For those of you that enjoy WW2 Historical Fiction, check out the book ‘The Last Citadel’ by David L. Robbins. It is about a Spanish Tiger Tank Unit that fought for the Nazi’s on the Eastern Front during the famous Battle of Kursk. -SF
“Hundreds of thousands of foreign troops flocked to Nazi Germany to fight in World War Two. Known as Freiwillige or “volunteers,” they came from a surprisingly diverse array of nations.”
IT WAS IN the bombed-out ruins of the Berlin, just a few hundred meters from Hitler’s notorious Führerbunker, that the dying Third Reich decorated one of its last (and most unlikely ) heroes.
On April 29, 1945, a SS general by the name of Wilhelm Mohnke took advantage a lull in the savage street-to-street fighting to award a Knight’s Cross to the commander of one particularly stubborn band of soldiers.
Henri Joseph Fenet, a 25-year-old veteran of the Eastern Front, had won the prestigious commendation for his unit’s destruction of more than 50 Soviet tanks over the preceding five days. Facing certain defeat, Fenet and his comrades were determined to fight to the death rather than surrender. That’s because their unit, the 1st Battalion of the 33rd Waffen Grenadiers, was part of the SS Charlemagne Division, a unit comprised almost entirely pro-Nazi Frenchmen. Each member of the brigade had been branded a traitor by the Allies — each expected to be shot if captured.
The Charlemagne Division, which was formed in 1943 by fascist paramilitaries and collaborators from across France, boasted 7,000-soldiers at its peak; now less than 400 men remained. Ironically, turncoats like these would put up some of the stiffest resistance in the war’s final hours. The few French volunteers that did survive the conflict’s final inferno were captured by the Soviets and turned over to their countrymen for judgement; many were executed outright. Surprisingly, Fenet escaped a firing squad but was tried in 1949 and sentenced to 20 years hard labour. He earned his freedom in 1959 and became a small businessman. He died in Paris in 2002 at the age of 83.
Interestingly, hundreds of thousands of foreign troops flocked to Germany to fight under the Swastika in World War Two. Most were ardent nationalists who looked to the Nazis to liberate their homelands from the communists or Western imperialists. Others were motivated by racial hatreds. Some were simply enemy POWs who chose to enlist rather than spend the war in prison camps. Known as Freiwillige or “volunteers,” they came from a surprisingly diverse array of nations. Here are SOME examples:
Read the Remainder at Military History Now