First Russian National Army

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The 1st Russian National Army was a pro-Axis collaborationist army under Boris Smyslovsky during World War II. Initially part of Nazi German Wehrmacht, Smyslovsky's forces were elevated to the 1st Russian National Army on 10 March 1945. On 4 April 1945 it received a status of the independent allied army. Liechtenstein was the only state which denied Soviet demands for the extradition of Russians who fought in the side of the Axis powers.

Retreat[edit]

By April 1945, Smyslovsky had moved his fighters to Feldkirch where he met Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovich, the Romanov claimant to the Russian Imperial Crown. The whittled-down army of 462 men, 30 women, and 2 children then moved into neutral Liechtenstein[1] on 2 May 1945, the Grand Duke, however, decided to stay in the US occupied zone in Austria because neither Liechtenstein nor Switzerland would issue him an visa.[2][3] The Russians were cared for by the Liechtenstein Red Cross. On 16 August 1945, a Soviet delegation came to Liechtenstein in an attempt to repatriate the Russians.

Homesick and subject to cajoling and menacing, about 200 of the group agreed to return. They departed in a train to Vienna and nothing was ever heard of them again.[3] The remainder stayed in Liechtenstein for another year, resisting with support of Liechtenstein further pressure by the Soviet government to participate in the repatriation program. Eventually the government of Argentina offered asylum, and about a hundred people left.

According to Alexander Frick, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein (1945-1962), the Russians were at no point in danger of being extradited, and the local population fully supported the government in providing asylum to the Russians.[3] The small population of the country (12,141 in 1945) supported the émigrés (4% of the population) at a rate of CHF 30,000 per month for 2 years and paid their costs to move to Argentina; they did not know that these costs were later to be reimbursed by Germany. While the Western Allies and other countries in Europe complied with Soviet requests to repatriate Soviet citizens regardless of their individual wishes, Liechtenstein was the only country that stood up to these demands and informed the Soviet government that only those Russians who wanted to go home would be permitted to go.[3] Those soldiers of the 1st Russian National Army who chose to return to the USSR were summarily executed by the Soviet military authorities on the way to the Soviet Union.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ARGENTINA: Last of the Wehrmacht – Monday, Apr. 13, 1953
  2. ^ John Curtiss, Constantine V. Pleshake. The Flight of the Romanovs. Basic books (2000) ISBN 0-465-02463-7 page323ff. 
  3. ^ a b c d Nikolai Tolstoy. The Secret Betrayal. Charles Scribner's Sons (1977) ISBN 0-684-15635-0.