In July 1941 a Lehrbataillon für Fiend-Abwehr and Nachrichtendienst was formed by the Abwehr with Sonderführer K (1) Boris Alexeyevich Holmston-Smyslovsky was formed from Russian volunteers, initially it was mainly emigres, on the northern sector of the Eastern Front. The unit rapidly expanded and in the winter of 1942/43 it consisted of twelve battalions and was redesignated Sonderdivision R ("R" being Russland or Russia), also Sonderstab R. In February 1945 it was given the name Die Grüne Armee z.b.v. and in April 1945 it finally got the grand title 1. Russischen Nationalarmee (1st Russian National Army, not to be confused with the Russian Liberation Army) and Holmston-Smyslovsky was made a Generalmajor.
At the end of the war it retreated across the border into Liechtenstein. Post-war the government of Liechtenstein refused to bow to the Soviet demands that the soldiers be deported to the USSR and only the few who chose to go voluntarily was sent east, the rest remained or got their emigration to other countries payed by the government.

Commanders

Generalmajor  Boris Alexeyevich Holmston-Smyslovsky

A memorial to the members of the division who reached Liechtenstein can be found in Hinterschellenberg, near Liechtenstein's border with Austria, with the below text.
Hier in Hinterschellenberg überschritten in der nacht vom 2. Auf den 3. Mai 1945 die asylsuchenden reste der 1. Russischen Nationalarmee der Deutschen Wehrmacht unter ihrem Generalmajor A. Holmston Smyslowsky — etwa 500 personen — in voller ausrüstung die Grossdeutsche reichsgrenze nach Liechtenstein. In der Wirtschaft zum Löwen" fanden die ersten verhandlungen statt. Die zur asylgewährung durch das fürstentum Liechtenstein führten. Als einziger staat widersetzte sich Liechtenstein damit den sowjetischen auslieferungsforderungen nach zwieieinhalb jahren wurde den russen die ausreise in ein land ihrer wahl ermöglicht. (2)

memorial-russ-liechtenstein
(Courtesy of James Bartosik)

Insignia

Standard German uniforms were used except that a swastika badge was worn above the right breast pocket, a white/red/blue shield was worn on the upper left arm and the upper part of the cap badge was not used.

In fiction

The 1993 movie Vent d'est directed by Robert Enrico deals with the Russian soldiers in Liechtenstein.

Footnotes

1. A rank equivalent of a Hauptmann.
2. "Here in Hinterschellenberg, on the night of 2 May 1945, the asylum-seeking remainder of the 1st Russian National Army of the German Wehrmacht under Major General A. Holmston-Smyslowsky, with about 500 fully equipped men, crossed the border of the Greater German Reich into Liechtenstein. The first negotiations took place in the "Wirtschaft zum Löwen" tavern, which led to the granting of asylum by the Principality of Liechtenstein. It was the only country which resisted the Soviet Union's extradition demands. After two and a half years, the Russians were free to leave for a country of their choice."

Sources used

David Littlejohn - Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, vol 4

Reference material on this unit

Henning Freiherr von Vogelsang: Nach Liechtenstein – in die Freiheit. Der abenteuerliche Weg der „1. Russischen Nationalarmee in der Deutschen Wehrmacht“ ins Asyl im Fürstentum Liechtenstein
Henning Freiherr von Vogelsang: Kriegsende in Liechtenstein. Das Schicksal der Ersten Russischen Nationalarmee in der Deutschen Wehrmacht
Henning von Vogelsang: Die Armee, die es nicht geben durfte. Russen in deutscher Uniform und ihre Rettung in Liechtenstein
Peter Geiger - Russen in Liechtenstein: Flucht und Internierung der Wehrmacht-Armee Holmstons, 1945-1948

Do you have any corrections or additions to the material presented on the site?
Please help us improve the site by sending them to us.