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These volunteers (called Hiwi, an acronym for Hilfswilliger, roughly meaning "volunteers") were not under any Russian command or control; they were exclusively under German command carrying out various noncombat duties.

A number of them were employed at the Battle of Stalingrad, where it was estimated that as much as one quarter of the 6th Army's strength were Soviet citizens.

they decided in September 1942 that the reliability of these units had fallen to levels where they were more a liability than an asset.

In an October 1943 report, 8th Army concluded grimly: "All local volunteers are unreliable during enemy contact.

The army was led by Andrey Vlasov, a defected Red Army general, and members of the army are often referred to as Vlasovtsy ().

The ROA was organized by former Red Army general Andrey Vlasov, who tried to unite Russians opposed to communism and to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with the goal of fighting with Germany to liberate Russia.

Adolf Hitler allowed the idea of the Russian Liberation Army to circulate in propaganda literature so long as no real formations of the sort were permitted.

Meanwhile, the newly captured Soviet general Andrei Andreevich Vlasov, along with his German and Russian allies, was desperately lobbying the German high command, hoping that a green light would be given for the formation of a real armed force that would be exclusively under Russian control.