36th Estonian Police Battalion

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36th Estonian Police Battalion
Active 23 November 1941 – 18 January 1943
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Schutzmannschaft
Estonian Auxiliary Police
Type Battalion
Role Rear security
Size 438 (August 1942)
Part of SS of Nazi Germany
Engagements Battle of Stalingrad
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Harald Riipalu

36th Estonian Police Battalion (also known as Schutzmannschaft Front Bataillon 36 Arensburg (German) and 36. Kaitse Rindepataljon (Estonian)) was an Estonian rear-security unit during World War II that operated under command of the German SS.

Operational history[edit]

The 36th Estonian Police Battalion was established on 23 November 1941, and was formed in western Estonia and on Estonian islands. Between May and August 1942, the battalion was in training and received reinforcements from other units, bringing its total stenght to 23 officers, 161 non-commissioned officers, and 254 troops.[1] It participated at rear-security and anti-partisan operations in Belarus and guarded the prisoner-of-war camps in the coal mines of Stalino and Makeyevka.[2][3] From 22 November to 31 December 1942 the battalion took part of the Battle of Stalingrad.[3] Having suffered casualties of 39 killed, 97 wounded, and 11 missing, the battalion was brought back to Estonia in January 1943 and disbanded, with many men joining the Estonian Legion.[4]

36th battalion was reformed in May 1943, and in autumn was sent to the front at Nevel where it was merged into 288th battalion.[4]

Novogrudok[edit]

On 6 and 7 August 3000–5000 Jews were killed in the area of Novogrudok, Belarus.[4][5] The 36th battalion was in the area at period from 4 August to 25 August 1942. The battalion's 16 August report stated that the battalion was engaged in "fighting against partisans".[1][5]

According to the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, "the 36th Police Battalion participated on August 7, 1942 in the gathering together and shooting of almost all the Jews still surviving in the town of Novogrudok". The Commission's report noted:[6]

In the published records, this unit was described as fighting against partisans at the time. The Commission believes that although there clearly were numerous engagements between police units and partisans, "fighting against partisans" and "guarding prisoner of war camps" were at times ways of describing participation in actions against civilians, including Jews.

The Estonian Internal Security Service (KaPo) investigation into the battalion's activities concluded that there was no evidence about participation in war crimes or crimes against humanity.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hiio, Toomas (2011). "Eesti üksustest Wehrmacht'i, SSi ja politsei ning Relva-SSi alluvuses Teise maailmasõja ajal". Estonian Yearbook of Military History (in Estonian): 208. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  2. ^ Massimo Arico, Ordnungspolizei - Encyclopedia of the German police battalions September 1939 - July 1942, p. 144-145.
  3. ^ a b Aivar Niglas, Toomas Hiio (2006). "Estonian defence battalions / police battalions". In Toomas Hiio; Meelis Maripuu; Indrek Paavle. Estonia 1940–1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. Tallinn. pp. 825–876. 
  4. ^ a b c Hiio, Toomas (2011). "Eesti üksustest Wehrmacht'i, SSi ja politsei ning Relva-SSi alluvuses Teise maailmasõja ajal". Estonian Yearbook of Military History (in Estonian): 209. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  5. ^ a b Kaasik, Peeter (2017). "What Did the 36th Estonian Front Defence Battalion Do in Novogrudok?". Tuna. 2. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  6. ^ "PHASE II: THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF ESTONIA IN 1941–1944" (PDF). Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. p. XXI. Retrieved 4 August 2018. 
  7. ^ "Kilode viisi arhiividokumente andsid sama vastuse: Zuroffil pole tõendeid" (in Estonian). Eesti Päevaleht. 25 January 2003. Retrieved 4 August 2018.