Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soviet Citizens in German military units during WWII

During the Second World War over 1.3 million Soviet citizens fought in the German Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units. Over 1 million of these men were Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians (Berdinskikh, p. 65). These units included in 1943 a total of 90 Russian, Ukrainian, and Cossack battalions, 90 Caucasian and Central Asian battalions, and the 29th and 30th Russian Waffen SS Divisions. There was also the 14th Waffen SS "Galician" Division formed from Ukrainians in what was eastern Poland before 1939. The Latvians contributed the 15th and 19th Waffen SS divisions and the Estonians the 20th Waffen SS Division (Chebotareva, p. 447). In 1945 just after the mass deportations of North Caucasians, Kalmyks, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhetian Turks the German military had the following breakdown of Baltic and Soviet nationals fighting in its various units.

Baltic States
Lithuanians - 36,300
Latvians - 104,000
Estonians - 10,000

Soviet Citizens
Russians - 53,000
Azerbaijanis - 36,500
Georgians - 19,000
North Caucasians - 15,000
Volga Tatars - 12,500
Crimean Tatars - 10,000
Armenians - 7,000
Kalmyks -5,000

(Chebotareva, pp. 447-448).

For citizens of the USSR the number of Russian collaborators is much greater than among the North Caucasians, Crimean Tatars, and Kalmyks combined. Yet the Stalin regime did not exact any collective punishment at all upon the Russians, Azerbaijanis, Volga Tatars, or Georgians. It did deport in the summer of 1944 the entire Armenian population of Crimea eastward as it had the Crimean Tatars. But, the Crimean Armenians numbered less than 10,000 and made up only a small percentage of the total Armenian population of the USSR. Later in 1948 and 1949 there are significant partial deportations from the three formerly independent Baltic States as well as much of the Armenian population living along the Black Sea. But, the Armenians in the Armenian SSR as well as the bulk of the indigenous population of the Baltic states are allowed to remain in their homelands without suffering the collective punishment for "treason" imposed upon the Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, and Crimean Tatars.


V. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005).

 V. Chebatoreva, "Ukaz Presidium Verkhnogo Soveta SSSR ot 28 avgusta 1941 g. - preventivnaia mera obespecheniia gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti ili politcheskaia povokatsiia?" in A.A. German (ed.), Nachal'nyi period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny i deportatsiia rossiiskikh nemtsev : vzgliady i otsenki cherez 70 let (Moscow: MSNK-press, 2011),  pp. 442-455.

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