Wehrmacht foreign volunteers and conscripts

Among the approximately one million foreign volunteers and conscripts who served in the Wehrmacht during World War II were ethnic Belgians, Czechs, Dutch, Finns, Danes, French, Hungarians, Norwegians, Poles,[1] Portuguese, Swedes,[2] Swiss along with people from Great Britain, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Balkans.[3] At least 47,000 Spaniards served in the Blue Division.[4]

Andrey Vlasov and General Zhilenkov (center) of the Russian Liberation Army meeting with Joseph Goebbels (February 1945)
Soldier of the Free Arabian Legion in Greece, September 1943.

Some estimates state anywhere between 600,000 and 1,400,000 Soviet citizens (Russians and other non-Russian ethnic minorities) joined the Wehrmacht forces as Hiwis (or Hilfswillige).[5] The Ukrainian collaborationist forces were composed of an estimated number of 180,000 volunteers serving with units scattered all over Europe.[6] Russian émigrés and defectors from the Soviet Union formed the Russian Liberation Army or fought as Hilfswillige within German units of the Wehrmacht primarily on the Eastern Front.[7] Non-Russians from the Soviet Union formed the Ostlegionen (literally "Eastern Legions"). The East Battalions comprized a total of 175,000 personnel.[8] These units were all commanded by General Ernst August Köstring (1876−1953).[9] A lower estimate for the total number of foreign volunteers that served in the entire German armed forces (including the Waffen SS) is 350,000.[10]

These units were often under the command of German officers and some published their own propaganda newssheets.

List of units Edit

Foreign volunteer battalion in the Wehrmacht. Soldiers of the Free Arabian Legion in Greece, September 1943
Spanish volunteer forces of the Blue Division entrain at San Sebastián, 1942
The Ukrainian Liberation Army's oath to Adolf Hitler

Soviet Union Edit

Unit name Description
  Armenian Legion Mostly Soviet Armenians
  Azerbaijani Legion Mostly Soviet Azeris
  Georgian Legion Mostly Soviet Georgians
Hiwi Soviet Civilians
XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps Until 1 February 1945 under command of the Wehrmacht, then the Corps was transferred to the Waffen-SS[11]
Kalmykian Voluntary Cavalry Corps Mostly Kalmyks
Litauische Bau-Bataillonen Mostly conscripted Lithuanians
Fatherland Defense Force Land unit composed of Lithuanians
  Luftwaffen-Legion Lettland Air unit composed of Latvians.
Nachtigall Battalion Ukrainians of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Ostlegionen Consisting mostly of Caucasians
Roland Battalion A.k.a. Special Group Roland. Second Polish Republic citizens of Ukrainian ethnicity
  Russian Liberation Army Mostly ethnic Russians
  162nd Turkoman Division Formed in May 1943 and comprised 5 Azeri and 6 Turkestani artillery/infantry units.[12]
  Ukrainian Liberation Army Ukrainians
  Ukrainian National Army Ukrainians

Croatia Edit

Unit name
  369th (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
  373rd (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
  392nd (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
  369th Croatian Reinforced Infantry Regiment (Wehrmacht)
Croatian Naval Legion
  Croatian Air Force Legion
  Croatian Anti-Aircraft Legion

Middle East Edit

Azerbaijani, Georgian and Armenian volunteers Edit

North Caucasian volunteers Edit

  • Kaukasisch-Mohammedanische Legion (Azerbaijani, Circassian, Daghestani, Chechen, Ingush, and Lezghin volunteer units)
  • Kaukasischer-Waffen-Verband der SS or Freiwilligen Brigade Nordkaukasien (volunteers from the North Caucasus region)
  • Nordkaukasische Legion ("North Caucasian Legion" volunteers from the North Caucasus region)
  • Freiwilligen-Stamm-Regiment 1 (North Caucasian volunteers)
  • Sonderverband Bergmann (North Caucasian volunteers)
    • II. Sonderverband Bergmann Battalion (North Caucasian volunteers)
  • SS-Waffengruppe Nordkaukasus (North Caucasian volunteers; Chechens, Ingush & Dagestani)

Central Asian volunteers Edit

  • 162. (Turkistan) Infanterie-Division (Turkestani volunteers)
  • Muselmanischen SS-Division Neu-Turkistan (Turkestani volunteers)
  • Turkistanische Legion (volunteers from Central Asia; Uzbeks, Kazakhs & Turkmen)
  • Böhler-Brigade (Turkestani volunteers)
  • 1. Turkestanisches-Arbeits-Battalion (Turkestani volunteers)
  • 2. Turkestanisches-Arbeits-Battalion (Turkestani volunteers)
  • 3. Turkestanisches-Arbeits-Battalion (Turkestani volunteers)
  • Osttürkischer Waffen-Verband der SS or 1. Ostmuselmanisches SS-Regiment (Central Asia volunteers)
  • Turkestanisches-Arbeits-Ersatz-Battalion (Turkestani volunteers)
  • Waffen-Gruppe Turkistan (Central Asian volunteers)

Kalmykian volunteers Edit

  • Kalmüken Verband Dr. Doll (Kalmykian volunteers)
  • Abwehrtrupp 103 (Kalmykian volunteers)
  • Kalmücken Legion or Kalmücken-Kavallerie-Korps (Kalmykian volunteers)

Tatar volunteers Edit

  • Tatar Legion
  • SS-Waffengruppe Idel-Ural (Turkic volunteers from Volga/Ural area)
  • Waffen-Gebirgs-Brigade der SS (Tatar Nr. 1) (Tatar volunteers)
  • 30. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Russische Nr. 2) (Armenian & Tatar volunteer units)
  • Wolgatatarische Legion (Volga Tatars but also other volunteers from the region)
  • Tataren-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment der SS (Crimean Tatar volunteers)
  • Waffen-Gruppe Krim (Crimean Tatar volunteers)
  • Schutzmannschaft Battalion (Crimean Tatar volunteers)

Cossack volunteers Edit

  • 1. Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division (volunteers from Cossacks in Cherson, from February 1945 XV. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Korps)
  • Kosaken-Reiter-Brigade Kaukasus II (Caucasus Cossack volunteers)
  • Kuban-Kosaken-Reiter-Regiment 3 (Kuban Cossack volunteers)
  • Don-Kosaken-Reiter-Regiment 5 (Don Cossack volunteers)
  • Terek-Kosaken-Reiter-Regiment 6 (Terek Cossack volunteers)
  • Kosaken-Artillerie-Regiment 2 (Caucasian Cossack volunteers)
  • Sibirisches Kosaken-Reiter-Regiment 2 (Siberian Cossack volunteers)
  • XV. Kosaken-Kavallerie-Korps (Kotelnikovo Cossack volunteers)
  • Freiwilligen-Stamm-Regiment 5 (Cossack volunteers)

Caucasian mixed volunteer units Edit

Caucasian, Central Asian, Crimean and Ural mixed volunteer units Edit

  • Waffen-Gruppe Turkistan
  • Waffen-Gruppe Idel-Ural
  • Waffen-Gruppe Azerbaijan
  • Waffen-Gruppe Krim

Propaganda newspapers for Caucasian and Cossack units Edit

  • Azerbajçan – Azerbaijani Legion
  • Kalmyckij Boec ("Kalmyk Soldier") – Kalmyk Cavalry Corps
Kosaken (Cossack Nation)
  • Kosaken-Illustrierte ("Cossack Illustrated") – 1st Cossack Cavalry Division (trilingual)
  • La terra dei cosacchi ("The Land of the Cossacks") – Cossack units in upper Italy
Krimtürken (Crimean Tatars)
  • Kirim ("Crimea") – Weekly paper for the Crimean Tatar volunteers, Berlin 1944–1945
Tataren (Tatar nation)
  • Deutsch-tatarisches Nachrichtenblatt ("German-Tatar News Journal") – Volga Tatar Legion, monthly publication, Berlin 1944–1945 (bilingual)
Turkestaner (Central Asian nation)
  • Yeni Türkistan ("New Turkestan") – Turkistan Legion
  • Svoboda ("Freedom") – 162nd Turkoman Division
  • Türk Birligi ("Turkish Unity") – Osttürkischer Waffen-Verband der SS, weekly publication, Berlin 1944–1945

German commanders of Central Asian, Caucasian and Cossack units Edit

These German commanders also received honorary military or leading titles between their units at charge; for example Helmuth von Pannwitz received the title of "Ataman" from his Cossack units.

German representative of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories Edit

Central Asian, Caucasian and Cossack political leaders Edit

Puppet governments and organizations in the USSR Edit

Other Edit

Unit name
Blue Division[13]
Blue Legion
Free Arabian Legion
Indian Legion
Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism
Poles in the Wehrmacht
Russian Corps
Walloon Legion
British Free Corps
Afghani Legion
Iranian Legion
Irish Free Corps

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Ryszard Kaczmarek: Polacy w Wehrmachcie. Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2010. ISBN 978-83-08-04488-9
  2. ^ Wangel, Carl-Axel (1982). Sveriges militära beredskap 1939-1945 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Militärhistoriska Förlaget. ISBN 978-91-85266-20-3.
  3. ^ Grasmeder, Elizabeth M.F. "Leaning on Legionnaires: Why Modern States Recruit Foreign Soldiers". International Security. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Spain's Nazi volunteers defend their right to recognition - and German pensions". The Daily Telegraph. 30 November 2015.
  5. ^ Audrey L. Alstadt (2013). "The Azerbaijani Turks: Power and Identity under Russian Rule". p. 187. ISBN 9780817991838
  6. ^ Carlos Caballero Jurado (1983). Foreign Volunteers of the Wehrmacht 1941–45. Translated by Alfredo Campello, David List. Osprey. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-85045-524-3.
  7. ^ M. V. Nazarov, The Mission of the Russian Emigration, Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6[page needed]
  8. ^ "Slaughter on the Eastern Front: Hitler and Stalin's War 1941-1945" Appendix 3
  9. ^ Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp: Die Generale des Heeres 1921–1945. Band 7: Knabe–Luz. Biblio Verlag, Bissendorf 2004, ISBN 3-7648-2902-8.
  10. ^ "SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions" description
  11. ^ Rolf Michaelis: Die Waffen-SS. Mythos und Wirklichkeit. Michaelis-Verlag, Berlin 2001, p. 36
  12. ^ Nikolai Tolstoy (1977). The Secret Betrayal. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 304ff. ISBN 0-684-15635-0.
  13. ^ Carlos Caballero Jurado; Ramiro Bujeiro (2009). Blue Division Soldier 1941-45: Spanish Volunteer on the Eastern Front. Osprey Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84603-412-1.

Bibliography Edit

Further reading Edit