Hitler's Russian & Cossack Allies 1941-1945, Nigel Thomas

Hitler's Russian & Cossack Allies 1941-1945, Nigel Thomas

Men at Arms 503

Around half a million Soviet citizens fought for the Germans during the Second World War, despite Hitler originally opposing the idea. As the war went on, they were used to make up for some of the massive losses suffered by the Germans, and they could be found all across Europe (many were used to man the defences of the Atlantic Wall and were encountered by the Allies on D-Day). Their motives were very varied, but generally fall into two broad camps. The first was simple self preservation - Soviet POWs who remained in German camps were very unlikely to survive, so many volunteered to stay alive. The second was opposition to the status-quo in Russia - either to the Soviet system, or to the Russian presence in a particular part of the former Tsarist Empire. Many of these volunteers saw the Germans as their best chance to either overthrow the Soviets, or escape from Russian rule (and were clearly not paying much attention to Germany's plans for the East). This book covers six categories of Eastern troops, in itself reflecting the rather chaotic nature of the structure of the German armed forces as the war went on.

Three categories of Soviet troops are excluded - the Ukrainian Liberation Army, the Russian Corps in Serbia and the Eastern Legions - without any explanation. Of these the Russian Corps in Serbia was built around White Russian exiles, which probably explains their exclusion, while the Eastern Legions appear to have overlapped somewhat with areas that are covered.

The focus here is on the origins, structure, organisation and uniforms of each of these units. There is very little on their combat record, but given that most of these units were scattered across all fronts, that probably isn't surprising - there really isn't the space for that sort of history. As a result this is quite a narrowly focused book - if you are interested in the structure and uniforms of the German Army and its allies of this period then this will be of use, but if you have a wider interest in the details of the fighting, then perhaps not. 

Eastern Troops
Independent Russian Volunteer Units
Russian Cossacks

Author: Nigel Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2015

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