The Croats on the Eastern front: as the ustasha fought with the red army

History 01/02/20 Croats on the Eastern front: as the ustasha fought with the red army

Croatian fascists – ustashe in the Second world war became famous for the phenomenally brutal killings of Serb, Jewish and Roma population. The history of the concentration camp “Jasenovac”, where the destruction of innocent people in the pipeline mode worked complete sadists, still plunges in trembling horror. However, the ustashe were active not only in the Balkans. Troops of the puppet independent state of Croatia, fully controlled by Nazi Germany, were sent to the Eastern front as part of the Wehrmacht.

Cannon fodder for Hitler

an ardent supporter of sending Croatian soldiers to fight the red army was poglavnik ustasha Ante Pavelic, whose methods did not share even the Germans: he once boasted to the representative of the Third Reich neatly folded on a platter with a pyramid of eyes captured Serbs. Already on 23 June 1941, Pavelic asked – almost demanded! – Adolf Hitler to send their troops to the East. As you know, the führer rejected similar proposals by some of the white immigrants, such as former ataman of the don Cossacks Pyotr Krasnov. However, with the idea of Pavelic agreed. On July 2 in the cities NGKH opened the points for the volunteers in teams.

In Zagreb was set pilots and gunners in Sarajevo – Marines, in the Dubrovnik – sailors. A gust of Croats surpassed the wildest expectations of the leadership of the ustasha. While they expected no more than 4 thousands of the recruits who wish to fight against the Soviet Union raised over 9 thousand people. Because of this influx of enlistment commissions had to tighten the eligibility of potential soldiers for military service.

abuse of civilians

In the end, the Croats were sent to the Eastern front, two divisions and a separate regiment, stated in the book Alexander Kling, “Who inhave Yigal the Second world war?”. The overall efforts of the allies, Germany made a significant contribution to the fighting in the Soviet Union, but the Croatian contingent in comparison with the Romanian, Hungarian or Italian was small and was roughly equivalent to Slovak.

In Soviet times, the active participation of Croats in the war against the Soviet Union tried not to advertise. However, they fought, including Stalingrad: some of the family in modern Croatia and today talk about the “Russian adventure” of their grandfathers or great grandfathers.

the Most famous armed formation NGKH on the Eastern front was 369 th infantry regiment reinforced, or the Croatian Legion. About one-third in this division were Bosnian Muslims. Organizationally, the regiment was considered part of the Wehrmacht. The soldiers were equipped German ammunition with stripes in the form of the Croatian checkered coat of arms and the name of their country. Already in mid-August, the Legion was sent to Bessarabia to there to make a forced March to Ukraine and further to the borders of the RSFSR.

the First serious clash of the Croats with the red army occurred on the East Bank of the Dnieper river in October 1941. Local victories alternated with defeats. As you move deep into Russia the personnel of the Legion melted away. Unaccustomed to the cold winter soldiers, later Spaniards, was tortured by frost. Some have gotten frostbite, ill. Frozen and wounded, the Croats took it out on ordinary people. Those who did not even dare to resist them, taken out of the huts, stripped and killed. The legions tormented the population just for the sake of laughter. Systematic bullying has become their main source of entertainment.

the Military life

it is considered that the morale of the 369 regiment was not the highest. Plenty of “eating” the hardships of camp life, tired of feeding lice, the Croats started to look towards the house. Commanders reacted to the attempted desertion demonstration executions. Intimidated his own superiors, sometimes Croats fought to the death, even where fled all remainedcovered than seriously surprised the Germans.

in order to encourage his countrymen, who, in addition to military tasks, performed important for NGKH advocacy function, the front came Pavelic. Particularly distinguished themselves received from the hands of poglavnik awards. However, the number of units continued to decline, and recharge from Croatia was not.

Participation of groups of NGKH in battle on Soviet soil is mentioned, among other things, the work of veteran of the Second world count Klemens Podevils “fighting on the don and the Volga. Wehrmacht officer on the Eastern front. 1942-1943”. That’s what he emphasized in his army records:

“We are chock full of military machine. Motorized battalion operates on the right flank, thus supporting the approach of the neighbor, the Croatian corps, which operates in the plain, advancing circuit. In the crowd of Croats cheerful cries, and they’re signalling us. Because what is unfolding before their eyes and that should clear their path, attack tanks in an open area, is not an ordinary support.”

the End of Stalingrad

in fact, the battle path of the 369 regiment ended at Stalingrad. At first the Croats and then noted the “heroic” episodes. So, in one battle they repulsed the red army of the metallurgical plant “Red October”. As recalled German major Helmut Welz, the Croats had to go on the attack, playing “absurd” the orders of his commander Victor Pavicich. Hunger and frostbite decimated their ranks.

In the following days “Red October” several times passed from hand to hand. The building of the laboratory, by the way, after the battle of Stalingrad was decided not to rebuild. To look at the monument, trying to imagine the scale of those events is possible today. As stated in the military diary of the regiment, the cause of large losses was “difficult terrain in which the soldiers couldn’t navigate.”

that failed soldiers of the red army, completed abnormal frosts and artillery shelling. Those Horvati who failed to evacuate were killed. At the end of January 1943, the remnants of the Legion surrendered. In the summer the prisoners were distributed in Krasnogorsk, where they forcibly poured into the formed part of the Yugoslav volunteer brigade.

“a Terrible shame has you covered for the traitor Pavelic and his ustasha gang, creating some of the volunteer troops against the Soviet people” – so agitated in the camp near Moscow the Croatian foreign players, urging them to turn the bayonets against their own poglavnik and his “German friends”.

the unit had some fighting with the Germans in the Balkans under the command of Josip Broz Tito. The guerrilla leader was not very fond of foreign players for unreliability. Fallen into the hands of his former allies waited for the inevitable punishment.

the Best fate was prepared for those few legionaries who survived Stalingrad, escaped captivity and managed to escape to German-controlled territory. These soldiers were awarded and transferred to other areas where they continued to serve. Total Croats lost on the Eastern front nearly 90% of their soldiers, taking on this indicator the unconditional first place among all the allies of the Third Reich.

Okunev Dmitry

© Russian Seven

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