The plot of the Great Patriotic War
Several years ago my good friend, the Lieutenant General of the Home Office, knowing my interest in the history of the Great Patriotic War, invited me on an 'excursion'. 39; & # 39; quite unusual. Dark and mighty red brick buildings are hidden in the very center of Moscow, a stone's throw from Belorussky station. Several rings of guards, a metal frame, then another and here we are in the courtyard of Butyrka prison. Historic building, of course. It was built in 1879 by the Russian architect Matvey Kazakov , the author of masterpieces such as the Senate Palace in the Kremlin, the Petrovsky Palace of Travel, the Moscow State University building on Mokhovaya. But of her creations, it is Butyrka who is most often remembered & mdash; the largest remand center in the Russian capital, one of the oldest and most famous prisons in Europe. Many celebrities sat here: from Felix Dzerzhinsky and Vladimir Mayakovsky to Sergei Mavrodi and Zhanna Aguzarova … Some of the prisoners from Butyrka left the prison on the scaffold. But only once in the history of the famous prison have prisoners from the MGB-KGB internal prison been brought here and secretly executed. It happened at the dawn of August 1, 1946, a few hours after the verdict. Former Deputy Front Commander Volkhov, Commander of the 2nd Shock Army, Lieutenant-General Vlasov mounted on the scaffold 11 former officers of the Red Army, former members of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (KONR) – an organization created by the Nazis. Executors were given special instructions, and no 'last breakfast', farewell and confession to the priest were provided. The prisoners were photographed before and after the execution. The hands were tied behind the back and their faces exposed. There were rumors that a film was also shot about the execution, which was viewed by Stalin . But I couldn't find any confirmation on this. After the execution, Vlasov's body was taken to the crematorium of the Donskoy monastery and was buried here in the unclaimed ash grave.
Death on the gallows has always been considered shameful, especially for a soldier. But after all, Vlasov and his comrades in arms, sentenced by the military tribunal of the Supreme Court of the USSR, also committed a serious crime: they betrayed their oath, betrayed their homeland, fought alongside enemy. The loop as a method of retribution was also chosen for those convicted at the Nuremberg trials. The example of Soviet justice undoubtedly influenced the course and outcome of the trials of Nazi criminals that took place in post-war Europe. & Nbsp;
The story of Vlasov's betrayal is fairly mundane no matter how they tried after the war and the execution to give him credit in the 'struggle against Stalinism. & # 39; & # 39; The future general was born into a peasant family in the village of Lomakino, in the province of Nizhny Novgorod. The family had 13 children and he was the youngest. Andrei received a religious education, then began to study to become an agronomist, but was drafted into the army. Here he stayed and quickly began to make a career. During the Civil War, he fought on the southern front, in the North Caucasus, received a prestigious education at the time at the M. Frunze Military Academy. Shortly before the war, the General Staff sent him to China to assist the commanders of the local army. Here Vlasov quickly moved forward, became an adviser to Chiang Kai-shek , one of the chiefs of the Chinese army. Some researchers claim that the brutal Russian general charmed the wife of the Chinese generalissimo and made contact with her. After taking a business trip from China, he carried the order to the Soviet Union & mdash; Chiang Kai-shek price, gold watch & mdash; a gift from his wife and a pile of junk. At the border, it all had to be separated. Vlasov met the Great Patriotic War in the rank of general, as commander of one of the most effective mechanized corps of the Red Army. A month after the start of the war, he became commander of the army, distinguished himself in the defense of Moscow, and in March 1942, after a personal meeting with Stalin, was appointed deputy commander of the Volkhov front. Apparently, Vlasov was preparing to replace the commander of the front, the future Marshal Kirill Meretskov . & Nbsp;
In the summer of 1942, with the 2nd Shock Army, Vlasov was in the cauldron. The story of the death of this army & mdash; one of the most tragic pages of the war. In the Soviet years, military historians tried to explain the defeat of the 2nd Shock Army only through the mistakes of the commander. This is not true. Not being a great large-scale military leader, Vlasov was an educated and well-trained Soviet general and fought successfully, which explains his career progression in the first year of the war. The catastrophic situation of the Army had developed prior to his appointment and he was unable to influence the situation. The Supreme High Command Headquarters, on Stalin's personal instructions, sent a plane to one of the last sites of the encircled army to evacuate the commander, but he must be given his due, he has it. 39; refused. An attempt to break out of encirclement succeeds for part of the 2nd Army headquarters. Not wanting to surrender to the enemy, the head of the special front department, the major of state security Alexander Shashkov , the divisional commissioner Ivan Zuev preferred to commit suicide. Vlasov was in shock, bowed down. He wandered through the forests with his personal cook Maria Voronova until they arrive at the village where the Old Believers lived. Here, Vlasov tried to exchange the People's Commissar's gold watch for food, but the chef locked it in a shed and handed it over to the Germans, who already knew from them. Radio interceptions and interrogations of prisoners as the commander strayed into the woods. The general had a Belgian Browning, but he didn't use it and the guns went to the Germans as a trophy. By the way, 72 Soviet generals were taken prisoner during the war. 23 of them died in the camps and only 12 actively collaborated with the Germans. Documents have been kept on how the Germans encouraged the village chief, who gave Vlasov to army patrols. For this he received as a reward a cow, ten packets of tobacco, two bottles of caraway vodka and a certificate of honor (!). Later, when the Red Army returned to these areas, the obliging leader received the 'award'. and them & mdash; noose and gallows. & nbsp;
For the Nazis, a captured major military leader was a godsend. From the first days of the war, military intelligence & mdash; The Abwehr searched hard among the prisoners of war for a figure capable of leading the fight against the Bolsheviks. Initially, they tried to mold the traitor of Stalin's son & mdash; Jacob , who was captured in July 1941 near Belarusian Katyn. Memories of Captain Abwehr Wilfried Strick-Strickfield , a former subject of the Russian Empire, about his attempts to recruit Senior Lieutenant Yakov Dzhugashvili. It was this German Army officer who was assigned to work with important Soviet prisoners of war. Judging by the interrogation protocols, the chief's son behaved with dignity, politely rejected any possibility of cooperation with the enemy. If he has taken this step, then one can imagine the effect. Whether Shtrik-Shtrikfeld failed with Yakov, it happened with Vlasov. He agreed to cooperate with the Nazis after two (!) Weeks of captivity. It should be noted that no one forced him to do this by force, he was not tortured or starved. & Nbsp;
Today, when many archives are opened, it becomes clear how the Nazis used the former Soviet general. Despite the fact that Vlasov repeatedly swore allegiance to the Nazis, there was no confidence in him and his people. Hitler personally repeatedly rejected the Wehrmacht's proposal to create an army under Vlasov's command. Many national divisions of the Nazis also did not frankly want to serve under Vlasov's command. Proposals for cooperation with Vlasov were rejected by Ukrainians, Belarusians, Tatars, representatives of Transcaucasia, Cossacks, Russian emigrants of the first wave. And it wasn't until 1945 that Vlasov was finally allowed to 'go to war'. Of the three divisions planned by the spring of 1945, it was possible to form one entirely under the command of Major General Sergei Bunyachenko … It consisted of around 20,000 people, light and heavy artillery, 9 T-34 tanks. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions were in formation and did not conduct any hostility. In total, at the end of the war there were around 120 to 130,000 people in the Vlasov formations. Therefore, the very concept of 'Vlasov' army is a myth invented by opponents of the Stalinist regime. It is also important to say that, despite resistance from Vlasov, the Germans consisted of soldiers and officers of the so-called 'Kaminsky Brigade'. in the base of the Bunyachenko division. Unlike the Vlasovites, the fighters of Kaminsky fought with the Soviet army and partisans since 1941. Made up of prisoners of war from the Red Army and citizens of the USSR hostile to Soviet power, the brigade rose to prominence for the extremely cruel treatment of the population of the occupied territories. These were people for whom there was no turning back. If the Vlasovites were fed some anti-Bolshevik ideology, Kaminsky's fighters stole and killed because they couldn't do nothing else and didn't want to do anything else. During the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising, the SS leadership, where as you know there were no gentle people, were astonished at their bestial cruelty. It got to the point that it was decided to execute Kaminsky, which was done. As the military commander of Warsaw, Lieutenant General Rainer Stael testified, Kaminsky's soldiers raped women, shot dead and robbed civilians for no reason. After the Warsaw sweep, each of the brigade fighters had 15-20 golden hours. During the Nuremberg Trials, SS Obergruppenfuehrer Bach-Zelewski confirmed that Kaminsky was shot under his leadership, saying he was executed 'for looting in accordance with martial law . & # 39; & # 39; & Nbsp;
These are the 'fighters' and formed the basis of the Bunyachenko division. I am writing about this to appeal to the minds of those Czechs who have started in Prague today the overthrow of the monument to the true liberator of their capital, Marshal Konev, and the erection of A monument to the Vlasovites on this place. Thanks to the efforts of former associates of Vlasov and the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn the myth was born that it was the Vlasovites who liberated Prague. The truth is that while trying to flee the advance of the Red Army towards the Americans, the Bunyachenko division, the most combat-ready division of Vlasov's army, came blazed a trail, fighting the Germans, yesterday's allies. They did not miss the owners of yesterday, the ones who fed them, dressed them and armed them. It turns out Hitler was right not to trust traitors. & Nbsp;
Vlasov also tried to reach the Western allies. The Germans offered to evacuate him to Spain, to Franco. A plane was even ready, which was flown by a pilot Vlasov, a former senior lieutenant in the Red Air Force, hero of the Soviet Union Bronislav Antilevsky … But Vlasov prided himself on the hope of supporting the American and British armies in a future war with the USSR. I must say that Hitler also considered such a possible alliance until the last hours of his life. Probably for a reason. But it didn't work out. On May 12, 1945, the machine gunners of 23-year-old Captain Mikhail Yakushov of the 162nd Tank Brigade stopped a convoy of vehicles moving to the location of the Allied forces. Vlasov was betrayed by his own officer, Captain Pyotr Kuchinsky … Kuchinsky (and this is the only case with an officer of the Vlasov army) was forgiven of all his sins and even received the Patriotic War Order of the 1st degree by a special decree. During a personal search, a commander's certificate signed by Stalin, a pectoral cross, ten Danish crowns, a party card of the Communist Party of Bolsheviks from all over the Union were seized from Vlasov. & Nbsp;
Given the laws of war, the shooting of Vlasov, who betrayed his oath, in front of the formation of the Commander's Company at Konev's Headquarters would hardly have aroused negative emotions in anyone. But Stalin wanted something else. It was important for him to understand the roots and origins of the Vlasov movement, to identify possible supporters, sympathizers of the general in the military circles of the USSR. Trying to fulfill their own worth, Vlasov's officers in conversations with the Germans constantly spoke of their supporters in “the highest military circles of the Red Army”. Stalin's suspicions were also reinforced by the enormous prestige among the people of the Soviet military leaders. He was already preparing to push the 'Victory Marshals' to the place he deemed necessary. Popular figures like de Gaulle or Dwight D. Eisenhower would interfere with a regime of personal power. & Nbsp;
Vlasov was taken to Moscow by a special plane and placed in the NKVD internal prison in Lubyanka. Here he was personally interviewed by the head of military counterintelligence SMERSH Viktor Abakumov … In reality, this was not an interrogation in the investigative sense of the term, but an orientation conversation. With the most important and politically important defendants having to go through high-profile public trials, and that was exactly what was brewing for the Vlasovites at SMERSH, similar conversations took place in Lubyanka, starting with the crackdowns of the 1930s. Abakumov needed to understand the depth of Vlasov's opposition to investigators, his willingness to cooperate with the prosecution and to admit his guilt, to repent publicly. It is not known what Abakumov promised in return for repentance to the captive general. And he couldn't promise anything, both were servicemen, knew Stalin's character (in this case, it was he who made the decision on Vlasov's fate) and understood the gravity of the situation. act led Vlasov and his associates only one way – on the scaffolding. But Abakumov responded to a request from Vlasov: the prisoner, referring to the needs of the body, asked to double his ration, which was done. Apparently, Abakumov didn't appreciate Vlasov's willingness to cooperate. Vlasov was placed on the famous Lubyanka conveyor belt and questioned by successive military investigators for ten days. As was customary at that time, all the main testimonies given by the Lubyanka prisoners were regularly reported to Stalin. He probably made the decision not to make the process public. & Nbsp;
There are myths that at first a public trial was being prepared with the participation of prosecutors and extensive media coverage, but later authorities changed their minds fearing loud anti-Soviet statements by the defendants . There is no documentary evidence of this. From a three-volume edition of documents on interrogations of Vlasov's generals, published several years ago, it becomes clear that they did not express any position of principle, they voluntarily cooperated on inquiry, fought for their lives. In a devastated country that suffered enormous losses, military personnel who had changed oaths and fought alongside the enemy could not arouse anyone's sympathy or understanding. But the very fact of a large number of Red Army soldiers and officers who were captured, and there were around six million, and a considerable number of them served the Nazis, of course, had to be understood. And the authorities did not want to make it public.
It would seem that decadence and oblivion deserved Vlasov and his associates. But from year to year there are people who are trying to revive his spirit and his ideas. An amazing book was written a few years ago by the former mayor of Moscow Gavriil Popov … This work is titled 'I Evoke the Spirit of General Vlasov.' One has the impression that economist Popov has come into contact with evil spirits. The book is structured as a dialogue between Popov and the traitor to the homeland who was hanged in 1946. The author tries to present Vlasova as a forerunner of the democratic movement in the USSR, as a person whose political vision for the future structure of Russia is embodied today. According to Popov, Vlasov deserved a monument in the center of the capital. Several years ago a young researcher from St. Petersburg Kirill Aleksandrov published a very curious work “ The Corps of Officers of the Army of General Vlasov. & # 39; & # 39; We admit that the author did a great job, met the surviving Vlasovites in Germany, USA, Russia, and had access to the FSB archives. Later, Aleksandrov tried to defend his doctoral thesis on the basis of this book. The work was predictably overwhelmed. Defending himself, Aleksandrov told reporters he was ready to answer for his work during the Doomsday. I doubt that an excuse for treason can be accepted even in such an authoritative trial. & Nbsp;
Various people were among the soldiers of Vlasov's army. They are traitors who scorned the oath; and cowards who traded honor for stew from the hands of the enemy; and the ideological opponents of Soviet power, who deliberately took the machine gun from the hands of the Nazis. Among Vlasov's soldiers there were also those who were sincerely wrong and wrong. But nothing can justify people who sided with the Nazis and killed their fellow citizens. Dante Alighieri placed the traitors in the worst and last circles of hell. He believed that their souls immediately after committing the betrayal go to hell and that the devil enters their bodies, controlling them during the time that the traitor is destined to live on earth. This is where, in the last circle, today is the place of the traitor general.