Bronislav Kaminski

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Bronislav Kaminski (June 16th, 1899 - August 28th, 1944) was born in Witebsk, USSR. He had Polish father and German mother. During the 1920 studied chemistry in St.Petersburg and later worked as an engineer in the paint factory. Arrested in July of 1935 by the NKWD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs). As a Polish and German spy, he was sentenced ten years in gulag. Released after five years, he was relocated to the city of Lokot in the Orel-Kursk region. The Lokot region fell into Germans hand in October of 1941. Soon afterwards, a Russian engineer by the name of Konstantin Woskobojnik (Voskoboinik) was allowed to set up a regional self-governing body later known as 'Briansk-Lokot Republic', initially in second of command, became the head of 'republic' after Woskoboijnik's death in January of 1942 at the hand of Russian partisans. Kaminski built the local militia of 10,000-15,000 man strong brigade. Its soldiers, dressed in Russian-style uniforms, assumed the name of the Russian Liberation Army or RONA(РОНА in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet). Initially, (mid-1942), the brigade was made of 85% locals, mostly local Russian volunteers. The remainder came of Red Army deserters and Russian POWS. The brigade took part in several anti-partisan operation, e.g., in the Orel region in May of 1943 and in Byelorussia in April-May 1944 as well as operations against the Red Army in the Siewski-Dmitorwsk region. At the end of 1944, Bronislav Kaminski was arrested, tried and executed, probably of the order of Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski. There are many speculations about the reason. Some mention personal looting or raping and killing of two German women, members of Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) organization by RONA in Warsaw. Others refer to Heinrich Himmler as deciding to support General Andrei Vlasov thus liquidating Kaminski as his potential rival. The most probable version, provided by Dallin, describes Kaminski's end in the following way:

"... Kaminski was called to a German headquarters for a conference designed to settle the fate of his civilians... When he showed up and reproached for his troops' 'wild plunder', he sought to defend himself.

Kaminski was enraged [one of the German recalls ]: firstly before going into action had been promised a free hand, secondly, he failed to understand the German point of view: he and his men had, in years of fighting for Germans, lost all they had- and now they would not even be allowed to compensate themselves at the expense of the treacherous and rebellious Poles?

Serious altercations ensued, until a disgruntled and fearful Kaminski,' put in his place' by the Germans, was hurriedly called back to Warsaw. A few days later his men was informed .

… The version first broadcast blamed the murder on Polish partisans who allegedly ambushed Kaminski, his chief of staff, doctor and driver in car about twenty miles of Warsaw. "

The RONA Brigade was again reorganized as the 29 Waffen- SS Division and eventually disbanded in November of 1944. The remaining RONA soldiers (3,000-4,000) were transported to Musingen in Wurttemberg to join General Vlasov's ROA army that was just forming at the time. The civilians accompanying RONA were, according to some accounts, seen to work in the Pomerania region.