Frikorps Danmark


Frikorps Danmark

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Frikorps Danmark


caption=Frikorps Danmark
dates=1941–43
country=Denmark
allegiance=Nazi Germany
branch=Army
type=Infantry
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size=6,000–10,000
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notable_commanders=Christian Peder Kryssing, Christian Frederik von Schalburg, Knud Børge Martinsen
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Frikorps Danmark ("Free Corps Denmark") was a Danish volunteer army corps created by the Danish Nazi Party in cooperation with Germany, to fight the Soviet Union during the Second World War. On June 29, 1941, days after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Danish Nazi Party (DNSAP) newspaper "Fædrelandet" proclaimed the creation of the corps. Its formation was subsequently sanctioned by the so-called Danish protectorate government which authorized officers of the Royal Danish Army to join the unit. [ Bo Lidegaard (ed.) (2003): "Dansk Udenrigspolitiks historie" [The History of Danish Foreign Policy] , vol. 4, p. 461] . The corps was disbanded in 1943.

During the course of the war, between 6,000 and 10,000 Danes joined the corps, including 77 officers of the Royal Danish Army.

Establishment

Denmark had signed a treaty of nonagression with Nazi Germany in 1939. [http://www.milhist.dk/dok/nonagg.html] Germany invoked this treaty on April 9, 1940, when it ordered the military occupation of Denmark under the guise of protecting the Danes from British invasion. Faced with potential German aerial bombing, King Christian X and the Danish government accepted "protection of the Reich" and permitted the "peaceful occupation" of the country in return for nominal political independence. The Danes began a policy of collaboration that included diplomatic and economic support of Germany. Cecil von Renthe-Fink, a German diplomat, was accredited to the Danish King and Cabinet as Reichsbevollmächtigter ("Imperial Plenipotentiary") and charged with the duty of supervising Danish government.

At the outset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany asked Denmark to form a military corps to fight with the Germans against the Soviets. On June 29, 1941, seven days after the invasion had begun, the Danish Nazi Party newspaper "Fædrelandet" ("Fatherland") proclaimed the creation of the "Frikorps Danmark" ("Free Corps Denmark"). Danish Foreign Minister Erik Scavenius entered into an agreement with the Reichsbevollmächtigter that officers and soldiers of the Danish Royal Army wishing to join this corps would be given leave and allowed to retain their rank. The Danish Cabinet issued an announcement stating that "Lieut. Colonel Christian Peder Kryssing, Chief of the 5th Artillery Regiment, Holbæk, has with the consent of the Royal Danish Government assumed command over 'Frikorps Danmark'".

The role of the Danish government in forming the "Frikorps Danmark" is today disputed. Some authorities maintain that the Corps was unique among the legions of foreign volunteers fighting for Hitler in that it carried the official sanction of its home government. Others maintain that while the Danish government may have sanctioned formation of the Corps that it did not itself form the Corps. [Lidegaard, pp. 462–3] .

Recruitment

It is estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 Danes served in the "Frikorps Danmark" during the course of the war. Unlike other formations of foreign volunteers that fought with the Germans such as Spain's Blue Division, the "Frikorps Danmark" was unique in that it had the sanction of its home government.

A 1998 study showed that the average recruit to "Frikorps Danmark" was a Nazi and/or a member of the German minority in Denmark and that recruitment was very broad socially. [Lidegaard, p. 463] . Bo Lidegaard notes: "The relationship between the population and the corps was freezing cold, and legionnaires on leave time and again came into fights with civilians meeting the corps' volunteers with massive contempt." Lidegaard gives the following figures for 1941: 6,000 Danish citizens had signed up for German army duty and 1,500 of these belonged to the German minority in Denmark. [Lidegaard, p. 464]

Heinrich Himmler complained that the Danish government was not enthusiastic enough in raising volunteers for the corps.

It should be noted, though, that a majority of the over 10,000 Danes that initially volunteered for active service were regarded as being not suitable for active service.

ervice record

With about 1,000 recruits, the corps was sent to Langenhorn barracks near Hamburg for basic training in late July 1941. It was considered ready for action by September 15 and sent to Owinska in Poland.

C.P. Kryssing was dismissed in February 1942 for insufficient ideological adherence to Nazism. He was transferred to the artillery where he actually ended his career as a general.

Christian Frederik von Schalburg — an aristocrat who was very anticommunist (and a hard core nazi) because he had been raised in Russia and had seen the aftermath of the Russian revolution in 1917 — replaced Kryssing as the leader of Frikorps Danmark.

On May 8, 1942, the corps was ordered to the front line. The corps fought near Demyansk south of Lake Ilmen and Novgorod. During the night of June 2, Schalburg was killed. Hans Albert von Lettow-Vorbeck, his German replacement, was killed only a few days later. On July 11, 1942, Knud Børge Martinsen took command of the corps.

From August to October, the corps returned to Denmark, and met much hostility from the civilian population. On November 13, 1942, the corps was deployed to Jelgava in Latvia. Originally it was intended for anti-partisan activities, but was then moved up to the frontline. In December the corps engaged at Velikiye Luki in intense fighting.

In March, the corps was transferred to Grafenwöhr near Nuremberg in Germany. Then on June 6, 1943, the corps was disbanded. Many soldiers were transferred to "Regiment Dänemark" in "Division Nordland". Others joined groups such as the HIPO Corps or Schalburg Corps.

Commanders

* SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Peter Kryssing 19 July 194123 February 1942
* SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Frederik von Schalburg 1 March 19422 June 1942
* SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans von Lettow-Vorbeck 9 June 194211 June 1942
* SS-Obersturmbannführer Knud Børge Martinsen 11 June 194221 March 1943
* SS-Sturmbannführer P. Neergard-Jacobsen 21 March 194320 May 1943

References

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