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Беларуская Цэнтральная Рада
Weißruthenischer Zentralrat
Belarusian Central Rada
Autonomous territory in Reichskommissariat Ostland

1943–1944
Flag Coat of arms
Capital Minsk
Language(s) Belarusian, German
Political structure Client state
President
 - 1943–44 Radasłaŭ Astroŭski
Historical era World War II
 - Established 1943
 - Disestablished July 3, 1944

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

Contents

Administrative division

The puppet state consisted of several administrative divisions called Hauptgebiete:

  • the Hauptgebiet of Minsk included:
  • the Hauptgebiet of Vitebsk included:
  • the Hauptgebiet of Mogilev included:
  • the Hauptgebiet of Smolensk included:
  • the Hauptgebiet of Brest included:

The Hauptgebiete were subdivided further into Kreisgebiete.

Timeline

The autonomous government had its origins in 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 Navahrudak, Polesia Voivodas, Hlybokaye and Vileyka districts at north of the 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 Waffen SS legion.

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. The church's priests had considerable influence with the peasantry, and they actively supported the Nazi cause. 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.

While Belarusian peasantry initially often supported the Nazi, the brutality and arrogance of the liberators had soon turned most of the Belarusian population against them. An unprecedented guerilla war against Nazi control was started and coordinated by the Soviet Union. Soviet agents infiltrated every institution of the collaborators. Massive sabotage acts took place.

In Belarus and Poland, the Wehrmacht introduced the Panzerkampfwagen PzKpfw VI "Tiger II" or Königstiger tanks. The first time the Tiger II saw action was in May 1944 near Minsk, followed by another action of "Panzer Abteilung 501" commanded by Oberstleutnant von Legat in July 1944 at Sandomierz in Poland.

The new tanks and the older PzKpfw VI "Tiger I" PzKpfwV "Panther" and "Sturmgeschütz"s, fought in the last defensive actions to provide cover for the withdrawal of authorities, local supporters and last Axis units from these territories to East Prussian and Polish lands under German control. 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 was 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.

Others 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 temporary nation was ended 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.

Belarusian volunteers in the German army

German Commanders and officers associated with Belarus

Belarusian anti-communist commanders

Belarusian political leaders

  • Radasłaŭ Astroŭski, Mayor of Smolensk and later the President of Belarusian Central Rada
  • Jury Sabaleŭski, Major of Baranavičy and Vice-President of the Belarusian Central Council
  • Priest Mikałaj Łapicki, Orthodox priest and Editor-in-Chief of the Ranica newspaper
  • Vacłaŭ Ivanoŭski, "Alderman of Minsk"
  • Ivan Jermačenka (also known as "Herr Jawohl"), local political adviser
  • Stanisłaŭ Stankievič, Mayor of Barysaŭ
  • Emmanuel Jasiuk, Mayor of Klecak
  • Jaŭchim Kipel, president of the Second All-Belarusian Rada Congress
  • Ivan Kasiak, Belarusian provincial governor
  • Jury Bartyševič, Minister of Administration of occupational Astroŭski government
  • Anton Adamovič, member in self-help Belarusian organization
  • Mikoła Abramčyk, Intelligence Minister in Astroŭski government
  • Stanisłaŭ Hrynkievič

Belarusian political movements

  • Hramada Movement (Belarusian Peasants and Workers Party)
  • Belarusian National-Socialist Party
  • Self-help Belarusian Groups
  • Belarusian affairs office
  • Belarusian "Ventruensausschuss" administrative-political organization
  • First Zentralrat political organization

Belarusian political news

  • "Ranica" Belarusian political news

See also

Bibliography

  • 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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