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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 12/31/2005 8:55:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/31/2005 8:57:21 PM EST by ursus]
I just finished watching the episode "Crossroads". When Winters came upon the SS company and took some of them prisoner, one was saying that he was Polish. Webster translated and stated that some of the SS were Polish. Anyone have info on this? Were these guys Nazi sympathizers? Thanks
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 9:14:09 PM EST
There were Czech, French and Polish divisions of the SS. Of course not many of them survived the war as there were hunted down by their own and executed. But to answer your question yes there were Polish SS.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 9:33:09 PM EST
Many other nationalities as well, even Bosnian Muslims and a few Indian Hindu turncoats captured in north Africa, althoough its doubtful the Indians were more than a propaganda ploy.

Some sources documenta handful of Americans and a couple of Brits in SS service.

At the end of the war there were more foreigners in the SS than Germans, and many of the Germans were Volkdeutsch who had been born outside of Germany, especially in Russia.
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 12:05:50 AM EST

Foreign volunteers and conscripts
Himmler, wishing to expand the Waffen-SS, advocated the idea of SS controlled foreign legions. The Reichsführer, with his penchant for medieval lore, envisioned a united european 'crusade', fighting to save old Europe from the 'Godless bolshevik hordes'. While volunteers from regions which had been declared Aryan were approved almost instantly, Himmler eagerly pressed for the creation of more and more foreign units.

In late 1940, the creation of a multinational SS division, the Wiking, was authorised. Command of the division was given to SS-Brigadeführer Felix Steiner. Steiner immersed himself in the organisation of the volunteer division, soon becoming a strong advocate for an increased number of foreign units. The Wiking was committed to combat several days after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, proving itself an impressive fighting unit.

Soon Danish, Azeri, Armenian, Flemish, Norwegian, Finnish and Dutch Freiwilligen (volunteer) formations were committed to combat, gradually proving their worth.

Hitler however, was hesitant to allow foreign volunteers to be formed into formations based on their ethnicity, preferring that they be absorbed into multi-national divisions. Hitler feared that unless the foreign recruits were committed to the idea of a united Germania, then their reasons for fighting were suspect, and could damage the German cause.

Himmler was allowed to create his new formations, but they were to be commanded by German officers and NCOs. Beginning in 1942-43, several new formations were formed from Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians and even Bosnians. The Reichsführer had sidestepped the race laws by ordering that Waffen-SS units formed with men from non-Aryan backgrounds were to be designated division der SS (or Division of the SS) rather than SS Division. The wearing of the SS runes on the collar was forbidden, with several of these formations wearing a national insignia instead.

All non-germanic officers and men in these units had their rank prefix changed from SS to Waffen (e.g. a Latvian Hauptscharführer would be referred to as a Waffen-Hauptscharführer rather than SS-Hauptscharführer). An example of a division der SS is the Estonian 20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (estnische Nr.1). The combat ability of the divisions der SS varied greatly, with the Latvian, French and Estonian formations perfoming exceptionally and the Croatian and Albanian units perfoming poorly.

While many adventurers and idealists joined the SS as part of the fight against communism, many of the later recruits joined or were conscripted for different reasons. For example, Dutchmen who joined the 34.SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Landstorm Nederland were granted exemption from forced labour and provided with food, pay and accommodation. Recruits who joined for such reasons rarely proved good soldiers, and several units composed of such volunteers were involved in atrocities.

Towards the end of 1943, it became apparent that numbers of volunteer recruits were inadequate to meet the needs of the German military, so conscription was introduced. The Estonian 20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (estnische Nr.1) is an example of such a conscript formation, which proved to be outstanding soldiers with an unblemished record.

Not satisfied with the growing number of volunteer formations, Himmler sought to gain control of all volunteer forces serving alongside Germany. This put the SS at odds with the Heer, as several volunteer units had been placed under Heer control (e.g. volunteers of the Spanish Blue Division). Despite this, Himmler constantly campaigned to have all foreign volunteers fall under the SS banner. In several cases, like the ROA and the 5.SS-Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade Wallonien he was successful, and by the last year of the war, most foreign volunteers units did fall under SS command.

While several volunteer units performed poorly in combat, the majority acquitted themselves well. French and Spanish SS volunteers, along with remnants of the 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland formed the final defence of the Reichstag in 1945.

After the surrender, many volunteers were tried and imprisoned by their countries. In several cases, volunteers were executed. Those volunteers from the Baltic States and Ukraine could at best look forward to years spent in the gulags. To avoid this, many ex-volunteers from these regions joined underground resistance groups (see Forest Brothers) which were engaged fighting the Soviets until the 1950s.

Many other Waffen-SS volunteers, including many Wiking veterans, avoided punishment by joining the French Foreign Legion, and many ex-SS men fought and died at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Helped by ODESSA network, Wallon volunteer leader Leon Degrelle escaped to Spain, where, despite being sentenced to death in absentia by the Belgian authorities, he lived in comfortable exile until his death in 1994. John Amery, the leader of the Britisches Freikorps, was tried and convicted of treason by the British government. He was executed in December 1945.

In Estonia and Latvia, the majority of Waffen SS veterans were conscripts who were at least partly considered freedom fighters. In an April 13, 1950 message from the U.S. High Commision in Germany (HICOG), signed by General Frank McCloy to the Secretary of State, clarified the US position on the "Baltic Legions": they were not to be seen as "movements", "volunteer", or "SS". In short, they were not given the training, indoctrination, and induction normally given to SS members. Subsequently the US Displaced Persons Commission in September 1950 declared that

The Baltic Waffen SS Units (Baltic Legions) are to be considered as separate and distinct in purpose, ideology, activities, and qualifications for membership from the German SS, and therefore the Commission holds them not to be a movement hostile to the Government of the United States.
Still, much debate is continuing on this issue and because of general condamnation of Nazi regime across the globe, official statements of the position of Estonian and Latvian Waffen SS veterans remain ambigous. The Latvian parliament Saeima declared "the day of the Legion" (16 March) as a national holiday, but under pressure from the European Union, reversed its decision in 2000.

Overall, around 60% of Waffen-SS members were non-German


Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:53:18 AM EST
Consider them the forerunner of NATO, European men who despised Bolshevism above all, and saw it as the downfall of Europe.

Many of these foriegn divisions fought as hard or harder than German ones...the Belgian units especially....
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:36:05 PM EST
Fascinating. Thanks.
Link Posted: 1/16/2006 5:32:28 AM EST
[Last Edit: 1/16/2006 5:34:29 AM EST by Va_Dinger]
I have been studying the Waffen-SS for over twenty years. There were no Polish Waffen-SS divisions. Although a small ammount of Polish nationals probably served in a few formations. Most of these individuals were German speaking Poles from German land lost after WW1. After the German invasion of 1939 these lands became part of Germany again, and thus males of military age were open to service in the military.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 7:11:27 PM EST

Originally Posted By Va_Dinger:
I have been studying the Waffen-SS for over twenty years. There were no Polish Waffen-SS divisions. Although a small ammount of Polish nationals probably served in a few formations. Most of these individuals were German speaking Poles from German land lost after WW1. After the German invasion of 1939 these lands became part of Germany again, and thus males of military age were open to service in the military.

+1. The Poles like all Slavs, were Untermenschen. The Poles we speak of here, serving were likely Germans culturally and "genetically" , but had lived in Poland until Germany invaded and took it over. All one has to do is look at the deeds of the Germans in the Gouvernement-General to realize, no way would they ever arm any Slavic Poles under any circumstances. Historically, in many areas of Poland dominated by the Germans, Prussians or Austrians, the upper classes spoke German, and the lower classes spoke Polish.
Link Posted: 1/31/2006 6:20:26 AM EST
Speaking of other than German nationalities in the German Army during WWII: some of the troops defending the Normandy beaches were Korean! They had originally been pressed into service by the Japanese, then either captured or defected to the Russians in Manchuria. The Russians put them to work in the east where they were captured by the Germans, and then also pressed into service. Kinda feel sorry for the poor guys.
Link Posted: 2/6/2006 4:35:58 PM EST
Kind of ironic, really- the Waffen-SS was the first pan-Euro military organisation. They had troops enlisted from Spain to Russia and even some Asiatic muslim brigades (Tho Hitler objected to this). They fought over much of the Continent as well. In spite of the crimes of the General-SS, my heart-felt respect goes out to the brave and hardy souls who made up these Divisions and Battalions.
Link Posted: 2/6/2006 4:40:09 PM EST
There were no Jewish, gay or gypsy SS troops.
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