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The Belarusian Central Rada (Belarusian language: Беларуская Цэнтральная Рада, Biełaruskaja Centralnaja Rada, The Belarusian Central Council; German language: Weißruthenischer Zentralrat) was nominally the government of Belarus from 1943–44.[1] It was a collaborationist government established by Nazi Germany within the occupation and colonial administration of Reichskommissariat Ostland.

Timeline

The autonomous government had its origins on July 3, 1941, within Reichskommissariat Ostland. The German administrator in the Belarus area, Generalreichskommissar Wilhelm Kube, had his command center in Minsk, along with subordinated Kommissars in Minsk and Baranovichi. Ivan Jermačenka, a Belarusian collaborator who was the leader of Belarusian groups that supported the Nazi regime. Kube announced that Jermačenka had been named the "Advisor on Belarusian affairs". When Belarusian territory originally came under Nazi German control, the "Generalbezirke of Belarus" was established, including Hlybokaye, Vileyka, Navahrudak, Polesia district at north of Erich Koch's Ukraine, Smolensk and all of Belarus. In 1942, the German civil authority was extended to Minsk, Slutsk and Barysaw. The rest of Belarus remained under military control.

The purpose of this political organization was to encourage local support for German forces in the short-term to help defeat the Soviet Union. In the long-term, Belarus was to be made part of the Nazis' project of Lebensraum ("living space"), in which those deemed non-Aryan would be exterminated or expelled to make way for German colonists, while the citizens who remained would be subject to forced Germanization.

In June 1943, the Nazi Germans organized a local Vertrauensausschuss (Committee of confidence), composed of native Kreisältester (district elder chief) of districts and others six notable locals under presidency of Vatslau Ivanouski, the "Alderman" of Belarus. In 1943, Kube was killed by his Belarusian mistress, who planted a bomb in his bed.

General Reinhard Gehlen suggested in his memorandum to the German High Command that steps be taken to appeal to the Russian people to join Germans in the fight against partisans. So General Kurt von Gottberg, who was assigned Kube's post, decided to offer Belarusian collaborators a limited form of national autonomy. Radasłaŭ Astroŭski, who was at that time a mayor of Smolensk, was selected by the SS to head the new regime. Astroŭski became the head of the local government "cabinet" Rada. Sometime in spring of 1940, Dr. Franz Six, a former professor of political science and head of the Vorkommando (SS forward unit) for Einsatzgruppe B, made contact with the local branch of the Belarusian "self-help" organization in Warsaw and put together a task force of some thirty to forty trusted Belarusians to serve as guides, administrators and informers. Among them were Stanislau Stankevich, who later ran the city of Borisov, Emmanuel Jasiuk, who was assigned to the city of Klecak, and Jury Sabaleuski, who administered Baranovichi. Astroŭski was to organize the counties around Minsk and then follow the invasion forces to Russia. In a moment of optimism, the SS had designated Dr. Six's unit Vorkommando Moskau.

Six nominated two of his Belarusian collaborators to organize each city and town under military occupation. In Minsk, Astroŭski formed a municipal government subservient to Nazis, while Franz Kushel put together police forces. The SS equipped police wore black uniforms and red armbands labeled "Polizei".

Borisov was under control of Stanislau Stankevich. He ruled Borisov, a town of some 15,000, more than half of them Jews, through Belarusian police force garbed in black SS-type uniforms with the white-red-white of Belarus on their armbands. Emanuel Jasiuk, was the wartime mayor of Kletsk In December 1940, German authority was confirmed in this political organization by the ordinance of Zentralrat (Central Council), and named "Weissruthenischer Zentralrat". The principal function was to recruit from the local population the Belarusian "Interior Guard" (BKA) as a native collaborationist police service, the origin of next Belarusian volunteer units in Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS. Astroŭski organized the Belarusian home defense corps (BKA) from 20,000 men in police battalions. he present a list of ministers for a Belarusian Central Council (Rada), to the Germans, and petitioned for authorization to organize collaborators in each province and districts. Dmitry Kasmovich, the police chief of Smolensk area, established an expanding ring of fortified villages around Smolensk.

One of the most powerful weapons in the collaborationist arsenal was religion. The SS established an Autocephalous Belarusian Orthodox Church independent from the Patriarch of Moscow who, similarly, was used by the Soviet atheists to rally Russians against the Germans. The church's priests had considerable influence with the peasantry, and they actively supported the defeat of Soviet Russia, which had invaded Western Belarus, then under Polish rule, on September 17, 1939 under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany and under the pretext of protecting the former citizens of a collapsed Poland conquered by Nazi Germany. In late June 1944, Minsk Opera House was filled with 1,039 delegates from all Belarusian provinces. Joachim Kipel was the president of the Second All-Belarusian Rada Congress. In 1944, the withdrawal of authorities, local supporters and last Axis units from these territories to East Prussian and Polish lands under German control began. The SS assigned a special train that carried 800 collaborators and their families to Germany on June 28, 1944. Astrouski left two days later since he was organizing evacuation.

These ancient Belarusian BKA security police forces were absorbed into "30.Waffen-Grenadier-division der SS-Russiche No 2. This infantry division was formed from the remnants of the 29th Waffen-SS Division, which included Belarusian and Ukrainian units. The Germans had set up an officers' school and issued uniforms with Waffen Sturm-brigade Belarus designation.

Orders were issued for Belarusian forces to be absorbed by Vlasov's Russian Army of Liberation; but Astroŭski opposed this. He also sabotaged the idea of the "Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia", since he did not wanted to align himself with Russians.

Other members of the Belarusian police were recruited by SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny for training in Dahlwitz, near Berlin, to make special undercover strikes and operate behind enemy lines. These units were known as "Black Cat", and led by Michas' Vitushka. They operated in Belavezha Forest against Soviet forces in anti-communist guerrilla operations in 1945. The state ended its existence in 1944 when the Red Army drove the retreating Nazi German forces from Belarus.

At the end of 1945, Astroŭski held a special meeting of the "Belarusian Central Committee" which decided to dissolve the government in order to avoid being sent back to Belarus as war criminals.

See also

Notes

  1. (German) Dallin, Alexander (1958). Deutsche Herrschaft in Russland, 1941-1945: Eine Studie über Besatzungspolitik, pp. 234-236. Droste Verlag GmbH, Düsseldorf.

References

  • Arnold Toynbee, Veronica Toynbee, et al.,"Hitler's Europe" (Spanish tr."La Europa de Hitler", Ed Vergara, Barcelona, Esp, 1958), Section VI "Occupied lands and Satellite Countries in East Europe", Chapter II:Ostland, P.253-259.
  • Ostland Footnotes: P.253-259.

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