In the first campaign of 1941, the Germans captured four million Soviet soldiers. Later in the campaign in July 1942, they even managed to capture a very competent and charismatic Soviet general, Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov.
Vlasov knew the horrors of Stalinism first hand and offered to lead a Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Armiya) against the Soviets. Many of the POW’s were prepared to follow Vlasov into battle against Stalin. Apparently Vlasov’s ideology was patriotic, anti-Communist but not particularly democratic. Putin’s Russia would be a logical ideological heir. Both men favour close collaboration with German neighbours to strengthen the Russian state.
Hitler instead opted for a policy of oppression and state terrorism and lost the Eastern Front.
With a new Russian civil war raging with German air and mechanical support, one has to believe Stalin would have had a great deal of difficulty holding the Soviet Union together for long.
How different the world would look now if the Soviet Union had come to an end in the forties and had been replaced by a nationalist Russia.
Vlasov and his armies were not put on the Eastern Front until 1945 when it was too late for the Nazis. Shamefully enough, the Allies returned these anti-Communists into the hands of Stalin, where predictably all of the officers were put to death while the soldiers were condemned to life in the Gulags.
A drab propagandistic page from the Russian-Americans on Vlasov, which gives an emigré perspective on the Russian Liberation Army.
A wonderful picture site with a couple of pages about Vlasov and his defence of Kiev and even more photographs of many of the battlefields and bunkers around Kiev that give a real sense of place to all of these events. Highly recommended to read through the whole site. Serpent’s Wall is exactly the kind of work for which the world wide web was created. Many pictures, minimal text, self-published but clean and clear. A chance to see and study something first hand which otherwise would be very difficult to learn about.