29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS RONA (1st Russian)
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|29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS RONA (1st Russian)'|
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Christoph Von Diehm
29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS RONA (1st Russian) (German: 29. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS RONA (russische Nr.1)) was a Waffen SS Grenadier division intended to be formed from the personnel of the S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. (also known as the Kaminski Brigade) following Heinrich Himmler's order of August 1, 1944. 29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS RONA (1st Russian) never existed as such. At that time the brigade's manpower was estimated to be 3,000-4,000 men. The reorganization was postponed during the Warsaw Uprising which started that same day. On August 4, 1944 the brigade was ordered to assist in the efforts in crushing the Uprising. A mixed regiment of 1600-1700 unmarried soldiers from the brigade was used against insurgents until the end of August 1944 when German commanders decided that the unit was too undisciplined and unreliable. Waffen-Brigadeführer der SS Bronislav Kaminski and chief-of-staff Waffen-Obersturmbannführer Ilya Shavykin were said to have been secretly shot by the Germans due to the atrocities[dubious ] and widespread plunder by their troops in Warsaw. The death of Kaminski and unreliability of his troops as a combat unit ended plans to expand the Kaminski Brigade to a division. In 1945 its number was reassigned to 29th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Italian).
Plans to form a division from the personnel of the S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. (also known as the Kaminski Brigade) which appeared in 1942 as an anti-partisan formation made of the people from the so-called Lokot Autonomy territory in the Nazi Germany-occupied areas of Russia during World War II. Its leader Bronislav Kaminski named it as Russian Liberation People's Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya, RONA). In spring 1943, Kaminski Brigade increased to 10-12 thousand soldiers armed with equipment provided by captured soviet tanks and artillery. From the beginning of its existence the formation was involved in action against partisans and also took part in reprisal operations against the civilian population, committing numerous atrocities against it.
After Operation Citadel, personnel of the R.O.N.A. retreated to Belarus and were stationed in the Lepel area of Vitebsk, and were involved in anti-partisan activities and committed numerous atrocities against the civilian population. In March 1944, the unit was renamed Volksheer-Brigade Kaminski (Peoples Brigade Kaminski) for a brief period, before it was absorbed as a part of the Waffen-SS in June 1944. With its transfer to the Waffen-SS, the brigade was renamed Waffen-Sturm-Brigade RONA, and Kaminski was given the rank of Waffen-Brigadeführer der SS. After Operation Bagration, personnel retreated again further west and by the end of July 1944 remains of the Kaminski unit (3-4 thousands [some sources give 6-7 thousands] were collected at the SS training camp Neuhammer.
Participation in the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944
The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: powstanie warszawskie) was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union's Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. The uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide plan, Operation Tempest, when the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The main Polish objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. Also, short-term causes included the threat of a German round-up of able-bodied Poles, and Moscow radio calling for the Uprising to begin. Initially, the Poles established control over most of central Warsaw, but the Soviets ignored Polish attempts to establish radio contact and did not advance beyond the city limits. Intense street fighting between the Germans and Poles continued. By 14 September, Polish forces under Soviet high command occupied the East bank of the Wisła River opposite the insurgents' positions; but only 1,200 men made it across to the West bank, and they were not reinforced by the bulk of the Red Army. This, and the lack of Soviet air support from a base 5 minutes flying time away, led to allegations that Joseph Stalin tactically halted his forces to let the operation fail and allow the Polish insurrectionists to be crushed. Arthur Koestler called the Russian attitude "one of the major infamies of this war which will rank for the future historian on the same ethical level with Lidice. " Winston Churchill pleaded with Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt to help Britain's Polish allies, to no avail. Then, without Soviet air clearance, Churchill sent over 200 low-level supply drops by the Royal Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Polish Air Force under British High Command. Later, after gaining Soviet air clearance, the US Army Air Force sent one high-level mass airdrop as part of Operation Frantic. Russia refused to allow American bombers from Western Europe to land on Soviet airfields after dropping supplies to the Poles. Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw's buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city. The Kaminsky Brigade took active part in the suppression of the Uprising, committing numerous atrocities against civilian population, so much so that the German military authorities were forced to disarm and disband the brigade. Its commander Bronislaw Kaminsky was court-martialled and shot.
- Waffen-Brigadeführer der SS Bronislav Kaminski (1 August 1944 - 19 August 1944)
- SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Polizei Christoph Diehm (20 August 1944 - 27 September 1944)
Planned order of battle
- Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 72 (russische Nr.1)
- Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 73 (russische Nr.2)
- Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 74 (russische Nr.3)
- Waffen-Artillerie-Regiment der SS 29 (russische Nr.1)
- GEORG TESSIN Verbande und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 VIERTER BAND: Die Landstreitkrafte 15—30 VERLAG E. S. MITTLER & SOHN GMBH. - FRANKFURT/MAIN 1970
- GEORG TESSIN Verbande und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 SECHSTER BAND: Die Landstreitkrafte 71-130 BIBLI O VERLAG OSNABRUCK 1972
- p.399 GEORG TESSIN Verbande und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 ERSTER BAND: HIBLIO VERLAG OSNABRUCK 1977
- (German) 29.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (russische Nr.1)
- RONA – Russian National Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya). Warsaw Uprising by Project InPosterum
- Antonio J. Munoz Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS
- (German) Rolf Michaelis, Die Brigade Kaminski: Partisanenbekämpfung in Rußland - Weißrußland - Warschau
- (German) Rolf Michaelis, Russen in der Waffen-SS