SS and Finns fighting together

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SS and Finns fighting together

Post by tooz » 22 Apr 2020 03:54

Gentlemen, I know that the SS Regiment 9 was "attached" to Group J in battles around Kiestinki. Did these units fight in the same area? Were they close enough in the action to co-operate in a joint fight?

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Re: SS and Finns fighting together

Post by Mangrove » 22 Apr 2020 12:50

According to Ryhmä J's war diary, German artillery supported Finnish troops starting at Kananainen from 21 July 1941 onwards. A separate detachment was formed from 7. Infanterie-Kompanie / SS-Infanterie Regiment 6 and a Finnish company on 29 July 1941. Also, Finnish thrust towards Sohjana was supported by German tanks from 2. Kompanie / Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V. 40 on 31 July 1941 onwards.

SA-Kuva 43666. Finnish and Waffen SS troops heading towards the front line at Kiestinki, 22 August 1941.
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Re: SS and Finns fighting together

Post by Juha Tompuri » 22 Apr 2020 17:03

Leo Skurnik
When the Pioneer Battalion 5 (later Pioneer Battalion 15) was being formed during the Interim Peace in the Ii garrison, Skurnik, then with the rank of medical captain, was assigned as the battalion's doctor. Skurnik's unit was participating in the combined Finnish–German offensive from Kiestinki to Loukhi, which was one of the costliest actions in the early phase of the Continuation War. The strength of the Finnish Infantry Regiment 54 had been reduced from 2,800 to 800 during the heavy fighting in August 1941, and it has been estimated that the field hospital with seven doctors where Skurnik was stationed received a hundred wounded men each day.

In September 1941, Skurnik organized the evacuation of a field hospital in heavy Soviet artillery shelling near Kiestinki, saving the lives of 600 wounded men, including Waffen-SS members. Skurnik split the evacuees into small formations and timed their departures between the artillery barrages. The German liaison headquarters, headed by General Waldemar Erfurth, proposed awarding the Iron Cross to Skurnik for the effort deemed heroic, a proposal which was accepted in Berlin. However, Skurnik refused to accept the award and reportedly stated to Lieutenant General Hjalmar Siilasvuo, who informed him of the decision, "My good friend, do you think I can take that kind of decoration? Tell your German colleagues that I wipe my arse with it!" Skurnik's rebuff caused the Germans to respond with open annoyance. The two other Finnish Jews awarded with the Iron Cross, Captain Salomon Klass and nurse Dina Poljakoff, also refused the award.

Discontent with having to work with the German troops later contributed to Skurnik requesting a transfer to the Uhtua front in the summer of 1942. Later in the war, he was promoted to major and fought in the Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive and the Lapland War. Finnish military history author, Colonel Wolf H. Halsti, lauded Skurnik's loyalty as surpassing a military doctor's usual duties, as Skurnik went to rescue wounded soldiers from no man's land when nobody else had the courage to do so.

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