History

Was the French Charlemagne-SS Division the most gallant army of World War II

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ROBERT LLOYD WRITES:  You probably have never heard this before in the press, but many French fought with the German Reich in World War Two. And in 1944, many of these Frenchmen organised into an arm of the Waffen SS called the Charlemagne Division.  And, what division it was. At their peak, almost 11,000 men fought and died under the standard of the legendary division but in the closing stages of the war, those serving the division were down to a handful.

They took their operational name Charlemagne (The Father of Europe), from the great Christian leader that saved Europe by uniting troops from both France and Germany. So these men were of good stock. They were gallant even while suffering colossal losses in the last year (1944-45) of World War II. Did you know, 80% of all German casualties occurred in that last year?

Heinrich Himmler assured the Reich’s French defenders that they would be assigned to the eastern war zone so, understandably, not to be involved in combat with French troops under Allied control. The US Army did likewise with the Japanese-American soldiers by having them fight in Italy instead of the Pacific).

By February 1945, the division had approximately 7,000 men still fighting. The troops of the Charlemagne Division was now transferred by railway to Poland when their train was ambushed by four massive Red Army divisions armed with British and American supplied tanks and munitions, even uniforms; the Charlemagne Division was severely tested.

Being lightly armed during transport, the Charlemagne SS still had enough Panzerfausts (a light anti-tank rocket launcher) in which they used to stop the advance of the Soviet armour. The French troops were quickly re-assigned to defend the nearby town of Korlin. They held the town until an order was given to retreat before they became surrounded.

In this vicious, no holds barred struggle against overwhelming numbers, the Charlemagne Division was smashed into three groups during their retreat. Sadly, only one of these gallant groups survived, and did so by making their way to the Baltic coast and getting transported by the navy back to Germany.

From this 7,000, they were now down to 700 men. Undaunted in spirit, they wanted to keep fighting for a usury-free non-Communist Europe.

By April and the brothers’ war in its final stages, their commander was now General Gustav Krukenberg. The general took 400 men of the division, that loved the cause but now felt the war was lost and turned them into a construction brigade. The remaining (about 350 at this point) volunteered to go to Berlin and conduct delaying actions against the on-coming Red Army.

On April 23, these 350 combatants were ordered to the Reich Chancellery area. They arrived the next day with approximately 330 men after having to fight their way in and even through some friendly fire, unfortunately.

Now some things in history are strange to us years later when reading real history rather than victors’ spin. As they were on guard in the centre of Berlin as night fell, they were amazed at the quiet in the neighbourhoods with only Russian cannon being heard in the distance. They even saw people dancing and laughing, which had to be surreal.

The remnants of the Charlemagne Division joined with valiant Hitler Youth with their Panzerfausts and despite the odds and the impossibility of triumphing actually went on the offensive and destroyed numerous Red Army tanks caught.

By April 26, 1945, they were joined by a panzer group with some King Tiger tanks and once again went on a counter-offensive. On this occasion, they were ambushed. Around this time, the last defenders of Berlin were outnumbered 1,000 to 1 and still, these men went on the offensive! Losing half their numbers the first day, during their retreat they held a bridge for 48 hours while destroying 14 Red Army (US and British) tanks.

With their shrinking numbers of various Charlemagne SS, Hitler Youth, and the Nordland SS, the ramshackle group now retreated to the central government district to protect the Reich President-Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

The iron-willed defenders of the Reich’s capital destroyed 108 Soviets tanks and the Charlemagne SS were credited with 62 of those. Their commander now was Henri Joseph Fenet still fighting despite his being wounded in the foot.

With maybe the fiercest fighting ever seen in modern war, the men of France turned back assault after assault. Commander Fenet was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on April 28th. Even in these spirited times, bravery was recognized.

Now directly in line with the waves of Red Army troops in front of them and their backs to the Fuhrer’s bunker, the last of the Charlemagne Division fought on. Another member of their group was awarded the Knight’s Cross and received it in a ceremony inside a subway platform. His name was Corporal Eugene Vaulot, but fell in battle soon afterwards. The Charlemagne Division fought to the very end, and on May 2, and with the Fuhrer’s body consigned to the flames just 30 men remained.

Of these, some escaped and merged unrecognizably into the landscape and confusion. Then later captured, twelve of the men were sent back to France.

Henri Fenet, who was awarded the Knight’s Cross, was sentenced to 20 years in prison at hard labour. The others faced Allied French General Philip Leclerc, who asked them, ‘Why do you wear German uniforms?’

The brave men responded, ‘General, why do you wear an American uniform?’ (Allied French troops wore American uniforms with French insignia) But, after all, they had withstood and suffered in that last year; every man was then executed without trial or appeal. Let no one reading this article ever talk badly of our French brothers. These men were the best of the best.

NOTE: Read the full story and over 30 similar stories in Heroes of the Reich, Michael Walsh. 

Related books: THE ALL LIES INVASION, WITNESS TO HISTORYTESTIGO DE LA HISTORIA: HISTORIA SIN CENSURA (SPANISH EDITION),  FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKMEGACAUST, THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH, and DEATH OF A CITY

Art related books: Sculptures of the Third Reich: Arno Breker and Reich Sculptors, Volume I , Sculptures of the Third Reich: Josef Thorak and Reich Sculptors, Volume II, Porcelain of the Third Reich: Supreme Ceramics and Porcelain Lost to War, The Red Brigands, Ransacking the Reich by Michael Walsh.

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROESMEGACAUST,  DEATH OF A CITYWITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTERTHE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and IIFOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKIMMORTAL BELOVEDTHE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG,  THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH ,    SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH: ARNO BREKER AND REICH SCULPTORS  SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH:  JOSEF THORAK AND REICH SCULPTORS ,   The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise , THE DOVETAILS , SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’S , PORCELAIN OF THE THIRD REICHSupreme Ceramics and Porcelain Lost to War and other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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MICHAEL WALSH is an Irish British-born journalist. His 70 books include best-selling historical books  THE ALL LIES INVASION, WITNESS TO HISTORYTESTIGO DE LA HISTORIA: HISTORIA SIN CENSURA (SPANISH EDITION),  REICH AND WRONG,  HEROES HANG WHEN TRAITORS TRIUMPH , HEROES OF THE REICH,  THE FUHRER’S PROCLAMATION TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE ,  FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKMEGACAUST, THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH,    PORCELAIN OF THE THIRD REICHSupreme Ceramics and Porcelain Lost to War and  DEATH OF A CITY

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Art related books: Sculptures of the Third Reich: Arno Breker and Reich Sculptors, Volume I , Sculptures of the Third Reich: Josef Thorak and Reich Sculptors, Volume II, Porcelain of the Third Reich: Supreme Ceramics and Porcelain Lost to War, The Red Brigands, Ransacking the Reich by Michael Walsh.

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6 replies »

  1. The Panzergrenadier Division Charlegmane was a tough bunch who fought to keep Europe free of Bolshevism. When captured a Gaullist General asked them why they were wearing German Uniforms. One of the Charlegmane panzer-grenadiers replied, “why are you wearing an American uniform.’ They were murdered shortly afterward by DeGaulles cowardly forces.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. There are brave men (and women) in all nationalities. The Garibaldi italians proved themselves in North Africa. Maybe Mike could tell us more about them?

    Liked by 1 person

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