How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

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.
Komi
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 07 Dec 2020 13:12
Location: Seeking history

How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Komi » 24 Jul 2021 21:58

It seems to me that Germany tended to segregate their foreign volunteers into units by culture and/or language, e.g. Kalmyks together, Tatars together, Latvians together, Ukrainians together, etc.

What did they do with foreign volunteers who were of mixed heritage? For example someone who might have been mixed Slavic and Tatar? Or mixed French and Italian? That kind of thing. Given that race was obviously so central to Nazism, I'm kind of curious how they handled foreign volunteers who might have been of dual 'races' or nationalities.

ROLAND1369
Member
Posts: 1290
Joined: 26 May 2007 15:22
Location: USA

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by ROLAND1369 » 24 Jul 2021 23:21

I suspect that the ethnic groupings were more of a practical requirement rather than a conscience racial decision. It is very important that all members of a military unit speak the same language or dialect. This does not even consider the ethnic differences religion, dietary taboos, and historical antagonisms prevalent among the groups of people in the captured states.

Komi
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 07 Dec 2020 13:12
Location: Seeking history

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Komi » 24 Jul 2021 23:29

ROLAND1369 wrote:
24 Jul 2021 23:21
I suspect that the ethnic groupings were more of a practical requirement rather than a conscience racial decision. It is very important that all members of a military unit speak the same language or dialect. This does not even consider the ethnic differences religion, dietary taboos, and historical antagonisms prevalent among the groups of people in the captured states.
You're probably right. Practicality in language/communication was probably equal, if not more, of a consideration than nation or 'race' in how the Germans composed their foreign volunteer units. But then again, we have a few examples of units that included men who spoke different languages, like the Blue Division which included both Spanish and Portuguese speakers... And we also have people who all would have spoken Russian but were segregated into different units, like the Finno-Ugrics and Tatars of the Idel-Ural Legion, or the Kalmyks of the Kalmyk Cavalry Corps.

But assuming language/communication was the primary concern, then what if a foreign volunteer was of mixed heritage and happened to speak both his parental languages? Where would he end up? For example I have a friend whose grandparent (of the WW2 generation) was mixed French/Italian and spoke both languages fluently. What would the Germans have done with such an individual should they have volunteered for service?

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Loïc » 25 Jul 2021 01:26

:welcome:
Last edited by Loïc on 25 Jul 2021 15:51, edited 1 time in total.

Komi
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 07 Dec 2020 13:12
Location: Seeking history

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Komi » 25 Jul 2021 09:43

Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 01:26
Because all the German Foreign units were homogeneous...really...? That is probably why there were jews-lituanians with the Volga-Tatars
so read the thread below with many counter-examples of heterogeneity
There's no need for sarcasm. And those Lithuanian Jews you mentioned hid their identities to serve with the Tatars, the Germans didn't know of their nationality. So that's not an answer to the question I asked, which is about openly mixed volunteers and what the Germans did with them.
Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 01:26
multi-national foreign volunteer units in Europe
viewtopic.php?f=51&t=251447
Thanks, I will have a look.
Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 01:26
I don't know from which country you come to consider quite curiously the latin sister-nations as Spaniards and Portuguese and French and Italians so differents like that at such point that to find together the first two in the same Division Azul is something heterodox and an insurmountable linguistic obstacle
I never said that, please don't put words in my mouth. I simply mentioned the case of Spaniards and Portuguese in Division Azul to point out that the Germans don't seem to have always created units of purely one language or nation.
Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 01:26
however I assume that these "mixed" people in Western Europe came from a country, they had a nationality, and were them the volunteers so the choice came from them the first concerned by their volunteering more than causing a brainstorming among the germans recruiters,
Paul Martelli was a german-italian of France he ended with the 33rd Charlemagne, division coming from LVF Regt 638 having Italians Russians and arabs volunteers in their ranks
Yes, I suppose that was probably the case in western-europe, where the volunteers were recruited more conventionally. But in Eastern Europe, many of the foreign-volunteers initially came from POWs, Red Army deserters, and such ... so it would have been up to the Germans to decide where to put them, as they would have had people on their hands from everywhere between Belarus and Siberia. This is why I wonder what they might have done with people who came from different nationalities or 'races' ... for example if a Red Army defector was of mixed Russian (Slav) and Kazakh (Turkic) heritage, would the Germans send him to the Russian Liberation Army, the Turkestan Legion, or what?

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Loïc » 25 Jul 2021 14:13

:welcome:
Last edited by Loïc on 25 Jul 2021 15:51, edited 1 time in total.

Komi
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 07 Dec 2020 13:12
Location: Seeking history

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Komi » 25 Jul 2021 14:51

Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 14:13
if my post and my level didn't meet your standards you had the possibility to ignore it, especially if so you knew already the fate of such jews-lithuanian by having raised this previous thread Komi or Hyus,
I didn't raise this question before? What are you talking about? Maybe you are confusing me with someone else?
Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 14:13
so how a so-called racially ethnically organised Army could pay a greater special attention to "mixed" individuals when they seem even unable to respect their own "national" standard among the foreign units...??
I don't know, that's why I came here to ask. I'm not so proud to pretend that I know something when I don't. I'm here to learn. Do you have some problem with me or my question? It seems a bit like you are angry with my queries....

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Loïc » 25 Jul 2021 15:52

again, if my post doesn't cumply your expectations, so simply ignore it, sorry to have disturb your thread by polluting it and providing nothing
don't reply to this one, thank you

Komi
Member
Posts: 136
Joined: 07 Dec 2020 13:12
Location: Seeking history

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by Komi » 25 Jul 2021 16:30

Loïc wrote:
25 Jul 2021 15:52
again, if my post doesn't cumply your expectations, so simply ignore it, sorry to have disturb your thread by polluting it and providing nothing
don't reply to this one, thank you
You didn't disturb my thread, and I appreciate the information you tried to share so far. I'm just a bit taken aback at your response, it seemed like I did something to upset you, and I'm confused :|

George Lepre
Host - Foreign volunteers section
Posts: 756
Joined: 13 Aug 2002 21:39
Location: United States

Re: How did the Germans treat volunteers of mixed heritage?

Post by George Lepre » 27 Jul 2021 17:07

Hi all -

This is an interesting topic. It's too bad that there isn't sufficient information available today to thoroughly study the ethnicities of the volunteers in each of the foreign formations.

I'd imagine that the most ethnically mixed units were the ones the Germans formed in North Africa, since in Algeria and Morocco there are mixed populations of Berbers and Arabs, among others.

Hi Komi - I believe language was more important than racial characteristics for two reasons. First, the great majority of the foreign volunteers units were established in 1943 and after, when the military situation was becoming more and more desperate. Then there is the matter of training the volunteers and what language was to be used during instruction. With the 13. SS-Division, most of the enlisted men were Bosnian Muslims, but ethnic Albanians were also recruited, so they were placed in their own battalion.

Best regards,

George

Return to “Foreign Volunteers & Collaboration”