Eastern Batallions

Russian Liberation Army 1941-1945

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Soldier (Schutze) guard batallion 1942-1943 Wears Chech uniforms with guard batallion collar patches german shelterquarter, helmet M1935 with emblem used in Eastern formations with Chech Gun  16/33(German nomenclature 33/40)

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Platoon Commander (Zugfuhrer) Guard units, 1942-1943

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 Collar tab  (Kompaniefuhrer)


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Russian volonter from antipartyzan unit in  58-th German Infantry division,1941-1942,(Partyzans called them whitesleever cause of white armbands, Another symbol were numbers on the hat or arm meaning number of unit

      While soviet partyzan moving became stronger, Germans made the guard battalions bigger. In June 1942 in German divisions  appeared antipartyzan battalions made from HiWi. They received standard German uniforms and soviet or polish weapon. Then had a trainings with German officers and became real mlitary units which were avaliable to make any military deal from guarding objects to make punishment operations in partyzan regions. This units were called Easter Battalions  

      In main German units were made Jagdcommands (Destroying or hunting crews) small, but very good equipped with automatic weapon, which were made for finding and destroying partyzan units. In this commands came only best warriors.

At the end of 1942.Nearly every German Division had one or more eastern crews, and corps had a battalion. Also, German commanders had some Eastern battalions and Jagdcommands, quard divisions had eastern cavalerie divisions and little formations . 

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Shoulder board for (Zugfuhrer), and for (niefuhrer)

Command of army- group "Center" in 1 of June 1942. In Bobrujsk United a 1-st Eastern Volunteer regiment including two battalions "Dnepr" and "Beresina" (from September 601 and 602-nd Eastern Battalions) Each included more than 1 000 soldiers and officers. Emigrant officers helped Gemans to make this military unit. One of them Cornell N.G.Jagnenko became commander. At 20-th of June was created a ersatz battalion for replacement. At the end of 1942 it became a regimet of 3 battalions. Also here was created eastern battalion "Prypiat" (604-th), Cavalry escadron and some artillery batteries, in ersatz regiment war a officers school. Command crew was made of former soviet officers.

  For better coordination of Eastern Battalions were made Staffs of Eastern special forces (Osttruppen zum besondere Verfugung z.b.V.). There was 11 Brigade Staffs with 701-704, 709-712, 721, 741, and 6 regimental 750-755. Officers was former soviet.

Russian officers was studies in different officer and unter-officer schools biggest was in Mariampol - Lietuva Under the command of Cornell V.G. Assberg(Arcezov),Which name 1-st officers school ROA other Schools was in Bobrujsk, Pskov and Vitebsk, Pozharevitse, Soltsy, Every of them woked only for units in it's region. 

    Most of them helped Germans very much with partyzan war - they all knew the language and nearly  no any big "Peace" operation wasn't without Eastern Battalions

    Sometimes they was on the front - Leningrad, Staraya-Russa, Donbass. They was sent there also with Propaganda Aims for catch more volunteers form RKKA

     Official soviets says that in 1943 nearly 14 000 Russian Volunteers came to soviet units- it was after "Zitadel" operation.

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Maps of Eastern Legions placements

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Soldier from Eastern batallion 1943 -1944. In summer 1943 Some of eastern batalions received new uniforms grey-blue color, made by Russian fashion: Guimnastiorka with collar  and 4 pockets, and pants weared this uniforms was given to fomations servd in France 1944 this uniform was made especially for Russians of material used for german railway police, another version was French wool First World War  perioud.

First of all Eastern Legions used most of all soviet weapons and also Polish, Chech and others. Later they used German   Mauser 98k (As pictured above) Machinegun Mg34 Mg 42,  Mp 38/40, and Stg 44 or Mp 44.  

    Hitler wanted to unarm Eastern Units and get soldiers to coalmines.

  Then Eastern Battalions were get to Europe at 25 of September 1943 . 10-th of October they started to got to the Balkans, Italy and France this operation was ended in December. Near 5 000 - 6 000 Volunteers was unarmed.

    At the beginning of June 1944 32 Russian battalions and one regiment Participated in building "ATLANTIC WALL". In 15 and 7-th  Armies German army group "B" Fieldmarshall Ervin Rommel 439, 441, 517, 561, 602, 605, 615, 618, 627, 628, 629, 630, 633, 634, 635, 636, 642, 643 & 649-th Eastern battalions 281 and 285-th cavalry divisions  621 and 752-th Artillery adn 3 battalions of the first Eastern Ersatz Regiment.

Some of Eastern Battalions participated in operations against French partisans

In Summer1944 First platoon Eastern Battalions participated in greatest battle against "Normandy Allied Armies". German General Staff OKH official issue says: 439, 441, 635 and 642-nd  - "Fought with wild Bravery using their very bad equipment. General -Major Niedermaer (East.Leg. Staff Commander) said that - "Practice of the battle with Alies badly Showed bad sides of East Legions cause of their veyr bad equipment (old Russian Mosin-rifles)Volonteers were destroyed by fine equipped allied soldiers"

At 29 of September 1944. Loosing of the Eastern Battalions was 8 400 men. Some of rests of Eastern Legions were sent to Fortification works and others were sent for making of the 1-st division ROA. Russian Battalions Blocked with German Units At fortresses at ATLANTIC WALL- Loriane, Sen.Naser, La- Rochel, and Normand islands fought untill the May of 1945.

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Pictures made by A.V.Karaschuk, Text by S.I.Drobyazko