|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2007)|
For the modern German Military Police see: Feldjaeger
|Active||1943 - 1945|
|Role||Discipline and control|
|Disbanded||June 23, 1946|
|General der Flieger Hans Speidel
General der Panzertruppe Werner Kempf
General der Infantrie Hans-Karl von Scheele
The Feldjägerkorps was a military police organization in the German Wehrmacht during World War II. It was formed on 27 November 1943 from distinguished veterans and Patrol Service personnel. This corps was formed into three Feldjäger Commands (I, II and III), which reported directly to Field Marshal Keitel, and was senior to all other military police organizations.
This was divided into 30 (Streifen) Patrols, which were based 12 miles behind the front lines. These patrols could be rough in their justice, which included summary executions. They were supported by a Streifkorps (Patrol Corps), organized into sections of a senior non-commissioned officer and 9 enlisted personnel.
By 1943, World War II was turning against Germany and morale amongst the front line troops was dropping. Until this time, the Feldgendarmerie and Geheime Feldpolizei had been relied upon to try to curb desertion and maintain discipline, however these men had other duties as well and the situation was getting out of hand. In November 1943, a new formation was created - the Feldjägerkorps. In order to be eligible for service, soldiers had to have a minimum 3 years frontline combat experience and have earned the Iron Cross 2nd class.
The Feldjägerkorps consisted of 3 Feldjägerkommando:
- Feldjägerkommando I was formed in Königsberg. It was commanded by General der Flieger Ernst Müller.
- Feldjägerkommando II was formed in Breslau. Its commanders were General der Panzertruppe Werner Kempf, General der Infantrie Karl von Oven and General der Artillerie Willi Moser.
- Feldjägerkommando III was formed in Vienna. It commanders were General der Infantrie Hans-Karl von Scheele, General der Infantrie Martin Grase and General der Flieger Hans Speidel.
Each Feldjägerkommandeur originally controlled an Feldjägerabteilungen (battalion), and from 24 April 1944, a regiment). The Fj battalion consisted of five motorized companies, each of 30 officers and 90 non-commissioned officers. The Feldjägerregiment contained five Feldjägerabteilungen each of which contained three Kompanies, of about 50 men.
The basic unit was the Streife (patrol) which was made up of anywhere between 1 Feldjäger and 3 Feldjäger and an officer.
The authority of the Feldjägerkorps came directly from the German Army High Command, and as such even the lowest ranking soldier theoretically carried more power than army officers. The commanding officer of a Feldjägerkommando had the same level of authority as an Armee commander with the authority to punish any soldier of any branch of service (the Waffen SS included).
The Feldjägerkorps operated parallel to the front line and approximately 12–15 miles behind it. Their basic duties were to:
- maintain order and discipline
- prevent panic retreats
- gather stragglers and assemble them at collection points, where they could be assembled into ad hoc units
- check soldiers travel and/or leave permits at embarkation points
- round up deserters and either return to their units, hand them over to the Feldgendarmerie or Geheime Feld Polizei or issue punishment themselves.
- Gather Prisoners of War (PoWs) and hand them over to the appropriate authorities.
They could also be employed in the same capacity as the Feldgendarmerie.
After the surrender of Germany, Feldjägerkommando III remained armed and at the disposal of the US Army in order to maintain discipline amongst the German PoWs. Feldjägerkommando III finally and formally surrendered its arms to the Allies on 23 June 1946.
Although the image of the Feldjäger was one of a tough, brutal soldier who shot on sight; this was often not the case. Veterans have stated that if they were caught by the Feldjäger, as long as they had a valid reason and the necessary paperwork to be behind the lines they were left alone. In only a very few cases on the Western front were summary executions used. More was to be feared from roaming groups of deserters or SS officers who took it upon themselves to "police" the rear line areas - in some cases fire fights between these groups and the Feldjägerkorps occurred.
The Feldjäger wore a normal German Army infantryman's uniform with white waffenfarbe. The only items which identified him were the gorget and red armband worn on the lower left cuff, bearing bold black lettering reading; Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - Feldjäger -
Other Feldjager units
The SA-Feldjägerkorps - In October 1933 Hermann Göring established a supplementary police group for use within the State of Prussia. This group was also intended to have responsibilities in selected cities within Greater Germany. The unit consisted of former polizei members and volunteers recruited from existing Sturmabteilung (SA) and Schutzstaffel (SS) units. At this point in their history, leaders of the Nazi Party intended to use police brigades for protection as well as for gaining power over other political groups. Much of the intent of organizing these police units was to band together groups of men who had military training and knowledge stemming from their First World War experience. Designated the SA Field Police (SA-Feldjägerkorps), this formation was organized into eight battalions of approximately 195 men each with each battalion being assigned to a specific city or district with its headquarters in Berlin. Members of the SA-Feldjägerkorps were allowed to rejoin or transfer into the SS following completion of their service with the unit. On 1 April 1935 the SA-Feldjägerkorps was incorporated into the larger Prussian “Schutzpolizei” and was no longer under the control of the SA or related authorities. Over time, many smaller police units were organized or cluster together for the purpose of expanding control.
- Osprey Warrior series, German Security and Police Soldier 1939-45, Gordon Williamson (Author), and Velimir Vuksic (Illustrator), Publisher: Osprey Publishing (November 13, 2002), ISBN 1-84176-416-7 and ISBN 978-1-84176-416-0
- Osprey Men-at-Arms series, German Military Police Units 1939-45, Gordon Williamson (Author), and Ronald Volstad (Illustrator), Publisher: Osprey Publishing (July 27, 1989), ISBN 0-85045-902-8 and ISBN 978-0-85045-902-9