Collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II
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Within nations occupied by the Axis Powers, some citizens, driven by nationalism, ethnic hatred, anti-communism, anti-Semitism, or opportunism knowingly engaged in collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II. Some of these collaborationists committed the worst crimes and atrocities of the Holocaust.
Collaboration is "a co-operation between elements of the population of a defeated state and the representatives of the victorious power". Stanley Hoffmann subdivided collaboration onto involuntary (reluctant recognition of necessity) and voluntary (an attempt of exploiting necessity). According to him, collaborationism can be subdivided onto servile and ideological, the former is a deliberate service to an enemy, whereas the latter is a deliberate advocacy of co-operation with the foreign force which is seen as a champion of some desirable domestic transformations. In contrast, Bertram Gordon used the terms "collaborator" and "collaborationist" for non-ideological and ideological collaborations, respectively.
Requirements for collaboration
The Nazis did not consider everyone equally fit for cooperation. Even people from closely related nations were often valued differently in accordance with Nazi racial theories. The Jews were considered to be worst of all nations and thus unfit for cooperation, although some were used in concentration camps as Kapos to report on other prisoners and enforce order. Others governed ghettos and helped organize deportations to extermination camps (Jewish Ghetto Police).
In April 1943, Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler created the 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian) manned by Albanians and Kosovar Albanians. By June 1944, its military value was deemed low in lieu of partisan aggression and by November 1944 it was disbanded. The remaining cadre, now called Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg, was transferred to the Prinz Eugen Division where they successfully participated in actions against Josip Broz Tito's partisans in December 1944. The emblem of the division was a black Albanian eagle.
The 373rd infantry battalion of Wehrmacht, manned by Walloon Belgians, took part in anti-guerrilla actions in the occupied territory of the USSR from August 1941-February 1942. In May 1943, the battalion was transformed into the 5th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Wallonien and sent to the Eastern Front. In the autumn, the brigade had been transformed into 28th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Wallonien. Its remnants surrendered to British troops in the final days of war. Flemish Belgian collaborators were organized first into the 6th SS Volunteer Brigade and later the 27th SS Infantry (Grenadier) Division. Belgians served in the German forces from mid-1941 until the end of the war.
The Japanese set up several puppet regimes in occupied Chinese territories. The first of which was Manchukuo in 1932, followed by the East Hebei Autonomous Council in 1935. Similar to Manchukuo in its supposed ethnic identity, Mengjiang (Mengkukuo) was set up in late 1936. Wang Kemin's collaborationist Provisional Government of the Republic of China was set up in Beiping in 1937 following the start of full-scale military operations between China and Japan, another puppet regime was the Reformed Government of the Republic of China, setup in Nanjing in 1938. The Wang Jingwei collaborationist government, established in 1940, "consolidated" these regimes, though in reality neither Wang's government nor the constituent governments had any autonomy, although the military of the Wang Jingwei Government was equipped by the Japanese with planes, cannons, tanks, boats, and German-style stahlhelm (already widely used by the National Revolutionary Army, the "official" army of the Republic of China).
The military forces of these puppet regimes, known collectively as the Collaborationist Chinese Army, numbered more than a million at their height, with some estimates that the number exceeded 2 million conscripts. Great number of collaborationist troops were men originally serving in warlord forces within the National Revolutionary Army who had defected when facing both Communists and Japanese as enemies. Although its manpower was very large, the soldiers were very ineffective compared to NRA soldiers due to low morale for being considered as "Hanjian". Although certain collaborationist forces had limited battlefield presence during the Second Sino-Japanese War, most were relegated to behind-the-line duties.
The Wang Jingwei government was disbanded after Japanese surrender to Allies in 1945, and Manchukuo and Mengjiang were destroyed by Soviet troops in the invasion of Manchuria.
At 04:15 on 9 April 1940 (Danish standard time), German forces crossed the border into neutral Denmark, in direct violation of a German-Danish treaty of non-aggression signed the previous year. After two hours the Danish government surrendered, believing that resistance was useless and hoping to work out an advantageous agreement with Germany.
As a result of the cooperative attitude of the Danish authorities, German officials claimed that they would "respect Danish sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as neutrality." The German authorities were inclined towards lenient terms with Denmark for several reasons. These factors allowed Denmark a very favorable relationship with Nazi Germany. The government remained intact and the parliament continued to function more or less as it had before. They were able to maintain much of their former control over domestic policy. Danish public opinion generally backed the new government, particularly after the fall of France in June 1940. There was a general feeling that the unpleasant reality of German occupation must be confronted in the most realistic way possible, given the international situation. Newspaper articles and news reports "which might jeopardize German-Danish relations" were outlawed. After the assault on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, Denmark joined the Anti-Comintern Pact, together with the fellow Nordic state of Finland; the Communist Party was banned in Denmark. Industrial production and trade was, partly due to geopolitical reality and economic necessity, redirected toward Germany. Many government officials saw expanded trade with Germany as vital to maintaining social order in Denmark. Increased unemployment and poverty was feared to lead to more of open revolt within the country, since Danes tended to blame all negative developments on the Germans. It was feared that any revolt would result in a crackdown by the German authorities.
In return for these concessions, the Danish cabinet rejected German demands for legislation discriminating against Denmark's Jewish minority. Demands to introduce the death penalty were likewise rebuffed and so were German demands to allow German military courts jurisdiction over Danish citizens. Denmark also rejected demands for the transfer of Danish army units to German military use. Throughout the years of its hold on power, the government consistently refused to accept German demands regarding the Jews. The authorities would not enact special laws concerning Jews, and their civil rights remained equal with those of the rest of the population. German authorities became increasingly exasperated with this position but concluded that any attempt to remove or mistreat Jews would be "politically unacceptable." Even the Gestapo officer Dr. Werner Best, plenipotentiary in Denmark from November 1942, believed that any attempt to remove the Jews would be enormously disruptive to the relationship between the two governments and recommended against any action concerning the Jews of Denmark.
On 29 June 1941, days after the invasion of the USSR, Frikorps Danmark (Free Corps Denmark) was founded as a corps of Danish volunteers to fight against the Soviet Union. Frikorps Danmark was set up at the initiative of the SS and National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark (DNSAP) who approached Lieutenant-Colonel C.P. Kryssing of the Danish army shortly after the invasion of the USSR had begun. The Nazi paper Fædrelandet proclaimed the creation of the corps on 29 June 1941. According to Danish law, it was not illegal to join a foreign army, but active recruiting on Danish soil was illegal. The SS disregarded this law and began recruiting efforts — predominantly recruiting Danish Nazis and members of the German-speaking minority.
Although the Estonian Self-Administration did not have complete freedom of action, it exercised a significant measure of autonomy, within the framework of German policy, political, racial and economic. Thus, the Directors exercised their powers pursuant to the laws and regulations of the Republic of Estonia, but only to the extent that these had not been repealed or amended by the German military command. The Director's position was voluntary. The Self-Administration’s autonomy enabled it to maintain police structures that cooperated with the Germans in rounding up and killing Jews and Roma and in seeking out and killing Estonians deemed to be opponents of the occupiers, and it was ultimately incorporated into the Estonian Security Police and SD. It also extended to the unlawful conscription of Estonians for forced labor or for military service under German command.
The Estonian Security Police and SD, the 286th, 287th and 288th Estonian Auxiliary Police Battalions, and 2.5–3% of the Estonian Omakaitse (Home Guard) militia units (approximately between 1000 and 1200 men) were directly involved in criminal acts, taking part in the rounding-up, guarding or killing of 400–1000 Roma people and 6000 Jews in the concentration camps in the Pskov region, Russia and the Jägala, Vaivara, Klooga and Lagedi camps in Estonia. Guarded by the above-listed formations, 15,000 Soviet POWs died in Estonia: some through neglect and mistreatment and some through execution.
The Vichy government, headed by Marshall Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval, actively collaborated in the extermination of the European Jews. It also participated in Porrajmos, the extermination of Roma people, and in the extermination of other "undesirables." Vichy opened up a series of concentration camps in France where it interned Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents, etc. Directed by René Bousquet, the French police helped in the deportation of 76,000 Jews to the extermination camps. In 1995, President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the responsibility of the French state for the deportation of Jews during the war, in particular the more than 13,000 victims the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of July 1942, during which Laval decided, of his own volition (and without being requested by the occupying German authorities), to deport children along with their parents. Only 2,500 of the deported Jews survived the war. The 1943 Battle of Marseille was another event during which the French police assisted the Gestapo in a massive raid, which included an urban reshaping plan involving the destruction of a whole neighbourhood in the popular Old Port. Some few collaborators were tried in the 1980s for crimes against humanity (Paul Touvier, etc.), while Maurice Papon, who had become after the war prefect of police of Paris (a function in which he illustrated himself during the 1961 Paris massacre) was convicted in 1998 for crimes against humanity. He had been Budget Minister under President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Other collaborators, such as Emile Dewoitine, managed to have important functions after the war (Dewoitine was eventually named head of Aérospatiale, the firm which created the Concorde plane). Debates concerning state collaboration remain, in 2008, very strong in France.
The French volunteers formed the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism and the Legion Imperiale, in 1945 the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French), which was among the final defenders of Berlin.
Breton nationists such as Olier Mordrel and François Debeauvais had longstanding links with Nazi Germany because of the their fascist and Nordicist ideologies, linked to the belief that the Bretons were a "pure" Celtic branch of the Aryan-Nordic race. At the outbreak of the war they left France and declared support for Germany. After 1940, they returned and their supporters such as Célestin Lainé and Yann Goulet organized militias that worked in collaboration with the Germans. Lainé and Goulet later took refuge in Ireland.
After the German invasion of Greece, a Nazi-held government was put in place. All three quisling prime ministers, (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis), cooperated with the Axis authorities. Although their administrations did not directly assist the occupation forces, they did instigate suppressive measures, the most significant of which was the encouragement and, with the consent of the German forces, the creation of armed "anti-communist" and "anti-gangster" paramilitary organisations such as the Security Battalions and others. Moreover, small but active Greek National-Socialist parties, like the Greek National Socialist Party, or openly anti-semitic organisations, like the National Union of Greece, helped German authorities fight the Resistance, and identify and deport Greek Jews.
About one thousand Greeks from Greece and more from the Soviet Union, ostensibly avenging their ethnic persecution from Soviet authorities, joined the Waffen-SS, mostly in Ukrainian divisions. A special case was that of the infamous Ukrainian-Greek Sevastianos Foulidis, a fanatical anti-communist who had been recruited by the Abwehr as early as 1938 and became an official of the Wehrmacht, with extensive action in intelligence and agitation work in the Eastern front.
During the Axis occupation, a number of Cham Albanians set up their own administration and militia in Thesprotia, Greece, subservient to the fascist Balli Kombetar organization, and actively collaborated first with the Italian and, subsequently, the German occupation forces, committing a number of atrocities. In one incident, on 29 September 1943, Nuri and Mazzar Dino, Albanian paramilitary leaders, instigated the mass execution of all Greek officials and notables of Paramythia.
The Legion Freies Indien, or Indische Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment 950 (also known as the Indische Freiwilligen-Legion der Waffen-SS) was created in August 1942, chiefly from disaffected Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, captured by the Axis in North Africa. Many, if not most, of the Indian volunteers who switched sides to fight with the German Army and against the British were strongly nationalistic supporters of the exiled, anti-British, former president of the Indian National Congress, Netaji (the Leader) Subhas Chandra Bose. A Japanese supported sovereign and autonomous state- the Azad Hind (Free India) was also established with the Indian National Army as its military force. See also the Tiger Legion.
Among Indonesians to receive Japanese imperial honours from Hirohito in November 1943 were Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta. Sukarno actively recruited and organised Indonesian Romusha forced labour. They succeeded respectively to become the founding President of the Republic of Indonesia and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia in August 1945.
In the days before the capture of Riga by German forces the deportations and murders of Latvians by the Soviet NKVD had reached their peak. Those that the NKVD could not deport in time before the arrival of the Germans were shot in the Central Prison. RSHA's instructions to their agents to unleash pogroms fell on fertile ground. After the entry of Einsatzkommando 1a and part of Einsatzkommando 2 into the Latvian capital contact between Viktors Arajs and Brigadeführer Walter Stahlecker was established on July 1. Stahlecker instructed Arajs on that same day to set up a commando that obtained an official name Latvian Auxiliary Security Police or Arājs Kommando. The group was composed of students and former officers of far-right wing orientation; all the members of this group were volunteers, and free to leave at any time. The following day on July 2 Arajs learned from Stahlecker during a conference that the Arajs commando had to unleash a pogrom that looked spontaneous and pogrom-like disorders broke out before German occupation authorities had been properly established. The Einsatzkommando influenced mobs of former members of Pērkonkrusts and other extreme right-wing groups began mass arrests, pillage and murders of Jews in Riga, which lead to death of between 300 to 400 Jews. Killings continued under supervision of SS Brigadeführer Walter Stahlecker and ended when more 2,700 Jews had been murdered. The activities of the Einsatzkommando were constrained after the full establishment of the German occupation authority, after which the SS made use of select units of native recruits. German General Wilhelm Ullersperger and Voldemar Weiss, a well known Latvian nationalist, appealed to population via a radio address to attack "internal enemies". During next months, activity of Latvian Auxiliary Security Police was primarily focused on killing Jews, Communists and Red Army stragglers in Latvia as well as in neighboring Belorussia. The group alone murdered almost half of Latvia's Jewish population, about 26,000 Jews, mainly in November and December 1941. The creation of Arajs Kommando was "one of the most significant inventions of early Holocaust", that marked transition from German organised pogroms to systematic killing of Jews by local volunteers (former army officers, policemen, students, Aizargi). That helped to resolve a chronic problem with German personnel shortages, and provided the Germans with relieve from psychological stress of routinely murdering civilians. By the autumn of 1941, SS deployed Latvian "Police Battalions' under Leningrad, where they were consolidated as Latvian Second SS Volunteer Brigade. In 1943, this brigade, which would latter become a Latvian Nineteenth SS Volunteer Division, was consolidated with Latvian Fifteen SS Volunteer Division to become the Latvian Legion. Although formally Latvian Legion (Schutzmannschaft or Schuma) was a volunteer Waffen-SS military formation, it was voluntary only by name, because only approximately 15-20% of personnel voluntarily joined the legion.
Prior to the German invasion, some leaders in Lithuania and in exile believed Germany would grant the country autonomy along the lines of the status of the Slovakia protectorate. German intelligence Abwehr believed it had control of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a pro-German organization based in the Lithuanian embassy in Berlin. The German Nazis allowed Lithuanians to form the Provisional Government, but did not recognize it diplomatically and did not allow Lithuanian ambassador Kazys Škirpa to become the Prime Minister. Once German military rule in Lithuania was replaced by a German civil authority, the Provisional Government was disbanded. Rogue units organised by Algirdas Klimaitis and supervised by SS Brigadeführer Walter Stahlecker started pogroms in and around Kaunas on June 25, 1941. Lithuanian collaborators would become involved in the murders of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles. Lithuanian-American scholar Saulius Sužiedėlis points to the increasingly antisemitic atmosphere clouding Lithuanian society, and the presence of antisemitic LAF émigrés who "needed little prodding from 'foreign influences'". Overall, he concludes that Lithuanian collaboration was "a significant help in facilitating all phases of the genocidal program . . . [and that] the local administration contributed, at times with zeal, to the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry". Elsewhere, Sužiedėlis has similarly emphasised that Lithuania's "moral and political leadership failed in 1941, and that thousands of Lithuanians participated in the Holocaust", though warned that, "[u]ntil buttressed by reliable accounts providing time, place and at least an approximate number of victims, claims of large-scale pogroms before the advent of the German forces must be treated with caution".
In 1941, the Lithuanian Security Police (Lietuvos saugumo policija), subordinate to Nazi Germany's Security Police and Nazi Germany's Criminal Police, was created. Of the 26 local police battalions formed, 10 were involved in systematic extermination of Jews known as the Holocaust. The Special SD and German Security Police Squad in Vilnius killed tens of thousands of Jews and ethnic Poles in Paneriai (see Ponary massacre) and other places. In Minsk, the 2nd Battalion shot about 9,000 Soviet prisoners of war, in Slutsk it massacred 5,000 Jews. In March 1942 in Poland, the 2nd Lithuanian Battalion carried out guard duty in the Majdanek extermination camp. In July 1942, the 2nd Battalion participated in the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to a death camp. In August–October 1942, the police battalions formed from Lithuanians were in Ukraine: the 3rd in Molodechno, the 4th in Donetsk, the 7th-в in Vinnitsa, the 11th in Korosten, the 16th in Dnepropetrovsk, the 254th in Poltava and the 255th in Mogilyov (Belarus). One of the battalions was also used to put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.
Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force
The Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force, composed of volunteers, was formed in 1944. Its leadership was Lithuanian, whereas arms were provided by Germans. The purpose of the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force was to defend Lithuania against the approaching Soviet Army and to defend the civilian population in the territory of Lithuania form actions by partisans. In practice, it was primarily engaged in suppressing the Polish population and the anti-Nazi Polish resistance of Armia Krajowa; the LTDF disbanded after it was ordered to act under Nazi command. Shortly before it was disbanded, the LTDF suffered a major defeat from Polish partisans in the battle of Murowana Oszmianka.
The participation of the local populace was a key factor in the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania which resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian Jews[a] living in the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian territories that would, from July 17, 1941, become the Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland. Out of approximately 210,000 Jews, (208,000 according to the Lithuanian pre-war statistical data) an estimated 195,000–196,000 perished before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published); most from June to December 1941. The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion (including Lithuania - see map) marked the sharp intensification of The Holocaust.
Thousands of Dutch volunteers joined the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland (created in February 1943). The division participated in fighting against the Soviet army and was crushed in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945.
SS-Freiwilligen Legion Niederlande, manned by Dutch volunteers and German officers, battled the Soviet army from 1941. In December 1943, it gained brigade status after fighting on the front around Leningrad. It was at Leningrad that the first European volunteer, a Dutchman, earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross: Gerardus Mooyman. In December 1944, it was transformed into the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nederland and fought in Courland and Pomerania. It found its end scattered across Germany. 49. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "de Ruyter" fought at the Oder and surrendered on 3 May 1945 to the Americans. 48. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "General Seyffardt" however was split up into two groups. The first of these fought with Kampfgruppe Vieweger and went under in the fighting near Halbe. The few remaining survivors were captured by the Soviets. The other half of "General Seyffart" fought with Korpsgruppe Tettau and surrendered to the western Allies. During the war famous actor and singer Johannes Heesters made his career in Nazi-Germany, befriending high-ranking Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels and living in houses stolen from wealthy Jews.
In Norway, the national government, headed by Vidkun Quisling, was installed by the Germans as a puppet regime during the occupation, while king Haakon VII and the previous government were in exile. He encouraged Norwegians to serve as volunteers in the Waffen-SS, collaborating in the deportation of Jews, and was responsible for the executions of Norwegian patriots.
About 45,000 Norwegian collaborators joined the pro-Nazi party Nasjonal Samling (National Union), about 8,500 of them being enlisted in the collaborationist paramilitary organization Hirden, and some police units helped arrest many of Norway's Jews. It had very little support among the population at large and Norway was one of few countries where resistance during World War II was widespread before the turning point of the war in 1942/43. After the war, Quisling and other collaborators were executed. Quisling's name has become an international eponym for traitor.
Unlike in most European countries occupied by Nazi Germany—where the Germans sought and found true collaborators among the locals—in occupied Poland there was no official collaboration either at the political or at the economic level. Poland also never officially surrendered to the Germans. Under German occupation, the Polish army continued to fight underground, as Armia Krajowa and forest partisans – Leśni. The Polish resistance movement in World War II in German-occupied Poland was the largest resistance movement in all of occupied Europe. As a result, Polish citizens were unlikely to be given positions of any significant authority. The vast majority of the pre-war citizenry collaborating with the Nazis was the German minority in Poland which was offered one of several possible grades of the German citizenship. In 1939, before the German invasion of Poland, 800,000 people declared themselves as members of the German minority in Poland mostly in Pomerania and Western Silesia. During the war there were about 3 million former Polish citizens of German origin who signed the official list of Volksdeutsche. People who became Volksdeutsche were treated by Poles with special contempt, and the fact of them having signed the Volksliste constituted high treason according to the Polish underground law.
There is a general consensus among historians that there was very little collaboration with the Nazis among the Polish nation as a whole, compared to other German-occupied countries. Depending on a definition of collaboration (and of a Polish citizen, based on ethnicity and minority status), scholars estimate number of "Polish collaborators" at around several thousand in a population of about 35 million (that number is supported by the Israeli War Crimes Commission). The estimate is based primarily on the number of death sentences for treason by the Special Courts of the Polish Underground State. Some estimates are higher, counting in all members of the German minority in Poland and any former Polish citizens declaring their German ethnicity (Volksdeutsche), as well as conscripted members of the Blue Police, low-ranking Polish bureaucrats employed in German occupational administration, and even workers in forced labor camps (ex. Zivilarbeiter and Baudienst). Most of the Blue Police were forcibly drafted into service; nevertheless, a significant number acted as spies for Polish resistance movement Armia Krajowa. John Connelly quoted a Polish historian (Leszek Gondek) calling the phenomenon of Polish collaboration "marginal" and wrote that "only relatively small percentage of Polish population engaged in activities that may be described as collaboration when seen against the backdrop of European and world history".
The anti-Jewish actions of szmalcownicy were very harmful to the Polish Jews as well as the gentile Poles aiding them. Anti-Jewish collaboration of Poles was particularly widespread and effective in the rural areas. The collaboration by some Polish Jews, who belonged to Żagiew, was also harmful to both Jewish and ethnic Polish Underground.
In October 1939, the Nazis ordered the mobilization of the pre-war Polish police to the service of the occupational authorities. The policemen were to report for duty or face death penalty. Blue Police was formed. At its peak in 1943, it numbered around 16,000. Its primary task was to act as a regular police force and to deal with criminal activities, but were also used by the Germans in combating smuggling, resistance, and in measures against the Polish (and Polish Jewish) population: for example, it was present in łapankas (rounding up random civilians for labor duties) and patrolling for Jewish escapees from the ghettos. Nonetheless many individuals in the Blue Police followed German orders reluctantly, often disobeyed German orders or even risked death acting against them. Many members of the Blue Police were in fact double agents for the Polish resistance. Some of its officers were ultimately awarded the Righteous among the Nations awards for saving Jews.
Following Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, German forces quickly overran the territory of Poland controlled by the Soviets since their joint invasion of Poland in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. A number of people collaborating with the Soviets before Operation Barbarossa were killed by local people. Belief in the Żydokomuna stereotype, combined with the German Nazi encouragement for expression of anti-Semitic attitudes, was a principal cause of massacres of Jews by gentile Poles in Poland's northeastern Łomża province in the summer of 1941, including the massacre at Jedwabne.
In 1944 Germans clandestinely armed a few regional Armia Krajowa (AK) units operating in the area of Vilnius in order to encourage them to act against the Soviet partisans in the region; in Nowogrodek district and to a lesser degree in Vilnius district (AK turned these weapons against the Nazis during Operation Ostra Brama). Such arrangements were purely tactical and did not evidence the type of ideological collaboration as shown by Vichy regime in France or Quisling regime in Norway. The Poles main motivation was to gain intelligence on German morale and preparedness and to acquire much needed equipment. There are no known joint Polish-German actions, and the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to turn the Poles toward fighting exclusively against Soviet partisans. Further, most of such collaboration of local commanders with the Germans was condemned by AK headquarters. Tadeusz Piotrowski quotes Joseph Rothschild saying "The Polish Home Army was by and large untainted by collaboration" and adds that "the honor of AK as a whole is beyond reproach".
One partisan unit of Polish right-wing National Armed Forces, the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, decided to tacitly cooperate with the Germans in late 1944. It ceased hostile actions against the Germans for a few months, accepted logistic help and withdrew from Poland into Czechoslovakia with German approval (where they resumed hostilities against the Germans) in late stages of the war in order to avoid capture by the Soviets.
The Slovak Republic (Slovenská republika) was an independent national Slovak state which existed from 14 March 1939 to 8 May 1945 as an ally and client state of Nazi Germany. The Slovak Republic existed on roughly the same territory as present-day Slovakia (with the exception of the southern and eastern parts of present-day Slovakia). The Republic bordered Germany, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, and Hungary.
The Soviet Union
Following Operation Barbarossa Germany occupied large areas of the European part of the Soviet Union, part of them remained under German control until 1945. Soviet collaborators included numerous Russians and members of other ethnic groups. The Germans attempted to recruit Soviet citizens voluntarily for the OST-Arbeiter or Eastern worker program; originally this worked, but the news of the terrible conditions they faced dried up the volunteers and the program became forcible.
Belarusian collaborators participated in various massacres of Belarusian villagers. Many of these collaborators retreated with German forces in the wake of the Red Army advance, and in January 1945, formed the 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Belarussian).
Ethnic Armenian, Georgian, Turkic and Caucasian forces deployed by the Nazis consisted primarily of Soviet Red Army POWs assembled into ill-trained legions. Among these battalions were 18,000 Armenians, 13,000 Azerbaidjanis, 14,000 Georgians, and 10,000 men from the "North Caucasus." American historian Alexander Dallin notes that the Armenian Legion and Georgian battalions were sent to the Netherlands as a result of Hitler's distrust of them, many of which later deserted. According to military historian Christopher Ailsby, the Turkic and Caucasian forces formed by the Germans were "poorly armed, trained, and motivated," and were "unreliable and next to useless."
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (the Dashnaks) were suppressed in Armenia when the Armenian Republic was conquered by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1920 and ceased to exist. During World War II, some of the Dashnaks saw an opportunity in collaboration with the Germans to regain Armenia's independence. The Armenian Legion under the leadership of Drastamat Kanayan participated in the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and the Caucasus. On December 15, 1942, the Armenian National Council was granted official recognition by Alfred Rosenberg, the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories. The president of Council was Professor Ardasher Abeghian, its vice-president Abraham Guilkhandanian and it numbered among its members Garegin Nzhdeh and Vahan Papazian. Until the end of 1944 it published a weekly journal, Armenian, edited by Viken Shantn who also broadcast on Radio Berlin with the aid of Dr. Paul Rohrbach.
In Russia proper, ethnic Russians were allowed to govern the Lokot Republic, an autonomous sector in Nazi-occupied Russia. Military groups under Nazi command were formed, such as the notorious Kaminski Brigade, infamous because of its involvement in atrocities in Belarus and Poland, and the 30th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Russian).
Ethnic Russians also enlisted in large numbers into the many German auxiliary police units. Local civilians and Russian POWs, as well as Red Army defectors were encouraged to join the Wehrmacht as "hilfswillige". Some of them also served in so-called Ost battalions which, in particular, defended the French coastline against the expected Allied invasion.
The Kalmykian Voluntary Cavalry Corps was a unit of about 5,000 Kalmyk Mongol volunteers who chose to join the Wehrmacht in 1942 rather than remain in Kalmykia as the German Army retreated before the Red Army.
In May 1943, German General Helmuth von Pannwitz was given authorization to create a Cossack Division consisting of two brigades primarily from Don and Kuban Cossacks, including former exiled White Army commanders such as Pyotr Krasnov and Andrei Shkuro. The division however was then not sent to fight the Red Army, but was ordered, in September 1943, to proceed to Yugoslavia and fight Josip Broz Tito's partisans. In the summer of 1944, the two brigades were upgraded to become the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division and 2nd Cossack Cavalry Division. From the beginning of 1945, these divisions were combined to become XVth SS Cossack Cavalry Corps.
Pro-German Russian forces also included the anti-communist Russian Liberation Army (ROA, Russian: POA: Русская Освободительная Армия), which saw action as a part of the Wehrmacht. On May 1, 1945, however, ROA turned against the SS and fought on the side of Czech insurgents during the Prague Uprising.
Before World War II, the territory of modern Ukraine was divided primarily between the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union and the Second Polish Republic. Smaller regions were administered by Romania and Czechoslovakia. Only the Soviet Union recognised Ukrainian autonomy, and large numbers of Ukrainians, particularly from the East, fought in the Red Army.
The negative impact of Soviet policies implemented in the 1930s were still fresh in the memory of Ukrainians. These included the Holodomor of 1933, the Great Terror, the persecution of intellectuals during the Great Purge of 1937-38, the massacre of Ukrainian intellectuals after the annexation of Western Ukraine from Poland in 1939, the introduction and implementation of Collectivisation.
As a result, the population of whole towns, cities and villages, greeted the Germans as liberators which helps explain the unprecedented rapid progress of the German forces in the occupation of Ukraine.
With the change in regime ethnic, Ukrainians were allowed and encouraged to work in administrative positions. These included and the auxiliary police, post office, and other government structures; taking the place of Poles, Russians and Jews.
Soviet citizens had a page in their internal passports with information regarding their ethnicity, party status, military rank, service in the Soviet Army reserve, and information as to where they were to assemble in case of war. This document also contained markings regarding a citizens social status and reliability, (i.e. son of a kulak, party or Komsomol membership. Soviet POWs who were able to demonstrate Soviet unreliability i.e. non membership in the CPSU, Komsomol or be of a discriminated class were quickly released from the POW camps. Often they were offered administrative and clerical positions or encouraged to join local police units. Some were trained as camp guards, while others were encouraged (in some cases forced) to enlist to fight in anti-Soviet military divisions.
During the period of occupation, Nazi-controlled Ukrainian newspaper Volhyn wrote that "The element that settled our cities (Jews)... must disappear completely from our cities. The Jewish problem is already in the process of being solved.
Ukrainians participated in crushing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 where a mixed force of German SS troops, Russians, Cossacks, Azeris and Ukrainians, backed by German regular army units — killed up to 40,000 civilians.
In Zhytomyr on September 18, 1941, 3,145 Jews were murdered with the assistance of Ukrainian militia (Operational Report 106) and Korosten where Ukrainian militia rounded up 238 Jews for liquidation (Operational Report 80). At times the assistance was more active. Operational Report 88, for example, reports that on September 6, 1941, 1,107 Jewish adults were shot while the Ukrainian militia unit assisting them(?) liquidated 561 Jewish children and youths.
On April 28, 1943 German Command announced the estblishment of the SS-Freiwilligen-Schützen-Division «Galizien». It has been accounted that approximately 83,000 people volunteered for service in the Division. The Division, was used in Anti-partisan operations in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. During the Brody offensive and Vienna Offensive to fight the Soviet forces. Those that survived surrendered to the Allies and the bulk emigrated to the West, primarily England, Australia and Canada.
Prior to being invaded by Nazi Germany, the Yugoslav government was working on forging a pact with Germany. That pact was rejected by Yugoslav antifascists, who guided by general Dušan Simović demonstrated on March 26, 1941, and forced the government to withdraw. Angered by what he perceived as treason, Hitler invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia without warning on April 6, 1941. Eleven days later Yugoslavia capitulated.
Most Chetniks in Yugoslavia collaborated with the Axis occupation to one degree or another in order to fight the rival Partisan resistance, whom they viewed as their primary enemy, by establishing modus vivendi or operating as "legalised" auxiliary forces under Axis control. Some units engaged in marginal resistance activities and avoided accommodations with the enemy. Over a period of time, and in different parts of the country, the Chetniks were drawn progressively into collaboration agreements: first with the Nedić forces in Serbia, then with the Italians in occupied Dalmatia and Montenegro, with some of the Ustaše forces in northern Bosnia, and after the Italian capitulation also with the Germans directly. While Chetnik collaboration reached "extensive and systematic" proportions, the Chetniks themselves referred to this policy of collaboration as "using the enemy".
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian), manned by Bosniaks and commanded by German officers, was created in February 1943 and operated until December 1944. The division participated in anti-guerrilla operations in Yugoslavia.
Ante Pavelić's Croatian puppet state was an ally of Nazi Germany. The Croatian extreme nationalists, Ustaše, killed several hundred thousands (330,000-700,000), primarily Serbs, in the Jasenovac concentration camp.
The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian), created in February 1943, and the 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama, created in January 1944, were manned by Croats and Bosniaks as well as local Germans.
Serbian collaborationist organizations Serbian State Guard, Serbian Volunteer Corps (party militia of the extreme right-wing Yugoslav National Movement "Zbor" had a few thousand members and helped guard and run concentration camps.
In April 1943, Heinrich Himmler created 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian) manned by Albanian and Kosovar Albanian volunteers. By June 1944, the military value was deemed low in lieu of partisan aggression and by November 1944 it was disbanded. The remaining cadre, now called Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg, was transferred to the Prinz Eugen Division where they successfully participated in actions against Tito's partisans in December 1944. The emblem of the division was a black Albanian eagle. Balli Kombëtar was an Albanian nationalist and anti-communist organization which collaborated with the Axis Powers during their occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia. Their agenda was the creation of "Great Albania."
The Slovene Home Guard, was a collaborationist force, formed in September 1943 in the area of Province of Ljubljana (then a part of Yugoslavia). It functioned like most collaborationist forces in Axis-occupied Europe during World War II, but had limited autonomy, and at first functioned as an auxiliary police force that assisted the Germans in anti-Partisan actions. Later, it gained more autonomy and conducted most of the anti-partisan operations in the Province of Ljubljana. Much of the Guard's equipment was Italian (confiscated when Italy dropped out of the war in 1943), although German weapons and equipment were used as well, especially later in the war. Similar, but much smaller units were also formed in Littoral (Primorska) and Upper Carniola (Gorenjska).
The British Free Corps reached a maximum size of 27 troops in 1945.
The Channel Islands were the only British territory in Europe occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. The policy of the Island governments, acting under instructions from the British government communicated before the occupation, was one of passive co-operation, although this has been criticised, particularly in the treatment of Jews in the islands. These measures were administered by the Bailiff and the Aliens Office. "In Britain the administrators and the police in the Channel Islands who had helped with the deportation of Jews continued to work in their old positions, and some of them even received the Order of the British Empire for the bravery they had shown in the war years."
Following the liberation of 1945 allegations against those accused of collaborating with the occupying authorities were investigated. By November 1946, the UK Home Secretary was in a position to inform the UK House of Commons that most of the allegations lacked substance and only 12 cases of collaboration were considered for prosecution, but the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled out prosecutions on insufficient grounds. In particular, it was decided that there were no legal grounds for proceeding against those alleged to have informed to the occupying authorities against their fellow-citizens.
In Jersey and Guernsey, laws were passed to retrospectively confiscate the financial gains made by war profiteers and black marketeers, although these measures also affected those who had made legitimate profits during the years of military occupation.
During the occupation, cases of women fraternising with German soldiers had aroused indignation among some citizens. In the hours following the liberation, members of the British liberating forces were obliged to intervene to prevent revenge attacks.
Although official Nazi policy barred non-Germans from joining the regular German army, the Wehrmacht, volunteers from most occupied countries and even a small number from some Commonwealth countries (British Free Corps). were permitted to join the ranks of the Waffen SS and the auxiliary police (Schutzmannschaft). Overall, nearly 600,000 Waffen-SS members were non-German, with some countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands contributing thousands of volunteers. Various collaborationalist parties in occupied France and the unoccupied Vichy zone assisted in establishing the Légion des volontaires français contre le bolchevisme (LVF). This volunteer army initially counted some 10,000 volunteers and would later become the 33rd Waffen SS division, one of the first SS divisions composed mostly of foreigners.
Following is a list of the 18 largest Waffen SS divisions composed mostly or entirely of foreign volunteers (note that there were other foreign Waffen SS divisions composed mostly of forced conscripts).
Apart from frontline units, volunteers also played an important role in the large Schutzmannschaft units in the German-occupied territories in Eastern Europe. After Operation Barbarossa recruitment of local forces began almost immediately mostly by initiative of Himmler. These forces were not members of the regular armed forces and were not intended for frontline duty, but were instead used for rear echelon activities including maintaining the peace, fighting partisans, acting as police and organizing supplies for the front lines. In the later years of the war, these units numbered almost 200,000.
By the end of World War II, 60% of the Waffen SS was made up of non-German volunteers from occupied countries. The predominantly Scandinavian 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland division along with remnants of French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch volunteers were last defenders of the Reichstag in Berlin.
The Nuremberg Trials, in declaring the Waffen SS a criminal organisation, explicitly excluded conscripts, who had committed no crimes. In 1950, The U.S. High Commission in Germany and the U.S. Displaced Persons Commission clarified the U.S. position on the Baltic Waffen SS Units, considering them distinct from the German SS in purpose, ideology, activities and qualifications for membership.
Collaboration of Governments
The most significant support of Germany came from the European Axis powers of the Balkans. Albania, being an Italian puppet state, declared war on the Allies along with the Kingdom of Italy in 1940, although the resistance movements and the peoples were against this. Later that year Slovakia declared war on Great Britain and the United States. Slovakian, Croatian and Albanian collaborators fought with the German forces against the Soviet Union on the eastern front throughout the war. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 should also be mentioned.
However, significant support was also given by many countries initially at war with Germany but which subsequently elected to adopt a policy of co-operation.
The Vichy government in France is one of the best known and most significant examples of collaboration between former enemies of Germany and Germany itself. When the French Vichy government emerged at the same time of the Free French in London there was much confusion regarding the loyalty of French overseas colonies and more importantly their overseas armies and naval fleet. The reluctance of Vichy France to either disarm or surrender their naval fleet resulted in the British destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir on 3 July 1940. Later in the war French colonies were frequently used as staging areas for invasions or airbases for the Axis powers both in Indo China and Syria. This resulted in the invasion of Syria and Lebanon with the capture of Damascus on 17 June and later the Battle of Madagascar against Vichy French forces which lasted for seven months until November the same year.
Many other countries cooperated to some extent and in different ways. Denmark's government cooperated with the German occupiers until 1943 and actively helped recruit members for the Nordland and Wiking Waffen SS divisions and helped organize trade and sale of industrial and agricultural products to Germany. In Greece, the three quisling prime ministers (Georgios Tsolakoglou, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos and Ioannis Rallis) cooperated with the Axis authorities. Agricultural products (especially tobacco) were sent to Germany, Greek "volunteers" were sent to work to German factories, and special armed forces (such as the Security Battalions were created to fight along German soldiers against the Allies and the Resistance movement. In Norway the government successfully managed to escape to London but Vidkun Quisling established a puppet regime in its absence—albeit with little support from the local population.
Anti-British sentiments were widespread in Iraq prior to 1941. Seizing power on 1 April 1941, the nationalist government of Prime Minister Rashid Ali repudiated the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 and demanded that the British abandon their military bases and withdraw from the country. Ali sought support from Germany and Italy in expelling British forces from Iraq.
On 9 May 1941, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem and associate of Ali, declared holy war against the British and called on Arabs throughout the Middle East to rise up against British rule. On 25 May 1941, the Germans stepped up offensive operations.
Hitler issued Order 30: "The Arab Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England. In this connection special importance is attached to the liberation of Iraq ... I have therefore decided to move forward in the Middle East by supporting Iraq."
Hostilities between the Iraqi and British forces began on 2 May 1941, with heavy fighting at the RAF air base in Habbaniyah. The Germans and Italians dispatched aircraft and aircrew to Iraq utilizing Vichy French bases in Syria, which would later invoke fighting between Allied and Vichy French forces in Syria.
The Germans planned to coordinate a combined German-Italian offensive against the British in Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq. Iraqi military resistance ended by 31 May 1941. Rashid Ali and the Mufti of Jerusalem fled to Iran, then Turkey, Italy, and finally Germany, where Ali was welcomed by Hitler as head of the Iraqi government-in-exile in Berlin. In propaganda broadcasts from Berlin, the Mufti continued to call on Arabs to rise up against the British and aid German and Italian forces. He also helped recruit Muslim volunteers in the Balkans for the Waffen-SS.
- Axis Powers
- Blue Division
- Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China
- International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania
- Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
- Pursuit of Nazi collaborators
- Resistance during World War II
- Responsibility for the Holocaust
Notes and references
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- Bertram N. Gordon, Collaborationism in France during the Second World War. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y. 1980, ISBN 0801412633, 9780801412639, p. 18.
- The Waffen-SS (3): 11. to 23. Divisions By Gordon Williamson, Stephen Andrew
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- Henning Poulsen, “Hvad mente Danskerne?” Historie 2 (2000) p. 320.
- Voorhis, 175.
- Poulsen, Historie, 320.
- Andrew Buckser, “Rescue and Cultural Context During the Holocaust: Grundtvigian Nationalism and the Rescue of Danish Jews”, Shofar 19:2 (2001) p. 10.
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"Both the Chetniks' political program and the extent of their collaboration have been amply, even voluminously, documented; it is more than a bit disappointing, thus, that people can still be found who believe that the Chetniks were doing anything besides attempting to realize a vision of an ethnically homogeneous Greater Serbian state, which they intended to advance, in the short run, by a policy of collaboration with the Axis forces. The Chetniks collaborated extensively and systematically with the Italian occupation forces until the Italian capitulation in September 1943, and beginning in 1944, portions of the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović collaborated openly with the Germans and Ustaša forces in Serbia and Croatia."
- Pavlowitch 2007, p. 177.
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- War Profits (Guernsey) Law 1945
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- Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987
- Peter Suppli Benson, Bjørn Lamnek and Stig Ørskov: Mærsk · manden og magten, Politiken Bøger, 2004 ("Maersk · The Man and Power", in Danish)
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- Christian Jensen, Tomas Kristiansen and Karl Erik Nielsen: Krigens købmænd, Gyldendal, 2000 ("The Merchants of War", in Danish)
- Chuev, Sergei Gennadevic: Prokliatye soldaty, [Damned soldiers], ĖKSMO, 2004, ISBN 5-699-05970-9
- Gerlach, Christian: Kalkulierte Morde, Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 1999
- Jeffrey W. Jones "Every Family Has Its Freak": Perceptions of Collaboration in Occupied Soviet Russia, 1943–1948 — Slavic Review Vol. 64, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 747–770
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