Archive for August 28th, 2009

1944: Bronislav Kaminski, Waffen SS collaborator

3 comments August 28th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1944, the Gestapo eliminated more-trouble-than-he-was-worth Russian SS man Bronislav Kaminski.

The St. Petersburg-born Kaminski was Soviet by citizenship, but not Russian by nationality. Half-German and half-Polish, he’d done time twice for his questionable loyalties during the paranoid 1920’s and 30’s.

Turns out the commissars were on to something … or maybe, to paraphrase the old saying, that a Nazi is a Communist who’s been to the gulag.

Either way, when the front swept past Belarus where Kaminski was serving his post-release internal exile, the engineer jumped on an opportunity to join a classmate with the Russian National Liberation Army (RONA, or ROA). Kaminski soon rose to command the anti-partisan “army,” and earned an Iron Cross and the rank of Major General when it was incorporated into the Waffen-SS.

Unfortunately for Kaminski — and more so for anyone who happened to be in his unit’s vicinity — the 29th Waffen Grenadier Division was much better at roughing up partisans and their presumed civilian sympathizers than conducting disciplined military operations.

Little more than a roving band of armed thugs,* it was completely ineffective in the Siege of Warsaw earlier in August 1944, spending its time raping and looting instead.

That, evidently, was enough for Himmler, who had Kaminski eliminated** in punishment for his own looting (the booty was supposed to belong to the Reich), and the alleged rape-murder of German women along with all the expendables in Warsaw.

The exact trigger for this execution (for the juridical machinery always veils acts of discretion and intentionality; certainly, this is evident in a state like Nazi Germany) has never been completely clear; it may have been that between Kaminski and turncoat Red Army general Andrei Vlasov, the shrinking Reich had room enough for only one Russian commander.

Devil knows what he was commanding, anyway.

When, post-Kaminski, Vlasov assigned the remains of the RONA to Ukrainian collaborator Sergei Bunyachenko, the latter fumed, “So that’s what you’re giving me, bandits, robbers and thieves! You’ll let me have what you can no longer use!” … and soon bailed on his “patrons” by switching sides in the war yet again.

* It had some operations with the notorious Dirlewanger Battallion.

** The official announcement was that Kaminski had been killed in a partisan ambush; crazy conspiracy theorists refused to buy it.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Germany,History,Occupation and Colonialism,Pelf,Poland,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Russia,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,The Worm Turns,USSR,War Crimes,Wartime Executions

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Themed Set: Russian Revolutions That Weren’t

Add comment August 28th, 2009 Headsman

Desperate, violent social upheaval seems to go with Russia like black bread with pickled herring.

“How can you make a revolution without executions?” Lenin once asked.

As he knewvery well he knew — that also happens to be a preferred tool of counterrevolution.

And for every successful revolution, there are dozens of abortive attempts — failed coups d’etat — empty plots that never get off the drawing board — to harvest the heads of a new order’s would-be engineers.

Russia/the USSR had flesh-rending struggles for power in the early 20th century. These are a few casualties whose revolutions didn’t take … and who, given the opportunity, would have hewed to Lenin’s own maxim with respect to the opponents who chanced to get the better of them.


(This “themed set” is actually a rewrite from the original — product of discovering a little too late a bad date in the database. This discovery did actually solve some editorial complications, but obviously would have been less embarrassing had it been effected before pressing “submit”. Oh, well. Blawg.

Although the text below is no longer operative, it is included for transparency, historical completeness, and because we are loathe to abandon any Lebowski reference no matter how ill-founded.)

Themed Set: They Were Russian Nazis, Dude?

Are we gonna split hairs here?

Even genocide isn’t completely black and white. Although wielded by a distinctly anti-Slavic power, fascism found collaborators among the peoples who figured to be enslaved, murdered, and exiled.

And no surprise, in the scheme of things.

The lines of battle, both literal and rhetorical, always conceal a million complex interactions between peoples meeting — for it is still a manner of meeting, through gunsights.

Whether driven by ideology or merely driven to the wall by the Hobson’s choice between collaboration and resistance in a war between two of history’s cruelest state edifices, some set of people will always be driven in a conflict to side-choosing that others find treacherous.

Maybe you. Maybe me. And maybe Executed Today‘s next three.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Themed Sets


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