Ukrainians in the Waffen-SS & Wehrmacht

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.
Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 22 Apr 2006 20:54

Note: many of the pictures kindly posted by ASKOLD which he found "on the net", are from the former KGB archive. These and similar pictures were used to illustrate anti-Ukrainian Soviet publications which abounded in the 50'2, 60's and 70's.
I found a contact (former KGB employee) who was willing to steal pictures to order. I otained about 70 pcitures from him although a great many had been doctored, rather clumsily (embelms added and deleted, people airbrushed out, pictures cropped to give the wrong impression). Some of the original prints were from theDivisional newspaper To Victory and these too had been 'enhanced' for publication. I will post some examples when I have time. Ultimately I used only 2 of his pictures which I knew to be original and unaltered.

best wishes
Mike Melnyk

Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 23 Apr 2006 16:43

Hello

Please excuse the quality of these pictures.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, it isn’t only the former Soviet writers who were apt to make changes to photos of the Galician Div to suit their own agendas. Ukrainians sometimes did it too to give a ‘better impression’ of the Division. Here are two examples. The first is taken from from the book by LOGUSZ entitled The Galicia Division. It appears here at the bottom and shows a parade at Heidelager. Again the photo has been doctored. In LOGUZ’S photo we see a blank wall behind the podium and two flags flying either side in blue and yellow (the Ukrainian national colours).
In the original picture (top) which I appreciate is hard to see on this poor image which I am posting, there are 3 Swastika banners which form the backdrop to the podium which have been coloured over in the LOGUSZ picture. Likewise the two flags which flew either side of the parade ground were red flags with the Swastika emblem in the middle.

To be absolutley fair, in this instance the pictures are not identical, but are from the same sequence and were taken minutes apart.

As an author, using doctored pictures is in my view tantamount to falsifying facts and I was very careful to steer clear of using similar material in my own work.

Mike Melnyk.
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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 23 Apr 2006 16:46

Exactly the same problem with a photo taken from Landwehrs book ‘Fighting for Freedom’ captioned (incorrectly) Ukrainian volunteers assemble before going off to a training camp.

The original picture of a recruitment parade in Drohobych 20 June 1943, appears at the top. Notice how the original swastika banners seen in the top picture have mysteriously become plain red banners in the Landwehr version.

Mike Melnyk
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Askold
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Post by Askold » 23 Apr 2006 23:04

Mike is it possible to see a larger scan of your dad with the Slovakina bucle? Great stories, please continue.

Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 24 Apr 2006 18:30

see post below
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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 24 Apr 2006 18:42

Hi

Two Untermensch. KULYKOWSKYJ (left and my father (right) both wearing the Slovak army belt buckle (this featured a rampant lion and was similar to the design of the Galician lion used by the 14 Galician Division.

Mike Melnyk
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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 24 Apr 2006 18:52

Top Picture is from the former KGB archive. It shows Ukrainians reporting for their medical prior to enlistment. This picture which was originally used in the Divisional newspaper ‘To Victory’ has undergone ‘highlighting’ – that is to say lines have been accentuated - a process which was fashionable at the time.

Bottom picture: paying black Jack, during a rest in training at HEIDELAGER August 1943.


Mike Melnyk
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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 24 Apr 2006 18:57

Another clear example from the KGB pictures originally used in the Divisional newspaper ‘To Victory’ showing Ukrainians after receiving their mail at HEIDELAGER which has undergone ‘highlighting’. This was one of many pictures rejected from my book because it had undergone that process.

Mike Melnyk

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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 24 Apr 2006 20:14

Ukrainian officer aspirants at Breslau Lissa in Jan 1944. Instruction included skiing tuition.
Again, note how the Ukrainians are wearing the SS runes on their collar patch, a full 6 months after they had begun their service.

Mike Melnyk
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Askold
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Post by Askold » 24 Apr 2006 21:44

Thank you for the pics. The Slovak (I think its actually old Czech, no?) matches the lion collar tabs very well.

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Post by Melnyk » 25 Apr 2006 14:39

Corpulent, arrogant and petty minded, as well as being a fine specimen of Aryan manhood, Fritz FREITAG was a first class example of how some foreign Waffen-SS Divisions were saddled with the lowest dregs when it came to their German command cadres.

Following the disaster at the battle of Brody, FREITAG was quick to lay the blame squarely on the Ukrainians. In a short address which he gave to the survivors in the village of SEREDNE, after admitting that initially all three infantry regiments had fought well, Freitag with extraordinary logic gave all the credit for the successful breakout to the German officers, (90% of whom were present in Seredne), whom he stated had stayed and fought courageously, whilst simultaneously claiming that the Ukrainian officers had run away from the battle despite the fact that over 70% lay dead on the battlefield. The anomaly seems to have escaped him. Moreover he neglected to even acknowledge the fact that he had only escaped due to the bravery and fighting spirit of his Ukrainian escort, two of whom had had to literally drag their exhausted commander up hills with an ad hoc harness fashioned from two belts, because he was physically unfit.

Better still, he later gave ample demonstration of his leadership qualities that Himmler so admired when he permitted the commander of WGR 30 SS-Obersturmbannführer Forstreuter to remove a Ukrainian officer Waffen-Untersturmführer Alexander Podolynsky from his command of the regimental staff company and replace him with a German nco SS-Sturmscharführer Bessel. For several months two Ukrainian officers who had graduated from German academies Waffen-Ustuf.s Podolynsky and Chomyn were obligated to serve under Bessel as platoon commanders in the company.

Mike Melnyk
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Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 25 Apr 2006 14:41

top: Galician Division route marching at HEIDELAGER

bottom: this picture was obtained from a Ukrainian vet of the Division without a caption. shortly after he sent it to me he died.
I believe it doe not show the 14 Galician Division, but rather another unit he served in prior to serving with the Galician Division.

* Note: the second picturee was published by the veterans with the following caption:
"Funeral of Ukrainian soldiers near Felbach Austria".

I still doubt this is correct as one of the officers in the photo is wearing black trousers and this would not have happended in the Galician Div.

Mike Melnyk
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Post by Melnyk » 28 Apr 2006 22:18

On 30th September, 1944, the Galician division’s commander SS-Brigadeführer Freitag was awarded the Ritterkreuz or 'Knights Cross', for the Division's part in the battle of Brody.

On 19th July 1944 XIII Army Corps was surrounded in the so called ‘Brody pocket’. At a critical point in the battle Freitag, lost his nerve. When the Corps commander General Hauffe requested a situation report, Freitag replied that he was not in a position to give one since the Division was no longer under his control and at this critical juncture, irrespective of any other consideration, promptly resigned his command. General Hauffe accepted Freitags abdication placed the remains of the Galician Division under the commander of the 361st Infantry Division, General Major Gerhard Lindemann (who thereupon took over command of all units designated for the defensive of the Corps rearguard) and assigned Freitag to the staff of XIII.A.K. With considerable skill General Lindemann managed to restore the front which was an essential prerequisite for the successful prosecution of the breakout which was to follow. Despite this Freitag was nominated for the Ritterkreuz by the commander of the 3rd Panzer Army Generaloberst Raus on 23 August, 1944. Raus’ report is accompanied by a short introductory note in which Raus seeks to exonerate himself for having had any part in it, stating that "In view of the short period during which the [14 Galician Division] was part of the 1st Panzer Army, it is not possible for me to make a definite and exhaustive assessment."

No mention was made of the fact that Freitag resigned his command, neither was any indication given of the sources upon which the report was based nor names provided of witnesses to his alleged heroism.
I can’t help wondering whether there are any other examples of Waffen-SS personnel receiving this coveted decoration after having relinquished their commands and left others to do the fighting for them.


Mike Melnyk

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Post by Melnyk » 04 May 2006 06:35

Another example of blatant discrimination against the Ukrainians in the 14 Galician division. This photo is from the Fuhrerschule des Verwaltungdienstes at AROLSEN nr Kessel from early Feb -Aug 1944.
This was a course for officers in administration. 43 Ukrainians began the course and 36 graduated.
Upon graduation the Ukrainians should have received the rank of Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer, however they were given the rank of Oberscharfuhrer Reserve Fuhreranwarter (Sergeant Reserve Officer Candidate). This was apparently in response to an internal divisional directive that only Germans could be appointed to administrative and staff positions. The majority of the Germans who were appointed to the admin and staff positions graduated from similar course with lower marks than the Ukrainians, but as Germans they were obviously superior to their Ukrainian ‘comrades in arms’.

Mike Melnyk
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Marc Rikmenspoel
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Post by Marc Rikmenspoel » 04 May 2006 19:31

Mike, thanks for continuing to share material from the Ukrainian perspective, it is very important that this sort of stuff be preserved and shared.

About Freitag's Knight's Cross. The actual awarding was based on a recommendation made by Heinrich Himmler, as per material in Freitag's file that was accessed by Mark Yerger (for the Waffen-SS Commanders project). I would think that once the decision was made to award the Knight's Cross to Freitag, justification from a military standpoint was quickly arranged, which is where Raus enters the picture, and does what is asked, but in a non-commital sort of manner ("exonerating himself").

If this is indeed what occurred, it would be similar to the case of Leon Degrelle. After Cherkassy, when he was flown to the Führer headquarters in the company of Herbert Otto Gille and Theobald Lieb, Degrelle was spontaneously awarded the Knight's Cross by Hitler on February 20, 1944. But something needed to be placed in his file with military justification, so Gille later wrote up a recommendation, which was dated May 31, 1944!

One more note on Freitag, he was apparently well regarded as a staff officer and commander while with the SS-Polizei Division and later the SS-Kavallerie Division. But these were units with primarily Reichsdeutsche personnel, at least initially. Freitag was obviously completely out of his element in leading Ukrainians. My impression, shaped in part by reading Mike's book, is that Himmler hoped Freitag would impart "Prussian discipline" to "soft Ukrainians" but that the reality was that Freitag would have greatly preferred a different assignment, and came to resent the men he was supposed to command, which brought out the worst in his character. As to being physically unfit, he was far from alone, as anyone who has seen photos of fellow higher Waffen-SS officers Max Simon, Hellmuth Becker, and Walter Krüger can attest. They are lucky they didn't find themselves in situations such as Freitag did at Brody, or a situation like Falaise, where the considerably older Paul Hausser was on foot and ably marching out of the pocket before he was wounded.

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