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