Vlasov was the leader of an anti- STALIN movement among Russian prisoners in Germany. He had served the USSR well before his capture by the Nazis. He was a military adviser to CHIANG Kai- shek from 1938 to 1939. In August 1941 he showed great courage in the defense of Kiev when completely surrounded by the Germans. Stalin allowed him to withdraw and gave him command of the 2nd Assault Army defending Moscow. In May 1942 he was captured by the Germans outside Sevastopol. He felt that the Soviet High command had abandoned him and as a result he had refused to escape from Sevastopol. He soon began to make propaganda broadcasts in which he gave voice to the Soviet Army’s mistrust of Stalin. In November 1944 HIMMLER gave him permission to form the Anti-Stalinist Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia. He drew recruits to this organization from German POW camps and from among Russian civilian prisoners brought to Germany for forced labor. On 14 November he published in Prague a manifesto denouncing Stalin on the grounds of his annexation of foreign territory and of his policy regarding nationalities. At the same time he was allowed to form a Russian Liberation Army (the ROA), which HITLER, however, used mostly for political propaganda purposes rather than for combat. At the end of the war Vlasov was in charge of two divisions totaling 50,000 men. One division was fighting the Red Army at Frankfurt on the Main; the other accompanied by Vlasov entered Prague before the US, defeated the SS, made contact with the Czechs and attempted to turn Czechoslovakia over to the Americans. They unfortunately declined the offer and allowed the Russians to take it over. Many of Vlasov’s troops surrendered to the Americans and committed suicide when the Americans repatriated them. Vlasov himself was unable to escape and was arrested by the Russians in May 1945. It was announced on 2 August 1946 on the back page of Pravda that Vlasov and several of his officers had been tried for espionage and treason against the USSR and had been executed accordingly.
Vlasov was in fact an idealistic man who hated the tyranny of Stalin and made the mistake of seeing the Germans as potential liberators. He was far from alone in this view: the Germans’ greatest mistake in Russia, perhaps, was that instead of making use of the great anti-Stalin feeling of the people they showed themselves to be far more brutal than the Soviet government.