Wehrmacht foreign volunteers and conscripts

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Andrey Vlasov and General Shilenkov (center) of the Russian Liberation Army meeting with Joseph Goebbels (February 1945)

Among the approximately one million foreign volunteers and conscripts who served in the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS during World War II were ethnic Germans, Belgians, Czechs, Dutch, Finns, Danes, French, Hungarians, Norwegians, Poles,[1] Portuguese, Swedes,[2] and British, along with people from the Baltic states and the Balkans. At least 47,000 Spaniards served in the Blue Division.[3]

Some estimates state anywhere between 600,000 and 1,400,000 Soviets (Russians and non-Russians) joined the Wehrmacht forces as Hiwis. (or Hilfswillige)[4] The Ukrainian collaborationist forces were composed of an estimated number of 180,000 volunteers serving with units scattered all over Europe.[5] Russian émigrés and defectors from the Soviet Union formed the Russian Liberation Army or fought as Hilfswillige within German units of the Wehrmacht primarily on the Eastern Front.[6] Non-Russians from the Soviet Union formed the Ostlegionen (literally "Eastern Legions"). The East Battalions comprized a total of 175,000 personnel.[7] These units were all commanded by General Ernst August Köstring. (1876−1953)[8] A lower estimate for the total number of foreign volunteers that served in the entire German armed forces (including the Waffen SS) is 350,000.[9]

List of units[edit]

Foreign volunteer battalion in the Wehrmacht. Soldiers of the Free Arabian Legion in Greece, September 1943
Spanish volunteer forces of the Blue Division entrain at San Sebastián, 1942
Ukrainian Liberation Army oath to Adolf Hitler

Soviet Union[edit]

Unit name Description
Armeniche Legion Schild.svg Armenian Legion Mostly Soviet Armenians
Azerbaijani Legion emblem.svg Azerbaijani Legion Mostly Soviet Azeris
Georgische Legion.svg Georgian Legion Mostly Soviet Georgians
XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps Until 1 February 1945 under command of the Wehrmacht, then the Corps was transferred to the Waffen-SS[10]
Kalmykian Voluntary Cavalry Corps Mostly Kalmyks
Latin cross.png Luftwaffen-Legion Lettland Air unit composed of Latvians.
Nachtigall Battalion Ukrainians of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Ostlegionen Consisting mostly of Caucasians
Roland Battalion A.k.a. Special Group Roland. Second Polish Republic citizens of Ukrainian ethnicity
ROA chevron.svg Russian Liberation Army Mostly ethnic Russians
162nd (Turkistan) Infanterie Division Logo.svg 162nd Turkoman Division Formed in May 1943 and comprised 5 Azeri and 6 Turkestani artillery/infantry units.[11]
Ukrainian Liberation Army.svg Ukrainian Liberation Army Ukrainians
Ukraine shield.svg Ukrainian National Army Ukrainians


Unit name
Coat of arms of Croatia (white chequy).svg 369th (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
Coat of arms of Croatia (white chequy).svg 373rd (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
Coat of arms of Croatia (white chequy).svg 392nd (Croatian) Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
Armband of Croatian Legion.svg 369th Croatian Reinforced Infantry Regiment (Wehrmacht)
Croatian naval legion badge.jpg Croatian Naval Legion
Badge of Croatian Air Force Legion.svg Croatian Air Force Legion


Unit name
Blue Division[12]
Blue Legion
Free Arabian Legion
Indian Legion
Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism
Poles in the Wehrmacht
Russian Corps
Walloon Legion
British Free Corps

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ryszard Kaczmarek: Polacy w Wehrmachcie. Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2010. ISBN 978-83-08-04488-9
  2. ^ Wangel, Carl-Axel (1982). Sveriges militära beredskap 1939-1945 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Militärhistoriska Förlaget. ISBN 978-91-85266-20-3.
  3. ^ "Spain's Nazi volunteers defend their right to recognition - and German pensions". The Daily Telegraph. 30 November 2015.
  4. ^ Audrey L. Alstadt (2013). "The Azerbaijani Turks: Power and Identity under Russian Rule". p. 187. ISBN 9780817991838
  5. ^ Carlos Caballero Jurado (1983). Foreign Volunteers of the Wehrmacht 1941–45. Translated by Alfredo Campello, David List. Osprey. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-85045-524-3.
  6. ^ M. V. Nazarov, The Mission of the Russian Emigration, Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6[page needed]
  7. ^ “Slaughter on the Eastern Front: Hitler and Stalin’s War 1941-1945“ Appendix 3
  8. ^ Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp: Die Generale des Heeres 1921–1945. Band 7: Knabe–Luz. Biblio Verlag, Bissendorf 2004, ISBN 3-7648-2902-8.
  9. ^ “SS: Hitler's Foreign Divisions” description
  10. ^ Rolf Michaelis: Die Waffen-SS. Mythos und Wirklichkeit. Michaelis-Verlag, Berlin 2001, p. 36
  11. ^ Nikolai Tolstoy (1977). The Secret Betrayal. Charles Scribner’s Sons. pp. 304ff. ISBN 0-684-15635-0.
  12. ^ Carlos Caballero Jurado, Ramiro Bujeiro (2009). Blue Division Soldier 1941-45: Spanish Volunteer on the Eastern Front. Osprey Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-84603-412-4.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Edele, Mark (2017). Stalins' Defectors: How Red Army Soldiers Became Hitler's Collaborators, 1941-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198798156.