WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

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Juan G. C.
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WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 23 Sep 2020 18:25

Had a successfull coup in late 1943 led to the formation of a Beck-Goerdeler government in Germany, I am sure that that government would have promoted the creation of a Russian National Committee under general Andrei Vlasov and of a Russian Liberation Army under him, and also the formation of National governments in the Soviet territory occupied by the germans (Ukraine, Belarús, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), whose forces could help the germans to fight the Soviets.

In such case, how many men from the occupied territories and PoW would have enlisted? How big could be the forces thus formed? Could they have got the necessary equipment? And what effect would this scheme have had in the war in the east?

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 23 Sep 2020 18:39

By 1943 any hope of an effective Russian army of liberation was a pipe dream IMHO.
Germany had since shown its true colours, in the treatment of POWs and civilians in conquered areas of the Ostfront.

Hitler was not just anti-Communist. He saw the USSR as the major rival in a takeover of the European and Western Asia territories.
In Russia especially, he was determined to subjegate and/or exterminate the entire Slavic population; in favour of resettlement of these territories by Aryans.
If his Nazi government was overthrown, the anti-Soviet Russians would still have no reason to trust that Germany would not double cross them, once they had outlived their usefulness.

Nor could the loyalty of turncoat Russians be trusted either. Many would join out of desperation, rather than dying of starvation in a Stalag, Arming a million former POWs (who had no reservations at betraying their own country) would yield a very volatile military front.

Perhaps if the invading Germans had acted with more restraint towards anti-Soviet troops and populations during Barbarossa, the war would have ended sooner and much differently.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 23 Sep 2020 18:51

maltesefalcon wrote:
23 Sep 2020 18:39
This Russian army of liberation was a pipe dream IMHO.
By 1943 Germany had shown its true colours in the treatment of POWs and civilians in conquered areas of the Ostfront.

Hitler was not just anti-Communist, he saw the USSR as the major rival in a takeover of the European and Western Asia territories.
In Russia especially he was determined to subjegate and/or exterminate the entire Slavic population in favour of resettlement of these territories by Aryans.
If his Nazi government was overthrown, the anti-Soviet Russians would still have no reason to trust that Germany would not double cross them once they had outlived their usefulness.

Nor could the turncoat Russians be trusted either. Many would join out of desperation rather than dying of starvation in a Stalag, Arming a milliin former POWs who had already betrayed their own country once would yield a very volatile military front.

Perhaps if the invading Germans had acted with more restraint towards anti-Soviet troops and populations during Barbarossa, the war would have ended sooner and much differently.
Why would they have no reason to trust the new german government? It would have been formed by people who had opposed such treatment of POWs and civilians in the Soviet Union, and would have had no interest in annexing territory in the East beyond the pre-1914 eastern german frontiers.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 23 Sep 2020 20:26

Juan G. C. wrote:
23 Sep 2020 18:51
maltesefalcon wrote:
23 Sep 2020 18:39
This Russian army of liberation was a pipe dream IMHO.
By 1943 Germany had shown its true colours in the treatment of POWs and civilians in conquered areas of the Ostfront.

Hitler was not just anti-Communist, he saw the USSR as the major rival in a takeover of the European and Western Asia territories.
In Russia especially he was determined to subjegate and/or exterminate the entire Slavic population in favour of resettlement of these territories by Aryans.
If his Nazi government was overthrown, the anti-Soviet Russians would still have no reason to trust that Germany would not double cross them once they had outlived their usefulness.

Nor could the turncoat Russians be trusted either. Many would join out of desperation rather than dying of starvation in a Stalag, Arming a milliin former POWs who had already betrayed their own country once would yield a very volatile military front.

Perhaps if the invading Germans had acted with more restraint towards anti-Soviet troops and populations during Barbarossa, the war would have ended sooner and much differently.
Why would they have no reason to trust the new german government? It would have been formed by people who had opposed such treatment of POWs and civilians in the Soviet Union, and would have had no interest in annexing territory in the East beyond the pre-1914 eastern german frontiers.
If Germany was simply going to retreat back to the 1914 borders, then it's likely the Soviets would have signed an armistice. So Vlasov's phantom army would not be required to preserve the sanctity of the Reich in the short term. As is usually the case, a prisoner exchange would be a key element to success of this agreement to both sides. So Vlasov and his men would be a bargaining chip, not a potential recruiting depot.

In fact Stalin was amenable to one IRL around that time. Hitler did not refuse, simply avoided a decision until the Kursk campaign was finished. He felt that Germany needed a post-Stalingrad victory, to allow a better bargaining position. We all know how well that went.

But arming an unreliable foreign army to continue the fight alone on your behalf would not create lasting peace. There is no way Vlasov could form a Russian cadre large enough to occupy that much space on their own, let alone pose a real threat to the massive Soviet buildup. IRL I believe his proposed "army" was around 50,000 strong-so a corps. On top of this, they would have no air or naval elements for support, nor a proper logistics chain for food, fuel and armament.

If formed into an infantry or panzer grenadier corps within the Wehrmacht or Waffen SS, they may have proved potent, but on their own they would be crushed by the Soviet steamroller. As for satellite nations like Ukraine and the Baltics, they would certainly fight in their own best interest on their turf, but could they be convinced to fight further east in a grand coalition under Russian command? And again where are the weapons and supplies coming from? Certainly not the Germans, if they wanted to maintain their peace arrangements. And if the troops of Hungary or Romania were an example of the typical quantity and quality of the rest.....

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 24 Sep 2020 05:16

Perhaps a couple more points to ponder on the return to pre 1914 borders.
Germany was heavily dependent on Romanian oil supplies. This supply would be jeopardized very soon after a German military withdrawal.

I failed to mention a few other nations. Italy was on the point of collapse by now. Greece and Yugoslavia would need to be abandoned, as the withdrawal would make these deployments untenable.

What about Austria? Do they declare neutrality? I think the Poles and Czechs would be neither cooperative nor peaceful, especially when the death camps are revealed. Compound that with the loss of factories and forced labour in all these nations.

I'm just not seeing how this could ever work.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 24 Sep 2020 08:05

maltesefalcon wrote:
23 Sep 2020 20:26
Juan G. C. wrote:
23 Sep 2020 18:51
maltesefalcon wrote:
23 Sep 2020 18:39
This Russian army of liberation was a pipe dream IMHO.
By 1943 Germany had shown its true colours in the treatment of POWs and civilians in conquered areas of the Ostfront.

Hitler was not just anti-Communist, he saw the USSR as the major rival in a takeover of the European and Western Asia territories.
In Russia especially he was determined to subjegate and/or exterminate the entire Slavic population in favour of resettlement of these territories by Aryans.
If his Nazi government was overthrown, the anti-Soviet Russians would still have no reason to trust that Germany would not double cross them once they had outlived their usefulness.

Nor could the turncoat Russians be trusted either. Many would join out of desperation rather than dying of starvation in a Stalag, Arming a milliin former POWs who had already betrayed their own country once would yield a very volatile military front.

Perhaps if the invading Germans had acted with more restraint towards anti-Soviet troops and populations during Barbarossa, the war would have ended sooner and much differently.
Why would they have no reason to trust the new german government? It would have been formed by people who had opposed such treatment of POWs and civilians in the Soviet Union, and would have had no interest in annexing territory in the East beyond the pre-1914 eastern german frontiers.
If Germany was simply going to retreat back to the 1914 borders, then it's likely the Soviets would have signed an armistice. So Vlasov's phantom army would not be required to preserve the sanctity of the Reich in the short term. As is usually the case, a prisoner exchange would be a key element to success of this agreement to both sides. So Vlasov and his men would be a bargaining chip, not a potential recruiting depot.

In fact Stalin was amenable to one IRL around that time. Hitler did not refuse, simply avoided a decision until the Kursk campaign was finished. He felt that Germany needed a post-Stalingrad victory, to allow a better bargaining position. We all know how well that went.

But arming an unreliable foreign army to continue the fight alone on your behalf would not create lasting peace. There is no way Vlasov could form a Russian cadre large enough to occupy that much space on their own, let alone pose a real threat to the massive Soviet buildup. IRL I believe his proposed "army" was around 50,000 strong-so a corps. On top of this, they would have no air or naval elements for support, nor a proper logistics chain for food, fuel and armament.

If formed into an infantry or panzer grenadier corps within the Wehrmacht or Waffen SS, they may have proved potent, but on their own they would be crushed by the Soviet steamroller. As for satellite nations like Ukraine and the Baltics, they would certainly fight in their own best interest on their turf, but could they be convinced to fight further east in a grand coalition under Russian command? And again where are the weapons and supplies coming from? Certainly not the Germans, if they wanted to maintain their peace arrangements. And if the troops of Hungary or Romania were an example of the typical quantity and quality of the rest.....
I didn't mean that the new german government were going to retreat to the 1914 borders, or that they were going to let the Soviets have everything east of that in a peace agreement, only that they didn't want to annex (much less colinize) anything beyond the 1914 borders. I know that in early 1943 Stalin was amenable to a separate peace, but by late 1943 (I was thinking in December 1943) that possibility had passed. So the new german government would have had to continue the war in the east, and thus the occupation of Soviet territory. The Vlasov army and the armies of the newly formed national goverments would be allies of the germans against the Soviet Union, and would not be fighting alone.

On the other hand, it is true that Vlasov's "army" was only around 50,000 strong IRL, but IRL it was formed in November 1944, when the germans had lost practically all territory of the Soviet Union and half the Balkans, and were already crumbling. I propose it being formed around January 1944, in very different circumstances.
Last edited by Juan G. C. on 24 Sep 2020 10:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 24 Sep 2020 08:09

maltesefalcon wrote:
24 Sep 2020 05:16
Perhaps a couple more points to ponder on the return to pre 1914 borders.
Germany was heavily dependent on Romanian oil supplies. This supply would be jeopardized very soon after a German military withdrawal.

I failed to mention a few other nations. Italy was on the point of collapse by now. Greece and Yugoslavia would need to be abandoned, as the withdrawal would make these deployments untenable.

What about Austria? Do they declare neutrality? I think the Poles and Czechs would be neither cooperative nor peaceful, especially when the death camps are revealed. Compound that with the loss of factories and forced labour in all these nations.

I'm just not seeing how this could ever work.
I think what I just said solve that also. The germans would still be occupying the all those places, as IRL. Moroever, the new german goverment would also want to keep Austria and the Sudetenland in the Reich.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 24 Sep 2020 14:18

So if I understand this correctly, Germany's new regime has two options:

First option, contact Stalin and broker a cease fire pending a negotiated peace.

Alternatively form a coalition of nations where Germany will provide the bulk of troops to carry on the fight against Soviet expansion.
After the victory (and millions of deaths), Germany will return to its former 1914 borders, which by definition leaves the following nations free and independent:

Greece
Poland
Czechia
Slovakia
Baltic nations
Yugoslavia in whatever form survives
Byelorussia
Ukraine
Hungary
Romania
Bulgaria
Austria
At least the western European portion of Russia

Axis had already been driven out out North Africa and Southern Italy.
But the repatriation of troops back from the Ostfront would allow greater focus on Western Allies.

My biggest question is that under option 2 Germany would undergo considerable expense and casualties only to have a host of independent and possibly hostile neighbours on its eastern frontier. In any case once free Poland shows proof of the goings on in Auschwitz et al, the world's mood may change.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 24 Sep 2020 15:55

maltesefalcon wrote:
24 Sep 2020 14:18
So if I understand this correctly, Germany's new regime has two options:

First option, contact Stalin and broker a cease fire pending a negotiated peace.

Alternatively form a coalition of nations where Germany will provide the bulk of troops to carry on the fight against Soviet expansion.
After the victory (and millions of deaths), Germany will return to its former 1914 borders, which by definition leaves the following nations free and independent:

Greece
Poland
Czechia
Slovakia
Baltic nations
Yugoslavia in whatever form survives
Byelorussia
Ukraine
Hungary
Romania
Bulgaria
Austria
At least the western European portion of Russia

Axis had already been driven out out North Africa and Southern Italy.
But the repatriation of troops back from the Ostfront would allow greater focus on Western Allies.

My biggest question is that under option 2 Germany would undergo considerable expense and casualties only to have a host of independent and possibly hostile neighbours on its eastern frontier. In any case once free Poland shows proof of the goings on in Auschwitz et al, the world's mood may change.
In fact the new german government would rather make peace with the Western Allies and continue the war against the Soviet Union, but the Western Allies would demand unconditional surrender, and that the new german government would not do.

The problem with the first option is that by late 1943/early 1944 Stalin had accepted the policy of unconditional surrender, as far as I know, and would not negotiate with the new german government. Perhaps if the germans manage to impede or at least slow down the Soviet advance with the help of the soviet nationalities, Stalin might become more amenable.

So, at least for the moment, the new german government would have had only the option of continuing the war on all fronts and forming that coalition against the Soviet Union. Perhaps if the new states and Vlasov's Committee build enough forces, Germany can transfer part of the Ostheer to the West to fight the Western Allies.

I do not see why would the new countries (Baltic states, Ukraine, Byelorussia, etc.) be hostile (Austria would remain part of the Reich). And regarding Auschwitz and all the death camps, one of the first things the new german government would have done is to close all them and stop the Holocaust, and bring the criminals to justice.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 24 Sep 2020 16:13

I lived in Germany for 4 years and I can assure you even in the 1960's, people from conquered nations were still pretty hostile to Germans. Especially ones who were the right age to be adults during the Nazi regime. I think the only thing that kept these countries from wide spread and savage post war reprisals was the allied armies of occupation.

As for Austria, I made that conclusion based on your own earlier premise. Austria was not part of the pre-1914 German empire, so would not fit your requirements of returning to those borders.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 24 Sep 2020 18:15

maltesefalcon wrote:
24 Sep 2020 16:13
I lived in Germany for 4 years and I can assure you even in the 1960's, people from conquered nations were still pretty hostile to Germans. Especially ones who were the right age to be adults during the Nazi regime. I think the only thing that kept these countries from wide spread and savage post war reprisals was the allied armies of occupation.

As for Austria, I made that conclusion based on your own earlier premise. Austria was not part of the pre-1914 German empire, so would not fit your requirements of returning to those borders.
I think that ITTL there would be less hostility, at least in the Baltic states, Byelorussia and Ukraine, with the germans allowing and promoting the formation of independent states un the territories still occupied by them. Anyway, the New german government would have no other option.

Regarding Austria, perhaps It is my fault. When I wrote about the 1914 border I was thinking in the borders with Poland. The aims of the New government would have been the 1914 borders plus Austria, the Sudetenland, and South Tyrol.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Sep 2020 18:27

At this point what independent states government is going to trust a nazi government of Germany, or any government for that matter? Inter war France was unable to keep a solid coalition against Germany together. I suspect its going to be easier to maintain a collective French led Entente against both Germany. The USSR might be a second bogeyman for this Entente, particularly if Britain is a active participant.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 24 Sep 2020 21:14

I don't want to suck all the oxygen out of this thread, but am still puzzled at the logic of the proposal as written.

By 1943, the Axis was heavily outnumbered already by the Soviets. So any potential source of manpower would have been greatly accepted. I totally get that it is better to have Vlasov's men than not. But this must be balanced with the reality that scouring occupied nations for troops, would correspondingly reduce the labour pool for crops and factories.

And said troops still needed to be equipped. Germany had to delay Zitadelle from May to July; to build up their own tank forces, after the debacle at Stalingrad. Where would this extra equipment and vehicles come from, to support x number of new divisions? And if there already was an extra supply on hand, why not offer it to extant forces of Hungary, Romania and Finland?

As for motivation, for the Vlasov force and the occupied nations, it's a no-brainer. They were fighting for their very survival. But I'm struggling a bit with the motivation on the German side. They could lose a million men in the next phase but would simply walk away and return home, if and when Soviet Russia surrendered. (Or stopped fighting at least.) And if Communism falls does that guarantee the next Russian regime will not simply carry on where they left off and forge a capitalist, but Russian dominated empire in Eastern Europe?

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by Takao » 24 Sep 2020 23:19

The problem with Vlasov's army is not trust of the Germans. Simply because the Germans don't trust them. Which is why the army was not formed until the bitter end. The Conferderate States of America were the same way, not arming African-Americans until almost the end of the war.
The Germans were proved correct when Vlasov's army switched back to the Soviets in 1945. Further, given German experience with their Hiwis in late-42 & 43 as they again switched sides when the Soviets achieved local superiority, led the Germans to ship many of them back West, where they were no opportunity to mutiny or go over to the Allied side.

Changing history such as this simply cannot be done by eliminating Hitler & his gang from power. The whole course of the Eastern Front needs to be changed from the beginning, and the new German government cannot undo what has already been done.

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Re: WI Earlier formation of Vlasov's ROA

Post by maltesefalcon » 25 Sep 2020 00:13

Well said.

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