A volunteer from Turkestan in the
Soviet Union in German uniform.
(literally "Eastern Legion") were conscripts and volunteers from
the occupied eastern territories recruited into the German Army
of the Third Reich
during the Second World War
On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded soviet Russia. As they did so
they came upon thousands upon thousands of enemy soldiers who
either surrendered without a fight or were flat out deserting. By
August of that year the invading army had interned half a million
soviet prisoners of war. Many of them were Muslims. The one thing
all these Muslims had in common was their hatred for soviets. These
Muslims taken as prisoners of war offered their services to the
Nazi empire. The fuhrer was elated and so these Muslims were
trained to infiltrate the Russian intelligence and divert it.
of the disbanded 162nd Infantry Division in Poland was charged
with the raising and training of the six Eastern Legions.
eventually raised and trained 82 battalions. A total of 98
battalions were raised with 80 serving on the Eastern Front
and in the
. 12 were later transferred to France and Italy in
The East Battalions
size formations that wore German
uniforms and equipment that were integrated into larger German
units. They began as the private initiatives of individual military
commanders, but eventually became formalized, and by late 1943
contained 427,000 volunteers and conscripts, a force equivalent to
30 German divisions. Many were utilized in the west, e.g.
The battalions of the Turkistani Legion formed part of the 162nd Infantry Division
and saw heavy action in Yugoslavia and Italy.
of Ostgruppe battalions were used to guard sections of the Normandy region prior to Operation Overlord, specifically Utah, Juno and Sword beach.
Ost units that fought in the Battle of Normandy
were from the 243rd
majority of Ost soldiers were recruited from the Soviet Union and other occupied nations of Eastern
The effectiveness of the Ost units varied, with some
performing admirably while others simply surrendered once attacked
by regular enemy forces. In general, Ost troops were stationed away
from critical areas or used for rear guard duties whenever