Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS
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|Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS|
Members of the battalion in 1943 in Finland
|Active||1941 – July 1943|
|Size||Battalion 1408 volunteers (in all)|
The Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS (German: Finnisches Freiwilligen-Bataillon der Waffen-SS) was a motorized infantry battalion of the Nazi German Waffen-SS. It was formed from Finnish volunteers and fought on the Eastern Front during World War II. For most of its existence it was attached to SS-Regiment Nordland of the SS Division Wiking. The battalion participated in the Battle of the Caucasus in mid-1942 and the subsequent Third Battle of Kharkov in early 1943, after the German defeat during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 forced the Germans to evacuate the Caucasus. It was disbanded in mid-1943 as the two-year commitment of the volunteers had expired and the Finnish Government was unwilling to allow more men to volunteer.
The Finnish Government authorized the Germans to recruit men for service with the Waffen-SS for a two-year term in early 1941, although negotiations over the details lasted until the end of April. This delayed their arrival until May and the roughly 400 men who had military experience in the Winter War were sent to Wiking in mid-June where they were dispersed throughout the division. The inexperienced volunteers were held back for training and were formed into the SS-Volunteer Batallion Northeast (motorized) German: SS-Freiwilligen-Battalion Nordost (mot.) on 1 June. By the end of the month the battalion had about 1,000 men. It was renamed the Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS on 13 September and additional volunteers arrived over the next several months to bring its strength up to around 1,180 men. The unit was sent to the front at the beginning of January 1942 where it was attached to SS-Regiment Nordland of the SS Division Wiking, serving as its third battalion. While many Finns were already serving with Wiking, the battalion differed in that it was staffed with Finnish officers and NCOs (Wiking being commanded by Germans).
The mathematician Rolf Nevanlinna was chairman of the Committee for the Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS.[page needed] The unit lost 255 men killed in action, 686 wounded and 14 missing during its service.
The battalion was praised by many Waffen-SS commanders, even Heinrich Himmler, for its combat performance. Himmler said "Where a Finnish SS-man stood, the enemy was always defeated." Neither the unit nor any of its members were ever accused of any war crimes.
- Jokipii 2002, pp. 184–189
- Ueberschär (1996), pp. 1072–73; Tessin (1980), pp. 89, 186
- Lehto, Olli (2001). Korkeat maailmat. Rolf Nevanlinnan elämä [High Worlds. The life of Rolf Nevanlinna] (in Finnish). Otava. OCLC 58345155.
- Kustannus, Atena (1991). Jatkosota Kronikka (in Finnish). Gummerus Kustannus Oy. p. 130. ISBN 951-20-3661-4.
- Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, Order of the day, July 11, 1943
- Jokipii, Mauno (1996). Panttipataljoona : suomalaisen SS-pataljoonan historia (in Finnish). Veljesapu. p. 216. ISBN 952-90-7363-1.
- Jokipii, Mauno (2002). Hitlerin Saksa ja sen vapaaehtoisliikkeet: Waffen-SS:n suomalaispataljoona vertailtavana (in Finnish). Helsinki: SKS. ISBN 951-746-335-9.
- Jokipii, Mauno (1996). Panttipataljoona : suomalaisen SS-pataljoonan historia (in Finnish). Veljesapu. ISBN 952-90-7363-1.
- Tessin, Georg (1980). Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939–1945. 14: Die Landstreitkräfte: Namensverbände/Die Luftstreitkräfte (Fliegende Verbände)/Flakeinsatz im Reich 1943–1945 (1.udg. ed.). Osnabrück: Biblio-Verl. ISBN 3-7648-1111-0.
- Ueberschär, Gerd R. (1996). "Volunteers From Northern Europe at the Beginning of the War Against the Soviet Union". Germany and the Second World War. IV: The Attack on the Soviet Union. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. pp. 1070–80. ISBN 0-19-822886-4.
- George H. Stein, H. Peter Krosby (October 1966). Hans Rothfels, Theodor Eschenburg, ed. "Das finnische Freiwilligen-Bataillon der Waffen-SS" [The Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS] (pdf). Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (in German). Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. 14 (4): 413–453. Retrieved 2010-04-20.