Léon Degrelle: “We Dreamed Of Something Marvelous”

Degrelle was a charismatic Belgian political leader during the 1930s,
a legendary combat hero duirng the Second World War, and a prolific author.

In the wake of Germany’s 1941 attack against the Soviet Union, he joined what he and
many millions of oth­ers regarded as a pan-European crusade. In Belgium, he helped
raise a volunteer battalion of fellow French-speaking Walloons to ensure a place of honor
for his country in the “new Europe.” He rose through the ranks to become commander
of the unit that finally came to be known as the 28th SS Division “Wall­onie.” During the
course of his three and a half years of combat, Degrelle was wounded
seven times and earned 22 military decorations. 

By Leon Degrelle






Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Leon Degrelle was already known as the

leader of the anti-Establishment Rexist party in Belgium, and as Europe’s youngest and

most dynamic political figure. During the war he became known across the continent for

his charismatic leadership and courage in combat on the Eastern Front. Of him Hitler

reportedly said: “If I were to have a son, I would want him to be like Degrelle.”


His life began in 1906 in Bouillon, a small town in the Belgian Ardennes. As a student

at the University of Louvain, he earned a doctorate in law. His keen interests were

wide-ranging, and included political science, art, archeology and Thomistic philosophy.

In his student days he traveled in Latin America, the United States and Canada.

He visited North Africa, the Middle East and, of course, much of Europe.


His natural gifts as a leader were apparent early on. Imbued with a strong Christian ethos,

he sought to win support for his vision of a more just and noble social-political order

dedicated to the best long-term interests of the people. While still in his twenties, he was

reaching out to people in many articles and several books he wrote, through a weekly

newspaper he ran, and in numerous speeches. Mussolini invited him to Rome, Churchill

met with him in London, and Hitler received him in Berlin.


Although often provocative and controversial, people read what he wrote and listened

to what he had to say because he expressed himself with clarity, passion and obvious

sincerity, and because he dealt with real concerns and issues. In a few short years he

won a large measure of popular backing. On May 24, 1936, his Rex movement scored

a remarkable electoral breakthrough. In a startling rebuke of the Establishment

parties, it won 11.5 percent of the national vote.


As tensions mounted in 1939, Degrelle sought to counter the drift into another cataclysmic

conflict. In September Britain and France declared war on Germany. Events were to quickly

prove that the leaders in London and Paris had badly miscalculated. Within a year the

swastika flag flew from the North Pole to the shores of Greece and the border with Spain.

As war continued between Britain and Germany, the Soviet leaders prepared to seize the

opportunity and strike westwards. But Hitler beat them to it. On June 22, 1941, German

and allied forces struck against the Soviet Union. It was soon clear to everyone that the

titanic struggle could end only in victory for either Hitler or Stalin.


With an awareness that this great clash would determine the long-term future of their native

countries and of the West, thousands of young men across Europe pledged their lives

for a better future in a united Europe, and volunteered for combat against the Soviets.


They joined the ranks of the Waffen SS – the military and ideological shock troops of the

new Europe. This first-ever truly European armed force would grow to nearly a million men.

About 400,000, a minority of the total, were Germans from the Reich. Most of those

who will fill the scores of Waffen SS divisions -- including Degrelle and the other

Légion Wallonie volunteers from Belgium’s French-speaking region

-- were Europeans from outside of Germany.


These hundreds of thousands of volunteers, and their leaders, understood that after the

war this pan-European brotherhood in arms would be the social and political foundation

of a new continental order that would transcend the petty national rivalries of the past.

All SS men fought the same struggle. All became comrades in arms. And all shared

the same vision of the future.


For understandable reasons, the military and political achievements of

Waffen SS are not well known today, and even less properly appreciated.


Leon Degrelle is one of its most famous soldiers. After joining as a private he quickly rose

in rank due to his exceptional courage and proven leadership at the front. He engaged in

dozens of hand-to-hand combat actions. He was wounded on numerous occasions.

His many decorations for outstanding service and valor included the highest honors: the

Knight’s Cross (Ritterkreuz) of the Iron Cross, the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, and

the Gold German Cross in Gold. He was among the last to fight on the Eastern Front.

At the end of the war he escaped surrender and certain death in Allied captivity with a

daring and perilous flight of some 1500 miles from Norway to Spain. He was critically wounded

when his plane crash-landed on a Spanish beach. But once again, he survived. In the new

life he built in Spanish exile, he dedicated his efforts, above all, to keeping faith with his

wartime comrades, both living and dead, and in passing on to future generations the

story of their epic struggle and vision.


-- The Publisher


I am asked to talk to you about the great unknown of World War Two: the Waffen SS.

It is somewhat amazing that this organization, which was both political and military, and

which united a million fighting volunteers during the war, should still be largely ignored.


Why? Why is it that the official record still distorts or virtually ignores this extraordinary army

of volunteers? An army that was at the vortex of the most gigantic struggle, affecting the

entire world. The answer may well be found in the fact that the most striking feature of the

Waffen SS was that it was composed of volunteers from some thirty different countries.


What cause brought them together, and why did they volunteer their lives?


Was it a German phenomenon? At the beginning, yes. Initially, the Waffen SS amounted

to fewer than two hundred members. It grew steadily until 1940 when it evolved into a

second phase, the Germanic Waffen SS. In addition to men from the German Reich,

northwestern Europeans and ethnic Germans from across Europe enlisted.


Then, in 1941 -- during the great clash with the Soviet Union -- arose the European Waffen SS.

Young men from the most distant countries fought together on the Eastern Front.

Few knew anything about the Waffen SS during the years preceding the war.

The Germans themselves took some time to recognize its distinctive character.


Hitler rose to power democratically, winning at the ballot box. He ran electoral campaigns

like any other politician. He addressed meetings and advertised on billboards, and his speeches

attracted capacity audiences. More and more people liked what he had to say, and ever

larger numbers elected members of his party to parliament. Hitler did not come to power

by force, but was duly elected by the people and duly installed as Chancellor by the

President of Germany, Field Marshal von Hindenburg. His government was legitimate

and democratic. In fact, only two of his followers were included in his first Cabinet.


During these election campaigns Hitler faced formidable enemies. Those who held power

had no qualms about tampering with the electoral process. He had to face the

Weimar-regime Establishment and its well-financed left-wing and liberal parties, as well

as the highly organized bloc of six million Communist Party members. Only through the

most fearless and relentless struggle to convince people to vote for him, was Hitler able

to obtain a democratic majority.


In those days the Waffen SS was not even a factor. There was, of course, the SA

“Stormtroopers,” with some three million men. They were rank and file members of the

National Socialist Party, but certainly not an army. Their main function was to protect

party candidates from Communist violence. And the violence was murderous indeed.

More than five hundred National Socialists were murdered by the Communists, and

thousands were grievously injured. The SA was a volunteer, non-governmental organization,

and as soon as Hitler rose to power he could no longer avail himself of its help.


Hitler had to work within the system through which he had come to office. He came to

power with major disadvantages. He had to contend with an entrenched bureaucracy

appointed by the old regime. In fact, when the war broke out in 1939, 70 percent of the

German bureaucrats in place had been appointed by the old regime, and did not belong

to Hitler’s party. He could not count on the support of the Church hierarchy. Both big

business and the Communist Party were totally hostile to his program. On top of all this,

extreme poverty existed, and six million workers were unemployed. Never before had

so many people in a European country been out of work.


The three million SA party members are not in the government. They voted and helped

win elections, but they could not supplant the entrenched bureaucracy in the government.

The SA also was unable to exert influence on the army, because the top brass,

fearful of competition, was hostile to it.


This hostility reached such a point that Hitler was faced with a wrenching dilemma.

What to do with the millions of followers who helped him to power?

He could not abandon them.


The army was a highly organized power structure. Although only numbering 100,000,

as dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, it exerted great influence in the affairs of state.

The President of Germany was Field Marshal von Hindenburg. The army was

a privileged caste. Almost all the officers belonged to the upper classes of society.


It was impossible for Hitler to take on the powerful army frontally. Hitler had been elected

democratically, and he could not do what Stalin did: to have firing squads execute the

entire military establishment. Stalin killed thirty thousand high ranking officers. That was

Stalin’s way to make room for his own trusted commissars. Such drastic methods could

not happen in Germany, and unlike Stalin, Hitler was surrounded by international enemies.


His election had provoked international rage. He had gone to the voters directly without

the intermediary of the Establishment parties. His party platform included an appeal for

racial integrity in Germany, as well as a return of power to the people. Such

tenets so infuriated world Jewry that in 1933 it officially declared war on Germany.


Contrary to what one is told, Hitler had limited power and was quite alone. How this man

ever survived these early years defies comprehension. Only the fact that he was an

exceptional genius explains his survival against all odds. Abroad and at

home Hitler had to bend over backwards just to demonstrate his good will.


But despite all his efforts Hitler was gradually being driven into a corner. The feud between

the SA and the army was coming to a head. His old comrade, Ernst Röhm, Chief of

the SA, wanted to follow Stalin’s example and physically eliminate the army brass. The

showdown resulted in the death of Röhm, either by suicide or summary killing, and of

many of his assistants, with the army picking up the pieces and putting the SA back in its place.


At this time the only SS men in Germany were in Chancellor Hitler’s personal guard:

one hundred eighty in all. They were young men of exceptional qualities, but without any

political role. Their duties consisted of guarding the Chancellery and presenting

arms to visiting dignitaries.


It was from this miniscule group that a few years later would spring an army of a million

soldiers. An army of unprecedented valor extending its call throughout Europe.


After Hitler was compelled to acknowledge the superiority of the army, he realized that

the brass would never support his revolutionary social programs. It was an army of aristocrats.


Hitler was a man of the people, a man who succeeded in wiping out unemployment, a

feat unsurpassed to this day. Within two years he gave work to six million Germans and

got rid of rampant poverty. In five years the German worker doubled his income without

inflation. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful homes were built for workers at minimal

cost. Each home had a garden to grow flowers and vegetables. All the factories were

provided with sport fields, swimming pools, and decent and attractive work areas.


For the first time, German workers had paid vacations. The Communists and capitalists

had never offered paid vacations; this was Hitler's creation. He organized the famous

“Strength Through Joy” programs, which meant that workers could, at

affordable prices, board passenger ships and visit scenic foreign lands.


All these social improvements did not please the establishment. Big business tycoons

and international bankers were worried. But Hitler stood up to them. Business could

make profits, but only if people were paid decently and allowed to live and work

in dignity. People, not profits, came first.


This was only one of Hitler’s reforms. He initiated hundreds of others. He literally rebuilt

Germany. In a few years more than five thousand miles of freeways were built. For the

worker the affordable Volkswagen was created. Any worker could get this car for payment

over time of five marks a week. It was unprecedented. Thanks to the freeways, workers

for the first time could visit any part of Germany whenever they liked. The same programs

applied to the farmers and the middle class.


Hitler realized that if his social reforms were to go forward and

take root, he needed a powerful lever, one that commanded respect.


Hitler still did not confront the army, but skillfully started to build up the SS. He needed the

SS because above all Hitler was a political man; to him war was the last resort. His aim

was to convince people, to obtain their loyalty, particularly the younger generation.

He knew that the Establishment-minded brass would oppose him at every turn.


In order not to alert the army, Hitler enlarged the SS into a force responsible for law and

order. There was of course a German police force, but in that case as well Hitler was unsure

of their loyalty. The 150,000 policemen had been appointed by the Weimar regime. Hitler

needed the SS not only to detect and quash plots, but mostly to protect his reforms. As

his initial Leibstandarte unit of 180 grew, other regiments were organized, such as the

Deutschland and the Germania.


The army brass did everything to prevent SS recruitment. Hitler bypassed the obstacles

by having the interior ministry and not the war ministry handle the recruiting. The army

countered by discouraging recruitment. Privates were required to serve four years,

non-commissioned officers twelve, and officers twenty-five years. Such restrictions,

it was thought, would greatly discourage SS recruitment. In spite of the lengthy service

requirements, thousands of young men, in fact, rushed to apply -- more than could be accepted.


The young felt the SS was the only armed force that represented their own ideas. The

new SS formations captivated public imagination. Clad in smart black uniforms, the SS

attracted more and more young men. It took two years -- 1933 to 1935 --

and a constant battle of wits with the army to raise a force of 8,000 SS men.


At the time they were called just SS. It was not until 1940, after the French campaign,

that it would officially be named “Waffen SS.” And 8,000 SS men did not go far in a

country of 80 million people. Hitler had to devise yet another way to get around the army.

He created the Totenkopf guard corps. They were really SS in disguise, but their official

function was to guard the concentration camps.


What were these concentration camps? They were just work centers where intractable

Communists were put to work. They were well treated because it was thought that sooner

or later they would be converted to patriotism. There were two concentration camps

with a total of three thousand inmates. Three thousand out of a total of six million card-carrying

members of the Communist Party. That represents one per two thousand. Right until the war

there were fewer than ten thousand inmates.


The young men who joined the SS were trained like no other army in the world. Military

and academic instruction was intensive, but it was the physical training that was the most

rigorous. They practiced sports with excellence. Each of them would have performed with

distinction at the Olympic Games. The extraordinary physical endurance of the SS

on the Russian front, which so amazed the world, was due to this intensive training.


There was also rigorous ideological training. They were taught to understand why they

were fighting, and what kind of Germany was being resurrected. They were shown how

Germany was being morally united through class reconciliation, and physically united

through the return of the lost German homelands. They were made aware of their kinship

with all the other Germans living in foreign lands -- in Poland, Russia, and, and other

parts of Europe. They were taught that all Germans represented an ethnic unity.


Young SS were educated in two military academies, one in Bad Tölz the other in Braunschweig.

These academies were totally different than the grim barracks of the past. Combining aesthetics

with the latest technology, they were located in the middle of hundreds of acres of beautiful countryside.


Hitler was opposed to any war, particularly in western Europe. He did not even conceive

that the SS could participate in such a war. Above all the SS was a political force. Hitler

regarded Western countries as individual cultures that could be federated but certainly

not conquered. He felt that a conflict within the West would be a no-win civil war.


Hitler’s conception of Europe was thus far ahead of the views held by those neighboring

countries. The mentality of 1914-1918, when small countries fought other small countries

over bits of real estate, still prevailed in the Europe of 1939. Not so in the case of the

Soviet Union, where internationalism replaced nationalism. The Communists never aimed

at serving the interests of Russia. Communism does not limit itself

to acquire chunks of territories, but aims at total world domination.


This was a dramatically new factor. Alone among the world’s leaders,

Hitler saw Soviet Communism as a threat to all nations.


Hitler recalled vividly the havoc the Communists unleashed in Germany at the end of

World War One. Particularly in Berlin and Bavaria the Communists, acting on foreign

orders, organized a state within a state and almost took over. For Hitler, everything

pointed east. The threat was Communism. Apart from his lack of interest in subjugating

western Europe, Hitler was well aware he could not successfully wage war on two fronts.


Instead of letting Hitler fight Communism, the Allies at this point made the fateful decision

to attack Hitler. The so-called Western Democracies also allied themselves with

the Soviet Union for the purpose of encircling and destroying the new Germany.


The Treaty of Versailles had already amputated Germany on all sides. The imposed

Treaty was also designed to keep the country in a state of permanent economic backwardness

and military impotence. Adding to the pressure from all sides, the Allies ratified a string

of treaties with Belgium, the newly created Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Rumania.


In the summer of 1939 the governments of Britain and France were secretly negotiating

a full military alliance with the Soviet Union. The talks were held in

Moscow, and the discussion minutes were signed by Marshal Zhukov.


I have these minutes in my possession. They are stupefying. In one report, the Soviets

pledge to join with Britain and France in war against Germany. Upon ratification, the

Soviet Union was to immediately provide Anglo-French forces with the support of 5500

combat planes, with a promise of back up support of the entire Soviet air force. Between

9,000 to 10,000 Soviet tanks would also be made available. In return, the Soviet Union

demanded the Baltic States and free access to Poland. The plan called for an early joint attack.


At this stage Germany was still only minimally armed. The French negotiators realized that

the 10,000 Soviet tanks would quickly destroy the 2,000 German tanks, but they did not

foresee that the Soviets would be unlikely to stop at the French border. Likewise

the British government was not prepared to halt a Soviet takeover of Europe.


Facing total encirclement Hitler decided once more to make his own peace with one

or the other side of the Soviet-British partnership. He turned to the British and French

governments and requested formal peace talks. His quest for peace was answered

by an outpouring of insults and denunciations. The international press went on an

unprecedented orgy of hate against Hitler. It is mind-boggling to re-read these

newspapers today.


When Hitler made similar peace overtures to Moscow he was surprised to find the Soviets

eager to sign a treaty with Germany. In fact, Stalin did not sign such a treaty for the purpose

of peace. He signed to let Europe destroy itself in a war of attrition,

while giving him the time he needed to build up his military strength.


Stalin’s real intent is revealed in the minutes of the Soviet High Command, also in my

possession. Stalin states his intention to enter the war the moment Hitler and the Western

powers have annihilated each other. Stalin had a great interest in marking time and

letting others fight first. I have read his military plans, and I have seen how they were

achieved. By 1941 Stalin’s ten thousand tanks had increased to 17,999, and the next

year they would have been 32,000, ten times more than Germany’s.

The Soviet air force would likewise have been ten to one in Stalin’s favor.


The very week Stalin signed the peace treaty with Hitler, he gave orders to build 96

air fields on the Western Soviet border, with 180 planned for the following year. His

strategy was consistent: “The more the Western powers fight it out the weaker they will

be. The longer I wait the stronger I get.” It was under these appalling circumstances

that World War Two started – a war which was offered to the Soviets on a silver platter.


Aware of Stalin’s preparations, Hitler knew he would have to face Communism sooner

rather than later. And to fight Communism he had to rely on totally loyal men, men who

would fight for an ideology against another ideology. It had always been Hitler’s

policy to oppose the ideology of class war with an ideology of class cooperation.


Hitler had observed that Marxist class war had not brought prosperity to the Russian

people. Russian workers were poorly clothed, badly housed, and poorly fed. Goods are

always in short supply, and even in Moscow housing was nightmarish. For Hitler the failure

of class war clearly made class cooperation the only just alternative. To make

it work Hitler saw to it that one class would not be allowed to abuse the other.


It is a fact that the newly rich classes emerging from the industrial revolution had enormously

abused their privileges, and it was for this reason that the National Socialists were socialists.


National Socialism was a popular movement in the truest sense. The great majority

of National Socialists were blue collar workers. Seventy percent of the Hitler Youth were

children of blue collar workers. Hitler won elections because the great mass of workers

was solidly behind him. Many wondered why the six million Communists who had voted

against Hitler turned their back on Communism after he came to power in 1933. There

is only one reason: they witnessed and experienced the benefits of class cooperation.

Some say they were forced to change; it is not true. Like other loyal Germans they fought

four years on the Russian front with distinction.


The workers never abandoned Hitler, but the upper classes did. Hitler spelled out his

formula of class cooperation as the answer to Communism with these words: “Class

cooperation means that capitalists will never again treat the workers as mere economic

components. Money is but one part of our economic life. The workers are not just machines

to whom one throws a pay packet every week. The real wealth of Germany is its workers.”


Hitler replaced gold with work as the foundation of the economy. National Socialism was

the exact opposite of Communism. Extraordinary achievements followed Hitler’s election.


We always hear about Hitler and the camps, Hitler and the Jews, but we never hear about

his immense social work. It was in large measure because of that social work that the

international bankers and their servile press generated so much hatred against Hitler. It

was obvious that a genuinely popular movement like National Socialism would collide

with the selfish interests of high finance. Hitler made clear that the control of money did

not convey the right of rapacious exploitation of an entire country, because there are also

people living in the country, millions of them, and these people have the right to live with

dignity and without want. What Hitler said and practiced won over the German youth. It was

this social revolution that the SS felt compelled to secure throughout Germany, and, if

need be, to defend with their lives.


The 1939 war in Western Europe defied all reason. It was a civil war

among those who should have been united. It was a monstrous stupidity.


The young SS were trained to lead the new National Socialist revolution. In five or ten

years they were to replace all those who had been put in office by the former regime.


But at the beginning of the war it was not possible for these young men to stay home.

Along with other young fellow countrymen, they felt called to defend their country, and

even to defend it better than others.


The war turned the SS from a home political force to a national

army fighting abroad, and then to a supra-national army.


We are now at the beginning of the 1939 war in Poland, with its far reaching

consequences. Could the war have been avoided? Emphatically yes!


The Danzig conflict was inconsequential. The Treaty of Versailles had separated the

German city of Danzig from Germany and gave it to Poland against the wish of its citizens.

This action was so outrageous that it had been condemned all over the world. A large

section of Germany was sliced through the middle. To go from western Prussia to East

Prussia one had to travel in a sealed train through Polish territory. The citizens of

Danzig had voted 99 percent to have their city returned to Germany.

Their right of self-determination had been consistently ignored.


However, the war in Poland started for reasons other

than Danzig’s self-determination or even Poland’s.


Just a few months earlier, Poland had attacked Czechoslovakia at the same time Hitler

had returned the Sudetenland to Germany. The Poles were ready to work with Hitler.

Poland turned against Germany only because the British government

did everything in its power to poison German-Polish relations.


Why? Much has to do with a longstanding inferiority complex British rulers have felt towards

Europe. This complex has manifested itself in the British Establishment’s

obsession in keeping Europe weak through wars and dissension.


At the time the British Empire controlled 500 million human beings outside of Europe,

but somehow it was more preoccupied with its traditional hobby: sowing dissension in

Europe. This policy of never allowing the emergence of a strong European

country has been the British Establishment’s modus operandi for centuries.


Whether it was Charles the Fifth of Spain, Louis the Fourteenth or Napoleon of France,

or William the Second of Germany, the British Establishment never tolerated any unifying

power in Europe. Germany never wanted to meddle in British affairs. However, the British

Establishment always made it a point to meddle in European affairs, particularly in Central

Europe and the Balkans.


Hitler’s entry into Prague brought the British running to the fray. Prague and Bohemia

had been part of Germany for centuries, and had always been within the

German sphere of influence. British meddling in this area was totally unjustified.


For Germany the Prague regime represented a grave threat. Czech president Benes,

Stalin’s servile satrap, had been ordered by his Kremlin masters to open his borders to

the Communist armies at a moment's notice. Prague was to be the Soviet springboard to Germany.


For Hitler, Prague was a watchtower to central Europe and an advance post to delay a

Soviet invasion. There were also Prague’s historic economic ties with Germany. Germany

has always had economic links with Central Europe. Rumania, the Balkans, Bulgaria,

Hungary and Yugoslavia [Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia] have had long-standing, mutually

complimentary economic relations with Germany, which have continued to this day.


Hitler’s European economic policy was based on common sense and realism. And it was

his emerging central European common market, rather than concern for Czech freedom,

that the British Establishment could not tolerate.


All the same, English people felt great admiration for Hitler. I remember when [former

British prime minister] Lloyd George addressed the German press outside Hitler’s

home, where he had just been a guest. He stated: “You can thank God you have such

a wonderful man as your leader.” Lloyd George, the enemy of Germany during

World War One, said that!


King Edward the Eighth of England, who had just abdicated and was now the Duke of

Windsor, also came to visit Hitler at his Berchtesgaden home, accompanied by his wife.

When they returned home, the Duke sent a wire to Hitler. It read: “What a wonderful day

we have spent with your Excellency. Unforgettable!” And reflecting what many English

people had already learned, the Duke remarked on how well off German workers were.

The Duke was telling the truth. The German worker earned twice as much, without

inflation, as he did before Hitler, and consequently his standard of living was high.


Even Churchill, the most fanatic German-hater of them all, had in 1938, a year before the

war, wrote in the London Times: “I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in

war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations.”


Friend or foe, all acknowledged that Hitler was a man of exceptional genius. His achievements

were the envy of the world. In five short years he rebuilt a bankrupt nation burdened with

millions of unemployed into the strongest economic power in Europe. It was so strong that

for six years his geographically small country was able to withstand a war against world powers.


Churchill acknowledged that no one in the world could match such a feat. Just before the

outbreak of war he stated that no doubt a peace formula could be worked out with

Hitler. But Churchill received other instructions. The Establishment, fearful that Hitler’s

successes in Germany could spread to other countries, was determined to destroy him.

It created hatred against Germany across Europe by stirring old grievances.

It also exploited the envy some Europeans felt toward Germany.


The Germans’ high birth rate had made Germany the most populous country in western

Europe. In science and technology Germany was ahead of both France and Britain. Hitler

had built Germany into an economic powerhouse. That was Hitler’s crime, and

the British Establishment opted to destroy Hitler and Germany by any means.


The British manipulated the Polish government against Germany. The Poles themselves

were more than willing to live in peace with the Germans. Instead, the unfortunate Poles

were railroaded into war by the British. One must not forget that one and a half million

[ethnic] Germans lived in Poland at the time, at great benefit to the Polish economy.


In January 1939 Hitler had proposed to Beck, the Polish foreign minister, a compromise to

solve the Danzig issue: The Danzigers’ wish to return to Germany would be honored, and

Poland would continue to have free port access and facilities, guaranteed by treaty.


The prevailing notion of the day that every country must have a sea port really does not

make sense. Switzerland, Hungary and other countries with no sea ports manage quite well.

Hitler’s proposals were based on the principles of self-determination and reciprocity.

Even Churchill admitted that such a solution could dispose of the Danzig problem. This

admission, however, did not prevent Britain from sending an ultimatum to Germany:

withdrawal from Poland, or war. (The world has seen what happened when Israel invaded

Lebanon [in 1982]. Heavily populated cities like Tyre and Sidon were destroyed, and so

was West Beirut. Everybody called for Israel’s withdrawal, but no one declared war on

Israel when it refused to budge.)


With a little patience a peaceful solution regarding Danzig could certainly have been arranged.

Instead, the international press unleashed a massive campaign of outright lies and distortions

against Hitler. His proposals were willfully misrepresented by a relentless press onslaught.


Of all the crimes of World War Two, one never hears about the wholesale massacres that

occurred in Poland just before the war. I have detailed reports in my files documenting the

mass slaughter of defenseless Germans in Poland. Thousands of German men, women

and children were massacred in the most horrendous fashion by media-enraged mobs.

The photographs of these massacres are too sickening to look at. Hitler decided to halt

the slaughter, and he rushed to the rescue.


The Polish campaign revealed another startling characteristic of this man: his rare military

genius. All the successful military campaigns of the Third Reich were thought out and

directed by Hitler personally, not the General Staff. He also inspired a number

of generals who became his most able executives in later campaigns.


In regard to the Polish campaign the General Staff had planned an offensive along the Baltic

coastline to take Danzig, a plan that would been doomed to failure. Instead, Hitler invented

the Blitzkrieg or “lightning war” technique, and in no time captured Warsaw. SS soldiers

appeared for the first time on the Polish front, and their performance amazed the world.


The brief campaign saw three SS regiments in action: The Leibstandarte, the Deutschland

and the Germania. There was also an SS motorbike battalion, a corps of engineers, and

a transmission unit. In all it was a comprehensive but small force of about 25,000 men.

After bolting out of Silesia, Sepp Dietrich and his Leibstandarte alone split Poland in half

within days. With fewer than 3,000 men he defeated a Polish force of 15,000,

and took 10,000 prisoners. Such victories were not achieved without loss.


The second campaign in France was also swift. The British-French forces had rushed

to Holland and Belgium to check the German advance, but they were outwitted

and outflanked in Sedan. It was basically all over in a matter of days.


The story goes that Hitler had nothing to do with this operation; that it was all the work

of General von Manstein. That is entirely false. Von Manstein had indeed conceived the

idea, but when he submitted it to the General Staff, he was reprimanded, demoted and

retired to Dresden. The general staff had not brought this particular incident to Hitler’s

attention. On his own, Hitler organized a campaign along the same lines, and routed the

British-French forces. It was not until March 1940 that von Manstein came into contact

with Hitler.


Hitler also planned the Balkan and Russian campaigns. On the rare occasions where

Hitler allowed the General Staff to have their way, such as in Kursk, the battle was lost.


In the 1939 Polish campaign Hitler did not rely on military textbook theories devised 50

years earlier, as advocated by the general staff, but on his own plan of swift, pincer-like

encirclement. In eight days the Polish war was won, in spite of the fact that Poland

is as large as France.


It is hard to imagine, but out of a total of some one million SS men, 352,000 were killed in

action, with 50,000 more missing. It is a grim figure! Four hundred thousand of the finest

young men in Europe! Without hesitation they sacrificed themselves for their beliefs. They

knew they had to set an example. They were the first on the front line in defending thei

r country and their ideals.


In victory or defeat the Waffen SS always sought to be the best representatives of their

people. The SS was a democratic expression of power: people joining together of their

own free will. The ballot box is not the only expression of such consent; there is also

consent of the heart and the mind through action. The men of the Waffen SS made a

plebiscite of deeds. And the German people, proud of them, gave them their respect and

their love. Such high motivation made the volunteers of the Waffen SS the best fighters

in the world.


The SS proved themselves in action. They were not empty talking politicians, but men

who pledged their lives, and, in an extraordinary expression of comradeship, were the first

to fight. This comradeship was one of the most distinctive characteristics of the SS: the SS

leader was the comrade of the others.


It was on the front lines that the results of the SS physical training were really apparent.

SS officers had the same rigorous training as the regular soldiers. Officers and privates

competed in the same sports events, and only the best man won, regardless of rank. This

created a real brotherhood that energized the entire Waffen SS. Only the teamwork of free

men, bonded by a higher ideal, could unite Europe. Look at the Common Market of today

[and its successor, the European Union]. It is a failure. There is no unifying ideal. Everything

is based on haggling over the price of tomatoes, steel, coal or booze. Fruitful unions are based

on something higher than that.


A relationship of equality and mutual respect between soldiers and officers was always

in place. Half of all division commanders were killed in action. Half! There is not another

army in the world where that happened. The SS officer always led his troops to battle. I was

engaged in 75 hand-to-hand combat operations, because as an SS officer I had to be the

first to meet the enemy. SS soldiers were not sent to the slaughter by behind-the-line commanders;

they followed their officers with passionate loyalty. Every SS commander

knew and taught all his men, and often received unexpected answers.


After breaking out of the Cherkassy siege, I talked with all my soldiers one-by-one; there

were thousands at the time. For two weeks, every day from dawn to dusk, I asked them

questions, and heard their replies. Sometimes it happens that soldiers who brag a little receive

medals, while heroic men who keep quiet miss out. I talked to all of them because I wanted

to know first-hand what had happened, and what they had done. To be just, I had to know the truth.


It was on that occasion that two of my soldiers suddenly pulled out their identity cards of

the Belgian resistance movement. They told me that they had been sent to kill me. At the

front line, it is very simple to shoot someone in the back. But the extraordinary SS team

spirit had won them over. By setting an example, SS officers could expect the loyalty of their men.


The life expectancy of an SS officer at the front was three months. On one Monday while

in Estonia I received ten new young officers from the Bad Tölz academy;

by Thursday only one was still alive, and he was wounded.


In conventional armies, officers talked at the men as a superior to an

inferior, and seldom as brothers in combat or as brothers in ideology.


By 1939 the SS had earned general admiration and respect. This gave Hitler the opportunity

to call for an increase in their numbers. Instead of regiments, there would be three divisions.


Again, the army brass laid down draconian recruiting conditions: young men could join

the SS only for a minimum of four years of combat duty. The brass felt that no one would

take such a risk. Again, they guessed wrong. In the month of February 1940 alone, 49,000

joined the SS. From 25,000 in September 1939, there would be 150,000 in May 1940.

Thus, from 180 to 8,000 to 25,000 to 150,000, and eventually nearly one million men

-- all this against all odds.


Hitler had no interest whatsoever in getting involved in a conflict with France.

It was a war that was forced on him.


The 150,000 SS had to serve under the Army, and they were given the most dangerous

and difficult missions, despite the fact that they were supplied with inferior weapons and

equipment. In 1940 the Leibstandarte was only provided with a few scouting tanks.

The SS were given wheels, and that’s all. But with trucks, motorbikes,

and various other means they were able to perform amazing feats.


The Leibstandarte and Der Führer regiments were sent to Holland under the leadership

of Sepp Dietrich. They had to cross Dutch waterways. The Luftwaffe had dropped paratroopers

to hold the bridges 120 miles deep in Dutch territory, and it was vital for the SS to reach these

bridges with the greatest speed. The Leibstandarte achieved an unprecedented feat: advancing

75 kilometers in a single day, and advancing 215 kilometers in just four days. It was unheard of

at the time, and the world was staggered. In one day the SS crossed all the Dutch canals on

flimsy rubber rafts. Here again, SS losses were heavy. But thanks to their heroism and speed,

the German forces reached Rotterdam in three days. The paratroopers

risked being wiped out if the SS had not accomplished their lightning-thrust.


In Belgium, the SS regiment Der Führer faced the French army head on, which after falling

in the Sedan trap, had rushed toward Breda, Holland. There, one would see for the first time

a small motivated military force route a large national army. It took one SS regiment and a

number of German troops to throw the whole French Army off balance and

drive it back from Breda to Antwerp, Belgium, and northern France.


The Leibstandarte and Der Führer regiments jointly advanced on the large Zeeland islands,

between the Scheldt and Rhine rivers. In a few days they were brought under control.


In no time the Leibstandarte then crossed Belgium and northern France. The second

major combat engagement of SS regiments was in concert with the regular army tank division.

These units were under the command of General Rommel and

General Guderian. They spearhead a thrust toward the North Sea.


Sepp Dietrich and his troops then crossed the French canals, but were pinned down by

the enemy in a mud field, just managing to avoid extermination. But despite the loss of

many soldiers, officers and one battalion commander, all killed in action, the Germans

reached Dunkirk.


Hitler was very proud of them.


The following week, Hitler deployed them along the Somme river, from where they poured

out across France. Here again, the SS would prove itself to be the best fighting force in the

world. Sepp Dietrich and the Second Division of the SS, Totenkopf, advanced so far so fast

that for three days they lost contact with the rest of the army. They found themselves in

Lyon, a French city they were later obliged to vacate after the signing of the French-German

armistice. Sepp Dietrich and a handful of SS men on trucks had achieved the impossible.


The SS regiment Der Führer spearheaded the Maginot Line breakthrough. Everyone had

said that the Line was impenetrable. The war in France was over. Hitler had the three SS

divisions march through Paris. Berlin also honored these heroes. But the regular Army

was so jealous that it would not cite a single SS man for valor or bravery. It was Hitler himself

who, in addressing the German Reichstag, solemnly paid tribute to the heroism of the

SS. It was on this occasion that he officially recognized the Waffen SS name.


This was more than a mere change of name. The Waffen SS became “Germanic,” as

volunteers were accepted from all Germanic countries. This was based on an awareness

that the peoples of northwestern Europe were closely related to them, and that the Norwegians,

the Danes, the Dutch, and the Flemish all belonged to the same Germanic family. These

Germanic people were themselves very much impressed by the SS, and so, by the way,

were the French.


The people of western Europe had marveled at this extraordinary German force with a

style unlike any other: if two SS scouts reached a town on motorbike ahead of everybody

else, they would -- before presenting themselves to the local authorities – first clean

themselves up so they would be of impeccable appearance. People could not help

but be impressed.


The admiration felt by young Europeans of Germanic stock for the SS was very natural.

Thousands of young men from Norway, Denmark, Flanders, and Holland were awed with

admiration. They felt irresistibly drawn to the SS. It was not Europe, but solidarity with their

own Germanic race that so deeply stirred their souls. They identified with the victorious

Germans. To them, Hitler was the most exceptional man ever seen. Hitler understood them,

and had the remarkable idea to open the doors of the SS to them. It was quite risky. No one

had ever thought of this before. Prior to Hitler, German imperialism consisted only of peddling

goods to other countries, without any thought of creating a “community” ideology

– a common ideal with its neighbors.


Suddenly, instead of peddling and haggling, here was a man who offered a glorious ideal:

an enthralling social justice, for which they all had yearned for years. A broad New Order,

instead of the formless cosmopolitanism of the pre-war so-called “democracies.” The response

to Hitler’s appeal was overwhelming. Legions from Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Flanders

were formed. Thousands of young men now wore the SS uniform. For them Hitler specifically

created the famous Viking division, one that was destined to become one of the most formidable

of the Waffen SS.


The regular army was still doing everything it could to discourage men in Germany from

joining the SS. It acted as though the SS did not exist. Against this background of obstructionism

at home, it was all the more understandable that the SS would welcome men from outside Germany.


The ethnic Germans living abroad provided a rich source of volunteers. There were millions

of these Germans in Hungary, Rumania and across Europe. The victories of the Third Reich

made them proud of belonging to the German family. Hitler welcomed them home. He saw

them as a source of elite SS men as well as important factor in unifying all Germans ideologically.


Here again, the enthusiastic response was amazing. From across Europe some 300,000

volunteers of German ancestry would join, including 54,000 from Rumania alone. In the

context of that era, those were remarkable figures. There were numerous problems to

overcome. For instance, most Germanic volunteers did not speak German. Their ancestors

had settled in foreign lands many years earlier, so many of these men

spoke different languages, and had different manners and needs.


How to find officers who could speak all these languages? How to coordinate such a

disparate lot? Mastering these problems was a miracle of the Waffen SS assimilation program.

This homecoming of the separated “tribes” was regarded by the Waffen SS as a foundation

for real European unity. The 300,000 Germanic volunteers were welcomed by the SS

as brothers, and they reciprocated by being as dedicated, loyal and heroic as the Reich

German SS men.


Within the year, everything had changed for the Waffen SS. The barracks were full, the

academies were full. The strictest admission standards and requirements equally applied

for the Germanic volunteers as well. They had to be the best in every way,

both physically and mentally. They had to be the best of the Germanic race.


Third Reich racialism has been deliberately distorted. It was never an anti-“other” racialism.

It was a pro-German racialism. It was concerned with making the German race strong and

healthy in every way. Hitler was not interested in having millions of degenerates. Today

one finds rampant alcohol and drug addiction everywhere. Hitler cared that German families

be healthy, and cared that they raise healthy children for the renewal of a healthy nation.

German racialism meant re-discovering the creative values of their own race, re-discovering

their culture. It was a striving for excellence, a noble idea. National Socialist racialism was

not against other races, it was for its own race. It aimed at defending and improving

its own race, and wished that all other races would do the same for themselves.


That was demonstrated when the Waffen SS enlarged its ranks to include 60,000 Muslims.

The Waffen SS respected their way of life, their customs, and their religious beliefs. Each

Muslim SS battalion had an imam, and each company had a mullah. It was our common

wish that their qualities found their highest expression. That was our racialism. I was present

when each of my Muslim comrades received a New Year’s gift from Hitler. It was a pendant

with a small Koran. Hitler was honoring them with this small symbolic gift, one that honored

an important aspect of their lives and traditions. National Socialist racialism

was loyal to the German race and totally respected all other races.


At this point, one hears: “What about the anti-Jewish racism?”

One can answer: “What about Jewish anti-Gentilism?”


It has been the misfortune of the Jewish race that it could never get along with any other

race. It is an unusual historical fact and phenomenon. I say this without passion: When one

studies the history of the Jewish people and their behavior across the centuries, one

observes that always -- at all times, and at all places -- they have been hated. They were

hated in ancient Egypt. They were hated in ancient Greece. They were hated in Roman

times to such a degree that 3,000 of them were deported to Sardinia. (That was the first

forced deportation of Jews.) They were hated in Spain, in France, in England (where they

were banned for centuries), and in Germany. The conscientious Jewish author Bernard

Lazare wrote a very interesting book on Anti-Semitism, in which he wrote: “We Jews should

ask ourselves a question: Why are we always hated everywhere? It is not because of our

persecutors, all of different times and places. It is because there is something within us that

is very unlikeable.” What is unlikeable is that the Jews have always wanted to live as a

privileged class, divinely-chosen and beyond scrutiny. This attitude has made them

unlikeable everywhere.


The Jewish race is therefore a unique case. Hitler had no intention of destroying it. He

wanted the Jews to find their own identity in their own environment, but not to the detriment

of others. The fight -- if we can call it that – of National Socialism against the Jews was

purely limited to one objective: that the Jews leave Germany in peace. It was planned to

give them a country of their own, outside Germany. Madagascar was contemplated, but

the plans were dropped when the United States entered the war. In the meanwhile, Hitler

thought of letting the Jews live in their own traditional ghettos. They would have their own

administration, they would run their own affairs, and would live as they wanted. They had

their own police, their own tramways, their own flag, and their own businesses. With regard

to other races, they were all welcome in Germany as guests, but not as privileged occupants.


In one year the Waffen SS had gathered a large number of Germanic men from northern

Europe, and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans or Volksdeutsche from outside

Germany, to make the Germanic SS. It was then that the conflict between Communism

and National Socialism burst into the open. The conflict had always existed. In Mein Kampf,

Hitler had clearly laid out his objective: “to eliminate the world threat of

Communism,” and, incidentally, to claim some land in Eastern Europe.


This eastward expansionism created much outrage: How could the Germans claim land

in Russia? To this one can answer: How could the Americans claim native Indian lands

from the Atlantic to the Pacific? How could France claim southern Flanders, and Roussillon

from Spain? And what of Britain? And what of so many other countries that have claimed,

conquered and settled in other territories? Somehow it was all right for all those countries

to settle foreign lands, but not for Germany. Personally, I have always vigorously defended

the Russians, and I finally did succeed in convincing Hitler that Germans had to live with

Russians as partners, and not as conquerors. Before achieving this partnership, there

was first the matter of wiping out Communism. During the [21 months of the] Soviet-German

non-aggression treaty, Hitler was trying to gain time, but the Soviets were intensifying their acts of

aggression from Estonia to Bukovina.


In this regard, extracts from Soviet documents are most revealing. Marshal Voroshilov

himself said: “We now have the time to prepare ourselves to be the executioner of the

capitalist world while it is agonizing. We must, however, be cautious. The Germans must

not have any inkling that we are preparing to stab them in the back while they are busy

fighting the French. Otherwise, they could change their general plan, and attack us.”


In the same record, Marshal Shaposhnikov [?] wrote: “The coexistence between Hitler's

Germany and the Soviet Union is only temporary. We will not make it last very long.” Marshal

Timoshenko, for his part, did not want to be so hasty: “Let us not forget that our war material

from our Siberian factories will not be delivered until the fall.” This was written at the beginning

of 1941, and the material was only to be delivered in the fall. A Soviet war industry Commissariat

report stated: We will not be in full production until 1942. Marshal Zhukov made this

extraordinary admission: “Hitler is in a hurry to invade us; he has good reasons for it.”


Indeed, Hitler had good reason to quickly attack Russia -- he realized that he would be

wiped out if he did not. Zhukov added: “We need a few more months to rectify many of

our defects before the end of 1941. We need 18 months to complete the modernization of our forces.”


The orders are quite precise. At the fourth session of the Supreme Soviet in 1939, it was

decreed that Army officers would serve three years, regular soldiers would serve four years,

and Navy personnel, five years. All these decisions were made less than a

month after the Soviets signed the non-aggression treaty with Germany.


Thus the Soviets, pledged to peace, were frantically preparing for war. More than 2,500

new concrete fortifications were built between 1939 and 1940; 160 divisions were made

combat-ready; 60 tank divisions were on full alert. The Germans only had ten panzer tank

divisions. In 1941, the Soviets had 17,000 tanks, and by 1942 they had 32,000. They had

92,578 artillery pieces. And their 17,545 combat planes in 1940 greatly outnumbered the

German air force.


With such war preparations underway, it is easy to understand that Hitler was left

with only one option: invade the Soviet Union immediately, or face annihilation.


Hitler’s Russian campaign was the “last chance” campaign. Hitler did not go into Russia

with any great optimism. He later told me: “When I entered Russia, I was like a man facing

a shut door. I knew I had to crash through it, but without knowing what was behind it.” Hitler

was right. He knew the Soviets were strong, but above all he knew they were going to be

a lot stronger. The only time Hitler had a respite was in 1941. The British had not yet succeeded

in expanding the war. Hitler, who never wanted war with Britain, still tried for peace. He invited

me to spend a week at his home. He wanted to discuss the whole situation and hear what I

had to say about it. He spoke very simply and clearly. The atmosphere was informal and

relaxed. He made you feel at home, because he really enjoyed being hospitable. He buttered

pieces of toast in a leisurely fashion, and passed them around, and although he did not drink,

after each meal he went to get a bottle of champagne because he knew that I enjoyed finishing

with a glass of it. All without fuss and with genuine friendliness. It was part of his genius that he

was also a man of simple ways, without the slightest affection, and a man of great humility.

We talked about England. I asked him bluntly: “Why on earth didn’t you finish off the British

at Dunkirk? Everyone knew you could have wiped them out.” He answered: “Yes, I withheld

my troops and let the British escape back to England. The humiliation of such

a defeat would have made it difficult to try for peace with them afterwards.”


At the same time, Hitler told me he did not want to dispel the Soviet belief that he was

going to invade England. He mentioned that he even had small Anglo-German dictionaries

distributed to his troops in Poland. The Soviet spies there duly reported to the Kremlin that

Germany’s presence in Poland was a bluff, and that the soldiers were about to be sent for

action against Britain.


On June 22, 1941, it was Russia and not England that Germany invaded. The initial

victories were swift but costly. I lived the epic struggle of the Russian front. It was a

tragic epic; it was also martyrdom. The endless thousands of miles of the Russian steppes

were overwhelming. We had to reach the Caucasus by foot, always under extreme

conditions. In the summer we often walked knee-deep in mud, and in winter there were

freezing below-zero temperatures. But for a matter of a few days, Hitler would have

won the war in Russia in 1941. Before the Battle of Moscow, he had largely succeeded

in defeating the Soviet Army, and had taken enormous numbers of prisoners.


General Guderian’s panzer group, which had encircled nearly a million Soviet troops near

Kiev, had reached Moscow right up to the city’s tramway lines. It was then that suddenly

an unbelievable freeze struck: 40, 42, 50 degrees Celsius below zero! This meant not

only that men were freezing, but also that equipment froze on the spot. No tanks could

move. Yesterday’s mud had frozen to a solid block of ice, half a meter high, icing up the

tank treads.


In 24 hours all of our tactical options had been reversed. It was then that masses of

Siberian troops brought back from the Russian Far East were thrown against the Germans.

Those few fateful days of ice, which made the difference between victory and defeat,

were due to the delay caused by the Italian campaign in Greece in the fall of 1940.


Mussolini was envious of Hitler’s successes. It was a deep and silent jealousy. I was a friend

of Mussolini. I knew him well. He was a remarkable man, but Europe was not of great concern

to him. He did not like to be a spectator, watching Hitler winning everywhere. He felt

compelled to do something himself, and quickly. Impulsively, he launched a senseless

offensive against Greece.


His troops were immediately halted. But it gave the British an excuse to invade Greece, which

until then had not been involved in the war. From Greece the British could bomb the Rumanian

oil wells, which were vital to Germany’s war effort. Greece could also be used to cut off

German troops on their way to Russia. Hitler was forced to quash the threat preemptively.

He had to waste five weeks in the Balkans. His victories there were an incredible logistical

achievement, but they delayed the start of the Russian campaign by five critical weeks.


If Hitler had been able to start the campaign on time, as planned, he would have entered

Moscow five weeks earlier, in the fall when the ground was still dry. The war would have

been over, and the Soviet Union would have been a thing of the past. The combination of

the sudden freeze and the arrival of fresh Siberian troops spread panic among some of

the old army generals. They wanted to retreat 200 miles back from Moscow. It is hard to

imagine such an insane plan! The freeze affected Russia equally, from West to East, and

to retreat 200 miles in the open steppe would only have made things worse. At the time I

was commanding my troops in the Ukraine, where it was 42 degrees Celsius below zero.


Such a retreat would have meant abandoning all the heavy artillery, as well as assault

guns and tanks, which were stuck in the ice. It would also have meant exposing half a

million men to heavy Soviet sniping. In fact, it would have meant condemning them to

certain death. One need only recall Napoleon’s retreat in October 1812. He reached the

Berezina River in November, and by mid-December all the French troops had left Russia.

It was cold enough, but it was not a winter campaign.


Can one imagine in 1941 half a million Germans fighting howling snowstorms, cut off

from supplies, attacked from all sides by tens of thousands of Cossacks? I have faced

charging Cossacks, and I know that only the utmost, superior firepower will stop them.

In order to counter such an insane retreat, Hitler had to fire more than 30 generals within a few days.


It was then that he called on the Waffen SS to fill in the gap and boost morale. Immediately

the SS held fast on the Moscow front. Right through the war the Waffen SS never retreated.

They would rather die than retreat. One cannot forget the figures. During the 1941 winter,

the Waffen SS lost 43,000 men in front of Moscow. The regiment Der Führer fought

almost literally to the last man. Only 35 men survived out of the entire regiment. The

Der Führer men stood fast, and no Soviet troops got through. They tried to bypass the

SS in the snow. (That is how the famous Russian General Vlasov was captured by the

Totenkopf SS division.) Without their heroism, Germany would have been annihilated

by December 1941.


Hitler would never forget it: he gauged the willpower that the Waffen SS had displayed in

front of Moscow. They had shown character and guts. And that is what Hitler admired most

of all: guts. For him, it was not enough to have intelligent or clever associates. Such people

can often fall to pieces, as happened with General Paulus during the following winter at

the battle of Stalingrad.


Hitler knew that only sheer energy and guts, the refusal to surrender,

and the will to hang tough against all odds would win the war.


The blizzards of the Russian steppes had shown how the best army in the world, the German

army, with thousands of highly trained officers and millions of highly disciplined men,

was just not enough. Hitler realized that they could be beaten, that something else was

needed, and that only unshakable faith in a high ideal could overcome the situation.

The Waffen SS had this ideal, and from then on Hitler used them at full capacity.


From all parts of Europe volunteers rushed to help their German brothers. It was then that

the third great Waffen SS was born. First there was the German, then the Germanic, and

finally the European Waffen SS. To defend Western culture and civilization, hundreds of

thousands of young men would volunteer. They joined with full knowledge that the SS

incurred the highest death tolls. More than 250,000 out of one million would die in action.

For them, the Waffen SS was, despite all the individual deaths, the birth of a new Europe.


The young European volunteers observed two things: first, that Hitler was the only leader

who was capable of building Europe, and secondly that Hitler,

and Hitler alone, could defeat the world threat of Communism.


For the men of this SS, the Europe of petty jealousies, jingoism, border disputes, and

economic rivalries was of no interest. It was petty and demeaning. That Europe was no

longer valid for them. At the same time, the men of the European SS, as much as they

admired Hitler and the German people, did not want to become Germans. They were

men of their own people, and Europe was the gathering of the various peoples of the

continent. European unity was to be achieved through harmony, not domination of

one over the others.


I discussed these issues at length with both Hitler and Himmler. Like all men of genius,

Hitler had grown beyond the national stage. Napoleon was first a Corsican, then a Frenchman,

then a European, and then a singularly universal man. Likewise Hitler had been an Austrian,

then a German, then a greater German, then Germanic, and then

he had seen and grasped the magnitude of building Europe.


The Waffen SS had a solemn duty, after the defeat of Communism,

to focus all their efforts and strength to build a united Europe.


Before being joined to the Waffen SS, our Wallonian unit had known very difficult ordeals.

We had gone to the Eastern front first as adjunct units to the German army, but during the

Battle of Stalingrad we had seen that Europe was critically endangered. Great common

effort was imperative. One night I had an eight-hour-long debate with Hitler

and Himmler on the status of non-German Europeans within the new Europe.


We now expected to be treated as equals fighting for a common cause. Hitler understood

fully, and from then on we [of the Légion Wallonie] had our own flag, our own

officers, our own language, and our own religion. We had a totally equal status.


I was the first one to have Catholic chaplains in the Waffen SS. Later chaplains of all

denominations were available to all those who wanted them. The Muslim SS division had

its own mullahs, and the French even had a bishop. We were confident that, with Hitler,

Europeans would be federated as equals. We felt that, in this critical hour, the best way

to be deserving of our place as equals was to defend Europe just as well as our

German comrades.


For Hitler what mattered above all was courage. He created a new chivalry. Those who

earned the order of the Knight’s Cross, the Ritterkreuz, were indeed the new knights.

They earned this nobility of courage. And after the end of the war, each of our units

returning home would be the force that would protect the people’s rights in our respective

countries. All the SS understood that European unity meant the whole of Europe, even Russia.


There had been a great lack of knowledge among many Germans regarding the Russians.

Many believed that the Russians were all Communists, while in fact Russian representation

in the Communist hierarchy was unimportant. They also believed that the Russians were

diametrically different than the Europeans. Yet, they have similar familial structures, an

ancient civilization, deep religious faith, and traditions which are not unlike those of other

European countries.


The SS saw the new Europe formed of three great components: central Europe as the

power house of Europe, western Europe as the cultural heart of Europe, and eastern Europe

as the potential of Europe. Thus the Europe envisioned by the SS was alive and real. Its

six hundred million inhabitants would live from the North Sea to Vladivostok. It was in this

span of 8,000 miles that Europe could achieve its destiny. It would be a space for young

people to start new lives. This Europe would be the beacon of the world. It would be a

remarkable racial ensemble. An ancient civilization, a spiritual force, and the most advanced

technological and scientific complex. The SS prepared for the high destiny of Europe.


Compare these aims, these ideals, with those of the “Allies.” The Roosevelts and the

Churchills sold Europe out at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. They cravenly capitulated to the

Soviets. They delivered half of the European continent to Communist slavery. They let the

rest of Europe disintegrate morally, without any ideal to sustain it. The SS knew

what they wanted: the Europe of ideals would be the salvation for all.


This faith in higher ideals inspired four hundred thousand German SS men, three hundred

thousand Volksdeutsche or Germanic SS, and three hundred thousand other European SS.

Volunteers all, one million builders of Europe.


The ranks of the SS grew proportionately with the expansion of the war in Russia.

The nearer Germany was to defeat the more volunteers arrived at the front. This was

phenomenal; eight days before the final defeat I saw hundreds of young men join the SS

on the front. Right to the end they knew they had to do the impossible to stop the enemy.


So from the 180-strong Leibstandarte in 1933 to the SS regiments before 1939, to the

three regiments in Poland, to the three divisions in France, to the six divisions at the beginning

of the Russian war, to the 38 divisions in 1944, the Waffen SS reached 50 divisions in 1945.

The more SS men fell, the more others rushed to replace them. They had faith and stood

firm to the extreme limit. The exact opposite happened in January 1943 at Stalingrad.

The defeat there was decided by a man without courage. He was not capable of facing

danger with determination, of saying unequivocally: I will not surrender;

I will stand fast until I win. He was morally and physically gutless, and he lost.


A year later the SS Viking and Wallonia divisions were encircled in the same way at Cherkassy.

With the disaster of Stalingrad fresh in the minds of our soldiers, they could easily have

been prone to demoralization. On top of it, I was down with a deep side wound and a 102

degree F temperature. As commander of the SS Wallonia forces, I knew that all this was

not conducive to high morale. I got up, and for 17 days I led charge after charge to break

the blockade, engaged in numerous hand-to-hand combats, and was wounded four times

– but I never stopped fighting. All my men did just as much, and more. The siege was

broken by sheer SS guts and spirit.


After Stalingrad, when many thought that all was lost, and when the Soviet forces poured

across the Ukraine, the Waffen SS stopped them dead in their tracks. They re-took Kharkov

and inflicted a severe defeat on the Soviet army. This was a pattern: again and again the SS

would turn reverses into victories.


The same fearless energy was also present in Normandy. General Patton called them

“the proud SS divisions.” The SS was the backbone of resistance in Normandy.

As Eisenhower observed, “the SS fought as usual to the last man.”


If the Waffen SS had not existed, Europe would have been overrun entirely by the Soviets

by 1944. They would have reached Paris long before the Americans. The Waffen SS heroism

stopped the Soviet juggernaut at Moscow, Kharkov, Cherkassy, and Tarnopol. The Soviets

lost more than twelve months. Without SS resistance the Soviets would have been in Normandy

before Eisenhower. The people showed deep gratitude to the young men who sacrificed their

lives. Not since the great religious orders of the Middle Ages had there been such selfless

idealism and heroism. In this century of materialism, the SS stands out as a shining beacon

of spirituality.


I have no doubt whatsoever that the sacrifices and incredible feats of the Waffen SS will one

day have their own epic poets like Schiller. Greatness in adversity is the distinction of the SS.


After the war a curtain of silence fell on the Waffen SS. But now more and more young

people somehow know of its existence and of its achievements. The fame is growing,

and the young demand to know more. In one hundred years almost everything will be forgotten,

but the greatness and the heroism of the Waffen SS will be remembered. It is the reward of an epic.



From The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1982-83 (Vol. 3, No. 4). This essay by

Leon Degrelle (1906-1994) was first presented at the Fourth IHR Conference in Chicago

(Sept. 1982). In October 2015 the introduction text was revised, and the main text was

edited for clarity and to eliminate typos and errors.



Click on this text to watch Secret WW2 History - Minorities in the German Army.

A full 40% of the Waffen SS was made up of non-German nationalities.
Waffen SS volunteers came from Denmark, Norway, Switzerland,
Finland, Croatia, Ukraine, Latvia, Hungary, Spain, and Sweden
and from Russians and Cossacks. One force was formed into
Der Britisches Freikorps otherwise known as The British Free Corps (BFC).

Swiss, Swedish and Danish men who volunteered for the Waffen-SS

were highly intelligent and ambitious individuals, another study says.


In an article published in the journal Contemporary European History, Dr Martin Gutmann

argues that men from the neutral countries of Scandinavia and Switzerland who offered

their services “left for Germany with an active interest in contributing both physically

and intellectually to the NS project”. Gutmann challenges ‘the myth of the volunteers’ – namely,

that they were uneducated social ‘losers’ and deviants, drawn by naivety or greed.


Instead, he argues, most were well-travelled, well-educated, and of a middle or

upper-class upbringing. By examining documents detailing the lives of a number of

volunteers, such as journals and school records, Gutmann

concludes volunteers “were not weak followers, but confident leaders”.


Gutmann also found that volunteers were, with very few exceptions, convinced nationalists,

who had a “sense of impending demographic and racial degradation”,

and were fearful of both Bolshevism and liberal capitalism.


They were “at best ambivalent towards the German National Socialist party”, but had

“an ideological inclination towards fascism”, and were

keen to “reclaim the ‘purity’ of [their] nation[s]”, he found.


And from reading volunteers’ military evaluations, Gutmann surmised that many

of the men had an inclination towards “viewing violence as having personal and

socially redemptive qualities”.


While acknowledging that each volunteer had personal reasons for joining the Nazi regime,

Gutmann concludes it was “a profound decision taken only by confident and ambitious

individuals who were well aware of its potential consequences but willing to gamble for the sake of an ideal”.


Gutmann told historyextra: “There are already some excellent national studies that look at

the various motivations and experiences among SS volunteers from Denmark, Norway and Sweden separately.


“But the transnational approach of my study offers some unique insights. By placing

the more intellectual and influential volunteers from various countries side-by-side,

I uncovered surprising similarities in the types of men from the smaller European

peripheral countries who were attracted to the National Socialist ideology and project.


“I was motivated to conduct this study because my maternal grandfather served in the

Swedish military during the war and my paternal in the Swiss. Both of them had vivid and

patriotic memories of this time, and they often told me about the few ‘mentally

deranged traitors’, as they called them – Swedish and Swiss who helped the Germans.

“So I decided to look into this issue more closely.


“It's easy and perhaps more convenient to lay the blame for this murderous ideology

completely with Germans, and to some extent Italians, and to see other

western Europeans as victims. Of course, the truth is rarely this straightforward.”


Dr Nir Arielli, a lecturer in international history at the University of Leeds, told historyextra:

“Martin Gutmann makes an important contribution to the study of transnational volunteering

by applying the dispassionate approach to foreigners who joined the

Waffen-SS during the early stages of the Second World War.


“His very thorough analysis, which draws on material from 19 archives

in seven countries, sheds new light on the motivations of these men.


“The German war effort offered individuals whose armies did not take part in the fighting

a blend of adventure, a test to affirm their worthiness and the opportunity

to fight for a cause – or parts of a cause – they believed in.


“Much like other transnational volunteers in the modern era, foreigners in the Waffen-SS

wanted to add meaning to their lives, and chose to seek it in very dangerous and controversial settings.”

Source: Siegrunen Magazine (1987)

From 1943-45, 3rd Company of the Recce Detachment of the "Nordland" Division bore the sobriquet, "The Swedish Company," because it contained a nearly all Swedish platoon, and had Estonian ethnic-Swedes scattered throughout the company along with either a Swedish company commander or Swedish officers attached to the company.


In format the company consisted of three light armored scout car platoons and the IV. (heavy) Platoon, whose armored vehicles had heavy machine guns mounted upon them.


Almost all Swedish in composition, IV. Platoon consisted of one or two officers, five NCOs and 30 to 35 men. Its first commander was Oscha. Walter Nilsson, was KIA on 25 January 1944 near Rogovitzky. Four Swedish officers eventually served with IV. Platoon, and two of them were also killed-in-action.


Much of 3rd Company was composed of ethnic-Germans from Romania, and there were concentrations of other Scandinavians and Swiss in it and the detachment as a whole. In early September 1944, the Swedish crew of an armored personnel carrier from 3rd Company (Sven Alm, Markus Ledin and Ingemar Johansson), were repairing the motor of their broken-down vehicle in a concealed position near Dorpat, Estonia when they noticed Soviet motorized forces bypassing them. They went on with their work and in a few hours had the motor operating again, but it then proved impossible to make any further contact with their unit. So they traveled by night in their vehicle through Soviet occupied territory until they eventually reached the Estonian coast. Here the trio was able to secure civilian clothes and a fishing boat which they used to take them safely across the Baltic to Sweden, thus escaping both Soviet captivity and the travails of the rest of the war.


One of the Swedish officers killed with 3rd Company was Ustuf. Rune Ahlgren, who had broken off his officer’s training course at the War College in Stockholm to join the Waffen-SS. He fell near Duna, Latvia on 30 October 1944 and was buried in the outskirts of the town. Another Swedish officer who had spent some time with the company at Narva, Ustuf. Thorkel Tillmann, was KIA near Cheux in Normandy on 20 July 1944 while attached to the staff of an SS Panzer Corps as a war correspondent. During the final battles of the "Nordland" Division in Berlin the surviving members of the "Swedish Company" generally fought on foot as infantrymen. At least some members of the company, including its long-time commander, Hans-Goesta Pehrsson utilized a Swedish armshield in the national colors of blue and yellow.

Uscha. Sven Erik Olsson, Swedish radioman with the "Nordland" Division


Swedish SS volunteers with the "Nordland" Division on the Narva Front


"Nordland" medical officers; a Swedish SS doctor is on the right (note armshield!)


Reported Numbers of Swedish Volunteers in the Waffen-SS


One hundred and one as of 31 January 1944 (from a speech by Ogruf. Berger; out of this total nine had been killed and seven wounded).

One hundred and thirty (David Littlejohn in Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, Volume 3).


One hundred and fifty (as of October 1943 according to the head of Germanic Volunteer recruiting, the Swiss Ostubaf. Dr. Franz Riedweg).

One hundred and seventy-five (as of 25 July 1942 according to 11. Picker in Hitler’s Table Talk).


Three hundred and fifteen as of 31 October 1944 (from an unpublished biography of Ogruf. Gottlob Berger by Robert Kuebler - this is close to the "usual" estimates by assorted Waffen-SS historians).


Swedish Casualties in the Waffen-SS


About 30 to 45 killed. Lennert Westberg, who is probably the most accurate among those who have written about the Swedish volunteers lists 130 survivors out of an estimated 175 Swedes in the Waffen-SS.








The 33rd Waffen-Grenadier-Division

of the SS Charlemagne (French No.1)

Click on this text to watch a 4 and a half minute video:Berlin 1945: French Division Charlemagne (Fenet , De la Mazière)...

One of the last Waffen-SS units to hold out defending Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin was comprised entirely of Frenchmen.



The 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French) and Charlemagne Regiment are collective names used for units of French volunteers in the Wehrmacht and later Waffen-SS during World War II.


From estimates of 7,400 to 11,000 at its peak in 1944, the strength of the division fell to just sixty men in May 1945. They were one of the last German units to see action in a pitched battle during World War II, where they held central Berlin and the Führerbunker against the onslaught of Soviet infantry and armor. Knowing that they would not survive should Germany be defeated, they were among the last to surrender in the brutal house-to-house and street-to-street fighting during the final days of the Battle in Berlin.


Its crest is a representation of the dual empire of Charlemagne, which united the Franks in what would become France and Germany. The Imperial eagle on the dexter side represents East Francia (Germany) and the fleurs-de-lys on the sinister side represents West Francia (France).




In September 1944, a new unit, the Waffen-Grenadier-Brigade der SS “Charlemagne” (französische Nr.1), also known as the Französische Brigade der SS was formed out of the remnants of the LVF and French Sturmbrigade, both of which were disbanded.


Joining them were French collaborators fleeing the Allied advance in the west, as well as Frenchmen from the German Navy, the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK), the Organisation Todt, a construction unit and the Vichy French Milice. Some sources claim that the unit also included volunteers from some French colonies and Switzerland. SS-Brigadeführer Gustav Krukenberg took actual command with Puaud (now an SS-Oberführer), as nominal French commander.


Defence of Berlin


In early April 1945, Krukenberg now commanded only about 700 men organized into a single infantry regiment with two battalions (Battalions 57 and 58) and one heavy support battalion without equipment. He released about 400 men to serve in a construction battalion; the remainder, numbering about 350, had chosen to go to Berlin and conduct a delaying action against the approaching Soviet Army.


On 23 April the Reich Chancellery in Berlin ordered Krukenberg to proceed to the capital with his men, who were reorganized as Sturmbataillon (“assault battalion”) “Charlemagne”. Between 320 and 330 French troops arrived in Berlin on 24 April after a long detour to avoid Soviet advance columns. (The French SS men had been attempting to cross the Falkenrehde canal bridge which was blown up under them by men of the Volkssturm who thought they were a Soviet column). Sturmbataillon “Charlemagne” was attached to the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division “Nordland”.


The arrival of the French SS men bolstered the Nordland Division whose “Norge” and “Danmark” Panzergrenadier regiments had been decimated in the fighting. Both equaled roughly a battalion. SS-Brigadeführer Krukenberg was appointed the commander of (Berlin) Defence Sector C on 25 April. This command included the Nordland Division, following the dismissal of its previous commander, SS-Brigadeführer Joachim Ziegler on the same day.


The soldiers noted that the first night in Berlin was unnaturally quiet. They heard people dancing and laughing, but no sounds of fighting were audible except for the occasional distant sound of Soviet artillery.They walked from West to East Berlin, to a brewery near the Hermannplatz. Here the fighting began, with Hitler Youth firing Panzerfausts at Soviet tanks belonging to advance guards near the Tempelhof Aerodrome. Soon some members of the Sturmbataillon joined the Hitler Youth in tank hunting sorties.


Supported by Tiger II tanks and the 11th SS Panzer-Battalion “Hermann von Salza”, the Sturmbataillon took part in a counterattack on the morning of 26 April in Neukölln, a district in southeastern Berlin near the Sonnenallee. The counterattack ran into an ambush by Soviet troops using a captured German Panther tank. The regiment lost half of the available troops in Neukölln on the first day. It later defended Neukölln’s Town Hall.


Given that Neukölln was heavily penetrated by Soviet combat groups, Krukenberg prepared fallback positions for Sector C defenders around Hermannplatz. He moved his headquarters into the opera house. As the Nordland Division withdrew towards Hermannplatz the French SS and one-hundred Hitler Youth attached to their group destroyed 14 Soviet tanks with panzerfausts; one machine gun position by the Halensee bridge managed to hold up any Soviet advance in that area for 48 hours.


The Soviet advance into Berlin followed a pattern of massive shelling followed by assaults using battle groups of about 80 men in each, with tank escorts and close artillery support. On 27 April, after a spirited but futile defence, the remnants of Nordland were pushed back into the central government district (Zitadelle sector) in Defence sector Z.


There, Krukenberg’s Nordland headquarters was a carriage in the Stadtmitte U-Bahn station. Fighting was very heavy and by 28 April, approximately 108 Soviet tanks had been destroyed in the southeast of Berlin within the S-Bahn. Sixty-two of those were destroyed by the efforts of the Charlemagne Sturmbataillon alone, which was now under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Henri Joseph Fenet. Fenet and his battalion were given the area of Neukölln, Belle Alliance Platz, Wilhelmstrasse and the Friedrichstrasse to defend.


Fenet, who was now wounded in the foot, remained with his battalion as they withdrew to the vicinity of the Reich Aviation Ministry in the central government district under the command of SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke. For the success of the battalion during the Battle in Berlin, Mohnke awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to Fenet on 29 April 1945.


On 28 April, the Red Army started a full-scale offensive into the central sector. Fighting was intense, the Sturmbataillon Charlemagne was in the center of the battle zone around the Reich Chancellery. SS-Unterscharführer Eugene Vaulot, who had destroyed two tanks in Neukölln, used his Panzerfausts to claim six more near the Führerbunker. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross by Krukenberg during a candlelight ceremony on the Stadtmitte U-Bahn station platform on 29 April. Vaulot did not survive the battle being killed three days later.


The French Charlemagne SS were the last defenders of Hitler’s Führerbunker, remaining there until 2 May to prevent the Soviets from capturing it on May Day.


Reduced to approximately thirty able men, most members of the Sturmbataillon had been captured or escaped Berlin on their own, or in small groups. Most of those who made it to France were denounced and sent to Allied prisons and camps. For example, Fenet was sentenced to 20 years of forced labour, but was released from prison in 1959. Others were shot upon capture by the French authorities. General Philip Leclerc, the French divisional commander who had served under the Americans, was presented with a defiant group of 11-12 captured Charlemagne Division men. The Free French General immediately asked them why they wore a German uniform, to which one of them replied by asking the General why he wore an American one (the Free French wore modified US army uniforms). The group of French Waffen-SS men was later executed by the "victorius allies" without any form of military tribunal procedure.
















 Prisoners of the Charlemagne Division who were executed on 8 May 1945 at Karlstein

by their fellow Frenchmen from the 2nd Armoured Division, commanded by

General Leclerc, in American uniform and under orders from Paris. In the

foreground from left to right are Waffen-Unterscharführer Jean Robert, then

Waffen-Obersturmführer Serge Krotoff (of 2nd Bataillon, 57th Regiment),

Paul Briffaut in army uniform and Waffen-Untersturmführer Raymond Daffas.

The divisional archives had previously been piled onto trucks and destroyed in

late April by the Bavarian peasant with whom they had been hidden,

as a result of the American advance.


In the spring of 1944 a command was issued from the OKW to transfer all foreigners

serving in the German Army to the Waffen SS. The attack against Hitler on 20 July

accelerated this movement, particularly concerning the French. German high command

decided to regroup the volunteers into a new SS French brigade, under the command of

Colonel Edgard Puaud. The SS-Hauptamt [the administrative office of the SS] decided

to bring the 638 French infantry regiment back from Russia. It was disbanded on

10 August 1944 and its members transferred to the Waffen SS. The LVF headquarters

at Greifenberg now became the new brigade’s headquarters as well as the

Französische SS-Grenadier Ausbildungs und Ersatz-Bataillon (French SS Grenadier

training and reserve Battalion), commanded by SS-Obersturmbannführer Heinrich Hersche

who had arrived from Sennheim. The Sturmbrigade, whose 1st Battalion had proved

itself so valiantly in Galicia, arrived on 5 September and joined 2nd Battalion for training

at the ‘West-Prussian’ SS-Trüppenbüngsplatz. Alongside them, 2,000-2,100

political soldiers were finishing their basic training there, under the command of

SS-Oberstumbannführer Paul Gamory-Dubourdeau. In addition there were also men

from the SS-Französische Flakbaterrie, who had not joined the Sturmbrigade in the

fighting in Poland, 1,000-1,200 sailors from the Kriegsmarine and Kriegsmarinewerftpolizei

who had landed at Greifenberg in mid-September, and around 2,000 men who were

involved in the Schutzcommando and Todt Organisation, the NSKK, the Speer Legion

and the Technische Nothilfe, which was part of the German Police. There were also

other general German paramilitary units, although some had remained

at their original training grounds with the permission of their leaders.


Two regiments were formed, with two battalions each comprised of four companies.

The 57th Regiment was predominantly composed of former members of the

Sturmbrigade, on the orders of Paul Gamory-Dubourdeau. The 58th Regiment was

headed by Commander Eugéne Bridoux and contained the ex-Legionnaires. Either

for religious reasons (the perceived paganism of the SS), years of combat fatigue,

or because they felt the war was definitively lost, a few dozen men categorically

refused to be transferred. Taking advantage of this opportunity to start on a clean

slate, a purge took place removing 180 of these ‘undesirables’. In order to learn

the fighting methods of the SS, a number of LVF officers and soldiers were sent on

training courses. During their absence, the brigade left its quarters and headed for the

SS-Truppenübungsplatz at Wildflecken. On 5 November, part of the French state

militia had to withdraw from Germany and found itself also being incorporated into the

brigade. During the winter of 1944-45, the Waffen-Grenadier (no longer the SS-Grenadier

as those of the Sturmbrigade had been called) had to endure particularly harsh training

as a result of the snow, the freezing temperatures, lack of equipment and clothes and

poor diet. Desertions among the prestigious SS units, such as the Walloon or the Wiking

divisions were very common, because their members wanted to join

the fighting as soon as possible.


Given the title of ‘Division’, despite its reduced capacity (more than 7,300 men), the

orders to depart for the East by train arrived on 16 February. Integrated with the 11th Army,

the first men arrived on 22 February at Hammerstein in Pomerania and gathered in a

nearby camp. Sent to the frontlines without any armoured support, heavy weaponry

or radio equipment, and with all their assault rifles having been hijacked by another unit,

the division’s casualties began to pile up. Different companies broke off to fight in isolated

groups, with no communication with the rear lines as they were pushed backwards.

The survivors retreated to Szczecinek and after this initial engagement, the division

had lost around one third of its troops, most of whom were either wounded or evacuated.

Five hundred were dead. After regrouping at Białogard, the units were merged together

to form a frontline regiment with the freshest and most experienced soldiers, and a

reserve regiment with a reduced combat role, due to the fatigue amongst the men.

They were sent to protect the retreat of the German troops at the port of Kolberg.

Once more the French faced fierce fighting trying to defend the city, forcing them to

consider pulling back towards Białogard, which was still held by the Germans. Trapped

on a plain south-west of the city, the 3,000 men of the reserve regiment were massacred

by Soviet tanks. A few survivors were captured, while others took refuge in the

nearby woods. Surrounded for days, the exhausted soldiers now had to finish their war

as prisoners, having failed to cross the River Oder. Arriving in Międzyrzecz, in western

Poland after a long and painful march, the men of 1st Battalion, who were the only ones

left unscathed, managed to succeed in breaking the encirclement of Pomerania. The

French regrouped on the outskirts of Anklam and waited for other survivors of the Division.


Stationed at Carpin, the combat units were once more reorganised and resumed

their training. On 24 April SS-Brigadeführer Krukenberg, who was now in charge of

the French, received a telegram from Hitler’s bunker announcing that he was to take

up a new position in Berlin and must get there with a French assault battalion as

quickly as possible. Having lost three vehicles en route, a French detachment arrived

in Berlin, which by now was virtually surrounded by the Red Army. They were attached

to the SS Nordland Division, commanded by Waffen-Haupsturmführer Henri Fenet.

This division had distinguished itself in urban combat, repulsing many large-scale

armoured vehicle attacks using the Panzerfaüst [German anti-tank weapon]. The very

experienced French soldiers managed to officially take out sixty-two tanks as they

gradually retreated to the ever-decreasing German-held zones. On the morning of

2 May, Fenet and his men finally reached Hitler’s bunker. They were hoping to find the

last kernel of resistance, but instead realised that the battle was all but over. More fighting

now commenced in order to avoid being taken prisoner, but one by one the men

were arrested by the victorious Soviets, before resistance finally ceased at 3pm.


The remaining men who were still at the barracks at Greifenberg left and joined

those at Wildflecken. Here they were divided into various units and separately

retreated westwards, where some were subordinated into the 38th SS-Grenadier-Division

Nibelungen. In the end, four members of the division

were awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.




The 27. SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Langemarck (flämische Nr. 1) was formed

19 October 1944 when 6. SS-Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade Langemarck was upgraded to

a division by the addition of manpower from the Flemish collaborators from Vlaamsche Wacht 

and other organizations who had retreated from Belgium along with the German forces.
It fought on the eastern front and participated in the fighting at Narva. It continued to fight

the soviet forces as it was forced back into Germany and the division surrendered

at Mecklemburg though some parts participated in the battle of Berlin.


SS-Freiwilligen-Legion-Flandern (July 1941 - May 1943)
SS-Sturmbrigade Langemarck (May 1943 - Oct 1943)
6. SS-Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade Langemarck (Oct 1943 - Oct 1944)
27. SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Langemarck (flämische Nr. 1) (Oct 1944 - May 1945)


SS-Obersturmbannführer Conrad Schellong (19 Oct 1944 - ? Oct 1944)
SS-Standartenführer Thomas Müller (? Oct 1944 - 2 May 1945)

Chief of Staff

SS-Sturmbannführer Heinz Hufenbach (? Nov 1944 - ? May 1945)


SS-Sturmbannführer Kurt Willamowski (? - ?)

Area of operations

Poland & Pomerania (Sep 1944 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

Dec 1944 7.000

Honor titles

Langemarck is a Belgian town in Western Flanders, whose name was made famous in

WW I by the charge of German regiments mostly composed of young war volunteers

on 11 November 1914, which was heavily exploited propagandistically both in WW I and

during the Third Reich. The name was adopted as this division was largely made up of Flemish volunteers.

Order of battle

SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 66
- I./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 66
- II./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 66
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 67
- I./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 67
- II./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 67
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 68
- I./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 68
- II./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 68
SS-Artillerie Regiment 27
SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 27
SS-Nachrichten Abteilung 27
SS-Pionier-Bataillon 27
SS-Div.Versorgungs-Regiment 27
SS-Feldersatz-Bataillon 27
SS-Sanitäts-Abteilung 27
Kampgruppe Schellong

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 5
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or

Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)


The "Langemarck" cuff title was authorized for this unit, but "Frw. Legion Flandern",

"Freiw. Legion Flandern", "Legion Flandern" and "Flandern" cuff titles were also used.
A collar insignia with a trifos (three-legged swastika)

was used as well as the normal SS runes.
(Courtesy of Carl Evans)

SS-Sturmmann Remi Schrijnen with the special trifos insignia
(Courtesy of Samuel)

Two NCOs of the Langemarck division, note cuff-title and the national sleeve badge
(Courtesy of Robert French)

Sources used

John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reproductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson & Thomas McGuirl - German military cuffbands 1784-present
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 24. to 38. Divisions and Volunteer Legions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)


A look at the "Russian Liberation Army," a little-known World War II military force made
up of Russian soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the Germans and then volunteered
to fight the Soviet regime. This ten-minute Russian-language video, with English subtitles,
includes wartime footage of a swearing-in ceremony of RLA soldiers. The RLA was
commanded by former Soviet General Andrei Vlasov, who also headed the German-backed
anti-Stalinist "Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia,
" a provisional "government-in-exile." 

Click on this text to see video describing how 800,000 Russians were fighting on the German side during WW2. (English)....

Russian government calls Ukrainians “fascists” referring to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,
members of which fought for Ukraine’s independence against Soviet Bolsheviks during
the Second World War. In fact, “fascists in Ukraine” is the main argument of Putin’s
propaganda, with which he brainwashes the heads of Russian citizens, who now think
that Ukrainians are evil and who gladly send their sons to die in Ukraine
fighting with so-called “fascists”.

It is interesting, though, that Russians somehow “forget” to mention its own
Russian Liberation Army, members of which fought against Bolsheviks on the side
of the Nazi Germany. In fact, Bolsheviks were very unpopular on the territories of the
Soviet Union: Bolsheviks killed tens of millions of people after they came to power.
That was the reason why there were so many Soviet deserters during the first years
after Germany attacked Soviet Union –
people did not want to die for JEW Bolsheviks.

These people joined armies, such as the Russian Liberation Army, which fought
AGAINST Bolsheviks on the side of Germany. During 1943 the number of volunteers
in the Russian Liberation Army (ROA) was close to 800,000 (!).
Russian Cossacks constituted the major part of ROA.

Interestingly, Cossacks were defending their territories from Bolsheviks just in the
same way Ukrainians defended their regions in western Ukraine. It’s ironic that Russian
Cossacks are fighting now in Eastern Ukraine against whom they
call “fascists”, although they were fighting FOR fascists during the WW2.

The number of soldiers of the Russian Liberation Army was almost an order of
magnitude bigger than the number of people ever involved in
the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Russians seem to forget their history.

Here is Wikipedia info about the Wehrmacht foreign volunteers:

Here you can find very detailed information about the Russian Liberation Army:
BBC News

... Thousands of Indian soldiers who had joined Britain in the fight against fascism
swapped their oaths to the British king for others to Adolf Hitler - an astonishing tale
of loyalty, despair and betrayal that threatened to rock British rule in India, known as
the Raj. The story the German officers told their interrogators began in Berlin on
3 April 1941. This was the date that the left-wing Indian revolutionary leader,
Subhas Chandra Bose, arrived in the German capital ... By the end of 1941, Hitler's
regime officially recognised his provisional "Free India Government" in exile,
and even agreed to help Chandra Bose raise an army to fight for his cause.


Mass Rally and Parade for the Ukrainian SS Division 'Galicia'      
Video - 1943

Contemporary film report on a mass rally in Lviv (Lemberg), Ukraine, July 18, 1943,
for the newly formed SS Division "Galicia." Ukrainian-language narration. Runtime: 2:45 mins.
Ceremonies begin with an outdoor religious service. Ukrainians greet the German Governor,
Otto Wächter, who then addresses the large, joyful crowd. Taking part in the parade
are many young men who have volunteered for service in the new military formation,
as well as young women in traditional dress. Many carry the symbol of the "Galicia"
Division, a yellow stylized lion on a blue background - the Ukrainian national colors.

The first recruits to the Corps came from a group of prisoners of war (POWs)

at a "holiday camp" set up by the Germans in Genshagen, a suburb of Berlin, in August 1943.

During World War II numerous Waffen SS volunteer units were formed from the

Nordic countries. This strategy was encouraged by the Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler

who stated, “We must attract all the Nordic blood in the world to us, and so deprive

our enemies of it so that never again will Nordic or Germanic blood fight against us.”

 Over half the Waffen SS was made up of non-German nationality. Waffen SS

volunteers came from Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Croatia, Ukraine,

Latvia, Hungary, Spain, and Sweden and from Russians and Cossacks. One force

was formed into Der Britisches Freikorps otherwise known as The British Free Corps (BFC).

The BFC was the brainchild of John Amery, eldest son of Secretary for India of the

British Government, the Rt. Hon. Leopold Stennett Amery, MP. His son, John Amery,

had fought against Communism in the Spanish Civil War where he gained Spanish

citizenship. In 1939 Amery moved to France and subsequently to Germany in 1942.

From Germany, he broadcast radio messages to Britain calling for peace

between Britain and Germany.



Amery founded The League of St. George. The unit was intended to be a non-combat

unit made up of British prisoners of war prepared to spread the National Socialist message

to fellow prisoners of war. The Wehrmacht High Command insisted on the Legion being

a combat unit. On January 1, 1944, the BFC was officially formed. Volunteers signed a

pledge, which read:“I, (name of the volunteer) being a British subject, consider it my duty

to offer my services in the common European struggle against Communism,

and hereby apply to enlist in the British Free Corps.”



Interestingly, before the BFC came into being, a number of British volunteers had

fought in some Totenkopf units. In May 1940, a Waffen SS manpower report

mentions British volunteers serving in the SS Totenkopf Division and Standarten units.


Amery soon resigned from the Corps as he wanted the volunteers to wear British

uniforms. However, the SS insisted on the wearing of the SS uniforms with British

insignia (Union Flag arm shields and the Three Lions collar patches).

Amery moved to Italy where he became an advisor to Italian leader Benito Mussolini.


SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Hans Roebke then took command of the British Free Corps.

The Hauptsturmfuhrer was replaced in November 1944 by Obersturmfuhrer Dr. Kuehlich.

By 1945 Captain Webster, a British Army Officer was also involved in the

leadership of the British Free Corps.


By spring 1945 the British Free Corps was sent to Steinhoefel where the III SS Panzer Corps

(Germanic) Headquarters was situated under the leadership of Ogrusturmfuhrer Felix Steiner.

The British volunteers were assigned to the Nordland Division. It was within this Division that

many of them saw action in the defence of Berlin although many

Britons otherwise saw service with the Leibstandarte SS.


Palace writers hostile to the BFC claim its members never saw active service;

this is not the case. Reproduced is a letter from Anthony Byers

of Effingham, Surrey that was printed in the Daily Express.


Antony Beevor (Inside Hitler’s Concrete Tomb, last week) mentions the foreign SS troops

who helped to defend Berlin. Among them were soldiers of the British Free Corps, who

were released from a prisoner of war camps in return for donning German SS uniforms,

with the understanding that they would not be asked to fight their own countrymen.

As a National Serviceman stationed in Berlin, I met a Russian Red Army officer

who was impressed by the fighting spirit of eight misguided British soldiers.


“They (British troops) held up an entire Russian regiment for almost two days until

they ran out of ammunition. Only two survived to surrender and were promptly shot

by the understandably irritated Russians, who had lost almost 100 men and three tanks.”


“The Russian officer said that had SS Unterscharfuher Cornfield and a soldier identified

as Pleed been fighting the Germans; they would have deserved the Victoria Cross (VC).

He told me: “I hope the British invented a good story for their families,

for a brave soldier is still a brave soldier even when a traitor to his country.”


Siegrunen 63 has this to say of Reginald Leslie Cornfield. “Reginald Cornfield is thought

to be the only British Free Corps member to be killed in action. On 27 April 1945, during

the battle for Berlin, Cornfield disabled a Soviet tank with a Panzerfaust. The tank

crew then tracked him down and shot him. Due to his unusual BFC uniform, his Soldbuch

(Identity Book) was taken and kept by the Russian officer. Nothing is recorded of Pleed.


John Amery’s book England and Europe were distributed to British prisoners of war

from April 21, 1943, in the hope that they would join the Legion of St. George.

The book is vehemently anti-Communist. The unique work details such things as

what happens to the general population of countries when Communism (Bolshevism)

takes over; who instigated the war and who was likely to profit from such a war.

England and Europe also warn that Britain would lose her empire to the

benefit of both Russia and the USA.


One of the first to volunteer was ‘Frank Wood’ (many members used pseudonyms) who

drafted a recruitment leaflet for the BFC, which was dropped by the Luftwaffe to

British front-line troops fighting in Italy.


Fellow Countrymen! We of the BRITISH FREE CORPS are fighting for you. We are

fighting with the best of Europe’s youth to preserve our European civilisation and our

common cultural heritage from the menace of Jewish Communism. MAKE NO MISTAKE

ABOUT IT! Europe includes England. Should Soviet Russia overcome Germany and other

European countries fighting with her, nothing on this earth would save the Continent from

Communism, and our own country sooner or later would eventually succumb. We are British.

We love England and all it stands for. Most of us have fought on the battlefields of France,

of Libya, Greece, and Italy, and many of our best comrades-in-arms are lying

there ~ sacrificed in this war of Jewish revenge. We felt then that we were being lied to

and betrayed. Now we know it for certain. This conflict between England and Germany is

racial SUICIDE. We must UNITE and take up arms against the common enemy.

We ask you to join us in our struggle. We ask you to come into our ranks and fight shoulder

to shoulder with us for Europe and for England. ~ Published by the British Free Corp.


John Amery was arrested in Italy. Despite having taken Spanish citizenship prior to

World War Two the martyr for a free Europe was

hanged at Wandsworth Prison on December 9, 1945.


A similar fate also befell Irish-American William Joyce. He had implored British prisoners

of war to enlist in the British Free Corps. Despite being born in New York in 1906

and being of Irish parentage Joyce was controversially found guilty of treason.


The problem British Free Corp volunteers was that, unlike the other European volunteers,

Britain was still at war with Germany. Other European countries had surrendered to

Germany or were allies of Germany. The legality of the British Free

Corp was something that concerned the German High Command right.


That these volunteers were found guilty of treason despite never having

taken up arms against their fellow countrymen is surely a travesty of justice.


As early as 1941, after Japan entered the war,

the Fuhrer told Walter Hewel, one of his staff members:


“Strange, that we are destroying the positions of the White Race in East Asia with

the help of Japan, while Britain has joined the Bolshevik swine in the fight against Europe.”





 Vault of the Blue Division (250. Infanterie-Division of Wehrmacht),

in La Almudena Cemetery (Madrid, Nowadays)



The Blue Division (Spanish: División Azul, German: Blaue Division), officially designated as

División Española de Voluntarios by the Spanish Army and 250. Infanterie-Division in the

German Army was a unit of Spanish volunteers and conscripts who

served in the German Army on the Eastern Front of the Second World War.




No remorse? Spanish media still nostalgic

over volunteers who fought for Hitler

No remorse? Spanish media still nostalgic over volunteers who fought for Hitler
A Spanish newspaper has published an article lauding the “heroism” of volunteers who fought for Hitler against
the Soviet Union. The piece highlights only the hardships they faced – and doesn’t bother to tell the whole story.

The article was published by one of the country’s major newspapers – the ABC – early in February. It came just

ahead of the anniversary of Spain’s main WWII battle. No, Spain did not partake in it – but its volunteers did.

Read more

The Blue Division – named after blue shirts of Francisco Franco’s Falangist movement – was officially known

as the 250th Infantry Division of Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht. It was created in 1941 as a volunteer

unit, to show Spain’s devotion to Hitler’s cause without openly drawing the country into the war.


The ‘division’ designation is quite misleading and downplays the scale of Spain’s participation. At least

47,000 Spaniards served in it over the years as the unit had numerous rotations and reinforcements.


ABC’s article focuses on the Battle for Krasny Bor, an episode from the largely unsuccessful Operation Polar

Star, when the Soviet Army tried to push the occupying forces away from besieged Leningrad early in 1943.


While the attack failed in most directions, on one of them the Soviet soldiers faced the Blue Division. The article lauds

the “heroism” of the Division, highlighting the harsh weather conditions and bad logistics the Spaniards had to endure

while “defending” the settlement of Krasny Bor on the outskirts of the city of Leningrad and stopping

“38 battalions of Stalin,” as the article puts it.


The Spaniards managed to resist the assault, despite being heavily outgunned and outnumbered. The Division,

however, ultimately lost the settlement of Krasny Bor and sustained heavy casualties, yet this did not help the

Soviet offensive which had stalled.

The Soviet Polar Star Operation was largely a failure and the Siege of Leningrad continued for another year.

Overall, the siege claimed the lives of at least 650 thousand civilians, yet some historians believe the figure could be twice as large.

None of these facts are even merely mentioned in the article.



Read more

The Spanish volunteer unit was eventually disbanded in 1943. The most hardcore Falangists, however, were

eager to continue fighting and a smaller group of volunteers, Blue Legion, was formed instead of the Division.

The last Spaniards among the German ranks fought until the end of the war and took part in the Battle for Berlin.


Such one-sided approach to the Blue Division is nothing new in Spain. The story of Spanish participation in Hitler’s

war against the Soviet Union was not forgotten or condemned by any means –

just merely swept under the rug just a bit after the defeat of the Nazism.


Many veterans of the Division have enjoyed successful careers with the Spanish Army and held top posts

with the country’s military – and some even enjoyed pensions from non-Nazi Germany long after the war.


The monuments for the fallen of the Blue Division stand tall, streets in many cities bear its name, last surviving

members proudly give interviews – and media goes all nostalgic about it, focusing on the hardships the brave

Spaniards faced in snowy and distant Russia.





Hitler's secret Indian army
By Mike Thomson
BBC News

In the closing stages of World War II, as Allied and French resistance forces were
driving Hitler's now demoralised forces from France, three senior German officers defected.


The information they gave British intelligence was considered so sensitive
that in 1945 it was locked away, not due to be released until the year 2021.

Now, 17 years early, the BBC's Document programme

has been given special access to this secret file.


It reveals how thousands of Indian soldiers who had joined Britain in the fight against

fascism swapped their oaths to the British king for others to Adolf Hitler - an astonishing

tale of loyalty, despair and betrayal that threatened to rock British

rule in India, known as the Raj.


Members of the Free India Legion
Legionnaires were recruited from German POW camps



The story the German officers told their interrogators began in Berlin on 3 April 1941.

This was the date that the left-wing Indian revolutionary leader, Subhas Chandra Bose,

arrived in the German capital.


Bose, who had been arrested 11 times by the British in India, had fled the Raj with

one mission in mind. That was to seek Hitler's help in pushing the British out of India.


Six months later, with the help of the German foreign ministry, he had set up what he
called "The Free India Centre", from where he published leaflets,
wrote speeches and organised broadcasts in support of his cause.

By the end of 1941, Hitler's regime officially recognised his provisional "Free India

Government" in exile, and even agreed to help Chandra Bose raise an

army to fight for his cause. It was to be called "The Free India Legion".


Bose hoped to raise a force of about 100,000 men which, when armed

and kitted out by the Germans, could be used to invade British India.


He decided to raise them by going on recruiting visits to Prisoner-of-War camps in

Germany which, at that time, were home to tens of thousands of Indian soldiers

captured by Rommel in North Africa.




Finally, by August 1942, Bose's recruitment drive got fully into swing. Mass ceremonies

were held in which dozens of Indian POWs joined in mass oaths of allegiance to Adolf Hitler.



Chandra Bose is garlanded by members of the Free India Legion
Chandra Bose did not live to see Indian independence
These are the words that were used by men that had formally sworn an oath to the
British king: "I swear by God this holy oath that I will obey the leader of the German
race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces
in the fight for India, whose leader is Subhas Chandra Bose."

I managed to track down one of Bose's former recruits, Lieutenant Barwant Singh,

who can still remember the Indian revolutionary arriving at his prisoner of war camp.


"He was introduced to us as a leader from our country who wanted to talk to us," he said.


"He wanted 500 volunteers who would be trained in Germany and then

parachuted into India. Everyone raised their hands. Thousands of us volunteered."



In all 3,000 Indian prisoners of war signed up for the Free India Legion.


But instead of being delighted, Bose was worried. A left-wing admirer of Russia,

he was devastated when Hitler's tanks rolled across the Soviet border.


Matters were made even worse by the fact that after Stalingrad it became clear that

the now-retreating German army would be in no position

to offer Bose help in driving the British from faraway India.


When the Indian revolutionary met Hitler in May 1942 his suspicions were confirmed,

and he came to believe that the Nazi leader was more interested in using his

men to win propaganda victories than military ones.


So, in February 1943, Bose turned his back on his legionnaires

and slipped secretly away aboard a submarine bound for Japan.


Rudolf Hartog, former translator for the Free India Legion
Rudolf Hartog remembers parting with his Indian friends
There, with Japanese help, he was to raise a force of 60,000 men to march on India.

Back in Germany the men he had recruited were left leaderless and demoralised.

After much dissent and even a mutiny, the German High Command despatched them

first to Holland and then south-west France, where they were told to

help fortify the coast for an expected allied landing.


After D-Day, the Free India Legion, which had now been drafted into Himmler's Waffen SS,

were in headlong retreat through France, along with regular German units.


It was during this time that they gained a wild and

loathsome reputation amongst the civilian population.


The former French Resistance fighter, Henri Gendreaux, remembers the Legion passing

through his home town of Ruffec: "I do remember several cases of rape. A lady and her

two daughters were raped and in another case they even shot dead a little two-year-old girl."


Finally, instead of driving the British from India, the Free India Legion

were themselves driven from France and then Germany.


Their German military translator at the time was Private Rudolf Hartog, who is now 80.


"The last day we were together an armoured tank appeared.

I thought, my goodness, what can I do? I'm finished," he said.


"But he only wanted to collect the Indians. We embraced each other and cried.

You see that was the end."





A year later the Indian legionnaires were sent back to India,

where all were released after short jail sentences.


But when the British put three of their senior officers on trial near

Delhi there were mutinies in the army and protests on the streets.


With the British now aware that the Indian army could no longer be

relied upon by the Raj to do its bidding, independence followed soon after.


Not that Subhas Chandra Bose was to see the day he had

fought so hard for. He died in 1945.


Since then little has been heard of Lieutenant Barwant Singh

and his fellow legionnaires.


At the end of the war the BBC was forbidden from broadcasting their story and this

remarkable saga was locked away in the archives, until now.

Not that Lieutenant Singh has ever forgotten those dramatic days.


"In front of my eyes I can see how we all looked, how we would all sing
and how we all talked about what eventually would happen to us all," he said.




26th Waffen Grenadier Division

of the SS Gömbös (2nd Hungarian)




The name comes from an Hungarian statesman and soldier Gyula Gömbös

de Jákfa (December 26, 1886 until October 6, 1936), who was the war minister

and also the prime minister, he was in favor of bringing Hungary closer to Germany.


(Eesti Leegion)


The name of the division could have also been Hungaria.


64th Waffen Grenadier Regiment
65th Waffen Grenadier Regiment
66th Waffen Grenadier Regiment (?)



Division Leaders:
SS-Sturmbannführer Rolf Tiemann
SS-Standartenführer Zoltan Pisky
SS-Standartenführer Laszlo Deak
SS-Oberführer Berthold Maack
SS-Brigadeführer Josef Grassy



The division was formed in March 1945 in Neuhammer and Bavaria. From there

they retreated with the 25th SS Division Hunyadi to Austria. The XVII Waffen

SS Corps was formed from the two Hungarian SS Divisions.

The leader of this unit was Generaloberst Jenö vitez Ruszkay-Ranzengerger.


On May 4, 1945 the division was on a defensive position between Vöcklabruck and

Timelkam. The Hungarians refused to fight the US troops and retreated arbitrarily

to the Ried-Mond Lake-Gmunden line, where they merged with the 25th SS Division.



May 5, 1945 they surrendered to the US units near Ternberg.


(NB: In the summer of 1944 the 49th SS Panzer Brigade sent a letter from Denmark

to France, where they announce that the new 26th SS Panzer Division will be formed,

but this division only existed on paper for a short period of time.


In spring 1944 the 49th SS Panzergrenadier Brigade was formed in the additional units'

training camp in Königsbrück, which was supposed to be the core of

the 26th SS Panzer Division.


SS Junkerschule Tölz gave the headquarters, the Unterführerschule in Laibach gave

the 1st battalion with four companies; a reserve battalion in Arolsen gave the 2nd

battalion with four companies; the Dresden police school made up the 3rd battalion.

The additional units in Ellwangen made up the motorcyclists-reconnaissance company;

liaison, training and supplementary regiment in Nuremberg gave the liaison company.

The SS Artillerieschule Beneschau gave the artillery unit (Abteilung). The brigade was sent to

defend thecoast south of Esbjerg (Denmark) after training.


After the allies broke through the German front in Normandy, the brigade was quickly

sent to France. During August 16 and 17, 1944 the brigade was unloaded in Compiegne-Meauy

area and then it was sent to battle. The unit had rough battles while retreating until

Chalon sur Marne and in the Province area they suffered great losses. The remains of

the brigade were merged with the 17th SS Division Götz von Berlichingen. (The artillery unit was given

back to the SS-school Beneschau.)









Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals