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Volunteer Units in the German Armed Forces 1941-1945

Freiwillige Einheiten der Wehrmacht

Last modified: 2008-03-15 by
Keywords: volunteer units | turkistan legion | kuban cossacks |
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Introduction

Seeing the German divisions emblems, it appears that several European nations had organizations that fought at side of Germans ie. Flemish, Dutch, Albanians, French, Czechs, Hungarians, Walloons, Italians, Russians, Poles, Ucranians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Spaniards and surely others. Some of these organizations had well-known flags i.e. [Walloon] Rexists, Spanish Blue Division, Russian Liberation Army etc. but what about the others? Are any fascist party flags known?
Jaume Ollé, 26 January 2001

The Uniforms, Organization and History of the Foreign Legions of the Third Reich series published by Roger Bender Publishing (website here) has plenty of both fascist party flags and foreign units in Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS service, including even Cossack, Turkestan, and many more nationalities' flags.
Santiago Dotor, 26 January 2001

However, very few of the flags of the Third Reich's foreign legions appear in FOTW. The only related flags are those of (para-) nationalsocialist or fascist parties and/or regimes. For instance, the flag of the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond had nothing to do with the flag of the Flemish volunteer units in the Wehrmacht and/or Waffen-SS.
Santiago Dotor, 30 January 2001


Kuban Cossacks in the German Army

[Kuban Cossacks in the German Army Flag] ~3:5 image by Santiago Dotor, 28 Nov 2002

The answer about an unknown flag sent earlier. Translated, the caption says:
"Two flags, a common fight"  A series of photographs showing the volunteers from the Asian republics of the USSR. This photograph shows the flag of the cossacks of Kuban. See photo at this webpage".
Guido Abate, 27 Nov 2002

I recognise this photo.  It is from the Nazi propaganda magazine, Signal.  It does indeed show Cossack troops who fought under German command.  I will try to find the associated article in the magazine and post more information later.
Devereaux Cannon, 28 Nov 2002

This is quite of a discovery. Up to now I used to think that most, but not *all* the shoulder patches used by foreign volunteers in the German armed forces, reflected actual flags. The quarterly-per-saltire designs of the Don, Kuban etc. cossacks were among those which I thought were *not* used as flags. It appears, though, that they were indeed. I attach the flag of the 1st Kuban Cossacks Battalion for our website.
More information about the 1. Kuban-Kosaken-Kavallerie Bataillon, which ended up as part of the XV SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Korps, can be found here - (including their horrific end after surrendering to the British who handed them over to the Soviets), and here.
Santiago Dotor, 28 Nov 2002

In flagReport 17 was published:
"Don Cossaks.-  "National" colors are red & blue. In German magazin "Signal" (December 1943, #24, special issue) there is a photo with Cossak banner divided into 4 triangles (upper & lower are red, right & left are blue). Although "Signal" writes that it is a banner of Kuban Cossaks, it's wrong.."
The flag belongs to the Don Cossacks
The flag black and red is from Kuban Cossacks.
The flag blue (light) and green is from Terek Cossacks
Kuban Cossacks adopted another flag in exile,  probably before WWII (I don't know the exact dates, perhaps c. 1935-1942). In 1942 the old flag of the short lived State of Kuban was readopted as national flag (different from national colours in army on German service). Also Don Cossacks flag of the short lived state was readopted as national flag in 1942 (blue-red are military national colors)  and later confirmed in exile in 1951. Previousely, in exile (1935) the old flag was slighty modified: the yellow stripe was in top and blue (light) in center.
Jaume Ollé, 28 Nov 2002

The flag on the photo at this webpage (referred to above) was red and black in my humble opinion.
Santiago Dotor, 29 Nov 2002

According to Jaume Ollé: 'The flag blue (light) and green is from Terek Cossacks'. I saw image of J.Olle.
But I know only two sleeve badges of Terek Cossacks: black-blue and black-green-red. Blue-green badges never existed.
Victor Lomantsov, 29 Nov 2002


Turkistan Legion 1942 Flag

[Turkistan Legion 1942 Flag] 1:1 image by Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

The first version (May 1942) of the Turkistan Legion flag showed a white bow and arrow upon a red over blue field. On the canton a shield with German army eagle.
Marcello Ravaioli, 20 April 2001

This is described and illustrated in Littlejohn 1987, p. 267. Littlejohn adds that the German (Wehrmacht model) eagle was disliked by the Turkistan volunteers, who therefore had a second colour issued (I seem to recall in 1943) which had the eagle removed.
Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002


Turkistan Legion 1943 Flag

[Turkistan Legion 1943 Flag] ~2:3 image by Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

Littlejohn 1987, p. 267, shows a photograph of the second model colour, and this shows a slightly different bow (more detailed ends) and arrow (longer and with a sharper point), the flag proportions are almost exactly 2:3 and it has no fringe.
Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002


North African Arab volunteers

As an addition to the material on the flags used by foreign volunteers in the WW2 era German forces, I've posted a photo here. It is a photo of a battalion flag used by North African Arab volunteers (wearing a mix of German and Vichy French equipment) in the German Wehrmacht during WW2.
Photo from Museum of Modern History, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Marcus Wendel, 16 Feb, 2008

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