- Russian Corps
The Russian Corps, the Russian Guard Corps, the Russian Corps in Serbia, the Separate Russian Corps (Русский Охранный Корпус, Русский Корпус в Сербии, Russisches Schutzkorps Serbien) was an armed force that existed from 1941 to 1945 in
Yugoslavia, predominantly composed of anti-communist Russian emigres. It fought in alliance with axis forces against the "Partisans", and later against the Red Army. An estimated 17,000 men went through its ranks, of which 10,000 became casualties.
The Corps formed after the
Nazioccupation of Yugoslavia, after a wave of atrocities committed by communist Yugoslav partisans against Russian white emigres.
Mikhail Skorodumov, a veteran of the White movement, referred to the German occupational forces, asking for permission to form an armed "Separate Russian Corps" which would defend the Russian population against the communist partisans. In return for being armed and supplied by the Germans, Skorodumov set forth six conditions:
1. Only one commander of the Corps is responsible to the German command. All units and ranks of the Corps are responsible only to the commander of the Corps, who is confirmed by the German command, and the leaders that are picked by the commander of the Corps.
2. Units of the Russian Corps cannot be integrated into German units, they are entirely independent.
3. The Russian corps wears the old Russian uniform, the materials for which must come from the old Serbian supplies.
4. The officers of the corps do not make any oaths.
5. When the Corps finishes its formation and communism in Serbia is defeated, the German command transfers the Corps to the Eastern Front.
6. The Russian Corps may not be used against any government, nor against the Serbian national forces of
In point 5, Skorodumov reasoned - as many Russian
white emigresat the time - that it would be possible to take advantage of a foreign war in order to break open a civil war in Russia and overthrow Stalin's government, which could only be achieved with force. The Corps, he reasoned, was to become the seed of this resistance.
On the 12th of September, 1941, after receiving the written approval of German Colonel Kevish, Skorodumov ordered the formation of the Corps. Three days later he was arrested by the Nazis for forming a "separate Russian corps" and was replaced by his assistant, General
Boris Shteifon(who was half Jewish from his father's side), another White army veteran. Shteifon continued the formation of the Corps. At the same time, he was engaged in a diplomatic war with the German command in an attempt to win as much independence and freedom of action as possible.
Several thousand Russian emigres living in Yugoslavia and in surrounding Eastern European countries enlisted in the Corps, men from age 16 to those in their seventies were admitted. At the beginning the Corps heavily lacked men in their twenties, due to the fact that most were conscripted into the Yugoslav Royal Army and were either taken prisoner, living in exile, or with the
Chetniks. Most volunteers were either young men who grew up in the Russian Cadet Corps of Yugoslavia, or seasoned veterans of the Russian Tsarist and White armies. Consequently, many commissioned officers had to enlist as privates or non-coms. Officers and generals were permitted to wear their old rank on the shoulderboards, while using their collar to display their Corps rank.
The Corps consisted of five
regiments, armed with German, Italian, and Yugoslav weaponry. The Corps was not allowed to have heavy artillery, according to Shteifon's speculation this was done to prevent the Corps from becoming a fully fledged, independent armed unit. The Corps initially instituted White Army uniforms, combined with Serbian royalist regalia, but were forced to switch to German uniforms later. These German uniforms were "Russified" by the inclusion of a Russian cockadeand Russian medals of distinction. The Corps followed at first the Tsarist military charter for commands, then briefly switched to the 1927 Soviet charter before being forced to conform to the German Wermacht charter.
Deployment and growth
The Corps under General Shteifon were used at first primarily for guarding regions from partizan control, then in the spring of 1944 plunged into the heat of the Yugoslav guerilla war. It engaged Titoists in villages and cities throughout Yugoslavia, often deployed in regions the Germans considered particularly dangerous. This went against the hopes of the founders of the Corps, who had hoped that it would be primarily deployed as a defense unit against partizan aggression and spared from heavy action.
As per Skorodumov's point 6, the Corps refused to attack the national Serbian
Chetnikforces. The Chetniks maintained a neutral and occasionally an allied relationship with the Corps, with a few exceptions. The Serbian Volunteer Corpsof Dimitri Ljotic, by contrast, were a constant ally of the Corps.
Frictions had also developed between the Corps and the
Croatian Home Guard. with which the Corps was in a " de jure" alliance . This occurred after the Corps' soldiers had intervened several times by force to stop atrocities against Serbian civilians committed by Croatian soldiers.
Shteifon's diplomatic war with the German command forced him to make several concessions. One was the introduction of the German uniform (as the Germans refused to supply anything else), another was an oath all soldiers were forced to give to Hitler. Shteifon was, however, able to win permission to send representatives to occupied territories (notably in Romanian occupied
Odessaand Bessarabia) in order to recruit Soviet POW's and civilians for the Corps. Over 5,000 new recruits were successfully enlisted this way. In the wake of this expansion, an officer training program was instituted in order to create new ranks for a future army.
In 1944, the Germans ordered the Corps to cover their retreat from
Greece. In September of that year, after the capitulation of Bulgariaand Romania, the Corps found itself confronting not only the reinforced Titoist partizans (whom Winston Churchillhad begun favoring over Mihailovic, in view of the former's alliance with Stalin), but regular units of the Red Army, along with its newly allied Bulgarian and Romanian armies. Heavily outnumbered and poorly equipped, the Corps lost over one third of its men in a few months time.
In the winter of 1944-45, upon learning that
General Vlasov's Russian Liberation Armywas finally in existence, Shteifon met with Vlasov and offered his "unconditional subordinance". Thus, Shteifon and his men were coopted into the Russian Liberation Army. However, this remained a de jure designation, as the turn of events did not permit Vlasov to include the Corps in his operations.
The Corps began retreating into
Slovenia. On the 30th of April, Shteifon died of a heart attack by Zagreb. Colonel Anatoli Ivanovich Rogozhin became the Corps' last commander.
The End of the Corps
Rogozhin immediately began planning for a surrender of the Corps to the allies, while avoiding capture by partizan or Soviet forces. After a heavy argument with the German command, Rogozhin marched his men (now numbering 4,500) towards
Klagenfurt, Austria, with the intent of surrendering to British troops together with the Serbian Volunteer Corps and Slovenian Domobrantsi.
The surrender to the British took place on the 12th of May, 1945, after which Rogozhin said in his daily order "We with a calm conscience can say that we completely accomplished the duty of the honest Russian soldier. The British commanders have respectfully treated us, as we did not surrender our weapons to those against whom we raised them, - our enemy - the Bolsheviks. With faith in a better future, let us await that moment when the Lord will help us finish our fight for the liberation of our Motherland to victory."
In reality Rogozhin faced many difficulties with the British command, largely because of their ties with their Soviet allies who wanted the Corps delivered to them. Immediately after surrender, the Corps created their own camp in Kellerberg, which included an Orthodox church. The camp was unknown to the Soviets until an informer from another former Russian axis unit which was stationed nearby told the Soviet authorities of its location.
A confrontation began between the Corps' officers and Soviet
SMERSHagents. Unlike with the Cossacks of Lienz and many veterans of the Russian Liberation Army, the British spared the Corps from forceful repatriation, citing that it was formed of people who did not fall under the classification of "former Soviet citizens" (as per the Yalta agreement). Those members of the Corps who were former Soviet citizens (as well as stray members of other Russian units who fled to the Corps' camp) were given false documents to protect them from repatriation.
On November 1, 1945, Rogozhin officially disbanded the Corps and formed a veteran's union (the "Russian Corps Combatants") which was responsible for the safety and coordination of its members. Many Corps members emigrated to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and several European countries.
The corps veterans created a modified symbol which was formed of a white Russian military "opolchenskiy" cross, upon which was a black cross of the Corps with the letters "R" and "K" (standing for "Russkiy Korpus") inscribed in white. On the blades of the white cross the years 1917 - 1921 and 1941 - 1945 are marked, signifying respectively the years of the
Russian Civil War, and the years of its continuation during the Corps action in Yugoslavia.
A chapel of St. Alexander Nevsky (the patron saint of the Corps, on whose day of memory the Corps was originally founded) was erected in the Novo Deveevo
Russian Orthodoxconvent in Nanuet, New York (USA) in honor of the Russian Corps. Many Corps veterans (including Rogozhin) are buried nearby. The "Combatants" union began publishing a periodical known as "Nashi Vesti" (Our News).
Russian Liberation Movement
Russian Liberation Army
Betrayal of the Cossacks
Serbian Volunteer Corps
Collaboration during World War II
* M.V. Nazarov, "The Mission of the Russian Emigration", Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6
*"Russkiy Korpus", St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg University, 1999. ISBN 5-288-02307-7
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Russian Liberation Movement — (Русское Освободительное Движение) is a term used to describe Russians during World War II who tried to create an anti communist armed force which would topple the regime of Joseph Stalin. Such a movement included not only Russians but peoples of … Wikipedia
Russian Liberation Army — Infobox Military Unit unit name= Russian Liberation Army ( ru. Русская Освободительная Армия), ( de. Russische Befreiungsarmee) caption=A ROA poster depicting a Russian and German soldier side by side, promising to march to victory and peace ,… … Wikipedia
Russian Nationalist Movement of Estonia — The Russian Nationalist Movement of Estonia (RNDE) is a political movement in Estonia. It was founded in Lasnamäe in 1990, in order to fill the place of the Russian Movement of Estonia (RDE), which was banned by the National Constitutional Court… … Wikipedia
Russian Civil War — Clockwise from top: Soldiers of the Don Army in 1919; a White infantry division in March 1920; soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Army; Leon Trotsky in 1918; hanging of workers in Yekaterinoslav by the Czecho … Wikipedia
Russian Christmas Music — is a musical piece for symphonic band, written by Alfred Reed in 1944. It is one of the most popular and frequently performed pieces of concert band literature.Reed was commissioned to write a piece of Russian music for a concert in Denver,… … Wikipedia
Russian Space Forces — Flag of the Russian Space Forces Active 2001 present Country Russia … Wikipedia
Russian roulette — ( ru. Русская рулетка) is a potentially lethal game of chance in which participants place a single round in a revolver, spin the cylinder, place the muzzle against their head and pull the trigger. Russian refers to the country of origin of the… … Wikipedia
Corps of Guides (Canada) — Corps of Guides Active Disbanded/Decommissioned/Inactive Country Canada Type Corps Role (Canadian Army) Permanent Active Militia Motto … Wikipedia
Russian Hill — (San Francisco) Russian Hill Russian Hill vu de Telegraph Hill Situation … Wikipédia en Français
Russian Hill (San Francisco) — Russian Hill Russian Hill vu de Telegraph Hill Situtation … Wikipédia en Français