Vlasov, Andrei

Vlasov, Andrei [Власов, Андрей], b 1 September 1900 in Lomakino, Nizhnii Novgorod gubernia, Russia, d 2 August 1946 in Moscow. Soviet Russian military commander; the highest-ranking Soviet collaborator with the Germans during the Second World War. In January 1942 he was promoted to lieutenant general, and in March he took command of the Second Shock Army, which had been encircled during its advance toward Leningrad. Despite the army’s starvation and imminent annihilation, Joseph Stalin refused to allow it to retreat. It was finally routed in June 1942, and Vlasov was taken prisoner on 11 July and sent to a prisoner of war camp near Vinnytsia.

Incensed by Joseph Stalin’s disastrous military direction and already aggrieved by the Stalinist collectivization, terror, and military purges of the 1930s, Vlasov turned against Stalin and co-operated with the Wehrmacht and Alfred Rosenberg’s Ostministerium as a propagandist. Consequently nearly 1 million Russian, Ukrainian, and other Soviet soldiers in German prisoner of war camps enlisted to fight in Wehrmacht units (Osttruppen) on the eastern front, and thousands of others deserted from the Red Army to do so. Adolf Hitler, pathologically mistrustful of the Untermenschen and Vlasov’s intentions, suspended Vlasov’s propaganda in June 1943, and in September he had all Osttruppen transferred to the western front.

The impending defeat of Germany again altered the Nazi leaders’ attitude. In September 1944 Heinrich Himmler promised Vlasov Waffen SS support to create, train, and command a genuine liberation army from among the Soviet citizens in the Wehrmacht and over 3 million prisoners of war and Ostarbeiter. Vlasov formed and chaired the independent Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (KONR) in Prague in November 1944 with the aim of uniting all anti-Bolshevik forces of Soviet citizens in the German-occupied territories. The Ukrainian National Committee and other non-Russian organizations, however, refused to join the KONR; they rejected its Russian imperialist, nationalist ideology and Vlasov’s claim to speak on behalf of the non-Russians, and disbelieved its promise that the non-Russians would have national self-determination after the destruction of Bolshevism (in response to which mistrust the KONR established its own eight-member Ukrainian Committee, chaired by F. Bohatyrchuk). Approximately 300,000 men, 30–40 percent of them ethnic Ukrainians, were transferred to the Armed Forces of the KONR, more popularly known as the Russian Liberation Army (ROA). Only one 20,000-man division, commanded by Col S. Buniachenko, became fully operational; it fought briefly along the Oder River in mid-April 1945. Vlasov and the division then headed west to avoid the advancing Red Army and surrendered with other ROA units to American forces on 11 May. The next day the Soviet authorities stopped an American convoy and removed Vlasov from it without opposition. He, Buniachenko, and 10 other members of his staff were hanged after over 14 months of imprisonment and a three-day closed trial for treason, espionage, and terrorism by the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court. Hundreds of thousands of surrendered ROA personnel were forcibly repatriated to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with American and British military collusion, and deported to Soviet concentration camps. (See also Repatriation.)

Steenberg, S. Vlasov (New York 1970)
Strik-Strikfeldt, W. Against Stalin and Hitler: Memoir of the Russian Liberation Movement, 1941–1945 (London 1970)
Thorwald, J. The Illusion: Soviet Soldiers in Hitler's Armies (New York 1975)
Andreyev, C. Vlasov and the Russian Liberation Movement: Soviet Reality and Emigré Theories (Cambridge 1987)

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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