Anti-partisan units

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Mark V.
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Post by Mark V. » 09 May 2005 16:34

Great photos Gaius!!

Thanks for the tip Massimiliano. I guess I'll have to start learning Italian :) .

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G. Trifkovic
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Post by G. Trifkovic » 10 May 2005 22:58

You're most welcome,Mark! Glad to find out there is something about Brandenburgers you haven't seen already! :D

Jörgen L
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Post by Jörgen L » 11 May 2005 07:33

One book that might be of interest is Panzer Units In The Operationszone Adriatisches Kustenland (OZAK) 1943-1945 And The Panzer-Sicherungs-Kompanien In Italy written by Stefano Di Giusto, S,O.

It has many photos and english/italian text
Approx 200 pages

It´s available through Aberdeen Bookstore.

Best regards
Jörgen L

erlpes
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dirlewanger

Post by erlpes » 12 May 2005 15:02

Someone mentioned Dirlewanger in connection with the Warsaw uprising.
The Dirlewanger brigade, later renamed 36:th SS Division Dirlewanger.
It was originally formed in 1940 by head of recruitement Gotlob Berger, Berger and Himmler sought to use military service to rehabilitate convicts, beginning with poachers. It was felt that these men could be made into good soldiers, mainly because they were experienced at riflery and wood craft. They would eventually be trained as partisan hunters. They only served as such throughout the war only making short cameo apperances at the actual front.

Below follows a short history of the unit and its actions:

"The eventual Dirlewanger Division began its life on June 15, 1940 as Poachers Commando Oranienburg. Ustrength stood at 84 men on July 1st, 1940. Non-poachers soon began volunteering for the unit, in order to escape concentration camp life, raising the strength to 300 men on September 1st, 1940. It then became known as SS-Sonder Bataillon Dirlewanger, and answered for supply and training purposes to the Totenkopfverbande. The bataillon was assigned to anti-partisan duties in the Generalgovernment (the area of Poland not incorporated into the Reich), and was operationally answerable only to Heinrich Himmler. In February, 1942, it was reassigned to Belorussia, where it served under the Higher-SS and Police Leader for Central Russia. It later served under Chief of Anti-Partisan Operations Erich von dem Bach.

On January 29, 1942, the bataillon received authorization to recruit foriegn volunteers to supplement its strength. On August 20, 1942, Hitler authorized the expansion of the unit to two battalions. The added strength came from additional poachers, Russians and Ukrainians recruited in the field, and military delinquents. This last source had been approved on October 15, 1942. The term "military delinquents" here referred to men from all branches of the Wehrmacht, including the Waffen-SS, who had been convicted of felony offences while in service. The "military deliquents" were considered guilty of actions that would be classified as criminal in civilian life.

There was never a great number of poachers available in Germany, but non-poachers had been allowed to pass themselves off as such if they volunteered for the Dirlewanger unit. In the spring of 1943, the ability to volunteer was extended to all classes of German convicts in the Generalgovernment.

The unit had been involved in numerous firefights with partisan bands, and Dirlewanger had suffered several wounds. He received the clasp to his Iron Cross II on May 24, 1942, and that to his Iron Cross I on September 16, 1942. The regiment fought in its heaviest combat yet during the destruction of the Lake Pelik Autonomous Republic, in August of 1943. It suffered 300 casualties between February and the end of August. Dirlewanger received the German Cross in Gold on December 5, 1943.

A III.Bataillon had been approved for SS-Sonder Regiment Dirlewanger in August 1943. Before it could be organized, the regiment was forced into frontline combat on an emergency basis with Army Groups Center and North, beginning on November 14, 1943. It was not really equipped or trained for this, and the unit suffered extremely heavy casualties. On December 30, 1943, the unit reported a strength of 259 men. Hundreds of military and concentration camp convicts were forwarded to rebuild the regiment, and by February 19, 1944, its strength had reached 1200 men, and on April 15th, it established its own replacement company to facilitate replacing casualties. Soviet citizens were no longer recruited, and future men for the regiment would be exclusively military convicts and volunteers from the concentration camps.

Anti-partisan operations in Belorussia reduced the regiment's strenght to 971 men by June 30, 1944. At this point it became caught up in the German retreat stemming from the Soviet Bagration offensive in June of 1944 against Army Group Center.
The regiment was next assigned to the forces under von dem Bach who were battling the Polish Home Army that had occupied much of Warsaw. It went into action on August 5, 1944, as part of the Police Brigade directed by SS-Gruppenfuehrer Heinz Reinfarth. It completed its role in the destruction of Polish opposition in early September, and spent the next month watching the Soviets across the Vistula. The regiment left Warsaw 648 men strong.

Dirlewanger had received his final promotion, to SS-Oberfuehrer der Reserve, on August 15th. Reinfarth was so impressed with his bravery that he recommended Dirlewanger for the Knight's Cross. The award was approved on September 30, 1944. Dirlewanger had already achieved the Wound Badge in Gold, and in Warsaw he received the 11th wound of his career.

The regiment was now expanded and rebuilt, and a large number of military convicts became available as units shattered in Western Europe retreated into the Reich and turned in their reprobates. These men and the survivors of Warsaw formed the SS-Sonder Brigade Dirlewanger, which in early October, 1944, was retitled 2.SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger.
From here on out, most of its replacements would be Communist and Socialist volunteers from concentration camps. Most of these men volunteered in the hope of deserting to the Soviets.
The brigade was organized into two regiments, each of two battalions (briefly three, until casualties and desertions reduced the available men), supported by two batteries of artillery.The brigade fought on the frontline in Hungary between December 14th and 29th, 1944. All elements suffered heavy casualties. The brigade was later withdrawn to Slovakia to reorganize. Civilians were soon complaining about Dirlewanger's men committing acts of looting and rape. Some of the volunteers were kept locked in buildings while away from the front because of their unreliablity.

At the beginning of February 1945, the brigade returned to front line combat because of the emergency situation along the Oder River in Silesia. The unit had been slated for expansion to a division, but entered combat near Guben before this happened. Oskar Dirlewanger was wounded for the 12th time. He never returned to his new division. SS-Brigadefuehrer and German Cross in Gold Holder Fritz Schmedes, the former commander of 4.SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division took command. No new units were created to bring the brigade to divisional strength. Instead, several Heer detachments were assigned. Additional volunteers from the concentration camps, including men from evacuated Auschwitz, were still being prepared for service with the Dirlewanger Division. Some of them reached it, others did not, in the chaos of the end of the war. Concentration camp inmates were accepted as volunteers as late as May of 1945.

The front in Silesia settled down in mid-March, 1945. The Soviet offensive to end the war began on April 16th, 1945, and the Dirlewanger Division began to retreat to the northwest at this time. Desertions became ever more common at this time, as the end was nearing. Schmedes and his headquarters attempted to reorganize the unit on April 25th, but found that it had almost completely disintegrated. Schmedes then led what elements he could towards the Elbe River. Some men, along with other military and civilian elements, were caught and shot by the Soviets. Schmedes and his staff entered American captivity on May 3, 1945."

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Post by Klint » 16 May 2005 21:10

Who is interested in the history of this unit this book is a must, a definitive history with the real divisional symbol, the real commanders and all the major antipartisan operations, a lot of photos never seen before etc..!! Now it' s necessary that somebody writes the history of the albanian, the two ungarian divisions and the 37^ and all the wss division have their definitive history ! Sorry for Munoz ( but is he an historian ? ) and Michaelis (too small books) but this is a serious book. Naturally also the Kampfgruppe Division B-M, KaukasischerWVdSS-OstturkischerWVdSS, SFK and other units need their definitive history, let's go to work !
Klint
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Larry D.
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Post by Larry D. » 16 May 2005 22:08

Looking back in time when I bought my first book about the units of the Waffen-SS, which was written by a Cornell University professor named George Stein, who would have ever suspected that 35 years later every division would have a full unit history except for just four of them!

Be patient. Some one some where will write those remaining four.

erlpes
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Post by erlpes » 17 May 2005 10:00

Larry D, I suppose you are refering to George Steins "Waffen-SS Hitlers Elit Guard at War 1939-1945", a classic and a very good overview of the core fighting formations of the Waffen-SS.
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Jörgen L
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Post by Jörgen L » 17 May 2005 10:45

Klint, I'll really have to start learning Italian...

By the way, Wydawnictwo Militaria has recently published a new book called DIRLEWANGER by Rolf Michaelis
(74pp. 60 photos. 14 maps. Polish text with small English summary and captions. Card covers. Large Format).
I haven´t read it so I can´t comment on it...

It´s available through Landmark Military Books.

Best regards
Jörgen L

Larry D.
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Post by Larry D. » 17 May 2005 13:29

erlpes -

That's the one! I think there are probably a lot of older types like me who "cut their teeth" on the Stein book. Back then, it was just about all we had.

Best,

--Larry

Klint
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Post by Klint » 17 May 2005 15:25

Ciao Jorgen,

I have bought a book of the same polish series on the Nordland Division from Michaelis and I have to say that I have found some interessant photos never before seen sincerely many Direlwanger photos in the Michaleis book are sure not token in 1944 specially the column when entered in the desdroied Warschau, one collar patch it's claery a fake I think in this case the 70 photos will be well know I have found a never seen photo on the Dirlewanger unit in the book Die Militaergerichtsbarkeit der Deutschen WH - Franz Seidler Verlag Bublies
Ciao Klint

George Lepre
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Post by George Lepre » 21 May 2005 03:42

Hi Everyone -

The late-war divisions are certainly an interest of mine.

Regarding Michaelis' book on the Dirlwanger unit: I think this is a sub-standard book. There are many easily-accessable primary sources that Michaelis never bothered consulting. The KTBs of Heeresgruppe Sued and AOK 9, for example, provide much information and can be found in Freiburg. The records of the SS- und Polizei Gerichtsbarkeit provide excellent data on soldiers sent to the brigade. He didn't bother using them. The Gedenkstaetten of several concentration camps possess hundreds of pages concerning political prisoners who were sent to Dirlewanger in 1944. None of this material was consulted.

There is also no information from the Russian side. Voenno-Istoricheskih Zhurnal was one of several Soviet military journals that was available before the opening of the Russian archives. Its articles were written by former Soviet officers and reveal valuable insights on their planning and small-unit objectives. With Michaelis, the Russian side is reduced to simply "Die Russen...."

***The book is utterly devoid of historical analysis. Michaelis never bothers to sum up the unit's career or find its place in history. In fact, the book has no conclusion at all. From a sociological standpoint, one never gets a feeling of what life was like in the brigade because few division members are even cited by name. Was morale always low? Were soldiers rehabilitated from the unit? How many? How many foreign volunteers were there? Were there equipment shortages? We never find out for sure. Individual case studies of soldiers sent to the brigade would be excellent to see here, but there are none, and the material IS available.***

Military units tend to be reflections of their commanders, and in no case was this more true than with the Einheit Dirlewanger. Yet Michaelis never bothers to provide his readers with a character analysis of Dirlewanger - he simply copies the same dry facts recited by Auerbach in his article from the 1960s. On the other hand, Hans-Peter Klausch published an outstanding biographical essay on Dirlewanger in his book. Klausch even found the court transcript from Dirlwanger's 1930s trial for child molestation and his doctoral dissertation.

Klint: There are two good sources of information on Kampfgruppe Böhmen und Mähren. The first is the Chronik produced by Kurt Imhoff and the Pionier Kameradschaft Dresden many years ago. Unfortunately, Kurt died several years ago and I have no idea how to contact the organization. Secondly, the young German historian Roland Pfeiffer wrote an article on the unit that appeared in Die Kameradschaft several years ago. You might find these sources useful.

Regarding the 37. Kav. Div., it is true that a history is sorely needed. Unfortunately, everyone is too focused on the HJ Div. in Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, etc. to pay the 37th much mind.

Best regards,

George Lepre

Klint
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Post by Klint » 22 May 2005 01:01

To George Lepre,

first of all compliment for the book on the Handschar Division, secondly I agree also on the Dirlewanger there is no a real history some historians arrive only where they find documents in some archives as Cruel Hunters but nothing new on the battle of 1944 and 1945, I was friend of Imhoff and I buy all the copy of his immense number of documents on the Pionier Unit also with many nice photo that fortunatly it was possible to scann some of them I also a subscriber of Die Kameradschaft. A good source for start a book on the 37 is the last volume of the Vopersal books on the 3.SS but naturally is not enough and sincerally also a history of the 22 is needed as this division in the book on the kavallerie divisionen der SS seems a simle subunit of the 8.SS, a really strange thing are the two ungarian division and the supposed AK, book like Armati Hungarorum is better than nothing but some ungarian historian now has the possibility to find photos, documents, former members etc.

Ciao klint

George Lepre
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Post by George Lepre » 22 May 2005 15:05

Hi Klimt -

Thanks for your reply and kind words regarding my book.

I agree 100% with your statements. I always believed that Rudi PENCZ should be the one to write the Maria Theresia and Lützow histories; in fact, I even suggested this to him several times. The last time I spoke with him, he told me he is researching the Estonian Division (!) Have you spoken with Roland P. lately?

Regarding Dirlewanger - have you seen Hans-Peter Klausch's book?

I have some information on a Swiss Army officer who served in the Waffen-SS, Hermann Flückiger. Let me know if you're interested.

I have a peripheral interest in the French Foreign Legion. In the late 1950s/early 1960s, there was an uproar in Switzerland when it was learned that a young Swiss Legionnaire and former Papal guard, Josef Ryf, was executed in Algeria by his company commander. I can supply more details if you'd like.

Best regards,

George

Klint
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Post by Klint » 22 May 2005 15:43

Ciao George,

I have not read the Klausch book I buy german book from particulary bookseller and professionist of the hate against the WSS are not in the catalogue if you I know the name of buch and editor I find a copy is maybe Antifaschisten in Uniformen ? Pencz is the right person, to write a book on the 22 and 37 KD recently I went to Estonia and there are many historian and the history of the baltic division is well know, Pencz asked me information on the Polizei Rgt.Brixen, now in Italy it was published a book on this unit with the real history of the unit in Slesia with memories of some survivers and photos probably I'll send him the copy of the Slesia section of the Brixen history, anyway I was in contact also with Scherchel that was in the 8 KD and later in the 37.KD if he is still alive he was an officer allways better than a soldier as his vision of the unit is naturally more deep,I have writed to Roland at least one years ago for info on the Panzergrenadier Schule I think is allways on that subject, I mean some schule of the WSS, other not covered part of the WSS history. I know a swiss officer that was in the WSS in Italy probably in the Jagdverbande Sudwest Charles Branderbeger, he was with Skorzeny in the action on the Gran Sasso but it's many years that he didn't answer to my letter. On the french legion I know a former italian RSI Nco, 12 years in the Legion (the last in the Duxiem Bureau (?) in Algeria) he lives in Milan but I don't think he speaks english if you speak french a can give his adress or I can translate your letter and send them with your letter asking if know this history. Maybe send me a private message
Ciao Klint

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genstab
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Antipartisan Operations

Post by genstab » 24 May 2005 01:14

Two quick remarks for your consideration:

Besides the regular security divisions in Russia, the following nominal Infantry Divisions were also mostly used as security divisions and all but 707th eventually had their designation changed to Security Division: 52nd ID, 390th Field Training, 391st Field Training, and 707th ID

As for the war in Yugoslavia, I looked through the posts for mention of it but didn't see it so I'm adding this website as an great source on the antipartisan ops there: vojska.net/ww2/battles - the creator, Ivan Bajlo, has sone an outstanding job. The antipartisan operations are listed by date with Axis and partisan O/Bs when known.

Best regards,
Genstab

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