Danish & Polish soldiers in German Army 1914-1918

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Octavianus
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Danish & Polish soldiers in German Army 1914-1918

Post by Octavianus » 22 Oct 2003 23:30

Ave amici,

Until 1918 the German Reich included the territories of Schlesien and Northern Schleswig-Holstein where for many centuries lived substantial Danish and Polish minority. Does anyone know perhaps how many Danish and Polish recruits were eventually mobilised during the Weltkrieg and what was their ratio of losses? Under which divisional area belonged the areas of Tonder, Hoyer and Abenrade which are today in Denmark? Did anyone of them leave any WWI memoars that he has written after the war (if possible in german :D)?

Gratiam,

Octavianus

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2003 07:11

The Schleswig Danes numbered about 140,000 pre-1914,out of a total population for Schleswig-Holstein of around 1.6 million.Northern Schleswig was predominantly full of Danish speakers,but Frisian was also spoken in the western districts.This region was part of the German 9th Corps district so any Danish recruits would have been part of any formations raised under this command.Using the average German call up of around 15% of the total population in WW1,something like 20,000 Danes could have served in the German army 1914-18.

Germany's Polish community numbered around 2.4 million in 1914,more than half residing in Upper Silesia.Polish recruits would have joined units under 5th Corps(Lower Silesia),6th Corps(Silesia),2nd Corps(Pomerania),and 17th(West Prussia) & 20th Corps(East Prussia) in East Prussia.The historian John Keegan has commented that the German 10th Division (part of 5th Corps) was "a 'colonial' division,recruited among the Poles of Upper Silesia,and these fought with something less than a will."
Post Versailles 570,000 Poles still remained German citizens.

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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2003 07:31

Polish infantry fighting the Freikorps near Posen 1922.Possibly former Polish members of the German army as witnessed by their helmets & equipment.
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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2003 08:15

Another minority were the Wends or Sorbs of eastern Germany.I think they were exempt from military service though:

http://monsite.ifrance.com/uhlan/sommaire.html

Click on 'The Wendes and the Spreewald'.

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Post by Octavianus » 30 Oct 2003 20:42

Ave Moulded!

You are the best, Moulded! :D

The Schleswig Danes numbered about 140,000 pre-1914,out of a total population for Schleswig-Holstein of around 1.6 million.Northern Schleswig was predominantly full of Danish speakers,but Frisian was also spoken in the western districts.This region was part of the German 9th Corps district so any Danish recruits would have been part of any formations raised under this command.Using the average German call up of around 15% of the total population in WW1,something like 20,000 Danes could have served in the German army 1914-18.


Thanks for these information. But are you aware of any regiments of the 9th Corps which included a large percentage of Danish recruits? Has it been anything written about them after the war in Denmark? Maybe some Danish friends on this forum can reply to this questions of mine. :wink:

I know only of one known case and that one took place in 1916 when a German cargo ship, disguised as a Danish freighter and manned by Schleswig Danes, hit the shores of German East Africa to bring much needed supply for battle-worn German colonical troops under General Von Lettow-Vorbeck. The captain's name was, I think, Christensen or something like that.

The historian John Keegan has commented that the German 10th Division (part of 5th Corps) was "a 'colonial' division,recruited among the Poles of Upper Silesia,and these fought with something less than a will."


Which battles did the 10th German Infantry Division took part? was it mostly employed on East Front?

Gratiam,

Octavianus

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 Nov 2003 01:36

Based on the German census,Danish recruits would number around 9% of the Schleswig-Holstein call up.

Divisions,Regts mobilised by 9th Corps,excluding Landwehr:

17th Division
18th Division
17th Reserve Division
18th Reserve Division
213th Reserve Regt,46th Reserve Division
84th & 90th Reserve Regts,54th Division
266th Reserve Regt,80th Reserve Division
3rd Reserve Ersatz Regt,87th Division
426th Regt,88th Division
187th Regt,187th Division
409th &410th Regts,203rd Division
394th Regt,206th Division
464th Regt,238th Division

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Post by michael mills » 02 Nov 2003 05:00

Moulded wrote:

Post Versailles 570,000 Poles still remained German citizens.


I would be interested in the source of the above figure.

Polish nationalist sources uniformly claim that there was a Polish minority of 1.5 million in Germany between the wars.

A problem would be what constitutes a German citizen of Polish ethnicity. Between about 1880 and 1914, some hundreds of thousands of ethnic Poles, perhaps more than one million, migrated to the Ruhr to work as miners and factory hands. They very quickly became assimilated into the German Catholic culture of the Rhineland, and today there are some millions of Germans with Polish surnames.

One wonders whether those "Rhineland Poles" have been counted as part of a Polish minority in Germany.

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Post by michael mills » 02 Nov 2003 05:10

Moulded wrote:

Polish infantry fighting the Freikorps near Posen 1922.Possibly former Polish members of the German army as witnessed by their helmets & equipment.


In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, the army of the resurrected Polish state wore both German and French uniforms.

French uniforms were worn by members of the Haller Army, a formation formed in France commanded by General Haller. It fought on the Western Front as part of the French Army, and returned to Poland in 1919. Because of its wartime experience as a unit, it formed the backbone of the new Polish Army.

Units raised in Poland after the end of the war and the establishment of an independent Polish state generally were equipped with surplus German uniforms and equipment. General Pilsudski and the men of his POlish Legion wore Austrian uniforms.

What happened in Posen Province in 1920-22, after it was handed over to Poland under the provisions of the Versailles Treaty, was that Polish nationalists tried to drive out the ethnic German minority by force of arms. The German Freikorps entered the province to protect the ethnic Germans.

The bitterness created by the Polish attempt to ethnically cleanse the Posen Province (or Poznan to give it its Polish name) provided the fuel for the atrocities committed by German forces when they retook the region in 1939.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 Nov 2003 09:44

Michael,
The 570,000 Polish minority figure is sourced from Plebiscites:Self-Determination in Action by S.L.Mayer,an article in Volume 8 of Purnell's History of the First World War.

Also pre-1914 around 1 million Russian Poles were allowed temporary work permits of 3 months duration to enter eastern Germany each year to help with the summer harvest. I don't know if this practice continued into the 1930s as the ill-will caused by the border clashes of 1919-1923 may have put an end to this;as well many of the former Junker estates that used this agricultural labour pool were now under Polish territorial control as it was.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 Nov 2003 10:15

Octavianus wrote:Which battles did the 10th German Infantry Division took part? was it mostly employed on East Front?


Octavianus,
The 10th infantry Division served on the Western Front throughout the war.I assume that German policy was not to let any Polish recruits conduct active operations in the east because of the fear of fratenization with their fellow Poles under Russian control.

An Allied Intelligence report of 1917:

The 10th Division differs from the 9th in that its normal recruiting district(Province of Posen) is composed mainly of Poles.There are,therefore,a large number of Poles in its ranks,but it is evident they are trying to mix them with Prussians,who are less liable to desert...During the German attack of May 18,1917,the 47th Infantry clearly gave the impression that it was quite inferior to the two other regiments of the division(the presence of Poles in the 47th should be noted.


And this on the 18th Division of 9th Corps(note the 17th Division would not have contained Danes as it was recruited from the Hanseatic towns and Mecklenburg):

The 18th Division is recruited from Schleswig-Holstein(Prussians and Danes).A certain proportion of Poles from Silesia appeared in the replacements of 1917(especially in the 31st Infantry Regiment).


Germans,Danes and Poles all together!

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Post by Octavianus » 09 Nov 2003 00:16

Ave Moulded,

GREAT STUFF!!!! Thanks!!!! :) This is very interesting subject and a very good discussion indeed.

And this on the 18th Division of 9th Corps(note the 17th Division would not have contained Danes as it was recruited from the Hanseatic towns and Mecklenburg):


Moulded, would it be possible for you to give me a short sketch of all the places on the Western Front where the 18th German Infantry Division fought during the Great War 1914-18? Like Verdun, Vimy, Loos, Arras etc..

The 10th infantry Division served on the Western Front throughout the war.I assume that German policy was not to let any Polish recruits conduct active operations in the east because of the fear of fratenization with their fellow Poles under Russian control.


Same here. I would just like to know the localities so that I can from then on continue with the research on my own. I'm also a bit suprised this division spent the entire time on the Western Front. Wasn't there also a potential danger of fratenization of the soldiers of the 10th Division with the General Joszef Haller's Polish Army in France? They could be more use to on the Eastern Front, because Poles where not much of the friends with the Russians at that time. :roll:

Gratiam,

Octavianus

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 09 Nov 2003 00:51

Octavianus,

18th Division

1914
Belgium
Marne
Aisne

1915
Aisne
Champagne

1916
Somme

1917
Somme
Arras
Flanders
Mulhouse

1918
St Quentin
Somme
Soissons
Oise
Sambre Canal


Its sister division made up of reservists,the 18th Reserve Division,served as follows:

1914--Belgium,sacking of Louvain,Oise
1915--Artois
1916--Somme,Flanders
1917--Artois,Flanders
1918--Ypres,La Bassee,Cambrai


10th Division

1914
Luxembourg
Ardennes

1915
Les Eparges
Woevre

1916
Verdun

1917
Cotes de Meuse
Aisne
Chemin De Dames

1918
Picardy
Aisne
2nd Marne
Woevre
Moselle
Meuse-Argonne

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 09 Nov 2003 21:15

I read the soldiers of Polish origin were marked with a red square sewn on their back. If they tied to desert they could be recignized very easily and shot.

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Post by michael mills » 10 Nov 2003 05:15

Musashi wrote:

I read the soldiers of Polish origin were marked with a red square sewn on their back. If they tied to desert they could be recignized very easily and shot.


That does not seem very plausible.

Is there a source for this claim?

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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 10 Nov 2003 07:12

michael mills wrote:Musashi wrote:

I read the soldiers of Polish origin were marked with a red square sewn on their back. If they tied to desert they could be recignized very easily and shot.


That does not seem very plausible.

Is there a source for this claim?
why considering in what numbers Czhes ran over to Russians

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