XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps

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XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps
Generalkommando XV. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Korps
Active 1 February 1945 – 8 May 1945
Country  Germany
Type Cavalry
Helmuth von Pannwitz

The XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps was a German cavalry corps during World War II. With an order of February 1, 1945 the Corps was transferred to the Waffen-SS.[1]


In October 1942 the Germans established in the Kuban a semi-autonomous Cossack District and were now in the position to recruit Cossacks from these areas, the POW camps, and defectors from the Red Army. Of the latter, the most significant was the desertion of an entire Red Army regiment (Infantry Regt. 436) which went over to the Germans on August 1941. Its commander, Major Ivan Kononv (ru), was a Don Cossack. He served in the German armed forces, ending the war as Major General in the XVth Cossack Cavalry Corps under the command of the German General Helmuth von Pannwitz.[citation needed]

Already in May 1943 Pannwitz was given authorization to create a first Cossack Division consisting of two brigades which trained throughout the summer in Mława (Mielau), north of Warsaw. The division was then not, as it had hoped, sent to fight the Red Army, but instead it was ordered, in September 1943, to proceed to Yugoslavia and fight Josip Broz Tito's partisans. The Cossacks took part in several major offensives against the Partisans including Operation Rösselsprung, the attack on Tito's headquarters in Bosnia from which Tito evaded capture only by the narrowest of margins. During the summer of 1944 the two brigades were upgraded to become the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division and 2nd Cossack Cavalry Division. On February 25, 1945, these divisions were combined to become XV Cossack Cavalry Corps.[2]

By the end of the war, the SS took control of all foreign units within the German forces. The Himmler file in the Imperial War Museum contains a record of a conversation which occurred on August 26, 1944, between Himmler, General von Pannwitz, and his Chief of Staff, Colonel H.-J. von Schultz. An agreement was reached that the Cossack divisions, soon to be the Cossack Corps, would only be placed under SS administration in terms of replacements and supplies. However, by February 1, 1945 the corps was transferred to the Waffen-SS. Despite the refusal of General von Pannwitz to enter the SS, the corps was placed under SS administration and all Cossacks became formally part of the Waffen-SS.[3][unreliable source?] Pannwitz accompanied his troops when they were repatriated by the British to the Soviet Union in the Operation Keelhaul, and was executed in Moscow in 1947.

See also[edit]


  • Tessin, Georg (1970). Die Landstreifkräfte 15–30 [Ground forces 15 to 30]. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS 1939-1945 (in German). 4. Osnabrück: Biblio. 

Further reading[edit]

  • François de Lannoy: Les Cosaques de Pannwitz: 1942 - 1945. Bayeux: Heimdal, 2000. ISBN 2-84048-131-6
  • Samuel J. Newland: Cossacks in the German Army. U.S.Army War College, Frank Cass and Co. Ltd 1991, ISBN 0-7146-3351-8
  • David Littlejohn: Foreign Legions of the Third Reich. R.James Bender Publishing, 1987. ISBN 091213836X
  • Hellmuth Felmy: The Cossack Corps. US Army Historical Division, Hailer Publishing, 1946 (published in 2007 by Hailer Publishing)[1]


  1. ^ Rolf Michaelis: Die Waffen-SS. Mythos und Wirklichkeit. Michaelis-Verlag, Berlin 2001, p. 36
  2. ^ Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia: 1941 - 1945, Occupation and Collaboration; Stanford, California, Stanford University Press, 2001; p. 305
  3. ^ Rolf Michaelis (2006), Die Waffen-SS. Mythos und Wirklichkeit. Berlin: Michaelis-Verlag, p. 36