SS-Freiwilligen Verband Legion "Niederlande"
The Netherlands since the days of the Kaiser Wilhelm has traditionally been to Germany. The Wehrmacht attack in May 1940 caused a state of shock to the majority of the inhabitants of this small coastal country. The national army resisted the entire day 4, then unconditional surrender was signed, the government emigrated to England. In the occupied territory of 18 in May of 1940, the Imperial Commissariat "The Netherlands" was established, headed by one of the prominent figures of the Nazi Party of Artists, Arthur Seiss-Inquart. In the Netherlands, since the 20s, the nationalist parties have traditionally been strong: the National Socialist Movement (Nationaal Socialistische Beweging) and the National Socialist Dutch Workers' Party (Nationaal Socialistische Niederlansche Arbeidesparteij) numbered in excess of one hundred twenty thousand people, and there were over one hundred thousand people. influence within your own country.
Being the German people, the Dutch could serve without any restrictions in the SS forces. 25 May 1940, by the personal order of Adolf Hitler, was formed the SS standard "Westland", in which the Dutch and Flemish volunteers were accepted. After the 11 months of 3, on April 1941, the formation of the Dutch-German regiment Nordwest was announced. The regiment was trained in the outskirts of Hamburg Langehorn, the commander was appointed Standartenführer SS Otto Reich.
Germany’s attack on the USSR received hot approval among the pro-Nazi forces of the Netherlands. In the local press, the slogans of the “Crusade against Communism” and “Joint Protection of Europe against Bolshevism” were strongly promoted. 10 July 1941 The Reich Commissar Zeiss-Inquart appealed to the Dutch people to form a volunteer legion.
With the active support of NSB, led by its leader Anton Mjussert 12 in July 1941, the formation of the Netherlands Volunteer Legion was announced. It was based on former employees of the Nordwest regiment, and members of the assault squads of the Dutch national socialist parties joined the ranks of the volunteers. In many cities recruitment points were opened, to which many volunteers came, including soldiers and officers of the former Dutch army. The desire of the Dutch to fight the "cursed Bolshevik hordes" was so great that by July the 1941 was able to fully equip the 5 battalions. The Germans entrusted the general leadership of the Dutch armed forces to the former Chief of the General Staff of the Netherlands, Lieutenant General Seyffardt (Luitenant Generaal Seyffardt). The fact that such an honored person, who enjoyed great prestige in the country, became the head of this event, greatly eased the call and provided a large influx of volunteers to assembly points.
Fig. General Seiffardt solemnly presents the banner of the SS Legion
General Seiffardt handed the first formed volunteer squad on July 27, 1941 historical the banner of the time of the struggle of Holland for independence under the leadership of the Prince of Orange. The Dutch received the standard field uniform of the SS troops, but they were allowed to wear a special patch in the form of a “Spanish shield” with orange-white-blue stripes, which were the colors of the old Dutch flag. On the collar tabs instead of the traditional SS "lightning", Dutch soldiers wore a "Wolfsangel" - the symbol of NSB.
Fig. Holland farewell to the Dutch volunteers
The recruits began to undergo basic training in Germany, on the outskirts of Hamburg, at the Arus-Nord test site. Initially, it was assumed that a full-blooded brigade staffed exclusively by the Dutch would be formed there, but the leadership of the Waffen SS included a large contingent of officers and noncommissioned officers consisting of imperial Germans into the unit being formed, arguing that the Dutch sergeants and officers do not have combat experience. The arrogant behavior of a number of German commanders, led to friction within the Legion, several people, outraged by their insulting behavior, filed a report on dismissal.
In the autumn of 1941, a fully formed company, consisting entirely of NSB members, arrived from Holland, and by the end of 1941, the legion was a full-blooded regiment consisting of three infantry battalions, a company of heavy weapons and an anti-tank division. The number of personnel reached 2937 people, of which 66 people were officers, 331 non-commissioned officers and 2536 privates. The Legion also included 700 German SS and 26 Flemish volunteers. In the middle of January, 1942 was followed by a redeployment order.
The path of the volunteer legion lay in the Army Group North. By sea, through Danzig, the volunteers were redeployed to Liepaja, and from there they moved by rail to the front, into the German 18 th lane of operation. By the end of January, the Dutch arrived at positions in the Novgorod-Tosno road, where they joined the 20 Infantry Division. The first legion baptism of the legion took 11 on February 1942 of the year near Goose mountain near Volkhov, where the second battalion of the legion took by storm a small fortified Soviet military checkpoint. As a result of the attack, six Russian soldiers were killed, three were captured. As recorded in the battalion’s combat diary, “one prisoner (Jew) was shot while trying to escape,” the fate of the rest of the captured Soviet soldiers is unknown.
In February - March 1942, the legion fought with units of the 2 Shock Army, operating in the area of Meat Bora. As a result of fierce battles, the Dutch lost about a quarter of the personnel killed, wounded and frostbite. The German command diverted the legionaries to the rear, but they did not manage to relax and regroup. Guerrillas began to appear near the settlements where the Dutch SS were stationed, so the legionnaires had to take part in patrolling the front-line, search for and destroy partisan bases. The Dutch showed unheard of cruelty towards the civilian population. According to eyewitnesses, anyone just suspected of having links with partisans, legionnaires mercilessly killed on the spot.
The morale of legionnaires, exhausted in constant clashes, was shaken, only the generous rewarding of soldiers with Iron Crosses of the First and Second degree, as well as the arrival at the front of reinforcements, including the reinforced field hospital, and the arrival in early March from Holland of a representative delegation headed by Anton Mussert somewhat straightened the situation. Nevertheless, it was not possible to fully restore discipline in the unit: looting, looting and massacres of civilians continued. The High Command of the Waffen-SS decided to dislodge the not-reputable Otto Reich soldiers from the post of commander and stop the continued decomposition of the unit.
Fig. Solemn rewarding legionnaires
In the spring of 1942, the legion came under the control of the SS 2 Infantry Brigade, and the brigadeführer SS Gottfried Klingemann was appointed commander. He had the experience of commanding volunteer units and therefore was able to find a common language with the full-blown Dutch, putting a relative order in the part entrusted to him. The thaw began, the position of the Netherlands began to pour melt water, in some areas the water level in the trenches reached the belt. Many soldiers and officers fell ill.
Fig. Dutch volunteers in moments of calm
The Soviet infantry did everything to poison the lives of the "new crusaders" even more. On the night of April 6, the 1942 division of the 1002 Infantry Regiment of the 305 Division and the 1220 Regiment of the 366 Division of the Red Army secretly crept to the positions of the Legion and suddenly attacked them. The surprise of the attack bore fruit: the first line of trenches was captured, all the Dutch were in it after a short fight were destroyed. Red star bombers descended on the second line of defense, wave after wave, then a new attack by the Soviet infantry followed. However, with the help of the reinforcements that came up, at the cost of huge losses, the legionnaires managed to keep several strongholds. During the day of the battle, more than 500 people were killed on both sides. For this battle, the Legion deserved thanks from the Wehrmacht high command. However, due to large losses, his fighting efficiency decreased markedly, and the Dutch were withdrawn to the rear for re-formation.
The marching companies from the Netherlands replenished the profits, and the thinned ranks of the battalions were also joined by Volksdeutsche from Northern Schleswig. After a short rest, in June the 1942 part of the legion participated in the battles in the Volkhov Cauldron, where, together with the regiment from the Spanish 250 Infantry Division, they repeatedly attacked the Soviet positions in the area of the Small Zamoshie village. The Red Army fiercely resisted and caused significant damage to the Dutch. In July, the Netherlands Legion took part in eliminating the last foci of resistance of the 2 Shock Army fighters. In Finyov Luga, a large number of Dutch weapons, ammunition and equipment, as well as more 3500 prisoners, including the traitor-general A.A. Vlasov.
In August, the legion, whose strength was reduced to 1197 people, was transferred to the Leningrad direction in the area of the Red village, where he occupied his section of the front in the blockade ring. Fatigue and losses affected the fall of the fighting spirit of the unit, which was also "helped" by successful actions of the Soviet troops: the Dutch company that got into the "bag of fire" was utterly defeated. In order to strengthen the moral state of their Dutch comrades-in-arms, the German command chose a familiar way: the distribution of awards. For the heroism shown in the summer battles, the new legion commander Obertshurtmbanführer SS Josef Fitzthum introduced the 18 volunteers to the 1 degree and 158 2 soldiers in the Iron Cross.
In September, the Dutch, together with the Norwegian Legion and two Latvian “noise” - battalions from the SS 1942 infantry brigade, formed the Fitchum combat group, which took part in positional battles on various sectors of the front in the Shlisselburg region. On January 5, 2 from Holland came the news that the honorary chief of the legion, General Seiffardt, was killed by the Resistance fighters. Through the 1943 of the day, the command of the Waffen-SS assigned the honorary title "General Seyffardt" to the first company of the legion.
On January 12, 1943, the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts began an operation to break the blockade. The Legion, which numbered 1755 people at the time of the Soviet offensive, together with parts of the Norwegian Volunteer Legion, took up positions in the defense zone of the 28th German airfield division. The area where the Dutch dug in was favorable for use tanks. However, due to poorly conducted intelligence by the Soviet command, the attacking Red Army units ran into an artillery ambush and came under targeted fire from the 75 mm legionnaire anti-tank guns. In this battle on February 26, 1943, the Legion-Rottenführer Gerard Muyman distinguished himself, knocking out of his guns thirteen T-34 and KV. For this fight, Muiman was awarded the Knight's Cross, becoming the first Dutchman to be awarded such a high award.
Fig. Legions-Rottenführer Gerard Muyman
27 April 1943, the remnants of the Legion were withdrawn from the front and sent to the Grafenwehr training ground, where 22 on May 1943, the Netherlands Volunteer Legion was officially disbanded.
In total, more than 8 thousands of Dutch died on the Soviet-German front, thousands of 4 were captured.
SS Freiwilligen-Legion "Flandern"
In October, 1931, a young Belgian of Flemish origin, Joris van Severen, organized the anti-clerical Union of Dutch National Socialists (Verdinaso). The main program of Verdinaso was the withdrawal of the German-speaking provinces from Belgium and the creation of the “Great Holland” in cooperation with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. At the beginning of the German invasion, van Severen was arrested by the Belgian police and handed over to the French authorities. On May 20, 1940, van Severen and 22, a member of his party, were shot by French soldiers without trial. His death highlighted another nationalist party, the Flemish National Union (Vlaamsh Nationaal Verbond - VNV). 11 May 1940, by order of the German occupational administration, VNV became the only political organization in Flanders, the rest of the parties were offered to dissolve or join the VNV. After this proposal, all right-wing movements, including Verdinaso, joined the VNV.
Unlike the Walloons, the Flemish were considered the German people, and therefore had the right to serve as part of the SS troops without any restrictions. In the summer, the Flemish volunteers appeared in the ranks of the SS Westland standard, a year later in the SS Netherlands standard. With the beginning of the Soviet-German war, it was decided to organize a volunteer unit to be sent to the eastern front. In April-May, the Flemish volunteers enlisted in the SS-Standarte "Nordwest" SS Viking division went to Hamburg for the initial military training.
Fig. Solemn farewell to the Flemish volunteers on the Eastern Front
They were united into 1, 6, and 8, the Flemish companies, which became the basis for the formation of the 1, 2 and 3 companies of the Flanders Volunteer Legion. In early October, the 1941-th Flemish volunteers were transferred to the Arus-Nord test site to complete the training. Like many other volunteer units made up of Western Europeans, the Flemish Legion became one of the units of the Waffen-SS. They were dressed in the standard field uniform of the SS troops, but were allowed to wear the VNV symbol in the form of a stylized "Wolfsnagel" of Dutch nationalists and a special insignia instead of the traditional SS "zippers" in buttonholes. The sleeve of the Volunteer Legion "Flanders" was a "Norman" shield with the old coat of arms of Flanders - black, walking on its hind legs, a lion on a golden field. A similar black Flanders lion was also depicted on a yellow, with black and yellow fringe, the banner of the Flemish volunteers. The lion stripe was worn on the left sleeve over the cuff, below the elbow bend. Many Flemish volunteers wore a black cuff tape with a silver border and the words “Legion Flandern” over the left cuff. By this time, the legion was reorganized into a reinforced battalion consisting of six companies: a staff headquarters, three rifle companies, a company of heavy infantry guns, and a company of tank destroyers.
During the formation of the Legion, the German command had a number of difficulties with manning this military unit with rolling stock. The situation was rectified by carrying out requisitions of wagons and horses in the occupied territories, the command of the SS troops allocated 150 trucks from their reserves.
On 10 in November, the legion's number-up consisted of 1112 people, of whom only 950 were Flemish volunteers, the rest were ethnic Germans. In addition, almost all officer and non-commissioned officer positions were also given to the German SS. 10 November 1941 of the year, having traveled a length of 2300 km, volunteers arrived at the front at the disposal of the command of Army Group North. The Legion was introduced into the SS 2 Infantry Brigade, the headquarters of the Legionnaires was located south of Tosno. SS Sturmbanführer Michael Lippert was appointed commander of Flanders.
Fig. Flemish legionnaires in combat positions
From November 16 1941, the legion was engaged in battles southeast of Leningrad. Then he was taken to the rear and used in the fight against Soviet partisans in the area of the Mga-Kirishi railway, as well as in the area of the village of Pogost. In December, severe frosts hit the 30 degrees below zero. The Flemish people who were unadapted to such cold weather and did not have a sufficient amount of winter uniforms began to suffer losses due to severe frostbite. The story repeatedly beaten up in domestic cinema, when poorly dressed enemy soldiers, forced to lie down in the snow under heavy fire of Soviet soldiers, slowly freeze in the open area, which first occurred with the Flemish subunit in the Pogostya area. In addition, the legion’s drivers, accustomed to the mild climate of their homeland, periodically forgot to drain the water from the radiators of cars for the night. A report from the 18 commander of the Legion of December 1941 of the year reports that for this reason 125 was out of service because 161 vehicles were available. As a result of the fighting and severe frosts, the size of the Legion was reduced to 654 people, including 23 officers, 72 non-commissioned officers and 559 privates.
On the same days, the legionnaires who had survived were set aside for a short-term rest for winter apartments. In January, 1942, the Flemish Legion was sent to the front at the disposal of the Wehrmacht 126 Infantry Division. The second and fourth companies were included in the 424-th regiment, the rest went to replenish the 422-th regiment, which suffered heavy losses in defensive battles of January 1942-th year. The fourth company participated in the battles for the place Zapolye, the second - for the village Koptsy. 22 January under Koptsy crazy shell was killed by the commander of the Flemish assault detachments (Black Brigades), a prominent leader of VNV Raymond Toilerlernayer.
In February, the Flemings acted in conjunction with units of the 250th Spanish Infantry Division in the area of the Chudovo-Novgorod highway, then in early March, the legionnaires attacked and captured the village of имimitza. On March 27, the legion was withdrawn to the rear, to the reserve of 12 army corps, and on March 58, after a short rest, the Flanders volunteers were subordinated to the 1th Infantry Division. In the Diary of Combat Operations of the division of March 9-1942, XNUMX, the Flemish Legion was given a detailed description compiled by a German staff officer. She, in particular, read: “Intelligence is poorly organized in the legion. When attacking fortified enemy points, the interaction with artillery and aviation. In the event of the death of an officer, the offensive stops and does not begin until the arrival or appointment of a new commander. The communication between the units of the legion, as well as between headquarters and units, is not well organized. The evacuation of the wounded is disgustingly organized. There is no combat interaction with the Spaniards. "Artillery support is requested without a reason, the exact coordinates of the targets are not indicated." The memorandum also urges the strengthening of the legion by German junior and mid-level commanders.
At the beginning of April 1942, the legionnaires fought hard in the area of the Volkhov Cauldron to the east of the village of Lyubtsy, interacting with the Spaniards from the Blue Division. 2 April during one of the counterattacks of the Soviet infantry in the battle formations of the Spaniards, there was confusion, threatening to turn into a disorderly retreat. Trying to organize the defense, the commander of "Flanders" Lippert was seriously wounded. Hauptshturmführer Halmann from the SS division Polizei, who had taken command of the legion on the battlefield, managed to organize a strike group of legionnaires and Spaniards and stop and then eliminate a dangerous breakthrough with a bold counter-attack. In mid-April, the Standartführer SS Paul von Lettow-Forbeck, nephew of the hero of Africa during World War I, was appointed commander of the Volunteer Legion Flanders.
On the night of April 26 of the 1942, the legion replaced the 426 Infantry Regiment on the southern face of the Volkhov Cauldron. During the April battles, the legion suffered heavy losses. 13 officers, non-commissioned officers and 26 lower ranks remained in the ranks. Despite this, the Flemish volunteers were included in the operational group "Bourke", which besides them included the 288 th battalion of the 3 regiment of the Blue Division and the combined battalion of "Valentin" from the 262 th infantry division. The commander of the legion was appointed Obersturmbanführer SS Joseph Fitzhum.
In mid-June, the legionnaires, together with a battalion of Spaniards, attacked the Soviet positions near the villages of Maloye and Bolshoy Zamoshye. When the Spanish soldiers lay under heavy fire in an open area, the Flemish legion continued to attack in order to divert attention to themselves and give the Spaniards the opportunity to withdraw and regroup. This battle cost the legion 11 killed (including two officers) and 26 injured. The Flemish sacrifice was highly appreciated by the command of the Burke Group, and thanks were given to the Legion’s personnel. In a summary of 26 June, the command of the task force noted the increased skill and heroism of the Flemish volunteers: “During the day of the battles, they had eliminated 13 fortified dugouts and bunkers. Killed more 200 soldiers and officers of the enemy. The brave actions of the legionnaires serve as a good example for the Spanish soldiers. ” 11 July the legion was allotted to rest. Legion Commander Fitzhum arranged a magnificent funeral for the dead legionnaires, in which he gave a speech in which he thanked the Flemish volunteers for their contribution to the struggle for the common cause of the German people - the conquest of living space (lebensraum).
Fig. Solemn construction of the Legion "Flanders"
From 15 on July 1942, the SS took over Hauptsturmführer SS Konrad Schellong. In August 1942, the Flanders legion occupied a section of the front in the defense zone of the 2 SS brigade, gaining its place in the steel ring of the blockade that squeezed Leningrad. Along with the Flemings, Dutch and Norwegian volunteers fought as part of this brigade.
In early August, the Soviet offensive began on the position of the 18-th German army, which went down in history under the name 1-e Ladoga battle. The legionnaires took part in the battles in the vicinity of Kolpino, and then, when the front stabilized, the Flemish legion occupied trenches for almost a year in the floodplain of the Izhora River, waging a grueling positional war.
In October, a replenishment began to arrive from Belgium, 1942, and by the beginning of 1943, the legion had almost completely restored its size. Flemish volunteers patrolled the front line in the area of the Red Village, repeatedly reflecting the daring attacks of small detachments of Soviet infantry and intelligence officers. During the joint offensive of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts of 12 in January of 1943, the Flanders legionnaires occupied positions in the Kolpino area. As a result of fierce battles, the legion lost half its composition, but all attempts by the Soviet troops to break through the defenses in their sector ended in failure.
After a month of fighting, 12 in February, the thinned legion, which consisted of the entire 450 man, was assigned to the Red Village area, where it was used as a hull rolling reserve. In March, it was given to the SS divisions "Polizei", which was bogged down in fierce battles under Red Bor and the settlement of Nikolskoye. In these battles, the legion ceased to exist as a combat unit, on 1 of April 1943 goals in the ranks remained less than 50 people. On April 14, the Flemish survivors were brought to the reserve, and in the middle of May, 1943 was sent to the Dębitsa training ground, where an assault brigade of the SS "Langemark" was formed. The battle path of the Flanders Volunteer Legion was over.
During the war, more than 5000 citizens of the Kingdom of Belgium perished on the Soviet-German front, 4729 of the Walloons and Flemings were captured.
Say a word about poor landsknecht ...
At present, in certain circles of Russian society, it has become a fashionable tendency to try to level up those who came to a foreign country to burn, rob and kill those who defended their home, their family, their people from destruction. Rehabilitating the war of Germany (or to be precise, almost the whole of Europe) against the USSR, such Russian-speaking gentlemen strongly impose the image of the Soviet Union as the empire of evil. Closing their eyes to the real crimes of invaders of all stripes in our land, they regularly present various tales about the "atrocities" of Soviet soldiers in Germany, the total "rape by the savage Bolshevik hordes" of the female population of entire countries and other outright nonsense. It comes to the fact that some of our fellow citizens, who believed in the tales of professional mourners for the “victims of Soviet totalitarianism”, brought up by the talentless films of the Great Patriotic War and other naked lies pouring from television screens, are almost the liberator of the “oppressed” Russian people. Sometimes it even happens that all those who fought on Hitler’s side are recognized as “fighters against Stalin’s tyranny”, “liberators of Russia from communism”, “ambassadors of civilized Europe”. What freedom and civilization these “ambassadors of Europe” carried to Russia, opens in their order from 2 May 1941, the commander of the 4 tank group Erich Goepner in connection with the forthcoming hostilities in the East: “... The war against Russia is the most important part of the struggle for the existence of the German people. This long-standing struggle of the Germans against the Slavs, the defense of European culture from the Moscow-Asian invasion, repulse Bolshevism. This struggle should pursue the goal of turning today's Russia into ruins, and therefore it should be fought with unheard of cruelty ... ”
And when you find out that on the territory of the Leningrad Oblast, certain representatives of the authorities are allowed to place obelisks, crosses and memorials to dead soldiers from foreign legions of the SS, you do not get tired to be surprised if they have a short memory, or frank cynicism of these people. There is a controversial thesis that "you can not always hate dead enemies." It is likely that he has the right to exist in certain situations, but not here. You can understand and even forgive the soldiers of those countries that were officially in a state of war with the USSR. Without at all relieving them of responsibility for criminal acts in the occupied Soviet territories, it’s still necessary to admit that the main part of the blame for this lies with the top leadership of their countries, who sometimes simply did not leave any choice to their citizens dressed in military uniform. Those who voluntarily took up arms and came to our country to kill the Soviet people, as well as those who justify them now, can never be forgiveness.