Operation Cottbus

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Operation Cottbus
Part of World War II
Date May 20 – June 24, 1943
Location Vitsebsk province, Belarus
Result German victory
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Flag of Byelorussian SSR.svg Belarusian partisans
Commanders and leaders
Oskar Dirlewanger Unknown
Casualties and losses
Reported 59 killed Official German toll of 11,796 civilians/partisans killed

Operation Cottbus was an anti-partisan operation during the occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany. The operation began on May 20, 1943 during the World War II occupation of northern Belarus in the areas of Begoml, Lepel and Ushachy. A number of Belarusian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian collaborationist units took part in the operation, along with the SS Special Battalion Dirlewanger.[1]

Numerous villages were depopulated and burned as part of the operation. The officially communicated result of the operation was that about 9,800 people had been killed (6,087 killed in battle and 3,709 executed) and 4,997 men, but only 1,056 women, had been collected as forced labour. These figures are likely to be underestimates of the dead. German radio reported 15,000 dead, although Einsatzgruppe Dirlewanger alone reported enemy losses as about 14,000 dead, although this report does not refer to the whole operation. Taking into account that another two combat groups took part in the operation the likely number of dead during the operation is estimated to have been at least 20,000.[2]

It is likely that the majority of those killed were unarmed civilians,[1] Some contemporary German reports suggested that the majority of the dead were members of "bands",[3] although later in the report doubt is expressed as to the accuracy of these figures, with the assumption that "numerous peasants" must have been among the dead and noting that "Dirlewanger especially has a reputation for destroying many human lives".[4] The same report indicates that there were 59 German dead.[3][4] About 950 weapons were captured during the operation.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Breitman.R (1997) Himmler's Police Auxiliaries in the Occupied Soviet Territories Museum of Tolerance Online. Retrieved 2009-03-15
  2. ^ Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde. Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weißrußland 1941 bis 1944. Studienausgabe, pages 943 and following
  3. ^ a b Nizokar Project Archive File: imt/nca/nca-02//nca-02-15-criminality-05-13 Retrieved 2009-03-15
  4. ^ a b Nizokar Project Nizokar Project Archive File: imt//tgmwc/tgmwc-03/tgmwc-03-24-05. Retrieved 2009-03-15