To understand the complex mystical fabulous army of foreign volunteers who fought alongside the Reich during the war is necessary to go back in time to the first season of the Nazi party. A few years after the foundation of the NSDAP arises the need to create an elite corps, to protect the Nazi leaders at rallies and concentrations. For this reason the SS was founded, Sections Protection of the Nazi party.
At first, the SS and SA are part of the Assault Sections, paramilitary organization aimed at street fighting. But after the bloody night of the Long Knives, the SS are recognized as anindependent organization within the party.
Absolute power after the Night of Long Knives
At that time, Heinrich Himmler, SS-Reichsfuhrer or national chief of the SS, its structure divided into two major branches: the Allgemeine-SS or SS-and SS-General Verfungungstruppe (SS-VT) or militarized SS troops available. Both different.
While the Allgemeine-SS was designed as a troop of police reinforcements, the SS-VT was entirely a military organization, and as such began to develop.
In February 1933 creates the SS-Totenkopfverbande, designated to guard the concentration camps, organized into five battalions under the command of the inspector of concentration camps and SS General Theodor Eicke. In August of that year, Hitler, through a top-secret decree provides that the SS-VT are educated as military organizations, with equipment provided by the Wehrmacht. At the same time the acceptance of voluntary decrees Nordic non-Germans.
In 1935, the SS-VT is organized into two regiments: the first, headquartered in Munich, and the other in Hamburg. Alongside, there is the body guard of Hitler, known as theLeibstandarte Adolf Hitler.
With the annexation of Austria into the Reich in 1938, Himmler creates another regiment in Vienna in November and is formed in a body of SS Dantzig, integrated by officialsTotenkopfverbande.
Pop the war: they were born the Waffen-SS
When Germany crosses the Polish border, to September 1, 1939, the SS-VT is organized into three divisions, one motorized regiment and fourteen regiments of police reinforcements. It's also created the SS Haupt Amt, the recruiting department of the SS, with the general Berger ahead.
At the beginning of the year 1940, Andreas Schmidt, head of the German community of Romania and Transylvania, Berger proposes the recruitment of volksdeutscher, the ethnic German nationals of foreign countries.
In March 1940, Himmler adopted the official title of Waffen SS, and the foreign contingent of the sum of one hundred men, including five Americans of German origin, three Swedes and forty-four francs. But the invasion of Denmark and Norway in April opens up new possibilities, and Himmler put all his efforts in recruiting volunteers Scandinavians. The 20th of this month authorizing the creation of the SS-Regiment Nordland, with volunteers from the two countries.
The campaign of the West also opens new perspectives, and May 25 constitutes the SS regiment Westland, with Dutch and Flemish volunteers. In autumn, these two regiments, along with German Germania, form the first division of the foreign SS, the SS Wiking Division, under the command of General Steiner? one of the best generals of the Waffen SS.
Meanwhile, in most countries occupied by the Reich, come with the invasion of Russia in 1941, several legions of volunteers who depend on the Wehrmacht. Endowed with greater enthusiasm than effectiveness, will fight in front of the East throughout the year 1942, until they are gradually framed in the Waffen SS in early 1943. The Dutch and Flemish legions form two assault brigades, and the Neederlander Langemark, respectively. On the other hand, the part of the Danish and Norwegian regiment Nordland subsequently raised to divide in May 1943.
In addition to the volunteer corps, several European countries met their own SS. Such is the case of the Belgian Flemish, which form a Germaansche Vlaandern in SS or SS Germanic in Flanders. Also Norway, with its Norske SS, and Holland with the SS in Germaansche Neederland conceive these forces of police reinforcements, like its German namesake.
Aryan racism to foreign volunteers
In January 1942, Hitler decided to create a battalion of armored cars in the main divisions of the Waffen SS. Furthermore, it supports the organization of a SS Panzergeneralkomando,whose head rests the veteran General Paul Hausser, the true father of the Waffen SS. In November, four other divisions receive additional appropriations for cars, assault guns and armored transport vehicles, moving these to be called SS Panzergrenadierdivision, later known as SS Panzerdivision.
The mid-year permitted the creation of new divisions. Are the Nord, the Prinz Eugen and Florian Geyer. So in August, the Waffen SS can triple its workforce, and it creates two new divisions, and Honenstauffen Frundsberg.
But the limitations that still exist for the entry of non-Germans in the Waffen SS were lost numerous numbers of potential volunteers. Already in 1941, the head of recruitment, Berger, Himmler asked for the use of Ukrainian, which was rejected on racial grounds. After numerous SO? with Hitler? opens up recruitment centers for the Ukrainians in 1943. The reality far surpasses all expectations, we present one hundred thousand men, of whom thirty thousand are selected, forming with them the division Galizien.
Also, early in the year 1943, it creates one of the most famous divisions of the Waffen SS, the Hitlerjugend. Arthur Axmann, head of the Hitler Youth, Himmler proposes the creation of a division composed of boys of seventeen years, the youth members of the Nazi party. Himmler is fascinated with the idea, but the propaganda minister Goebbels basic choices to the project, indicating the possible consequences of propaganda measure. I thought that the Allies would take advantage of recruiting children to denounce the Nazi regime.However, Hitler not only supports the idea of training but also proposes new Leibstandarte officers of his command for the new division.
And trained in Belgium, the XII SS-Hitlerjugend Panzerdivision make their baptism of fire during the landing at Normandy, trying to halt the advance of British cars.
Although terribly destroyed, would be reconstituted, participating in the Ardennes offensive, during Christmas 1944.
French, British and Muslims in the SS
But undoubtedly, the foreign volunteers who lived an adventure most dramatic were the French. After being dissolved in the LVF? Legion of French Volunteers? in September 1944 and the authorization to use Himmler's Waffen SS in the Gauls, it creates the first assault brigade of French SS volunteers. Instructed by Dutch SS, is sent to the Eastern front, where it is virtually annihilated. In the autumn of 1944 gets a new contingent of seven thousand three hundred and forty men, who, returning from the front, there will be more than eight hundred. Renamed SS Assault Regiment of French volunteers 'Charlemagne' is sent to Berlin during the throes of the Reich. Your survivors were prisoners of the army of General Leclerc, being shot for treason.
In autumn 1943, the survivors of the northern legions are fused into a single unit, the SS Panzer Division Nordland. Posted first against the partisans in Yugoslavia, later occupied a sector of the Leningrad front. In Nordland Division was the very limited Britisches Freikorps, consisting of a hundred British prisoners renegade who really functioned more as propaganda than military force. In front of this unique group was John Amery, son of the minister Leopold Amery, Churchill Cabinet.
Paradoxically, the Waffen SS experienced its heyday during the late stages of the conflict. Thus, the years 1944 and 1945 were undoubtedly the most fruitful as the foreign volunteers.In the year 1944 several units were formed of Muslims, as the division Handschar, used against Tito's partisans. Later, as a support to the division Prinz Eugen, it creates another divide Muslim, Skanderberg, recruited in Albania. These divisions have retained the privileges they had in the old Austro-Hungarian army, such as the use made of, special diets and even magnets embedded in the tables of the divisions.
The recruitment of volunteers Russians, it was more difficult. Considered racially inferior, its use was not official, even if they knew that many combat units of the East used the services of known hilfswillige, or volunteer assistants Soviets. Without doubt, the uncompromising management of German occupation hampered largely a collaboration that could have been more spontaneous and therefore more effective.
Prisoners and offenders in Russia
However, their work was limited in most cases, the training of security officers batalhoões often more violent than the Germans themselves. Units Bronislav Kaminki, shot by the SS, or that of Oskar Dirlewanger, were in reality disciplinary brigades of common criminals, responsible for numerous misfortunes and all kinds of crimes.
But undoubtedly, the Waffen SS were much more than a large group of divisions Legion. The characters of the double cover of runes (the symbol of victory represented by two signs like these two) were also members of Totenkopfverbande, responsible for administration of the German concentration camps, responsible for thousands of murders.
A legend among crime and heroism
At the end of the war, the Waffen SS had formed thirty-eight combat divisions. Durente any conflict, over one million men fought therein, representing more than forty nationalities.Over three hundred thousand fell in front, including thirty-two commanders of divisions.
The degree of discipline achieved by these elite troops saw only surpassed by the ferocity used in their frontal assaults, and remains an unknown as a force that made ??his motto My honor is called loyalty could be both responsible for acts so infamous.
The english version of this article will be available soon. In the meanwhile, the text above was the result of a Google translation from portuguese version to english.