Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

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Juan G. C.
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Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 25 Apr 2021 15:38

I am trying to find how many men did volunteer to serve in general Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. In his book Tretia Sila, Alexander Kasentsev, a vlasovite, writes that the 20th of November 1944 there were 62,000 applications for service in the ROA, that in November 1944 the number grew to 300,000, and that at the ene of December it had grown to 1,000,000. But perhaps this source is not reliable. Are there official German or Vlasovite (KONR) figures of the number of volunteers? Thanks.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by AriX » 25 Apr 2021 22:12

Acording to S.Drobyazko's book "Under the enemy banner.Antosoviet units in German Armed Forces 1941-1945" [2004], there were 100.000 strong KONR forces, including 50.000 in "ROA" at the end of the war.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 26 Apr 2021 07:13

AriX wrote:
25 Apr 2021 22:12
Acording to S.Drobyazko's book "Under the enemy banner.Antosoviet units in German Armed Forces 1941-1945" [2004], there were 100.000 strong KONR forces, including 50.000 in "ROA" at the end of the war.
Thanks, but that is the number of soldiers at the end of the war, not the number of volunteers. Not all volunteers need to have been allowed to serve as soldiers in the ROA. Indeed, I remember having read that ROA could never absorb all the volunteers.

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Steve
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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Steve » 27 Apr 2021 22:57

It is not possible to give accurate numbers since ROA was mainly a German propaganda exercise until the end of 1944. Then at the end of the war ROA’s own records were destroyed. However, it is quite likely that had the approximately 1 million Soviet citizens serving in the Wehrmacht in 1944 been polled the overwhelming majority would have described themselves as Vlasovites.

The following is from: - Against Stalin & Hitler 1941-1945 Memoirs of the Russian Liberation Movement by Wilfred Strik-Strikfeld

“Later that year,following the Prague Manefesto, Frohlich told that some 2,500 – 3,000 applications to join the Liberation Army were coming in daily from the occupied zone, from prisoner of war camps and from Ostarbeiter. Sacks full of mail applications were delivered by post every morning,”

There is no doubt that Vlasov was very popular and may well have been able to form an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands if the German leadership hadn’t been racist nutcases. Vlasov eventually met with Himmler on September 16 1944 and left the meeting thinking he had permission for ten divisions. He later received a telegram from Himmler referring to three Russian divisions and even these were never fully formed.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Juan G. C. » 28 Apr 2021 15:49

Steve wrote:
27 Apr 2021 22:57
It is not possible to give accurate numbers since ROA was mainly a German propaganda exercise until the end of 1944. Then at the end of the war ROA’s own records were destroyed. However, it is quite likely that had the approximately 1 million Soviet citizens serving in the Wehrmacht in 1944 been polled the overwhelming majority would have described themselves as Vlasovites.

The following is from: - Against Stalin & Hitler 1941-1945 Memoirs of the Russian Liberation Movement by Wilfred Strik-Strikfeld

“Later that year,following the Prague Manefesto, Frohlich told that some 2,500 – 3,000 applications to join the Liberation Army were coming in daily from the occupied zone, from prisoner of war camps and from Ostarbeiter. Sacks full of mail applications were delivered by post every morning,”

There is no doubt that Vlasov was very popular and may well have been able to form an army numbering in the hundreds of thousands if the German leadership hadn’t been racist nutcases. Vlasov eventually met with Himmler on September 16 1944 and left the meeting thinking he had permission for ten divisions. He later received a telegram from Himmler referring to three Russian divisions and even these were never fully formed.
Thank you very much!

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by thezerech » 16 May 2021 22:07

The Vlasovites had their own Luftwaffe squadrons, with at least one Me-262 allegedly.

I want to clarify though, not all "Soviet citizens" under German authority were under the potential authority of the ROA, Balts and Ukrainians retained independence from the ROA, although the ROA apparently had their own branches of Belarusians and Ukrainians, I don't know to what extent that was true off paper. Certainly, non-Russians ended up in the ROA, but generally, they ended up in random auxiliary police units or their own national units.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Steve » 17 May 2021 13:30

Wilfred Strik-Strikfeld in his memoir has very little to say about ROA air units. Seemingly at the end of 1943 he visited a Luftwaffe base where captured enemy material was put into working order. Russian pilots at the base were well treated and later when allowed to attend ROA courses they turned up in Luftwaffe uniform. Strik-Strikfeld says that Holders the commander of the Luftwaffe base laid the foundations for the “future air squadrons of the Russian Liberation Army”. Later he writes that “Parachute, anti-aircraft and reconnaissance units were being set up” he does not mention fighter units.

There is a Wikipedia page about Semyon Bychkov a Soviet fighter ace who also flew for ROA. It makes no mention of him flying fighters while serving in ROA only that he “participated in anti-partisan warfare around Dvinsk and became the chief of night-time bombing in the ROA”

Perhaps someone knows whether ROA air force units were equipped with fighter aircraft.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 May 2021 18:12

Hi thezerech,

You post, "The Vlasovites had their own Luftwaffe squadrons, with at least one Me-262 allegedly."

Common sense tells us that this is pure fiction.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Steve » 20 May 2021 18:39

I must correct myself the correct term for Vlasov units is KONR not ROA though many Vlasov men would have had ROA insignia on their uniforms.

Catherine Andreyev in her book on Vlasov has almost nothing to say about air units. She mentions “Major General Maltsev, the head of Vlasov’s air squadron” and also “the air squadron” along with other units that were coming together to form a united command under Vlasov at the end of March.

The Wikipedia article on the Russian Liberation Army refers to
Air Elements
I. Ostfliegerstaffel (russische) (1st Eastern Squadron-Russian) (1943–1944)
II. Störkampfstaffel (Night Harassment Squadron) 8 (1945)
KONR Air Force

There would have been no KONR 1st Eastern Squadron in 1943 and most of 1944. I am guessing that 1st Eastern Squadron was transferred to KONR after Vlasov met Himmler in September 1944 and recieved permission to form KONR units. The squadron was then named Night Harassment Squadron. Apparently the KONR air force consisted of one squadron of indeterminate size.

The site below claims that the Russian Liberation Army air force numbered some 5,000 personnel and was divided into fighter, light bomber, reconnaissance plus flak etc. They have perhaps interpreted plans for a future KONR air force and embryonic units as all being fully formed units.
https://russianculture.wordpress.com/20 ... tion-army/

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by George Lepre » 23 May 2021 23:08

Great posts in this thread, Steve. Thank you very much.

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thezerech
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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by thezerech » 03 Jun 2021 21:06

Sid Guttridge wrote:
18 May 2021 18:12
Hi thezerech,

You post, "The Vlasovites had their own Luftwaffe squadrons, with at least one Me-262 allegedly."

Common sense tells us that this is pure fiction.

Cheers,

Sid.
I said allegedly since I have not seen definitive proof that they had a ME-262. That could mean anything from there was one that one Russian flew once, or that they captured one or that they had a broken-down shell of one on an airbase somehow, but I've seen multiple times the claim that they had at least one, including on this forum. Maybe it was assigned to them and it never arrived, but it's in some german papers. It wouldn't surprise me if they never flew it for lack of ammo or fuel, but it seems that they definitely were supposed to get one, and that they might have got their hands on it before the end of the war even if all it did was sit on a runway.

As for aircraft in general, Latvians, Ukrainians, Russians, and others were pilots in the Luftwaffe, most had auxiliary or night bombing duties, but by 45 the situation manpower-wise was desperate enough Slavs and Balts ended up flying fighters. The ROA itself did have air squadrons in '45, we know they had bf-109Gs.

From "Luftwaffe der Streitkräfte der Völker Rußlands ROA"

ROA-Schlachtstaffel 8 mit 12 Ju 88
ROA-Jagdstaffel 5 "Oberst Kazakow"mit 16 Bf 109G-10
ROA-Transportstaffel 4 mit 2 Ju 52/3m
ROA-Aufklärungsstaffel 3 mit 2 2 Fi Fi 156 und 1 Me 262
ROA-Ausbildungsstaffel-Ergänz. mit Do 17, He 111, U-2, Ju-88, Bf-109, Fi-156.

Did it ever fly? Who knows, but it seems that they could at least claim possession of a Me-262.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Sid Guttridge » 03 Jun 2021 22:53

Hi thezerech,

Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. Not only is there no exceptional evidence in this case of the supposed Me262, but there is no evidence whatsoever.

You claim there are lots of references to this story, but offer not a single primary source from either the German or Russian side. Nor, it would appear, does anyone else.

I see from a modelling forum that even the existence of Bf109Gs with ROA markings is under question.

What photos do we have of any of these aircraft?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Steve » 04 Jun 2021 11:38

After having read the web page “Luftwaffe der Streitkräfte der Völker Rußlands ROA" I think it is unlikely to be correct. Aschenbrenner the “stage manager” of the ROA air force was Inspector for Foreign Personnel East from 28 June 1944 till May 1945. Nikolai Tolstoy in his book Victims of Yalta mentions him. After Vlasov received permission to form units Tolstoy writes the following on page 357 “an air corps (as yet without aircraft) was being raised under the command of Vladimir Maltsev, and under the general supervision of General Aschenbrenner”. This fits with him being Inspector for Foreign Personnel East but to describe him as being “stage manager” of the KONR air force seems an exaggeration. The link below gives information on him.
https://www.oocities.org/~orion47/WEHRM ... NRICH.html

From where did the 2,594 trained officers and under officers plus 1,800 training personnel mentioned on the web page spring from after September 16? Strik-Strickfeld in his memoir (page 165) mentions Russian pilots in Luftwaffe uniform attending courses run by Vlasov staff officers. He also mentions “our training camp to be transferred to some area under Luftwaffe command” and it was transferred to Pillau in East Prussia. He does not give a date for this move but it would have been before the meeting with Himmler. Seemingly there was one training camp for Russian air units but it must be very unlikely that men were being trained there by the thousand before the meeting with Himmler.

On April 18 Strik-Strickfeld (German translator for Vlasov) met with Vlasov near Karlsruhe and present at the meeting was Aschenbrenner. Various scenarios were discussed such as holding out in the Bavarian mountains. On April 27 when 1st KONR division was advancing towards Prague Aschenbrenner wrote to its commander over his disobeying German orders. No mention of Aschenbrenner being involved with a KONR air force at the end of the war.

The web page uses the term ROA throughout (easy mistake) but Vlasov never commanded ROA units he commanded VS KONR units to give them their proper name. That the Luftwaffe would hand over to the KONR air force the latest production variant of the 109 the G10 rather than older variants is surprising.

I would not argue against there being some small units (apart from the sqd we know about) of a KONR air force that are now almost lost in the mists of time. You would expect Vlasov to inspect a KONR air force of thousands of men and be given a demonstration but there is no mention of any such thing. Is this another red herring in the search for the mythical KONR air force?

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Steve » 04 Jun 2021 23:29

Low and behold it would appear that matters are not as straight forward as I have supposed. After quoting from Tolstoy’s book in my previous post I decided to read the book as it’s probably over thirty years since I have. Tolstoy interviewed Dr Kroeger who was Vlasov’s interpreter from November 1944 till the end of the war and others who were still alive in 1977 when he wrote the book.

General Aschenbrenner asked Theodor Oberlander who was the last commander of the KONR officer training establishment and spoke English if he would go as an emissary to the Americans. Oberlander agreed to go and negotiate the surrender of the ROA air corps. To cut a long story short US General Kennedy agreed to take the surrender of the ROA air corps. Tolstoy refers to the ROA air corps on one page and the KONR air corps on the next. Oberlander returned to the air corps headquarters at Spitzberg and the air corps marched under US guard to Munsingen the depot where the 1st KONR division had been formed. Oberlander claimed in 1977 that over a four day period 8,000 men “were saved”.

Quite likely any KONR troops left at the depot plus stragglers picked up during the four days were included in the figure of 8,000. However, it seems probable that by the end of the war the figure given on the web site provided by thezerech of about 4,400 men in the air corps is correct. You also have to add to this figure the numbers from the fledgling other units.

There is no mention of the air corps surrendering any aircraft or destroying any aircraft or even having any aircraft. The claim that the 1st division received air support from the air corps when it attacked the Soviet bridge head on the 14 April is incorrect. Tolstoy wrote that the 1st division received no air support. It seems that we now have the KONR air force but still no aircraft. The search goes on.

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Re: Number of volunteers for Vlasov's ROA

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Jun 2021 07:06

Hi Guys,

I asked on the 12 o'clock high forum and they have come up with the following sourced information, some of it in primary documents: http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=60115

This moves us on a bit regarding hard facts, but still no Me262, which was what made me question this in the first place!

Cheers,

Sid.

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