GENERAL SHIP TYPES

Round Ship (Ship Type)
Medieval ship type popular in the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries and the Christian Crusaders’ transport of choice. Unlike the swift, more comfortable galleys that transported the wealthiest crusaders and pilgrims to the Holy Land, the round ship was ungainly and slow. Because of the need for large amounts of cargo space for retainers, equipment, and horses, it was, however, ideal.
Round ships had a length-to-beam ratio of three or even two to one, giving them a round appearance and their name. Most were single-masted and square-rigged vessels. The cog of northern Europe was a typical round ship.
Slow because of their hull shape, round ships had to await favorable winds before sailing from each port of call. However, the increase in carrying capacity made a slower passage economically feasible. In traveling to and from the Holy Land, round ships moved along the coasts, rarely venturing offshore. In their inevitable stops along the way, these ships opened up markets for the Italian merchants whose goods they carried. Over time these markets became regular trading ports for the maritime republics. The round ship began to disappear in the fifteenth century, replaced by the carrack and other ship designs.
References
Bass, George F., ed. A History of Seafaring Based on Underwater Archaeology. London: Thames & Hudson, 1972.
Landstrom, Björn. The Ship. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1961.
Lewis, Archibald R., and Timothy J. Runyan. European Naval and Maritime History, 300–1500. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
Unger, Richard W. The Ships in the Medieval Economy, 600–1600. Montreal, CA: McGill–Queen’s University Press. 1980.

Cog (Ship Type)
Medieval ship type, dominant in North Europe from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Creation of the Hanseatic League in 1241 brought about a massive increase in maritime trading activity in northern Europe. This prosperity stimulated shipbuilding and revolutionized design of the merchant ship and later the warship, as seen in the development of the Hansa cog. Its high speed and large cargo capacity made the cog the dominant merchant vessel of the North Sea for 200 years.
In general, the medieval development of vessels may be divided into two classes: the oared longship built for war and the round ship designed for trade. These two classes held true for centuries until the superiority of the sailing cog in warfare became so apparent that it became the all-around vessel of choice. The ability to use merchantmen as warships proved so advantageous that the concept survived the demise of the cog.
In configuration, the cog resembled a medieval round ship. It was broad in beam, keeled, and clinker-built (in other words, the outer boards overlapped each other). It had a rounded bow and stern, and the rudder was located in the center of the stern. The cog had a square sail mounted amidships. Later versions displaced up to 600 tons and were up to 100 in length, with two smaller masts fore and aft. By 1304 Denmark had converted its entire fleet of over 1,000 longships to cogs. In time, however, the cog gave way to more specialized carracks and galleons.
References
Chatterton, E. Keble. History of the Sailing Ship. New York: Argosy-Antiquarian, 1968.
Galuppini, Gino. Warships of the World. New York: Times Books, 1983.
Lewis, Archibald R., and Timothy J. Runyan. European Naval and Maritime History, 300–1500. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Nef (Ship Type)
A fully rigged medieval sailing merchantman and warship. Developed in France, the nef had a broad beam, rounded ends, and a carvel-planked (flush rather than overlapping) hull. Similar in design and purpose to the cog, this type of ship was normally single masted with a more rounded stern than the cog. Fore and after castles were part of the hull structure. By the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the vessel had grown to almost 400 tons and carried three masts. Its basic purpose as a naval vessel was to serve as a fighting platform.
References
Bruce, Anthony, and William Cogar. An Encyclopedia of Naval History. New York: Facts on File, 1998.
Longship
Two types of Viking vessels plied the northern seas, the knarr and the drakkar. The knarr was the oceangoing trading vessel supplanted by the Hansa cog. The drakkar was the Viking longship of lore and legend. It consisted of many rooms or spaces between deck beams used to house the oars. The largest of these raiding vessels were propelled by both sail and oar. The sail was mounted on a mast set amidships.
Reconstructions of longships prove they were capable sailing vessels. They could not only run before the wind effectively, but they could run across the wind better than most square riggers.
The best archaeological example of the longship is the Gokstad ship, a reconstruction of the longship displayed in an Oslo museum. Typical of Viking raiding vessels, she is 76 long. Although the maximum size of these raiding vessels is still under debate, one, the Long Dragon, measured 140 in length and could accommodate 34 rowers per side. Viking epics describe vessels up to twice this length, but there is as of yet no archaeological evidence of them.
There were no safer ships in which to cross the North Sea to raid England or up the Seine. As Winston Churchill put it, “The soul of the Vikings lay in the longships.”
References
Casson, Lionel. Ships and Seafaring in Ancient Times. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
Challu, Paul B. Du. The Viking Age: The Early History, Manners, and Customs of the Ancestors of the English Speaking Nations. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889.
Wilson, David M. The Vikings and Their Origins. New York: A & W Publishers, 1980.

Carrack (Type of Sailing Ship)
A type of merchant ship, often armed, of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. The earliest carracks (circa 1367) were merchantmen of the Mediterranean type with a rounded stern in a carvel-built hull (the hull planks were flush rather than overlapping). Rigging included a mainmast and mizzenmast with a square sail on the main and a lateen sail on the mizzen. The square yard consisted of two lashed spars supported by topping lifts. A centerline ladder led to the round top of the mainmast.
By 1500 the carrack had evolved into a larger vessel measuring 98 feet overall, 69 feet on the keel, with a breadth of 33 feet and a depth from the midships rail to the keel of just over 21 feet. The hull type now included a foremast and an extra mizzen, called the bonaventure mizzen, or bonaventure for short. Armament included from 18 to 56 guns.
The hull form and rigging of the carrack varied greatly depending on locality and era. For example, carracks of northern Europe were more heavily timbered than those of the Mediterranean.
The word “carrack” is believed to come from Arabic, and from Arabic to the Old French caraque with the same meaning.
References
Blackburn, Graham. The Overlook Illustrated Dictionary of Nautical Terms. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1981.
Kihlberg, Bengt, ed. The Lore of Ships. New York: Crescent Books, 1986.
Landström, Björn. The Ship. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.
Rogers, John G. Origins of Sea Terms. Boston: Nimrod Press, 1984.

Galley (Ship Type)
Long, narrow wooden vessel with a shallow beam and low freeboard. The galley was propelled by rows of oars and almost always sailed on one or two masts. In the early days a square sail was carried on a single mast, but in later years lateen sails on two masts were more common. Galleys varied widely, although this ship type was the predominant warship of the ancient Mediterranean world and thrived for almost 5,000 years. Galleys were in use on the Nile and Mediterranean as early as 3000 b.c. The Phoenicians borrowed the design, and it was then further refined by Greek naval architects. Originally galleys had a single bank of oars, and the ship was used both for transport and war. Homer makes reference to galleys in The Iliad.
The war galley was effective because it could move quickly to an enemy vessel for boarding. In the eighth or ninth century b.c., the ram—a massive, pointed bronze projection set at the waterline—was introduced in war galleys. The ram could punch a hole in an opposing ship, sinking it.
War galleys progressed throughout the centuries, becoming more powerful as modifications evolved. The single row of oarsmen soon gave way to two banks of oarsmen. This was known as a bireme. The change to three superimposed banks produced the trireme. Vessels of this variety won the 480 b.c. Battle of Salamis against the Persians.
Originally each oar was pulled by one man, but later several men were put to one oar. Some galleys had four or five superimposed banks of oars; such ships carried crews of up to 500 men. By the first century a.d., however, the Romans had returned to the trireme as their main battle ship.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Genoa, Venice, and France maintained fleets powered by 25 three-man oars to a side and, later, five-man oars. Captives and convicts also came to row the ships. The usual practice until about 1450 had been to employ volunteers or hired mercenaries. Such ships might have a displacement of 200 tons and be approximately 164 × 20 in size.
After cannons were introduced at sea, they found their way onto galleys. Cannons were mounted on a platform at the bow—usually one large gun and one or two on each side of it. Aiming the guns was accomplished by turning the vessel.
Galleys were swift (up to 10 knots for short periods) and maneuverable. They were also not dependent on the wind, which was ideal in the Mediterranean, but they were vulnerable to adverse weather and unable to stay at sea for long periods because of their scant cargo capacity.
The galley had a considerable effect on the naval history of the Mediterranean. Eventually it gave way to the “galleass,” which combined the freedom of movement of the galley with the seaworthiness and fighting power of the sailing warship. The Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571 established the importance of the galleass as a warship. The last use of galleys in Mediterranean fighting occurred in the 1717 Battle of Matapan. They were present in the 1718 Battle of Cape Passero, but took no part in the action. Galleys also appeared in the Baltic during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and they were in use there as late as the Russo-Swedish War of 1809. A Russian galley built in 1791 carried sails on three masts, including a square-rigged main, and mounted 22 cannon.
References
Anderson, Roger Charles. Oared Fighting Ships. London: Percival Marshall, 1962.
Bamford, Paul. Fighting Ships and Prisons. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1973.
Cowburn, Philip. The Warship in History. New York: Macmillan, 1965.
Guilmartin, John Francis, Jr. Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
Rogers, William L. Greek and Roman Naval Warfare. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1937.
———. Naval Warfare under Oars. 4th to 16th Centuries. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1940.

Bireme (Galley)
A galley with two banks of oars on each side. Originated by the ancient Romans, biremes were usually warships and as such were extensively employed by the Turks, Venetians, and other Mediterranean powers in the sixteenth century. Most ships of this type were fitted with a pointed metal ram, or beak, attached to the bow at or just below the waterline. The traditional tactic was to sink an enemy vessel by ramming it. War galleys had as many as three or even four men to each oar, and the banks of oars were on different levels, the upper-level oars being longer than the lower-level ones. Most vessels of this type were fitted with a single mast and sail that were unstepped and stowed during battle and when rowing to windward. Measuring about 80 feet in length with a 10-foot beam, biremes were faster than single-banked galleys but slower than triremes. Biremes were replaced by sailing warships in the mid-1600s.
References
Kemp, Peter, ed. The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Landström, Björn. The Ship. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.
Wallinga, H. T. Ships and Seapower before the Great Persian War: The Ancestry of the Ancient Trireme. New York: E. J. Brill, 1993.
Wedde, Michael. Towards a Hermeneutics of Aegean Bronze Age Ship Imagery. Mannheim: Bibliepolis, 2000.

Trireme (Ship Type)
A Greek galley (later Roman) dating from the middle of the seventh century b.c., with three banks of oars, one above the other, used primarily as a ship-of-war. The 62 rowers in the upper bank were referred to as thranites and pulled 14-foot oars. There were 58 rowers in the middle bank, referred to as zygites, who pulled 10.5-foot oars, while 54 oarsmen in the lower bank, known as thalamites, pulled 7.5-foot oars. An additional 26 oarsmen, called perinoi, operated from the top deck, giving triremes a total complement of 200 rowers. Armed with a long, detachable ram, triremes frequently carried archers and soldiers for boarding enemy ships. They were capable of speeds in excess of 10 knots, albeit only for short periods of time, depending on the strength and stamina of the rowers. Triremes died out as warships around a.d. 1200 when they were rigged as sailing vessels with two masts and lateen sails, the oars being used only in battle to provide added mobility.
References
Haws, Duncan, and Alex A. Hurst. The Maritime History of the World. Vol. 1. Brighton, UK: Teredo Books, 1985.
Kemp, Peter, ed. The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Morrison, John S., John F. Coats, and N. Boris Rankov. The Athenian Trireme: The History and Reconstruction of an Ancient Greek Warship. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
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ROA/Schuma


A harsh fate awaited those who had joined the Vlasov Army, a force comprising several divisions of Russian soldiers armed by Germany to fight against the Red Army. The group had been organized by General Andrei Vlasov, the hero of the Battle of Moscow, who had been captured in 1942. Vlasov and several of his chief subordinates were hanged in the Lubyanka in 1946. A picture of the executed men hanging from gallows was found in Joseph Stalin’s desk after his death.
If we say that ROA was nothing but armed forces subordinated to the Vlasov’s KONR, you are right saying no ROA units were deployed in the West. The 1. ROA Div (600. Div according the German numbering) was engaged in combat in March and April 1945 in the lower Oder area; the 2. ROA Div. and 3. ROA Div. (being formed) have not even reached the frontline.
If we say that ROA was a general term often used to describe Russian volunteer formations, you are wrong. By late summer 1943 there were around 40 batallions scattered across armies, corpses and divisions from the Finnish border to the Ukraine. Since May 1943, all these units were obliged by the OKW order to wear ROA badges. On Oct 15, following a number of defections which infuriated Hitler, all these units were ordered to be moved to the West. The process was completed by late 1943. According to the OKW order, ROA batallions were to form a third or fourth batallion within a German regiment. Their operations were supervised by the newly-formed „Kommando der Freiwilligenverbande beim Oberbefehlshaber West” in Paris (gen. von Wartenberg, since June 15 gen. von Niedermeyer). These units, still with their ROA badges (have photos!) were engaged in combat in the West. In many allied memoirs from Normandy you might read how surprised the Americans were when discovering that the Germans they had just captured spoke Russian.
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The SS recruited Schuma-battalions of militia/police which became often part of the Waffen-SS (15, 19, 20, 29 Divisions). The Tatar Schuma battalions (8 of them) serving in the Crimea were formed into a brigade/waffenverband after they were removed from the Crimea in 1943. There were at one stage 170 Schuma battalions but many were disbanded before they were formed into Waffen-SS divisions. Also present were Schuma-Einzeldienst which served as village/town police forces but were increasingly armed. The total for both battalions and individuals was placed at 300,000 at the end of 1942 by the head of German police Daluege, this including battalions. The Schumas were very important to the SS and helped at the front and in the rear, in Army Group North Schuma battalions serve in the frontline as early as the winter of 1941-2. Munoz details the formation of numerous regiments of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian police and border guards which served outside the Baltic SS divisions in 1944 and often in the frontline. Some were under the 300th Division Staff at Narva. Kaminski’s Brigade was eventually taken into the Waffen-SS for a while but was 12 battalions of militia in 1943 under loose Army control (2nd Panzer Army, then 9th Army), see Munoz’ volume on Kaminski (also Axis Europa) for more. There were other interesting small units part of the Abwehr like Sonderverband Bergmann, if you want to learn more read Hoffmann’s works.
The actual formation of divisions boiled down to twelve plus four brigades: the 600th Infantry, 650th Infantry, both of the Vlasov ROA army, the 162nd Turkish Infantry, the 300th Division Staff of Estonians, the 1st and 2nd Cossack, the 14th Waffen-Grenadier ‘Galicia’ Div, the 15th and 19th Latvian SS, the 20th Estonian SS, the 29th and 30th Waffen-Grenadier Divisions (both more like brigades) plus the 599th Russian ROA Infantry Brigade and Cossack ‘Plastun’ Infantry Brigade, finally the Kalmyk Cavalry Corps (KKK!!!) which reached 4000 men and 4 battalions in late 1943 but sunk in strength after that. Prior to the existence of any of the above there had been the Experimental Formation Center (Versuchsverband Mitte) or RNNA which was broken up into four 600-series Ost Battalions on the order of Field Marshal von Kluge in November 1942. The numbering of those battalions is confused in several sources by historians.

Vlasov’s forgotten army

Left to right: Wehrmacht General Rudolf Toussaint, SS General Werner Lorenz and Soviet General Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov in Prague Castle’s Spanish Hall Nov. 14, 1944.

Communists buried legacy of Soviet General Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov and his battalion of POWs that helped free Prague from the Nazis.

By Stephen Weeks For The Prague Post
November 11th, 2004

Some six decades ago, Prague Castle hosted one of the most extraordinary events in the city’s long history. A conference held Nov. 14, 1944, in the Castle’s Spanish Hall brought together Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov, a Soviet General (indeed the “Savior of Moscow,” who had stopped the Nazi armies from taking that city three years earlier) and much of the Nazi upper echelon. Vlasov would convince the Nazis to back a plan he had devised — a last-ditch effort to arm prisoners of war to battle Stalin’s forces.

Amidst a hall packed with high-ranking SS and Wehrmacht officers (including SS General Werner Lorenz and General Rudolf Toussaint), sat representatives from all of the Slavic countries overrun by the Nazis and other figures of the Nazi State. Vlasov looked more like a school master than a general. In his youth he thought of becoming a priest.

SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler had sent along his apologies and a message. Adolf Hitler, however, couldn’t quite bring himself to do either. Hitler was, in fact, not certain that Vlasov’s plan — to arm a million and a half Russian POWs, mainly Ukrainians, to bring down Stalin and communism — was such a good idea. He had rejected it outright in 1943, but now Germany had its back to the wall. The Nazis were in full retreat over Eastern Europe and any help the Fuhrer could get from any quarter might salvage part of his wild dreams or simply help to save mainland Germany — even if these helpers were Untermenschen, or sub-humans. The war was only six months from its end; the noose was gradually tightening.

When Vlasov took the podium he launched into an extraordinary manifesto of his own: of equality and democracy in the new Russia which would be liberated by his army. This must have made some of the SS and others in the hall that day feel rather uncomfortable; the manifesto included the abolition of forced labor and the release of all political prisoners. Most significantly, Vlasov had refused Himmler’s demand to include “an unequivocal stand on the Jewish question.” In fact not a single word in Vlasov’s speech had referred to Hitler or to National Socialism.

After the conference, Vlasov — who was still a Nazi prisoner — was taken to the Lucerna Film Club, just off Wenceslas Square, where he partied with Prague film stars, producers and directors. After more than two years in captivity and trying to push his cause, he deserved a little relaxation. At 2 o’clock on the morning of Nov. 15 his special train whisked him to Berlin.

When news that Vlasov had a green light to form this new army circulated via Russian POWs’ own newspaper, by the end of the month new recruits were signing up at a rate of up to 60,000 per day.  

‘We will defeat Stalin’

Vlasov had been captured by the Germans in July 1942. After six months in captivity he confessed to his captors that he did in fact hate Stalin and the whole Bolshevik state. “Give me your prisoners,” Vlasov told them, “and together we will defeat Stalin.” How he figured he could then wriggle out of his new commitment to a dictatorship just as evil is not known. But the idea was sound: it would have got 1.5 million POWs in appalling conditions fighting fit again — and no doubt they would eventually have turned on their new masters. Had the Nazis embraced this idea then, in early 1943, then indeed there would have been a real prospect of success, despite their defeat at Stalingrad.

Vlasov didn’t get to meet Himmler until September 1944 — and despite winning him over, it was still impossible for Hitler to understand the necessity, not until November of that year, by which time the war was well and truly lost.

Between that November and April of 1945, two divisions of “Vlasov’s Army,” more than 50,000 men, were formed, equipped and trained. Nine officers were Jews, concealed by Vlasov personally. Germany could not afford to equip and provide munitions for more men. This army had its own hospitals, training schools for officers, supply systems and air force. And on April 14, 1945, it was sent not to liberate Russia but to try to halt the Soviet advance across the Oder, only a few hours’ drive from Berlin.

Seeing how hopeless, as well as pointless, the situation was for his force, Vlasov turned his men back and decided to march across Bohemia to get to Pilsen — where he would deliver them as prisoners to the Americans, who were halted there. Stalin had already made it known that if any of Vlasov’s men fell into his hands they would receive long and painful deaths.

The army stopped to regroup near Beroun, just a half-hour drive southwest of Prague. By now it was early May. Hitler had already committed suicide. On May 5, members of the Czech National Committee came out from Prague to see Vlasov. Their uprising against the Nazis had begun but the planned British weapons drop had not come. They did not know then that Stalin had stopped Churchill. Stalin’s plan, as at Warsaw, was to wait and watch the patriots and the Nazis kill each other and destroy the city.

Erased from history

Eventually Vlasov was persuaded and by May 6 the First Division, 25,000 men with armor, set off in three columns to save the uprising — and Prague. In 36 hours the Nazis had surrendered and the uprising had succeeded. What followed then was a betrayal by the Czech National Committee of the army that had rescued them, more betrayals by the Americans and the British and then the Soviet Army’s arrival in Prague being heralded as the liberators of the city. Stalin saw to it that Vlasov’s Army would never make the history books and few Czechs even today really know of its contribution. Even the little street plaques which list those patriots who fell at that spot during the Prague Uprising do not list Vlasov’s men. Sometimes the plaques simply say “… and others.” That’s them.

The dramatic story of Vlasov’s Army in the liberation of Prague and their subsequent march to Plzen and the tragic events that unfolded there will be told on their 60th anniversary, next year. For now, the Prague “Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia” conference is an interesting footnote of history. However, it was too little, too late. If only Himmler and his equally satanic master had woken up to the opportunity earlier, the whole postwar story of Czechoslovakia might have been very different indeed.

— The author is a writer and conservationist. Last year his novel, Daniela, which used the story of Vlasov’s Army as its background, was published in the United States. He can be reached at news@praguepost.com 


It’s Too Early To Forgive Vlasov

By Valeria Korchagina and Andrei Zolotov Jr. Staff Writer

MOSCOW – Mention the name Vlasov to an ordinary Russian and one word will pop into mind: traitor.

Ask whether history should smile down on Lieutenant General Andrei Vlasov, the Soviet commander who defected to the Germans in World War II, and the ground would be laid for hours of heated debate. Several generations of young Soviet students were taught to hate Vlasov as a traitor who turned his back on the fatherland at a time when defenders were most needed.

These days, the line is growing blurred as evidence mounts that Vlasov may have changed sides in a bid to give his countrymen a better life than the one they had under Stalin.

But the story is apparently not far enough in the past to forgive and forget the man whose life and deeds are still largely seen through a cloud of political agendas and historical cover-ups.

The country’s top military court refused Thursday to rehabilitate Vlasov, who was convicted of state treason and hanged in 1946 after being turned over by the Allies a year earlier.

The appeal of the original conviction was launched by the small monarchist group For Faith and Fatherland.

“Vlasov was a patriot who spent much time re-evaluating his service in the Red Army and the essence of Stalin’s regime before agreeing to collaborate with the Germans,” one of the group’s leaders, suspended Orthodox priest Nikon Belavenets, was quoted as saying in the Gazeta newspaper.

But judges at the Military Collegium were less supportive of Vlasov’s methods of combating oppression at home.

“The truth is that although some argue that he was fighting against the Soviet regime and, thus, should not be seen as a traitor, by doing so he also fought against the state and the people. And this is treason,” said Nikolai Petukhov, chairperson of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court and deputy chairperson of the Supreme Court.

Vlasov was born in 1900 in the Vladimir Region. The son of a wealthy peasant, he was drafted into the Red Army in 1919 and became a career officer. He joined the Communist Party in 1930.

From 1941 until his defection to German Army in July 1942, Vlasov was a key commander in defending Kiev and Moscow. It is unclear whether he was captured, as Western history books say, or surrendered, as Soviet books say.

In any case, he agreed to cooperate with Nazi Germany.

Vlasov was one of millions of Russians who ended up in Germany voluntarily or as POWs during the war. They found themselves caught in a tragic situation – they were suddenly free of Stalin’s totalitarianism but were looked upon as Untermenschen by the Nazis.

Vlasov maintained that he underwent a profound change of heart that left him a dedicated anti-Communist during the days before he went with the Germans. Those days were spent on the Volkhov front after he and his troops were surrounded by Nazis.

Once in Berlin and surrounded by SS officers, Vlasov presented himself as a Russian patriot and refused to wear a German uniform. He wanted to lead an armed Russian force into the Soviet Union, apparently to start a revolt against the Stalin regime and create an independent Russia.

While the Nazi leadership eagerly used Vlasov as a key tool in a propaganda war, they didn’t risk forming an armed Russian force until the end of the war. In the summer of 1943, Vlasov was taken on a tour through occupied northwestern Russia and was welcomed so enthusiastically that the Nazis cut the trip short, sent him back to Berlin and put him under de facto house arrest.

In November 1944, the Germans finally allowed Vlasov to inaugurate his Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia, which proclaimed among its goals “the overthrow of Stalin’s tyranny,” civil rights, private property and “honorable peace with Germany.”

However, sufficient proof exists to indicate that military formations under Vlasov’s command were involved in training spies and saboteurs for territories controlled by the Red Army, Petukhov of the Military Collegium said in a telephone interview.

Finding himself at the crossroads of history, Vlasov thought he could become a third force in the battle of totalitarian giants.

Vlasov’s army is viewed by Nobel Prize-winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn and some historians as an episode of Russia’s Civil War removed in time by a quarter of a century.

“These people who have felt with their own skin 24 years of Communist happiness knew already in 1941 what no one else in the world yet knew: that on the whole planet and in all history there has never been a regime more evil, bloody and at the same time wily and shifty than Bolshevism,” Solzhenitsyn wrote in “The Gulag Archipelago.”

The memoirs of Vlasov followers, known as Vlasovites, suggest that the general was convinced that if he had a full army, Soviet generals would join him and the Communist regime would fall.

“I will end the war by telephone with [Marshal Georgy] Zhukov,” Vlasov was quoted as saying on several occasions. Zhukov was one of the top Soviet commanders.

But even in the last weeks of the war, when the Soviet Army was already at the German border, only two incomplete divisions led by Vlasov were armed. One of them helped liberate Prague when a popular uprising took place in the city in May 1945. But the Vlasovites left to give way to the Soviet Army.

“Looking into the events surrounding the liberation of Prague in May 1945, when Vlasov’s forces turned against the Germans, we found that the switch was not prompted by orders but came as the decision of ordinary soldiers,” Petukhov said.

The judges, however, did decide Thursday to strike one point from the original verdict – the charge under which Vlasov was found guilty of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. This charge was used frequently during Stalinist repressions. Under current laws, the charge is automatically removed from all convictions made during the 80 years of Soviet rule.

The hearing on Thursday also addressed the cases of 11 of Vlasov’s subordinates in his Russia Liberation Army. They were all denied rehabilitation.