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