Commander of the 2 shock army
Lieutenant General Vlasov showed himself at the beginning of the war as a capable military leader who successfully commanded armies. For the successes achieved on 8 on March 1942, he was appointed deputy commander of the Volkhov Front, where tragic events began in January with the unsuccessful advance of the 2 shock army.
The Lyuban offensive operation began on the Volkhov front on 7 in January, the 2th strike army under the command of General Klykov, successfully breaking through the enemy’s defenses in the area of Myasniy Bor, deeply penetrated its location, but having limited forces and means could not consolidate the success, the enemy repeatedly cut it communication and created a threat to the environment of the army.
To clarify the situation, the front commander Meretskov 20 March sent Vlasov at the head of the commission in the 2 th strike army. The commission found that the army itself was not able to break out of the encirclement and was experiencing difficulties with ammunition and food. In addition, the commander Klykov fell seriously ill, he was released from command of the army, and on April 16 he was evacuated to the rear. Vlasov suggested that Meretskov appoint the chief of the army headquarters Vinogradov as the commander of the dying army, but on April Xnerex, Meretskov appointed Vlasov as the commander of the 20 shock army, leaving him part-time as deputy front commander.
So Vlasov became the commander of the doomed army and, together with the front command, during May-June, with the assistance of the 52 and 59 armies of the Volkhov Front, made desperate attempts to release the 2 army, but was unsuccessful. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the commander of the Volkhov operative group, Lieutenant General Khozin, did not comply with the Headquarters directive of May 21 on the withdrawal of army forces, and its situation became disastrous.
In the "cauldron" were more than 40 thousand Soviet soldiers. Starved by hunger under the continuous blows of the German aviation and artillery continued to fight, breaking out of the encirclement. However, all was inconclusive. The military personnel was melting every day, as, indeed, were the supplies of food and ammunition, but the army did not give up and continued to fight.
Vlasov 22 June sent a report to the headquarters of the front: “The army troops three weeks receive fifty grams of crackers. The last days of food were completely gone. We eat the last horses. People are extremely exhausted. There is a group mortality from hunger. There is no ammunition. ” The territory controlled by the army under enemy attacks was decreasing every day, and soon the agony of the 2 attack army was coming. The front command sent a special plane to evacuate the army headquarters, but the staff refused to abandon their soldiers, and Vlasov joined them.
The command of the Volkhov Front managed to break through a small corridor through which scattered groups of exhausted soldiers and commanders came out. On the evening of June 23, the fighters of the 2 shock army made a new breakthrough through a corridor about 800 meters wide, called the "Death Valley", few managed to break through. On June 24, the last breakthrough attempt was made, which ended in failure. In this situation, it was decided to leave in small groups, and Vlasov gave the order to break up into groups of 3-5 people and secretly leave the environment.
Contrary to the prevailing opinion in Soviet times that the 2 I attack army surrendered along with Vlasov, this is not so. She fought to the last and died heroically. Even German sources recorded that there were no facts of mass surrender; the Russians in Myasnoy Bor preferred to die with weapons in hands and did not give up.
Those few witnesses who managed to escape from the cauldron claimed that after unsuccessful attempts to withdraw the army from Vlasov’s encirclement he lost heart, there were no emotions on his face, he did not even try to hide during shelling in shelters.
In the group with Vlasov, Vinogradov, chief of staff, a staff officer and another Vlasov’s lover, cook Voronova, remained. In search of food, they split up, Vlasov stayed with Voronova, and the rest went to another village. Vinogradov was wounded and shivering, Vlasov gave him his overcoat, then he was killed in a shootout, the Germans mistook him for Vlasov.
Together with his companion, Vlasov went into the village of Old Believers and ended up in the headman's house. He called the local police, who arrested them and locked them in a barn. The next day, on 12 of July, a German patrol arrived. Vlasov in German told them: “Don’t shoot, I’m General Vlasov”, the soldiers identified the famous general from portraits often published in newspapers and arrested them.
During interrogations, Vlasov said that the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts are incapable of any offensive operations in the direction of Leningrad and warned the Germans about the possibility of Zhukov's offensive in the central direction. After interrogations, Vlasov was sent to a special officer prisoner of war camp in Vinnitsa, which was subordinate to the supreme command of the Wehrmacht land forces.
In the camp, a former Russian officer from the Baltic Germans Shtrik-Shtrikfeld worked with Vlasov. Following the talks with him, Vlasov agreed that it was necessary to fight communism and Stalin and agreed to cooperate.
What pushed Vlasov to the path of betrayal? Before the capture, there was no hint that Vlasov was dissatisfied with something. He was an active supporter of the current regime in the country, during the years of repression, as a member of the tribunal, he fought with “enemies of the people” and made a successful career, he was personally treated by Stalin (and not always deservedly) and he had no problems and reasons for betrayal It was. At the beginning of the war he had opportunities for treason, but he did not go for it. Until the last moment, he did not think about surrendering.
Apparently, he simply did not have any convictions, he was driven by ambition and ambition, most of all in his life he loved fame and career growth and made his way upstairs in any way. Buoyant and feminine, he wanted under all circumstances to live in a big way.
He believed that this will always be wrong, under his command, the 2-I shock army was surrounded. Death was an alternative to captivity, but he did not want to die. Having lost his army and taken prisoner, he understood that his military career was over and that when he returned home he would be expected to be shamed and humiliated. When switching to the German side and the victory of Germany, which at that time seemed indisputable to him, he could count on a high military post in new Russia under German protection. And Vlasov decided to take the side of the Germans.
The writer Ehrenburg, who spoke with him after the victory near Moscow, left his memories of Vlasov’s personality. He noted that Vlasov stood out for his posturing and acting, his manner of speaking figuratively and cordially, and at the same time, there was an imitation in his behavior, speech, intonation and gestures. Also, Vlasov’s associates in the ROA noted his desire to capture the attention of all those present, to show their importance and emphasize their qualities and merits.
Vlasov was not tortured or starved; he himself consciously chose the path of betrayal, unlike other generals who found themselves in the same situation. It is known that the commander of the 12 Army General Ponedelin, who was captured and sentenced in absentia to death (he was still shot in the 1950 year) and who knew about it, spat on Vlasov’s face in response to a proposal to cooperate, and the commander of the 19 Army Lukin, who was captured wounded and without a leg, scornfully rejected Vlasov’s proposal. Vlasov's subordinate, the commander of the division in the 2 strike army, General Antyufeev, who was also captured by the wounded, sent them to a fabricated interview about his readiness to work for the Germans and remained faithful to the oath.
Work for the Nazis
Representatives of the Wehrmacht’s High Command worked in captivity with Vlasov, they invited him to set out a memorandum with his proposals. Vlasov wrote a note on the need to create a Russian army, which will fight the communist regime on the side of the Germans. Vlasov hoped that the Germans could consider his candidacy as one of the leaders of the future non-Soviet Russia. However, the German command rejected this memorandum, at that time they did not consider any options for state formations in the occupied territory.
Vlasov continued to offer his services to the Germans, and in September 1942 he was transferred to Berlin to the Wehrmacht propaganda department. Vlasov was assigned a purely propaganda role, the Germans decided to create a semi-virtual Russian Committee, headed by Vlasov, which would publish appeals with calls to stop resistance and go over to the side of the Germans.
In December 1942, the Smolensk Appeal was published, in which Vlasov urged him to join his side in order to build a new Russia. Newspapers wrote about the appeal, leaflets were printed in Russian for scattering on Soviet territories. The German military became the main lobbyists of Vlasov; on their initiative, Vlasov made several trips to the location of Army Group North and Center in the winter and spring of 1943, where he met with prominent German military leaders, spoke to local residents in the occupied territories and gave several interviews collaborative newspapers.
The German party leadership did not like the activity of the military, the Nazis saw only a propaganda role in Vlasov, the Russian Committee was dissolved, Vlasov was temporarily banned from speaking publicly.
Stalin was furious at the “gift” presented by Vlasov; in the Soviet press they began to brand him as a Trotskyist, Japanese and German spy. The road back to Vlasov was closed, and the party leadership and Hitler did not want to hear anything about the creation of some kind of Russian army.
Vlasov was out of work, his patrons arranged meetings with prominent figures in Germany, for a year and a half he made acquaintances in various fields, he even arranged a marriage with the SS widow. But the role of Vlasov remained purely propaganda, only the “school of propagandists” was created for him.
As the situation on the fronts worsened, the leadership of the SS began to take a closer look at Vlasov. Himmler in September 1944 summoned Vlasov, who assured him that he had great authority among Soviet generals, and Himmler gave permission to create the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (KNOR), a kind of government in exile.
Vlasov and Himmler
In November 1944, the first KONR meeting was held, at which the Manifesto of the liberation movement was announced and the formation of the Russian Liberation Army, which previously existed in virtual space, began.
There is a common version that parts of the ROA operated in the occupied territory. This is not so, since at the time of its formation, Soviet troops were already at war in Europe. This is due to the fact that in the occupied territory on the side of the Germans fought other collaborationist groups that are not related to the ROA.
From March to December 1942 there was the Russian National Liberation Army (RNNA) with a deployment in the village of Osintorf in Belarus, created on the initiative of the Russian emigrant Sergei Ivanov. Since September, the 1942 RNNA was headed by the former commander of the 41th Rifle Division of the Red Army Colonel Boyarsky and the former brigade commissar Zhilenkov. The strength of the formation reached 8 thousand people, some battalions were regimented, and RNNA was transformed into a brigade. In December, the 1942 RNNA was disbanded, Boyarsky, Zhilenkov and part of the personnel subsequently joined the ROA.
Also, from October 1941 to September 1943, in the territory of the occupied Bryansk and Oryol regions in the Lokot district, the Russian Liberation People's Army (RONA), numbering about 12 thousand people, consisted of 15 battalions, including tank battalion and artillery division.
These armed groups had nothing to do with the ROA and were used by the Germans in punitive operations against partisans. Some units fought under the Russian tricolor and used tricolor cockades. Later, some units of RNNA and RONA joined the ROA during its formation.
The Germans also created eastern battalions and companies, rarely regiments, as part of the SS troops, a significant part of them were involved in anti-partisan operations. These units were commanded, as a rule, by German officers.
Also, up to 40 of thousands of Cossacks fought on the side of the Germans. Under the leadership of the Don Ataman Krasnov, units from the Cossacks of emigrants and Cossacks of the Don and Kuban, who sided with the Germans, were formed in the SS troops. In 1942, they grew to the Cossack cavalry corps of the SS. They also had no relation to the Vlasov army, in April 1945 Cossack formations concentrated in Italy and Austria in the area of the city of Lienz were formally subordinated to Vlasov.
The ROA was formed in September 1944 and was staffed by units of the disbanded RNNA and RONA and members of the eastern battalions that had managed to prove themselves earlier in the occupied territory. There were a minority of Soviet prisoners of war, there were also few white emigrants, since they considered the Vlasovites to be "the same Bolsheviks."
In total, three divisions of the ROA were formed. One of them did not have weapons at all, the other did not have heavy weapons, having only small arms. And only the 1 I division of ROA numbering about 20 thousand people was combat ready and fully equipped. A number of independent formations and units were also formed, subordinate to the main headquarters of the ROA. Formally, the ROA was not part of the Wehrmacht, it was financed from the German treasury in the form of loans that were supposed to be returned in the future.
The Andreev flag was used as symbolism, the Germans forbade attempts to use the Russian tricolor, the cap had a blue-red cockade, the chevron on the sleeve with the Andreev flag and the inscription "ROA". The soldiers and officers were dressed in German uniforms.
Vlasov never wore the uniform of the ROA and the German form; he wore a specially tailored jacket without insignia and epaulettes.
The formed ROA did not participate in battles with Soviet troops, in February 1945 three ROA platoons took part in battles against the 230 of the Soviet rifle division and the 1 division in early April 1945 participated in battles with the Germans in the area of Fürstenberg against the 33 th Soviet army, after that all parts of the ROA were withdrawn to the rear. The Nazi leadership did not trust the Vlasov army and was afraid to keep it at the front. The ROA remained a purely propaganda organization, and not a real combat formation.
In late April, the leadership of the ROA decided to withdraw from the subordination of the German command and make its way to the west in order to surrender to the Anglo-American troops. The 1-I division of the ROA under the command of Bunyachenko was in the area of Prague, where the Czech rebellion broke out in May 5.
To prove to the Americans that the Vlasovites fought against the Germans, Bunyachenko decided to support the rebellious Czechs and opposed the Germans, especially since the Germans did not let them through Prague. In the morning of 7 on May Vlasovites occupied several parts of Prague and disarmed part of the German garrison. Stubborn battles with the Germans began, which by the end of the day ended with a truce, and together with the Germans the 1-I ROA division left Prague and headed west to surrender to the Americans.
Vlasov, with his headquarters, hoped to surrender to the Americans and go to serve them, since he was counting on a new war between the USSR and the USA. The ROA headquarters established contact with the Americans and tried to agree on the terms of delivery. Almost all formations and units of the ROA reached the American zone of occupation. But here a cold welcome awaited them. In accordance with an agreement with the Soviet command, all of them were to be returned to the Soviet zone of occupation.
The headquarters of the 1th division of the ROA, in which both Vlasov and individual parts of the division were at the junction of the American and Soviet zones of occupation, were advancing into the American zone. The command of the 25 Tank Corps gave the command to the scouts to find the headquarters and capture Vlasov. Scouts intercepted a column of Vlasovites, in which Vlasov and Bunyachenko were, they were captured.
Vlasov was asked to write an order to surrender his troops. He wrote such an order and in two days parts of the 1th Division surrendered in the amount of 9 thousand people. Vlasov was immediately sent to Moscow.
In May, almost the entire command of the ROA was arrested in the Soviet zone of occupation or transferred by the Americans. They were sent to Moscow, where they were interrogated, put on trial and executed. The personnel of the ROA was also transferred by the Americans to the Soviet command. At the end of the war in the ROA and the Cossack units and units subordinate to it, there were 120-130 thousand personnel, including command of the army and formations, three divisions, two incomplete separate corps, a reserve reserve team, command of the Cossack troops, two Cossack cavalry corps, auxiliary troops and two intelligence schools. Basically it was a bunch of traitors and traitors, for one reason or another, who sided with the Nazis.
So the military career of the general and the failed ruler of non-communist Russia under the protectorate of the Nazis ended pitifully. The expressions “Vlasov” and “Vlasovites” will forever remain in the memory of our people as a symbol of betrayal and treason, no matter how much the prototype of these symbols may have.