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The SS penal battalion (Command "Dirlewanger")
Material posted: Publication date: 13-10-2013

Officially the penalty units in the structures of MOP didn't exist. But all the SS knew that erring member of the "Black order" to atone on the Eastern front in the special unit, which is commanded by Oskar Paul Dirlewanger.

The Sonderkommando (special unit) was established in 1940. Defeated the year before Poland was conquered to call does not. In the cities were underground groups in the forests of the partisans. That's when Gottlob Berger, one of the Vice Himmler and offered to create a special division designed exclusively to combat the guerrillas. He proposed and candidate for the newly created division of his old friend Oskar Paul Dirlewanger.

A little biography

Oscar was born in 1895 in Swabia. Designed in 1913 for a one-year military service in 1918, he returned home with the rank of Lieutenant, with three wounds, two Iron crosses, command of the battalion and the conviction that his vocation is military service, or rather the war.

Dirlewanger joined fracaro, participated in the suppression of speech the left (got another one), joined the NSDAP and SA, actively participated in the "Beer hall putsch" of 1923. With aggressive and unstable character, he was repeatedly arrested for participation in street riots. It was at this time he meets and is close friends with Berger, who later became his patron.

In 1934 Dirlewanger gets 2 years in prison for corruption of minors, expelled from the party and SA. After leaving prison, he (on the advice of his friend Bergman) submits an application to the Legion "Condor" and departs to Spain to fight alongside Franco. In 1939, Dirlewanger returned to Germany with three new awards. Through the efforts of Bergman, he is exonerated, reinstated in the party and the SA, the SS adopted the rank of hauptsturmfuhrer.

Here is Himmler's Deputy who was offered the vacant post of commander of the newly created special forces, which was later named its commander.

A team of poachers

Dirlewanger accepted the proposal of Bergman, no doubt. He was back in the army! And immediately asked permission to the acquisition of its units to persons convicted of poaching. His proposal, he argued the reasons as follows: these men are good shots, excellent trackers, able to navigate in the woods. Poachers more than anyone else fit to fight "forest bandits".

The proposal fell on fertile soil. Just recently Hitler got a letter from my wife one parteigenosse, convicted of poaching. The wife of the functionary asked to give her husband a chance to reform. During a meeting with Himmler in the spring of 1940, Hitler expressed his opinion that loyal party members have nothing to do behind the barbed wire of concentration camps, and if they want to redeem themselves by service to the Reich, we should give them the opportunity. In the summer of 1940 in the city of Oranienburg Sachsenhausen arrived first batch is 84 persons. In an acquisition place sonderkomando received the name "Poacher's command Oranienburg". So in the structure of SS was established the new section, formed from convicted members of the SS and the NSDAP. Future recruitment division recruits in prisons and concentration camps will become the main principle of recruitment team "Dirlewanger".

The first application

In the autumn of 1940 the Sonderkommando arrived in Poland. In the Generalgouvernement the unit used to block Jewish settlements and ghettos in Zikova, Lublin and Krakow. Simultaneously, the Sonderkommando took part in anti-partisan operations and demonstrated its high efficiency. The team drew the attention of the head of the SS and police of Lublin district Globocnik. He increasingly began to use the "poachers" to fight the guerrillas, referring to Berlin the most flattering of the Sonderkommando.

Service check

At the same time addressed to the Berger and Himmler flow were the letters of the indescribable atrocities of the division. For checking received signals in the Lublin arrived untersturmfuhrer SS Konrad Morgen, revealed during the inspection of numerous cases of beatings, extortion, looting, rape, murders committed by members of the division. In its final report Morgen felt the need most of Dirlewanger's arrest, and members of his team to return back to camp. Even from the point of view of a lawyer SS division was not so much military unit, how many gang formation. And what do you think the decision was made by the leadership of the SS? Oscar Dirlewanger was given the rank of sturmbannführer, his team was subordinated directly to the headquarters of the Reichsfuhrer-SS in January 1942, sent to Belarus.

Achtung! Partisanen!

The partisan movement in Byelorussia in 1942, is already creating a serious threat to the logistics of the Wehrmacht. The number of individual units could reach hundreds and even thousands of people. Armed guerrillas had not only small arms but also machine guns, field guns, anti-tank artillery, anti-aircraft guns, mortars, howitzers, and there were even tanks! He commanded the detachments of professional soldiers, trained in the structures of the NKVD. The activities of the teams coordinated by a Central staff of the partisan movement in Moscow.

To eliminate the partisans, the Nazis conducted large-scale military operation with the involvement of parts of the Wehrmacht, reinforced with artillery, armor, aviation and tanks. These operations were a living hell for the German soldiers. Anti-partisan action is fundamentally different from the fighting on the Eastern front. The front line, as such, did not exist. Forest did a meaningless use of aviation. Military intelligence was powerless. The lack of roads and swampy terrain did not allow widely used military equipment. The battles were notable for ferocity, none of the parties did not take prisoners.

The Executioner Belarus

Sonderkommando "Dirlewanger" was involved in most of the ongoing large-scale operations, always rewarded with higher ratings from the leaders of the operation. Dirlewanger himself not once went on the attack in the first chain attackers and personally shot even hesitant.

The unit not only participated in military operations but also worked as its exclusive functions. Huntsman Dirlewanger tracked down the guerrillas identified their locations and basing (this is where poaching was useful experience!), attacked marching the March of the guerrilla columns and perform "specific" tasks – punitive operation.

"Specific tasks"

Here are just a few dry lines of the report on the results of the actions of the battalion: "2 shot guerrilla suspects and 176", "shot 1 287 partisans and accomplices". Every village suspected of sympathy with the guerrillas, destroyed together with their inhabitants. Dirlewanger was constantly applied for additional acquisition of its units with flamethrowers.

Only the command of Dirlewanger was burnt together with inhabitants of more than 180 villages. Even if the village is not destroyed, cattle were confiscated, burned farm buildings and feed a healthy population taken for forced labor. Behind the Sonderkommando in the full sense remains a dead desert.

Foreign volunteers

Achieving results, the team (November 1942 – sonderbatallions) carried a high loss. To replenish the unit except the poachers began to send convicts for smuggling, illegal possession of weapons and even just criminal scum. But even this is not good enough, and in the spring of 1942 Dirlewanger got permission for a force of two companies of the battalion, staffed by foreign volunteers. As part of the so-called "Russian mouth" were Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and representatives of other peoples of the USSR.

Synopsis: on April 30, 1943 in sonderbatallions were 569 people, of which 367 were not the Germans, in may the strength of the battalion was reduced to 612 and in June 1943 the battalion were already enrolled 760 people.

2 may 1943 Dirlewanger for success in the fight against partisans was given the rank of SS obersturmbannführer.

The Eastern front

In November 1943 the Red Army broke through the front and began to advance on Vitebsk. The Germans plugged the hole all that was at hand. So the division (regiment) was on the Eastern front. "Poachers" have found themselves in an unusual setting. Acquired in the course of anti-partisan combat experience in the front line was absolutely useless. Part is loss.

By January 1944 the regiment was decreased by almost half. In addition to arrive not only criminals, but also "asocial elements", in particular, convicted of homosexuality and even political prisoners. In may, in the subdivision stunning "motley crew": Latvians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians, Spaniards, Muslims and Caucasians. But the backbone of the battalion are still Germans.

But in the rear of the Nazis at that time in anticipation of the release of the guerrillas are activated. The regiment off the front and return to Belarus, because neither the Wehrmacht nor Waffen-SS was not part of "poachers" on the effectiveness (and brutality) in the conduct of anti-guerilla struggle. So when in Warsaw on 1 August 1944 a rebellion broke out, one of the first in its suppression arrived the regiment under the command of SS standartenführer Dirlewanger.

The Warsaw massacre

Upon arrival in Warsaw, the regiment consisted of 881 people. (During anti-partisan operations "Spring festival", "Rain", etc. the regiment suffered severe loss) In the first days in the regiment arrived the first batch of prisoners from camps in the Danzig Matzkau and intended for the detention of members of the SS. In an effort to make amends, the incoming recruits did not spare anyone, fought with cruelty and brutality. Where the situation seemed hopeless, there was a team of "Dirlewanger", the soldiers immediately went on the attack, regardless of losses. If you had the opportunity, attacking under cover of a human shield of women and children. Would take no prisoners, civilian were shot – all, regardless of gender or age. The hospital was burnt, together with non-ambulant patients and staff.

Promotion of the Sonderkommando was the fastest, action – the most successful, but was accompanied by the highest losses. Despite the fact that during the rebellion a regiment of profit 2500 people, at the time of surrender of the rebels (2 October 1944) under the command of Dirlewanger was left to 648 people. The loss of the regiment exceeded 300%. The commander sonderdach, again personally, who took his men to the attack, received the next (11th) wound, Knights cross and title of oberfuehrer SS. Enlarged by prisoners from Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald and received the status of the crew of the SS unit departed to Slovakia to suppress the outbreak of the uprising there.

The end of the command "Dirlewanger"

In February of 1945 after fighting in Slovakia and Hungary the brigade arrived under G. lip (Brandenburg). Had to fight on the German territory. By order dated February 14, on the basis of the brigade was formed 36th Grenadier division of the SS and a day later the division commander, once again personally led the counterattack, was wounded and left for the hospital. More in a division he didn't come back.

Who took the part of Fritz Smedes after the breakthrough by the red Army on 16 April front in Silesia, the main problem was considered as early as possible to take the division to the Americans. Breaking away from the Soviet troops, he left for Elbe. From division to that time had left some lumps. For example, 73 regiment were 36 people. The same picture was and in the remaining offices. However, the surrender of the Americans became "poachers" salvation. Soldiers wearing the sleeve badge depicting two crossed grenades, the Americans were shot without ceremony.

The late chief executioner

Dirlewanger himself was detained in the city of Altshausen French patrol, identified, arrested and detained at a local jail. The guards in the prison were carrying poles. They knew who Dirlewanger was not going to forgive him anything: neither shot by Polish partisans or victims involved in the Warsaw uprising. For several nights they brought the prisoner into the hallway and called, "took the soul". On the last night before they were to be replaced by the new composition of the guard, the poles smashed to the chief executioner's head butts. And although the deed itself is not very beautiful, but who can blame them?

Klim Podkova


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