Monday, January 6, 2014

Myth of foreign Nazi volunteers ‘debunked’.

Gamers often face the issue of using troops that are not very politically correct even for the gaming community. The Soviets have the NKVD and political commissars to content with. World War II Germans have the SS in all of its national formations. Similar unpalatable units can be found in the American Revolution, Korean War and the French Revolution.

Yet for some reasons research continues into the reasons why Europeans, both occupied and neutral joined one of the national formations of the SS.  If this is covered at all in college level history texts, the volunteers are shown to have been coerced into joining or were undesirables from the population as a whole.

Yet this article from historyextra is the latest to show that many of these volunteers, especially from neighboring neutrals were actively involved. They were middle class believers in Germany, the German economic solution or in general against Liberal Democracy or Communism.  As they were also educated they had the ability to know what they were doing. Economically they were well off and had little direct reason to become involved.

I had read a 1998 study that looked at Denmark and found over 6,000 volunteered for the Danish Free Corps. While this can be seen as different than volunteers coming from neutral Switzerland or Sweden the facts are worth looking at. This sizable sample were made up of the German minorities of southern Denmark was also highly educated and motivated fighting on the Russian Front. There were also some 77 Danish officers from the Royal Danish Army that took part in the Danish Free Corps. This does not look like the rabble I heard of in my college days.

So what does this matter? While I will not be going out anytime soon and painting up a Danish, French or Swedish unit (The Spanish Blues interest me) it is important to know at least some of the history or motivation behind the units and by proxy the lead figures we bring to the table.

Let me know what you think. Are there any historical units you will not use in a game or period?


Figure is from Flames of War.


  1. With hind sight we see the Nazis as bad as they truly were, but in the 1940s they offered the only realistic opposition to the 'Soviet Threat'. I would imagine that many of them signed up to fight communism, rather than that they identified with their Nazi overlords. The posters of the time advertised it as a 'crusade' against Bolshevism' too.

    As far as miniatures go, I would draw the line at collecting an SS unit, but that is probably as much to do with it being a WW2 wargaming cliché army, as any personal distaste for them as a formation. I prefer 'line' or lacklustre units in my games mostly... the average rather than the exception.

  2. Great looking troops; and as Jim has mentioned above- some folks hesitate with SS troop; while others have a lot of them. Personal preference I would say. Dean