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S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A.

S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. (also known as the 1 History

Kaminski Brigade) was an anti-partisan formation composed of people from the so-called Lokot Autonomy territory in the Nazi Germany-occupied areas of Russia dur- 1.1 In Russia
ing World War II.[1]
First appearing in late 1941 as auxiliary police, the unit Main article: Lokot Autonomy
initially numbered 200 personnel. By mid-1943, its numbers had increased to 10-12 thousand and were equipped
with captured Soviet tanks and artillery.[1] The units
leader Bronislav Kaminski named it Russian National
Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya, RONA).

In October 1941, the Nazi Germany military advance

into the Soviet Union reached Lokot area near the city
of Bryansk and captured it on October 6, 1941.[2] In
November 1941, an engineer at the local alcohol plant,
Bronislav Kaminski, and a local technical school teacher,
Konstantin Voskoboinik, approached the German military administration with proposals to assist them in establishing a civil administration and local police. The Lokot
area was, before the beginning of the war, specially designated for the incarceration of people forbidden to return to their previous homes in major cities of the Soviet
Union---as Kaminski himself was.

After the failure of Operation Citadel, personnel of the

R.O.N.A. retreated to Belarus and the Lepel area of
Vitebsk, where they were involved in anti-partisan activities, committing numerous atrocities against the civilian population. In March 1944, the unit was briey
renamed to Volksheer-Brigade Kaminski (PeoplesBrigade Kaminski), before it was absorbed into the
Waen-SS in June 1944.
Voskoboinik was appointed by the Germans as starosta
With its transfer to the Waen-SS, the brigade was re- of the Lokot volost and head of the local militia unit.
named to Waen-Sturm-Brigade RONA, and Kaminski
was given the rank of Waen-Brigadefhrer der SS (the
only man with such a rank). After Operation Bagration,
the R.O.N.A retreated further west, and by the end of July
1944, the remains of the Kaminski unit (3-4 thousand--some sources estimate 6-7 thousand) were assembled
at the SS training camp Neuhammer. On the Kaminski
unit base, SS leaders planned to create a SS Division 29.Waen-Grenadier-Division der SS (russische Nr.1).

Initially, the militia headed by Voskoboinik numbered no

more than 200 men, and was to assist the Germans in
conducting their dierent activities, which included numerous murders of civilians loyal to or accused of loyalty
to the Soviet authorities or Soviet partisans. By January
1942 militia numbers were increased to 400-500.

During a specially ordered partisan attack headed by

Alexander Saburov on January 8, 1942, Voskoboinik was
mortally wounded. After his death Kaminski took over
However, the Warsaw Uprising began on the same day as command and expanded the militia.[3][4]
Himmlers signing of an order for the establishment of the
In co-operation with German forces, the militia began
division. The division formation was never implemented
anti-partisan operations and by spring 1942, its number
and part of the RONA- Brigade was forwarded to Warincreased to 1,400 armed personnel. The estimated numsaw, where the unit was again involved in committing
ber of soviet partisans in this area was as high as 20,000--numerous war-crimes. On August 18, 1944, Bronislav
they controlled almost the entire rear area of Army Group
Kaminski was killed. According to various sources, eiCenters area of operations.[5]
ther an SS court found him guilty or he was simply exeIn mid March 1942, Kaminskis representative assured
cuted outright by the German Gestapo.
the German Second Panzer Army at Orel that KaminBy August 27, deciding the brigade was too undisciplined
skis unit was ready to actively ght the guerillas as
and unreliable, the German commanders removed it from
well as carry on a propaganda campaign against JewWarsaw. Having suered heavy losses, the remaining
Bolshevism and Soviet partisans. Soon thereafter commembers of the brigade were forwarded farther West,
mander of 2nd Army Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt apwhere remnants of the brigade were used against Slovak
pointed Kaminski as mayor of the Army Rear Area 532
partisans. After the end of October 1944, the brigade
with its center in the town of Lokot. On 19 July 1942,
was disbanded and the remaining personnel absorbed into
after approval from Commander of Army Group CenGeneral Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army.
tre,Field Marshal Gnther von Kluge, Schmidt and 532
Area commander Volksdeutsche, Kaminski received a


certain degree of autonomy and nominal self-rule and took part in Operation Zigeunerbaron (Gypsy Baron)
self-governing powers under the supervision of Major together with other German units.
von Veltheim and Colonel Rbsam.
This operation was followed by similar operations - FreisKaminski was made chief major of the Autonomous chtz and Tannenhauser. The brigade, together with
Administration of Lokot (comprising eight raions) and other units under German command, was involved in acbrigade commander of the local militia.
tion against partisans and also took part in reprisal operations against the civilian population.
Starting in June 1942, Kaminskis militia took part in the
major action codenamed Operation Vogelsang as a part In the summer of 1943, the brigade began to suer maof Generalleutnant Werner Freiherr von und zu Gilsa's jor desertions due in part to the recent Soviet victories
Kampfgruppe (taskforce) Gilsa II. This Kampfgruppe in- and to the eorts of the partisans to turn as many of
cluded one Panzer regiment from 5. Panzer-Division, el- Kaminskis troops as possible. As a part of these eorts,
ements of 216. Infanterie-Division, the Kaminski mili- several attempts on Kaminskis life were made. Each
tia and elements of the Hungarian 102. Light Division time, Kaminski narrowly avoided death and punished the
and 108. Light Division. The militia, serving as guides, conspirators with execution. Several German ocers
scouts and translators, stayed with Kampfgruppe Gilsa passing through Lokot reported seeing bodies hanging
II until it was disbanded in October 1942. The o- from gallows outside Kaminskis headquarters. Fearing
cial results of this operation, the rst major one where a breakdown in command, a German liaison sta was atKaminskis troops participated, were 1,193 alleged parti- tached to Kaminskis HQ to restructure the brigade and
sans killed, 1,400 wounded, 498 captured, 12,531 civil- return stability to the unit.
ians evacuated. The Kampfgruppe suered 58 killed At this time the strength of the unit was estimated at up
and 130 wounded from a strength of over 6,500.
to 8,500 men. The armoured unit of the brigade had one


Russian National Liberation Army

Kaminski now decided to give his militia an ocial title. He decided on the Russian National Liberation
Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya,
RONA). In autumn 1942 Kaminski ordered an obligatory draft into the militia of all able-bodied men. Units
were also reinforced from the volunteers drafted among
Soviet POWs at nearby Nazi concentration camps. From
1941 on, due to lack of fuel and minor mechanical failures, Kaminskis unit was ordered to collect abandoned
Soviet tanks and armored cars---by November 1942, his
unit was in possession of at least two BT-7 tanks and one
76 mm artillery system.

heavy KV-II, four medium T-34, 3 BT-5 light tanks, one

T-37 amphibious tank, one armoured car (BA-10) and
two armoured carriers.
After the failure of Citadel, the Soviet counter-oensives
forced the brigade, along with their families, to ee with
the retreating Germans. On July 29, 1944, Kaminski issued orders for the evacuation of property and families
of RONA brigade members and Lokot authorities. Up
to 30,000 persons (10-11,000 of them brigade members)
were transferred by the Germans to the Lepel area of
Vitebsk in Belarus by the end of August 1943. According
to post-war Soviet estimates up to 10,000 civilians were
killed during the existence of the Kaminski formation.

1.3 In Belarus

Due to the lack of military dress and boots (some units

were barefoot), the Germans provided used uniforms for The brigade nally settled in the Lepel area of Vitebsk.
Kaminskis brigade, sucient for only 4 battalions.
This area was overrun by partisans, and the brigade was
By late 1942, the militia of the Lokot Autonomy had involved in heavy combat in this area for the rest of the
expanded to the size of a 14-battalion brigade, close to
8,000 armed men. From November 19, 1942 till De- During the retreat, desertions from the brigade increased
cember 1942, Lokot was inspected under the orders of greatly, and the entire formation seemed close to disinteAlfred Rosenberg. As of January 1943 the brigade num- gration. When the commander of the Second Regiment,
bered 9828 men; the armoured unit of the brigade had Major Tarasov, decided to join the partisans with all his
one heavy KV-II, two medium T-34, 3 BT-7 and 2 BT-5 regiment (he was oered amnesty if his entire regiment
light tanks and 3 armored cars (BA-10, 2 BA-20). In the joined the partisans), Kaminski ew to Tarosovs headspring of 1943 the brigades structure was reorganized- quarters and, according to one account, strangled him and
--there were 5 regiments created with 3 battalions each, 8 others in front of his men. Despite the threat of reperan anti-aircraft battalion (3 AAA guns and 4 heavy ma- cussions up to 200 men deserted within the following two
chineguns), and an armoured unit. A separate guard days. By the beginning of October 1943 the brigade had
battalion was created; brigade strength was estimated up lost 2/3 of it personnel, while still being in possession of
to 12,000 in total.
12 tanks (8 of them T-34s), one 122-mm, 3 76 mm and
Prior to Operation Citadel, the massive oensive to de- 8 45 mm artillery systems.
stroy the Kursk salient, in MayJune 1943 the brigade On January 27, 1944, Himmler rewarded Kaminskis


In Warsaw

achievements by decorating him with the Iron Cross RONA, and Kaminski was given the rank of Waen2nd Class and on the same day the Iron Cross 1st Class. Brigadefhrer der SS, as the only man with such rank.
On February 15, 1944, Kaminski issued an order to re- As the result of the Operation Bagration, anti-partisan
locate the brigade and administration further west to the activities of the brigade were halted and it personnel (6Dyatlovo area of West Belarus.
7,000, some sources give it as 3-4,000) collected at the
SS training camp Neuhammer and plans were made for a
non-German SS Division, and the structure was laid down
for the 29.Waen-Grenadier-Division der SS (russis1.4 Volksheer-Brigade
che Nr.1) based on the brigade by an order issued AuAt this point, the brigades ranks were replenished by the gust 1, 1944. On the same day, Kaminski received a
addition of police forces from Belarus. In March 1944, new rank---Waen-Brigadefhrer and General-Major of
the brigade was renamed Volksheer-Brigade Kamin- Waen-SS.
ski. Starting on April 11, 1944, it was attached to SSKampfgruppe von Gottberg, which also included the notorious Dirlewanger unit, and participated in a series 1.6 In Warsaw
of anti-partisan operations: Regenschauer (up to 7,000
partisans reported as killed), Frhlingsfest (7,011 parti- The Warsaw Uprising, which started on August 1, 1944,
sans reported as killed and 1,065 weapons captured) and changed Himmlers plans and, on August 4, 1944, a comKormoran (7,697 partisans reported as killed and 325 bat ready regiment of the brigade was ordered to assist
weapons captured). During these operations local civil- the eorts in crushing the uprising. SS-Gruppenfhrer
ians were shot as suspected partisans or deported as Heinz Reinfarth was placed in charge of Kampfgruppe
slave laborers, their villages burned down.
Reinfarth, a pacication unit which consisted of the
Kaminski along with the Dirlewanger, several other
Ordnungspolizei and SS rear area units. Himmler personally requested Kaminskis assistance, and the latter
obliged by gathering a task force of 1,700 unmarried men
and sending them (some sources state they had four T-34
tanks, one SU-76 and a few artillery pieces) to Warsaw as
the mixed regiment under eld command of Kaminskis
brigade chief-of-sta, SS-Sturmbannfhrer Ivan Frolov.
Frolov in 1945 stated that regiment had up to 1600 men
and 7 artillery pieces and 4 mortars.

Bronislav Kaminski and personnel of the Volksheer-Brigade

Kaminski operationFrhlingsfest, Belarus, May 1944



Kaminski volunteers were rst given the task of clearing

the Ochota district defended by only 300 poorly armed
Poles. Their attack was planned for the morning of August 5, but when the time came, Kaminskis men could
not be found. After some searching, they were found
looting abandoned houses in the rear. The attack nally
got underway shortly before noon and it went poorly, with
the brigade advancing only 275 meters before nightfall.
The men had neither training for nor prior experience in
urban combat. For many it was the rst time they had
even seen a major city and they fought poorly while suffering high casualties. At the same time, thousands of
Polish civilians were killed by the RONA SS men during the events known as the Ochota massacre; many of
the victims were also raped. In the middle of the month,
the Kaminski was moved south to the Wola sector, but it
fared no better in combat there than in Ochota. In one
incident, a sub-unit had stopped their advance to loot a
captured building on the front line and was consequently
cut o and destroyed by the Poles.

By August 27, the German commanders decided the

brigade was too undisciplined and unreliable. In almost
In June 1944, the brigade was absorbed as part a month of ghting, the brigade had still not achieved
of the Waen-SS. With its transfer to the Waen- any of its major objectives. The German commander
SS, the brigade was renamed Waen-Sturm-Brigade in Warsaw, SS-Obergruppenfhrer Erich von dem Bach-


Zelewski, stated in post war trials that the unit had no

military combat value whatsoever, with both ocers and
soldiers having not even a hint of tactical understanding. I saw Kaminskis men removing entire cartloads
of stolen jewellery, gold watches, and precious stones.
The capture of a liquor supply was more important for
the brigade than the seizure of a position commanding
the same street. Each assault was instantly stopped, because after taking the objective over, units dispersed
into loose, plundering hordes. Kaminski himself was involved in the looting in Warsaw, claiming he was collecting for his Russian Liberation Fund. Major General
Gnter Rohr, commander of Warsaws southern sector,
demanded that the brigade be removed from his command. Bach-Zelewski agreed, as the troublesome unit
was slowing his eorts to suppress the uprising. As soon
as replacement units were available, the Kaminski was
pulled out of the line after losing about 500 men in combat during the ghting in Warsaw.

1.7 In Slovakia

The RONA volunteers, now decimated and infamous

even among the SS, were then assigned to the Kampinos
Forest to help seal o Warsaw. During their stay in the
forest, the units artillery battery and one of its infantry
battalions were suddenly attacked by 80 Polish partisans
led by Lieutenant Colonel Dolina (Adolf Pilch) while
stationed at the emptied village of Truskaw. Nearly 100
Russian and German SS-men died in the midnight assault. The remnants of the battalion, which was mostly
drunk at the time of the attack, ed in disarray, abandoning their weapons as they ed. In Truskaw, the 1st
Regiment lost its entire artillery and much of the stolen
merchandise from the city.[6] According to some Polish
sources, 250 RONA troops were killed during the night
of September 23 in the raid on Truskaw, and 100 more
in the raid on the village of Marianw the next night.[7]
A captured diary of the Kaminski brigade soldier, Ivan
Vashenko, (killed at Truskaw) was published in Poland
in 1947.[8]

From November 1944, remnants of the brigade (some

sources estimated its strength at up to 2,000) forwarded
into the military training camp Mnsingen, with a formation of the 600. Infanterie-Division (russisch)---Andrey
Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. The former RONA
were used to form one of the divisions regiments. Accompanying civilians were sent to work in Pomerania.

As the front line approached again, the remnants of the

brigade and accompanying civilian refugees were due to
be evacuated to Hungary, but the start of the Slovak
National Uprising left it stranded in railway trains near
Racibrz in southern Poland.
From September 27, 1944 the brigade was under overall command of SS-Gruppenfhrer und Generalleutnant
der Waen-SS und Polizei Heinrich Friedrich Johann
Jrs. In October, after inspection of the brigade personnel in the Raum Kattowitz, the Germans decided to
absorb the remnants of Kaminskis brigade into General
Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army.[9]

2 Dissolution

3 After the war

After the end of World War II in Europe, some of the

former RONA and Lokot personnel were repatriated by
Western Allies to the Soviet Union. At the end of 1946
a Military Court of the USSR handed Yury Frolov and
several others a death sentence. In the 1950s and 1960s in
the USSR, dozens of other former members were found,
some of them also sentenced to death. The last member
of Lokot/RONA personnel, responsible for more than a
At the time of the Warsaw actions, Kaminski was called thousand murders, was found in 1978 and sentenced to
to d to attend a leadership conference. He never death.
reached it. Ocially, Polish partisans were blamed
for an alleged ambush in which Kaminski and a few
RONA ocials (including brigade chief-of-sta Waen- 4 Insignia
Obersturmbannfhrer Ilya Shavykin) were killed. Some
sources say he was placed in front of a military tribunal In 1942 - white arm bands with a St. Georges cross.
and then shot by a ring squad, others that he was shot From May 1943 arm-badge white shield with red borwhen he was captured by the Gestapo.
ders with black St. Georges cross. In the upper part a
The death of Kaminski and the unreliability of his troops yellow abbreviation POHA. Some sources noted that
as a combat unit brought the plans to expand the Kamin- the Nazi swastika also appeared on the brigade banner.
ski Brigade to a division to an end. After Kaminskis
death, his unit was placed under command of the SSBrigadefhrer and Generalmajor der Polizei Christoph 5 Commanders
Konstantin Voskoboinik (16 October 1941 - 8 January 1942)
Bronislav Kaminski (January 1942- March 1942)

Burgermeister Bronislav Kaminski (March 1942
July 1942)
Ober-Burgermeister Bronislav Kaminski (July 1942
August 1943)
Bronislav Kaminski (August 1943 - June 1944)
Waen-Brigadefhrer der SS Bronislav Kaminski
(17 June 1944 - 31 July 1944)
Waen-Brigadefhrer and General-Major of
Waen-SS Bronislav Kaminski (1 August 1944 18th (possibly 28th) August 1944)
SS-Brigadefhrer Christoph Diehm (20 August
1944 27 September 1944)
SS-Gruppenfhrer und Generalleutnant der Polizei
Heinrich Jrs (27 September 1944 October 1944)

Book references
Untermenschen in SS Uniforms: 30th WaenGrenadier Division of Waen SS Leonid Rein The
Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 1556-3006, Volume 20, Issue 2, 2007, Pages 329345
Bishop C. Zagraniczne formacje SS. Zagraniczni
ochotnicy w Waen-SS w latach 19401945.
Warszawa, 2006
GEORG TESSIN Verbande und Truppen der
deutschen Wehrmacht und Waen SS

im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 VIERTER BAND: Die

Landstreitkrafte 1530 VERLAG E. S. MITTLER &
GEORG TESSIN Verbande und Truppen der
deutschen Wehrmacht und Waen SS
im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 SECHSTER BAND:
Die Landstreitkrafte 71-13 0 BIBLI O VERLAG OSNABRUCK 1972


[1] Rolf-Dieter Mueller, The Unknown Eastern Front, (Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2012), p. 222
[2] Between the two dictatorships. Military Literature (in
Russian). Retrieved 21 April 2013.
[3] Guerilla Republic. The administration of the Bryansk
region (in Russian). Retrieved 21 April 2013.

[4] Willis, Major Bob E. After the Blitzkrieg: The German

Armys Transition to Defeat in the East. Retrieved 21
April 2013.
[5] Howell, Edgar M. The Soviet Partisan Movement, 19411944. p. 99.
[6] (Polish) Rosyjska Narodowa Armia Wyzwolecza
[7] (Polish) VII Obwd Obroa Okrgu Warszawskiego
Armii Krajowej
[8] (Polish) Dziennik Iwana Waszenko Dzieje Najnowsze,
zesz. 2, 1947, p. 324335
[9] 29. Retrieved 2013-1025.
[10] " :

1500 ,
.RU. Retrieved 2013-10-25.


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