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Volunteer Units in the German Armed Forces 1941-1945

Last modified: 2018-08-16 by pete loeser
Keywords: volunteer units | turkistan legion | kuban cossacks |
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Seeing the German divisions emblems, it appears that several European nations had organizations that fought at side of Germans ie. Flemish, Dutch, Albanians, French, Czechs, Hungarians, Walloons, Italians, Russians, Poles, Ucranians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Spaniards and surely others. Some of these organizations had well-known flags i.e. [Walloon] Rexists, Spanish Blue Division, Russian Liberation Army etc. but what about the others? Are any fascist party flags known?
Jaume Ollé, 26 January 2001

The Uniforms, Organization and History of the Foreign Legions of the Third Reich series published by Bender Publishing has plenty of both fascist party flags and foreign units in Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS service, including even Cossack, Turkestan, and many more nationalities' flags.
Santiago Dotor, 26 January 2001

However, very few of the flags of the Third Reich's foreign legions appear in FOTW. The only related flags are those of (para-) nationalsocialist or fascist parties and/or regimes. For instance, the flag of the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond had nothing to do with the flag of the Flemish volunteer units in the Wehrmacht and/or Waffen-SS.
Santiago Dotor, 30 January 2001

Kuban Cossacks in the German Army
Flag of the 1st Kuban Cossacks Battalion

[Kuban Cossacks in the German Army Flag] 3:5 Image by Santiago Dotor, 28 Nov 2002

     Up to now I used to think that most, but not "all" the shoulder patches used by foreign volunteers in the German armed forces, reflected actual flags. The quarterly-per-saltire designs of the Don, Kuban, etc. cossacks were among those which I thought were "not" used as flags. It appears, though, that they were indeed. I attach the flag of the 1st Kuban Cossacks Battalion for our website.
     More information about the Kuban-Kosaken-Kavallerie Bataillon, which ended up as part of the XV SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Korps, can be found in an article at Russian Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht in WWII - (including their horrific end after surrendering to the British who handed them over to the Soviets).
Santiago Dotor, 28 Nov 2002

     In the article "Don Cossaks" (flagReport 17) it stated the "national" colors are red and blue. In the German magazine Signal (December 1943, #24, special issue) there is a photo with Cossak banner divided into 4 triangles (upper & lower are red, right & left are blue). Although Signal writes that it is a banner of Kuban Cossaks, it's wrong. The flag actually belongs to the Don Cossacks and the black and red flag belongs to the Kuban Cossacks. The (light) blue and green flag is from Terek Cossacks.
     The Kuban Cossacks adopted another flag in exile,  probably before World War II (c. 1935-1942). In 1942, the old flag of the short lived State of Kuban was readopted as national flag (different from national colours in army on German service). Also the Don Cossacks flag of the short lived state was readopted as the national flag in 1942 (blue-red are military national colors) and later confirmed in exile in 1951. Previousely, in exile (1935) the old flag was slighty modified: the yellow stripe was in top and blue (light) in center.
Jaume Ollé, 28 Nov 2002

The flag on the photo (referred to above) was red and black in my humble opinion.
Santiago Dotor, 29 Nov 2002

According to Jaume Ollé: "The flag blue (light) and green is from Terek Cossacks." Although I saw his image, I know of only two sleeve badges of Terek Cossacks: one black-blue and one black-green-red. The blue-green badges never existed.
Victor Lomantsov, 29 Nov 2002

I've posted some additional photos of flags used by the Cossack units in German service that might be of interest on Flag Forum.
Marcus Wendel, 1 Feb 2009

Turkistan Legion Flag 1942

[Turkistan Legion 1942 Flag] 1:1 Image by Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

The first version (May 1942) of the Turkistan Legion flag showed a white bow and arrow upon a red over blue field. On the canton a shield with German army eagle.
Marcello Ravaioli, 20 April 2001

This is described and illustrated in Littlejohn 1987, p. 267. Littlejohn adds that the German (Wehrmacht model) eagle was disliked by the Turkistan volunteers, who therefore had a second colour issued (I seem to recall in 1943) which had the eagle removed.
Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

Turkistan Legion Flag 1943

[Turkistan Legion 1943 Flag] 2:3 image by Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

Littlejohn 1987, p. 267, shows a photograph of the second model colour, and this shows a slightly different bow (more detailed ends) and arrow (longer and with a sharper point), the flag proportions are almost exactly 2:3 and it has no fringe.
Santiago Dotor, 28 May 2002

North African Arab Volunteers

Image from Museum of Modern History, Ljubljana, Slovenia

As an addition to the material on the flags used by foreign volunteers in the World War II era German forces, I've posted a photo on the Flag Forum. It is a photo of a battalion flag used by North African Arab volunteers (wearing a mix of German and Vichy French equipment) in the German Wehrmacht during WW2. Source: Photo from Museum of Modern History, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Marcus Wendel, 16 Feb, 2008

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