Andrei Andreevich Vlasov
Andrei Vlasov, USSR Lieutenant general, commander-in-chief of the ROA.
Vlasov, Andrei was born on September 1, 1900 in Lomakino, a village near Nizhnii Novgorod. Son of a peasant.
Started his education at a seminary. Joined the Red Army in 1919. Took part in the Civil War with the Reds.
Assigned to the Chinese Mission in 1938-1939 (military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek). Promoted to majorgeneral, 1940. Promoted to lt.- general after the Battle of Moscow, January 1942.
Deputy commander of the North-West front intended to break the Leningrad siege. Captured by the Germans near Volkhov in 1942, and held in a POW camp. By this time he was completely disillusioned with Stalin’s communism.
Being in captivity, and out of reach of SMERSH and his peasant roots (the memory of the violence of the collectivization campaign which had resulted in the death of over 10 million peasants) led him to the decision to organize (with German help) a People’s Army to fight Stalin. In June 1943, by Hitler’s personal order, forbidden all activity, except purely propaganda exercises. In October 1943, Hitler ordered the transfer of all Russian and other national units with the German Army to the Western front, depriving them of the role of an anti-communist force.
Some of these units took part in atrocities during World War II. But Hitler’s order was to a large extent sabotaged by German military commanders. Vlasov was strongly supported, however, by anti-Hitler German officers (Count Stauffenberg, Gehlen and others). In Sep. 1944, received by Himmler, who was initially completely against him but, realising that defeat was imminent, and looking for any available manpower reserves, decided to use Vlasov’s enormous prestige among the Russians under German occupation.
On 28 January 1945 in Prague, an agreement between the KONR (Committee of the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia) and the German Reich was signed. The KONR (Committee of the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia) published a programme of democratic reforms, the so-called Prague Manifesto. Vlasov was appointed commander-inchief of the RO A (Russian Liberation Army).
In February 1945, the 1st Division of the ROA was formed. On 14 April 1945, it went into action on the Oder front against the Red Army with limited success and moved south to Czechoslovakia. In May 1945, the ROA, answering a call for help from the Czechs, supported the uprising in Prague against the Germans, thus ensuring its success.
This was the final military action of World War II in Europe. Immediately thereafter, Vlasov surrendered his army to the Americans and was handed over to SMERSH (according to the Yalta agreement between the Allies and Stalin). The ROA ceased to exist.
The vlasovtsy (Vlasov’s men) who didn’t manage to escape were handed over to the Soviets by the Western Allies during 1945-1947. Vlasov and his staff officers were taken to Moscow Lubianka prison, secretly tried for treason and hanged as traitors on 2 August 1946 (reported in Izvestia). Vlasov’s role during World War II remains a subject of controversy.
While many agree with the official condemnation of him as a turn-coat and traitor, others see him as a tragic figure, or as a potential Russian De Gaulle.