The Osttruppen?

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.
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JACK-BOOT
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The Osttruppen?

Post by JACK-BOOT » 14 Jan 2009 09:22

Could someone possibly please give me a brief explanation on what the osttruppen was? Ive been studying the reich for a while and i keep coming across the osttruppen alot, as far as i know that they were volunteer werhamacht foriegn liegon. Please correct me if im wrong and i would greatly appreciate if someone could give a brief history lesson on what the ostruppen was.

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John G.
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by John G. » 14 Jan 2009 22:28

JACK-BOOT,
There were "thousands" of indivigual so called "Hiwi" who served in all branches of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, in addition to the organized "Ost Battalions" that served as indivigual field units (w/German "Advisors") so I think the term "Osttruppen" probably applies to them, too. They served as laborers, drivers, "bat-men" to officers, interperators, as well as sometimes in all the "combat-support" and "combat" roles...depending.

For the most part the Osttruppen were mistreated and untrusted by thier German Masters, and hated by thier fellow countrymen...most units served on the Western Front with mixed results....and those lucky enough to survive the War itself were doomed to execution or long terms in the Gulags.....very few survived....(except those who escaped "West" and weren't repatriated).

Victims, Traitors, Heros, Villans.....just depends on your point of view......but in the end...Human beings (thus all those things).
John G.

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JACK-BOOT
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by JACK-BOOT » 16 Jan 2009 04:08

Thanks you for giving me the background on this subject.
:D

Rob - wssob2
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 16 Jan 2009 05:48

Here's some books for you to research:


Breaking the Chains: 14 Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS and Other Ukrainian Volunteer Formations, Eastern Front 1942-1945
Carlos Caballero Jurado - Shelf Books - Halifax, UK - 1998

The Druzhina SS Brigade: A History 1941-43
Antonio Munoz - Axis Europa Books - Bayside, NY – 2000

The East Came West: Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces, 1941-45
Antonio Munoz, editor - Axis Europa Books - Bayside, NY – 2001

Foreign Volunteers of the Wehrmacht
Carlos Caballero Jurado, Kevin Lyles - Osprey Publishing Ltd. - Oxford, UK – 1983

Hitler's Renegades: Foreign Nationals in the Service of the Third Reich
Christopher Ailsby - Brassey's - London – 2004

Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS
Antonio Munoz - Axis Europa Books - Bayside, NY – 1991

Blowback: The First Full Account of America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Disastrous Effect on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy
Christopher Simpson - Collier Books - New York – 1989

benjamen13
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by benjamen13 » 16 Jan 2009 13:04

Thourwald, Jurgen. The Illusion, Soviet Soldiers in Hitler's Armies. 1974


Bethell, Nicolas. The Last Secret, The Delivery to Stalin of Over Two million Russians by Britain and the United States. 1974

Phil Nix
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Phil Nix » 16 Jan 2009 14:57

I recommend "To Battle" by Mike Melnyk History of the 14 th galician Waffen SS Division It also gives a good account of Governor Otto Wachter in Galicia
Phil Nix

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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Jan 2009 15:00

I endorse Melnyk's excellent book.

Sid

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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Jan 2009 12:20

Hi Jack-Boot,

The origins of the Ost-Truppen lie in the German Army's shortage of trained manpower. On invading the USSR Germany believed it had 5 months of trained reserves. In fact, they were used up in only two months. Thus from very early on German field formations were short of men.

The Wehrmacht was forbidden to recruit in the USSR as Germany was waging a racial and ideological war there. However, independently, most replacement-starved German Army divisions began to enlist non-Russians to perform non-combat functions and the Army command kept this from the political authorities well into 1942. By then, up to 10% of the ration strength in some divisions were such "Hiwis" and many were engaged in internal security duties.

In 1942 the politicians found out and, through force of necessity - losses of German manpower were still outpacing German replacements - regularized the Hiwis by creating a regular organization within the Ersatzheer to sustain them. They became officially known as "Osttruppen".

(It is often stated that the Waffen-SS was the vehicle for foreigners to fight Bolshevism. In fact, the Waffen-SS initially resisted the recruitment of Soviet minorities on racial and ideological grounds and it was only later, when Himmler saw a political opportunity to expand his personal empire, did the Waffen-SS begin to follow the Army's lead.)

Throughout 1942-43 more and more battalions of non-Russian Osttruppen were raised by the Army. However, in late 1943 it was clear that the USSR was going to beat Germany and they became increasingly unreliable in the East. Germany therefore transferred them en masse to Western Europe, where one or two battalions were integrated into most German infantry divisions in France and the Low Countries. (One in Denmark actually had six(!) battalions of Ostruppen). Other battalions operated independently on security duties within France. To support them, the Freiwillige Stamm Division was set up in central France. This was a training organization organized in five regiments divided by nationality.

However, the Osttruppen units usually dissolved quickly when exposed to Western Allied forces and had no significant role in the defence of "Fortress Europe".

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by JACK-BOOT » 17 Jan 2009 19:23

Wow sid thank you so much for the historcal background of the osttruppen, very indepth thanks agian :D

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tigre
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by tigre » 26 Sep 2023 20:03

Hello to all :D; a complement.......................

Ost-Legionen.

Source: Die Ostlegionen 1941-1943. Hoffmann, Joachim

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Sheldrake » 26 Sep 2023 23:20

The word Osttruppen covers many levels of engagement with the Wehrmacht. There were complete units and formations raised from ethnic minorities with a motive to fight the Soviet Union. The Cossacks, Latvian and Ukrainians spring to mind. As do the Croats who served at Stalingrad.

Soviet troops captured by the Germans faced a difficult choice. As a PW they would be regarded as a traitor and even if they survived the mercies opf German treatment they were destioned for the Gulag. Many opted to help their captors in exchange for achance of survival and food. These becoem the Hiwis. By 1944 their use in non combatant roles is sufficiently defined for the unit establishments to include a number of Hilfswilligen four in a Grenaider Company https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstn131v1sep44.htm and fourteen in an infantry Gun Company.
https://www.wwiidaybyday.com/kstn/kstn171v1sep44.htm

Battalions of Osttruppen were added to Static divisions on the Atlantic Wall to bring the infantry divisions to nine battlaions from six. Like the Atlantic Wall itself this was a bit of a bluff. Few of the Osttruppen fought well when the invasion came.

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tigre
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by tigre » 27 Sep 2023 13:52

Thanks for your opinion Sheldrake :wink:. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Art
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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2023 15:28

Sheldrake wrote:
26 Sep 2023 23:20
Soviet troops captured by the Germans faced a difficult choice. As a PW they would be regarded as a traitor
No
even if they survived the mercies opf German treatment they were destioned for the Gulag
Generally wrong. There were instances of POWs assigned to work as Gulag guard though.

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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Sheldrake » 27 Sep 2023 17:08

Art wrote:
27 Sep 2023 15:28
Sheldrake wrote:
26 Sep 2023 23:20
Soviet troops captured by the Germans faced a difficult choice. As a PW they would be regarded as a traitor
No
even if they survived the mercies opf German treatment they were destioned for the Gulag
Generally wrong. There were instances of POWs assigned to work as Gulag guard though.
I disagree and refer you to one noted history of the Soviet Soldier's experience of the War.

Order no. 270, which Stalin himself signed, was never published at the time, but its contents were widely disseminated, read out at meetings that the front-line politruks were forced to call. It followed the surrender, on a single day, of 100,000 men. The victims at Uman had little choice, since, unlike Boldin, they were encircled on the open steppe and not in woods and marshes where soldiers could hide. But with its customary moralism, Moscow judged them disgraceful and cowardly. Henceforth, its order stated, any officer or political officer who removed his distinguishing marks inbattle, retreated to the rear or gave himself up as a prisoner would count as a malicious deserter. Officers who tried to desert could be shot in the field by their superiors. Even reluctance to lead from the front could count as desertion if this suited the authorities on the spot.94...

...The order came to mean that anyone whose corpse was lost – which tens of thousands were, shot down over rivers and marshes, blown to pieces or gnawed away by rats – counted as a deserter for the army’s purposes. To go missing in action was a dishonourable fate.Merridale, Catherine. Ivan's War: The Red Army at War 1939-45 (p. 108-109). Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition.



On 11 May 1945, Stalin signed the order that provided for the establishment of another web of camps in central Europe. There were to be forty-five on the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts alone, each one designed to hold up to 10,000 men. By June, there were sixty-nine camps for special prisoners on Soviet territory and a further seventy-four in Europe.47 Their purpose was to intern former Red Army soldiers who had been prisoners of war with the intention of ‘filtering’ them, which meant looking for spies, fingering cowards and assigning punishment to so-called ‘betrayers of the motherland’. The fate of one, P. M. Gavrilov, who was among the very few survivors of the battle of Brest in 1941, would prove the quality of Soviet justice. Gavrilov was a real hero. Although he had been wounded, and although certain that he would die, he fought to his last bullet, saving one grenade to hurl at the enemy as he passed out from loss of blood. His courage so impressed the Wehrmacht (which was seldom given to sentimental acts) that German soldiers carried his almost lifeless body to a dressing station, whence he was taken to a prisoner-of-war camp. It was for this act of ‘surrender’ that he stood accused after the liberation of his German camp in May 1945. His next home was a camp again, this time a Soviet one.

In all, about1.8 million prisoners like him would end up in the hands of SMERSh.48 Building prisons to hold these ‘special’ veterans was a challenge when resources were stretched, but Soviet secret policemen were always willing to adapt. ‘The camp is located well outside the town,’ an NKVD report on a likely facility commented that summer. ‘It is enclosed with secure fencing, and has structures suitable for housing special contingent prisoners.’ Nazis had always known exactly how to build a jail. The site, just beyond the town of Oranienburg, was the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.Merridale, Catherine. Ivan's War: The Red Army at War 1939-45 (p. 325). Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition.

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Re: The Osttruppen?

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2023 19:05

Sheldrake wrote:
27 Sep 2023 17:08
Order no. 270, which Stalin himself signed, was never published at the time, but its contents were widely disseminated, read out at meetings that the front-line politruks were forced to call... Henceforth, its order stated, any officer or political officer who removed his distinguishing marks inbattle, retreated to the rear or gave himself up as a prisoner would count as a malicious deserter.
So instead "all POWs were considered traitors" we've got:
1) only officers
2) only those surrendering without fight or deserting from battlefield (and both were criminally punishable actions already before July 1941)
3) were called "deserters", not "traitors"

In reality most POW officers recovered before 1945 simply served for up to three months on positions of enlisted men and after that were restored in their ranks and positions. Most enlisted men were simply returned to military after security screening.
...The order came to mean that anyone whose corpse was lost – which tens of thousands were, shot down over rivers and marshes, blown to pieces or gnawed away by rats – counted as a deserter for the army’s purposes. To go missing in action was a dishonourable fate
That's simply a fantasy. Missing in actions were registered as missing in action, their families received state pensions and other social benefits in the same way as families of killed military personnel.
On 11 May 1945, Stalin signed the order that provided for the establishment of another web of camps in central Europe. There were to be forty-five on the 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts alone, each one designed to hold up to 10,000 men. By June, there were sixty-nine camps for special prisoners on Soviet territory and a further seventy-four in Europe.
Not everything called "camp" is a prison camp. These were camps for elementary accommodation and catering of civil and military repatriants.
In all, about1.8 million prisoners like him would end up in the hands of SMERSh
That's the total number of POWs repatriated. "In the hands of SMERSh" can be interpreted rather broadly. All were subject to some sort of security screening, the majority returned home or were called to military, the minority (mostly collaborators) went to filtration camps, which didn't necessarily prosecution either. Even the bulk of rank and file of osttruppen actually ended up with 6 years of settlement in places like Siberia and Kazakhstan.

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