Belarusian Central Council

Belarusian Central Council
Беларуская Цэнтральная Рада
Weißruthenischer Zentralrat
Semi-autonomous territory in
Reichskommissariat Ostland
Flag Seal of Belarusian Central Rada
Capital Minsk
Languages Belarusian
Religion Orthodox Christianity
Government Fascist client state
   19431944 Radasłaŭ Astroŭski
Historical era World War II
   Established March 1, 1943
   Disestablished July 2, 1944
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic
Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic

The Belarusian Central Council or the Belarusian Central Rada (Belarusian: Беларуская Цэнтральная Рада, Biełaruskaja Centralnaja Rada; German: Weißruthenischer Zentralrat) was a pro-Nazi government of Belarus in 1943–44.[1] It was a collaborationist structure established by Nazi Germany within the occupational administration of the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the later stages of Operation Barbarossa.[2]


Immediately after the attack on the Soviet positions in eastern Poland,[3] and across Belarussian SSR in 1941, the mass persecution of Jews by the SS forward units of Einsatzgruppe B began, under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe.[4] Jews were massacred and ghettos were formed in dozens of towns with the participation of Belarusian collaborators who were given various prominent roles.[5] The Belarusian Auxiliary Police was established and deployed to murder operations particularly in February–March 1942.[6]

Following the Germany's rapid conquest, the Generalbezirk Weißruthenien district of RKO was formed which included the Polish towns of Głębokie (Hlybokaye), Wilejka (Vileyka) in Wilno Voivodeship, Nowogródek (Navahrudak), the capital of Nowogródek voivodship around Polesia, as well as at Smolensk in USSR and in all of Soviet Belarus. In 1942, the German civil authority was extended to Minsk, Slutsk and Barysaw. The area 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 remaining locals would be subject to forced Germanization.

Generalreichskommissar Wilhelm Kube in Minsk, May 1943

Generalreichskommissar Wilhelm Kube was appointed the German administrator of the area. He had his command center established in Minsk with a second Kommissar in Baranovichi. Kube took a Belarusian mistress, the young Alena Mazanik (pl) (ru) who was an already married waitress.[7] However, in February 1943 Wehrmacht suffered a major military defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad and in August 1943 at the Battle of Kursk. In September 1943, Kube was killed by his Belarusian mistress, who planted a bomb in his bed coerced by the Soviet agents who knew where her son was.[7]

In order to drum up fresh troops for the front inside Reichskommissariat Ostland, General Reinhard Gehlen suggested to the German High Command that some concessions be made to the Belarusian collaborators in the form of a puppet state.[7] The semi-autonomous local government was founded by Nazi Germany in December 1943, and named the Belarusian Central Council. Radasłaŭ Astroŭski, the mayor of Smolensk at that time, was appointed its president.[2] General Kurt von Gottberg who replaced Kube, named a Belarusian nationalist Ivan Yermachenka, arriving from Prague, the "Advisor on Belarusian affairs".[7]

Home Guard (BKA)

Nazi Belarusian Home Defence corps (BKA) parading in Minsk [2]

In March 1944 Astroŭski's quasi-government organized universal military conscription among the young Belarusians with spectacular results. The Belarusian Home Defence Force (Bielaruskaja Krajevaja Abarona, BKA) was formed, with 28,000 soldiers ready for training, aided by a few thousand members of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police battalions.[8] Astroŭski presented to the Germans his list of ministers for the Belarusian Central Council (Rada). The auxiliary police chief of Smolensk, Dmitry Kasmovich, established a ring of BKA controlled settlements in the area. One of the most powerful weapons in the collaborationist arsenal was religion. The SS authorised a self-headed Belarusian Orthodox Church independent from the Patriarch of Moscow who, similarly, was used by the Soviet atheists to rally Russians against the Germans. The priests had considerable influence with the peasantry and actively supported the defeat of Soviet Russia, which had terrorized Western Belarus after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland of September 17, 1939.[9]

In 1944, ahead of the Soviet counteroffensive, the German authorities, local collaborators and the last Axis units began to withdraw from occupied territories to East Prussian and Polish lands still under the control of Nazi Germany. On June 28, 1944 the SS organized a special train to the Reich that carried 800 collaborators and their families. Astrouski left two days later since he was organizing evacuations. In late June 1944, Minsk Opera House was filled with 1,039 delegates from all Belarusian provinces.

The Belarusian Home Defence forces were absorbed into 30. Waffen-Grenadier-division der SS-Russiche No 2.. This infantry division formed from the remnants of the 29th Waffen-SS Division, included both Belarusian and Ukrainian units. The Germans had set up an officers' school and issued uniforms with a Waffen-SS Storm-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.

Other members of BKA and the Belarusian Auxiliary Police were recruited by SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny for training in Dahlwitz near Berlin, to make special undercover strikes behind the enemy lines. These units were part of a clandestine operation known as Liebes Kätzchen stretched from the Baltics to the Black Sea. The Belarusian "Black Cat" guerrilla group was led by Michas' Vitushka. They operated in Belavezha Forest (Białowieża) against the Soviet forces in anti-communist operations throughout 1945 but with little success.[10][11][12][13] Infiltrated by NKVD, they were destroyed in 1945.[14]

The state ended its existence 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. Later Astroŭski and others formed a government in exile.

See also


  1. (German) Dallin, Alexander (1958). Deutsche Herrschaft in Russland, 1941-1945: Eine Studie über Besatzungspolitik, pp. 234-236. Droste Verlag GmbH, Düsseldorf.
  2. 1 2 3 Andrew Wilson (2011). Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship (Google Books preview). Yale University Press. pp. 109, 110, 113. ISBN 0300134355. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  3. Christopher R. Browning (1 May 2007). From War of Destruction to the Final Solution. The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 255–349. ISBN 0803203926. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  4. Alex J. Kay; Jeff Rutherford; David Stahel (2012). Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941: Total War, Genocide, and Radicalization. University Rochester Press. p. 231. ISBN 1580464076. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  5. Lance Ackerfeld (20 Sep 2007). "From materials of the Extraordinary Commission (Ch.G.K. USSR)". Yizkor Book Project. Holocaust in Belorussia. JewishGen. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  6. "Shoah in Belarus". Death Squads, Massacres, Ghettos. 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Andrew Wilson (2011). "The Traumatic Twentieth Century" (PDF file, direct download 16.4 MB). Belarus: the last European dictatorship. Yale University Press. pp. 109110. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  8. Tadeusz Piotrowski (1998). Belorussian Collaboration. Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. McFarland. p. 155. ISBN 0786403713. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  9. "100(0) Schlüsseldokumente" (facsimile). DE. Retrieved 17 September 2009..
  10. Dawid Wowra (January 22, 2014). "Belarusian Resistance, documentary by PartyzanFilm 2008 (transcript)". Based on Bialoruski ruch oporu by Siarhiej Jorsz. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  11. Wilson 2011, p. 109. Operation Black Cat.
  12. Stephen Dorril (2002). MI6: Inside the Covert World. Belorussia. Simon and Schuster. p. 217. ISBN 0743217780. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  13. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz (2012). "Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas". The Second Soviet Occupation. Transaction Publishers. p. 167. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  14. Dudar (March 25, 1999). "Belarusian "Black Cats" of Otto Skorzeny". John Loftus "The Belarus Secret", edited by Nathan Miller, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York, 1982. ISBN 0-394-52292-3. Internet Archive. Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2015.


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