WIKING RUF Europäische Freiwilligen in der Waffen-SS

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The aftermath the War

HIAG (Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS)
Is an organization of Waffen-SS veterans that helps other Waffen-SS vets who were wounded or handicapped and are having trouble making ends meet in their golden years. Men who fought in the Waffen-SS do not receive any veterans' benefits.

As one HIAG member said:
"We are still gute Kameraden and one stays for the other; that's what TREUE means."

The HIAG was created 1951. It was organized, but this structure still into the 1950er years was waived decentralized. The goal of the "auxiliary community" was the legal equalization of the former members of the Waffen-SS with all the other armed forces soldiers and the rehabilitation of the soldiers of the Waffen-SS. The combination was basic member in the "federation of German soldiers" and exerted a large influence in the network of the soldier and tradition federations. The HIAG co-operated also closely with the Austrian "Kameradschaft IV".

After the civil rights of the former SS members were as far as possible secured into the 1960's, the HIAG shifted its emphasis on historical revisionist propaganda.

Starting from 1956, a monthly the magazine appeared "Wiking Ruf", later renamed into "Der Freiwillige". It reached a maximum edition of 12,000 copies, but in 1992 was it still 8,000. The publisher was Erich Kern. The magazine appears still today in the MuninVerlag.

In the mid 60's many interest representatives of the HIAG sat in all relevant parties. 1978 had the organization 118 local and regional federations. Temporarily it had 20-40,000 members. Only from the 1980's several Members of the Bundestag ceased their activity for the HIAG. In the consequence the organization lost increasingly in influence. The remaining regional federations it is however still merged into the structure of the soldier and tradition federations.

At the dissolution of the rear HIAG roof, the federation consisted of twelve regional organizations, twelve were attached divisional and numerous Kreiskameradschaften. To the last chairman in 1992 was Hubert Meyer, August Hoffman man and Johann Felde.

Some regional organizations and regional Kameradschaften as well as the in 1993 founded war graves foundation "Wenn alle Brüder schweigen" are continued to lead. This foundation which is seated in Stuttgart is led by the chairman August Hoffmann, the deputy chairman Heinz Bernese and the treasurer Werner Bitzer. Their task is after own stating primarily to look for "soldatengraeber abroad the in and - particularly our troop - to secure and to communicate the grave yards to military grave registration service".
The trust property amounted in 1995 about 350,000 DM or nowadays 150,000 euros.


Post-war trials

What was the fate of those foreign nationals who had fought for Hitler? In Western Europe, the process of dealing with collaborators began as soon as the war ended. In Holland, special courts were established to enable the many thousands of collaborators, as well as those who had served in the German armed forces, to be tried, and the death penalty was reintroduced for the first time since its abolition in 1873. In all, 138 death sentences were pronounced, although only 36 were actually carried out. Anton Mussert was brought to trial at The Hague in November 1945 on a charge of high treason. On 12 December, he was unsurprisingly found guilty and sentenced to death. Eighteen Germans also received death sentences for crimes in Holland but only five, of whom one was Rauter, were executed.

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg dealt with Reich
Dutch SS as POW's in the Harskamp Commissioner Seyss-Inquart. The tribunal stated that he had been "a knowing and voluntary participant in war crimes and crimes against humanity which were committed in the occupation of the Netherlands". He was hanged on 16 October 1946.

Between 120,000 and 150,000 persons were arrested in Holland in the immediate post-liberation period but, by October 1945, only 72,321 men and 23,723 women remained in prison. Thirty-five special courts consisting of five judges each were set up to deal with major cases of collaboration, while smaller tribunals comprising one judge and two laymen dealt with less serious offences. Some 60,000 persons were deprived of their Dutch citizenship for entering foreign military service, and also had their property seized by the state.

This was applied to all those who had served in the German Army, Navy, Air Force, the Waffen-SS, the Landstorm Nederland, German police or security formations, the guard companies of the Todt Organization and the German Labour Service (RAD). However, it did not include service with the Dutch Germanic SS or the German state railways. On the whole, the Dutch treated their collaborators with tolerance and humanity, though perhaps the very magnitude of the problem prevented harsh judgements.

Following its liberation, Belgium set up special courts consisting of two civilian and three military judges to try collaborators. Some 100,000 persons were arrested but only 87,000 were subsequently brought to trial; of these, around 10,000 were acquitted. Sentences of death were passed on 4170 persons (3193 were for military collaboration), of which only 230 were actually carried out. About 16,000 persons received long prison sentences. Léon Degrelle, the Rexist leader and famed Walloon commander, was sentenced to death in absentia, having escaped to Spain.

Those members of the Flemish Legion still serving in the Waffen-SS retreated from the River Oder and surrendered to the Americans near Schwerin on 2 May 1945. From there they were sent to the former German concentration camp at Neuengamme, which was being used by the British as a holding centre for SS prisoners. In the autumn, the Flemings were handed over to the Belgian Army, which transported them by cattle truck to the Belgian Army camp at Beverloo. This first contingent consisted of 1900 men and four Flemish Red Cross nurses. On arrival at Beverloo station, the prisoners were allegedly kicked and beaten as they made the 4.8km (three-mile) journey to the camp. Once inside the camp, the prisoners were subjected to the same brutality, indignities and lack of medical attention inflicted on inmates of German concentration camps.

In Denmark, the prosecution of collaborators was smaller in scale and intensity. The main reasons were that relatively few Danes had served in the German armed forces, and the occupation had been mostly lenient (at least until 29 August 1943 when the Germans had officially dissolved the Danish Government and instituted martial law), thus lessening the desire for revenge. In total, 15,724 Danes were arrested on charges of collaboration after the war. Subsequently, 1229 were acquitted, while the remainder were handed prison sentences ranging from one year to life (62 individuals received the latter sentence). The death penalty, abolished in 1895, was reintroduced under a special law of 1 June 1945 for extreme cases of collaboration or crimes against humanity. The courts meted out a total of 112 death sentences, but only 46 were carried out. K.B. Martinsen, commander of Freikorps Danmark, was executed on 25 June 1949. Prison sentences in excess of four years were passed on 3641 persons, 9737 persons were temporarily deprived of their civil rights and another 2936 had their civil rights removed permanently.

Freikorps Danmark
The status of former members of the Freikorps became a delicate issue in post-war Denmark. At one stage during the war, the Danish war minister had consented to the enlistment of Danish military personnel into the Freikorps, but later changed his mind. After the war, volunteers were tried as collaborators, but claimed that they had been led to believe that the Freikorps had the backing of the Danish Government. The government replied that even if it had given its consent, the volunteers could not use this as a valid excuse since they should have realized that the government was acting under German pressure. The authorities then proceeded to cancel the volunteers' pension rights, and most volunteers were sentenced to one or two years' imprisonment (the Danish resistance blew up the Freikorps Danmark war memorial at Hovelte in May 1945).


In Norway, more than 90,000 persons were investigated by the police on suspicion of collaboration; of these, 18,000 were sent to prison and a further 28,000 fined (some also lost their civil rights). In the case of state employees, a fine also meant the loss of their jobs. AboutArthur Quist, CO Frewilligen Legion Norwegen 3500 sentences of more than three years, and 600 of more than eight years, were meted out to collaborators. The death penalty, abolished in 1870, was reintroduced. Some 30 death sentences were passed although only 25 were carried out. For volunteers who had served in the German armed forces, sentences of imprisonment ranged from four to eight years dependent on rank and age. Officers were held to be more culpable than other ranks. Arthur Quist, for example, the commander of the Freiwilligen Legion Norwegen between 1942 and 1943, was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. Female volunteers were not exempt from punishment, either.

Periodic amnesties lessened the severity of some initial punishments. A law of 9 July 1948, for example, allowed for the release of all those imprisoned for collaboration after the completion of half their original sentences. But there would be no leniency shown to the man whose name has since become a byword for collaboration: Vidkun Quisling. After voluntarily surrendering to the Norwegian Government, he was put on trial for treason. Found guilty, his seven-hour closing speech notwithstanding, he was sentenced to death and executed in October 1945.

In France, a country wracked with guilt over the Vichy regime, trials of collaborators lasted from September 1944 until the end of 1949. In court, 2071 persons were sentenced to death, which does not include those passed in absentia - another 4400. Of the 2071 capital sentences, only 768 were carried out (all death sentences passed on women or minors were automatically commuted by General de Gaulle). In the armed forces, 3035 officers were dishonourably discharged and a further 2635 involuntarily retired. About 5000 civil servants, including 18 magistrates, were relieved of their posts. A further 6000 were punished in lesser ways. Former members of the Légion des Volontaires Français and French Waffen-SS were offered active service in Indo-China as an alternative to imprisonment. Many decided to take this offer, and were killed fighting the Viet Minh.

Britain stood alone in not being occupied by the Germans, except for the Channel Islands. The latter, with their short lines of communication to the continent and their high density of population, were ideal for denunciation, collaboration and fraternization. In general, denouncers had two motives, both of which were fuelled by pragmatism rather than ideology. A tiny minority of islanders had been recruited by the German police force as informers and received lump sums for keeping the German authorities up to date on public opinion and all movements in the civilian population. The second motive was more personal and was usually directed against particular individuals against whom people bore a grudge. In fact, British citizens under German occupation did not behave dramatically differently to those under the Nazi jackboot on the continent.

John AmeryJohn Amery, member of the British Free Corps.
At least three people from the islands ended up volunteering for the German forces: Eric Pleasants and John Leister both joined the British Freikorps; and Eddie Chapman became a
double agent. But there were no large-scale trials for collaboration on the islands. On the other hand, cases were brought against Britons from the mainland who had fought for or collaborated with the Germans. The most notable was the trial of John Amery, who was charged with high treason. He pleaded guilty and was condemned to death, a sentence that brought many calls for clemency, particularly from the Duke of Bedford. They fell on deaf ears, though, and he was executed at Wandsworth Prison. William Joyce, "Lord Haw-Haw", was also charged with high treason, found guilty and likewise executed. Thomas Hellor Cooper, the most senior British national in the British Freikorps, was similarly charged with high treason, found guilty and condemned to death, though this was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Other members of the British Freikorps were charged with varying offences, those in the military being tried by courts martial and receiving varying terms of imprisonment of between two years to life. Civilians were tried under the Defence of the Realm Act, and received prison sentences of between two and three years in length.

The Indians

The Indians who fought for both Germany and Japan were tried at the Red Fort trials in Delhi, the symbol of past Mogul rule and the very location where Chandra Bose had boasted that his triumphant army would parade in a free India. For its part, the Congress Party, the main movement for Indian independence, saw in the trials a heaven-sent opportunity to attack the British. The first three officers selected to stand trial were Shah Nawaz Khan, commander of the Subhas Brigade and then of the 2nd Division of the Indian National Army (INA); P. K. Sahgal; and G. S. Dhillon. All three were charged with waging war against the King-Emperor. They were a cross-section of India's community: a Muslim, Sikh and Hindu. However, India was in no mood to hear words focused on the imperial past. Demonstrations on behalf of the INA occurred all over the country, and under pressure from public opinion a compromise was reached whereby the accused were found guilty but their sentences of transportation for life were suspended. They were cashiered, though, since the Commander-in-Chief in India, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, emphasized that it was "in all circumstances a most serious crime for an officer or soldier to throw off his allegiance and wage war against the State". With this comment, the trials ended.

The consequences of Yalta
By the end of the war, there were huge numbers of Eastern peoples milling around in Central Europe awaiting their fate. They had fought for Germany, but would they be treated as prisoners of war (POWs) or traitors?

The ultimate fate of all those who served with the German war machine was first discussed at the Tehran Conference (28 November-1 December 1943). At that meeting, British Prime Minister Churchill was concerned that large numbers of British and Commonwealth troops were being held by the Germans in the Eastern territories, and he believed it was highly probable that they would be liberated by the advancing Soviet forces (with no second front in Western Europe, he thought the Red Army might even reach the Low Countries). These gains would leave the liberated POWs as pawns in the power struggle he predicted would occur after the final victory in Europe.

Soviet-style justice
Stalin, too, wished to see the return of his own POWs held by the Germans, though for different reasons than Churchill. He wanted the quick return of the "traitors" (he viewed any Russian who surrendered to the enemy as such). Ever suspicious, he also believed that if they were outside his control they could be used as a potential army of invasion equipped by the Allies to topple his regime. A possible civil war was the last thing he required after the destruction of his purges and the losses suffered in the war. Thus it was agreed that all nationalities would be returned to their native lands. Churchill was happy but, unwittingly, the Western Allies had acquiesced in what was to become the death warrant for millions of Soviet and Baltic citizens.

The Yalta sellout
The status of POWs was formalized at the Yalta Conference (4-11 February 1945), the subsequent agreement stating: "All Soviet citizens liberated by forces operating under United States command will, without delay after their liberation, be separated from enemy prisoners of war and will be maintained separately from them in concentration camps until they have been handed over to the Soviet authorities." The agreement also provided for Soviet control of the camps and "the [Soviet] right to appoint the internal administration and set up the [camps's] internal discipline and management in accordance with the military laws of their country".

The policy of repatriation had actually been voiced many months before. On 16 September 1944, US Political Officer Alexander Kirk sent a cable to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull which noted that an agreement had been reached between the Soviets and the British for repatriation of Soviet citizens held as prisoners of war "irrespective of whether the individuals desire to return to Russia or not. Statements will not be taken from Soviet nationals in the future as to their willingness to return to their native country."

Soviet retribution
At the end of the war, the Soviets possessed large numbers of German POWs, who were placed in camps without differentiating the Waffen-SS from the other branches of the German forces. In the camps, the prisoners were expected to undertake any and all tasks allotted to them. They were employed in such hazardous pursuits as mine and bomb disposal without proper training. The principle was very simple: every able-bodied prisoner was to carry on living so long as he contributed to the rebuilding of the Soviet Union. He was kept alive to expunge his "crimes" by hard labour. By the tenth anniversary of the end of the war - 1955 - those who had survived had all been repatriated.

The Allies collude in murder
The Soviets also set up trials after the war, which investigated war crimes, crimes against humanity and "crimes against the Soviet system". Vast numbers of suspects were tried and subsequently executed. Those who had fallen into Allied hands were turned over to the Soviet authorities; their fate in most cases was horrific. Many were summarily executed within hours of leaving Allied hands. This was the case for thousands of Soviet prisoners handed over by the British in Austria. A sham parade was mustered that was overseen by General Keightley, commander of V Corps. Non-Soviet and non-Yugoslav citizens and Serbian royalists were supposedly exempt from the deportation order, but key military officials in the British chain of command surreptitiously included them also. As a result, many Russians waving French passports and British medals from World War I were all rounded up and delivered to Stalin. About 35,000 Yugoslavs were handed over to Titoists between 19 May and 4 June 1945, a substantial number being subsequently tortured, brutally treated and massacred.

The fate of the Cossacks - German War Machine Copyright

Up to 58,000 Cossacks, including XV.SS Cossack Cavalry Corps, surrendered to British forces in southern Austria. They were repatriated by British soldiers using a substantial amount of violence and brutality in which several hundred were killed. As a German, von Pannwitz, their commander, was not obliged to exchange British for Russian captivity, but like a good officer he elected to share the fate of his men. He was hanged along with five senior Cossack leaders in Moscow in July 1947.

Stalin was determined that Vlassov would never live to head an anti-communist army under the patronage of the United States. In his case, he was not so much handed over by the Americans as snatched from them by a Russian armoured column. In July 1946, for "acting as agents of German intelligence and indulging in espionage and diversionary terrorist activity", Vlassov and 11 other leading figures in the POA-KONR movement were executed in Moscow.

Horror at Bleiburg
The fate of those anti-Tito forces and their families who managed to escape from Yugoslavia at the end of the war is particularly tragic. The huge column, numbering perhaps as many as 500,000 soldiers and civilians, including Slovenes, Serbs and even Chetniks, finally came to rest in a small valley near the Austrian village of Bleiburg. One of the first groups to arrive at British headquarters was a contingent of 130 members of the Croatian Government headed by President Nikola Mandic. All were informed that they would be transferred to Italy as soon as possible by British military police. All were then loaded into a train and returned to the partisans for execution. It was the intent of the British to turn over all Croatians, as well as Serbs and Slovenes, to the communists from whom they had fled.

When the Croatian military leaders realized that they had led hundreds of thousands into a trap, many committed suicide on the spot. The British extradited thousands of Croatians. Some were shot at the border, while others joined the infamous "death marches" which took them deeper into the new people's republic for execution. Realizing the importance of the clergy to the Croatian people, most church leaders were arrested. Although Archbishop Stepinac was sentenced to death, he was saved by a massive outcry of world public opinion and died under house arrest in 1960. Two bishops, 300 priests, 29 seminarians and 4 lay brothers were less fortunate and were executed. The number of Moslem religious leaders executed has never been determined, although the figure is thought to be in excess of 600.

The Galicians
Not all Eastern people fell into the hands of Stalin and his henchmen. Before the war, Galicia had been part of Poland. Hitler had handed it over to Stalin at the conclusion of the Polish campaign under the terms of the Russo-German Non-Aggression Treaty. Hitler was aware of how the area had become an Austrian "Crown Land" in 1772, being confirmed with slight frontier adjustments in 1814, thus becoming the largest province in the Austro- Hungarian Empire. After the war's end, the Soviets reaped vengeance on the population for their support of the Germans.

Some Ukrainians escaped Soviet vengeance, such as the men of the 14th SS Waffen-Grenadier Division Galicia under Pavlo Shandruk. He was a former staff officer of the Polish Army and before that a soldier in the Ukrainian Republic of 1919-21. He was the overall Ukrainian leader and head of the Ukrainian National Committee, a body seemingly dedicated to achieving Ukrainian independence but actually a sham to bolster the Ukrainians' morale and keep them fighting alongside the Germans to the bitter end. Shandruk had planned on taking control of the division in March 1945 and renaming it the "First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army". Himmler agreed to hand the division over to Shandruk, and between 25-30 April 1945 the men took a new oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian nation.

The lucky few
The division surrendered to the British near Radstadt on 8 May 1945. When Shandruk successfully convinced his captors that he and his men were Poles rather than Russians, they were spared the unenviable fate that surely would have followed compulsory repatriation to the Soviet Union (after struggling to convince the Germans that they were Ukrainians rather than Galicians, the men of the 14th SS Division saved their lives by claiming to be Galicians after all). They negotiated with the British Army and retreated from the front across the mountains to a region agreed upon by the British. The Ukrainians were interned in the pleasant surroundings of Rimini, an Italian seaside resort on the Adriatic. The Soviets made many attempts to obtain the division, but with the Cold War intensifying this prospect was a non-starter. Finally, the Labour Government brought them all to Britain. One idea was that they would be a ready spearhead for any attack on the Soviet Union. To the relief of the men of the division, this idea came to nought; thereafter, many of them emigrated to the USA, Canada, South America and elsewhere.

These Ukrainians were lucky, but their country, like the Baltic states and the homelands of the other Eastern peoples, was under Soviet control. They and the other foreign nationals who had fought for Hitler had gambled, but they had lost.



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