Lokot Republic
The Lokot Autonomy was a semi-autonomous region in Nazi German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

-occupied Central Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 led by Bronislav Kaminski's administration from July 1942 to August 1943. The name is derived from the region's administrative center, the urban-type settlement
Urban-type settlement
Urban-type settlement ; , selyshche mis'koho typu ) is an official designation for a type of locality used in some of the countries of the former Soviet Union...

 of Lokot in Oryol Oblast
Oryol Oblast
Oryol Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Oryol. Population: -Geography:It is located in the southwestern part of the Central Federal District, in the Mid-Russian Highlands. Kaluga and Tula Oblasts border it in the north, Bryansk Oblast is located to...

 (now located in Bryansk Oblast
Bryansk Oblast
Bryansk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Bryansk. Population: 1,278,087 .-History:...

). The "Autonomy" covered the area of eight raion
A raion is a type of administrative unit of several post-Soviet countries. The term, which is from French rayon 'honeycomb, department,' describes both a type of a subnational entity and a division of a city, and is commonly translated in English as "district"...

s (districts) now divided between Bryansk, Oryol and Kursk Oblast
Kursk Oblast
Kursk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Kursk.-Geography:The oblast occupies the southern slopes of the middle-Russian plateau, and its average elevation is from 177 to 225 meters . The surface is hilly, and intersected by ravines...

s. The autonomy was to serve as a test case for a Russian collaborationist government under the SS in Reichskommissariat Moskowien.


In October 1941 the Nazi German military advance into Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 reached Lokot area near the city of Bryansk
Bryansk is a city and the administrative center of Bryansk Oblast, Russia, located southwest of Moscow. Population: -History:The first written mention of Bryansk was in 1146, in the Hypatian Codex, as Debryansk...

, which was captured by the Germans on October 6, 1941. In November 1941 Bronislav Kaminski, an engineer at a local distillery, and Konstantin Voskoboinik
Konstantin Voskoboinik
Konstantin Voskoboynik was a Soviet Nazi collaborator. From November 1941 till 8 January 1942 former local technical school teacher Voskoboynik was appointed by Germans as a starosta of the “Lokot volost”...

, a local technical school teacher, approached the German military administration with proposals to assist them in establishing a civil administration and local police. Voskoboinik was designated by Germans as starosta
Starost is a title for an official or unofficial position of leadership that has been used in various contexts through most of Slavic history. It can be translated as "elder"...

 of the “Lokot volost
Volost was a traditional administrative subdivision in Eastern Europe.In earlier East Slavic history, volost was a name for the territory ruled by the knyaz, a principality; either as an absolute ruler or with varying degree of autonomy from the Velikiy Knyaz...

”. Kaminski became Voskoboinik's deputy. Other deputies appointed were Stepan Mosin and Roman Ivanin (the head of the local militia), both former prisoners.

Initially the militia headed by Voskoboinik numbered no more than 200 men. It assisted Germans in policing the area, and committed numerous atrocities against the civilian population loyal to the Soviet authorities or Soviet partisans
Soviet partisans
The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

, Soviet prisoners-of war (POWs) and ordinary civilians.
By January 1942 the militia's personnel was increased to 400-500.

During a partisan attack headed by Alexander Saburov
Alexander Saburov
Alexander Nikolayevich Saburov , one of the leaders of Soviet partisan movement in Ukraine and western Russia during the German-Soviet War.Born near the city of Izhevsk in central Russia, Saburov joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1933 and the NKVD in 1938.Few months after the German...

 on January 8, 1942, Voskoboinik was mortally wounded. After his death Kaminski took over the command and further expanded the militia.

In cooperation with German forces the militia commenced anti-partisan operations, and by spring of 1942 the militia had 1,400 armed personnel. The number of Soviet partisans in this area was estimated at 20,000 men – they controlled almost the entire rear of the Army Group Center’s area of operations.

In March 1942 Kaminski’s representative to the German Second Panzer Army in Orel
Oryol or Orel is a city and the administrative center of Oryol Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River, approximately south-southwest of Moscow...

 gave assurances that Kaminski’s unit was “ready to actively fight the guerrillas” and to carry on a propaganda campaign against “Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

” and Soviet partisans. Soon thereafter the commander of 2nd Army Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt
Rudolf Schmidt
Rudolf Schmidt was a Panzer General in the German army during World War II who served as the Commander of the 2nd Panzer Army which was a huge armoured formation that operated on the Eastern Front. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 appointed Kaminski as the mayor of the Army Rear Area 532 centered in the township of Lokot. On 19 July 1942, after the Commander of Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct German strategic army groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union...

, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge
Günther von Kluge
Günther Adolf Ferdinand “Hans” von Kluge was a German military leader. He was born in Posen into a Prussian military family. Kluge rose to the rank of Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

 gave an official approval, the Lokot administration received some degree of autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 and nominal self-rule under the supervision of major von Veltheim and colonel Rübsam. Kaminsky was appointed the oberburgomeister of the Autonomous Administration of Lokot (comprising eight rayon
Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. Because it is produced from naturally occurring polymers, it is neither a truly synthetic fiber nor a natural fiber; it is a semi-synthetic or artificial fiber. Rayon is known by the names viscose rayon and art silk in the textile industry...

s)and the brigadier of the local militia.

From June 1942, Kaminski’s militia took part in the major anti-partisan action, code-named Operation Vogelsang, as a part of Generalleutnant Werner Freiherr von und zu Gilsa
Werner von Gilsa
Werner Albrecht Freiherr von und zu Gilsa was a German officer and General of Infantry, whose last assignment was as Wehrmacht commandant of Dresden...

's kampfgruppe (taskforce) Gilsa II.

Germans did not interfere in the affairs of the Lokot Autonomy as long as their transports were kept safe and the republic delivered the required food quotas to the Wehrmacht. Collective farms were abolished, and a large degree of free enterprise was permitted. Kaminski established the Autonomy's own court, jails and newspapers. Kaminski's speeches published in the newspapers of the region emphasised that the aims of Nazi Germany and Russia "are the same".

The schools (closed after the German invasion) were reopened, and a radio station along with theater groups were established in Lokot, Dmitrovsk and Sevsk Newspapers published in the Lokot Autonomy were typical of all newspapers published on Nazi-occupied Russian territories, featuring articles exposing “Judeobolshevism” crimes along with Nazi propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

 which included the usual heavy dose of anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. The Jewish population in the Autonomy was annihilated without German assistance: 223 Jews were shot in the township of Suzemka, and 39 at Navlya.

In October 1942 Kaminski renamed Lokot township as the town of Voskoboinik. Streets in other townships of the Autonomy were also renamed.

In the autumn of 1942 Kaminski ordered the compulsory draft into militia of all able-bodied men. Its units were reinforced with the “volunteers” drafted from Soviet POWs at the nearest Nazi concentration camps. Kaminski ordered the gathering of Soviet tanks and armored cars abandoned in 1941 due the lack of fuel or minor mechanical failures – by November 1942 his unit has in possession at least two BT-7
The BT-7 was the last of the BT tank series of Soviet cavalry tanks that were produced in large numbers between 1935 and 1940. They were lightly armoured, but reasonably well-armed for their time, and had much better mobility than other contemporary tank designs...

 tanks and one 76 mm artillery system. Due the lack of uniforms and boots (some units were barefoot) the Germans provided Kaminski's brigade with used uniforms: these were sufficient for only four battalions.

By late 1942, the militia of the Lokot Autonomy had expanded to the size of a 14-battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 with close to 8,000 men under arms called the Russian National Liberation Army
S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A.
S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. was an anti-partisan formation composed of people from the so-called Lokot Autonomy territory in the Nazi Germany-occupied areas of Russia during World War II....

 (RONA). From November 19, 1942 to December 1942, Lokot was inspected by the order of the Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...


In January 1943, the brigade numbered 9828 people; the armored unit of brigade has one heavy KV-II, two medium T-34, three BT-7 and two BT-5 light tanks, and three armored cars (BA-10, 2 BA-20).

In the spring of 1943 the brigade’s structure was reorganized – there were five regiments created with three battalions in each, anti-aircraft battalion (three AAA guns and four heavy machine guns), armored unit. A separate “guard” battalion was created; brigade strength was estimated to be 12,000 men in total.

Prior to Operation Citadel, the massive offensive to destroy the Kursk
Kursk is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Kur, Tuskar, and Seym Rivers. The area around Kursk was site of a turning point in the Russian-German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history...

Salients, re-entrants and pockets
A salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant...

, in May–June 1943 the brigade took part in Operation Zigeunerbaron ("Gypsy Baron") together with other German units.

This operation was followed by similar operations - Freischütz and Tannenhauser, the brigade together with others units under German command was involved in action against partisans and also took part in reprisal
In international law, a reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breached the rights of civilians, an action outlawed by the Geneva...

 operations against the civilian population.

In the summer of 1943, the brigade began to suffer major desertions, due in part to the recent Soviet victories and in part to the efforts of the partisans to "turn" as many of Kaminski's troops as possible. As a part of these efforts, several attempts on Kaminski's life were carried out. Each time, Kaminski narrowly avoided death and punished the conspirators with execution. Several German officers passing through Lokot reported seeing bodies hanging from gallows
A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered...

 outside Kaminski's headquarters. Fearing a breakdown in command, a German liaison staff was attached to Kaminski's HQ to restructure the brigade and return stability to the unit.

After the German failure of Citadel, the Soviet counteroffensives forced the brigade, along with the their families, to flee with the retreating Germans. July 29, 1943 Kaminski issued an order for evacuation of property and families of RONA brigade and Lokot authorities. Up to 30 thousand persons (10-11,000 of them were brigade members) were transferred by Germans to Lepel area of Vitebsk
Vitebsk, also known as Viciebsk or Vitsyebsk , is a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia. The capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants, making it the country's fourth largest city...

 in Belarus by end of August 1943.

According to post-war Soviet estimates up to 10,000 civilians were killed during the existence of the Kaminski “Autonomy”.

“Lepel republic”

From the end of August 1943 Kaminski try to set up a new "Lepel Republic" in the Lepel area, while met with strong opposition from the local population. This area was overrun by partisans, and the brigade was involved in heavy combat in this area for the rest of the year.

During the retreat, desertions from the brigade increased greatly, and the entire formation seemed close to disintegration. When the commander of the Second Regiment Major Tarasov decided to join the partisans with all of his regiment (he was offered amnesty if his entire regiment joined the partisans), Kaminski flew to his headquarters and according to one account, strangled him and eight others in front of his men. Despite this up to 200 people deserted within two days after.

By the beginning of October 1943 brigade has lost 2/3 of it previous personnel number.

On January 27, 1944, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 decorated Kaminski with the Iron Cross 2nd Class and the Iron Cross 1st Class on the same day.

On February 15, 1944, Kaminski issued an order to relocate brigade and Lokot administration further west to Dyatlovo area at West Belarus.

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 end of 1946 the Military Court of the USSR sentenced Yury Frolov, Stepan Mosin and several others to death. In 1950s and 1960s several other former officials of the Autonomy were apprehended by KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, some of them were also sentenced to death, most notably the Lokot Autonomy's executioner Antonina Makarova-Ginzburg, found in 1978 and sentenced to death.

In culture

Anatoli Ivanov portrayed the Lokot Republic in his novel Eternal Call (Вечный зов) and the corresponding TV sequel, which was popular in the Soviet Union.

According to Russian sources, there was also a Partisan Republic located in Bryansk. It has to be verified, whether and in what boundaries this Partisan Republic existed.

See also

  • Kaminski Brigade
  • Bronislav Kaminski
  • Russian Liberation Army
    Russian Liberation Army
    Russian Liberation Army was a group of predominantly Russian forces subordinated to the Nazi German high command during World War II....

  • Russian Liberation Movement
    Russian Liberation Movement
    Russian Liberation Movement is a term used to describe Russians during World War II who tried to create an anti-communist armed force which would topple the regime of Joseph Stalin...

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