[ATTRACTING POTENTIAL NAZI COLLABORATORS] Eight Agitational Leaflets Disseminated Among Soviet Soldiers by the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia
. 17,5x13,5 cm. All the leaflets have been originally folded in 12 to fit in soldiers’ pockets. Traces of those folds remain. Two leaflets also have rust on the creases.
A curious collection of eight propaganda leaflets directed at the Red Army and disseminated by the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia in 1945. The leaflets sought to weaken Soviet military morale and convince Red Army men to join the Wehrmacht. The leaflets feature 8 black and white illustrations showing how the Committee tried to reach Soviet soldiers. The illustrations depict ‘happy’ Nazi collaborators in the service of Germany: soldiers from the Turkestan Legion with the Russian caption: ‘Look at them, do they feel worse here?’, Cossacks in Hungary with a German liaison officer, soldiers from the Azerbaijani Legion, a mortar nest with Russian volunteers, etc. All illustrations have Russian captions intended to ‘bribe’ Red Army men with the hospitable environment in the Wehrmacht. The back side of each leaflet showcases propaganda texts issued by the Committee: ‘When will the War End?’ and ‘Why did we, the Former Red Army Soldiers, Officers, and Political Workers Join the Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia?’.
According to various sources, at least 117,000 Soviet citizens voluntarily crossed the front line, risking life and limb to surrender to the Germans. In addition, up to 6% of soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans decided to join the German forces. No other allied army in the second world war had such a large share of defectors. Put together with civilians, some 1.6 million Soviet citizens became military collaborators with the fascists. Notably, most of the collaborators who survived the war were ultimately imprisoned and repatriated to the Soviet Union, where they would face execution or incarceration by the Soviet government for collaborating with the Nazis.
The Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia comprised military and civilian Nazi collaborators from the Soviet Union. It was founded by Nazi Germany on November 14, 1944, in Prague, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The goals of the Committee were embodied in the Prague Manifesto, which guaranteed the freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly of any ethnic group living in territories belonging to Russia. The Prague Manifesto contained no explicit anti-Semitic or other racially inspired rhetoric, which caused a conflict with many Nazi propagandists.
For the registration period, the Committee consisted of 50 members and 12 candidates (including representatives of 15 peoples of Russia) and practically performed the functions of a general meeting. By the beginning of 1945, the Committee had increased to 102 members and the Scientific Council to 100. The Committee supervised the military formations that were part of the Russian Liberation Army. In total, these formations, according to various sources, numbered about 120-130 thousand people.
The chairman of the Committee was Andrey Vlasov (1901-1946), a Soviet Red Army general who the Nazis captured during the siege of Leningrad. After being caught, he defected to Nazi Germany and headed the Russian Liberation Army. After WWII, Vlasov was arrested by Soviet forces and brutally tortured.
The Committee ceased to exist in 1946. Many of its members were tortured by Soviet forces on treason charges.