This sonderkommando (special unit) originated in 1940 year. Poland defeated a year earlier, it was impossible to name Poland. In the cities there were underground groups, in the forests - partisans. It was then that Gottlob Berger, one of the deputies of Himmler, proposed the creation of a special unit dedicated exclusively to the fight against partisans. He also proposed a candidature for the new division being created - his old friend Oscar Paul Dirlewanger.
Oscar Paul Dirlewanger with the rank of SS Oberführer, 1944
Oscar was born in 1895 in Swabia. Called to 1913 for annual military service, he returned home as a lieutenant in 1918, with three wounds, two Iron Crosses, experience in battalion command and firm conviction that his vocation is military service, or more precisely, war.
Dirlewanger joined the freykor, participated in the suppression of the left (received another wound), joined the NSDAP and the SA, and actively participated in the 1923 Beer putsch. Possessing an aggressive and unbalanced character, he was repeatedly detained by the police for participating in street riots.
It was at this time that he met and closely converged with Berger, who later became his patron.
In the 1934 year, Dirlewanger gets the 2 of the year in prison for corrupting a minor, expelled from the party and the SA. After leaving prison, he (on the advice of his friend Bergman) submits an application to the Condor Legion and departs for Spain to fight on Franco’s side.
At 1939, Dirlewanger returns to Germany with three new awards. Through the efforts of Bergman, he was rehabilitated, reinstated in the party and the SA, adopted in the SS with the rank of Hauptsturmführer.
That's who the deputy. Himmler offered the vacant post of commander of the special unit being created, who later became the name of his commander.
Dirlewanger accepted the offer of Bergman, nor did hesitate for a minute. He is again in the army! And then he asked for permission to recruit his unit by persons convicted of poaching. He argued his proposal with the following considerations: these people are good arrows, excellent trackers, they know how to navigate in the forest. Poachers more than anyone else are suitable for fighting "forest bandits."
The offer fell on the prepared ground. Just recently, Hitler received a letter from the wife of one partigenosse, who was convicted of poaching. The wife of the functionary asked to give her husband the opportunity to rehabilitate. During one of the meetings with Himmler in the spring of 1940, Hitler expressed his opinion that the faithful party members have nothing to do behind the concentration camp barbed wire, and if they want to atone for their service with the Reich, they should be given that opportunity.
In the summer of 1940, the first batch of 84 people arrived in Oranienburg from Sachsenhausen. At the place of recruitment, the zoderommand team received the name “Oranienburg Poaching Team”. So in the structure of the SS arose a unit formed from convicted members of the SS and NSDAP. In the future, recruitment for the unit of recruits in prisons and concentration camps will become the basic principle of recruiting the Dirlewanger team.
The emblem of the 36 th SS Grenadier Division "Dirlewanger"
In the fall of 1940, the zonder team arrived in Poland. In the governorship-general, a unit was used to block Jewish settlements and ghettos in Dzikow, Lublin and Krakow. At the same time, the Sondercommand took part in anti-partisan operations, showing its high effectiveness. The team drew the attention of the SS head and the Lublin Globocnik district police. He increasingly began to use "poachers" to fight the partisans, sending to Berlin the most flattering reviews about the sonderkommando.
At the same time, letters were sent to Berger and Himmler about indescribable atrocities of the unit. To verify the incoming signals, SS Untersturmuführer Konrad Morgen arrived in Lublin, who revealed numerous cases of beating, extortion, robbery, rape, murder committed by members of the unit during the inspection. In his final report, Morgen considered it necessary to arrest Dirlewanger himself, and bring the members of his team back to the camp. Even from the point of view of a lawyer, the SS unit was not so much a military unit as a gangster formation.
And what do you think, what decision did the SS leadership take? Oscar Dirlewanger was given the title of Sturmbanführer, his team was reassigned directly to the headquarters of the Reichsführer SS and in January 1942 was sent to Belarus.
The guerrilla movement in Belarus to the 1942 year already created a serious threat to the Wehrmacht’s logistic support system. The number of individual units reached hundreds and even thousands of people. In service with the partisans there was not only small weapon, but also machine guns, field guns, anti-tank artillery, anti-aircraft mounts, mortars, howitzers and there were even Tanks! The units were commanded by professional military personnel who had undergone special training in the structures of the NKVD. The activities of the units were coordinated by the Central headquarters of the partisan movement, located in Moscow.
To liquidate the partisans, the Nazis conducted large-scale military operations involving Wehrmacht units reinforced with artillery, armored vehicles, aviation and tanks. These operations were a hell for German soldiers. Anti-partisan action was fundamentally different from fighting on the Eastern Front. The front line as such did not exist. Forests made use of aircraft senseless. Military intelligence was powerless. The lack of roads and wetlands did not allow the widespread use of military equipment. The battles were fierce, none of the parties took prisoners.
The executioner of Belarus
Zonderkommand "Dirlewanger" participated in most ongoing large-scale operations, always receiving the highest ratings from the leaders of the operation. Dirlewanger himself more than once went on the attack in the first chain of attackers and personally shot even those who were hesitant.
The unit not only participated in military operations, but also carried out tasks unique to it. Rangers of Dirlewanger tracked down partisans, determined their deployment and basing sites (this is where the poaching experience came in handy!), Attacked guerrilla columns marching and performed “specific” tasks — punitive operations.
Here are just some of the dry lines of the battalion's results report: “2 guerrilla and 176 suspects were shot,” “1 guerrilla and 287 accomplices were shot.” Each village, suspected of sympathizing with the partisans, was destroyed along with the inhabitants. Dirlewanger constantly petitioned for additional acquisition of his unit with flamethrowers.
The entire team of Dirlewanger was burned along with residents of more than 180 villages. Even if the village was not destroyed, livestock were confiscated, farm buildings and fodder were burned, a healthy population was hijacked to forced labor. The dead desert remained in the full sense behind the Sonderkommando.
Achieving high results, the team (since November 1942 - Sonderbattalion) suffered high losses. In addition to poachers, they began sending convicts for smuggling, illegal possession of weapons and even just a criminal mob to the unit. But even this stuff was not enough, and in the spring of 1942, Dirlewanger achieved permission to form two companies in the battalion staffed by foreign volunteers. In the composition of the so-called. “Russian companies” were Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and representatives of other peoples of the USSR.
Note: On 30 on April 1943, 569 was listed as a Zonbattalian, of whom 367 was not German, in May the number of the battalion was increased to 612, and in June 1943 there were already 760 in the battalion.
2 May 1943 Mr. Dirlewanger was awarded the title of Obersturmmbanführer SS for his successes in the fight against partisans.
In November, 1943, the Red Army broke through the front and began to attack Vitebsk. The Germans plugged the hole with everything that was at hand. So the unit (already a regiment) turned out to be on the Eastern Front. "Poachers" were in an unusual situation for themselves. The experience acquired by them in the course of the anti-partisan struggle in the front-line conditions turned out to be absolutely useless. Part of the loss.
By January 1944, the regiment was cut by almost half. Not only criminals, but also “asocial elements”, in particular, those convicted of homosexuality and even political prisoners, come to replenish them. In May, the subdivision has an amazing “hodgepodge”: Latvians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Russians, Spaniards, Muslims and Caucasians. But the Germans remain the backbone of the battalion.
And in the rear of the Hitlerites at this time, on the eve of liberation, partisans are becoming more active. The regiment was removed from the front and returned to Belarus, because neither the Wehrmacht nor the SS had a unit equal to the "poachers" in terms of effectiveness (and cruelty) in the conduct of the anti-partisan struggle. Therefore, when an uprising broke out in Warsaw 1 on August 1944 of the year, one of the first to suppress it was the regiment under the command of the standard SS Dirlewanger.
Upon arrival in Warsaw, the regiment consisted of 881 people. (During the anti-partisan operations "Spring Festival", "Rain" and others. The regiment suffered heavy losses). In the first days, the first batch of prisoners from the camps in Mattskau and Danzig arrived to hold the SS convicts. In an effort to rehabilitate themselves, the arriving recruits did not spare anyone; they fought with cruelty and ruthlessness. Where the situation seemed hopeless, the Dirlewanger team appeared, the fighters of which immediately went to the assault, regardless of the losses. If there was an opportunity, they went on the attack under the guise of a human shield of women and children. No prisoners were taken, civilians were shot — all, regardless of gender or age. Hospitals were burned along with inexperienced patients and staff.
Sonderkommanda promotion was the fastest, the actions - the most successful, but accompanied by the highest losses. Despite the fact that during the suppression of the uprising, 2500 people arrived at the regiment, by the time the rebels surrendered (2 in October 1944), DNLXX left the people. Regiment losses exceeded 648%. The commander of the sonder regiment himself, who again personally led his people to the attack, received another (300) wound, Knight’s Cross and the title of SS Oberführer. Replenished with prisoners from Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald and receiving the status of the SS brigade, the unit left for Slovakia to suppress the uprising that broke out there.
Report on what was done in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising
End of the Dirlewanger Team
In February, the 1945 year after the fighting in Slovakia and Hungary, the brigade arrived near the town of Guben (Brandenburg). It was necessary to fight already in Germany. By order from February 14, the 36-I SS Grenadier Division was formed on the basis of the brigade, and a day later the division commander, who once again personally led the counterattack, was wounded and left for the hospital. He never returned to the division.
Fritz Schmedes, who took part after the Red Army broke through 16 on April of the front in Silesia, considered it his main task to hand over the division to the Americans as soon as possible. Breaking away from the Soviet troops, he left the Elbe. By the time, only scraps remained from the division. For example, in the 73 regiment there were 36 people. The same picture was in the remaining divisions. However, the surrender to the Americans was not a salvation for the "poachers". Soldiers wearing a patch with a depiction of two crossed grenades on their sleeves were shot by Americans without ceremony.
The end of the ober executioner
Dirlewanger himself was detained in Altshausen by a French patrol, identified, arrested and put in a local prison. The guards in the prison were carried by the Poles. They knew who Dirlewanger was and were not going to forgive him anything: neither the executed Polish partisans, nor the dead participants of the Warsaw Uprising. For several nights, they led the prisoner into the corridor and, as they say, "took away the soul." On the last night, before they were to be replaced by a new guard, the Poles smashed the ober-executioner head with the butts. And although the act itself is not very beautiful, but unless someone condemns them?