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SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions. A Book Review

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by belasar, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    May 9, 2010
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    SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions - Foreign Volunteers in The Waffen-SS 1940-1945, By Chris Bishop, Amber Books London, 2005, 192 pages with photographs Amazon New: $ 11.75, Used: $2.22

    This book attempts to bring together the history all Non-German volunteers within the SS. The book has five main parts, the introduction explains how non-germans found themselves atracted to serving under the Swastica. For some a steady paycheck, others a chance to serve as a soldier, some embraced the idea of a greater crusade to destroy Communism, and for some the oppertunity to get revenge on those considered their enemy, real or perceived, was the motive. The second section is a country by country listing of volunteers from Western Europe, how many and which SS units they served in. Part three does the same for volunteers from Eastern Eupope. Part Four covers the actual divisions, and Part Five those of independant Brigades.

    A surprizing large number of non-germans carried arms for the Reich, but they were a very mixed bag indeed. Early efforts to create front line combat units of suitably Aryan volunteers was limited, but those who did agree to serve generally accounted themselves well. The Nazi's had far greater success, in numbers anyway, creating local formations of company/battalion size armed as light infantry. Tasked with police/anti-partisan duties they gave invaluable aid to Germany's war effort. Sadly the often were also willing participants in the atrocity of the Final Solution.

    During the second half of the war Himmler attempted to form these battalions into regular combat brigades and divisions. By and large this was a failue. Poorly trained, equipped with hand me down weapons, and forced away from their homelands, they mostly withered away in the encounter with real combat units of the Soviet/Allied armies. Some units mutinied and had to be disbanded before they even saw combat. They also swallowed up large numbers of German NCO and officer cadres that would have better served existing SS formations.

    For some of the divisions and brigades there is a good deal of info, inculding Order of Battle, Commander's names, troop strength at various times and a concise combat history. For late war units the data is far more limited. In my opinion the author does make one mistake in placing the section on Brigades after the one on Divisions, as most of said brigades were expanded into these divisions. Despite this one quibble I find this book a nice addition to my collection. For what it can be had used, it might be for you as well.


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