- Azeri Waffen SS Volunteer Formations
The sweeping initial victories of
Operation Barbarossaproduced hundreds of thousands of non-Russian soldier prisoners in the POWcages of the German Army. All of them were hungry, many were starving. In a mere eight months of 1941-42, the invading German armies killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs through starvation, exposure, and summary execution. Conditions in the prison camps were atrocious. "There were no barracks or permanent housing. The camps were simply open areas fenced off with barbed wire. The prisoners had to lie in the sun, then in mud, and in the fall — with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees centigrade — faced the possibility of freezing to death." [The German Army and Genocide, by Hamburg Institute for Social Research p. 142”]
It is not known when and where exactly the first units of “volunteers” from the
USSR, and from the countries annexed by Russiaafter 1939, were organized to fight against the Sovietson the German side. Their beginnings were shrouded in great secrecy, for fear of Hitler who was categorically opposed to any form of participation of Soviet citizens in the war against Russia. But needs of the army on the Eastern Front induced German commanders to accept the services of volunteers to fight the Soviet regime even against the clear orders of the Supreme Command. [ Russian Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht in WWII by Lt. Gen Wladyslaw Anders and Antonio Munoz”]
Tens of thousands of them were
Muslims, where the majority of them came from Soviet Union. In December 1941 a top secret memorandum ordered that the OKWwas to create two Muslim units: the Turkestanisch Legion, consisted Muslim volunteers from Central Asia, such as Turkomans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs, Karakalpaks, and Tajiksand the Kaukasisch-Mohammedan Legion from Caucasian Muslims volunteers, such as Azeris, Dagestanis, Chechens, Ingushes, and Lezgins. [ The Soviet war against ‘Fifth Columnists’ Jeffrey Burds Vol 42(2), 267–314. ISSN 0022–0094. ”]
The German courting of the Soviet Muslims was part of Hitler's schemes for bringing
Turkeyinto his side and for advancing to control the oil fields in Middle East and Baku. The most numerous of the Soviet Muslims that served the Germans were the Turkestanis. The first Turkestani volunteers were integrated as one battalion of the 444th Sicherungs Division in November 1941 and became auxiliary to help the Germans fight the partisans. Major Andreas Meyer-Maderwas appointed as commander of the 444th Battalion. Meyer-Mader, an Austrian, had served on the staff of Chiang Kai-Shek’s Chinese Nationalist Army before WWII. [ The Devil's Shadow. Stuart Pearson”]
The 450th Turkestanisches Battalion
The 450th Battalion was raised at the town of
Legionov, Polandand spent most of the summer patrolling the communications and rail networks between Kharkovand Stalingrad. Discipline became so bad that Meyer-Mader was removed from command of the 450th Battalion during 1943.
In November 1943, Meyer-Mader meet
Himmlerto offering his service to help raise and command a Turkic SS unit. Himmler approved the major plan and then transfers him into the ranks of the Waffen SSand promoted him to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer. On 14 December, a meeting was held in Berlin in presence of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni. The Grand Muftiapproved the plan to raise a Turkic-Muslim SS division and give his "spiritual leadership" to influence the Muslim volunteers. [Dr.K.G.Klietmann, Die Waffen-SS – eine Dokumentation Verlag Der Freiwillige GmbH Osnabrück, 1965, S. 381-382, dort als Turk-Btl.480 bezeichnet, s.a. Neulen, S. 332]
Between November 1943 and January 1944 there were a series of meetings between Meyer-Mader and Muslim volunteers. As a result of these meetings, on
January 4, 1944, it was decided to form the Ostmuselmanische SS-Regiment. At the same meeting, it was decided to disband the following Wehrmachtbattalions who would serve as a basis for a new platform: 450th, 480th, 782nd, 786th, 790th, 791st and I/94th Turkestanische battalions, Azerbaijanische 818th and Volga Tatar831st. Many volunteers deserted at this time, and the 818th defected to Polish and Ukrainian resistance movements in 1943. [ Ismayil Akber: Die Azerbaydzhanische Legionare Im kampf Oleg Romanko: Muslim legions of the Second World War] . Furthermore, at the same time, Meyer-Mader made several visits to prisoners of war camps which called for volunteers to join the new Muslim SS legion. The recruits were not only Turkestani, but also Azeri, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tadjik. By the end of January 1944 he was able to recruit three thousand volunteers who were concentrated in Poniatova. To increase the staffing regiment, dozens of German officers and non-commissioned officers were transferred there. Nevertheless, it was a very slow, mainly because of lack of equipment, including uniforms and even shoes. Therefore, the October 1944 deadline, which Himmler appointed for the deployment of divisions in the regiment were serving only four thousand people who had been merged into three battalions. The unit was formed in Trawniki, Poland, before they were transferred to Belorussiafor further training. SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Andreas Meyer-Mader was appointed as its first commander. [ Klietmann, S. 382, dort Aufstellung im Sommer 1944 Munoz, S.164, 165. ] This unit suffered from poor discipline and poor morale especially after Meyer-Mader was killed during a skirmish with partisans in Yuratishki, near Minsk, on March 28, 1944. The situation became worse when the replacement commander, SS-HauptsturmfuhrerBillig executed 78 unit members for insubordination. This incident made Himmler angry and Billig relieved. [ Klietmann, S. 382, Neulen, S.332, Munoz, S. 164Der Osttürkische Waffen-Verband der SS Roland Pfeiffer – MIHAG – DI] In May 1944, 550 men (Turkestanis, Wolgatatars Azeris, Kirghiz, Uzbek, and Tadjiks) from the Ostmuslemanische SS-Regiment are attached to the SS Dirlewanger brigade [ Rolf Michaelis Die SS-Sturmbrigade „Dirlewanger“. Vom Warschauer Aufstand bis zum Kessel von Halbe. Band II. 1. Auflage. Verlag Rolf Michaelis, 2003, ISBN 3930849321]
Warsaw August 1944
On January 29, 1944
Heinz Reinefarthwas assigned to SS and Police Leader in ReichsgauWartheland (Polish Great Poland Voivodeshipannexed by Germany in 1939). In this post he was responsible for organised repression against Poles and other nationalities deprived of all rights by Germany.After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Reinefarth was ordered to organise a military unit out of 16th Police Company and other smaller security units and head for Warsaw. Upon arrival, his forces were included in the Korpsgruppe Von Dem Bach of General Erich von dem Bachwho was ordered by Himmler to quell the rebellion. From August 5, 1944 Reinefarth's group took part in fighting in the Wolaarea. In several days, his and Oskar Dirlewanger's soldiers executed approximately 40,000 civilian inhabitants of Warsaw in what is now known as the Wola Massacre. Wola killings were mostly inflicted by elements of Kampfgruppe Reinefarth that assaulted the area held by the insurgents from the west. It is hard to determine which specific units are to be held responsible but the main “cleansing” tasks has been assigned to Angriffsgruppe Dirlewanger with following forces: 2 Grenadier Battalions (I & II) of SS Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger+ Aserbeidschanische Feld Bataillon I./111 (com. Hptm. Werner Scharrenberg) + Ostmuselmanische SS Regiment (without Battalion III) II Btl. "Bergmann" – (without 7. Komp.) Ltn. Mertelsmann Gendermerie Operationsgruppe Walter (2 gendarmerie Komp.) Komp. I & II of Aserb. Feld Btl. I/111 Anti-aircraft battery of 80th Regiment Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 218 (8x Brummbär) Hptm. Kellmann 1/2 of machine gun 4.Kompanie of Aserb. Feld Btl. I/111 1. Platoon of 654. Pioniere Battalion 1 KRONE flamethrower unit (8x Flammenwerfer 41)
Lack of precise documentation does not allow to specify precisely which elements of the above were involved in the Wola killing. It is also possible that some units of the other assault group that operated in the Wola area ( Angriffsgruppe Reck ) were taking active part in the events, as they also consisted of police/gendarmerie and special assignment units (Hptm. Kirchhubel's Warschau Polizei Kompanie, Hptm. Fersemann's Polizei Wachtkompanie, platoon of SS-Röntgen MG Kompanie from Posen (Poznan), but also SS Grenadiere of SS-Schule Treskau and Aserbaijani 7.Komp/II Bt. Bergmann).
[Rolf Michaelis Die SS-Sturmbrigade „Dirlewanger“. Vom Warschauer Aufstand bis zum Kessel von Halbe. Band II. 1. Auflage, 2003, ISBN 3930849321http://www.powstanie-warszawskie-1944.ac.pl/niemcy%20_w_powstaniu_warszaws2.htmhttp://www.powstanie-warszawskie-1944.ac.pl/cv_reinefarth.htmwww.poloniatoday.com/uprising5.htm - 20k -www.powstanie-warszawskie-1944.ac.pl/niemcy%20_w_powstaniu_warszaws2.htm - 74k]
Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände der SS
In October 20, 1944 the rest of the Ostmuslemanische SS-Regiment is transferred from Ukraine to Slovakia and renamed "Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände der SS" and reorganized into 3 battalions organized along ethnic lines.1 Waffengruppe Turkestan 1Waffengruppe Aserbeidschan(2851 soldiers :
Gerhard von Mendearchives)1 Waffengruppe Idel-UralEach battalion should consist of staff, one staff company and five infantry companies.The Ostmuselmanisch regiment is integrated into the Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände der SS and is considered as dissolved.December 1944 The Waffen-GruppeAserbeidschan (commander W-Ostuf Kerrar Alesgerli) is transferred to the Kaukasicher WaffenVerbände der SS.The disbanded Tatar Waffen Gebirgs Brigade der SSwill replace the Azerbaijani soldiersCommander: SS- Standartenführer Harun-el-Raschid-Bey. (Wilhelm Hintersatz) The reorganisations began in January 1945 as follows:
SS-Waffengruppe Turkestan SS-Waffengruppe Krim SS-Waffengruppe Idel Urals
Apparently new “volunteers” were integrated, because the Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände had increased from 5,000 men in January 1945 to 8,500 men in the period of February-May 1945. As Hitler's Reich crumbled, the Waffen-SS gave up all adherence of standards for recruit selection. If they could walk and shoot a rifle, they were good enough for the SS. At this time all German military forces were scraping the bottom of the manpower barrel - for example in January 1945,
Heerand Waffen-SS recruiting centers were combined. Waffen-SS troops were increasingly transfers from other military branches of the Wehrmacht, from paramilitary and labor formations.
[ Mehner,S. 264, Munoz, S. 172-173, 176, s.a. Stärkemeldung v. 16.12.1944 (S. 368) : insges. 8 000 Mann; Richard Landwehr, Siegrunen-Magazin, 55, USA, S. 77/78, s.a. Neulen, S.332, der von 4 Regimentern spricht, s.a. Georg Tessin, Band 14, der die Aufstellung einer SS-Waffengrupp„AserbeidschanKlietmann, S. 382, Munoz, S. 175-176 ] The whole unit arrived already in March 1945 in
Merate, 20 km north of Milan, north Italy.Assigned to the safety device of the area, the Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände apparently participated in no larger operation against partisans.The 26 April 1945 Hintersatz signed a pact with the local partisan command, according to which the soldiers would remain in the barracks in Merate, until the US troops arrived. This happened on 30 April 1945, the whole unit went into the hands of the First US tank division. [Mittlg. MIHAG I an P.Agte v. 7.7.2005, der Verf]
Kaukasischer Waffen-Verband der SS
In December 1944 while Training in
Slovakia, rumor that unit to be transferred to Andrey Vlasov’s army drops morale of the soldiers. Dec 24: 450 men desert on Christmas Eve, 300 eventually return. The Azerberjani regiment was removed from the Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände 30 Dec 1944 and transferred to Kaukasischer Waffen-Verband der SS. [ Antonio J. Munoz - Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS]
Kaukasischer-Waffen-Verband der SS, also known as
FreiwilligenBrigade Nordkaukasien, began forming with volunteers from the Caucasus region, from Frewilligen-Stamm-Divisionas a nucleus. It was transferred from the Neuhammertraining camp to Paluzzain northern Italy Jan. 1945 and was still forming when it surrendered to the British forces at the end of the war.Commander :SS-Standartenführer Arved Theuermann Organisation:Stab Kaukasischer Waffen-Verband der SS Stab Waffen-Gruppe Armenien Stab Waffen-Gruppe NordkaukasusStab Waffen-Gruppe Georgien Stab Waffen-Gruppe Aserbeidjan (1090 soldiers: Gerhard von Mendearchives)Commander Waffen-Standartenführer Magomed Nabi Oglu Israfilov (Israfilbey) Born 25.01.1893 Azerbaijan. Colonel in the Russian Imperial Army. Since the summer of 1943 to 1944 chairman of the Azerbaijan Committee. From May-September 1943 commander of the 314th Infantry Regiment in the 162.(Turk) Infanterie Division. March 17, 1945, was appointed responsible for military affairs in the Azerbaijan National Committee. Sentenced to death on 11.07.1945 by the Baku Military District.
[Oleg Romanko Muslim legions of the Second World War. M.: "Publishing Ltd. AST Tranzitkniga, 2004. (Military Historical Library).Antonio J. Munoz - The East came WestNeulen, at German side, S.332Der Osttürkische Waffen-Verband der SS Roland Pfeiffer – MIHAG – DI]
The Unternehmen (operation) Zeppelin was initiated in 1942 by SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg, who became in middle of May 1943 the Chief of Section E of Amt IV of the
RSHA, the foreign intelligence service of the SS. The Obersturmbannführer Georg Greife was responsible of this operation.
As soon as the German troops had entered the territory of the
North Caucasusmembers of the different Caucasus National Committees, started to set up the core of a State administration and other organizations for the case where Wehrmachtwould force the passage in Transcaucasia.
At the summer 1942, the Reich ministries for Finances, Interior, Foreign Affairs as well as the RSHA created a special group, “Sonderstab Kaukasus”. The “Sonderstab” was under the aegis of “Unternehmen Zeppelin”. The members of the “Sonderstab” were to organize units of police force for to maintain the order on the territory of the North Caucasus, like constituting the organizations apparatus of State.
The purpose of the Unternehmen Zeppelin was creation of:
• Intelligence groups for the collection and transmission of information from the USSR.
• Advocacy groups for the distribution of social, national and religious propaganda.
• Rebel groups to organize and conduct a rebellion.
• Sabotage groups for political sabotage and terror.
From the wireless reports of these commandos behind the Russian lines reports and actions were made. It was envisaged to recruit the future civil servant among the prisoners of war of Caucasian nationality, who were into large numbers in the German camps of the North Caucasus. The Azerbaijani group was directed by Abbas Bey Atamalibekov. (There is not much informations about Atamalibekov. In 1919 he was a member of the Azeri Delegation led by
Alimardan Topchubashevwhich participated at the Paris Peace Conferencein Versailles. He actively participated in the formation of national legions from the Soviet prisoners of war in 1942, together with Abdurahman Fatalibeyli-Dudanginsky and Fuad Amirjan in Berlin. He representated Azeri SS in the Azerbaijan National committee from 1943 to 1945 and then fled to Chile) Unternehmen Zeppelin was “partially successful”. Most of those Sonderstab were captured and executed by KGB agents. In his personal archives, member of the OstministeriumGerhard Von Mende give the number or 348 people from Azerbaijanese origin who participated in those operations. It is not known if anyone of them were SS. [ “Sonderstab Kaukasus”. p. 2. Personal records of P. von zur Mühlen Sergei Chuyev. Damned soldiers. Moscow, "YAUZA, EKSMO, 2004 http://warmech.narod.ru/smersh/zeppelin2.htmlSotskov Lev Filippovich NEIZVESTNY SEPARATIZM: AT THE SERVICE OF SD And ABWHER.Excerpts from Testimony of Walter Schellenberg, taken at Nurenberg, Germany, 13 November 1945, Page 1623.Unternehmen Zeppelin: The Deployment of SS Saboteurs and Spies in the Soviet Union, 1942-1945 Perry Biddiscombe Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 52, No. 6 (Sep., 2000), pp. 1115-1142.LE CAUCASE DANS LES PLANS STRATÉGIQUES DE L’ALLEMAGNE 1941-1945 Georges Mamoulia.Alimardanbek Topchubashev: Letters from Paris :Vilayat Kuliev. Baku]
Eduard Abramian - Forgotten Legion: Sonderverbände Bergmann in World War II 1941-1945.
Eduard Abramian -Kavkatsy v Abvere . Moscow 2006
Christopher Ailsby - Hitler's Renegades: Foreign Nationals in the Service of the Third Reich.
Wladyslaw Anders - Russian Volunteers in Hitler's Army 1941-1945.
Christopher Bishop - SS Hitler's Foreign Divisions: Foreign Volunteers in the Waffen SS 1940-1945.
J. Borsarello & W. Palinckx - Wehrmacht & SS: Caucasian, Muslim, Asian Troops.
Dallin A. German Rule in Russia 1941–1945: A Study of occupation policies. London New York, 1957.
Littlejohn D. Foreign Legions of the Third Reich: In 4 vols. San Jose, 1987. Vol.4.Antonio J. Muñoz - The East Came West: Muslim, Hindu & Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces 1941-1945.
Munoz, Antonio J. Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen SS. Axis-Europa Books, 1991.
Antonio Muñoz & Dr Oleg V. Romanko - Hitler's White Russians: Collaboration, Extermination and Anti-Partisan Warfare in Byelorussia 1941-1944.
Foreign Volunteers of the Wehrmacht 1941-45 K. YuradoOsprey Publishing Ltd, Elms Court, Chapel Way, Botley, Oxford, OX2 9LP.
Tessin, Georg: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. 20 Bde. Osnabrück 1967 ff.
Held, Walter: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Eine Bibliographie der deutschsprachigen Nachkriegsliteratur. 5 Bde. Osnabrück 1978 ff.
Hoffmann, Joachim: Die Ostlegionen 1941 – 1943.Turkotartaren, Kaukasier und Wolgafinnen im deutschen Heer. Freiburg 1976.
Jeloschek, Albert und Friedrich Richter, Ehrenfried Schütte, Johannes Semmler: Freiwillige vom Kaukasus. Georgier & Tschetschenen auf deutscher Seite. „Der Sonderverband Bergmann“ unter Theo Oberländer. Graz, Stuttgart 2003.
ВА-МА, Oberkommando des Heeres / Generalstab des Heeres, H 1/136, bl. 64
NARA. Microcopy T-354. Roll 161. Frames 3806724 through 3807091.
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