A Fifth Column is nothing knew to Russia one of the most dangerous existed in the 1930's and 1940's but hardly gets mentioned in the West and its history has yet to be written.
One of the stars of Russia's old Fifth Column was Konstantin Vladimirovich Rodzavesky
|Born||Konstantin Vladimirovich Rodzaevsky|
11 August 1907
Blagoveshchensk, Russian Empire
|Died||30 August 1946 (aged 39)|
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||Russian Fascist Party|
Konstantin Vladimirovich RodzaevskyThe Russian Fascist Party (RFP) (Russian: ), sometimes called the All-Russian Fascist Party, was a Russian émigré movement that was based in Manchukuo during the 1930s and 1940s.
Fascism had existed amongst the Manchurian Russians and had been promoted by the minor Russian Fascist Organization amongst others. The defeat of the White Armies in the Russian Civil War, which discredited the older White leaders, together with the rise of the Fascism in Italy caused much of the younger Russian emigres to look for fascism as an alternative that might best Communism.:160
The fascist movement among the Russian emigres existed around the world, but the majority of those inclined were to be found in Manchuria and the United States.:161 A number of Russians had settled in Manchuria when the region was occupied by Russia in the years 1900-1905, which further increased by an influx fleeing after the Red Army victory in the Russian Civil War.:161
A secret convention of the various groups was held, leading to the foundation of the RFP under the presidency of Major General Vladimir Dmitrievich Kozmin. Konstantin Rodzaevsky became Secretary General of the party's central committee on May 26, 1931, becoming the de facto leader of the party. Adopting the slogan "God, Nation, Labour" and publishing the journal Natsiya, the party called for Italian-style fascism to take advantage of the shaky position of the Bolshevik leaders in the face of both external and internal opposition.:159–161
During the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931-32, the Russian Fascist Party came out very strongly in the support of Japan, forging close links with the Kwantung Army that lasted until 1945.:162
By cooperating with Japan, the RFP became the most influential émigré group in Manchukuo, setting up a party school in Harbin in 1932.:162 Rodzaevsky also assisted the Imperial Japanese Army in the formation of the Asano Detachment, the all ethnic Russian special forces in the Kwantung Army, organized for carrying out sabotage against Soviet forces in case of any Japanese invasion of Siberia and Russian Far East areas.
The party also developed close links to like-minded groups in the United States, including Anastasy Vonsyatsky during his exile.:162–164 On March 24, 1934 a merger was agreed in Tokyo between the RFP and Vonsyatsky's supporters (who also used the label All-Russian Fascist Organisation), although they would later clash over Rodzaevsky's attempts to accommodate more conservative Russians, as well as his anti-Semitism, which Vonsyatsky rejected.
In a pamphlet published in Connecticut in 1932 titled On Russian Jews, Vonsyatsky had written: "Among the Jews, only the red Jew is our enemy. Do not touch the peaceful Jewish inhabitant, his wife or his children. We are Christians. We do not shed innocent blood, we do not lament the guilty".:167 By contrast, Rodzaevsky's followers had been translating various völkisch tracts from German into Russian since 1932, and he had been an open admirer of Nazi Germany right from the beginning.:167
Much to his own discomfort, the Kwantung Army forced Rodzaevsky to concede that in the event of a war with the Soviet Union, all of the Russian emigres in Manchuria were come under the command of Ataman Grigory Semyonov, which caused tensions with Vonsyatsky, who argued that Semyonov was an incompetent general who had been defeated in the Russian Civil War, and an unsavory character to boot, being well known in Manchuria for his involvement with organized crime.:166
In an open letter published on 31 December 1934, Vonsyatsky condemned Rodzaevsky for his "deviations" by agreeing to work with Semyonov.:162 Rodzaevsky justified his willingness to work with the Kwantung Army under the grounds: "Japan is the only country not interested in the dismemberment of Russia, but the creation of a great and powerful Russia, which would be Japan's friend".:166 Vonsyatsky argued that the "liberation of Russia" could only be accomplished by the Russians themselves, and was against working with foreign powers.:167 Eventually the RFP broke with the Americans, and in 1935 Vonsyatsky was expelled, breaking off to form a more minor movement in the United States:165–168 called "Russian National Revolutionary Party", which was of anti-communist orientation and claimed that their only intention was "to form in Russia a truly democratic government".
Nevertheless, the RFP under Rodzaevsky had grown strong and he claimed in a speech on 22 May 1935 to have 20,000 activists organized in 597 local chapters across the world, with the majority being in Manchukuo.
:166 Subsidiaries of the RFP were set up - Russian Women's Fascist Movement (RGFD), Fascist Union of Youth, Union of Young Fascists – Vanguard (boys), Union of Young Fascists – Vanguard (girls), Union of Fascist Little Ones. Rodzaevsky's book, The Russian National State, outlined the programme of the party to establish fascism in Russia by May 1, 1938, including a desire to get rid of the Jews, indicating a strong break from the Vonsyatsky-wing.
The party also had a strong commitment to the Russian Orthodox Church, promising a special relationship between the Church and the state in his projected fascist Russia. The group also promised to respect the traditions of Russia's nationalities and instigate corporatism.:168–171 In a series of articles published in the spring of 1935, Rodzaevsky gave as his aims the "liquidation of Jewish rule in Russia", the re-establishment of the Eastern Orthodox Church as the state religion of Russia, rejection of the "tendency towards cosmopolitanism", and "Russia for the Russians".:168-170 Rodzaevsky called "class co-operation" instead of "class conflict", which was to be achieved via an Italian style "corporate state", which would mediate between the interests of labor and capital by imposing "national unions".:56
Rodzaevksky stated that once the Soviet regime was overthrown, he would create a "temporary dictatorship" that would establish a "federated state", and he never explicitly claimed that he was to serve as a leader, but his rhetoric left little doubt that he saw himself as the future vozhd of a fascist Russia.:56
Rodzaevksy's definition of Russian nationalism did not define Russianness in ethnic terms so much, but rather in terms of a "common historical destiny", which meant that provided that they were loyal the Russian state (with the exception of the Jews who Rodzaevsky saw as born disloyal), all of the non-Russian ethnic groups were to be considered "Russian".:170 Though Rodzaevsky excoriated Imperial Russia in many ways, his definition of Russian nationalism as those loyal to the Russian state owed much to definition of Russianness in the Imperial period, where those who were loyal to the House of Romanov were considered Russian, regardless of what their language was. Under his leadership, Rodzaevsky envisioned Russia taking back Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland, and in addition, he planned to annex Romania, Bulgaria, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia.:170
Finally, to finally resolve the problem of "domination by the Jews and Freemasons", Rodzaevsky called for an alliance of Fascist Russia, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.:170 A problem with this future foreign policy was the open anti-Slavic racism expressed by the Nazis, who saw all Slavs as untermensch (sub-humans) and the Soviet Union as a place that was to be Germany's Lebensraum ("living space") that would be colonized by millions of Germans after the Soviet Union was conquered.:170 One of the völkisch tracts not translated into Russian by the Russian Fascist Party was Mein Kampf, as Hitler's denigration of Slavs as untermensch and his statements that Germany's lebensraum was to be found in the Soviet Union presented problems for the Russian Fascists.:170
Rodzaevsky wrote to Hitler, asking him to amend Mein Kampf, and upon receiving no reply, finally did translate Mein Kampf into Russian in 1936 with the offending passages removed.:170–171 In his speeches to his followers, Rodzaevsky praised Hitler as a "great statesmen" and tried to explain away Hitler's anti-Russian statements and his intentions to colonize Russia in Mein Kampf as something that was written a long time ago that was not relevant at present, saying he knew Hitler had changed his views about Russia.:171
Several of the RFP leaders called for the restoration of the monarchy, but Rodzaevsky himself was vague on this issue until 1940, only saying that a Russia under his leadership would not be a republic and refused to commit himself explicitly to a Romanov restoration.:171
In November 1935, the psychological war laboratory of the German Reich Ministry of Defence submitted a study about how best to undermine Red Army morale should a German-Soviet war break out. The Wehrmacht had dispatched a team to Manchukuo to contact the leaders of the Russian Fascist Party and working together the German-Russian team created a series of pamphlets written in Russian for distribution in the Soviet Union by Germany.
The pamphlets written in Manchukuo were designed to play on Russian anti-Semitism, with one pamphlet calling the "Gentlemen commissars and party functionaries" a group of "mostly filthy Jews", and ended with the call for "brother soldiers" of the Red Army to rise up and kill all of the "Jewish commissars".
Although this material was not used at the time, later in 1941 the material the psychological war laboratory had developed in 1935 in Manchukuo was dusted off, and served as the basis not only for German propaganda in the Soviet Union but also for propaganda within the Wehrmacht for Operation Barbarossa.
The party maintained very close links with Japanese military intelligence, and in January 1934, Rodzaevsky visited Tokyo to ask the Army minister General Sadao Araki for a Japanese support to raise an army of 150, 000 men from ethnic Russian population of Manchukuo that would be led by him to invade the Soviet Union. Nothing came of this plan, not the least of which that was the Russian Fascist Party did not command the loyalty of 150, 000 that Rodzavesky claimed would flock to his banner.
From 1936 onward, members of the party were infiltrated into the Soviet Far East from Manchukuo to engage in sabotage and hand out pamphlets calling for the overthrow of the Soviet regime.
This was extremely dangerous work, and most of the volunteers who infiltrated the Soviet Union were captured; in July 1938, a "spy school" was established to provide training for the volunteers, but the capture rate remained high, right up to April 1941 when the Soviet-Japanese non-aggression pact put an end to these operations. The Kwantung Army operated a secret biological-chemical warfare unit, Unit 731, based in Pinfang, that performed gruesome experiments on people that usually involved much evisceration of the subjects to see the effects of chemicals and germs on the human body that were always fatal for the subject.
In the late 1930s, the doctors of Unit 731 demanded more white subjects to experiment upon in order to test the efficiency the strains of anthrax and plague that they were developing to kill whites, having already mastered strains capable of killing Asians by much experimentation on Chinese subjects, and as such a great many of the Russians living in Manchukuo found themselves the unwilling human guinea pigs of Unit 731.
The Russian Fascists were used by the Kwantung Army to kidnap various "unreliable" Russians living in Manchukuo for Unit 731 to experiment upon.
From 1940 to December 1941, there was a resumption of cooperation between Konstantin Rodzaevsky and Anastasy Vonsyatsky, interrupted by the start of Japanese-American War.
When war was declared, the activities of the RFP outside Manchuria slowly came to an end whilst the group was restricted by the Japanese following the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941. In 1941, the Soviet spy ring headed by Richard Sorge in Tokyo was uncovered, which caused the Japanese to have an exaggerated and paranoid fear that Soviet spies were everywhere.:318
The Kenpeitai began to suspect in early 1943 that Rodzaevsky was in fact a Soviet agent, and in May 1943, he was arrested and taken in for questioning by the Kenpeitai, before being released in June 1943.:318–319 In July 1943, following complaints from the Soviet ambassador to the Japanese about the anti-Soviet statements coming from the Russian émigrés in Manchukuo, the Japanese shut down Nash Put.:329
By mid 1943, following the Soviet victories at Stalingrad and Kursk, the Japanese no longer took it for granted that the Soviet Union was going to be defeated by Germany while they themselves had suffered a number of defeats at the hands of the Americans, which made Tokyo anxious to avoid a war with the Soviet Union.:329 From the viewpoint of Tokyo, the Russian Fascist Party by the middle of 1943 had become a liability that was straining relations with Moscow, which caused the Japanese to shut down the RFP's media outlets.:329 The group came to an end in 1945, when the Red Army invaded Manchukuo in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, with Rodzaevsky eventually surrendering before being executed the following year.:172–173
The SS Sturmbrigade RONA in Latin, RONA), nicknamed the "Kaminski Brigade" after its commander, SS-Brigadefuhrer Bronislav Kaminski, was a collaborationist force originally formed from a Nazi-led militia unit in the Lokot Autonomy, a small puppet regime set up by the Germans to see if a Russian puppet government would be reliable. Kaminski and the leader of the government, Konstantin Voskoboinik, killed by partisans in 1942, formed a unit that had a strength of 10,000—15,000. As the Red Army advanced, the Kaminski troops were forced to retreat into Belarus, and then into Poland in 1944.
There, the RONA was reorganized into an SS brigade, the majority of which were Russians, with the rest comprising other Soviet ethnicities including Ukrainians, Belarusians and Azerbaijanis. In August, 1,700 brigade troops under Major Yuri Frolov were sent to Warsaw to quell an uprising. During it, the RONA troops became infamous for their atrocities, committing murder, rape, and theft. Some were reported to have left the combat zone with carts full of stolen goods. About 400 soldiers were lost in combat, including Frolov.
At the end of August, Bronislav Kaminski was killed.
His death was surrounded with mystery as, while official records state that he was killed by Polish partisans, it is believed that Kaminski was executed by the SS.
The reasons are thought to be his unit's war crimes and/or now that Heinrich Himmler supported the Russian Liberation Army of General Andrey Vlasov, he wanted to eliminate a potential rival.
The rest of the brigade was reformed into the 29th SS Waffen Grenadier Division "RONA", which was disbanded in November 1944. Its remaining 3,000–4,000 members were sent to join Vlasov's army.