Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lamaism and Nazism: A Story of Hitler's Buddhist Soldiers

Kalmyk, Buddhist nomadic cattle-breeders of Mongolic descent, populated the steppes to the west of the Volga River. Majority of Kalmyk fought against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War. Resented the communist government effort to settle the nomadic population against its will, they still continued sporadic armed resistance against the authorities until 1926.

When the Red Army hastily retreated across the Kalmyk steppes toward the Volga without much resistance during August 1942, many Kalmyk rebelled against Stalin regime. For a few months, German and Romanian forces fully occupied five of the 13 Kalmyk districts and partially occupied three more. Too overstretched in Kalmykia to administer it, Germans organized a National Committee in Kalmyk to administer the occupied areas. These were supplemented by other Kalmyk who had settled in Belgrade following their flight with White Russian émigrés after the Russian Revolution.

In September 1942, the first Kalmyk cavalry squad is created. Later, the number was ten squads. Those formations were put under the command Sonderführer Ottmar Rudolf Vrba, aka Dr. Otto Doll. The main purpose of Kalmyk auxiliaries was fighting guerrillas and the protected German important installations and communications. They operated in swiftness and stealth, and had proven themselves so efficient that they had both the time and resources to help defend the exposed flanks of the German 16th Motorized Infantry Division.

The Kalmyk acted so brutally and murderously against their oppressors on the battlefield, in fact so much so that even Nazi sensibilities had been insulted! One German officer had remarked: “… they launched themselves passionately into their work. Indeed, they set about wiping out groups of Russians in the Steppes with such ardor that the German Army at times had to intervene to prevent atrocities”

In August 1943, all Kalmyk auxiliaries were merged in Kalmyk Cavalry Corps (Kalmucken Kavallerie Korps). Most of the officers were Kalmyk themselves, with previous Soviet military experience. A few Germans that were present within the corps performed only auxiliary and administrative functions. German sources state that the “Corps” numbered about 3,000 men by the time it left Kalmykia. They were followed thousands other Kalmyk, mostly theirs family members during the retreated. 

The Kalmyk Cavalry Corps ended for a while defending the coast near the Sea of Azov, before they were transferred to the lower Dnieper. During a battle against Red Army, Major Ottmar Rudolf Vrba was killed in action in July 1944, along with Kalmyk Major Mukeben Chachlysev. Captain Dordzi Arbakoz assumed the post of Chief of Staff, and Colonel Eduard Bataev replaced Vrba.

The Kalmyk were then used to fight against the Polish partisans in Lublin and Radom, Poland. In February 1945, they were withdrawn to Austria. The remnants Kalmyk volunteers were assigned to the XVth SS Corps and surrender to British army in Austria. Nearly all of the surviving Kalmyk soldiers, along with their families that accompanied them, were forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union. Stalin wreaks a vengeance against Kalmyk by, under codename Operation Ulussy, deported all-Kalmyk people to Siberia and abolished theirs autonomous republic. Only after Stalin died the remaining Kalmyk allowed to return to Kalmykia and theirs autonomous republic reestablished in 1956.

Copyright© 2011 by Nino Oktorino

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