|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2008)|
GULAG Operation (translated from a news article on "Desant na GULAG"), was a German military operation in which German and Soviet anti-communist troops were to create an anti-Soviet resistance movement in Siberia during World War II, by liberating and conscripting prisoners of the Soviet GULAG system.
The plan was designed in mid-1942 by Soviet POWs in German captivity in the Hammelburg POW camp, primarily by an NKVD officer, Brigade Commander Ivan Georgievich Bessonov, and a Red Army officer, Colonel Mikhael Meandrov. The plan, part of the German efforts to create anti-communist resistance behind Soviet lines, called for a naval and air invasion of Siberia by allied German and anti-Soviet Red Army forces, targeting the GULAG penal system camps, recruiting more anti-Soviet forces from the prisoners, and thus opening a second front in the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union.
The plan was analyzed and tentatively approved by the Reich Security Head Office (RSHA), and steps were taken towards implementing it. About 150 Soviet POWs were conscripted into the units that were to be used in the operation: two assault groups of 50-55 people each, the group of the radio operators of 20-25 people and the support (medical) female group of 20 people.
The plan called for the creation of an insurgent activity in the extensive region from the Northern Dvina River to the Yenisey and from the extreme north to the Trans-Siberian Railway. The region of the planned actions was divided into three operational zones: Northern (right shore of the flow of northern Dvina), central (near the Pechora River) and eastern (from the Ob River to the Yenisey). Landing force members had to seize the GULAGS, free and arm the prisoners and deportees and move with them in the general direction to the south.
On 2 June 1943 a first group of 12 former Soviet POWs, trained by the Germans, were dropped by an air transport in the Komi Republic. They were dressed as fake NKVD troops. On 9 June the group was however found (two killed, rest taken prisoner) by real NKVD troops.
Soon after this failure, the Germans decided to abandon the operation; the anti-communist group that Bessonov founded in the POW camp was disbanded, and he himself was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Some of Bessonov's organization members were employed in other German anti-Soviet operations, without any notable successes. Bessonov and Meandrov survived the war to be executed by the Soviet authorities after being transferred to their custody.
- Michael Parrish, The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, ISBN 0-275-95113-8, Google Print, p.160
- Michael Parrish, Sacrifice of the Generals: Soviet Senior Officer Losses, 1939-1953, Scarecrow Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8108-5009-5, Google Print, p.44