Thanks for ansking a most intriguing question.
I believe you are referring to the very infamous "Russian Liberation
Army", headed by the captured Russian General Andrei Vlasov. Although
the Army -- intended to fight Stalin's forces in order to liberate
mother Russia -- never really materialized as a formal fighting unit,
it is undeniably true that hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers
did decide to work for the side of Germany during WWII.
Vlasov was a decorated Russian General who fought fiercely against the
Germans to defend Leningrad. But his troops were surrounded and
slaughtered, and Vlasov himself captured by the Germans after hiding
in the swamps for weeks. In captivity, Vlasov -- who apparently
despised Stalin -- agreed to form an Army of Russian defectors who
would fight to defeat Stalin in Russia. The Germans never actually
gave Vlasov his Army, but Russian deserters did, in fact, broadly
support the German war effort. I did not find specific references to
their work as guards on trains, but it is certainly within the realm
of possibility that they performed functions like these.
Two very good summary articles on Vlasov can be found at these sites:
Cecil Adams, of "Straight Dope" fame, offers his take on this history
of Vlasov's infamous army here:
During WWII, did a Soviet general and his men desert to the Nazis?
?The man's name was Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov, and we'll get to his
story in a minute. First you need to grasp the enormity of what
happened to Soviet soldiers captured by the Nazis during World War II.
Between five hundred thousand and a million Soviet POWs either
volunteered to fight alongside Nazi troops against their former
comrades or were coerced into doing so. Another six million Soviets,
many of them POWs, were forced into German slave-labor battalions that
manufactured war materiel. At the end of World War II, a total of
about two million Russians came under the control of advancing
American and British forces, many of whom had contributed (voluntarily
or not) to the German war effort. Those in charge knew that Stalin
considered these people collaborators or traitors, and in truth many
of them did see the Soviet system as a hateful cancer on Mother
Russia. Yet the western Allied forces--under supreme commander
Eisenhower--repatriated virtually all the Russians to the Soviet
Union, in some cases forcibly, knowing full well they were sending
them to their doom.?
A U.S. commanding officer from WWII offers his personal recollection
of Vlasov?s surrender to the American?s:
General Vlasov's Army
In the final days of World War II a complete German army composed of
white Russians surrendered to the American forces in Czechoslovakia.
This was General Vlasov's Army trying to avoid capture by the
At the time, I was assigned to a Combat Command to classify roads and
bridges and measure road blocks that needed to be removed by the
engineers. All at once the column stopped and so I proceeded up the
road in front of the column to see what the problem was...
...Soon after, an army of German soldiers came marching down the road
in full dress carrying white flags. It turned out that these were
white Russians who had joined the German forces because their
political views were opposed to Stalin and the Red Russian communists.
There is one other infamous aspect of Vlasov's tale. At the end of
WWII, he and his men tried to surrender to the Americans, in order to
avoid being returned to Russia and to certain death. President
Roosevelt, however, had secretly entered into an agreement with the
Russians to repatriate all troops and prisoners, so that Vlasov and
thousands of other deserters, were returned to Russia, and a great
many of them were killed as deserters.
An interesting, if somewhat unorthodox take on Vlasov and the
repatriation issue can be seen at the site of the Future of Freedom
Repatriation -- The Dark Side of World War II
There are several books about General Vlasov, such as this listing at amazon.com:
Vlasov and the Russian Liberation Movement
Every so often a text appears which dispells the conventional wisdom
of what we come to accept as history. Catherine Andreyev's "Vlasov and
the Russian Liberation Movement" is such a work. This narrative tells
the story of one of the strangest, yet most compelling episolds in the
history of the second world war. In July of 1942, a Soviet Army
general, Andrei Vlasov was captured by the invading German Army. He
later came to lead a non-existant force known as the ROA, or Russian
Liberation Army. Although this force had never exsted, he was in fact
the ideological leader of an estimated 800 million Russians who were
opposed to Stalin and served in various capacities during the war.
Throughout the war it was clear that the movement was not, as their
opponents had charged, blind collaboration with the Nazi forces but a
political movement in its own right...this is an excellent story of an
idealistic, but doomed group of people and their struggle.
A November 2, 2001 Associated Press article (sorry, no link available)
reported on what is probably the last chapter of this sorry saga, in
an article called: "
COURT RULES SOVIET GENERAL STILL A TRAITOR
I cannot reproduce the entire article here due to copyright
restrictions, but here is an excerpt from it:
A Soviet general who defected to the Nazis during World War II was
rightly hanged as a traitor after the war, Russia's highest court
ruled Thursday...Gen. Andrei Vlasov was convicted of treason in 1946
and died on the gallows along with 11 of his aides in August of that
A motion to clear Vlasov of all charges was started after the 1991
Soviet collapse by a group of his supporters, who argued that Vlasov
defected to wage a war against the repressive regime of Soviet
dictator Josef Stalin...But the military branch of Russia's Supreme
Court ruled Thursday that Vlasov and the 11 officers from his
entourage were rightly convicted of high treason.
The court, however, cleared Vlasov and his aides of their conviction
for "anti-Soviet propaganda," saying the Soviet-era accusation has no
legal meaning in today's Russia...Chief Military Prosecutor Mikhail
Kislitsyn strongly opposed clearing Vlasov in any form. "A person who
betrayed his country will remain a traitor under any political
regime," he said.
Nikolai Pastukhov, the presiding judge, agreed with the
prosecutor..."Some say that all who fought against Soviet power must
be rehabilitated, but these people fought not only against the Soviet
government, but against their country and the Red Army as well,"
Pastukhov said on Russian television.
I hope this fully answers your question, but if anything here is not
clear -- or if you simply need additional information -- let me know
by posting a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy to assist