3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade

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3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade
Estonian Division.jpg
Insignia of Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade
Active December 1943 - March 1944
Country Nazi Germany Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Size Brigade
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Franz Augsberger

The 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade (German: 3. Estnische SS Freiwilligen Brigade) was a formation of the German Waffen SS during World War II. It was formed in May 1943, when the Estonian SS Legion (Estnische SS Legion), which was still undergoing formation in Dębica, (called Heidelager in 1943), was upgraded. The first name chosen for the brigade was the Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade, until October 1943, when all SS brigades were numbered so it finally became the 3rd Estonian Volunteer Brigade. The brigade was expanded to a division and renamed on January 23, 1944.

Formation[edit]

The Estonian SS Legion had by April 1943, increased its numbers enough to form a brigade sized formation and was even able to dispatch a battalion, the Narva Battalion, to the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking to replace the departing Finnish Battalion who's members had come to the end of their contracts.

The new 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade had by November 1943, 5,099 men and was ready for active service.[1] The Estonian conscripts had been promised that the brigade would only be used in the defense of Estonia. This promise was not kept; in October the brigade was first allocated anti-partisan duties in northern Belarus where it dealt a crushing blow to the Rossony Partisan Republic. At the end of October, the Red Army managed to break through the German lines after intense fighting in the nearby Nevel section of the front. Since the German command had no reserves in the area, the Estonian Brigade was rushed to the front-line where it managed to push the Soviets back 5-15 kilometers by 13 November.[2]

The Brigade was put under command of the VIII Corps of Army Group North. The brigade suffered severe losses fighting against numerous Red Army assaults and was eventually forced back to Opochka and transferred to the I Army Corps. It was then decided to create an Estonian Division and use the Brigade to form the cadre of the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (Estonian Number 1).[3][4]

Expansion[edit]

The brigade was expanded to a division and renamed the 20th Estonian SS Volunteer Division on January 23, 1944.[5] It was returned to Estonia after the general conscription call where it was reformed into the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian) established on May 26, 1944,[5] when it absorbed all the other Estonian formations in the German military and some Estonian police units. The Finnish Infantry Regiment 200 was also assimilated.[5][3][6][4]

Commander[edit]

Order of battle[edit]

  • SS Volunteer Regiment 42 (renumbered 45 in November 1943)
    • I Battalion
    • 3 x Companies
    • 1 x Heavy Company
    • II Battalion
    • 3 x Companies
    • 1 x Heavy Company
  • SS Volunteer Regiment 43 (renumbered 46 in November 1943)
    • I Battalion
    • 3 x Companies
    • 1 x Heavy Company
    • II Battalion
    • 3 x Companies
    • 1 x Heavy Company
  • 13th (7.5 cm leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18) Kompanie
  • 14th (5 cm PaK 38 anti tank) Kompanie
  • 15th Pionier Kompanie
  • SS Signals Company 53'
  • SS Field Medical Battalion 53
  • SS Artillerie Battalion 53
    • Headquarters Battery
    • 3 x Batteries
  • SS Training and Reserve Regiment 33

[3][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Estonian Legion Military and Feldpost History". Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Jüri Remmelgas (1955) (in Estonian). Kolm kuuske (The Three Spruces). Stockholm: Kirjastus EMP. pp. 153-172.
  3. ^ a b c d "Axis History". Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  4. ^ a b "Waffen-Grenadier-Division-der-SS-Etnische-Nr-1". Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Jurado, Carlos; Nigel Thomas; Darko Pavlović (2002). Germany's Eastern Front allies (2): Baltic forces. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-84176-193-0. 
  6. ^ a b c "frontkjemper". Retrieved 2009-06-03.