Skoblin's History Blog

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Friday, August 28, 2009

General Andrei A. Vlasov - NKVD File: I

INFORMATION SHEET concerning the situation of the 2nd Shock Army of the Volkhov Front for the period JANUARY – JULY 1942.

Army Commander – Major-General VLASOV

Member of the Military Council – Divisional Commissar ZUYEV

Army Chief of Staff – Colonel VINOGRADOV

Chief of the Special Section – Major of State Security SHASHKOV

In January 1942, the 2nd Shock Army was assigned the task of breaking through the enemy's defenses in the sector Spasskaya Polist' – Myasniy Bor, with the task of pushing the enemy back towards the north-west, seizing the station of Lyuban' through joint efforts with the 54th Army, cutting the October railway, and concluding the operation by participating in the general rout of the enemy forces around Chudovo at the hands of the Volkhov Front.

Carrying out the assigned task, the 2nd Shock Army between January 20-22 broke through the enemy defensive positions at the indicated sector along a width of 8-10 km, moved all of its forces through the breakthrough, and over the course of two months of stubborn and bloody fighting, advanced upon Lyuban', bypassing it from the south-west.

Indecisive actions on the part of the 54th Army of the Leningrad Front, which was to link up with the 2nd Shock Army from the north-east, slowed its movement significantly. By the end of February, the offensive impulse of the 2nd Shock Army had played itself out and its advance was halted in the vicinity of Krasnaya Gorka, south-west of Lyuban'.

The 2nd Shock Army, forcing the enemy back, punched a hole in its defenses to a depth of 60-70 km through marshy, forested terrain.

Despite repeated attempts to widen the initial point of the breakthrough, which took on the distinctive shape of a corridor, success was not achieved...

Between March 20-21, the enemy succeeded in cutting the communications of the 2nd Shock Army. Having closed the corridor, the enemy had the intention of encircling the army in a constrictive ring and destroying it completely.

On March 28, the corridor was re-opened through efforts of the 2nd Shock Army and units of the 52nd and 59th Armies.

On May 25, Stavka of the Supreme Main Command issued an order for units of the 2nd Shock Army to beginning withdrawing to the south-west, that is, on a reverse route through the corridor, commencing June 1.

On June 2, the enemy closed the corridor once again, effecting the complete encirclement of the army. From this moment, the army began receiving military supplies and provisions from the air.

On June 21, the enemy front was broken through once again on a narrow sector 1-2 km in width and an organized withdrawal of units of the 2nd Shock Army began.

On June 25, the enemy succeeded in closing the corridor a third time and stop the withdrawal of our units. From this moment, the enemy forced an end to air deliveries to the army due to heavy losses among our aircraft.

On May 21, Stavka of the Supreme Main Command ordered units of the 2nd Shock Army to withdraw from the north-west to the south-east, and - having firmly established a western covering line at Ol'khovka – Lake Tigoda - to attack from the west with the main forces of the army in tandem with an attack from the east by the 59th Army with the goal of smashing the enemy salient at Priyutino – Spasskaya Polnyet'.

The commander of the Leningrad Front, Lieutenant-General KHOSIN, was slow in carrying out Stavka's order, citing the impossibility of sending out equipment and vehicles due to the trackless terrain and the necessity of constructing new roads. By the beginning of June, KHOSIN and his Chief of Staff STEL'MAKH sent a report that the withdraw of army units had begun. As established later, KHOSIN and STEL'MAKH deceived the General Staff, as by this time the 2nd Shock Army had only begun pulling back its rear formations.

The 59th Army acted very indecisively, undertaking several unsuccessful attacks, and the tasks assigned by Stavka were not carried out.

Thus, by June 21, the formations of the 2nd Shock Army, numbering 8 rifle divisions, 6 rifle brigades (35-37,000 men) along with three artillery regiments of the Main Command Reserve (100 guns) as well as some 1000 vehicles, were concentrated in an area 6 km by 6 km located several kilometers south of N[ovaya] Kerest'.

According to information available in the General Staff, on July 1, 9600 men from units of the 2nd Shock Army, including 32 divisional and army staff officials, escaped with their personal weapons. According to unverified information, the Chief of the Special Section also escaped.

According to information sent to the General Staff by a general staff officer, Army Commander VLASOV and member of the Military Council ZUYEV reached the western shore of the river Polnyet' escorted by 4 submachine gunners. They ran into the enemy and scattered under enemy fire. They have allegedly not been seen since.

The Chief of Staff of the Front, STEL'MAKH, reported by radio that VLASOV and ZUYEV reached the western bank of the river Polnyet' and were directing the withdrawal of the forces from a knocked-out tank. Their further fate is not known.

According to information from the Special Section of the NKVD of the Volkhov Front, by the end of the day, June 26, 14,000 men from units of the 2nd Shock Army had escaped. The front staff have no information regarding the condition of the army's units and formations.

According to a statement by the commissar of an independent signals battalion, PESKOV, Army Commander VLASOV along with staff commanders moved towards the escape zone in the 2nd echelon. A group headed by VLASOV fell under enemy artillery and mortar fire. VLASOV ordered all radio-sets to be destroyed by setting them on fire, which led to a loss of control over the forces.

According to information from the Chief of the Special Section of the front, on June 17, the situation within the army units had already become extremely serious, with large numbers of troops exhausted, ill from hunger, and in desperate need of supplies. By this time, according to the General Staff, passenger aircraft had been making daily air deliveries of some 7-8 tons of foodstuffs out of a required 17 tons, 1900-2000 shells out of a minimum requirement of 40,000, and 300,000 cartridges, roughly 5 cartridges per man.

It should be noted, that according to recent information, received by the General Staff on 29.6, a group of military officials from units of the 2nd Shock Army made their way out through the enemy's rear in the vicinity of Mikhaleva, reaching the sector of the 59th Army without suffering any losses. They assert, that the enemy strength in this sector is scant, while the escape corridor, which is now enclosed by strong enemy forces, subjected to ranged firing from dozens of mortar and artillery batteries, and attacked by daily increasing enemy air forces is today almost inaccessible for a breakthrough by either the 2nd Shock Army from the west or by the 59th Army from the east.

It is typical, that the areas through which the 40 military officials of the 2nd Shock Army escaped were exactly those which Stavka of the Supreme Main Command instructed the units of the 2nd Shock Army to escape through. However, neither the Military Council of the 2nd Shock Army nor the Military Council of the Volkhov Front ensured that the Stavka directive was carried out.

Assistant Chief of Administration OO NKVD USSR, Senior Major of State Security (MOSKALENKO)

1 July 1942.