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Post Danish Volunteers Fighting for Germany
Created by John Eipper on 02/07/21 3:29 AM

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Danish Volunteers Fighting for Germany (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 02/07/21 3:29 am)

Very nice post of Leo Goldberger, 6 February.  However, I would like to remember a page of Denmark that has essentially been "canceled."

The Danish during WWII let the Germans enter without firing a shot, but later they supplied excellent troops to the Waffen SS.

The Danish Nazionalsocialist party wanted the SS-Frewillingen-Verbans Denmark in 1941.

Its first operative commander was Frederick Von Schalburg, a Dane but born in 1906 at Poltava in Ukraine from a German-Baltic family. He died on 2 June 1942 on the Eastern Front during the first battle in which his formation was involved. In the beginning, the Danish were attached to the 3 SS Waffen Panzerdivision "Totenkopf," but in 1943 they became part of the 11 SS Panzergrenadier "Nordland" which also included also the regiment Nederland and the Norge.

There were about 6000 Danish volunteers. At that time the population of Denmark was 3,825,000. They fought bravely in Croatia, Leningrad, Courland, Danzig, etc.  The final 1500 fought in the defense of Berlin.

The capital of the Third Reich was heroically defended by a few units of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe, reinforced by the old men of the Volksstrum and the young fellows of the Hitler-Jugend, plus the foreign volunteers in the Waffen SS--Scandinavian, Dutch, Baltic, and the French of the famous 33 SS Waffen "Charlemagne" division. About 100-150 Spaniards volunteered to remain when the División Azul was withdrawn by Franco. These combatants were in the SS Einsatzgruppe Ezquerra, taking their name from their commander Miguel Ezquerra. As far as I know among the troops of the RSI (Italy) in Germany, very appreciated were the 2000 fog producers in defense of Peenemunde. None of them were officially in Berlin, but most probably there were some integrated with the 1st Flak as many Italians volunteered into the Flak units.

Very few of these combatants survived the war, as even if they surrendered the Allies would generally shoot them, a clear violation of the International Conventions.

Oh, by the way, the scanty ethnic minority of Germans in Denmark was heavily discriminated against after the war.  They were jailed and their properties confiscated. It was only 10 years later, in 1955, that following a Danish-German treaty the respective minorities were protected.

JE comments:  It's really hard to understand the mindset of non-Germans who "volunteered" for the SS.  Still, there were fewer Danish volunteers (6000) than Dutch (20,000), Belgians (18,000), and French (20,000).  Some 1300 volunteers came from Switzerland.  I cannot fathom why they would leave their safe mountain refuge for...the Eastern Front?  The bulk of them presumably came from among the tiny Swiss fascist movement.

Eugenio, what do you mean by the Italian "fog producers"?  Anti-aircraft personnel?

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  • Danish Resistance to the Nazi Invasion, 1940 (Holger Terp, Denmark 02/08/21 3:18 AM)
    Eugenio Battaglia (February 7th) wrote that the Danish during WWII let the Germans occupy their country without firing a shot.

    This is not true, as Danish soldiers died on April 9, 1940. In the four hours the invasion lasted, 16 Danish soldiers died. The German losses are not known.


    Danes who died or were wounded in battle on April 9, 1940:



    JE comments:  The Wikipedia account (third link) claims that German Admiral Canaris warned the Danes of the imminent invasion some five days earlier, but the Danish authorities did nothing in order not to "provoke" the Germans.  The Danish resistance on April 9th was anecdotal and scattered.  In brutal practical terms, they may have made the right choice:  the Danes probably experienced the most "benign" occupation of any of the European nations under the German yoke.

    Holger, nice to hear from you!  When time permits, please give us an update on the Danish Peace Academy.

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  • German Occupation and Danish Collaborators (Leo Goldberger, USA 02/08/21 3:59 AM)
    As always, Eugenio Battaglia's addendum (February 7th) is right on target! It is amazing the breadth of his world-wide knowledge and his calm wisdom--even in the most controversial political domains. A difficult--but most worthy--example for us all.

    Returning to the topic of Denmark, I had deliberately omitted the war-time subject--a period in my own life in Denmark I have elsewhere written about extensively over the years, touching on the subject of Schalburg and his Waffen SS Corps, etc.

    My only comment on the subject is on Schalburg.  Though born in Russia, his father was a Dane who had married into a Tsarist peer family and had left Denmark for her. In 1919, when young Schalburg was just 13, they, along with most "White Russians," moved.  In Schalburg's case it was to the father's home-base in Copenhagen, where Schalburg eventually served in the King's Royal Guards and became quite close to the royal family as well. The fact that his name, after his death on the East Front, became the generic term for the Danish collaborator's military support of the German Nazis has remained a historical stigma. And, yes, there were Danish Nazis, and even an insignificant small political party. In fact, as Danes tended to be a very law-abiding and "freedom of speech" country, there was no consequences to that--though the blatant "anti-Semitic" type journalism was prohibited, as was the case with the Danish National Socialist Party's abhorrent weekly magazine--which the courts outlawed in the 1940s under the nose of the German occupiers. Actually, the few Danish Nazis--perhaps only some 5000-6000--were not held in high esteem by the German powers that be. Unlike their superficial tolerance of the Danish Nazi leader--a Heidelberg-trained Danish physician named Fritz Clausen (from the Schlesvig-Holstein part of Southern Jutland), who wanted to become the Danish Vidkun Quisling--Hitler had no use for either.

    All of this is to say, the details of the occupation in both Denmark and Norway are quite complex.  Dr. Werner Best was in full charge of Denmark and so was Josef Terboven of Norway (a country that many Denmark admired because, unlike Denmark, they had actually declared war on Germany--which we in Denmark did not, as our King did not think we had a chance with only some 13 airplanes).

    All the above is the "dark side" of the occupation years of my beloved country. I call the second chapter "When the Light Pierced the Darkness," namely the wonderful support we Danish Jews received by helping us flee across the Sound to Sweden during the eventual round-up effort by the Nazis in the early days of October 1943. But that's another story...

    JE comments:  Leo Goldberger has written several compelling WAIS posts on the Danish experience in WWII.  See this 2015 essay, below.  It is revealing that the Danish Nazi party received a paltry 2% of the vote in 1943--during the height of the occupation.


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  • Making Fog with the "Nebbiogeni" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/09/21 3:49 AM)
    Our esteemed moderator asked me about the Italian "fog producers" of WWII.

    Fog producers or Battaglioni Nebbiogeni were used to generate fog against attacking aircraft and also at sea.

    The Battaglioni Nebbiogeni were highly appreciated by the Germans.  In the summer of 1942 the Oberkommando der Wehrmact recruited them to protect their secret installations for rocket construction, the future V1 and V2, on Peenemunde, the small island in the Baltic Sea.

    When on 8 September 1943 the PM general Badoglio and the king (no capital letter please) signed the unconditional surrender, the Nebbiogeni decided not to recognize it and then became part of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana Army.

    In the final days of the war, the fog was no longer of use and they fought as infantry, some against the British and some against the Soviets. The last RSI flag in Germany was lowered on 3 May 1945. There were other small formations of the RSI in Germany.

    About the Italians in the antiaircraft German Flak:

    After the Hitler-Mussolini accord of 30 July 1944, 500,000 Italian military personnel taken prisoner by the Germans immediately after the September surrender were set free, but about 50,000/70,000 (no exact figure available) rejected the pact and remained in the prison camps.

    The freed soldiers became free workers in the German industries.  The luckiest were in agriculture, while many thousands volunteered for the German Army.  These mostly joined the Flak and the RSI, but the German Authorities preferred to keep them as free workers or in the Flak inside Germany.

    As you can expect in the new Italian lay-democratic-antifascist republic, Mussolini's accord with Hitler of 30 July 1944 has been canceled by the books and all the prisoners of September 1943 are considered part of the resistance (sic).

    When at sea I had a seaman who was lucky enough to be freed on 30 July 1944 and went to work in a German factory and to "help" a beautiful young blonde war widow. When finally the war ended he tried to remain, but his Italian wife after some months through the Italian/Allied Authorities got the police to return him to Italy.

    JE comments:  This gives new meaning to the expression "fog of war."  I presume that regardless of their methods, the Nebbiogeni created massive volumes of pollution.  Their counterparts in the air threw out aluminum-foil "chaff" or "Düppel" to confuse the anti-aircraft radar.  A truism:  the detritus of war lasts far longer than war itself.

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