Soviet collaboration during World War II (18+)
Traitors to the homeland have existed at all times and all peoples. Unfortunately, World War II was no exception. Today you will learn about the collaborators of the Soviet Union.
Everyone’s duty is to love their homeland, to be incorruptible and courageous, to be faithful to it, even at the cost of life (J.-J. Rousseau).
The reasons why Soviet prisoners of war of various nationalities went to serve in the Wehrmacht and the SS formations are causing strong debate. One of the reasons for the cooperation of a part of the Soviet population with the occupiers on the territory of the USSR temporarily occupied by them, as some believe, was the consequence and even continuation of the Civil War in Russia in 1918-1920. Therefore, it is very urgent to consider and give a comprehensive description of military and military-political collaboration – from open betrayal and complicity in the terror of the Nazis against the civilian population to participation in hostilities with weapons in their hands against the Red Army and Soviet partisans in the ranks of the Wehrmacht and other formations of the enemy.
Who went into the service of the invaders
In the territories occupied by the Third Reich and its allies, there were about 70-80 million Soviet citizens. This largely led to the emergence of such a phenomenon as collaboration, including military and military-political. According to some Russian historians, approximately 1.24 million citizens of the USSR served on the side of Germany in 1941-1945. Among them – 400 thousand Russians (including 80 thousand in Cossack formations). Another 3 million were in the Third Reich in forced labor.
Through the Wehrmacht, SS and various pro-German paramilitary and police formations during the war years passed: 250 thousand Ukrainians, 150 thousand Latvians, 90 thousand Estonians, 70 thousand Belarusians, 70 thousand Cossacks, 70 thousand people from the peoples of Central Asia, 50 thousand Lithuanians, 40 thousand Azerbaijanis, 30 thousand people from the North Caucasian peoples, 25 thousand Georgians, 20 thousand Armenians, 12 thousand Volga Tatars, 10 thousand Crimean Tatars, as well as 7 thousand Kalmyks.
In the hostilities in various sectors of the Soviet-German front on the side of the Germans most actively participated the Latvian and Estonian subunits, units and formations.
The Nazis did not inform local nationalists about their plans. Instead, they actively used them as perpetrators of mass murder, primarily the murder of Jews. Formed from nationalists, auxiliary police units became a striking force in carrying out mass executions and punitive operations. The participation of nationalists in the Holocaust took on enormous proportions.
It should be borne in mind that as the human losses of the Wehrmacht grew, and especially after the battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943, the mobilization of the local population became very widespread. In the frontline zone, the Germans began to mobilize the entire male population, including adolescents and old people, who for one reason or another were not taken to work in Germany.
Some argue that it was due to the cooperation of a significant part of the population of the USSR with the enemy that the occupation took on a protracted nature, lasting up to three years – until mid-1944 and even becoming a certain counterbalance to the partisan movement.
According to others, the mass surrender, mass desertion, as well as participation in the armed struggle on the side of the Third Reich were the result of the rejection of the communist regime by the Red Army masses. Unwillingness to defend Soviet power was allegedly the main reason for the defeats of the Red Army in 1941-1942.
One can reasonably object to this by citing an entry in the diary of Colonel General F. Halder, Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht Ground Forces, dated July 11, 1941: “The enemy command is acting energetically and skillfully. The enemy is fighting fiercely and fanatically. ” It is another matter that, as Halder writes further, “information has again been received about the manning of the defeated divisions with untrained contingents,” which, in his opinion, made it an intractable task to preserve their combat capability.
Apparently, this is one of the main reasons for the defeats of the Red Army in 1941-1942, including the mass surrender. Another main reason, as noted by Georgy Zhukov, is the inept leadership of the troops, especially in 1941-1942. They had to learn to fight directly during the war, but at the expense of a lot of blood and losses, including prisoners of war. There is also a widespread belief that the collaborationist movement in the USSR was supposedly the “second edition” of the Civil War of 1918-1920. This opinion does not stand up to elementary criticism from the point of view of common sense: in the Civil War, military formations of red and white, comparable in size, opposed each other. Can a confrontation be compared to this, even if we take the maximum, 1.5 million collaborators and tens of millions of Soviet citizens who fought against the Nazis during the war years?
Without objection, as a rule, the often expressed judgment is accepted that Stalin’s refusal to sign the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War in 1929 allegedly untied the hands of the Hitlerite leadership and caused the cruel treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, which led, on the one hand, to their mass death, and on the other hand, to their massive entry into the ranks of collaborationist formations that fought on the side of the Wehrmacht and the SS. This is totally wrong.
Firstly, instead of joining the Convention on March 19, 1931, the USSR adopted the “Provision on Prisoners of War”, which generally repeated the Convention, but also had a number of differences. The Soviet government did not consider it necessary to sign the Convention, because it acceded to the Hague Convention of 1907, which contains all the same important provisions as the Geneva one.
Secondly, Art. 82 of the Convention establishes the obligation of its implementation for all countries that have signed the Convention, even “if, in the event of war, one of the belligerents turns out to be not a party to the Convention.” Consequently, compliance with the Convention is not based on the principle of reciprocity, as some researchers claim, and Germany had to comply with its provisions, regardless of whether it was signed or not signed by the Soviet Union. Another thing is that Hitler and his entourage set the goal of the maximum possible extermination of the population of the USSR and the deprivation of its “vitality.” This clearly follows from the document entitled “Supplement to the magazine No. 39058/41 of 8.IX.41, Order on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war in all prisoner of war camps” and other documents in which the German command refused Soviet prisoners to patronize the Geneva Convention , as well as in the application to them of paragraph 11 of their own disciplinary charter.
By their willful decision, the German state considered them unworthy of human treatment. And not because Stalin allegedly did not recognize the Geneva Convention. This order does not say a word about it. It clearly states that the Convention does not apply to Soviet prisoners of war for ideological reasons.
Historians often refer to Stalin’s order No. 270 of August 16 “On cases of cowardice and surrender and measures to prevent such actions.” The order provided for the arrest of the families of the “surrendering” commanders, the deprivation of benefits for the families of the “surrendered Red Army soldiers”, as well as the destruction of the surrendered military personnel “by all means, both ground and air.” At the same time, the fact that similar orders were in force in Germany in relation to deserters, and in the last period of the war – in relation to “surrendered Wehrmacht servicemen” is kept silent. Hitler waged a racial and ideological war in the East, Stalin – a war for the survival of not only his regime, but also the state and the peoples inhabiting it. And here there was, as they say, “no time for sentimentality.”
And the fact that the Nazis waged a war to destroy, including the Slavic race, on the contrary, pushed many, even the ideological enemies of Soviet power, to fight the Nazi regime.
Vera Apollonovna Obolenskaya – Russian princess – actively participated in the Resistance movement in France. There is evidence of such an episode: after her arrest, a German investigator with mock bewilderment asked her how Russian émigrés-anti-communists can resist Germany, which is fighting against communism: “Are they crazy, or what? What is the point of being with the Gaullists in this communist nest? Listen, madam, help us better fight our common enemy in the East. ” To this, Princess Obolenskaya said: “The goal that you are pursuing in Russia is the destruction of the country and the destruction of the Slavic race. I am Russian, but I grew up in France and spent my whole life here. I will not betray my homeland or the country that sheltered me. ” And Obolenskaya went to execution with her head held high, betraying neither herself, nor her ideals, nor the USSR, nor France.
Traitors among the Cossacks
It is significant that the fans of collaborationism glorify the Cossacks who followed P.N. Krasnov and were eventually extradited to Stalin by the Western democracies. As you know, many of these unfortunates committed suicide, fearing “terrible reprisals.” At the same time, the very act of extradition is for some reason called betrayal, which is completely ridiculous, because the allies did not betray anyone. They were just fulfilling their allied obligations, handing over to the USSR those who fought on the side of Germany.
These horrors are greatly exaggerated, the attitude towards collaborators was often very liberal. Here’s an example: on October 31, 1944, the British authorities transferred 10 thousand repatriates who had served in the Wehrmacht to the Soviet allies. As soon as they arrived in Murmansk, a pardon was announced to them, as well as an exemption from criminal liability. Of course, they had to pass the check, and the collaborators spent a year in a filtration camp, which is quite logical. After that, the overwhelming majority were released, moreover, they accrued seniority.
For a long time, data from archives have been opened that expose the lie that supposedly all or most of the former prisoners of war were imprisoned. Historian V.N. Zemskov worked in the State Archives of the Russian Federation and studied the materials stored there. It turns out that by March 1, 1946, 2,427,906 repatriates were sent to their place of residence, 801,152 – to serve in the Soviet army, 608,095 – were enrolled in the working battalions of the People’s Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. But 272,867 people (6.5%) were handed over to the NKVD of the USSR, in fact, they were in prison.
The result of venality
The suicide of many Vlasovites and Cossacks after they learned of their imminent extradition by their allies is a terrible end that shows the depth of despair and doom of “Soviet” collaboration. Thousands of fighters against Bolshevism did not represent any independent force, did not possess any subjectivity. First they went to fight for the Germans, then they rushed to seek the protection of the Anglo-Americans, hoping for their help and intercession. And yet, among the extreme right-wing collaborators, there were enough people who perfectly understand what Western democracies are.
Yes, and Vlasov himself understood this perfectly when he wrote his open letter “Why did I take the path of struggle against Bolshevism?”, although the “ears” of Goebbels’ propaganda are clearly visible here: “I clearly realized that the Russian people were drawn by Bolshevism into a war for interests of the Anglo-American capitalists. England has always been the enemy of the Russian people. It always tried to weaken our Motherland, to harm it. But Stalin saw in the observance of Anglo-American interests an opportunity to realize his plans for world domination, and for the sake of realizing these plans he linked the fate of the Russian people with the fate of England, he plunged the Russian people into war, brought on his head innumerable calamities, and these scourges of war are the crown of all the misfortunes that the peoples of our country suffered under the rule of Bolshevism for 25 years. “
Traitors – “CLOWNS”
The collaborationist movement sometimes took on caricatured forms. Under the tsar, the Don Cossacks were usually commanded by the Germans – Grabbe, Gripperberg, Mayendorf. In the Civil War they were led by Russian commanders – K.K. Mamontov, A.G. Shkuro, A.A. Pavlov. And so in the Second World War, at the head of the Cossack formations formed on the instructions of the high command of the German army, the German von Pannwitz again stood, this time in the rank of SS Gruppenfuehrer and Lieutenant General of the SS troops.
This could not but cause and did cause a mocking attitude and rejection from the bulk of the Cossacks. And if about two corps of Cossacks fought on the side of Germany, then in the Soviet Army the number of cavalry corps (mainly Cossack) in 1942 was brought to 17. They showed very high fighting qualities during the war. Some formations were recruited, as in the old days, with volunteers – the 10th, 12th, 13th Kuban, 11th, 15th, 16th Don Cossack divisions.
No less caricatured was the fact that on the side of the enemy were “werewolves” in the person of, for example, Fatalibeyli-Dudanginsky. In the rank of Major of the Red Army, the former Komsomol and party leader surrendered in August 1941, and on October 19 he wrote a letter to Hitler, in which he extolled the “great leader of the great German people” in excellent tones and offered his services in organizing a Turkistanische legion from among prisoners of war, “To fight so that my native Baku and all of Azerbaijan would never be Bolshevik anymore and would never fall into the hands of the British, hated by the entire Muslim world, who dream of laying their dirty hands on Baku oil.” At the same time, he obviously did not object to the Germans laying their hands on the Baku oil.
Having safely avoided a fair retribution for his actions during the war years, on March 23, 1946, from Italy, he addressed a letter to the “hated British” – to the Prime Minister of Great Britain Clement Attlee, in which he had already defended the interests of England and France from the “insidious Stalin”, expressed his thoughts about the imminent start of the Cold War and the need to continue the war against the USSR. It is interesting to note that 18 days before writing this letter, Churchill, speaking at Fulton, announced the beginning of the Cold War against the USSR.
However, Fatalibeyli’s letter remained unanswered. Nevertheless, the Western secret services took note of him, and in 1953 he made another somersault and went to serve in the CIA.
Attempts to perpetuate the memory of these “werewolves” in modern Azerbaijan and Armenia are surprising, where the former collaborationist Kanayan (“General Dro”), buried in Boston, in May 2000 was reburied in the city of Aparan, in Armenia, and near the memorial to the heroes of the Second world war. Marches of former SS men in the Baltic countries have become traditional.
Those who fought on the side of the Nazis quickly disguised themselves after the war and found understanding among the Allies. In April 1945, representatives of the Caucasian, Ukrainian and Turkestan committees, which during the war existed in the form of communications headquarters under the Wehrmacht, held a secret meeting in Switzerland with a representative of the US Strategic Services Department, a certain Yuri Skarzhinsky. At this meeting, the collaborators were promised that the United States in the post-war world will also defend the independence of the national borderlands in the USSR. Later, on the basis of this, the US Congress adopted the “Law on Captive Peoples in the USSR”, which is in effect to this day and creates a legal basis for US intervention in the internal affairs of both individual CIS states and the entire Commonwealth as a whole. Characteristically, the Soviet emigration protested against this law, since it actually encouraged the dismemberment of the USSR.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the population of the Caucasus and Krasnodar Territory did not succumb to the promises of Nazi propaganda, did not cooperate with the invaders. Remained faithful to the oath and most of the captured representatives of the peoples of the Volga region, the Caucasus and Central Asia, some of whom continued to heroically fight the enemy in captivity, as did Musa Jalil and 10 other heroes – Tatar legionaries.
It is necessary to remember that collaboration also existed in countries where no Bolsheviks were in power. According to Yu.A. Nersesov: “The population of the Third French Republic with colonies by the beginning of the Second World War exceeded 110 million people … At least 200 thousand French citizens got into the ranks of the German army. Another 500 thousand served in the military units of the collaborationist government of Marshal Pétain, who independently fought against the allies in Africa and the Middle East, and also joined German formations, making up, in particular, an infantry regiment and an artillery division in the “illustrious” 90th light motorized division of the African corps of Field Marshal Rommel. Taking into account the police, Gestapo and fascist militants, who diligently caught partisans and underground workers, it turns out to be about 1 million with 80 thousand dead.
The same picture will be in any other European country. From Poland, where, with 35 million pre-war population only from the territories occupied by Germany, 500 thousand people joined the army and police, to Denmark, which, having surrendered to Germany almost without resistance, only in the SS troops on the Eastern Front lost about 2.5 thousand people.
Traditionally, it is believed that the Netherlands provided the most volunteers for the Reich. In the Netherlands, with a population of 9 million people, about 100 thousand served in combat and auxiliary units of the Wehrmacht and the SS, while about 10 thousand Dutch died.
So it turns out that the share of collaborators in European countries, where there was no GULAG or collective farms, is much higher than the Soviet one. “
The life support of every person is his Motherland, the land where his parents live, where he was born, grew up, where there are the graves of loved ones, the city, forest or field, mountains and rivers, something without which life becomes empty and you yourself feel alien and unnecessary. This is rarely spoken about, it is felt, especially in a distant foreign land. Native is sacred, and it is impossible to take it away even by force. The traitor gives it up voluntarily and without a fight, he does not need it or he does not understand what he is doing over himself. Indeed, a certain number of prisoners of war, who found themselves on the brink of life and death, did not have enough will, firmness and courage to overcome this situation (and after all, many survived without betraying either themselves, or their comrades, or their homeland). Vlasov and many others who stood under the banner of a fierce enemy did not have such circumstances. Therefore, one has to believe that they gave their loved ones as something unnecessary to them.
The historical truth was the fact that in some countries, including primarily European and the USSR, trials were organized over local collaborators who collaborated with the Nazis. They began to be carried out already during the war and continued after its completion.