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Free Corps Denmark

  (Redirected from Frikorps Danmark)

Free Corps Denmark (Danish: Frikorps Danmark) was a Danish volunteer free corps created by the Danish Nazi Party (DNSAP) in cooperation with Nazi Germany, to fight the Soviet Union during the Second World War. On June 29, 1941, days after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the DNSAP's newspaper Fædrelandet proclaimed the creation of the corps. Its formation was subsequently sanctioned by the democratically elected Danish government which authorized officers of the Danish Army to join the unit.[2] The corps was disbanded in 1943. During the course of the war, approximately 6000 Danes joined the corps, including 77 officers of the Royal Danish Army.

Free Corps Denmark
Frikorps Danmark
Waffen-SS Free Corps Denmark Armshield.svg
Free Corps Denmark Armshield
Country Denmark
Allegiance Nazi Germany
BranchFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS[1]
FlagFrikorps Danmark.svg


Footage from a Waffen-SS memorial service held near Birkerød in 1944. Among the attendees were Dr. Werner Best and Knud Børge Martinsen.
Free Corps Denmark marching in Germany 1941.

Denmark had signed a treaty of nonaggression with Nazi Germany in 1939. Germany invoked this treaty on April 9, 1940, when it ordered the military occupation of Denmark under the guise of protecting the Danes from British invasion. Faced with potential German aerial bombing, King Christian X and the Danish government accepted "protection of the Reich" and permitted the "peaceful occupation" of the country in return for nominal political independence. The Danes began a policy of collaboration that included diplomatic and economic support of Germany. Cecil von Renthe-Fink, a German diplomat, was accredited to the Danish King and Cabinet as Reichsbevollmächtigter ("Imperial Plenipotentiary") and charged with the duty of supervising Danish government.

At the outset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany asked Denmark to form a military corps to fight with the Germans against the Soviets. On June 29, 1941, seven days after the invasion had begun, the Danish Nazi Party newspaper Fædrelandet ("The Fatherland") proclaimed the creation of the Free Corps Denmark. Danish Foreign Minister Erik Scavenius entered into an agreement with the Reichsbevollmächtigter that officers and soldiers of the Danish Royal Army wishing to join this corps would be given leave and allowed to retain their rank. The Danish Cabinet issued an announcement stating that "Lieut. Colonel Christian Peder Kryssing, Chief of the 5th Artillery Regiment, Holbæk, has with the consent of the Royal Danish Government assumed command over Free Corps Denmark. Free Corps Denmark was one of "four national legions" established by the Waffen-SS in 1941. The original number of accepted recruits in 1941 was 1,164 men.[3]

The role of the Danish government in forming the Free Corps Denmark is today disputed. Some authorities maintain that the Corps was unique among the legions of foreign volunteers fighting for Hitler in that it carried the official sanction of its home government. Others maintain that while the Danish government may have sanctioned formation of the Corps that it did not itself form the Corps.[4]


It is estimated that approximately 6,000 Danes served in the Free Corps Denmark.[5]

A 1998 study showed that the average recruit to Free Corps Denmark was a Nazi and/or a member of the German minority in Denmark, and that recruitment was very broad socially.[6] Bo Lidegaard notes: "The relationship between the population and the corps was freezing cold, and legionnaires on leave time and again came into fights with civilians meeting the corps' volunteers with massive contempt." Lidegaard gives the following figures for 1941: 6,000 Danish citizens had signed up and were approved for German army duty and 1,500 of these belonged to the German minority in Denmark.[7] It should be noted, though, that half of the over 12,000 Danes that initially volunteered for active service were regarded as being not suitable for active service.[citation needed]

Service recordEdit

Danish Free Corps members make an oath in 1941

With about 1,000 recruits, the corps was sent to Langenhorn barracks in Hamburg for basic training in late July 1941. It was considered ready for action by September 15 and sent to Owińska in Poland.

C.P. Kryssing was dismissed in February 1942 for insufficient ideological adherence to Nazism. He was transferred to the artillery where he actually ended his career as a general.

Christian Frederik von Schalburg — a Danish-Russian aristocrat, anti-communist and member of the DNSAP who had been raised in Russia and had seen the aftermath of the Russian revolution in 1917 — replaced Kryssing as the leader of Frikorps Danmark.

On May 8, 1942, the corps was ordered to the front line. The corps fought near Demyansk south of Lake Ilmen and Novgorod. During the night of June 2, Schalburg was killed. Hans Albert von Lettow-Vorbeck, his German replacement, was killed only a few days later. On July 11, 1942, Knud Børge Martinsen took command of the corps.

From August to October, the corps returned to Denmark, and met much hostility from the civilian population. On November 13, 1942, the corps was deployed to Jelgava in Latvia. Originally, it was intended for anti-partisan activities, but it was then moved up to the front line. In December, the corps engaged in the Battle of Velikiye Luki in intense fighting, alongside the 1 SS Infantry Brigade.

In March, the corps was transferred to Grafenwöhr near Nuremberg in Germany. Then on June 6, 1943, the corps was disbanded. Most soldiers were transferred to "Regiment 24 Dänemark" in "Division Nordland". Others joined groups such as the HIPO Corps or Schalburg Corps.


List of Commanders:[8]

No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
1Kryssing, Christian PederSS-Obersturmbannführer
Christian Peder Kryssing
19 July 194123 February 1942219 days
-Martinsen, Knud BørgeSS-Hauptsturmführer
Knud Børge Martinsen
23 February 194227 February 19424 days
2von Schalburg, Christian FrederikSS-Obersturmbannführer
Christian Frederik von Schalburg
1 March 19422 June 1942 †93 days
-Martinsen, Knud BørgeSS-Sturmbannführer
Knud Børge Martinsen
2 June 19429 June 19427 days
3von Lettow-Vorbeck, Hans-AlbertSS-Obersturmbannführer
Hans-Albert von Lettow-Vorbeck
9 June 194211 June 1942 †2 days
4Martinsen, Knud BørgeSS-Sturmbannführer
Knud Børge Martinsen
11 June 194221 March 1943283 days
-Neergaard-Jacobsen, PoulSS-Sturmbannführer
Poul Neergaard-Jacobsen
21 March 194320 May 194360 days


  1. ^ Stein 1984, p. 153.
  2. ^ Lidegaard 2003, p. 461.
  3. ^ Stein 1984, pp. 153, 154.
  4. ^ Lidegaard 2003, p. 462-3.
  5. ^ Stein 1984, pp. 136, 137.
  6. ^ Lidegaard 2003, p. 463.
  7. ^ Lidegaard 2003, p. 464.
  8. ^ "Free Corps Denmark". Danes in German Service (in Danish). 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2018.