minor discrepancies, if any) to the “fate” of those described above by two “Memorial” researchers.

Accordingly, as of March 1944, 256,200 servicemen were checked by NKVD in special camps. Of those:

- “cleared” 234,863 (91.7%),
- sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (3.2%),
- arrested 11,283 (4.4%),
- died 1,799 (0.7%)

In November 1944 “ГКО” (State Defence Committee”) issued a decree stating that until the end of the war POWs freed from captivity were to be sent to reserve military formations bypassing special camps. In such a way over 83,000 officers were re-incorporated into the service. Later on after NKVD clearance 56,160 were decommissioned, over 10,000 sent back to the Red Army, 15,241 were demoted, but continued to serve in the Red Army.

Upon analyzing several other sources the author(s) conclude(s) that over 90% of POWs were cleared, about 4% were arrested and the other 4% were sent to the “penal” battalions.

On May 11, 1945 a directive was issued regarding setting up 100 special camps to check the repatriated Soviet DPs (displaced persons). By March 1, 1946 a total of 4,199,802 Soviet DPs (POWs and civilians) were re-patriated. Of those:

- sent home: civilians 2,146,126 (80.68% of all repatriated civilians), POWs 281,780 (18.31% of all repatriated POWs),
- drafted (for civilians)/sent back (for POWs) to the Red Army: civilians 141,962 (5.34%), POWs 659,190 (42.82%),
- sent to “work battalions” (*): civilians 263,647 (9.91%), POWs 344,448 (22.37%),
- transferred to NKVD: civilians 46,740 (1.76%), POWs 226,127 (14.69%).
- still in camps or employed by the Red Army and military administration abroad: civilians 61.538 (2,31%), POWs 27.930 (1,81%)

(*) used for reconstruction work in the USSR

For those interested in the Ukrainian famine and the overall losses in Ukraine throughout the 30's, here is some relevant data:

This is a summary of material from a 2002 article in Population Studies on the changes to the Ukraine's population in the 1930s and 1940s. It's evidently professional demographers at work (four of them, two French, one Russian and one Ukrainian).

They conclude for the 1930s

2,582 million excess deaths in the Ukraine from 1926 to 1939
930,000 lost due to out-migration*
1,057,000 birth deficit

* 400,000 dekukalisation, 530,000 GULag

for a 1939 population of 30,946,000.

Monday, September 22, 2008


As the German army was beginning to suffer its defeats from the Soviets, various military formations were formed from the indigenous population in Eurasian Russia. Although Hitler was reluctant to have any Russian volunteers in his army, due to changing conditions on the front Russians were hired and started out as Hiwis (Hilfswillige), performing such tasks as skirmishes and patrols. Originally they were forbidden to wear German uniforms, insignia and awarded German medals. Latter on such formations grew in size and eventually whole battalions and divisions were formed. People joined such formations either as a way of escaping the horrible death in the POW camps or from political reasons - as a fight against Bolshevism.

From the very beginning number of Ukrainians ended up in such formations. In most cases it was because of non-availability of Ukrainian formation to join to, or in some instances low national consciousness. Ukrainians can be found in every Russian formation that fought on the German side, occupying all kinds of positions, from generals to regular infantry. Because of that I will focus only on those Ukrainians who possessed higher ranks.



Members of ROA staff:

Oberst prince Bojarsky (descendant of famous Ukrainian landlords)

Chief of Communications - Major G. Kremenetsky

Chief of sub-section in Recruitment section - Major G. Svyrydenko

Commander of 2nd sub-section of Military school - Oberst A. Denysenko

Commander of 3rd. sub-section (Cavalry) - Oberleutenant N. Vaschenko

Inspector of propaganda among volunteers - Captain A. Sopchenko

Administrative section - Captain P. Shyshkevych

Commander of Officer batallion - M. Golenko

In charge of special communications - M. Tomashevsky

Members of reconnaissance staff - Leutenants:

J. Marchenko, S. Pronchenko, J. Sytnyk.

1st division of ROA

Commander of the division - General-major S. Buniachenko

1st adjutant - Oberst Rudenko

Chief of Supplies - Oberst Gerasymchuk

Chief of Propaganda - Major S. Bozhenko

Chief of Recoinassance - Major Kostenko.

Officer of Communications - Leutenant Redko

Divisional superintendant - Captain Palamrchuk.

2nd division of ROA

Member of staff - Oberstleutenant Bogun.



Armed Forces

General-major D. Zakutnyi.

Generals F. Golovko, V. Lukjanenko.

Oberst Bondarenko, Lukjanenko,

Major J. Muzychenko

Captain V. Grechko

Professor Vasylakyi.


1st adjutant - Oberst Pliuschev-Vlasenko.

Oficer of Special Tasks - Major B. Klymovych

Chief of Cadre - Captain Naumenko

Chief of Medical personell - Oberstleutenant Levytsky.

Leutenant A. Skobchenko

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The German prisoner of war camps, containing millions of Soviet prisoners, were a potential source of manpower. Faced with bad treatment and starvation and a distinct possibility of dying, an increasing number of Russian prisoners volunteered to work for the Germans in exchange for better food and conditions. [2]

The volunteers were called hiwis, a contraction of the German term for volunteer helper. They were widely used in the Replacement Army and railroad construction units for service duties to free men for the front. On February 6, 1943, the Luftwaffe had 100,000 hiwis in construction and antiaircraft units, replacing Germans.

Hiwis became part of the official table of organization of army units. The infantry division was assigned more than a thousand to perform supply duties, care for horses, and other noncombatant roles. In early 1943 the army replaced Germans with 200,000 hiwis and later an additional 500,000. Other ethnic groups were also used as hiwis. On March 18, 1943, the 715th Division in France used 800 black French prisoners, who volunteered to fill 800 vacancies as wagon drivers, grooms, laborers, and other noncombat positions.

In January 1943 the 9th German Army of Army Group Center included 39,400 Russians, either volunteers or conscripted. The infantry divisions in the 9th Army had a total of 7,700 hiwis assigned plus an additional group of 6,000 attached laborers. When the 9th Army evacuated the Rzhev salient, 21,800 more Russians were seized to prevent their working for the Red Army when it reoccupied the territory, and on March 20, 1943, many were assigned to construction battalions to work on fortifications and roads. The Russians made up one-quarter of the manpower for the 9th German Army. On the Eastern Front in 1943 nearly a million Russians were working or fighting for the German Army. Another 900,000 were employed in Germany to work in factories and on the farms.

The Soviet prisoners were also formed into Ost battalions, equipped with captured Russian weapons, and used to fight the partisans. In early 1943 the Germans had 176 Ost battalions; many formed by anti-Communist ethnic minorities from the Caucus, In May 1943 there were 32 Turkestan battalions, 12 Georgian battalions, 11 Armenian battalions, 8 North Caucasus battalions, 16 Muslim and Azerbaijan battalions, and 10 Volga Tartar battalions. By June 1943 there were 320,000 Ost troops.

Ost battalions also replaced Germans in the occupation divisions in France. On January 27, 1943, the German High Command ordered the German divisions in France to send one of their infantry battalions to Russia and in exchange received an Ost battalion. The Ost battalion had German uniforms, but Russian weapons. The first ten battalions were quickly followed at a rate of three battalions in exchange for a single German battalion.

[1] Hilfswillige: Auxiliary Volunteers. After the invasion of the USSR, many thousands of Soviet citizens volunteered to fight the Soviet regime. At first, the German government refused to use them, but later relented (no doubt in the face of mounting casualties) and allowed the German Army to use them in non-combat roles. Hilfswillige served as auxiliaries to the front line troops on various support tasks such as construction or carrying ammo.

[2] Already post June 1941 the army had these Hiwis in their KStN (Unit organizations). The KStN says how many Hiwis are authorized for the unit. Which position they have can be determined by the commander, but they must be in the Tross section.

In this KStN it is the last point of the additional information at the end of the document.

Also note that the "authorized" numbers of Hiwi's reported by units to be an accurate figure of the numbers that were employed. This is especially true during the early years of the war when "official" Hiwi policies were still unwritten. A lot of the field "improvisations" to solve manpower problems were either unreported or downplayed.

This is also true in the case of Hiwi's joining combat formations - unfortunately there are no definitive records of when these laborers became soldiers.

After September 1943 thousands of Italian soldiers in Balkans and elsewhere were incorporated as Hiwis in Wehrmacht as an alternative to deportation in Germany.

FEATURED WEBSITE: Ukrainian formations in German and Axis armies.

This site is on the Ukrainian formations in German and Axis armies. 14th SS Galicia Division is in bold, this link leads to a whole site, as this formation was the largest and best organized. With regards to Ukrainian National Army - it was formed at the very end of the war and composed of following units:

1. 14th division SS Galicia, which became the 1st division UNA.

2. Anti-panzer Brigade "Vilna Ukraina" and "Pitulei" Brigade, which became the 2nd division UNA.

3. Parachute (Falschirmjaeger) Brigade "Gruppe-B", commanded by general Bulba-Borovets.

As for the other formations, most of them eventually joined the ranks of Galicia division, or functioned within the ranks of Ukrainian Liberation Army (UVV), which to the very end of the war continued to function as an independent body. READ MORE


Although they have not yet been recognized by the Ukrainian state as war veterans who deserve official government pensions, the former soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) can justly be considered the unsung heros of World War II in Ukraine. In its struggle against the German and Soviet occupational regimes, the UPA's ultimate goal was an independent and unified Ukrainian state. At the height of the UPA's power, its units were composed not only of ethnic Ukrainians, but also of Azerbaidzhani, Uzbek, Georgian, and Tatar soldiers, and the UPA organized the Conference of the Oppressed Nations of Eastern Europe and Asia in order to support liberation struggles of other nations. After the Soviet 'Great Blockade' in the Carpathian Mountains in 1946, denied food and shelter, and forced to fight on the march at extremely low temperatures, the UPA (with the exception of the units operating in Ukrainian ethnic territories annexed by Poland after 1944) was forced to demobilize most combat troops. The UPA's underground armed struggle continued until 1954. Learn more about the struggle for Ukrainian independence during World War II by visiting the following entries. READ MORE

Thursday, September 18, 2008


There were about one million Russian volunteers in the German army still in 1944 there. In autumn 1944 two infantry divisions were formed from that men and creation of third such division started. Due of material shortcomings of the end of war only the 1st Division of Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvobozhditelnaya Armiya, ROA) was fully trained, equipped and used in action.

There is a few informations about armoured vehicles in the 1st Division of ROA. Written sources claim that there were nine tanks T-34 in division during it's forming in Muensingen. Two of them were photographed on a parade in front of general Vlasov, head of Russian anti-soviet opposition in Germany, and general Bunyaczenko, the division's commander, on 10 February 1945. The tank in foreground has a white number "2" under the gun barrel and a shield divided horizontally white/blue/red from the top painted on the turret's side.


Monday, September 15, 2008


The UVV armlet

In spring 1943 the Ukrainians who served in Wehrmacht and in some of the Schutzmannschaft Bataillonen were put together into Ukrainian Liberation Army (UVV). The former 'hiwi', some UPA members, volunteers from Eastern Ukraine, 200 persons from Vlasov Officers' school in Saubersdorf and Soviet prisoners of war also became also the members of UVV.

By 1942 backed by General Kestring, who was responsible for the Ostbatallionen formation, the strength of UVV was 50.000 persons. By the war end it became 80.000 already. UVV became the part of Wehrmacht and a lot of German officers strengthened it. Omelyanovich-Pavlenko was the commander, Colonel Petro Krizhanivsky -- the chief headquarters officer, the first deputy commander -- M.Kapustyansky. In 1945 after the formation of UNA the 1st UVV battalion joind the 2nd UNA division and some other UVV detachments became the part of the 1st UNA division (the former 14th SS Grenadiers "Galicia" division).

But the larger UVV part remained the independent detachment. In 1945 its units were transfered from Southern France to Prague to help the 2nd UNA division. The greater part of UVV soldiers and officers were killed in the struggle against Bolsheviks. And those captured were repatriated and died in Siberian camps.

The Uniform and Insignia.

The UVV personnel was fitted with the standard Wehrmacht uniform. Under the chief officer of Wehrmacht ground forces order from April 29, 1943 (N 5000/43) the Ukrainian volunteers and the UVV personnel wore the same tabs and shoulder-straps as in Russian units and yellow-blue oval cockade and yellow-blue armlet with trident and letters UVV.

Bataillon Nachtigal

Bataillon Nachtigal The formation of the 'Nachtigal' battalion ('Nightingale') began in Krakov in March, 1941. The formation centre was located in the suburb in former "Arbeitdienst" barracks. German instructors trained there the volunteers that wore the "Arbeitdienst" uniform for security. Those students who had pretensions to get sergeant-major posts finished their training in Germany. Others (50 students) were moved into the Barvinok school. In Neuhammer the volunteers got the Wehrmacht uniform and arms. The strength of the battalion was 330 soldiers and officers. It had four companies.

Herzner was the battalion commander, Vontun, Gogenstein, Middelhauwe and Schiller were the companies commanders. Sotnik Roman Shukhevich was considered as the commander from the Ukrainian part. The 'Nachtigal' was regarded as an insignificant operational unit, so it was attached to the 1st battalion of the "Brandenburg 800" regiment.

On the 18th of June, 1941, Nachtigal was transfered to the region that was contiguous with the USSR. On the 22nd of June, 1941, in 3.15 a.m. the 1st Brandenburg battalion got the order to cross the river San and to advance on Peremyshl. It was to attack the Soviet Army defensive positions in Lvov fron the North. Nachtigal marched as its reserve in the front line.

Both battalions joined the 1st Mountain Infantry Division and had the order to defend it on march to Lvov. Receiving the reconnaissance information of the mass executions in the town the "Brandenburg 800" commander ordered to capture it. Both units came into Lvov at 4.30 a.m. The Nachtigal companies occupied some strategic and industrial objects, including radio.

Ukrainian commander Shukhevich (his brother was executed in Lvov prison by NKVD) took part in the work of Ukrainian Representatives' Assembly, that declared the restoration of independent Ukraine. After this declaration all Ukrainian officers from Nachtigal were deprived of their posts and put under the direct German command. On the 7th of June the battalion moved in the direction of Ternopol and on the 14th of June reached Proskurov. It didn't see action even once till the 5th of June. Later the battalion fought near Brailov and after Vinnitsa stayed for two weeks in Yuzvin. There the volunteers learned that Galicia became the part of Hans Frank's General-Governorship and Reichscommissariat "Ukraina" was created. On the 13th of August Nachtigal was withdrawn from the front and was sent to Neuhammer for additional training. But there battalion was disarmed and dismissed.

Polesskaja Setsch

In August 1941 Taras Bulba-Borovets formed the "Polesskaya Host" detachment -- the Ukrainian militia armed unit. It had German arms and counted about 3.000 persons. Its mission was to clean the swampy and woody region of north-western Ukraine (and partially Byelorussia) from the remains of Red Army and Soviet partisans. On the October 15th, 1941 the detachment was disarmed and dismissed. Lack of equipment was the official reason, but the pressure of SD -- the true one.

Ukrainische Legion

This unit was created before the German invasion to Poland. Together with Slovenian volunteers it fought in the Polish campaign as a part of the Eastern European group. The detachment was called "Berg-Bauern Hilfe". But this name was not popular and they called it "Ukrainian Legion". It was formed of the members of OUN (Ukrainian Nationalists' Organization), Ukrainian students who studied in Austria and Germany, and also of the Carpathians-Ukrainian Army soldiers. Their training schools were in Saubersdorf (Austria) and the chief administration located in Breslau. The training programme of volunteers included sharp-shooting, the skills of arms handling, self-defence, propaganda and sabotage. All the volunteers from two infantry regiments had black Czech uniform. The single distinction was the pin in the form of OUN trident with a sword in the centre and a shield with the same insignia and Ukrainian legend.

Legion was armed with light weapons and included motor-cyclists' detachment. The "Ukrainian Legion" regiments were attached to various German divisions. The legion crossed the river San and reached Striy and Lvov. Its mission was the propaganda and the search for disappeared Polish Army regiments. When the Polish campaign was finished (December, 1939) the "Ukrainian Legion" was dismissed and its remnants brought in DUN (Ukrainian Nationalists' Druzhina).

Ukrainian National Army (UNA)

Ukrainian National Army became the largest Ukrainian formation during the war and included most of Ukrainian volunteers from the German Army. The Ukrainian National Committee which was formed in 1944 and approved by Alfred Rosenberg had elected former officer from UNR (Ukrainian People's Republic 1921) Pavlo Shandruck as the general and supreme commander of UNA. Members of his staff had included Dr. Kubijovych from the Military Board, representatives from Eastern Ukraine and both OUN-M (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and OUN-B factions. Chief of staff was Col. Vyshnivsky and chief of communications V. Serediuk. Other generals included O. Pavlenko and D. Bakun.

In the beginning of 1945 more divisions of UNA began to form. Two divisions were already formed:

a. 1st Division of UNA - from 14th Division SS Galicia which was handed over in March 1945.
b. 2nd Division of UNA - from anti-panzer brigade "Vilna Ukraina", which grew in strength to equivalence of full division and some Schuma battalions.

There were also plans for creation of 3rd and 4th divisions out of Ukrainian SS youth and members of UVV but these were prevented by the end of the war.

Legion Roland

Just like Legion Nachtigal, Roland was set up by OUN prior the German Invasion to Soviet Union. The training began in May 1941 and vas done in complete secrecy in the castle Saubersdorff in Austria. Supplied with the German instructors the Legion was trained very harshly, spending a lot of the time in the Alps. From Ukrainian side the commander of the Legion was Pobihyshyj and from German side captain Novak. The Legion was outfitted in the old West-Ukrainian Army Uniforms with blue and yellow ribbons on the shoulders.
With the outbreak of the war against the Soviet Union, the Legion followed the German and Rumanian Armies into the Southern Ukraine, around the Black Sea to Odessa. Latter the Unite was transferred to Frankfurt am Oder where it was joined with the Nachtigal Legion.


After just a few weeks since German invasion thousands of Soviet citizens desired to serve in the German army. The number of such volunteers was constantly increasing. There are no precise data, but approximately 1.500.000 Soviet citizens had served in Wehrmacht. From the very first day of the World War II a lot of Soviet captives and deserters suggested their help to Germans in subsidiary services. Germans called those volunteers Hiwi (from Hilfswillige-voluntary aide). Those volunteers served as drivers, cooks, hospital attendants, stable-men in the rear services. Thus they gave Germans the possibility to serve in the forward position. And in the battle sub-units Soviet volunteers served as ammunition carriers, sappers and messengers. Hiwi had personal arms for the case of danger. Originally Hiwi continued to wear Soviet uniform and badges of rank, but gradually they were given the German uniform. Sometimes only the armband with the words "Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht" was the proof of the fact that Hiwi belonged to Wehrmacht.

Another category of volunteers -- Osttruppen -- was joined in battalions (Ostbataillonen) that were the sub-units of German army. The first battalions were formed according to German commanders' initiative. Soviet citizens of the non-Russian nationalities were the bases of those battalions: Ukrainians, Balts, Caucasians and Cossacks. The task of the 'Ostbataillonen' was to guard the rear. In November 1941 the first six battalions were formed as a part of the "Centre" army group, and soon the high command of Wehrmacht gave its official permission to form such sub-units but with some restrictions. The restrictions did not permit to form the battalions with more than 200 servicemen in them, and they could be used only for guarding the rear.

By the end of 1941 the formation of several Asian and Caucasian legions (Ostlegionen) had began. Their structure was identical to the one of the western legions. In summer of 1942 Germans tried to put their mixed uniform in order. But they could not achieve the unification. There were three types of the badges of rank. The first one was to be used in Russian and Ukrainian sub-units, the second -- in Asian sub-units, the third -- in Cossack sub-units. There were two types of shoulder-straps: for Russians, Ukrainians, Cossacks and for Asians. But the practical use of all these badges of rank became a real mess. The cockades and chevrons were also designed for each nationality. The German eagle (Hoheitsabzeichen) was replaced by the insignia -- swastika in rhombus with stylized wings. The stripe was made with grey threads on the steel-blue field. But the stripe was not very popular.

The 5th degree award for courage and merits was established instead of German awards. But in reality the majority of the volunteers was decorated by customary German awards. In 1944 Germans permitted officially to decorate Ostbataillonen soldiers with Third Reich awards.

In June of 1942 the antipartisan detachments and so called Jagd-units were formed by division headquarters. They were small and good equipped with automatic guns and consisted of trustworthy and trained fighters. By the end of 1942 almost every division on the Eastern front had one or two Eastern companies, and corps had Ostbataillon. The major part of those sub-units had standard numbers: 601-621, 626-630, 632-650, 653, 654, 656, 661-669, 674, 675 and 681. Other battalions had line regiments numbers (510, 516, 517, 561, 581, 582), corpses numbers (308, 406, 412, 427, 432, 439, 441, 446-448, 456) and divisions numbers (207, 229, 263, 268, 281, 285). It depended on the place they had been formed at.

After the defeat under Stalingrad the German command began to form SS volunteers divisions in Western Ukraine and the Baltic states. It was done under the motto of 'crusade against bolshevism'. In the early 1944 the Ukrainian, Estonian and two Latvian SS-divisions had been formed. The Byelorussian krai defences were formed in Byelorussia, the Lithuanian territorial corps -- in Lithuania. Since May 1944 Hitlerjugend began to recruit teenagers (15-20 years old) in Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Baltic states. The majority of young volunteers served in subsidiary units of military aircraft forces and anti-aircraft defences. There were more than 16.000 servicemen in those units.

The majority of Ostbataillonen were dislocated in the West and were taken immediately into action when allies got off in Normandy. Their poor armament was the cause of heavy losses, but they proved to be trustworthy. From 1941 till 1945 2 million Soviet citizens fought on the German side.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


The Soviet experience of warfare was very different from that of its Allies, Britain and the United States. Large in territory and population, the Soviet Union was poorer than the other two by a wide margin in productivity and income. It was Soviet territory that Hitler wanted for his empire, and the Soviet Union was the only one of the three to be invaded. Despite this, the Soviet Union mobilized its resources and contributed combat forces and equipment to Allied fighting power far beyond its relative economic strength.

These same factors meant that the Soviet Union suffered far heavier costs and losses than its Allies. After victory, Hitler planned to resettle Ukraine and European Russia with Germans and to divert their food supplies to feeding the German army. He planned to deprive the urban population of food and drive much of the rural population off the land. Jews and communist officials would be killed and the rest starved into forced migration to the east.

The Soviet Union suffered roughly 25 million war deaths compared with 350,000 war deaths in Britain and 300,000 in the United States; many war deaths were not recorded at the time and must be estimated statistically after the event. Combat losses account for all U.S. and most British casualties; the German bombing of British cities made up the rest. The sources of Soviet mortality were more varied. Red Army records suggest 6.4 million known military deaths from battlefield causes and half a million more from disease and accidents. In addition, 4.6 million soldiers were captured, missing, or killed or presumed missing in units that failed to report. Of these approximately 2.8 million were later repatriated or reenlisted, suggesting 1.8 million deaths in captivity and a net total of 8.7 million Red Army deaths. But the number of Soviet prisoners and deaths in captivity may be understated by more than a million. German records show a total of 5.8 million prisoners, of whom 3.3 million had died by May 1944; most of these were starved, worked, or shot to death. Considering the second half of 1941 alone, Soviet records show 2.3 million soldiers missing or captured, while in the same period the Germans counted 3.3 million prisoners, of whom 2 million had died by February 1942.

Subtracting up to 10 million Red Army war deaths from a 25-million total suggests at least 15 million civilian deaths. Thus many more Soviet civilians died than soldiers, and this is another contrast with the British and American experience. Soviet sources have estimated 11.5 million civilian war deaths under German rule, 7.4 million in the occupied territories by killing, hunger, and disease, and another 2.2 million in Germany where they were deported as forced laborers. This leaves room for millions of civilian war deaths on territory under Soviet control, primarily from malnutrition and overwork; of these, one million may have died in Leningrad alone.

In wartime specifically Soviet mechanisms of premature death continued to operate. For example, Soviet citizens continued to die from the conditions in labor camps; these became particularly lethal in 1942 and 1943 when a 20 percent annual death rate killed half a million inmates in two years. In 1943 and 1944 a new cause of death arose: The deportation and internal exile under harsh conditions of ethnic groups such as the Chechens who, Stalin believed, had collaborated as a community with the former German occupiers.

The war also imposed severe material losses on the Soviet economy. The destruction included 6 million buildings that previously housed 25 million people, 31,850 industrial establishments, and 167,000 schools, colleges, hospitals, and public libraries. Officially these losses were estimated at one-third of the Soviet Union’s prewar wealth; being that only one in eight people died, it follows that wealth was destroyed at a higher rate than people. Thus, those who survived were also impoverished.



The Vlasov Movement (Vlasovskoye Dvizhenie), or Russian Liberation Movement, designates the attempt by Soviet citizens in German hands during World War II to create an anti-Stalinist army, nominally led by Lieutenant-General Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov (1900–1946), to overthrow Stalin. Vlasov gave his name to the movement and died for his role in it. He did not create the situation and had little influence over developments.

Vlasov has been interpreted both as a patriotic opponent of Communism and as a treacherous opportunist. The Vlasov movement illustrates the way in which Nazi policy towards the USSR was developed by the competing requirements of ideology and military expediency and the various agencies involved in policy.

The outbreak of war witnessed popular disaffection within the territories of the USSR. Many opposed to Stalinism hoped that the Germans would come as liberators. Hitler saw the war in racial terms, and his main aim was to acquire living space (Lebensraum).

A successful commander, Vlasov had impressed Stalin. Having fought his way out of the Kiev encirclement, he was appointed to repulse the German attack on Moscow in December 1941. In March 1942 Vlasov was made deputy commander of the Volkhov front and then commander of the Second Shock Army. For reasons that are still unclear, the Second Shock Army was neither strengthened nor allowed to withdraw. On June 24, Vlasov ordered the army to disband and was captured three weeks later. As a prisoner-of-war, Vlasov met German officers who argued that Nazi policy could be altered. Relying on his Soviet experience, Vlasov believed that their views had official sanction and agreed to cooperate.

In December 1942 the Smolensk Declaration was issued by Vlasov in his capacity as head of the so-called Russian Committee, and was aimed at Soviet citizens on the German side of the front. In response, Soviet citizens began to sew badges on their uniforms to indicate their allegiance to the Russian Liberation Army, which in fact did not exist although the declaration referred to it. In the spring of 1943, Vlasov was taken on a tour of the occupied territories and published his Open Letter, which attracted much support among the population. Hitler was opposed to this and ordered Vlasov to be kept under house arrest as there was no intention of authorizing any anti-Stalinist movement. Dabendorf, a camp near Berlin, became the main focus of activity. Mileti Zykov was particularly influential in developing some of the program at Dabendorf. Finally, on September 16, 1944, Vlasov met Heinrich Himmler, who authorized the formation of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (KONR, Komitet Osvobozhdeniya Narodov Rossii). The Manifesto was published in Prague on November 14, 1944. Two divisions were formed, but Soviet soldiers already serving in the Wehrmacht were not allowed to join.

In May 1945, the KONR First Division deserted their German sponsors and fought on the side of the Czech insurgents against SS troops in the city. Vlasov wished to demonstrate his anti-Stalinist credentials to the Allies, but when it became clear that the Americans would not be entering Prague, the First Division was eventually ordered to disband. Vlasov was captured, taken back to Moscow, tried, and hanged as a traitor in August 1946. For many years, mention of Vlasov and the anti-Stalinist opposition was taboo in the USSR. Since the 1980s more material has been published. An attempt to rehabilitate Vlasov and to argue that he had fought against the regime—not the Russian people—was turned down by the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court on November 1, 2001.


One of the most important specialized organizations of the Third Reich, the Todt Organization (OT), named after its director, Fritz Todt, was used for the construction of military and related sites, especially in occupied Europe. Labor service “volunteers” and private construction firms were first used by the OT in the building of the Siegfried Line in 1938–1939. During the war hundreds of thousands of foreign civilian workers, prisoners of war, and in places close to concentration camps, Jewish and other slave laborers were used to repair war damage and construct military-related projects. It was one of the few organizations in Hitler’s Reich to enjoy extensive administrative autonomy and worked all the more efficiently as a result.

We work week after week, five to six hundred men, on a piece of land that could be taken care of in four days with two steam plows. That’s called “productive labor.” We call it “slave labor, sheer drudgery.” The foremen think the acidic soil will be OK in maybe another ten or fifteen years. But already by next year, it’s supposed to become farmland and be planted. . . .We stand out on the moor for months, often sinking up to our knees in the swamp. Frequently, our spades can’t cut through the gigantic roots and tree stumps of the sunken forests in this moor. . . . Often, one of us collapses and is taken to a field hospital by two fellow prisoners and a sentry. And then there’s this constant pressure to work, driving us on and on, the humiliating insults, the tormenting feeling you’re not human any more. Just some animal. An animal that’s herded together in flocks, housed in ten long stables, given a number, hounded and beaten as need requires, exposed to the whims of its drovers.


Organization Todt (OT), named for German Minister of Arms and Munitions Fritz Todt, handled construction projects throughout territory occupied by the German army during World War II. Formed in 1933 by Todt, then head of technology and road construction, the OT was at first chiefly identified with construction of the great autobahn road system in Germany that was the pride of the Third Reich. In 1938, German leader Adolf Hitler assigned OT the task of quickly completing the West Wall (also known as the Siegfried Line), defenses in western Germany that were designed to hold back a French army attack in order to allow Germany to concentrate its military resources in the east. Todt was an adroit manager, and in record time, some 500,000 workers constructed 5,000 concrete bunkers.

With the beginning of World War II, the OT provided the German army with engineers and construction specialists involved in the building and repair of bridges, dams, airfields, and fortifications, as well as factories. In March 1940, Todt became the Reich’s minister of arms and munitions. The OT was in fact the only organization in the Third Reich, apart from the Hitler Youth, that bore the name of a member of the governing elite.

Following the German invasion of the Balkans in the spring of 1941, the OT was in charge of extracting minerals there and shipping them to the Reich. With the invasion of the Soviet Union, it took on the great responsibility of reconstructing and maintaining the Soviet transportation network. OT also made use of vast numbers of conscript laborers throughout German-occupied Europe. In all, the OT mobilized some 1.4 million people, 80 percent of whom were non- Germans (many were (Soviet citizens) prisoners of war).

At the end of 1944, the entire number of concentration camp inmates was some 600,000. Of these, 480,000 were fit for deployment: 140,000 were with the Kammler staff, 130,000 deployed under Organisation Todt, and 230,000 were in private industry.

OT’s most ambitious task was the construction of the Atlantic Wall, the German defenses against an invasion of France by the Western Allies; it ran from Norway to the Bay of Biscay. On this effort, the OT expended some 13.3 million tons of concrete and 1.2 million tons of steel in 3,000 fortifications. The ruins of many of these may still be seen today. The OT also built the submarine pens in France that proved so difficult for Allied aircraft to destroy.

Following Todt’s death in an airplane crash in February 1942, his assistant, Albert Speer, took over the organization, and under him, it reached its greatest extent. Increasingly, the OT was involved in cleaning up bomb damage from Allied air raids on Germany. In autumn 1944, the organization was renamed the Front-OT, when it was armed and enlisted in the defense of German territory.


Guse, John C. “The Spirit of the Plassenburg: Technology and Ideology in the Third Reich.” Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 1983.

Seidler, Franz Wilhelm. Die Organisation Todt: Bauen für Staat undWehrmacht, 1938–1945. Koblenz, Germany: Bernard and Graefe, 1987.


Spontaneous and organized forms of disguised labor struggle must be distinguished from such individual acts of resistance. They required maximum cover, absolute reliability, technical ingenuity, and an orientation beyond the immediate situation. Sabotage was aimed not at husbanding physical energies but at harming the adversary, whether for reasons of personal revenge or for military or political motives. Consequently, it was largely limited to the core groups of the political and national resistance. Along with the communist opposition, many Russian, French, and Polish prisoners played a prominent role. Organized and spontaneous sabotage frequently meshed. The direct destruction of machines or the turning out of defective, unusable pieces were possible only at considerable risk. Sabotage demanded subtle methods in order to disguise the origin of the fault. In the camp, the first point for sabotage was where materials were distributed and data processed. In Dachau, the card catalog of prisoners’ qualifications was manipulated by the labor-statistics office so that skilled specialists were not transferred to armaments plants—instead, the companies were given workers they first had to train. On the other hand, politically reliable skilled laborers were channeled into key positions in order to organize sabotage directly on the spot. At the Gustloff factory in Buchenwald, prisoners succeeded in systematically reducing the production of carbine barrels over a period of months, while at the same time wearing out enormous numbers of special tools. In Natzweiler, during the disassembly of damaged airplane engines, prisoners also damaged the parts that were still intact. At the Heinkel Works, young Russian prisoners from Sachsenhausen regularly removed valves that were extremely difficult to replace. In rocket assembly at Dora-Mittelbau, prisoners diverted materials being transported, disposed of small parts on the sly, rendered tools unusable, and welded seams in violation of all technical specifications. The success of such acts of sabotage rose in direct proportion to the extent the SS itself was involved in monitoring production. It had too few officers to pinpoint the causes for the fault. On the other hand, turning out defective pieces demanded a high level of technical knowledge on the part of the prisoners, lest these faults be discovered during production or final monitoring, and the workplace responsible be identified.


"Ostarbeiter" (eastern workers) were mostly eastern European women brought to Germany for forced labor. They wore an "OST" identification patch (lower center of photograph) Germany, after 1942.

Using the most brutal methods, Sauckel had been recruiting civilian Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers) in the Soviet Union.

The German term for several million civilians from the ‘conquered eastern territories’ taken to Germany for forced labor during the Second World War. The recruitment of workers was not part of the Germans' pre-invasion planning, but it began, in November 1941, when it had become apparent that there would be no quick victory on the eastern front. The head of the Nazi Four-Year Plan, Hermann Göring, issued instructions in that month to the effect that ‘Russian’ workers should be used for Germany's benefit. In the same month the labor office of the Distrikt Galizien reported that 60,709 workers had been sent to Germany. At the beginning of 1942 a campaign was instituted under the auspices of the Four-Year Plan to supply 380,000 laborers for German agriculture and 247,000 for German industry. On 21 March F. Sauckel was appointed plenipotentiary general for labor allocation (Generalbevollmüachtiger für den Arbeitseinsatz, or GBA); he became Göring's subordinate in charge of recruiting ‘all available manpower, including foreigners and prisoners of war,’ to work in German industry and thereby allow the release of Germans for the war effort. Ukraine was by far the most important source of Ostarbeiter: of the approx 2.8 million civilians deported to Germany in 1941–4, about 2.2 million were from Ukraine.

Initially many Ukrainians greeted the Germans as liberators from Soviet rule, and 80 percent of the first labor quotas were filled by volunteers. But the brutal treatment of the volunteers, who were packed into freight cars without food or sanitary facilities, soon became known in Ukraine. By the summer of 1942 there were no more volunteers. With their increasing appetite for manpower, the Germans resorted to forcible means of recruitment. People were rounded up arbitrarily to make up the quotas imposed by the GBA.Towns and villages were ordered to register the able-bodied and to supply quotas of workers; those who failed to report for duty were subject to confiscation of grain and property, the burning down of their houses and villages, and incarceration in concentration camps. Official reports and German soldiers' letters to relatives described the beatings and mistreatment of Ostarbeiter as everyday occurrences in Ukraine. Families were often separated, and relatives who tried to give departing workers food and clothing were brutally thrust aside. All that helped to turn popular sentiment decisively against the Germans and encouraged those who faced deportation to join the Soviet partisans or the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The return of disabled Ostarbeiter to Ukraine—the seriously ill, injured, or undernourished, who could not usefully contribute to the war effort—intensified anti-German feelings. Throughout 1942 and 1943 the forced requisition of workers in Ukraine took a dreadful toll in manpower. In Kyiv, for example, instructions were given in April 1942 to round up 20,000 workers aged 16 to 55. In September 1942 part of the city was cordoned off, and all unemployed able-bodied inhabitants were pressed into service. By the summer of 1943, 440,000 workers had been deported from the greater Kyiv area, with the result that German security police protested there were not enough workers left to gather the harvest.

Irrational aspects of Nazi policy lessened the effectiveness of Ostarbeiter recruitment. Tens of thousands of workers were brought to Germany only to be sent back when they were found unsuitable for employment. A report from Kharkiv dated October 1942 pointed out that specialist workers were being forced to leave Ukraine without proper clothing and were being beaten so severely that they were unfit for work. Adolph Hitler's scheme of recruiting half a million Ukrainian women ‘capable of being Germanized’ as domestic workers failed to yield the expected results: Sauckel was able to bring in only 15,000. In Germany Ostarbeiter were treated worse than forced laborers from other German-occupied countries. Ukrainians from the Reichskommissariat Ukraine were not recognized as Ukrainian nationals, a status accorded only to those from the Distrikt Galizien. Every effort was made to isolate the Ostarbeiter from the German population and from workers of other nationalities by placing them in closed residences. So great was the fear of ‘pollution’ by the easterners, whom Nazi propaganda described as subhuman, that the death penalty was instituted for sexual intercourse with them, and for numerous other offenses. Every article of clothing Ostarbeiter wore had to be identified with an ‘Ost’ badge. Whereas the average German industrial worker earned 3.50 reichsmarks (RM) per day, an Ostarbeiter earned 2.30, 1.50 of which was deducted for room and board; Ostarbeiter working in agriculture averaged a net wage of 3 rm per week. Ostarbeiter received smaller food rations than other foreign workers. German maternity laws did not apply to female Ostarbeiter, and their children received half the rations allocated to German children. Most Ostarbeiter worked in private enterprises but were kept under close surveillance by the German police and the SS. Those caught trying to escape were sent to concentration camps or killed. In the autumn of 1942, officials of the Ostministerium began to complain that the brutal treatment of Ostarbeiter was turning the population against the Germans, and military officers warned that it was leading to an increase in the number of anti-German partisans. The criticism resulted in a slight improvement in the status of the Ostarbeiter: their take-home wages were raised to 1.14 rm, a 20 percent rebate of taxes on wages was accorded for excellent work, and a central inspection agency was created to supervise working conditions.

Despite official rhetoric urging better treatment of Ostarbeiter and a growing tendency to equalize their status with that of other foreign workers, measures designed to assist them depended on the goodwill of German employers and were hampered by wartime conditions. The productivity of Ostarbeiter labor was strikingly high. According to a comprehensive survey conducted in 1944, the productivity of male workers was 60–80 percent of that of their German counterparts, and that of female workers attained a level of 90–100 percent. After the war most Ukrainian Ostarbeiter in occupied Germany were forcibly repatriated to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where many were victimized for having ‘betrayed the Fatherland’ by allowing themselves to be captured.

Dallin, A. German Rule in Russia, 1941–1945: A Study of Occupation Policies (London and New York 1957; London 1981)
Homze, E. Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany (Princeton 1967)
Herbert, U. A History of Foreign Labor in Germany, 1880–1980: Seasonal Workers/Forced Laborers/Guest Workers (Ann Arbor 1990)

Myroslav Yurkevich

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]



Freiwillige SS Reg. Warager

In March 1942 the formation of volunteer battalion began in Belgrad. It was done under the order of the Commander-in-Chief in the Balkans who wanted to recruit Russian volunteers for the landing operation near Novorossiysk. The battalion was formed under the command of Captain M. A. Semenov and was a combatant infantry detachment with the strength of 600 persons. The battalion supplying was performed through the SS chief administration, but the detachment subordinated to the commandment of various divisions and Wehrmacht groups. Semenov was given the rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer SS.

The battalion was never sent to the Eastern front. Instead since August 1943 it was used against Yugoslav partisans. In the end of 1943 Semenov handed over the commandment to German officer and went to Germany where took part in the formation of Russian special volunteer units. In the end of 1944 the battalion was expanded into the 'Warager' regiment in Slovenia. The personnel consisted of emigrants and prisoners of war. They were recruited in the camps in Germany and countries occupied. One of the battalions of the 'Warager' regiment was formed in Schlesien. Its strength was 2.500 soldiers and officers. The commander was Colonel M. A. Semenov and his deputy -- Major M. G. Grinev. That battalion became the part of the group of General-major A. V. Turkul which on paper was the part of the KONR forces. After Germany capitulated the battalion was moved in Italy in the camp for war prisoners which located near the town of Taranto. Later some soldiers and officers were extradited to the USSR, some to Yugoslavia. Only a very small group that joined the Russian corps during the last days of war evaded the common fate.

Brigade SS Druzhina

In April 1942 the Fighting Union of Russian Nationalists was formed in the town of Suvalki. It was headed by the former headquarters chief of 229th rifle division V.V.Gil, who took pseudonym Rodionov. The 1st Russian national SS detachment 'Druzhina' (militia unit) was formed from the members of 'БСРН'. The detachment consisted of 300 companies and household units. Its strength was about 500 persons. Gil-Rodionov was its commander. 'Druzhina' was armed with rifles, 150 sub-machine-guns, 50 light and heavy machine-guns, 20 mortars. Its mission was to guard the occupied territories, to fight against partisans and on front line. 'Druzhina' proved its reliability and high battle quality in the combats against Polish partisans near Ljublin. In December 1942 the 2nd Russian national SS detachment was formed there and its commander was former NKVD major E. Blazhevich. In March both detachments were expanded into the 1st Russian national SS regiment with Gil-Rodionov as its commander. Its strength was about 2.000 persons. It consisted of 3 rifle companies, artillery battalion, transport company, air detachment and training battalion. In May the regiment stationed in Byelorussia in the town of Luzhki and fought against partisans. There the regiment was expanded into the 1st Russian national SS brigade with three regiment compliment. Its strength was 3.000 persons. It was armed with 5 76mm field-guns, 10 45mm anti-tank-guns, 8 battalion and 32 company mortars, 164 machine-guns. The brigade took part in many antipartisan operations near Begoml-Lepel, but with low success. On August 16, 1943 the brigade destroyed the German intercommunication headquarters and took the partisans' side.

Uniform. In 1943 the personnel of the regiment and then the brigade under the command of Gil-Rodionov had the common uniform of SS troops -- grey jackets with black tabs and 'eagle' on the left sleeve, forage caps with 'dead head', brown shirts with ties. Golden distillates were for the officers. There was also the armband with the inscription "Za Rus" ("For Russia").

Panzerjager Brigade Russland

In February 1945 the striking anti-tank brigade "Russia" was formed from the ROA soldiers and officers. 1,200 persons served in it under the command of Colonel Galkin. The brigade was subordinated to anti-tank division "Vistula" and fought hard on the river Oder. They called it "fire brigade" because it fought on the most dangerous front zones. In the beginning of April the brigade together with 1604th (former 714th Danish) regiment was included in ROA 1st division.

Von Stumpfeld Division

A Cossack from "Von Stumpfeld" and German pilot on the "Anzuchtstatte" aerodrome.

The division was formed in Stalingrad on December 12th, 1942. The ranks of this division were filled with Russian volunteers, many of them deserters, Cossacks, Ukrainian and Russian policemen. The division was largely armed with captured Soviet weaponry, with some added anti-tank support provided by the 9th Flak division. The division was initially commanded by German officers down to the company level, but these positions came to be taken over by former Russian officers. For example Kamenberg, the original commander of the Kamenberg Battalion, was later replaced by the former Red Army Major Tuchimov. The division was destroyed in Stalingrad, fighting right to the end in the defense of the Tractor Factory, in the first week of February, 1943.

The division was organised and equipped as follows:

Von Stumpefeld Division HQ+

Schmid Infantry Regiment
Schone Battalion (5/7/133)*
1 Company (2 LMGs)
2 Company (1 LMG)
Support Company (mot) (2 Russian 76mm anti-tank guns, 1 50mm gun)
Kamenberg Battalion (4/66/354)
1 Company (4 LMGs, 2 HMGs, 2 50mm and 2 Russian 82mm mortals, 1 75mm PAK 40)
2 Company (1 LMG, 1 88mm Flak 36, 3 20mm Flak, 1 50mm PAK 38)
3 Company (4 LMGs, 1 HMG)
Reserve Company (2 LMGs, 2 Russian HMGs)
Lindner Battalion (3/33/211)*
1 Company (4 Russian LMGs, 4 Russian 82mm mortars, 2 Russian 45mm anti-tank guns)
2 Company (4 Russian LMGs, 2 HMGs, 1 75mm gun)
Eisenacker Battalion (0/45/141)*
1 Company (3 Russian LMGs, 1 Czech LMG, 1Russian HMG)
2 Company (2 (mot) 75mm guns PAK 40, 1 Russian 50mm mortar, 4 Russian 82mm mortars)
Korherr Battalion (7/49/344)*
1 Company (4 LMGs, 3 Russian LMGs, 1 50mm mortar and 1 75mm gun)
2 Company (4 LMGs, 6 Russian LMGs, 1 50mm gun)
1 (mot) Platoon (1 88mm and 2 20mm Flak guns)
2 (mot) Platoon (1 88mm and 1 20mm Flak guns)
1 Reserve Company (1 LMG and 2 Russian LMG)

Stelle Infantry Regiment
Engert Battalion
(4 companies no heavy weapons)
Von Caddnebruck Battalion
(4 companies, no heavy weapons)
Kharkov II Battalion
(12 mortars, 5 LMGs, 1 37mm, 2 50mm and 2 75mm guns)

Morossowskaja Cossaks Battalion
1 Company (6 LMGs)
2 Company (6 LMGs)
3 Company (4 LMGs)

Support (2 88mm Flak guns, 3 20mm Flak gans, 2 37mm PAK 36)
Detachment 9th Flak Division (Stumpfeld Detachment)
(2 88mm and 9 20mm Flak guns)

Abendrot Tank Company
(three T-34 and two T-70)

Artillery Group:
1 French 105mm gun
2 German 105mm guns
1 German 150mm howitzer
4 88mm Flak guns
6 20mm Flak guns
1 75mm field gun
2 Russian 47mm anti-tank guns (English 2nd pounder gun)
5 100mm guns
Kamenberg, Lindner and Eisenacker Battalions be armed 11th German anti-tank rifles and 42nd Russian anti-tank rifles

* (officers/ NCO / men)

The information and photo by Vladislav Dovghenko (Military historical club "Stalingrad").

Friday, September 12, 2008


Much has been written, with varying degrees of authority, on the RLM (Russian Liberation Movement, RLA (Russian Liberation Army) and General A.A. Vlasov.

Andrey Vlasov

General Andrey Vlasov General Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov (alternative transliterations of his names appear as Andrei Andreievich and as Vlassov or (in German) Wlassow) (September 14 (September 1 O.S.), 1900, Lomakino, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast - August 2, 1946, Moscow) was a Soviet Army General who later worked for Nazi Germany during World War II.

Early career

Originally a student at a Russian seminary, he quit his study after the Russian Revolution and in 1919 he joined the Red Army fighting in the southern theatre in the Ukraine, the Caucasus, and the Crimea. He distinguished himself as an officer and gradually rose through the ranks of the Red Army.

He joined the Communist Party in 1930. He became one of Stalin's most trusted military leaders. Following the outbreak of war in 1941, Vlasov played an important role in the defence of Moscow. Described by some historians as "charismatic", Vlasov was decorated following his efforts in the defence of Moscow and of Kiev. After this success Vlasov was put in charge of a group of shock troops that were to try and lift the Siege of Leningrad. His expedition was unsuccessful and this force, the 2nd Shock Army, was destroyed in June 1942.


One version:

Vlasov was forced into hiding in German occupied territory. The Germans found him on July 12 1942, and soon sent him to a special prison for high-ranking officers. There he informed the Germans of his desire to defect.

Alternative version:

Vlasov was captured in summer 1942 after German forces had encircled his army. Marshal Kirill Meretskov in his memoirs depicted Vlasov as a sheer "careerist" who withdrew himself from the command of the encircled army. Soviet relief forces broke the encirclement several times, but without organized support from within the encirclement, they failed to secure the withdrawal of Vlasov's army. As the result, according to Meretskov's figures, sixteen thousand men of the encircled army escaped through a narrow (only 300 to 400 meters wide) "corridor" along the railway line, six thousand were killed in action and eight thousand were missing in action. From the post-war search and exhumation efforts in 1980s and later it is now obvious that most of the MIAs should be presumed dead.

Vlasov's German captors persuaded him to assist them to fight Stalin. Vlasov blamed Stalin and the excesses of the Soviet police state and for his defeat and capture.

German client

Vlasov argued that Germany should set up a Russian provisional government and recruit a Russian army of liberation under his command. Vlasov wrote an anti-Bolshevik leaflet which aircraft dropped by the millions on Soviet forces, and as a direct consequence thousands of Soviet troops deserted.

As proof of his willingness to collaborate with the Germans, Vlasov founded the Russian Liberation Committee and the Russian Liberation Army—known as ROA (from Russkaya Osvoboditel'naya Armiya)—and became its commander-in-chief. Together with some other captured Soviet generals, officers and soldiers, the army was created to "liberate" Russia from Stalinism. Vlasov promised a return to private property and capitalism; he had no interest in freedom or democracy, however. Still, many Russian POWs did choose to join his force.

Hitler was very wary of Vlasov and his army. He worried that Vlasov could succeed in overthrowing Stalin, which would halt Hitler's dreams of expanding Germany to the Urals. German commanders therefore pulled Vlasov's forces away from direct battles with the Red Army and sent them to other fronts. Only in the closing stages of the war did Germany finally agree to the deployment of two Russian divisions under Vlasov's command on the Eastern Front, but again they did little fighting against the Soviets.

Final days

One important action fought by the Russian Liberation Army took place against an SS force intending to subdue the Prague Uprising with hope to obtain credit with Allies. The ROA prevented the SS from putting down the uprising, but were then asked to leave by the communist forces which had led the uprising.

Vlasov and the rest of his forces, desperate to escape the revenge of the Red Army, attempted to head west to join with the Allies in the closing days of the war in Europe. In May 1945, Vlasov and his men surrendered to western Allied forces.

The British and Americans had little interest in providing aid to Nazi collaborators that would anger an important ally, and thus rebuffed Vlasov's requests for long-term asylum. Vlasov and most of his supporters came into the hands of the Soviet authorities, either directly or indirectly.

Soviet authorities sent Vlasov and his men to Moscow, and in a summary trial held in the summer of 1946 sentenced him and eleven other senior officers from his army to death. They were hanged on August 2 1946. This was the last sentence to death by hanging in the Soviet Union. The remaining soldiers were loaded into boxcars and sent back to Russia. It was reported that some of them were machine gunned as they got off the train; however the majority of surviving Vlasov soldiers and low-ranking officers were not executed, but imprisoned to labor camps. Some of them were among 55 thousand collaborators that were pardoned by the post-Stalin Soviet government on September 17, 1955.

Review of his case

A so-called "popular movement", named "For Faith and Fatherland" applied in 2001 to the military prosecutor for a review of Vlasov's case. The military prosecutor concluded however that the law of rehabilitation of victims of political repressions did not apply, and there was no grounds to reopen the case.


The history of the Russian Liberation Army is described in Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt: Against Stalin and Hitler. Memoir of the Russian Liberation Movement 1941-5. Macmillan, 1970.

History of the Russian Liberation Movement


16 August 1941 - the order of the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command N of 270 1941 from about the inadmissibility of delivery into the captivity, otherwise to destroy those returned by "all means both ground-based, and air, and the family of the returned Red Army men to deprive of welfare payment and of aid".

1942 orders N 227 "not to step back". 1942- m supreme commander-in-chief Joseph Stalin published famous order after number 227. - under the threat of shooting was forbidden any retreat, in the Red Army were introduced penal and barrage batal'ony(do of 200 people).

Voluntary national connections at the eastern front are created for the patronage of local German command against the straight prohibition of Hitler.

March 1942 - in Osintorf settlement (region Orshi) is created by RNNA (Russian national People's Army), to August 1942 counted of 1500 man. Main role in the creation RNNA belonged to White emigres S.N. to Ivanov, K.G.Kromiadi, I.K.Sakharovu.

On 11 July, 1942, - in the so-called Volkhov boiler in the environs of Leningrad is undertaken into the captivity General A.A.Vlasov.

10 September 1942 - 1 leaflet, signed By the A.A.Vlasov

end 1942g - the brigade Of b.V.Kaminskogo The RONA(Russkaya liberation People's Army) counts 14 rifle batalionov, bronedivizion and the motorized destructive company. Only of 10 thousand people.

end 1942g - General Vlasov's trip to the territories with the agitational appearances occupied

27 December 1942 - the Smolensk declaration

March 1943 - the open letter of the General OF A.A. Vlasov "Why I embarked on the path of fight with the Bolshevism"

Mass passage of voluntary connections to the side of partisans.

On 10 October 1943 - the order of the Fuehrer about the transfer of eastern parts to France, Italy and in the Balkans, but also there they passed to the side of allied troops.

On 26 August 1944 - into the Waffen SS were transferred all international personnel and units of ground forces.

14 November 1944 - the constitutive congress of KONR.

23 November 1944 - the formation of 1 Russian division. Commander S.K.Bunyachenko.

On 19 December 1944 - Hering signed edict about the creation of the Air Force ROA on the basis of the Russian air group, formed in the composition To Luftwaffe during November 1943.

To April 1945 it was possible to form fighter squadron under the command of the former captain of the Red Army and Hero of the Soviet Union Of s.T.Bychkovay of aircraft Me -109G-10) and Senior Lieutenant of the Red Army and Hero of the Soviet Union Of b.R.Antilevskogo (12 ju-88)

On 28 January 1945 Hitler assign Vlasov as the commander-in-chief OF ROA.

5 May 1945 - the participation of division Bunyachenko in the Prague uprising.

1945 - 1946

Rewriting history

ROA Armour cheered by citizens of Prague

Prague's World War II commemorations, as usual, all but left out a band of heroes who saved the city

By Stephen Weeks
For The Prague Post
May 19, 2005

"Good progress, this year" said a colleague at Czech TV who had been monitoring the Czech press and TV coverage of the V-E Day celebrations — also 60 years after the fall of Nazi Prague — for references to the Russian Liberation Army, the ROA, aka "Vlasov's army" after its leader, the renegade former Soviet general whose troops turned on their Nazi sponsors and made possible the liberation of Prague without the massive bloodbath and destruction that would have undoubtedly happened otherwise.

Vlasov was a controversial figure and his army a dangerous political tightrope-walking act. His role in May 1945 got a few mentions this year — the first time ever, but not one paper had the courage to print the full unvarnished story, suppressed by the communists and thus virtually unknown in the West too. The communist way of maintaining a secret was simply to eradicate it. People disappeared from photographs and historical facts were simply rewritten. If one looks at the current Web site of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, for example, not only are Vlasov and the ROA not mentioned, but neither are the Americans. ... Czechoslovakia was liberated solely by the Red Army.

Now the actual Soviet contribution to liberating the country is being rewritten, too. Two weeks ago Prague was awash with reenactments that paraded U.S. jeeps and the Stars and Stripes. It was a case of retrospective wishful thinking. Apart from a handful of sorties by U.S. reconnaissance personnel and chancers, the U.S. Army remained firmly behind their demarcation line at Plzeň 60 years ago.

Historians maintain that it was not part of the deal struck with Stalin at the Yalta conference earlier in 1945 for the other allies to let the Soviets take Prague — that instead it was Eisenhower's decision alone for separate political considerations. But then other facts have mysteriously disappeared into history's greedy quicksand: Why did Churchill stop the airdrop of arms to the Prague insurgents just two days before the uprising was due to start? British transport planes were already loaded at Bari in Italy for the job.

This cannot have had anything to do with letting Stalin take Prague — unless Stalin had admitted that he wanted a Prague where all the finest patriots (who might later object to totalitarianism) had been killed in a Nazi shootout. Stalin had performed this trick already by waiting outside Warsaw and later in Slovakia. Churchill's voluminous memoirs are silent on this. He must have known the likely consequences of starving the uprising of its means of fighting. His reputation would in the end be unsullied due to the timely arrival of the unlikely figure of General A. A. Vlasov.

The Churchill memoirs are also pretty quiet on the matter of the British loading the 25,000 men of Vlasov's 2nd Division onto rail wagons at Judenberg in Austria, knowing that these men would be murdered by the Soviets. (The excuse was that Yalta demanded the repatriation of all citizens to their home countries. Never mind that Stalin had earlier stripped all ROA members of their Soviet citizenship!)

At several of the key Prague celebrations over V-E Day this year, not only did Vlasov and the ROA not get a mention — but neither did the Soviets. Can we expect a Hollywood movie soon about the Americans (led by Tom Cruise) liberating Prague? After all, in a recent U.S. movie the British navy's important capture of the Enigma coding machine from a sinking U-boat was simply turned into an American exploit that just happened to have changed the course of the war — as well as warping history. How are young people supposed to deal with this distortion of the facts when they don't know the truth first?

Another way of rewriting history is to acknowledge yet belittle events. This May we have heard from a Czech historian that indeed the ROA existed but its contribution to the Liberation didn't add up to much — that statement in face of the facts that the Prague insurgents numbered about 30,000 badly or even unarmed (thanks to whatever demon was driving Churchill) men and women. Vlasov's ROA had 22,000 well-trained, fully armed and equipped men with armor and artillery and under excellent tactical leadership. But even if some historians reluctantly accept this truth, Vlasov's men are then condemned as "traitors" — the old communist word for them. The modern word for these anti-Soviet activists — who succeeded in bluffing the Nazis as well as readying themselves to fight communism — is dissidents ... far more history-friendly.

The commemorations took place at Olšanská Cemetery this year May 7 at the national military memorials — those of the British and Americans, the Soviet Russians, the Romanians. The bands, the stiffly marching wreath-bearers and the grateful passed in sight of the only memorial to the ROA but did not stop there — choosing to ignore it. Still the ROA does not exist. Under two wooden Russian crosses, right by the orthodox chapel, lie at least 184 of Vlasov's men — buried secretly by well-wishers in May 1945. A memorial stone was erected in recent years bearing the insignia of the ROA — the blue and white cross. It also lists two of its generals buried there who had been killed surprisingly enough by Czech partisans, already firmly under communist influence before the end of the uprising. Even the very first editions (May 9, 1945) of the Czech newspapers Mladá fronta and Rudé Pravo, printed on presses captured the day before from their German predecessors on the very day of the arrival of the Red Army, make absolutely no mention of Vlasov and the ROA. The fiction thus started before the bodies of Vlasov's men were even cold.

By diverting their course to liberate Prague, almost all the 22,000 soldiers of the ROA's 1st Division were to lose their lives. Those injured in the battle who had been left behind in Prague at the U Apolináře Hospital in the care of the International Red Cross were shot in their beds by Soviet troops. Those who managed to get to the American zone found the demarcation line mysteriously moved — and, unarmed, they were left to be dealt with by Stalin's murderous wrath.

Rewriting history goes on and on. It will never end. On May 9 this year President Putin claimed the Soviets had won the war as it had captured "80 percent of the German army." Eighty percent? Does that mean that only 20 percent fought across France, Belgium and Holland and defended Germany's western front? And what about those troops in Italy and Greece? But if you take the Wehrmacht as it existed at ceasefire in 1945, there were only those remnants defending Berlin and the odd pocket of diehards in Bohemia. Perhaps he means 80 percent of that? One can, of course, make facts fit whatever scenario one needs.

And if rewriting won't work, you can keep history down by punishing anyone disseminating the truth. Several weeks ago Turkey (soon to be an EU partner?!) strengthened its law governing "acts against fundamental national interests" to give jail sentences to anyone, not just Turks, who describe the 1915 mass execution of Ottoman Armenians as genocide. So if go for a holiday in Turkey and repeat that term, your stay may be longer than you expect.

As for Vlasov and his men, there is no official memorial, only the graves at Olšanská. There's no veterans' parade, there are no plaques and no wreaths in the streets where they fell. Around Beroun however, where the army was first encamped, they are still remembered. A gray-haired woman remembers — as a little toddler — being bounced on the knee of the young Russian soldier billeted in her family's house. Now he — and the rest of his lost army — is simply one of history's ghosts.

Stephen Weeks is a writer and conservationist. He can be reached at

Social Scientists and War Criminals

Martin Oppenheimer

[from New Politics, vol. 6, no. 3 (new series), whole no. 23, Summer 1997]

Martin Oppenheimer teaches sociology at Rutgers University.

THE 49TH CORPS OF THE GERMAN ARMY REACHED THE CAUCASUS and took the city of Mikoyan Shakhar in August, 1942. Professor Nicholas Poppe, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, was living in Mikoyan Shakhar and working at the Pedagogical Institute. Poppe, a linguist, had taught Mongolian at Petrograd University in the 1920s, and was an expert on Soviet nationality groups. Profoundly anti-Stalinist, Poppe had decided that the way to flee the Soviet Union was by joining the Germans. He thought they would ultimately lose the war, but if he evacuated with them as they retreated, he would somehow find his way to Britain or the U.S. after the war. So he willingly became an interpreter for the Germans, and when the Soviets retook the area, Poppe left with the Germans. He understood, of course, that his "few stints as an interpreter in the interest of the local people," as he put it in his Reminiscences, published in 1983, could be called collaboration, sufficient grounds for a death sentence from the Communists should they ever apprehend him.

While still in the Caucasus, Poppe claimed, he was sufficiently influential to save some Jewish children in a sanatorium (by deliberately mistranslating a statement by the director), and the entire tribe of so-called "Mountain Jews," a Caucasian ethnic group of Persian background that practiced the Jewish religion. Poppe claimed that he "wrote a memorandum in which I pointed out that Tsarist laws had not treated them as Jews but as Caucasian mountaineers. Furthermore, their real name was Tat, and scholarly literature had indicated that the Tat were people of Iranian origin who spoke an Iranian language...[even SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Major] Pesterer himself said, 'we're not interested in their funny religion. If they want to be Jewish in religion, we don't care. It's the racial Jews we're against.'" This has got to be one of the more bizarre anecdotes in the entire insane epic of Nazi anti-Semitism.

By the Spring of 1943 Poppe was in Berlin, assigned to work at the Wannsee Institute, a component of SS chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner's intelligence operation. His job, he claimed, was research on Siberian history, ethnography, and the like. The Institute should not be confused with the Wannsee Conference, at which, the previous January 20, 1942, the Nazis determined on the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question." In any case, Poppe was not in Berlin then.

Christopher Simpson tells us in his book Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War (1988) that the Wannsee Institute's ethnic reports, "which were the most accurate information available to the SS concerning locations of concentrations of Jewish population inside the USSR, provided a convenient road map for the senior SS leaders assigned the task of exterminating the Jews." Although there is no hard evidence that Poppe was directly involved in this aspect of Wannsee's "research," it would have been unlikely that as an expert on Soviet ethnics he would have had no part in this work, although he consistently denied it. He claimed that the Wannsee Institute was merely one of several institutes that collected materials on various regions of the world, all supervised by a foundation headed by an SS officer, who in turn reported to the Intelligence Section, which in turn reported to Kaltenbrunner, so that he, Poppe, was many steps removed from the SS.

By May 1945, the Russians were closing in on Berlin. A spinoff of Wannsee, the East Asia Institute, with Poppe in it, had been evacuated to Marienbad, Czechoslovakia in 1944. There Poppe encountered General Andrei Vlasov, who had been captured by the Germans and had organized an army for them. The Vlasov army, a brainchild of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, consisted of a mix of Soviet prisoners of war faced with a choice of joining or starving to death, and volunteers motivated by hatred of the Soviet regime and/or opportunism. The Vlasov army fought only briefly as a unit for the Nazis, but a number of Vlasov's men had not only fought with SS units prior to the formation of Vlasov's army, but had been part of SS extermination units. Poppe claimed he stayed aloof from Vlasov, though he clearly sympathized with him.

After the military collapse of Germany Poppe, fleeing the advancing Soviet armies, made his way to an estate belonging to a maternal great-aunt near Herford (he had some German ancestry on his mother's side), and hid there. The U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps was soon hunting him for extradition to the Soviet Union, but a British Counter-Intelligence Corps agent located him first, and Poppe went to live at his house for several months. By the Fall of 1945 Poppe was in touch with several U.S. scholars at Columbia and Harvard who had known him prior to the war. At one point he posed as an Estonian Displaced Person; at another, British intelligence took him out of a DP camp and kept him under wraps for several months to evade a Soviet extradition application. Early in 1947 he was informed that he would not be permitted to enter Britain. The British continued to hide him from the MVD (the Soviet secret service later known as the KGB), provided him with a cover identity, and used him to teach Russian to British officers. However, he seemed to be an embarrassment to the British, so they handed him to the Americans. By May, 1948, Harvard's Russian Research Center (HRRC) as well as the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, then headed by George F. Kennan, indicated strong interest in obtaining his expertise.

At the end of the war an estimated 5.5 million Soviet citizens, most of them forced laborers or prisoners, lived in Germany. Of this large number, tens of thousands had collaborated with the Nazis in various capacities, among them Vlasov and his people. Not a few were wanted as war criminals. None of these tens of thousands could safely return home. However, as Charles Thomas O'Connell put it in a doctoral dissertation on the Harvard Russian Research Center (Social Structure and Science: Soviet Studies at Harvard, 1990), in the new climate of the Cold War "the realization grew that the Soviet nonreturners might be a valuable political resource." The use of Soviet DP's "to fill in the gaps in our current intelligence" (in the words of a State Department paper) became a desirable strategy. Nicholas Poppe, a sophisticated intellectual well-versed in Soviet affairs was a star in this respect.

There were a number of others. Another former professor of languages, Leo Dudin, from the University of Kiev, had also been in Berlin in 1943. During the German occupation of Kiev, Dudin helped put out two propaganda newspapers for the Nazis, one in Ukrainian, one in Russian. In Berlin he worked for the Propaganda Ministry (Goebbels) writing radio scripts for broadcast to the Soviet Union. At some point Dudin joined the Vlasov army. As a Vlasovist, Dudin was also wanted by the Russians and was also semi-underground in West Germany. By 1948 Dudin was working for U.S. Army Intelligence doing "political orientation work."

By the end of the war, General Vlasov himself had become little more than a burned out alcoholic. He and a number of his top officers were turned over to the Russians, and were executed as traitors. But a large number of Vlasovists escaped the firing squad and made their way to West Germany. Besides Dudin, there was also a Colonel Vladimir Pozdniakov, who had been General Vlasov's aide-de-camp and chief of security for the Committee for the Liberation of Russia, Vlasov's political arm. The Soviets had him on a list of 73 alleged war criminals and collaborators because of his pro-Nazi activities, which were said to include having been chief of police in a P.O.W. camp in Poland. A more interesting Vlasovist was Boris A. Yakovlev, actually Nikolai Troitsky, who had once been arrested as a saboteur and "wrecker" during the Stalinist purges. He was, however, released, joined the army, and subsequently was taken prisoner by the Germans in late 1941. After a year as a P.O.W. he decided to collaborate and also worked for the Nazi Propaganda Ministry, editing a newspaper in occupied Russia. In May, 1944, he joined the Vlasov army, and then attended the Nazi intelligence school organized by Richard Gehlen. After that, he edited the Vlasovist newspaper from May 1944 to April 1945, at which point he changed his name and fled to Munich.

SINCE THE WAR THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS to rehabilitate or sanitize the Vlasov movement, although there is wide agreement that its personnel were a mixed bag. Various sources claim that the Vlasov army existed as such for only a few months in 1945 and fought only briefly for the Germans, that it actually engaged the SS in combat in the closing days of the war in Prague, that many were actually anti-Stalinist bolsheviks or democrats who naively believed that a Hitler victory would enable them to restore genuine socialism, that they were connected with anti-Nazi groups in the German Army, including those who attempted the coup against Hitler in July 1944, and that in any case they were not in a position to commit war crimes. Christopher Simpson calls these attempts to whitewash the Vlasovists "bogus." His verdict: "In reality, Vlasov's organization consisted in large part of reassigned veterans from some of the most depraved SS and 'security' units of the Nazi's entire killing machine, regardless of what Vlasov himself may have wanted. By 1945 about half of Vlasov's troops had been drawn from the SS Kommando Kaminsky, which had earlier been led by the Belorussian collaborator Bronislav Kaminsky." And he adds, in a footnote: "These troops were among the actual triggermen of the Holocaust..."

What Poppe, Dudin, Podzniakov, Yakovlev, and a cluster of their Vlasovist friends had in common, and what was more interesting to U.S. authorities and their closely-linked academic collaborators, was their presumed (and certainly auto-certified) knowledge of Soviet affairs, and their desperation to stay out of Soviet hands. Since intelligence about the Soviet Union was, after the outbreak of the Cold War, worth its weight in gold, or at least immigration visas, it made sense for these people to promote their expertise, real or not, and for U.S. institutions, especially certain university think tanks, to go after them.

JUST ABOUT THE TIME PROFESSOR POPPE WENT TO WORK at the Wannsee Institute, the U.S. War Department's Civil Affairs Division was beginning to set up training programs for the people who were to run the Allied occupation of Germany once the war was over. One of these programs was set up at Harvard, in the form of the School for Overseas Administration. A well-known Harvard sociologist, Talcott Parsons, became part of the staff, wrote a memo on possible sociological contributions to the training, and later chaired the Planning Committee of Harvard's "Foreign Area and Language Program, Central European Program." In 1944 he represented sociology in a multi-disciplinary academic conference on the prospects for the democratization of Germany. The conference was heavily biased toward psychological and national character studies of German mentalities, about which Parsons had done some writing.

Parsons' work at the School for Overseas Administration at Harvard, one of his admirers, Professor Jens Nielsen has written, "brought (him) in contact with governmental and intelligence institutions in Washington, especially the OSS, which was the forerunner of the CIA. Many of his Harvard colleagues also worked for the OSS . . . at the end of the war, William L. Langer, Director of the Research and Analysis Section of the OSS, offered Parsons a job in that organization . . ." Langer joined Harvard's History Department in 1947, and Parsons, too, had other plans. In 1947 he became Chairman of Harvard's increasingly distinguished Department of Social Relations. Parsons was by now arguably America's leading mainstream sociologist. (Two years later he would be elected President of the American Sociological Society.) But first Professor Parsons' and Professor Poppe's paths would cross.

It had become increasingly clear to the internationally-oriented Eastern corporate and government establishment even before the war, and more so in the context of the new Cold War, that traditional scholarship had little to contribute to understanding the Soviet bloc. Hence a growing interest in multi-disciplinary area studies. The Carnegie Corporation, an East Coast establishment foundation, soon assumed a leading role in promoting area studies, and its Vice President, John Gardner, took on the task of involving the behavioral sciences in this project. The Carnegie Corporation was not entirely a dispassionate funder of educational and scientific projects. Its charter permitted it to take an active role in "defining research needs and creating programs to fill those needs," as James O'Connell wrote in his 1990 study, and it did so now. In July 1947, Talcott Parsons, who had gotten wind of Carnegie's interest, wrote Gardner suggesting that Harvard be involved.

But the Carnegie Corporation and its backers were not alone in promoting research on the Soviet Union. At a September 1947 dinner of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), of which Allen Dulles, soon to head the CIA, was President, Carnegie's ideas for a Russian Center, possibly at Harvard, were discussed with former OSS officer (by now Harvard professor) Langer. The Council was and is a powerful institution with strong links to corporate and political elites. The Carnegie Corporation had been instrumental in funding the Council, and several Carnegie Trustees served as its Directors and officers. It was already playing a major role in the formation of U.S. foreign policy and would be fully involved in plans for a Russian center through its interlocking personages, from here on in.

Washington was soon directly involved as well. In July 1947 Carnegie V.P. Gardner visited the capital to assess the quality of government research on the Soviet Union. There wasn't much. He came away with indications that the State Department, as well as the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the CIA (Allen Dulles, Wall Street lawyer and President of the CFR, consultant), would be cooperative in the creation of a Russian center. Gardner remained in close touch with the Russian Section, European Division, Office of Intelligence and Research at State, especially later, when it came to recruiting personnel for Harvard's center.

Shortly after, Gardner's choice for the location of a Russian Research Center settled on Harvard. Gardner proposed an executive committee to direct the program: the anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn as Director, and a "core" group that included Parsons and Alex Inkeles, an expert on the Soviet Union. Kluckhohn, the elected President of the American Anthropological Association in 1947, had "top secret" security clearance from the R&D Board of the (now renamed) Department of Defense and was actively involved in Air Force Intelligence projects. He was not selected for his expertise on the Soviet Union; neither he nor Parsons even spoke Russian.

The Harvard Russian Research Center formally came into existence in February 1948, after the Carnegie Corporation's Trustees, at Gardner's bidding, granted it $100,000 for the first year of operation, with another $640,000 in readiness for the following five years. Between 1947 and 1957 Carnegie would give it a total of $875,000.

There were several reasons for locating the Center at Harvard, not the least of which was the close linkage between the State Department, the Carnegie people, and Harvard's leadership (including its Board of Overseers). Between October 1947 and the formal beginning of the Center in February 1948 a number of scholars were recruited. Carnegie's Gardner shuttled between Washington, New York, and Chicago (where he interviewed such leading academics as Louis Wirth and Robert Redfield about potential candidates). Gardner was also in contact with the CIA. Boston CIA field agents would soon become the conduits for "conveying the research needs of Washington officials to the Director of the Russian Research Center, who in turn relayed the questions and problems to the scholars of Harvard's Center," as O'Connell describes it. In January 1948 John Paton Davies, a member of George F. Kennan's Policy Planning Staff at State, visited Harvard and met with Director-to-be Kluckhohn, further cementing the relationship between Washington and the Center.

In March 1948 Davies wrote a paper (classified "Secret") outlining a covert plan to use Soviet emigrés living in Germany as intelligence sources. The plan was approved by Undersecretary of State Robert A. Lovett on March 15. From Lovett's desk the plan went via various bureaucratic routes to the National Security Agency for transmission to the CIA. There were two components to Davies' plan: to increase defections from the USSR, and to utilize Soviet refugees to obtain intelligence about the USSR. The latter objective involved a massive research project that would interview Soviet refugees, and would then bring a limited number of emigré Soviet social scientists to the U.S.

The Davies project fit in well with what the Carnegie people had in mind for the Harvard Russian Research Center. A reconnaissance of various potential sources of data (the refugees) needed to be undertaken. Shortly after the formalization of the HRRC, Director Kluckhohn dispatched Executive Committee member Talcott Parsons to carry out this mission. Parsons travelled in Germany, Austria, England and Sweden from June to August 1948, during which time he was in touch with diplomatic and military officials, intelligence personnel, scholars, and a few Soviet displaced persons in order to identify those who might be useful in various ways to the HRRC. He also wrote approximately ten letters to Kluckhohn describing his travels and his contacts. (Two scholars have seen these letters and quote from them in their work: O'Connell, and Sigmund Diamond, the Columbia sociologist and historian, whose Compromised Campus, 1992, devotes several chapters to the HRRC.) Some interesting names appear in these letters. Nicholas Poppe is one of them.

PARSONS WAS IDEALLY SUITED FOR THIS "RECONNAISSANCE" TRIP. He had studied at Heidelberg in the late 20s, had translated the German sociologist Max Weber into English, and by the late 30s was not only politically involved in campaigns against isolationism and (after 1939) in favor of U.S. intervention in the war, but was also writing fairly extensively about the threat of Naziism. Parsons and a number of other Harvard social scientists organized discussion groups focusing, among other topics, on Nazi propaganda. One participant in these groups was Parsons' close friend and sociological colleague Edward Hartshorne, an expert on the German educational system. Parsons and Hartshorne were about to collaborate on a book dealing with the psychology of Naziism when Hartshorne took a job in Washington in the intelligence field. Immediately after the war Hartshorne, by then an officer attached to the Psychological Warfare Division of Allied Supreme Headquarters in Europe, helped to reorganize the German educational system and was a key figure in the rebirth of the German Sociological Society. He was murdered on August 28, 1946 in Germany under mysterious circumstances, an event that greatly distressed Parsons.

It is widely believed, especially in radical sociology circles, that Parsons was a political conservative committed to a sociology that advocated value neutrality, not unlike Max Weber. This is a misperception. Parsons held that indifference to values was impossible for the "liberal scholar." The values he advocated publicly had to do with "the search for truth" but he also believed that "antiliberal," that is, totalitarian, views in the academy should not be tolerated. This explains his waffling on McCarthyism later. His writings, insofar as one can penetrate his obscure prose, make it clear that he was opposed to Nazi totalitarianism, and, by implication, Soviet totalitarianism as well.

In short, Parsons was a paradigmatic Cold War liberal. From his perspective it was not inconsistent for him to engage in scholarly pursuits helpful to the intelligence community. Parsons was, by 1948, a highly political animal, and had been for some years. He was neither naive nor likely to be manipulated. As one of his admirers, Robert Bannister, has written, "Parsons was fully aware that Harvard's RRC was closely integrated with governmental intelligence..." This is echoed by another scholar sympathetic to Parsons, Jens Kaalhauge Nielsen: "There is no doubt...that he was fully aware of the integrated network involving the RRC and the intelligence community and that he knew a lot about Kluckhohn's strong involvement in intelligence activities."

On his arrival in Germany on June 20, 1948, Parsons made his way to a U.S. Army Intelligence officer, Colonel Henry Newton, presumably because Newton was one of the "gatekeepers" to Soviet emigré intelligence sources. Newton was not available, but one of his employees, Leo Dudin, the Vlasovist, was, and Parsons spent the night at Dudin's house. The following day Parsons and Dudin were taken to Garmisch to meet with another intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Hoffman. A few days later Parsons saw Colonel Robert Schow, Deputy Director of Intelligence in the European Command. (A year later Schow became Assistant Director of CIA, working in clandestine operations.) Parsons described these meetings, and some of the emigrés he met in the letters he wrote to Kluckhohn. Besides Dudin, Parsons described and apparently met at least two others: Vlaslov's former aide-de-camp Pozdniakov, and one Ivar Nyman, a former Soviet Foreign Office official. All three were working for U.S. Army Intelligence by that time. Parsons broached to Kluckhohn the possibility that these three be brought to work at Harvard. (They were not, ultimately, but were employed by the RRC as contacts for obtaining research reports from Soviet Displaced Persons in Germany until 1950, when it became clear that their intelligence was low quality.)

On Jun 30, 1948 Parsons wrote Kluckhohn from Berlin. There, a Harvard professor, C.J. Friedrich, an adviser to General Lucius Clay, had put him in touch with an intelligence officer named Lawrence De Neufville, Deputy Director of the Office of the Military Government (for the U.S. Zone of occupied Germany). De Neufville told Parsons that the British had put a number of Nazi experts on Russia to work, and then De Neufville "came up with the name of our friend Poppe. He told me that P. was under the protection of the British Intelligence people but they want to get him to the United States. He is very hot for them because he is explicitly wanted by the Russians..."

Parsons and the RRC knew about Poppe beforehand. Kluckhohn had been made aware of the fact that John Paton Davies of the State Department wanted to secure an academic position in the U.S. for him. A tentative appointment as Research Associate at Harvard had been authorized, but a hitch developed, probably because more data on his past had come to light. In Germany, Parsons became privy to confidential information shared between British and U.S. intelligence agencies. In a letter of June 30, 1948, Parsons tells Kluckhohn of meeting with a British intelligence man named Rhodes, who had Poppe's dossier, marked "Top Secret" on his desk. Parsons tells Kluckhohn that if a way can be found to get Poppe into the U.S., the British will take care of letting him out of Germany.

There is no evidence that Parsons actually met or talked with Poppe. Nor can we tell how much Parsons knew of Poppe's past (particularly since Poppe was not necessarily giving every detail, logically enough). However, Parsons knew enough to voice some doubts about this crew: "Perhaps I was a little hasty in my recommendations on the Dudin group. I don't know. Certainly they aren't the only ones and their political inclinations may be extreme -- and yet -- I want to go back to them with the wider perspective." We do not know what he meant by "extreme," or what "the wider perspective" may have meant. Parsons does not seem to have had anything further to do with getting Poppe to the U.S. Parsons' wife Helen, who was administrative director of the RRC, was aware, however, that Harvard's tentative offer to Poppe was in jeopardy. She wrote to Poppe in Germany telling him not to count on an appointment due to "complications."

On Parsons' return he met with Carnegie's President Charles Dollard and V.P. Gardner, who were much encouraged about the prospects of further, and closer cooperation between the RRC and official U.S. circles in Germany. Parsons' own relationship with the intelligence community continued over the years. As late as 1974 he was a consultant to the CIA on student protest movements, and on personality aspects of potential CIA recruits.

Poppe does not mention Parsons in his Reminiscences, but he does say that Kluckhohn informed him he could not get the Harvard appointment because, Poppe thought, he had stayed in Germany "as a refugee from the Soviet Union and worked for the German government." Anyway, Poppe was flown to Washington in 1949 under the name of Joseph Alexandros, and debriefed by Carmel Offie, of the CIA-funded Office of Policy Coordination in the State Department. He had in the meantime landed a job at the University of Washington (Seattle), in its Far Eastern Institute, where he wrote several books on Asian linguistics. He died in 1991 at the age of 88. Poppe continued, for the rest of his life, to deny any involvement in war crimes. He feuded with Owen Lattimore, who had accused him of being an SS officer, and later went to the trouble of obtaining a sort of clearance from the Archive of the Federal Republic of Germany, which wrote to him in February 1963 that based on the available documentation "it would appear that you were not a member of the SS."

After Parsons' "reconnaissance," the coast was clear for the Harvard Russian Research Center to proceed full speed with the collection of scholarship and/or intelligence. The Harvard Refugee Interview Project of 1950-51, directed by Alex Inkeles, an original member of the RRC, and Raymond A. Bauer, senior research staff member of RRC, was funded by the Air Force. (It eventually conducted over 700 interviews, administered over 2,000 questionnaires, and resulted in four books, 35 articles and 53 unpublished reports.)

However, before the Project could get underway it was necessary to locate and organize an influential group of Soviet emigrés in order to legitimate this and subsequent research among the understandably suspicious Soviet refugee population. This group came to be known as the Institute for Research on the History and Institutions of the USSR, or, more popularly, the Munich Institute. The Institute was funded at first by Harvard, and later by the CIA [February, 1951 until 1971, when Senator Clifford Case (R, N.J.), blew the whistle]. Harvard maintained a liaison, Professor George Fischer, and there was a CIA adviser, Leon Barat. It pretended to be an autonomous group of scholars that ran a library, conducted conferences, operated a summer school for Sovietologists, and otherwise behaved like many other scholarly institutes. However, its real function was to act as a contact organization through which Harvard's RRC could obtain access to Soviet D.P.s and other Soviet emigrés for research (and intelligence) purposes. The RRC, working with Boris Yakovlev, founder of the library, selected an "academic council" from among emigrés employed at the U.S. Army Intelligence schools in Germany. All had security clearance.

Although full information is not available on all eight members of the council, or executive committee of the Institute, we know that four of them were clearly Vlasovists and/or Nazi collaborators. Yakovlev, the Director, had had some 33 aliases, and had worked for the Vlasovist newspaper under the direction of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Michael Aldan, actually André Nerianin, former chief of staff of the Soviet 20th Army, had been Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations, for Vlasov. He was wanted as a war criminal by the Soviets. Abdurachman Kunta, originally Avtorkhanov, had organized a "white" partisan group for the Germans, and had worked as a propagandist in Berlin. Konstantin Shteppa also worked in propaganda for the Nazis. Pozdniakov, the Vlasovist whom Parsons met in 1948, was ousted from the Institute due to personality difficulties. The evidence on the other four is more circumstantial. The degree to which any could have been considered serious scholars is open to debate, since the written reports they sent to Harvard were not highly regarded there. In March 1951, Harvard cut off funding and the CIA picked up the tab via its conduit, the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia, also called Radio Liberty. It became a propaganda mill under the guise of a research institute that had been legitimated to varying degrees over the years by the Harvard imprimatur.

The process that led to the creation of the HRRC in the first place, and then to Parsons' mission, and later to the Munich Institute, is not how most people view the way universities and scholars work. Here a private foundation with major links to corporate, university and governmental circles (themselves linked to each other) not only determined research priorities and funded a research institution to carry those priorities out, but even named the personnel who would operate the institution, and vetted its scholars. Then those scholars pursued a research agenda largely funded and determined by government agencies, particularly in the intelligence community, utilizing sources the access to which was also provided by intelligence agencies. In turn those sources had a political agenda, rooted in their own history. One cannot help but suspect that the results may have been at least a bit skewed due to that bias.

But a more important bias was the source of those research priorities: the U.S. Air Force. That priority, regardless of what else may have come out of the research (much of it fairly conventional, noncontroversial social scientific descriptions of the Soviet system), was to study the Soviet Union as a potential target of U.S. air power (bombing), specifically the selection of targets based on analyses of the psychological vulnerability of the population. These analyses were based on the kind of social scientific methodology being promoted by major U.S. universities, with Harvard very much playing a star role.

The research, in short, was rooted in the political (especially foreign policy) assumptions of the U.S. government, and more broadly the establishment network that had created the instrument for carrying that research out. No alternative assumptions were entertained: the historian H. Stuart Hughes, HRRC's initial assistant director, was ousted at the order of a Carnegie trustee because Hughes supported the Henry Wallace campaign. From beginning to end, from the Carnegie Corporation and its corporate sponsors to the State Department to Harvard to the CIA and the Air Force, the Cold War and full-scale armament was the order of the day, and given that perspective, the fact that some sources of intelligence may have been war criminals in a previous war became at worst a minor inconvenience.

THERE IS AN ODD EPILOGUE TO THIS STRANGE cloak-and-dagger-meets-Harvard respectable-social-scientists chapter in the history of the Cold War, one that speaks volumes about what is and is not "politically correct."

In 1993 a German sociologist, Uta Gerhardt, edited a book called Talcott Parsons on National Socialism. The book consists of a 78-page introduction, which is a biography of Parsons and a discussion of his views on Naziism, and 14 essays by Parsons, some never before published, dealing with a range of topics from academic freedom, propaganda, and anti-Semitism to concrete discussions of Naziism and German social structure, the nature of fascist movements, and even a radio script (from September 1940) that is a thinly disguised argument for intervention in the war. They are not uninteresting but they are of secondary importance to the present story.

Gerhardt, clearly an admirer of Parsons and his anti-totalitarian views, tells us that her volume will cover the period to 1951, the publication date of Parsons' The Social System. Her biography stops in 1946, however. Parsons' political activities after 1946, and well before 1951, are completely absent from her book. The HRRC is not mentioned. If we did not know better, we would assume from her book that Parsons absented himself from political involvement in Germany following 1946 and never set foot in that country again.

But we do know better. University of California (Irvine) historian Jon Wiener stumbled upon Charles O'Connell's doctoral dissertation, then still in draft form, and wrote an article for The Nation (March 6, 1989) describing in some detail Parsons' involvement with trying to smuggle "Nazi collaborators" into the U.S. as Soviet studies experts. Gerhardt, it turns out, was aware of Wiener's article when she wrote her book.

Then a sociologist, Jack Nusan Porter, who is a Holocaust researcher and himself the child of survivors, wrote an extremely favorable review of Gerhardt's book for Sociological Forum (September 1994), the journal of the Eastern Sociological Society. The book, he felt, shows Parsons in a new light, that of the anti-totalitarian activist, thereby undermining new left critics who, like C. Wright Mills, had painted Parsons as a conservative. " our youthful certainty," Porter wrote, "we were too hard on him...Far from being the 'reactionary' that the 1960s antiwar activists thought of him...this book makes it clear that Parsons was a strong supporter of human rights in the fight for democracy against the onslaught of Nazism." Unfortunately, Porter was unaware of Wiener's Nation piece at the time and when he found out about it (from me), he was understandably upset. He (and I) tried to have a correction to his review published.

The sociological establishment then circled the wagons to protect Parsons. The journal refused to publish any amendment to Porter's review, much less any letters about it, for about two years. Finally, in December 1996 it published a long, somewhat rambling, essay by Porter expressing both dismay about and admiration for, Parsons. It also published, in the same issue of Sociological Forum, what amounted to two lengthy defenses of Parsons, one by Gerhardt, and one by N.Y.U. sociologist Dennis Wrong, whose piece is entitled "Truth, Misinterpretation, or Left-wing McCarthyism?"

In this essay, self-described social democrat Wrong attacks Wiener's Nation piece as a hatchet job, attacks The Nation for having espoused an anti-Cold War ideological line "and even printing the occasional outright Stalinist, including several suspected Soviet agents," and boasts of his own funding by Carnegie, and his connections to the late Dean Acheson of the State Department, and George Kennan. He accuses critics of the Cold War of viewing matters "through the distorting lens of the slogans and cliché of the late 1960s New Left," and of being antagonistic to liberalism and social democracy, and therefore of playing into the hands of right-wing ideologues. Almost needless to say, he defends Parsons' activities in Germany. He also defends the journal in its prior decision not to publish any amendment to Porter's effusive book review. Wrong seems to believe that a historical description of Parsons' involvement with the HRRC project and with the intelligence community constitutes being soft on Stalinism. And he links a defense of Parsons to a defense of Cold War strategy as promoted by Kennan and others.

The first of these assumptions is not tenable: no one who has been involved in describing the history of the HRRC, and Parsons' mission to Germany in 1948, is in any sense an apologist for Stalinism. Most are old enough to be innocent of New Leftism anyway, and some have solid credentials in the anti-Stalinist left. However, it does seem that many of Parsons' advocates defend him (insofar as they are willing to concede that the events described here, or by Diamond or O'Connell did in fact take place, which is not always the case) on the basis of the historical "necessity" of defending the West from Soviet imperialism. The notion that it is possible to be anti-Stalinist, to be entirely clear on the nature of the Stalinist state and the dangers that it constituted in 1948 (e.g. the Czechoslovak coup in February of that year) and at the same time opposed to U.S. foreign policy (which included sheltering Nazis and their collaborators, supporting all sorts of dictators around the world from Spain to Indonesia, and contemplating the incineration of civilian populations "in defense of freedom") because one is antitotalitarian seems hard for him to grasp.

Wrong's simplistic Cold Warriorism and old-fashioned red-baiting aside, why are so many sociologists apparently enlisted to defend Parsons' reputation at this late date? The matter of Talcott Parsons' "missing years" is known, though not widely. It would seem that there are people who prefer to keep it that way. Still, what harm would it do to satisfy historical objectivity nearly 50 years later? Is it that Parsons' many sociological disciples, people whose careers are based on "Parsonian sociology," are embarrassed by these disclosures and feel they must therefore either deny Parsons' role, or somehow justify it as a matter of saving face? Or are Parsons and the HRRC really not the issue? Does a description of power structure networks and their responsibility for formulating university research agendas, and the interlock between those networks and "top" universities and intelligence and other "defense" agencies, get too close to undermining the myth of scholarly objectivity and thereby the respectability of the university, a status that has been in careful repair since the end of the Vietnam War?