Volunteers who fought with the Germans on the Eastern Front were part of a larger group known as the "Foreign Legions" or "Foreign Volunteers." These volunteers came from various countries and were motivated by different reasons, including ideological beliefs, anti-communism, anti-Soviet sentiment, and a desire to support Germany against the Soviet Union.
The Russian polar bear by the volunteers symbolic sword
Stamps honor the volunteers but aircraft always flown by German pilots
Postcard dated 12/2/43 depicting propaganda Eastern Front campsite
German troops refused to surrender the Saint-Nazaire submarine base until May 8, 1945
These French volunteer units were created for various reasons, and their composition and activities varied throughout the war. The LVF was one of the earliest French volunteer units formed in 1941. Comprising mainly right-wing nationalists and former soldiers, They believed that aligning with Germany would allow them to combat the spread of communism and restore French honor after the defeat. The Milice was a collaborationist militia established in 1943 by the Vichy government. It was notorious for its brutality and played a significant role in suppressing the French Resistance. The Milice actively collaborated with the Germans, carrying out arrests, torture, and other repressive actions against resistance members and Jewish populations. The Charlemagne Division (33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS. This unit was unique as it was composed of French volunteers who joined the Waffen-SS, the combat branch of the SS. Formed in 1944, the division saw action on the Eastern Front, particularly during the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
.During World War II, Both Belgian Flemings and Walloons volunteered to serve alongside the Germans, particularly within the Waffen-SS and other collaborationist organizations.The Flemish population held historical grievances towards the French-speaking Walloons, The Germans played on this division and encouraged Flemish separatism to weaken Belgium as a whole.
During the occupation, some Estonians formed voluntary units, such as the Estonian Legion, to fight alongside the German forces against the Soviets on the Eastern Front. These Estonian units were part of the Waffen-SS and were instrumental in various military operations against the Red Army. The German occupation regime in Estonia was brutal and involved repression, forced labor, and the extermination of Jewish and Roma populations.
Croatia, as part of the Axis powers, fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Allies, which included the Soviet Union (Russia) and other Allied nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, and others. Germany and Croatia fought against Soviet forces on the Eastern Front, with Croatia contributing some volunteer units to support the German war effort. These units were under the command of the German military.The Croatia Ustasa regime during World War II were responsible for horrific atrocities, and they have left a lasting impact on the region's history and memory.
After Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany in April 1940. Some Danes were sympathetic to the German cause or believed that joining the German military could protect Danish interests. It was a Danish volunteer unit within the German Waffen-SS, formed in 1941. The unit was sent to fight on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union as part of Germany's invasion during Operation Barbarossa.It is estimated that around 6,000 to 10,000 Danes joined various German units during the war.
During World War II, a group of Norwegians known as the "Norwegian Legion" volunteered to fight alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front. This occurred in 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union as part of Operation Barbarossa. The Norwegian Legion was formed by Norwegian Nazi sympathizers and members of the Norwegian fascist party,
During World War II, Romania sent volunteers to fight alongside the Germans in 1941. In June 1941, Romania, under the leadership of Marshal Ion Antonescu, joined Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, known as Operation Barbarossa. The primary objective of Romania was to regain territories lost to the Soviet Union in 1940
The Dutch volunteers who fought on the Eastern Front were typically organized into separate units within the German military. One of the main units that Dutch volunteers joined was the 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division "Nederland." This division was formed in 1941 and saw action on the Eastern Front, particularly during the Battle of Kharkov in 1943. The motivations and allegiances of these Dutch volunteers were not representative of the Dutch population as a whole. The vast majority of Dutch citizens were either unwillingly occupied by the Germans or actively resisted their occupation through various means, including underground resistance, sabotage, and hiding Jewish citizens.
One well-known Ukrainian unit was the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the "Galicia" Division. It was formed in 1943 and consisted mainly of Ukrainian volunteers, many of whom were fervently anti-Soviet. The division fought alongside the Germans in various battles on the Eastern Front
In early 1944, the division was transferred to fight in Italy. There, it was involved in various battles against the advancing Allied forces. It is worth noting that many of the Ukrainian soldiers in the Galicia Division had complex motivations for joining, including opposition to Soviet rule and aspirations for an independent Ukrainian state.
During World War II, Yevhen Konovalets collaborated with Nazi Germany, seeing an opportunity to advance Ukrainian national interests in the context of the war. He formed the Ukrainian National Army (UNA) to fight alongside the Germans against the Soviet Union, hoping that this cooperation would lead to an independent Ukrainian state. However, his collaboration with the Germans led to his assassination. On May 23, 1938, while living in exile in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Konovalets was killed by a bomb planted in a book that was sent to him. The assassination was carried out by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD.
During World War II, India was a British colony, and many Indian soldiers served as part of the British Indian Army. When Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, India was automatically drawn into the conflict as a part of the British Empire. . One of the most notable contributions of Indian soldiers during World War II was in the Southeast Asian theater. They fought against the Japanese in places like Burma, now Myanmar where they played a vital role in driving back the Japanese Imperial Army. . India provided a substantial number of troops and resources to the Allied war effort,
There was also a growing movement for independence within India at the time. The Indian National Congress, led by figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, sought full independence from British rule. The contribution of Indian soldiers in the war effort was seen as strengthening India's case for independence, which was eventually granted in 1947, after the war.