Germany, 1995, b&w/Color, 59 minutes, English commentary and subtitles. Patriot or traitor? More than one-half century after his execution, General Andrei Vlasov remains one of World War II's most controversial figures. A brilliant Soviet commander, Vlasov was captured by the German Wehrmacht in July, 1942, and soon became central to the campaign by junior German officers to launch a Russian Liberation Army (usually referred to as the ROA) against Stalin's regime. These plans ran up against Nazi dogmas of Lebensraum and Slavic inferiority, however, and Vlasov spent much of the war under house arrest. Only in the last months of the war did the Germans consent to sponsor a truncated version of his Liberation Army, with predictably futile results. Yet Vlasov's vision--of a Russia freed of Stalin's yoke, with guaranteed freedoms for its peoples--survived his battlefield defeats; that he sought to attain his goals through German Nazi sponsorship underlines the tragedy of his--and Soviet Russia's-- predicament.
This new documentary offers newly-found film footage and extensive interviews with Vlasov's surviving associates, lieutenants, and foot soldiers, including Igor Novosiltzev, Constantine Sacharevitsch, Nikolai Kozlov, Nikolai Numerov, Nikolas Vastchenko, and Nikolai A. Chiketov. The views of Vlasov's German backers are represented by Hans von Herwath, Robert Krötz, and Helmuth Schwenninger, while William Sloane Coffin, Arthur Cowgill, Frank Roberts, and Tom Dennis comment upon the U.S.-British supervised repatriation of Vlasov's surviving troops to the Soviet Union in 1945.
With its multiple perspectives and rich visual documentation, this solidly-researched film provides the clearest picture yet of this difficult subject, revealing Vlasov's tortured legacy in its many dimensions.