General Vlasov's Army
  In the final days of World War II a complete German army composed of white Russians surrendered to the American forces in Czechoslovakia. This was General Vlasov's Army trying to avoid capture by the Russians. 

   At the time, I was assigned to a Combat Command to classify roads and bridges and measure road blocks that needed to be removed by the engineers. All at once the column stopped and so I proceeded up the road in front of the column to see what the problem was. 

   Since there was no sign of travel on the road, my driver and I proceeded with caution. Directly a jeep with a Colonel chased us with a siren blaring. He advised me that there were no known obstacles, that there were no friendly troops in the front of us, that there were German troops and that I should return with him to the head of the column and we did. 

   Soon after, an army of German soldiers came marching down the road in full dress carrying white flags. It turned out that these were white Russians who had joined the German forces because their political views were opposed to Stalin and the Red Russian communists. 

   That night the fully armed German Army spent the night in the same town with our company, outnumbering us. Since most of them spoke English and looked like Americans, they readily mingled with us. 

   General Vlasov was one of the early Soviet war heroes. He distinguished himself in the battle for Moscow but later was seized by the Germans and promptly switched sides to become the highest ranking traitor of World War II. 

   He recruited an army of Russian prisoners and led them for the Germans until May of 1945. 

   In Prague, capital of Czechoslovakia, the Czech National Army resistance group staged an uprising in which the puppet German "Vlasov's Army" changed sides and skirmished against the SS garrison in the hope of delivering the City of the Americans - a vain hope for which Vlasov's men paid a terrible price in blood when the Red army entered on 9 of May. 

   In order to escape certain death Vlasov and the remnants of his Army surrendered to the American forces in Czechoslovakia. At the time the 150Th Combat Engineer Battalion was in support of the Combat Command that accepted the surrender. 

   Preceding this, on the 4th of Feb. 1945, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt met at Yalta to summarize the war activity and decide on the division of German Territory. This they did. 

   Appended to the agreement was a secret understanding to exchange each others liberated prisoners and to return each others liberated civilians as they were rounded up in Germany. 

   In accordance with this secret understanding, General Patton returned General Vlasov to Russia where he was hanged. In addition the white Russians were loaded into boxcars and sent back to Russia where they were machine gunned as they got off the train. 

   (This is based on personal experience and references in John Keegans "The Second World War" and The American Heritage Picture History of World War II.) 

                     Robert W. Pearl

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