WASHINGTON (Aug. 29)
Three Nazi prisoners-of-war, of Russian descent, who committed suicide at a P. O. W. stockade at Fort Dix, N. J., in 1945, to escape repatriation to Russia as members of the pro-Hitler, collaborationist “Vlassov Army,” will now be honored as “freedom fighters,” it was learned today.
A right-wing youth group, “Young Americans for Freedom,” supported and advised by a number of conservative members of Congress, will hold a special memorial for the Russian Fascists on September 19 at Finn’s Point National Cemetery, Fort Mott State Park, New Jersey. Plans are being made for participation of “American youth and patriotic organizations and representatives of peoples enslaved by Communism, “according to the announcement, here.
(Jewish leaders here pointed today to the “irony” in the fact that on September 19, the very day of the memorial for the three men, an Eternal Vigil will be launched in Washington by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry. Twenty-four Jewish organizations in the United States will Join that vigil to call attention to Soviet denials of religious and cultural rights to Jews in the USSR.)
The three POW’s volunteered for Nazi military service and were captured fighting against American liberation forces in France. They were adherents of Russian Gen. Andrey Vlassov who defected to the Nazi side in World War II, recruiting an army which committed atrocities against Jews and members of anti-Nazi resistance movements. All three had killed themselves to escape trial by the Soviet Union as war criminals. The U. S. Army had agreed to turn them over to Soviet authorities.
The Y. A. F. press release lauded Gen. Vlassov and his followers. Of the three buried in New Jersey, Y. A. F. said, “It is fitting that we should honor these forgotten men, who, 20 years ago, right here in our own country, gave their lives in the continuing war against Communist aggression.” A “pilgrimage” will be made to the gravesite, and a Russian Orthodox religious service and “patriotic” speeches will take place. The Y. A. F. is generally considered here to consist mainly of young Republicans to the right of the official Young Republican Clubs. The Y. A. F. made the announcement about plans to honor the Russian Fascists on the eve of the opening here of its fifth national convention, with an expected attendance of 600 young conservative leaders from around the country.