"Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Discussions on the foreigners (volunteers as well as conscripts) fighting in the German Wehrmacht, those collaborating with the Axis and other period Far Right organizations. Hosted by George Lepre.
Hyus
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"Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 07 Sep 2020 21:18

I am looking for examples of so-called "autonomous" military or paramilitary forces from Europe which fought alongside Germany but were not officially part of either the Waffen SS, Wehrmacht, or German police. I am discounting the armed forces under the control of independent allied states (like Italy or Finland), this question is about collaborators from occupied territories or foreign volunteers.

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So far I have found two examples: The Flemish Legion (at least up to May 1943) and the Russian Liberation Army (at least from 1944).

As I understand it, the Flemish Legion was nominally independent and attached to (but not part of) the Waffen SS until May 1943, and had it's own officers and swore allegiance to its own homeland, not to Hitler or Germany. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Likewise, to my limited knowledge the Russian Liberation Army was in theory commanded by its own officers and swore allegiance to the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Obviously I know that these two units were subject to the direction of Germany, but my point is that they seem to have had a degree of autonomy (even if only nominal) that did not make them members of the Wehrmacht or Waffen SS.

Are there any other examples people know of?

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Sturmschwein
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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Sturmschwein » 07 Sep 2020 22:09

The Serbian Volunteer Corps (Српски Добровољачки Корпус) was an anti-partisan unit that fought alongside germany. It was not part of the Wehrmacht or SS

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by DrG » 07 Sep 2020 22:19

In Sept. 1943, before the formal constitution of the Italian Social Republic (RSI) there were already tens of thousands of Italian units, often but not always former Blackshirts units, fighting along with the Germans without the presence of any Italian government.

The most known of these formations, which practically never submitted to the chain of command of the National Republican Navy also after the beginning of the RSI, was the X MAS of Junio Valerio Borghese, which operated according to the agreement between its commander and the Kapitän zur See Max Berninghaus (see:https://www.axishistory.com/about-ahf/3 ... he-riviera), signed in Spezia on 14 Sept. 1943.

Here is the Italian text of the agreement (if you are interested I can translate it, but given its simple form I guess that Google Translate can make a good job too):
La Spezia, 14-9-1943
1) La Xª Flottiglia M.A.S. è un'unità complessa appartenente alla Marina militare italiana, con completa autonomia nel campo logistico, "organico", della giustizia e disciplinare, amministrativo;
2) È alleata delle Forze Armate germaniche con parità di diritti e doveri;
3) Batte bandiera da guerra italiana;
4) È riconosciuto a chi ne fa parte il diritto all'uso di ogni arma;
5) È autorizzata a ricuperare e armare, con bandiera ed equipaggi italiani, le unità italiane trovantisi nei porti italiani; il loro impiego operativo dipende dal comando della Marina germanica;
6) Il Comandante Borghese ne è il capo riconosciuto, con i diritti e i doveri inerenti a tale incarico.

Berninghaus
Capitano di Vascello
J. V. Borghese
Comandante

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 07 Sep 2020 22:20

Sturmschwein wrote:
07 Sep 2020 22:09
The Serbian Volunteer Corps (Српски Добровољачки Корпус) was an anti-partisan unit that fought alongside germany. It was not part of the Wehrmacht or SS
Thanks. Do you know to whom their official allegiance was?

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 07 Sep 2020 22:23

DrG wrote:
07 Sep 2020 22:19
Ah yes, I do remember hearing about the X Mas force which functioned almost like a private army under Borghese, thank you for posting that. It's a very interesting story that I sadly know only minimal details on. Wasn't there a bit of rivalry between Borghese and some officers in the RSI Navy?

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 08 Sep 2020 10:54

Wikipedia claims that the army of occupied Bohemia and Moravia was deployed to northern Italy in 1944 alongside German troops. I don't know any details about their service there.

It also seems that there was a Byelorussian Home Defence Force which was nominally loyal to the Byelorussian Central Council and had its own officers, and participated in some fighting against the Soviet westward advance in 1944. I don't know any details apart from this.

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by DrG » 08 Sep 2020 13:09

Hyus wrote:
07 Sep 2020 22:23
Ah yes, I do remember hearing about the X Mas force which functioned almost like a private army under Borghese, thank you for posting that. It's a very interesting story that I sadly know only minimal details on. Wasn't there a bit of rivalry between Borghese and some officers in the RSI Navy?
Rather than rivalry, Borghese was in the position to ignore the chain of command of the National Republican Navy, thanks to his direct relations with the Germans and Mussolini. In other words, there was no rivalry, because the Navy was clearly in an inferior position! :D The X MAS had its own organization, included an extremely successful propaganda office, and enjoyed a good reputation among the civilians, unlike the "Marina nera" ("black Navy", called in this way because black was and is the colour of the Italian Navy uniform), which was perceived as too linked to the old-fashioned Regia Marina, which the Fascist propaganda itself portrayed as formerly led by traitors (remember the mock trial of Parma, which sentenced to death adm. Campioni and adm. Mascherpa).

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 08 Sep 2020 13:15

DrG wrote:
08 Sep 2020 13:09
Rather than rivalry, Borghese was in the position to ignore the chain of command of the National Republican Navy, thanks to his direct relations with the Germans and Mussolini. In other words, there was no rivalry, because the Navy was clearly in an inferior position! :D The X MAS had its own organization, included an extremely successful propaganda office, and enjoyed a good reputation among the civilians, unlike the "Marina nera" ("black Navy", called in this way because black was and is the colour of the Italian Navy uniform), which was perceived as too linked to the old-fashioned Regia Marina, which the Fascist propaganda itself portrayed as formerly led by traitors (remember the mock trial of Parma, which sentenced to death adm. Campioni and adm. Mascherpa).
That's an interesting political dynamic there, thanks for expanding on it.

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Hyus » 09 Sep 2020 13:05

Does anyone know the words of the oaths that members of the Flemish Legion (before May 1943), Russian Liberation Army, Byelorussian Home Defence Force, and Army of Bohemia and Moravia took?

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Sturmschwein
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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by Sturmschwein » 11 Sep 2020 05:34

Hyus wrote:
07 Sep 2020 22:20
Sturmschwein wrote:
07 Sep 2020 22:09
The Serbian Volunteer Corps (Српски Добровољачки Корпус) was an anti-partisan unit that fought alongside germany. It was not part of the Wehrmacht or SS
Thanks. Do you know to whom their official allegiance was?
Their allegiance were to the Serbian State and people and were held in Serbian-Orthodox churches

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FlyingStukas
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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by FlyingStukas » 12 Sep 2020 16:18

Cheers,
Filip

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by narikis » 19 Nov 2020 16:04

In Yugoslavia some Chetnik militias worked for Germans and Italians, they were not part of Wehrmacht or SS. Also there was the Lithuanian TDA Battalions who were organised by the Lithuanian Provisional Government in summer 1941. They did not do much combat though at that time, mostly hunting Jews, and then they were absorbed into German-controlled auxiliary police.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuanian_TDA_Battalions

There was also Lithuanian Territorial Defence Force, which disbanded because of tensions with the Germans and in fact never swore the oath to Hitler.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuania ... ense_Force

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Re: "Autonomous" units fighting alongside Germany

Post by thezerech » 02 Dec 2020 05:11

The Ukrainian units in the German Army, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, or YBB, was nominally a German formation. Once the Germans recognized the Ukrainian National Council, the YBB became the Ukrainian National Army. Which was ostensibly autonomous. General Pavlo Shandruk took over from the inept German commander, but some SS and Wehrmacht officers remained with the Army, and its corp the former 14th SS Grenadier Division "Galicia" now 1st Ukrainian Division surrendered to the Western allies. They, as the UNA were ostensibly seperate from the SS so would fall under co-belligerents.

Perhaps the German Azad Hind troops technically were loyal to the Bose government as well, I think, although in practice they were under German authority, of course.

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