Wehrmacht's Voluntary Assistants (Hiwi)
Forming military units from foreign volunteers, Hitler always protested against the creation of Russian units in the structure of the Wehrmacht. He did not trust Russians. (Looking ahead, we can say that he was right: in 1945, the 1 division of KNOR (Vlasovites) withdrew from positions and went west, exposing the front.) But many Wehrmacht generals didn’t share the position of the Fuhrer. The German army, moving through the territory of the USSR, suffered huge losses. Against the backdrop of 1941, the Western campaigns seemed like a cakewalk. Lost German divisions. Their qualitative composition has changed. Landsknechts who knew the hop of victory, the sweetness of triumph, were placed in the Soviet land. Replaced by the dead came replenishment, which did not have a sparkle in his eyes.
The field generals, in contrast to the “parquet sharkuns,” did not disdain the Russians. Many of them, by hook or by crook, contributed to the formation of “native units” in their units. Collaborators preferred to keep away from the front line, entrusting them with the protection of objects, communications and “dirty work” - fighting guerrillas and carrying out punitive actions against the civilian population. They were called "hiwi" (German Hilfswilliger, willing to help). Were in the Wehrmacht and the units formed from the Cossacks.
Causes of appearance
The first such Cossack units appeared already in 1941 year. There were several reasons for this. Huge Russian open spaces, lack of roads, loss of vehicles, problems with the supply of fuel and lubricants simply pushed the Germans to the massive use of horses. In the German chronicle you rarely see a German soldier on a horse or a horse-drawn cannon: for propaganda purposes, the operators were instructed to remove the motorized units. In fact, the Hitlerites massively used horses in both the 1941 year and the 1945.
Cavalry units were simply indispensable in the fight against partisans. In the woods, in the swamps, they outnumbered vehicles and armored personnel carriers, and moreover, they did not need gasoline. Therefore, the appearance of the Khivi detachments of the Cossacks who know how to handle horses is, if not welcomed, then at least it has not encountered any obstacles.
In addition, Hitler did not attribute the Cossacks to the Russians, considered them to be a separate people, descendants ready, so the formation of the Cossack units did not meet with any sharp opposition from the NSDAP functionaries.
And there were a lot of disgruntled Bolsheviks among the Cossacks, the policy of disclosing conducted by the Soviet authorities made itself felt.
One of the first in the Wehrmacht was a Cossack unit under the command of Ivan Kononov.
Division Ivan Kononov
22 August 1941, the commander of the 436 rifle regiment, Ivan Kononov, built the personnel, announced his decision to go to the enemy, and invited everyone to join him. So it was or not, not known. Can you trust the stories of Kononov himself? But there is a fact: 22 August Kononov, his staff officers and several dozen Red Army soldiers of the regiment were captured. Kononov declared himself a Cossack, an opponent of the Bolsheviks, and offered his services to the Germans in the formation of a military unit of the Cossacks who were ready to fight the communist regime. Responsible for the security of the rear of the Army Group Center, General von Schenkendorf was a supporter of the creation of anti-Soviet armed formations and met Kononov's initiative favorably.
Originally a squadron was formed, the basis of which consisted of the soldiers of the 436 regiment. Kononov with the aim of recruiting made a voyage to the nearby camps for prisoners of war. The squadron, which received reinforcement, was transformed into a battalion, and later - into a division. How captive the Red Army men, who declared themselves Cossacks, were such is already a question. German officers in such subtleties tried not to delve into. He agreed to fight for the thousand-year Reich - and all right. Kononov himself admitted that in addition to the Cossacks, who made up 60% of the personnel, under his command were representatives of all nationalities, including the Greeks and French.
Part of Kononov was used to protect communications, destroy the surrounded parts of the Red Army and fight against partisans. General von Shenkendorf was pleased with the “Kononists”, in his diary he noted their high combat readiness and ruthlessness towards the partisans and the local population.
Biographical information on I. Kononov
Kononov Ivan Nikitich. Born in 1906 year, according to his record as a commander of the Red Army, in a proletarian family. In 1922, he entered the Red Army, where he began to grow in rank and position. In 1922, he graduated from the United Military School. VCIK. In 1930, a regiment in which Kononov served as a platoon commander took part in suppressing a peasant uprising. (I wonder how Kononov himself later talked about his participation in that punitive action? Maybe, "Executed orders with a sore heart?" Or: "Gave orders, shot and cried?") A participant in the Finnish campaign. Even then, according to him, he cherished the idea to run across and join the fight against the Bolsheviks, but circumstances did not work out. I had to fight, showing courage and bravery: from the Finnish com. Kononov returned with the Order of the Red Star on his chest. In short, he served the Soviet government faithfully.
In August, 1941, Kononov, "remembered" that he was the son of a Cossack captain, hanged by the Bolsheviks, that three of his brothers had died in the struggle against Soviet power, and yesterday's member of the CPSU (B) became a staunch anti-communist. In the Wehrmacht, Kononov was promoted to colonel, he received general's shoulder straps from Vlasov. In the chaos of 1945 retreat, he “lost” his subordinates. The only general of the ROA, to avoid a meeting with Soviet justice. After the war, he tried to engage in political activities, but neither the surviving Vlasovites, nor the few surviving Cossacks were willing to accept Kononov into their ranks. Since the USSR has repeatedly demanded his extradition, Kononov hid in Australia. The KGB was looking for him for a long time, and apparently found him: in 1967, Konon died in a car accident.
1-I Cossack cavalry division of the Wehrmacht
In the 1943 year, yielding to the pressure of the generals, Hitler finally agreed to form a Cossack cavalry division. The formation took place in Poland, in the town of Mlawa. Cossack regiments and police battalions, volunteers from the Cossack areas occupied by the Nazis, began to flock there. All arrived units were disbanded and reduced to new ones, as belonging to the Cossack army. The commanders of the regiments, the chiefs of staff were the Germans. All senior command positions were also occupied by the Germans (222 officer, 3 827 non-commissioned officer).
The exception was the division of Kononov. Under the threat of rebellion, the division retained its composition and was transformed into a regiment. Kononov was appointed commander, all the officers remained in their posts.
The division was the most "Russified" part of the collaborationist units. The junior officers consisted of Russians (191 officer), the teams were given in Russian. Major General von Pannwitz was appointed commander of the 1 Cossack Cavalry Division.
Pannwitz Old Man
Language does not turn to call Helmut von Pannwitz "Cossack". German, moreover - 100% Prussian, coming from a family of professional soldiers. In World War I fought for the Kaiser on the Western Front. Member of the Polish campaign 1939 year. Participated in the storming of Brest, for which he received the Knight's Cross. He was a supporter of attracting the Cossacks to the Reich service. Having become a Cossack general, defiantly wore a Cossack uniform: a hat and Cherkessk with gaschroes, adopted the son of the regiment Boris Nabokov. In January, 1945 was elected the All-Russian Circle Ataman. It was issued by the British in the year 1945 Soviet authorities. We judge together with generals Shkuro, Krasnov and others. Among others he was sentenced to be hanged.
Division with "specific contingent"
The formed division consisted of 2 brigades (6 regiments), an artillery detachment, a communications battalion and support services. The division counted 18 555 people. At the end of the formation, the question arose: “And what to do with it further?” Contrary to the wishes of the rank and file that were repeatedly expressed to the front as soon as possible, the Nazis did not seek this. Even in the exemplary division of Kononov, the Cossacks went over to the Soviet side. They did not pass by singles, but in groups, having previously interrupted the Germans and their officers. In August, the Gil-Rodionov Brigade (1943 thousand) passed to the partisans in full 2. If the Cossack division rises, there will be much more problems. Already in the first days of formation, the Germans recognized the violent temper of the Cossacks.
In the 3 Kuban regiment, one of the cavalry officers sent from the Wehrmacht, making a review of "his" hundreds, called the Cossack out of action. At first he sternly scolded him, and then hit him in the face. Hit in German, with a gloved hand. The offended Cossack took out a sword - and in the division one German officer became smaller. The rushed German authorities built a hundred: “Russish Schwein! Who did it, step forward! ”The whole hundred stepped up. The Germans scratched their heads only. The officer was "written off" to the partisans.
And here they are - on the Eastern Front ?! In September 1943, the division was sent to Yugoslavia to fight with Tito's partisan army.
The German command very quickly became convinced that the cavalry Cossack units in the fight against the partisans were much more effective than their motorized police battalions and Ustashi troops. The guerrilla movement in the areas of responsibility of the division von Pannwitz quickly faded out and disappeared. This was achieved by a combination of well-conducted anti-partisan operations and cruelty against the partisans and the local population. Serbs Cossacks hated and feared.
In August 1944, Himmler achieved the transfer of all foreign military formations to the SS. It was decided to deploy a very effective Cossack division into the corps. Thus arose the 15 Cossack Cavalry Corps of the SS. Completed the case on the basis of an already existing division and Cossack units from other fronts. Two battalions from Krakow, a police battalion from Warsaw, a regiment from the Western Front arrived. A reserve of Cossack troops was created, recruiting volunteers into the corps among prisoners of war and eastern workers (at the head of the structure - General Shkuro). General Krasnov took an active part in the formation of the corps. All this time, the division continued to conduct combat operations and in December 1944 of the year entered into direct contact with the units of the Red Army. Contrary to fears, the Cossacks did not run away, they fought hard, fiercely.
By order of 25.02.1945, the division was officially transformed into the XV Cossack Cavalry Corps of the SS. It had little effect on the division itself, practically nothing. The form remained the same, the skull with bones did not appear on the fur hats, the Cossacks continued to wear their old buttonholes, the soldiers' books did not even change. But the corps was organizationally part of the "black order" troop structure, SS liaison officers appeared in units.
The Cossacks were not long fighters of Himmler. April 20 Corps was handed over to General Vlasov. In addition to previous sins, "traitors" and "SS" received "appendage" - "Vlasovites."
The fate of the corps after 9 May
In early May, the march chieftain Pannwitz led his unit to Austria. With the battle through the mountains, the corps went to Carinthia (southern Austria), where 11-12 May folded weapon before the British. Pannwitz did not know, but this breakthrough did not solve anything. At the Yalta conference, Great Britain and the United States signed an agreement with the USSR, under which they pledged to extradite Soviet citizens who were in their zone of occupation. In June 1945, the Cossacks of the 15 Corps were handed over to the Soviet representatives.
Soviet court punished the Cossacks according to the severity of their sins. They did not shoot them, but the deadlines gave them "non-child". Simultaneously with the USSR, Yugoslavia was urgently demanding the Cossacks. The corps soldiers were accused of numerous crimes against the civilian population. If Cossacks were extradited to the Tito government, their fate would have been much sadder.
The Legend of Pannwitz
Helmut von Pannwitz was never a Soviet citizen and therefore was not subject to extradition to the Soviet authorities. When representatives of the USSR arrived at the English prisoner of war camp, Pannwitz went to the camp commandant and demanded that he be included among the repatriated. “I sent the Cossacks to death - and they went. They chose me chieftain. Now we have a common fate. ” Perhaps this is only a legend, and Pannwitz was simply taken along with others. But there is a beautiful story about the "Father Pannwitz" Cossack circles.
Least of all, I would like the 15 Corps fighters to be perceived as heroes. No, they are not heroes. And do not judge him about the Cossacks as a whole. In that difficult time, the Cossacks made a completely different choice. While in Yugoslavia fought one Cossack Division, on the fronts of World War II fought more than seventy Cossack formations, and the command was not tormented by the questions “Are these units reliable?”, “Is it dangerous to send them to the front?” Hundreds of thousands of Cossacks selflessly defended not the regime, but the Homeland. Modes come and go, but the motherland remains.
Here they are - really heroes.
Cossack military units - participants of the Great Patriotic War 1941 -1945:
1 Guards Stavropol Cavalry Division;
3-I Guards Cavalry Division;
4-I Guards Cavalry Division;
6-I Guards Cavalry Division;
9-I Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Division;
10-I Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Division;
11-I Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Division;
12-I Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Division;
8-I Cossack Cavalry Division;
9 Far Eastern Cavalry Division;
30 Cavalry Division;
63 Cavalry Division;
4 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Corps;
5 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Cossack Corps;
1 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
5 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
6 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
9 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
10 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
12 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
11 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
15 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
16 Guards Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
23 Guards Cavalry Regiment.
25 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
28 Guards Cavalry Regiment;
29 Guards Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
30 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
31 Guards Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
32 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
33 Guards Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
34 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
36 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
37 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
39 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
40 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
41 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
42 Guards Kuban Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
43 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
45 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
47 Guards Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment;
49 Cavalry Regiment;
115-th Trans-Baikal Cavalry Regiment;
127 Cavalry Regiment;
133 Cavalry Regiment;
138 Cavalry Regiment;
163 Cavalry Regiment;
220 Cavalry Regiment;
223 Cavalry Regiment.
And that is not all! Any questions?