Monday, November 1, 2010

Eugen Corrodi

Born in 1897, Eugen Corrodi was a major and commander of an infantry battalion in the Swiss Army in the beginning of World War II. A convinced national-socialist and anti-Semitic, he left to Germany in July 1941 and joined the Waffen-SS. He got a Sturmbannführer der Reserve rank and taught the military tactics at SS-Junkerschule Tölz from January or February till April, 1942. While served in the Waffen-SS, Corrodi used the pseudonym "von Elfenau".

After served a year in SS Kavallerie-Division as commander of the Cavalry Regiment 3, Corrodi became an instructor at Panzerschule in Bitche (Lorraine/France). When the Waffen-SS created an Italian SS brigade, Corrodi helping to oversee the creation of the unit.

Corrodi was the most highly decorated Swiss officer in the Waffen-SS, a German Cross in Gold winner. He was also the highest ranking Swiss enlisted in the German armed forces and ended the War as Chief of Staff of SS-Ogrupenführer Lothar Debes, Commander of the Waffen-SS in Italy, with the rank of SS-Oberführer der Reserve.

After the War, Corrodi was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for desertion by a Swiss military tribunal. He later lived as an owner of a textile factory in Basel. He died in 1980.

Serbian Gestapo

The 1.Beogradski Specijalni Borben odred (1. Belgrade Special Combat detachment), known as Srpski Gestapo (Serbian Gestapo), was formed by Gestapo on 1 April 1942 without knowledge of Milan Nedić and his Serbian collaborator government. The reason is because SS-Obersturmbannführer Emanuel Schäfer, the newly appointed chief of the German Security Police in Serbia, wanted to create an indigenous Serbian entity through which the Gestapo could exert more control over the Nedić regime.

The commander of the formation was Strahinja Janjić. An ex-member of SDK (Srpski Dobrovoljački Korpus, the main collaborator unit in Serbia), he was thrown-out from the unit because his blackmail and robberies activities in Kragujevac county and was sentenced to death for raped a school teacher. But Gestapo set Janjić free because he was actually a German undercover agent and arrested Simeon Kerečki, the SDK officer who arrested him!

A convicted Nazi, Janjić, who saw himself as replacing Nedić to become the führer of a national-socialist Serbia, promised Germans that he will formed two Serbian SS divisions, one for the Eastern Front and other for North Africa. But he only got 147 men utmost, many of them were criminals. They wore SD uniforms, civilian and even SDK uniforms. Its headquarters was located in Starine Novaka street no. 24, Belgrade.

The Serbian Gestapo was truly a lousy unit. Although the unit was formed to fight against communist partisans, theirs main activities were pointed against theirs former comrades, members of the SDK and other Nedić followers. They also were spying other Serbian collaborators for Gestapo interest.

In late April, 1943, after protests of Milan Nedić and Dimitrije Ljotić, Janjić and 26 member of Serbian Gestapo were sent to Germany by order of the Gestapo, where they were spying Serbian workers and POWs in there. The remaining members of the Serbian Gestapo under Svetoza Nećak, Janjić’s deputy, were moved to Žorža (Georga) Klemensoa street. However, theirs operations were restricted: they were given specific tasks to fulfilled, they were not permitted to wear German uniforms; and they were redirected to undermine the Partisan movement rather than Nedić government. They were served until 29 February 1944 when the unit was disbanded. Gestapo later used former members of this unit individually.

After the war, Strahinja Janjić escaped to Canada and died in his new country.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

PER L'ONORE, PER LA VITA: The SS ‘Debica’ Battalion Story

On September 8, 1943, Italian left her German ally and surrendered to the Allied after the Fascist Grand Council deposed Mussolini a few weeks before. Hitler reacted by occupied most Italy, formed a puppet-government under Mussolini in northern part of the country, and tried to disarmed all Italian forces in the Axis territories.

During this chaotic time, throughout the late summer/early fall of 1943, some Italian troops willingly disarm. Others fight German units attempting to disarm them. Some switch sides and join up with anti-Nazi partisan forces. Others want to continue to fight on the side of the Axis, including an Italian SS ‘Debica’ Battalion.

The Battalion formed at the SS Heidelager Training Centre at Debica (that’s how the unit get hers nickname), Poland. Most of the volunteers come from the 31st Tank Battalion of the Italian Lombardia division plus former members of the Julia alpine division. There were 20 officers and 571 men served in the unit under Italian Major Fortunato, a former CO of the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment.

Although kitted out in German paratroopers uniforms, these troops were considered as Waffen-SS men. There were some troubles in the unit because some SS instructors mistreatment against Italians during theirs training, which made Major Fortunato and 38 volunteers resigned from the unit.

At the end of February 1944, ‘Debica’ was considered ready to for action and send to Italy. They were served as an anti-partisan unit around the Pellice Valley, southwest of Turin, under SS Kampfgruppe ‘Diebitsch’ during March-April 1944. The battalion also fought Italian partisans around Nocera Umbra, Asisi, and San Severino.

In early June 1944, the battalion fought in the north of Rome along Tyrrhenian coast under the German I Parachute Corps. It suffered heavy losses while fighting American tank units in this area and against partisans behind the German lines.
During the withdrawal to Florence, they were thrown against partisans near Cumiane. On 7 September, the battalion converted a recce detachment, a new 59. SS-Füsilier-Battalion by adding a mounted squadron and a bicycle company, and became part of the new Waffen Grenadier Brigade der SS (Italian nr. 1). During latter part of war, the unit got its final name, 29.SS-Füsilier-Battalion ‘Debica’.

After fought against American armored onslaught in Nurubene on 20 April 1945, the battalion retreat northward under a devastating Allied aerial assaults which guided by partisans. Surrounded by a large American armored unit, the ‘Debica’ battalion survivors and remaining of some other Italian SS units surrendered to the US Army in Gorgonzola on 30 April 1945.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ivan Demjanjuk

Ivan Demjanjuk was born on April 3, 1920 in the Ukrainian village of Dubovi Makarensy. He work as a tractor driver before served with the Red Army. He was captured by Germans during a battle in Kerch, eastern Crimea, in May 1942, and transported to a prisoner camp by Rivne.

Demjanjuk survived from the Nazi prisoner camp’s hell, as he later said in court, by given his soul “for a loaf of bread," and join with the SS auxiliaries. He was send to the SS's Trawniki training camp near Lublin in eastern Poland, joining a band of about 5,000 "foreign volunteers," including Balts, Ukrainians and Volga Germans. They did the Nazis' dirty work in the occupied areas of Eastern Europe, sometimes voluntarily, but often under duress. After finishing his Camp Keeper training, Demjanjuk got his Wachmann rank.

From January 1943 Demjanjuk was posted at the Majdanek Concentration Camp. From there, on March 26 1943, he got posted at the Sobibór Concentration Camp. He ended the war at the Flossenbürg Concentration camp where he, in early 1944, became promoted to an active member of the Waffen-SS (Totenkopf Flossenbürg).

In the chaos of postwar Germany, Demjanjuk escape from repatriation to Soviet Union or trial, and found a job as a driver in some displaced persons camps in southern German. 1n 1952, he move to the United States with his family. Naturalized in 1958, they were settled in Ohio, where Demjanjuk, now known as John Demjanjuk, worked as an autoworker in a Ford auto plant.

His quiet life disrupted in the late 1970s when some Holocaust survivors who were asked to identified Feodor Fedorenko, another Ukrainian who served as a guard in Treblinka and lived in the United States after the war, on a photo spread also pointed Demjanjuk picture. They accused him as “Ivan the Terrible”, a notorious guard at the Treblinka and Sobibór extermination camps during the period 1942–1943 who committed murder and acts of extraordinarily savage violence against camp prisoners. In 1986, after a lengthy investigation, American authorities decided to extradite Demjanjuk from the United States to Israel.

Demjanjuk was put on trial in Israel between November 26, 1986, and April 18, 1988. The principal allegation was that three former prisoners identified Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, who operated the diesel engines sending gas to the death chamber. The court found Demjanjuk guilty of all charges and sentenced him to death by hanging.

However, the sentenced had been cancelled after an appeal by Demjanjuk lawyers could give evidences that proved Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible. Israeli Supreme Court acquitted him and decided to release him rather than to pursue charges of committing crimes at Sobibór, which was not included in his indictment.
Demjanjuk was released to return to the United States. However, once again he faces another civil complaint. No mention was made in the new complaint of the previous allegations that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible. Instead, the complaint alleged that he served as a guard at the Sobibór and Majdanek camps in Poland under German occupation and at the Flossenburg camp in Germany. He was put on trial again in 2001.

On December 28, 2005, an immigration judge ordered Demjanjuk deported to Germany, Poland or Ukraine. Finally, he was deported to Germany on May 2009, where prosecutors charged him with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder. He died on 17 March 2012 at a home for the elderly in Bad Feilnbach, Germany.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SS-Mullahschule in Dresden

During World War II, hundred thousands of Moslems served in various branches of German armed forces, mainly in the Heer. In latter part of war, Moslems contingents appeared among Himmler’s black legions. There were several major units in the Waffen-SS whose members consisted mainly of Balkan Moslem volunteers: Bosnian Moslem’s 13.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS ‘Handschar’ and 23. Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS ‘Kama’; Albanian’s 21.Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS ‘Skanderbeg’. Beside there were some other formations consisted Soviet Moslem contingents: Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände der SS, Waffen-Gebirgs-Brigade der-SS (tatarische Nr.1), and Kaukasischer-Waffen-Verbände der SS.

Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler himself was known as Islam most willing promoter and collaborator among the Nazi leadership. Himmler's hatred the 'soft' Christianity was equal for his liking for Islam, which he saw as a masculine, martial religion based on the SS qualities of blind obedience and readiness for self-sacrifice, untainted by compassion for one's enemies. His admiration for Islam made him not only ready to throw-out his racial 'Aryan pure' fantasies to receive more Muslim volunteers for his sinister legion, but also to accommodate their religious demands in the SS sphere. One of privilege which Himmler gave to strengthened Nazi-Moslem collaboration was the establishment of institution for the training of Islamic chaplain in the Waffen-SS, the SS-Mullahschule.

The SS-Mullahschule opened in November 1944 by SS-Brigadeführer Walther Schellenberg and was located in Dresden, where also the ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft Turkestan’ - a ‘research institute’ under the SD control - had been established. The lessons were to be given by Muslim teachers selected Grand Mufti of the Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini. This principal teacher was Professor Alimcan Idris, a Volga Tatar who was active in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, involved in radio programs towards Turkey. Aside from emphasized the common interests and goals of the German Reich and the Muslims, the courses confined to elementary lessons in the reading and the recitation of the Quran, a survey of the life of the Prophet, a very short look at the religious history of Islam and its expansion, as well as the history of the peoples concerned.

The first groups of students were 40 volunteers from several Central Asian countries. Originally, the course was to take approximately one or two years. However, for most of the future ‘field mullahs’, this period was shortened to approximately three months, as they were urgently needed in the field. The first course was completed against the end of 1944.

The school itself discontinued after Dresden was set on fire by the Allied Forces on 14 February 1945. The remaining students fled with ‘Arbeitsgemeinschaft Turkestan’ personnel to Weißenfels, where they were probably surrendered to American army.

Copyright© 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alimcan Idris

Alimcan Idris (or Idrisi) born in Siberia on 1887. A Tatar Volga, after finished his education in a madrassah in Bukhara, he continuing his study in Istanbul, Belgian, and Switzerland, and got doctoral degrees in philosophy and religious studies.

He served as an Ottoman agent to recruit Russian Moslems from German and Austro-Hungary PoW camps in Eastern Front during WW I. They were later collected into ‘Aslan Battalion’ and send to Syria front via Istanbul.

After WW I, Idris return to his homeland, but captured by Communist regime. Fortunately, by intervening of Germany and Turkey embassies, he was freed by his captors. He later returned to Germany in 1922. One of the founders of the Society of Islamic Worship in Berlin, after the Nazi seizure power in Germany, Idris worked for Reich Foreign Ministry, mainly as propagandist in Turkish desk.

After Hitler invaded Russia, Idris helped to recruited Turkestanis Pows into the Nazis sponsored-Turkestan Legion. He later served as a principal of SS mullah school in Dresden.

At the end of WW II, Idris and his family moved to Egypt, then to Afghanistan. After that, he lives in Riyadh and served as a consultant for Saudi Arabia King. He died in Munich in 1959.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Monday, July 12, 2010

Piero Mannelli

Piero Mannelli born in San Romano on August 8, 1896. He was served as a lieutenant in Italian alpine unit during WW I and joined with Italian hero and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio army which tried to bring Fiume under Italy rule. He was among Fascist members who taking part to the March on Rome in 1922.

A party activist, Mannelli hold some positions in fascist militia and Italian army during 1920s to 1930s. He was participated during Mussolini campaign against Ethiopia in 1936, and later joined with Italian expedition forces in Spanish Civilian War and invasion of Albania. Then he led an MVSN Legions Group in Benghazi, Libya, in 1941.

When Italy surrendered in September 1943, Mannelli take a side with Mussolini’ RSI. After served as a propagandist among Italian population in southern France, he joined with the Waffen-SS in March 1944 and got Waffen Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS rank. He was appointed as an Inspector to Enlistments in the Italian Voluntary Legions, which later became the Italian SS Legion.

In final days of the war, Mannelli was captured by Italian anti-fascist partisans. Tried by a military tribunal, he got a long preventive jail sentences. He died in Rome in the early 1970’s.

Pio Alessandro Carlo Fulvio Filippani Ronconi

Born in Barcelona, Spain, on March 10, 1920, Pio Alessandro Carlo Fulvio Filippani Ronconi was a son Conte Fulvio Filippani-Ronconi and Anita Tamagno. They were belonging from a very ancient aristocratic family, tracing back to the Roman patriciate. He grew up in Spain up to the Civil War, when his mother was shot by Republicans. He and his family later return to Italy.

In his ancestors’ country, he joined as a volunteer in Italian elite troops, the Arditi. He fought in Libya as a member of Special German-Italian-Arab secret service task force in North Africa that specialized in getting information behind enemy lines. He was wounded twice and was decorated with a Croce di Guerra for his valor.

After the fall of Benito Mussolini and the constitution of Italian Social Republic, Ronconi enlisted as a volunteer private in the Italian SS-Legion. He fought against Allied troops on the Anzio and Nettuno front with 1st Company of II./Waffen-Grenadier Battalion 81 ‘Degli Oddi’. During a fighting, he was badly wounded in the head.

Afterwards, decorated with EKII on 19 April 1944 and Verwundetenabzeichen on 14 April 1944, Ronconi was assigned to the staff of the Inspectorate of the Italian Waffen-SS. He was served as a translator between Generalmajor Manelli, SS-Oberführer Tschimpke, and SS-Gruppenführer Debes (Waffen-SS C-in-C for Italy). He was promoted to SS-Oberstürmfuhrer on 21 June 1944.

After the war, Ronconi - who already know Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Arabic, Greek, and Latin - studied several oriental languages such as Turkish, Hebrew, Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Persian, and others at the university. He taught both at the Istituto Orientale in Naples and at the Faculty of Orientalistics in Venice. At the same time, he also works at the foreign radio office for the Council Presidency and with the Italian intelligence services and ministry of defense as cryptographer and translator of oriental languages.

However, his Fascist-Nazi past got him in some troubles. In 2000, he entered a collaboration with the national newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, writing articles about Eastern philosophy. But, he was dismissed after a reader denounced with a letter to the newspaper about Ronconi past as a Waffen-SS member during the war.

Ronconi died on 11 February 2010 in Rome and buried with a Russian Orthodox rite.

Italian Volunteers of the Waffen-Ss: 24 Waffen-Gebirgs-(Karstaeger) Division Der Ss & 29. Waffen-Grenadier-Division Der Ss (Italienische Nr. 1) (World War II Monograph Vol. 217)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Žanis Butkus

One of the most decorated soldiers on the Eastern Front, Žanis Butkus born on 29 July 1906 in Augstkalne, Latvia, to Fricis and Anna Butkus. After leaving school, he worked on his parent’s farm. In 1927, he joined the Latvian Army and remained in the military until 1929. Butkus was a marksman who placed second with a combat rifle in the World Shooting Championship of 1937. In 1932 he married a Latvian girl, Velta, with whom he had four daughters.

When Stalin annexed Latvia into Soviet Union, Butkus joined the partisans to fight against the Soviet forces. He lost his wife and two daughters during the “Ghastly Year” in the deportation of June 14, 1941 while he himself was in the forest. As a nationalist partisan leader, after that deportation he made life insecure for the NKVD forces and other Reds, and stopped further deportations in his neighborhood.

After the Germans invaded Latvia, Butkus and his small partisan joined the invader and captured about a hundred Reds. He later served as a corporal in a Latvian auxiliary formation, the 26th Schutzmannschaft Battalion, in March 1942. The 26th served first in Byelorussia and then at Lake Ilmen where it occupied a long front line and made the Reds nervous by daring reconnaissance. For example, Butkus and warrant officer Miervaldis Ādamsons (nicknamed “Marokas Baigais” “The Dreadful Moroccan” - because he had served in the French Foreign Legion in Morocco) led a group across the frozen lake at night on March 8, 1943, entered the Red camp, captured three prisoners, and discovered large hidden stores of artillery shells for a planned Soviet attack. The German airplanes blew up the ammunition depots the next day.

In other occasion, during fighting on the Wolchov Front in August 1943, Zanis Butkus - now a sergeant - led a storm troop into the enemy lines and proceeded to capture a string of communist bunkers without loss. He returned to the German lines with many prisoners and much booty. Butkus was given an officer's commission on the spot.

Butkus was later transferred to the Latvian Waffen-SS unit, the 2. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade. As a Legions-Untersturmführer, he was awarded Deutschen Kreuz in Gold on 28 June 1944. After a successful heavy fighting Dalgi area where he lead his men to recaptured their former position and taken six guns and many weapons and ammunition from enemy, Butkus was awarded the Knight's Cross on 21 September 1944.

Žanis Butkus, after taking part in 59 close combat engagements, ended the war as a Waffen-Hauptsturmführer and a battalion commander of the 19.Waffen-Grenadierdivision der SS (lettische Nr. 2). He later emigrated to the United States with two of his daughters.

In 1981, the Office of Special Investigations - a division in the US Justice Department whose sole purpose was to find, prosecute, denaturalize and to deport accused Nazi war criminals living in the United States - investigated Butkus because his former Schutzmannschaft battalion was involved primarily with non-conventional warfare, typically against civilians. Butkus defended himself, told that he "fought only armed Russians and armed partisans." His case had discontinued because the OSI only wanted his testimony for another target.

Žanis Butkus died on 15 May, 1999, in Palmer, Alaska.

copyright© 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feodor Fedorenko

Feodor Fedorenko was born on the 17 September 1907 in Ukrainian village of Sivasch in 1907. He received three years of formal school, worked on the family farm until the Soviet collectivization drive of the early 1930s, and moved in 1933 to the Crimea, where he worked as a truck driver for a Soviet collective farm. He was married and had three children. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Fedorenko was mobilized into the Soviet Army and captured by the Germans shortly thereafter. During the winter of 1941-42 he passed through a number of POW camps in Zhitomir, Rowne, and Chelm, exposed there to the same terrible conditions imposed by the Germans on all Soviet prisoners.

One day at Chelm the Germans selected 200 to 300 Soviet prisoners from non-Russian nationalities - Ukrainians, Latvians, etc - who were then sent to Trawniki, a camp in Poland where the SS trained auxiliaries. Federenko was among them. After given elementary military training, he was posted to Lublin and stood guard over houses from which Jews had been forcibly removed. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Treblinka and served as a guard in approximately September 1942.

Treblinka was a Nazi death camp and served primarily for the murder of Jews. The number of victims killed in Treblinka has been estimated as 700,000 to 900,000 persons. During his trial, Fedorenko claimed that he was not involved in the operations of Treblinka. He only served as guard outside the camp, had no dealings with the prisoners, and never harmed anyone. But survivors of Treblinka testified that he had moved inside the camp, had participated in the process of dealing with arriving transports, had shot people in the Lazarett, and had been present at the gas chambers during the killings. After the uprising of Jews prisoners on August 1943, Treblinka was closed by Himmler’s order and Fedorenko left the camp, continuing to serve the Germans as a guard in various places.

By the end of the war, Fedorenko had made his way to Hamburg. He discarded his uniform and lost himself in the mass of East European refugees. Claiming displaced person status, he succeeded to emigrate to the United States in 1949. He lived in his new country in peace until 1978, when he was arrested after requests for extradition were received from the Soviet Union. Accused that he had willfully concealed and misrepresented his service as an SS auxiliary and that he lied about his activities and whereabouts during the war when he initially applied for a visa, Fedorenko was stripped from his U.S. citizenship. In December 1984, he became the first Nazi war criminal deported to the Soviet Union. He was sentenced to death by a court in the Crimea in the Soviet Ukraine in June, 1986, on charges of treason and taking part in mass executions at the Treblinka death camp in Poland. He was executed by shooting in July 1987.

Further Information
Nazi Criminals in the United States: Denaturalization after Fedorenko

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Léon Gillis

Léon Gillis was born on 11 February 1913, in Charleroi, Belgium. He joined the Walloon Legion in 1941. When the Walloon Legion was transferred from Heer to Waffen-SS, he was appointed as a SS-Untersturmführer and served as a Panzerjäger Zugführer in 5.SS-Freiwilligen Sturm-Brigade "Wallonie". In August 1944, Gillis and other Walloon SS soldiers marched to the vicinity of Dorpat in Estonia, where they were thrown into a fluid, confused muddle of German units attempting to contain the Soviet breakthrough at Pskov. For three weeks, they fought against Soviet infantry, tank, artillery, and air assaults. Gillis lead his men to stop a strong Soviet tank forces which attacking along the road south of Dorpat. For his successful military leadership, Gillis was awarded the Knight's Cross and promoted to SS-Obersturmführer.

Léon Gillis survived the war and died on 24 March 1977 in Brussels.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Artur Phleps

Artur Phleps born in Biertan (Berethalom, Birthälm), a village in Southern Transylvania, part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, on November 29, 1881. Belong from a Volksdeutsche family; his father was a doctor and his mother a farmer’s daughter. Started his military career in the Austro-Hungarian Army, Phleps served as a mountain trooper during WW I and ended the War as a first lieutenant. He raised a national guard in 1918 in his native Transylvania to fight Bela Kun’s Hungarian Communists. Finding that he could this better in the company of the Romanians who had advanced on Budapest, Phleps took service in the Romanian army and played a prominent part in the modernization of the army. After served as an instructor at the Military Academy in Bucharest, Phleps was promoted to the rank of general and with the versatility of some hero of the thirty years war he commanded the Mountain Corps until he was put into reserve in 1940.

In 1941, Phleps asked to be retired from the Romanian army and moved to Germany. Then he volunteered in the Waffen-SS, where he received the rank of SS-Standartenführer and served as a supernumerary officer on the ‘Wiking’ divisional staff. He was eventually given command of the ‘Westland’ Regiment, where his performance attracted his Army superior, General von Mackensen, who persuaded him to join the German Army and promised him to lead a division. However, Himmler intervened, promoted Phleps to SS-Gruppenführer and entrusted him to form and lead a new Waffen-SS division, known later as 7.SS-Freiwilligen Gebirgs Division ‘Prinz Eugen’. Like Phleps himself, the division consisted mainly of Volksdeutsche volunteers from Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. Organized as a mountain division and armed with captured French, Czech and Yugoslav weapons, ‘Prinz Eugen’ served throughout the war in Yugoslavia conducting anti-partisan operation with great brutality. Phleps himself was to be decorated with the Knight’s Cross on 4 July 1943 for his leadership of the division and subsequently promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer and got a command of the V.SS-Gerbirgskorps.

The end of Artur Phleps, who entered the SS as a Romanian general, was as ambiguous as his career. In September 1944, when most of the Hungarian army commanders were on the point of surrendering to the Red Army, he was flown from Montenegro to form a front in Transylvania, the home of his boyhood. Two days after Phleps had left Budapest, Himmler ordered his arrest. He had been accused by the SD of defeatism, but he never found: Phleps was captured close to Arad by Soviet troops, on 21 September and was summarily executed by his Soviet guards the very same day. His body was never found but his Knight’s Cross and some of his uniform insignia were eventually recovered and accepted as evidence of his death. On 24 November 1944, the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross were posthumously bestowed upon Artur Phleps. As a further honor, a mountain regiment of the ‘Prinz Eugen’ Division was named ‘Artur Phleps’ and granted the privilege of wearing a cuff band with his name.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ulf-Ola Olin

Ulf-Ola Olin born on 18 July 1917 in Helsinki, Finland, a son of Kaufmanns Guido Rafael-Olin and Amilia Augusta zur Welt. Served as a Finnish reserve officer during Russo-Finish War 1939-40, Olin was send to Germany in May 1941 with a contingent of Finnish soldiers who would be joined with a Finnish Waffen-SS unit. After trained in Gross-Born, Olin was send to Eastern Front with the main troops of the Finnish Freiwillige Battalion in December 1941.

Olin served with 4.K/Finnisches Freiwilligen Batallion during 1941-1943 and participated in Caucasus campaign, where he got an Iron Cross, 2nd Class. When the Finnish SS battalion dissolved and send home, he chooses to remain with the Waffen-SS and served at 7./SS-Pz.Rgt.5. of the ‘Wiking’ Division. During the fighting around Warsaw on the 10 August, 1944, Olin and his crew destroyed 11 anti-tank guns and two T-34s. He also destroyed five tanks on the 20 October. For his bravery and successful military leadership, Olin received the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold on the 28 February, 1945.

Olin survived the war and died on 11 January 1995 in Kassel, Germany.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kārlis Lobe

Born on March 26, 1895, Kārlis Lobe was a lieutenant colonel in the Latvian Army before Stalin annexed his country. When Hitler army overrun Latvia during summer 1941, Lobe was appointed as a commander of a Latvian self-defence forces commander in Ventspils. During his command from July 9 to August 29, 1941, his men participated in the German SD organised imprisonment and then consequent extermination of Jewish males in the Ventspils city and environs. Having fallen out of German favour, he left out his command and work in a confectionary factory for a time.

In December 1941, Lobe joined the 1st Riga Ordnungs-Hilfspolizei and served as the Chief of Staff. In 1943, he led the 280th Latvian Police battalion, which served in the German-organised anti-partisan campaign Winterzauber (Winter Magic) in Belarus. Then he was appointed as an adviser to the Directorate of Internal Security for the Self-Administration of the Land.

When Himmler formed the Latvian Legion, Lobe transferred to the new unit. He led a regiment in the 2. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Brigade and awarded a German Cross in Gold on June 28, 1944. He ended war as a Waffen-Standartenführer der SS.

After the war, he was moved to Sweden. Simon Wiesenthal, a well-known Nazi hunter, tried to convince the Swedish authorities to take legal action against Karlis Lobe, who was accused of participating in the murder of Jews in the Ventspils district, among other crimes. However, Stockholm rule-out Wiesenthal appeal because he delivered it in the late 1960s that mean already exceed the 25 year statute of limitations, which by Swedish law meant that formal proceedings against him were no longer possible. Thus, Lobe can live in peace until his died on July 9, 1985 in Stockholm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Konrāds Kalējs

Born on June 26, 1913, in Riga, Latvia, Konrāds Kalējs joined the Latvian army in 1935 and got a rank of lieutenant. When Stalin takes over Latvia in 1940, Kalējs was conscripted into the Red Army. He later deserted when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in summer 1941 and joined a Nazi-controlled Latvian security police known as the Arajs Kommando after its leader Viktors Arajs. The Arajs Kommando, working with the Einsatzgruppen, was responsible for many executions against Jews and other "undesirables" elements.

Kalējs served as a company commander and first lieutenant in the murderous unit. Besides killing Jews in the Riga ghetto, Kalējs and his men also served as guards at the Salaspils concentration camp, located 18 km southeast of Riga. The conditions there were brutal. Many inmates died, primarily from inhumane conditions or being shot while trying to escape. The Arajs Kommando was charged with guarding work details and preventing escapes at Salaspils.

Kalējs was one of the very few officers of the Arajs Kommando with military background. Probably, he was recruited for the purpose of helping to convert the Kommando from a purely police formation into a militarised one that could take part in anti-partisan operations. Outside of Latvia (usually in Russia) the Arajs Kommando joined the German SS in so-called anti-partisan activity, which was little more than a cover for arresting and murdering civilians. Thus, early in 1942, Kalējs led units of the Arajs Kommando in attacks on partisan villages in the Leningrad area. He later appointed as the commander of the perimeter security guard at a camp at Porkhov, a town east of Pskov.

In 1945, suspected of being a "Nazi death squad officer responsible for the murder of up to 30,000 Jews, Communists and Gypsies in Latvia", Kalējs moved to Denmark and five years later went to Australia as a refugee. He worked for the Australian Immigration Service, gaining citizenship in 1957. In 1959, he emigrated to the United States and built up a successful property business. However, in late 1984 the US Justice Department set its sights on him after being alerted to the allegations against him. He return to Australia, but forced to leave it after a local court revoked his visa, finding that he had "committed war crimes" as a collaborator. He was lived for some time in Britain before his identity known in public and, again, deported to Australia.

In September 2000, Latvian authorities finally charged Kalējs with war crimes offences, relating to his participation at the Salaspils labor camp. An Australia court later ordered his extradition to Latvia. But he never his foot again and face a trial in his homeland. The most unwanted wanted man in the world died in an Australia prison on November 8, 2001.

Copyright©2010 by Nino Oktorino

Monday, March 8, 2010

Armenische Legion

During the first twenty years of 1900s, the existence of Armenians, one of ancient peoples who live in the world, almost wiped-out as a nation. Millions of western Armenians, who live in theirs ancient land in Anatolia, died or deported by nationalist Turks. A chance to build an Armenian state in remaining Armenian areas in southern Caucasus destroyed when Ataturk’s Turkish and Lenin’s Bolshevist forces invaded it and divided the remaining Armenians between them.

Armenian Nationalist Parties
After the destruction of a short-lived Armenia state, two most powerful Armenian parties in the Diaspora emerged as the Dashnaks and the Ramkavars. Ramkavars have always held that Soviet Armenia is the best Armenia that they are likely to get, since it is protected by Russia; and without Russian protection (of whatever political complexion) Armenia would disappear from the map of the world for ever. The Dashnaks agreed not to take part in any act leading to the dismemberment of the USSR, upon which the safety of Armenia depended. They also agreed not to provoke any internal disorders or try to overthrow the regime. However, they would continue their relations with anti-Soviet forces, because, should the USSR collapse, it was prudent to be on good terms with any regime that might take its place. They remembered 1917–18.

In the years before the Second World War a small Fascist element appeared within Dashnak followers. Although the Dashnak party never adopted Fascism and the few pro-Fascist comments that appeared in its press at the time can no more be taken as wholesale endorsement of Fascism than can the favorable remarks of some European leaders on the first year of Fascist rule in Germany, a veteran party member, and a hero from the independent republic, Garegin Nzhdeh, went from community to community in North America, establishing ‘Tseghakron’, or racists, group. The basic idea behind Nzhdeh’s activities was to link the North American youth to a clear notion of national identity. His main premise was that the race, or the nation, should be considered above all else.

Initially, the ‘Tseghakron’ had some success mainly due to Nzhdeh’s charismatic personality. However, they could not maintain the momentum in the long run. Some time afterwards, when they couldn’t endorse Nzhdeh's extreme and racist views again, the Dashnak expelled him from its ranks. Nzhdeh, who was an anti-Soviet and anti-Turkish Nazi sympathizer, eventually left for Europe where he sought allies to overthrow the Soviet regime in Armenia.

Collaboration with the Nazis
As a whole, Armenians supported the Allied war efforts against the Axis during World War II. Around 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians served within the Red Army and contributed more than 50 Soviet generals, including the renowned General (later Marshal) Baghramian. For theirs enthusiasm for the Soviet cause, Armenian was called as the only pro-Soviet and pro-Russian nation in the Caucasus—for obvious historical reasons.

Nevertheless, some Armenians collaborated with the Germans during the Russo-German War. While as a whole Dashnak party did not take this stance (the section of the party in Cairo affirmed its loyalty to the Allies), members of the party who lived in the occupied areas, including a number of names famous from the period of the republic, adopted a pro-Nazi stance. However, except for Nzhdeh, no Armenians who collaborated with the Nazis have ever been a theoretical Fascist.

There are some reasons of this collaboration. It is possible to see it as a purely vengeful desire to retake Armenia from the Bolsheviks. Other reason is a Nazi view that suspected Armenians of being racially inferior because of their alleged proclivity for “parasitic trade practices,” said to derive from a presumed kinship with the Semitic race and miscegenation with the Jews. Hence it was important to prove to the Nazis that the Armenians were 'Aryans'. They seem to have achieved this when Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister of the Eastern Occupied Territories, declared that the Armenians were Indo-European, or Aryans. Thus, Nazis did not persecute Armenians, just for being Armenians, in the occupied lands.

Other main reason, share among many Dashnaks, was a memory that had been an overwhelming constituent of their policy in the preceding two decades, the events of 1917–18, when the strength and organization of their party apparatus was the only guarantee against the final extermination of theirs nation from the Armenian plateau. With Russia again threatening to break up, it made sense to prepare to enter Yerevan with the forces that might supplant Bolshevism, in order to assure public security before the Turks swept in from the west.

The last reason is understandably. Although Rosenberg had a plan to build an Armenian state as a buffer zone against Pan-Turanism, Hitler and many German leaders look more interested to ally the Third Reich with Turkey than a small nation like Armenians. In fact, although Turkey maintained grudging neutrality throughout the war, there was a revival of Pan-Turanism, resurfaced in July 1941 under the leadership of Professor Zeki Velidi Togan of Istanbul University, who lead a pro-Nazi organization which adopted the trappings of Fascism, down to an imitation-Hitler hairstyle and colorful uniform. Even some of Pan-Turan leaders, invited by the Reich Foreign Ministry, came to Germany to aid the administration liberated Turko-Tartar areas of the Soviet Union, which promised by the Nazis will became a part of Turkey if she joined the Axis cause. However, while the Nazis inducements profoundly impressed many Turkish leaders, including Marshal Cakmak, after Stalingrad these Fascist notions were put back in the filing-cabinet, and the Turkish authorities felt compelled to prosecute the official Fascist party in September 1944, to sanitize the country before she joined the Allies.

Meanwhile, on 15 December 1942, an 'Armenian National Council' was granted official recognition by Alfred Rosenberg. The Council's president was Professor Ardashes Abeghian, its vice-president Abraham Giulkhandanian. Among its members included Nzhdeh and Vahan Papazian. The Council published a weekly journal, Armenien, edited by Viken Shant, son of another well-known Dashnak leader Levon Shant, who also broadcast on Radio Berlin. Initially, the Armenian National Council fulfilled the function of “governments in exile”, but in the middle of 1944 they were officially acknowledged as government—at least on the paper.

Hitler’s Armenian Soldiers
During the first year of the Russo-German War, the Wehrmacht captured millions members of the Red Army. Initially, like many other Soviet POWs, Nazi racial prejudices exacted a heavy toll among Armenians during the first months of the war. Thousands of them perished due to the inhuman conditions and treatment in the POW camps.

Yet even as thousands continued dying in the camps, many German units used Soviet prisoners as helpers by supply troops. Before the summer was out, Red Army volunteers began to appear in regular Wehrmacht combat formations, even in small all-Soviet units under German command. In October 1941, the Abwehr created a special unit consisted exclusively from members of the Caucasian nationalities, the Sonderverband Bergmann, under Professor Theodor Oberlānder. Theirs members included a company of Armenian volunteers. The unit was deployed in the Caucasus in the summer of 1942 and distinguished itself in combat. However, the Armenian company practically destroyed during the fierce battle in Perekop peninsula in the end of November 1943.

The possibilities to use Soviet minorities against Russians made the Nazis change theirs racist views about “these primitive tribes.” On December 30, 1941, by Hitler’s order, the Germans formed four Ostlegionen (Eastern Legions) from the Turkic and Caucasian nationalities. One of them was the Armenische Legion (Armenian Legion).

The Armenian legion had camps and headquarters in Poland, in the area of the towns of Radom, Pulawa, Demblin but the central forming staff was situated in the region of the town of Pulawa, Lublin region. Some Armenian immigrant leaders were sent to the Red Army POW camps to recruited Armenians volunteers in there. Many Armenian POWs, having heard the calls of national heroes such as Garegin Nzhdeh and Dro Kanayan (an ex-Defense Minister of the short-lived First Republic of Armenia and a popular military leader after his victories over the Turkish forces in 1918 which essentially saved the Armenian Republic from total destruction) voluntarily joined the service in the legion. However, majority of those volunteers joined the legion only in order to survive and to come back to their native land. Some of them were forced by the Germans.

Like other Ostlegionen, the Armenian legion actually was a training center for Armenian volunteers, mainly in battalion’s strength. In fall 1942, the first Armenian Legion battalions, the 808th and 809th, were formed. They were followed by other battalions. Totally, there were eleven Armenian battalions served the Ostlegionen during the war.

Armenian soldiers performed were different between units. While the 809th battalion was known as an effective unit in the Eastern Front, the 808th largely deserted to the Red Army when they were put in the front. Some Armenian battalions later transferred to the Western Front to prevent another desertions and served as guards of the Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. Other Armenian battalions attached to 162. Deutsche-Turkestanische Division, which fought in Slovenia and Italy, mainly as an anti-partisan unit, until the end of the war.

In the beginning of December 1944, an Armenian Waffen-SS unit was formed following a directive of Heinrich Himmler. Known as SS-Waffengruppe ”Armenien”, they were attached under the Kaukasiches Waffen Verband der SS. This Armenian unit was lead by Waffen-Standartenführer der SS Vardan Sarkissjan. However, as other units of the Kaukasiches Waffen Verband der SS, they were never thrown into combat.

The Bitter End
Altogether 20,000 Armenians served in various units in the German Armed Forces during World War II. With the end of the World War II, many of volunteers who surrender to Western allied were handed over to Stalin. Many of them died in Soviet gulags, including Nzhdeh himself who died in a Soviet prison in 1954. Others succeeds escape from repatriation and lives among Armenian Diaspora in Western Europe, North American, and Lebanon.
Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Pavlo Shandruk

Born in Kremenets, Volhynia, on February 28, 1889, Pavlo Shandruk joined with Czar Army after completed his studies at the Nizhyn Institute. In 1917, as a Russian lieutenant colonel, he had lead one of the early tank detachments of the Russian Imperial Army. In 1920, after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, he commanded a Ukrainian brigade in the Ukrainian struggle for liberation. In 1921, after the Ukrainian National republic collapse, he had fled to Poland where Marshall Jozef Pilsudski gave him an appointment in the Polish army.

While most of the Ukrainian officers in the Polish army were regarded by Ukrainian nationalist as collaborators with Poland, Shandruk was an exception. In his dealings with Poles, Shandruk had always advocated an independent Ukrainian nation-state. During Hitler invasion to Poland in September 1939, Shandruk, now a colonel, led a Polish regiment which succeed to rescue a Polish brigade from annihilation. Taken as a prisoner by Germans and held in a prison camp near Breslau, he was later released due to his injuries. He later lives in Skierniewice and working at a humble job in a movie theater.

In 1944, when the SS tried to reshaped the anti-Communist Ukrainian organizations, which were rife with dissension, under theirs umbrella, they got an advice from a Ukrainian leader that Shandruk was a right man to lead them. In February 1945, with some conditions, Shandruk accepted the SS offering to lead the Ukrainian National Committee and simultaneously became the commander of the newly-formed Ukrainian National Army (or UNA) into which all Ukrainian units which had fought on the German side were collected. But, he refused the SS other offering to become an SS-Gruppenführer.

In his capacity as the leader of the Ukrainian National Committee and Ukrainian National Army, Shandruk declined invitation of General Andrei Vlasov to join the K.O.N.R. although the Russian general offering him the post of his first deputy in both political and military matters. Shandruk appreciated that the Ukraine would have little hope of independence if he made his armed forces subservient to a Russian.

In April 1945, Shandruk joined his men of the Ukrainian National Army in Austria. He lead the 1st UNA Division, former 14th SS ‘Galicia’ Division, fought theirs way over Tauern Pass into Radstadt pocket and surrendered to the US and British force in the area. While his men were put behind POW cages, Shandruk tried to make contact with higher British and American authorities. With help of Polish General Anders, he persuaded the British and Americans that his force were made up of Galicians, that is, Polish citizens whose homes had been occupied in 1939 by the invasion of Soviet armies and the incorporation of eastern Poland into the Soviet Union. His tenacity, cleverness, and diplomatic agility succeed keeping his division status away from extradition to Soviet Union because they were accepted as Polish pre-war citizens (without any check whether they had Polish citizenship or not). This provoked fierce protests from Moscow.

After live for some times in Germany, Shandruk emigrated to the USA. Decorated with Polish Virtuti Militari order for his performance in Polish Army during the September Campaign, he wrote a number works about military history in Ukrainian, Polish and English.

Pavlo Shandruk died on February 15, 1979, in Trenton, New Jersey.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ferenc vitéz Feketehalmy-Czeydner

Born as Ferenc Zeidner on November 22, 1890, in Piski, Hungary, from a Hungarian Volksdeutsche family, he changed his name to the more Hungarian-sounding Feketehalmy-Czeydner between the two World Wars. Joined with Austro-Hungarian army in 1904, he served as an artillery and General Staff officer in the Royal Hungarian Army during World War I. When the Habsburg dissolved, he entered the newly-reformed Royal Hungarian Army and rise to Lieutenant-General rank.

A vocal Germanophile and a rabid anti-Semite, Feketehalmy-Czeydner responsible for killing thousands civilians during his time as a corps commander in Yugoslavia’s Novi Sad region which annexed by Hungary during World War II. As a result, he was brought before a special court of the Hungarian General Staff to answer charges of excesses committed by his command. He was sentenced to death and dismissed from the Army. However, he later escaped to Germany and entered Waffen-SS at the request of Heinrich Himmler.

Served for a short period with II.SS-Panzer-Korps, Feketehalmy-Czeydner returned to his homeland after Hitler occupied Hungary and was officially reactivated in Hungarian Army by the new National Leader, Count Ferenc Szalasi. Before the war ended, he returned to Waffen-SS service and assigned to command the XVII.(ungarisch) SS-Korps (which existed only on paper).

Surrendered to US army in Austria, Feketehalmy-Czeydner was extradited to Hungary. Sentenced to death by Budapest court on March 1946, he was extradited to Yugoslavia and tried by a “Partisan Court” in Novi Sad. for ordering the roundup and massacre of an estimated 2,000 Yugoslav citizens by Hungarian troops in 1942. His death sentence reconfirmed and Feketehalmy-Czeydner was executed by hanged on November 5, 1946, in Zsabyla/South Batchka, Yugoslavia.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Swiss Volunteers in the Waffen SS

Switzerland was a strict neutral during World War II. However, as a loose confederation which consisted of three major ethnicities (French, Germans, and Italians), Swiss population were always sensitive to sympathy and solidarities attraction from abroad. So closeness cultural and economical relationship between Germany and Swiss German-speakers made the Nazis not only had a plan to incorporate German majorities areas in northern Switzerland, but also acted as they already annexed the area.

Among native Swiss there were at least 12 pro-Nazi organizations, which during theirs peaks have 40,000 followers. Most important among them were Dr. Ernst Biedermann’s National Front and Dr. Arthur Fonjallaz’s Faschistische Bewegung der Schweiz. Against the Swiss government wishes, some of Nazi sympathizers among theirs citizen, between 700 and 2000 men, actually volunteer for service within the German Wehrmacht and other Nazi services during World War II. Majority of them served in the Waffen-SS.

Most Swiss who served the Third Reich were German speakers who felt a kinship with Germany (many in fact had lived/studied in Germany before or during the war, and held or sought German citizenship). However, there were some French and Italian speaking communities from the country who also joined the Waffen-SS. An example is a SS ‘Charlemagne’ Division officer named Jean-Marie Stehli. The other one was an Italian speaker volunteer named Bruno Tissi who served in the Italian 29.Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS as an interpreter. The most highly decorated Swiss officer in the Waffen-SS had an Italian name, Eugen Corrodi. A German Cross in Gold winner, SS-Oberführer Corrodi used the pseudonym "von Elfenau" while in German service.

There never was a Swiss unit in the Waffen-SS. Most Swiss volunteers in the Himmler’s private army, 290 men, served in the ‘Nord’ Division, probably because they were presumed to be familiar with mountain terrain. In this unit, 62 of them were in 2./SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 6. The reason for their use as recce soldiers was due to the fact they had all received an exceptional good education, and thus compared to Volksdeutsche were more spirited. Since early 1943, Swiss officers (professionals and recent Bad Tölz graduates) were mainly used to fill out positions in the III. (germanisches) SS-Panzerkorps, especially Brigade ‘Nederland’. After the war, some of Swiss nationals who served in the Waffen-SS were sentenced in prison by Swiss military tribunals. At least one of volunteers, the Knight's Cross nominee SS-Untersturmführer Peter Renold, is known to have fought with the French Foreign Legion in Indochina to avoid being sent to Switzerland to face a trial.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nikolajs Galdins

Born in Riga, Latvia, on October, 9, 1902, Galdins join with the Latvian Army in 1919. After graduated from the War Academy, he served as an officer in the General Staff of the Latvian. After Stalin grabbed his country in 1940 and dissolved the Latvian Army, Galdins served as an officer in one regiment of 181st Division of the Red Army for a short time. During the time, one of his brothers was deported to Siberia.

During the German occupation, Galdins joined with the Latvian Legion and served on the Leningrad Front. He was appointed as a battalion commander, and later a regiment commander, in the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (lettische Nr. 2). Awarded the DKiG (October 1944) and RK (January 1945) for his bravery and leadership during the fighting in Kurland Pocket, Waffen-Obersturmbannführer der SS Nikolajs Galdins was captured by the Red Army after the German surrender. Sentenced to death by a Soviet military tribunal, he was executed by firing squad in Leningrad on October 5, 1945.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sultan Kelech Girei

A Cherkess, one of tribes in Northern Caucasus, Sultan Kelech Girei born in 1880 in Uyala (another source said in Maikop). After graduated from Grodno military academy, he served as an officer in Czar Army. Participant at the suppression of 1905 revolution, during the First World War, he led a Cherkess cavalry regiment in the Russian Imperial Army. After the Russian Revolution, he served with the White army under General Wrangel and tried to stop the Red Army movement into North Caucasus. Defeated, he escape to Georgia, and then emigrated to France.

During World War II, he live in Berlin and participated in some Caucasian freedom committees, including Central Committee of the People's Party Montagnards. He also helped the Nazis to establish some Caucasus volunteer units to combat the Soviet partisans and the Red Army.

In 1943, he formed a division of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, which mainly served as anti-partisan unit in Yugoslavia and Northern Italy. The SS have a plan to make his men as a reserve for Kaukasiches Waffen Verbänd der SS.

At the end of the war, he and his men surrendered to the British Army in North Italy. However, with thousands of Cossacks and mountaineers volunteers in Hitler forces, Girei was handed over to the Red Army in Judenburg on May 29, 1945. He and some other ex-leaders of Cossacks and mountaineers formations were sentence to death by Military Division of the Supreme Court USSR. He was executed by hanging in Moscow on January 16, 1947.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Tsherim Soobzokov

A Circassian, a Muslim tribe who living in Northern Caucasus, Tsherim Soobzokov born on August 24, 1924. When Hitler army march into, and occupied some areas of, North Caucasus, Soobzokov joined with one of auxiliary units under the command of the Nazi’s SD. He participated in searching and punitive expeditions against Jews and Komsomol members during the Nazi occupation.

When Hitler’s army retreated from North Caucasus after disaster in Stalingrad, like many Northern Caucasus native collaborators, Sobzookov followed them. Having good contact with Kuchuk Ulagaj, a leader of a North Caucasus SS unit, Soobzokov later joined with the Waffen-SS, and served as a second lieutenant in Kaukasischer Waffen-Verband der SS. He married with the daughter of a colonel in the Russian Liberation Army.

After the war, despite clear evidence of a war crimes record, including his own confession, the CIA decided to use Soobzokov as theirs agent—a part of a wider post-World War II program of the CIA's of collaborating with former Nazis living in hiding. It recruited him to spy in Jordan, which has a substantial Circassian community. Because CIA valued Soobzokov for his language skills and ties to fellow ethnic Circassians living in the Soviet Union, when he was kicked out of Jordan in 1957, they brought him to New Jersey to seek out Soviet spies in the Circassian community in there. The CIA did it by misled the United State Immigration and Naturalization Service on Soobzokov's Nazi past.

During his stay in America, Soobzokov was known as “Tom the Democrat” and has many influential friends among administration because his strong anti-Communist stands. However, his harsh and corrupted lifestyle as a Circassian Godfather in New Jersey made some enemies among his own community. Some of them disclosed his Nazi past, which lead a much-publicized deportation case in 1979. He was charged with having falsified his immigration application to conceal his SS service, which ordinarily would have barred his entry. Soobzokov always denied these charges and sued CBS and New York Times. He was notably supported by Pat Buchanan and Congressman Robert Roe. The charge itself later was dropped when a CIA document turned up showing that he had disclosed his SS membership.

But Soobzokov ultimately did not escape his past. On August 15, 1985, a pipe bomb demolishes the car outside his home Paterson, New Jersey, fatally wounded Soobzokov. An anonymous caller claiming to represent the Jewish Defence League (JDL) said they had carried out the bombing. A spokesman for the JDL later denied responsibility. Soobzokov himself succumbed to his injuries on September 6, 1985, and the case has never been solved.

Further Reading
Howard Blum, Wanted: The Search for Nazis in America. Fawcett Books, 1977.
Richard Breitman, "Tscherim Soobzokov".
Antonio J. Munoz, The East Came West: Muslim, Hindu & Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces, 1941-1945. Axis Europa, 2001.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Viktor Bernhard Arājs

Viktor Bernhard Arājs born on January 13th, 1910, in Baldone, Latvia. After dropped-out from Law Faculty of the University of Latvia, he joined the Latvian police and got a rank of police lieutenant. After the German invasion of Riga, the Nazi started forming the first Latvian SD auxiliary units, mainly from fascist Pērkonkrusts (Thunder Cross) followers. Under guidance of the commander of Einsatzgruppen A, Walther Stahlecker, Arājs, a former member of Pērkonkrusts and a member of a student fraternity, started to form his armed unit of men who were responding to the appeal of Pērkonkrusts to take arms and to clear Latvia of Jews and communists. The unit, known as Arājs Kommando, consisted about 300-500 men during the period in which it participated in the killing of the Latvian Jewish population, and reached up to 1,500 members at its peak at the height of its involvement in anti-partisan operations in 1942.

On the night of July 3, 1941, Arājs Kommando started arresting, beating and robbing the Riga Jews. On July 4, the choral synagogue at Gogoļa Street was burnt, and thereafter, the synagogues at Maskavas and Stabu Streets. Many Jews were killed during those days, including the refu­gees from Lithuania. The unit murdered approximately 26,000 people, first in Latvia and then in Belarus. As a return, the Nazis promoted Arājs to police major in 1942.

When Himmler created the Latvian Legion, Arājs and his men were transferred to the unit. After completing a battalion commander course in Berlin, he was attached to the II. Battalion/Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 34 (lett. Nr. 5) for a couple of days to get a practical experience. Then he was appointed to command I. Bataillon/Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment 34 on 21 February 1945. However, his negative attitudes made him unpopular with other Latvian SS officers and, on 2 March 1945, Arājs was relieved from his command and sent to the Divisional reserve.

After the war, Arājs was captured by British and held in an internment camp in Germany until 1949. He later worked as a driver for the British occupation forces in Delmenhorst. Then, with assistance from the Latvian government in exile in London, Arājs took on the cover name of Victor (Viktors) Zeibots and worked as an assistant at a printing company in Frankfurt am Main.Arājs was captured by West German police, on 10 July 1979, on charges of complicity in the murders of 10,000-30,000 Latvian Jews between 1941 and 1943. He was found guilty in the State Court of Hamburg on 21 December 1979 and was found guilty in the State Court of Hamburg. Arājs died in a prison in Kassel in 1988.

Kàroly Ney von Pilis

Born on November 9th 1906 in Bácsszentivan, Hungary, Kàroly Ney von Pilis was a lawyer by education. He later joined with the Hungarian army and served as first lieutenant in the Hungarian Gyorshadtest (Schnellen Korps) in Eastern Front during the early phase of Russo-German War. Degraded and dismissed from the Honved army for disobeying order, Ney returned from the Eastern Front in 1943. As a militant fascist and under the influence of Béla vitéz Imrédy de Ómoravicza, a pro-German ex-Hungarian Prime Minister, Ney formed a tightly knit fraternity of anti-communist veteran soldiers, the Keleti Arcvonal Bajtársi Szövetség (Eastern Front Collegiate Federation). He also had ties to Ferenc Szalazi's Arrow Cross Party.

A well-connected to veteran Hungarian soldiers and was considered politically reliable, in the summer of 1944 Ney entered the service of the SS and appointed as a Waffen-Obersturmbannführer der SS. Using his organization paramilitary outfit, the Halálfejes Légió (Death Head Legion), Ney mobilized his men into a Waffen-SS unit. At first, the SS plan to use Ney's men to fill out the 22. SS-Freiwilligen-Kavallerie Division ‘Maria Theresia’. But the plan was cancelled after that unit was destroyed in Budapest. Thus Ney's men were formed into a separate SS-Kampfgruppe ‘Ney’. They were attached to the IV. SS-Panzerkorps in January 1945, and used to support that corps in the Konrad offensives that month. Depleted in conventional fighting with the Red Army, the remnant his unit withdrew into Austria and surrendered to the US forces near the Attersee Mountain on 9 May 1945.

Ney and five of his men were tried as war criminals by an American military tribunal at Salzburg, Austria. They were indicted for the murders of five captured American fliers by theirs unit on 7 May 1945. Ney sentenced to death by hanging 8 on June 1946. However, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in September 1946 after a review. Freeing under an amnesty, Ney later worked as an American agent, organizing clandestine arsenals and sabotage groups in the CIC training centre in Lambach, Austria.

Karoly Ney died on September 29th, 1989 in Vienna, Austria.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Friday, February 5, 2010

Edgar Puaud

Born on 29 October 1889 at Orléans, France, Edgar Puaud was a profesional soldier. After finishing his NCO training in École Militaire Saint Maixent, he started his fighting career in the Great War as an NCO in a machine gun unit and, after wounded in 1915, finished the Wars as a Captain. Leaving the French Army in 1920, he later joins the French Legion Etrangère, got his former rank, and served in Middle-East and Indochina between 1926 to 1939.

After the fall of French, Puaud joined with Vichy French Army and command an infantry battalion. In 1942, he led the office of recruiting of the Legion Etrangère at Agen until he joins "Légion Tricolore" in July 1942. He served under General Galy as chief of staff until the disbandment of the Legion.

In June 1943, Edgard Puaud, now a colonel, was appointed to command the ‘Legion des Volontaires Français Contre le Bolchevisme’ (or LVF), the French formation that fought under the Wehrmacht in Eastern Front. He led the legion in both front-line and anti-partisan campaigns, where it got considerable success. In April 1944, Puaud was promoted by the Vichy government to the rank of brigadier-general.

On 1 September 1944 the LVF suddenly dissolved and absorbed into the French Waffen-SS brigade. Puaud was appointed to lead the new unit, and finally got the rank of Waffen Oberfuhrer der SS. He later led the expanded French Waffen-SS brigade, the 33.Waffen Grenadier Division der SS ‘Charlemagne’.

In the end of February 1945, the lightly-armed ‘Charlemagne’ Division was attack by four Red Army infantry divisions and two tank brigades from 1st Belorussian Front in Pomerania. In the rout that ensued, the outflanked Frenchmen split, and then reformed into three "wandering" battle-groups that met varying fates. Two groups successfully escape to the west, but the remaining group, under Puaud leadership, destroyed. Puaud himself, injured during the attempt to escape, disappear in mysterious circumstances. His ultimate fate has never been officially determined. Probably he died during the battle.

Copyright©2010 by Nino Oktorino

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Franjo Džal

Born on 9 April 1906 in Bihac, Franjo Džal finished elementary school and gymnasium in Bihać and graduated from the military academy in Belgrade in 1924. In the Yugoslav Royal Army he finished training as a fighter pilot. During the German invasion, he was serving as a major in Nis.

Already a member of Ustasa, Džal soon joined the Air Force of the NDH on 29 April 1841. He was assigned to the Croatian Air Force Legion in July and became the first commander of 15 (Kroat)./JG 52, and in October was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Between then and November 1942 he claimed 16 confirmed and three to five unconfirmed victories during the course of 157 missions. By December, the Croatian Air Force Legion returned to the Independent State of Croatia for vacation.

Džal and his unit returned to the Eastern Front in February of 1943. Dzal, however, achieved no further kills during his second tour, since he rarely flew and drank heavily. He became the legion commander on 22 May, but was replaced and sends back to Croatia on 16 June held posts within the command of the air force. However, in November 1943 he was made commander of the Croatian Air Force Legion for the second time.

Promoted to colonel in February 1944, Džal returned the following month to Croatian Air Force HQ as operation officer. With the defeat of the NDH in 1945 he tried to escape to Austria, but captured in Slovenia by Yugoslavian partisans. He was subsequently court-martialed in Belgrade and executed in October 1945.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brigade Nord Africaine

Brigade Nord Africaine was a group of 180 Algerian volunteers established under German supervision. Founded by Mohamed Al Maadi, a virulent anti-Semite who went by the nickname “SS Mohamed”, originally the unit used as guards in the Peugeot factories of Socheaux, Consisted of Vichy followers, ex-POWs, pimps, and criminals, they were known as brutal thugs. At least they were executed 50 French workers and are responsible for many rapes and plundering. But theirs military capabilities were so poor. Thus, when the unit was deployed to fight the partisans of the Dordogne region of France, they almost destroyed. After the Allied landed in southern France, the remaining members of this Arab unit run away to Marseille, where they were hide among Maghreb community in the area or return to Algeria, where they continuing theirs criminal activities, the only of theirs expertise during theirs short existence.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino

Muhamed Hadziefendić

Muhamed Hadziefendić born in Tuzla in January 1898. After graduated from Merchant Academy in Sarajevo, he decided on a military career and joined the Bosnian regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, ending the war with the rank of lieutenant.

During the Kingdom of Yugoslavia days, Hadziefendić continued his military education at the Yugoslavian Military Academy and in 1938 received the rank of major. Instead to follow the order of the Yugoslav Army Command to fight the invaders during the German invasion in April 1941, he deserted and organized the local population in Vodice near Sibenik, Dalmatia, to fight against the disintegrating Yugoslav Army. After the proclamation of the NDH on 10 April 1941, he returned to his native Tuzla.

In December 1941, Hadziefendić visited the Croatian Field-Marshall Slavko Kvaternik, and requested permission to create a Domobran formation that would consist of Tuzla area Moslem Croatians. Permission was granted, and on 22 December 1941, with material assistance from the NDH government, the Dobrovoljacki Odjel Narodnog Ustanka Bojnika Hadziefendića (Major Hadziefendić Volunteer Revolutionary Group) was formed. The “group” became the Zdrug Dobrovoljacke Legije Hadziefendića (the Brigade of Hadziefendić’s Volunteer Legion) in March 1942. In July of 1942, it became the Domobran Volunteer Regiment (DOMDO), but was commonly known as the Hadziefendićeva Legija (Hadziefendić Legion). The Legion was almost 6000 strong, and operated in the Tuzla area (northeastern Bosnia), where they defended Moslem local towns and villages in the area from Chetniks and Partisans menace.

Some Moslem autonomists saw the Legion as a base for a future Bosnian army and made offering to Hitler in theirs famous Memorandum to put the formation under control of the Nazis. Thus, in the spring of 1943, the Germans used the Legion as a core to build the SS ‘Handzar’ Division. Hadziefendić notified the Croatian Army Command in Zagreb of the readiness of his men to join with the Waffen-SS, and at the beginning of July, 1943 became an SS officer. Some of Legion’s men refused to join the SS and deserted—mostly because they wished to remain near theirs homes). In October 1943, Hadziefendić was in his home in Tuzla, awaiting orders to join the SS ‘Handzar’ Division. However, on October 6, 1943, Partisans of the 18th East Bosnian Division attacked and occupied Tuzla. Hadziefendić was arrested, charged with treason, and executed.

Copyright © 2006 by Nino Oktorino

Band of Nazi Brothers

The fanatic appeal of Hitler reached into America during the prewar years. The most-known of pro-Nazi organizations that sprung among Americans were German-American Bund under Fritz Kuhn and the Silver Shirt Legion under William Dudley Pelley. They never got many followers and only became a political joke in American political life. While Hitler never got a strong foothold among Americans, however, some of US citizens saw service in Nazis armed forces during WWII, including in the Waffen-SS.

Many of Americans who served in the Wehrmacht belong to German descent. Some of them volunteered, while the others were conscripted during theirs stay in the Third Reich as foreign students or tourists when the war broke out. Fact about German immigration to North America that had been massive since the mid-19th century also made Heinrich Himmler, the SS leader, envision a plan to include American-German as a part of the Third Reich subject in the future. However, despite some claims about an ‘American Free Corps’ or ‘George Washington Brigade’, no unit of the Waffen-SS made up of American volunteers was ever raised. According to Alexander Dolezalek of the SS-Hauptamt (main office), there was never an attempt made to recruit Americans at all. Nevertheless, according to SS sources, five Americans served in the Waffen-SS in May 1940, but after that date no numbers are available.

The most-known case of US citizen who served in Himmler’s private army was Second Lieutenant Martin James Monti. Born in 1910 in St Louis of an Italian-Swiss father and German mother, he was send to Karachi, India, to serve as an air force pilot. While in India, he deserted the Army Air Force, hitching a ride aboard a C-46 to Cairo, Egypt. From there he was traveled to Tripoli, Libya, and Naples, Italy, where he stole a recon version of the P-38 aircraft and flew to Milan. There he surrendered, or rather defected, to the Germans and worked as a propaganda broadcaster (as Martin Wiethaupt, a name that he taken from his mother maiden name).

At the end of 1944, Monti made a microphone test at the recording studio of the SS Standarte ‘Kurt Eggers’, a propaganda unit of the Waffen-SS, under the direction of Guenter d'Alquen, in Berlin, Germany. He later joined them as a SS-Untersturmführer and participated in writing and composing a leaflet to be distributed by members of the German military forces, among members of the U.S. and Allied Nations, who were held as POW's.

At the end of the war Monti went south to Italy. He surrendered to US forces, still wearing his SS uniform—claiming that he had been given the uniform by partisans. He was charged with desertion and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. This sentence was soon commuted and Monti rejoined the US Air Corps, but in 1948 he was discharged and picked up by the FBI. He was now charged with treason and sentenced to 25 years the following year. He was paroled in 1960.

There were some other German-Americans who served as Waffen-SS officers during World War II. They were SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Awender, a medical doctor in the SS ‘Frundsberg’ Division who born in Philadelphia in 1913; SS-Untersturmführer Robert Beimes, a signal officer in the SS ‘Hitlerjugend’ Division, born in San Francisco in 1919. His father was a translator in the SD; SS-Hauptsturmführer Eldon Walli, born in New York City in 1913 in the SS-Kriegsberichter Abteilung (war reporters); and SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Winckler-Theede, born in New York City in 1912 and served as a military judge in the SS ‘Das Reich’ Division.

At least eight American volunteers are known to have been killed during their service in the Waffen-SS. They were Francesco Mattedi, a soldier in the Italian SS Division who killed in Nettunia, 30 April 1944; Charles MacDonald, KIA near Johvi/Estonia, 14 March 1944; Raymond George Rommelspacher, died in Normandy/France, 6 October 1944, Edwin/Erwin Peter, KIA in Latvia, 2 July 1941; Andreas Hauser, died in Welikij in Ukraine, 18 January 1945; Lucas Diel, died on 9 December 1944 in Hungary; and Andy Beneschan, KIA in Bosnia, 16 April 1945.

No real attempt by the US authorities to investigate the matter and trace the volunteers was made after the war, as opposed to for example the efforts by the British.

Copyright © 2010 by Nino Oktorino