Foreign volunteers in the German Army (WWII)

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Indian volunteers in the Wehrmacht on the coast of the Netherlands (possibly in Zandvoort), 1943.

Within the Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht were several foreign nationalities which supported the German war effort during World War II.

The Waffen-SS consisted of 38 divisions of which 19 were mixed (German or Volksdeutsche and others) or composed exclusively of other nationalities under German command. These divisions were racially White and were recruited from European countries. About 25 different European nationalities were members of the Waffen-SS: Albanians, Armenians, Belgians, Bulgarians, Bosnians, Croatians, Czechoslovaks, Danish, Estonians, Finnish, French, Greek, Hungarians, Netherlands, English, Estonians, Italians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Norwegians, Romanians, Russians, Spanish, Swedish and Ukrainians. Six out of ten members of the Waffen-SS were composed of foreigners.

However, the Wehrmacht had volunteers from other non-European races such as African, Indian (which included Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and even Buddists), Arab, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkmen, etc.

There were also Jewish troops who voluntarily served the German army. Some have served in the Judenrat or Jewish Police, who helped the German commanders to control the ghettos in the beginning, later they were guards at concentration camps such as Sonderkommando.

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Asian

In March 1938 a Chinese officer named Chiang Wei-Kuo participated in the annexation of Austria with Germany. Chiang Wei-Kuo was the son of China’s nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek. He was group commandant Panzer leader and managed his Panzers to control the occupied population. Several other Chinese persons were trained for service in the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine.

Battalion 43

The after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the United States entered the global conflict. Many people in Asia believed the real enemy in the fight was the communism and the Soviet Union. For this reason many Asians from different countries went to Europe to join the military of the Third Reich. Several Asians already living in Europe were introduced to join the German Army. Asian volunteers were organized into their own battalions. The creation of OstBattalion-43 (Battalion 43) was incorporated to Wehrmacht and sent to the front in Russia.

Battalion 43 of the Wehrmacht consisted exclusively of East Asians from China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia. Also a minor part consisted of troops from Thailand and Indonesia. At the Russian front Battalion 43 suffered the same hardships as the German soldiers: cold, hunger, and Red Army. Battalion 43 fought from the Russian steppes to the fertile plains of Ukraine. These troops showed no fear of death and were quite feared by the Red Army. Japanese and Korean soldiers were the most fanatical within the battalion because of the bushido code of their religion. Mongols were more motivated because they suffered in their home country pressure of the USSR. The Chinese who were fearsome in battle fighting for a free China of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong's communism which were supported by Russia.

In early 1944 Battalion 43 withdrew from the eastern front and was sent to France and joined the Rommel's Army in Normandy. The mission of these was set next to the Coast Guard Channel to stop an Allied landing in the future, life in France Battalion was peaceful and quiet for several long months.

On June 6, 1944 the Allies landed in Normandy by land, sea and air. Battalion 43 was at that time scattered along the coast where the Americans had landed. At the end of D-Day Battalion 43 had been completely crushed with most troops being killed and taken prisoner. On D-Day Battalion 43 ceased to exist. The few Asians who managed to escape were not allowed again unify as a Battalion.

Muslim

The only volunteer Muslim soldiers who joined the Waffen SS were those of 13th SS Mountain Division Handschar. However these were not Arabs but Bosnians and Croats, that is, ethnic Europeans.

Freies Arabien

The Saudi Freies Arabien was a legion of volunteers, mostly Muslims, from the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Southern Europe. These troops were recruited in 1943 and fought for the Wehrmacht in Balkans and the North African desert

By April 19, 1943 more than 20,000 Muslim volunteers were serving the German Reich. The Arab population was mostly Muslim but several Arabs were of Greek Orthodox faith. The Grand Mufti Muhammad Hajj Amin al-Husayni Legion helped with the recruitment of Muslim volunteers.

Deutsch-Arabische Kommando Truppe

The Deutsch-Arabische Truppe Kommando (Kodat) was established in Tunisia in early January 1943 as a unit of shock troops of the Arab Wehrmacht, Commanded by Lt. Col. Meyer-Ricks. At first, it consisted of three battalions of volunteers from the nations of the Maghreb: Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. They used the French continental uniform khaki 1935 model unmarked except for a bracelet on his right arm, white with the inscription in black "Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht" ("Serving the German army), brown leather equipment French origin and German helmets.

Sub-officers and officers used the German regulation uniform coat on the right arm belonging to the "Orientkorps" used by the 287 and Sonderverband Sonderverband 288.

See also

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