Bronislav Kaminski : biography
Bronislav Vladislavovich Kaminski ( June 16, 1899, Vitebsk Governorate – August 28, 1944, Litzmannstadt) was the commander of the S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. (also known as Kaminski Brigade and earlier as the Russian National Liberation Army – Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya, RONA), an anti-partisan formation made up of people from the so-called Lokot Autonomy territory in the Nazi Germany occupied areas of Russia, which was later incorporated into the Waffen-SS as the S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A., on the base of which the Germans planned to create the 29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS RONA (1st Russian). However, during the Warsaw Uprising, where one mixed regiment of the brigade was engaged, German commanders decided that the brigade was too undisciplined and unreliable. Kaminski was called to Łódź to attend a leadership conference. He never reached it; officially, Polish partisans were blamed for an alleged ambush in which Kaminski and a few RONA officials (including brigade chief-of-staff Waffen-Obersturmbannführer Ilya Shavykin) were killed. Some sources say he was placed in front of a military tribunal and then executed by firing squad, others that he was shot when he was captured by the Gestapo.
The Warsaw Uprising started on 1 August 1944 and changed Himmler’s plans. On August 4, 1944, a combat-ready regiment of the brigade was ordered to assist in crushing the rebellion. SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinfarth was placed in charge of Kampfgruppe Reinfarth, a pacification unit which consisted of the Kaminski along with the Dirlewanger and several other Ordnungspolizei and SS rear area units. Himmler personally requested Kaminski’s assistance, and the latter obliged by gathering a task force of 1,700 unmarried men and sending them (some sources mentioned that they had four T-34 tanks, one SU-76 and few artillery pieces) to Warsaw as a mixed regiment under field command of Kaminski’s brigade chief-of-staff, SS-Sturmbannführer Yuri Frolov. Frolov stated that in 1945 the regiment had up to 1600 men and had 7 artillery pieces and 4 mortars.
RONA in Warsaw, August 1944
Frolov noted in 1945 that Kaminski gave his men permission to loot http://wolfschanze.narod.ru/rona.htm – and many did. Kaminski’s brigade soon lost any combat worthiness and Kaminski himself focused entirely on collecting valuables stolen from civilian homes. Perhaps 10,000 residents of Warsaw were killed in the Ochota massacre, most murdered by Kaminski’s men.
Awards and decorations
- Iron Cross 1st Class (27 Jan 1944)
- Iron Cross 2nd Class (27 Jan 1944)
- Anti-Partisan Badge (31 July 1944)
- Ostvolk Medal 1st Class (1944)
- Ostvolk Medal 2nd Class (1944)
- Wound Badge in Black
In the SS
In June 1944, the brigade was absorbed as a part of the Waffen-SS and renamed Waffen-Sturm-Brigade RONA, with Kaminski being given the rank of Waffen-Brigadeführer der SS, the only man with such rank.
As the result of Operation Bagration, the anti-partisan activities of the brigade were halted and its personnel (6 -7 thousand persons – some sources give 3-4 thousand) was collected at SS training camp Neuhammer . Plans were made for a non-German SS Division, and the structure was laid down for the 29.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (russische Nr.1) on the base of the brigade by an order issued August 1, 1944. On the same day, Kaminski received a new rank – Waffen-Brigadeführer and General-Major of the Waffen-SS.
Lokot Autonomy militia and civil administration leader
By October 1941, the German military advance into the Soviet Union had reached the area of Lokot near the city of Bryansk, which was captured by German forces on October 6, 1941.http://militera.lib.ru/research/sokolov3/03.html In November 1941, Bronislav Kaminski, then an engineer at a local alcohol plant, along with a local technical school teacher Konstantin Voskoboinik, approached the German military administration with a proposal to assist the Germans in establishing a civil administration and local police. Voskoboinik was designated by the Germans as the Starosta of the “Lokot volost” and the head of the German-controlled local militia. Kaminsky became Voskoboinik’s assistant.