The French against the USSR in the Great Patriotic War

In the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, it was assumed that the French people, France was occupied, and participated in the war on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition, were our allies. But that's not the whole truth — indeed some Frenchmen went underground French resistance, some involved in the fighting on the Eastern Front on the Soviet side in the French fighter aviation regiment (1 IAP "Normandie-Niemen").
But even more quietly took the French power of Hitler and even supported his ideas, including with weapons in their hands — the French crossed arms in North Africa with the British and American forces were involved in the fighting on the Eastern Front in the armed forces of the Third Reich. In London and Washington were even going to rank subject to the occupation of France after the Second World War, the territories, who was in the same camp with Germany. Only the firm position of Stalin saved France from the occupying regime and its insistence on its included in the anti-Hitler camp. Stalin insisted on separating France and particularly the French zone of occupation in Germany. To the credit of Charles de Gaulle, he remembered that after the death of the Soviet leader, while maintaining respect for him after the "de-Stalinization", hosted Hruschevym.Posle occupation in 1940 and the creation of Northern France in the south of the Vichy regime, until May 1945 was a lot of French volunteers under the banner of dozens of units and formations of the armed forces and supporting organizations the Third Reich. Of French Volunteers were tens of thousands, and eventually the citizens of France were the largest by number of Western European peoples, who fought on the side of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
On the day of the invasion of Hitler's forces in the Soviet Union — June 22, 1941, the leader of one of the French Nazi groups PPF — Parti Populaire Francais («National People's Party"), Jacques Doriot put forward the idea of the Legion of French Volunteers to take part in the war against the Soviet Union . Ambassador Otto Reich in France Abetts reported it to Berlin and 5 July received a telegram in which Ribbentrop approved the idea. Already on July 6 in the Reich Embassy in Paris the 1st meeting of French and German delegates, July 7 — The 2nd meeting — at the headquarters of the Wehrmacht in France. Representatives of all the French and Nazi collaborationist groups — Marseille Marseille bucardo ("The French movement"), Jacques Doriot ("National People's Party"), Eugene Delonksle ("Socio-revolutionary movement"), Pierre Clementi ("The French Party of National Unity") and Pierre Constantini ("French League"), was created at the same time the Central Committee of the Legion of French Volunteers (LVF) and the recruitment center. An interesting fact is that it placed in the building where the office was located before the Soviet tourist agency "Intourist". Widely used the slogan "Anti-Bolshevik crusade."

During the time period from July 1941 through June 1944 for membership in the Legion of French Volunteers turned 13 thousand people, but it was accepted in the Legion is not more than half of the volunteers: weed out the rest of German doctors. The composition of LVF included not only volunteers, but also those former French prisoners of war who chose war on the Eastern Front camps and forced labor. The first batch of the French arrived in Poland in September 1941 — from 2.5 thousand people formed a dvuhbatalonny 638 French Infantry Regiment under the command of Colonel Roger Labon. The French took the form of the Wehrmacht with a blue-white-red stripe on the right sleeve. Flag of the regiment was also tri-color, orders were given in French. November 5, 1941, Marshal Petain sent a message to the French volunteers, "Before you go into battle, it makes me happy to know that you do not forget — you own a piece of our military honor." The battalions left Debu 28 and 30 October 1941, the first battalion commanded by Captain Leclerc, then Commandant de Planar, the second battalion — Commandant Girardeau. The battalions arrived in Smolensk, where they November 6 went on foot to the capital of the USSR.

French suffered the first loss before fights — their uniforms did not match the weather conditions, resulting in the front line are sick and missing was 400. Another interesting fact: the French entered the fray on the memorial to their ancestors Borodino — they were ordered to attack the 32th Infantry Division of the Red Army. After a week of fighting the 1st Battalion suffered heavy casualties in the battle, the 2nd suffered heavy losses from frostbite. December 6-9, French 638 th Regiment was fully retracted. The regiment lost 65 men killed, 120 — and wounded more than 300 people sick and frostbitten. The Germans made a disappointing conclusion to the Legion: "People have shown, in general, good morale, but their level of combat training is low. Sergeant, in general, not bad, but shows no activity, as senior staff does not show efficacy. Officers few that are capable of and obviously were recruited on a purely political basis. " And summed up the disappointing outcome, "Legion neboesposoben. Improvement can only be achieved by updating the officers and forced learning. "

Legion withdrew from the Eastern Front, most of it, including officers, was sent to France. By 1942 it was possible to create a more coherent and efficient division, it was already three battalions to 900 people. The Legion was used in the fight against the guerrillas in the Ukraine and Belarus. In 1943, it was headed by Colonel Edgar EPM, a former officer of the Foreign Legion, received the rank of brigadier general, for success in the counterinsurgency fight, he was awarded two Iron Crosses.

Unfamiliar France: the French against the USSR in the Great Patriotic War

In 1944, the Legion again joined the battle at the front, in Belarus, then it poured the remains of the French 8th Assault Brigade SS. This team has been basically formed of volunteers collaborationist French Militia students were recruited only about 3 thousand chelovek.Samym known division of French Volunteers became the 33rd SS Grenadier Brigade (later Division), "Charlemagne" — named in honor of the "Charlemagne" ( fr. Charle Magne). Its formation began in 1944 — was created two regiments (57th and 58th), the nucleus of the 57th Regiment, were veterans of the French assault brigade, and the 58th — Veterans Legion. In early 1945, Himmler promised to the French commanders that some do not focus on the Western Front, where they may face with their compatriots, they promised to leave the French army of priests, the national flag and to preserve the independence of France after the war. In February 1945, the unit was re-formed into a division, though numbers were not able to bring up to standard — it was only 7.3 million people.The end of February 1945 the command of the Wehrmacht threw division plugging a gap in the area of Czarne in Poland, she joined the Feb. 25 fight with units of the 1st Belorussian Front. March 4 remnants of the division was transferred to Berlin, where they were in May 1945 and ended the fighting way. The French took part in the most important operations of the war — the defense of Berlin. Thus, according to the memoirs of the Germans, they fought to the last to defend the Reich Chancellery together with volunteers from the Scandinavian countries of the SS Division "Nordland." After fighting in Berlin survived only a few dozen Frenchmen, almost all were on trial, received the death penalty or a prison sentence in the "reward" for his service in France — as they understood it.

The French took place in other units of the Armed Forces of Germany, making a contribution to the "common cause". For example, in the French Brittany was created so-called. Group Perrault, it scored 80 people in March 1944, she participated in the struggle against French partisans. After the liberation of France, part of the Germans went to Germany. In the 21 th Armored Division of the Wehrmacht, where were the French trucks and armored vehicles, in the 2nd company of maintenance, supply was 230 French volunteers. In Division "Brandenburg" in 1943 from the French formed the 8th company of the 3rd Regiment, it was located at the foot of the Pyrenees in south-west France. She participated in the anti-guerrilla struggle. Operating in the South of France, the 8th Company imitated the French Resistance troops, captured using for this radio station, and was able to catch a lot of the transport of weapons and other war materials. With its help, were able to identify and arrest members of the underground lot. Roth also participated in the battles against the forces of the Resistance, in the so-called. Battle of Vercors. In this battle, in June-July 1944, a considerable force of Germans and French collaborators (more than 10 thousand people) were able to put down on an isolated plateau Vercors major speech the French Resistance, which began after de Gaulle's call to support the Allied landing in Normandy. Several hundred guerrillas were killed.

In the Reich Navy (Kriegsmarine) also served as a significant number of French people — and recruitment centers have been opened only in 1943, when there was talk of a quick victory over the Soviet Union. Enlisted in the French and German troops wore German uniforms without any additional patches. As of February 1944, in the French ports of Brest, Cherbourg, Lorient, Toulon at German service was, about a hundred officers and three thousand non-commissioned officers, 160 engineers, 700 technicians and almost 25 thousand civilians. Approximately one and a half thousand of them in 1944, joined the Division "Charlemagne". In the Todt Organization, which in France was building and strengthening the base for the submarine fleet consisted of 52 thousand and 170 thousand French North Africans. Of these, 2.5 million served in the armed protection of the objects that has cost the organization. Part transferred to the construction of facilities in Norway, a few hundred then joined the Division "Charlemagne". Up to 500 served in the French Legion of Speer, who served as civil engineering functions in France, then engaged in supplying the Air Force as part of the Reich NSKK (Nationalsocialistische Kraftfahrkorps) Motorgruppe Luftwaffe (German Luftwaffe unit is occupied by material support). In addition to the NSKK served another 2,500 French.

Exact figures about how many Frenchmen fought against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, there is only data on the French prisoners — in Soviet captivity were 23,136 people of French citizens. To sum up, we can say that France has actively participated in the war against the Soviet Union, French citizens knowingly aided Hitler to build his "new world order". And even after the war, the surviving French volunteers did not show regret this, believing that they had participated in the "crusade" against Bolshevism.

Therefore, mindful of de Gaulle and the French pilots of the regiment "Normandie-Niemen", we need to know about the French and the Wehrmacht, the French Legion, repeating the fate of the "Grand Army of the" Napoleon of thousands of Frenchmen who fought in the various units of the armed forces of the Reich against the anti-Hitler Coalition.

Unfamiliar France: the French against the USSR in the Great Patriotic War

Yuri Mukhin crusade to the East. Moscow, 2006.
Russia and the USSR in the wars of the XX century. Ed. G. Krivosheeva. Moscow, 2001.

Author Alexander Samsonov 

See takzheEvropeyskoe resistance movement: Myths and Realities

Fighting the French with the German occupiers at first glance as if invisible. The second and third also not visible


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