WW2 Eastern Ethnic Legions
|Without going into too much historical detail about motivations such as anti-Soviet sentiment, long standing ethnicrivalries among the Caucasian peoples, etc, let it suffice to say that a strong tribal – nationalistic sentiment among theGeorgians, Azerbaidjanis, Turkoman, Kazaks, Khirgiz, and Uzbeks, just to name a few, was the prime factor uponwhich the Germans capitalized to establish these groups into mercenary formations beneath their control. Because theAsiatic and Caucasian peoples came from regions that lay beyond the area of the Soviet Union the Germans intendedto occupy permanently once the Eastern War was successfully concluded, they felt that the establishment of EasternLegion comprised of these ethnic groups presented no real conflict of interest. However, Hitler forbade thatindividual units exceed Battalion strength, to keep them easily in hand, and that Battalions from the same ethnicgroupings were never to be allocated en masse to the same area of operations. Thus they were widely distributedacross German occupied Europe throughout the war with Ost-Bataillonen from Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaidjanto name a few, operating not only in the Pripet Marshes, but also the Balkans, the Normandy front, Italy, and evenOccupation duty on the Channel Islands. Because many of these men volunteered according to their Anti-Soviet andanti-Communist sentiments, being posted to the Western front as garrison troops rather than being allowed to fightthe Red Army in the East, produced very low morale, and in some cases, instances of outright mutiny.|
The sweeping initial victories of Operation Barbarossa produced hundreds of thousands of non-Russian soldierprisoners in the POW cages of the German Army. Many did not speak Russian, and most showed varying degrees ofdistaste for their former Soviet overlords – all of them were hungry, many were starving. There had always been anelement within the OKH that empathized with the non-Russian nationalities and ethnic groups which made up Stalin’sSoviet Empire, and motions were made long before the Germans had physical access to the Caucasus regions thatthese men came from, to form National Legions for combat duties against the Soviets in the East.
From a top secret order from the OKW dated December of 1941 the following units were formally created:
CAUCASIAN MOSLEM LEGION
Further expanded when the Caucasian Moslem Legion was split in two to create:
NORTH CAUCASIAN LEGION
In the middle of 1942 two further legions were added:
CRIMEAN TARTAR LEGION
Cossacks and Kalmucks were also allowed to form military units at this time.