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Brandenburgers

This article is about the German special forces unit of


World War II. For the horse breed, see Brandenburger.
For the residents of the German city, see Brandenburg.
For other uses, see Brandenburg (disambiguation).
The Brandenburgers (German: Brandenburger) were

The unit was the brainchild of Hauptmann (Captain)


Theodor von Hippel who, after having his idea rejected
by the traditionalist Reichswehr, approached Admiral
Wilhelm Canaris, commander of the German Intelligence Service, the Abwehr.
Regiment Brandenburg evolved out of the Abwehr's 2nd
Department, and was used as a commando unit during the
rst years of the war. Initially the unit consisted mainly
of former German expatriates uent in other languages.
Until 1944 it was an OKH unit rather than a unit of the
regular army (Heer). The unit steadily expanded until it
was reallocated to the Grodeutschland Panzer Korps to
be used as a frontline combat unit.

Cu title of Division Brandenburg, black, worn on right arm.

2 Origins the Abwehr


During World War I, General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck,
Commander of the East African theatre, conducted a
brilliant guerrilla war against the Allied colonial troops.
At the same time in the Middle East, T. E. Lawrence
was enjoying great success using Arab hit-and-run tactics against the Turks. Hauptmann Theodor von Hippel
had served under Lettow-Vorbeck in Africa, and after the
war became a strong advocate of the tactics pioneered by
his former commander and the British Lawrence.
Otto Skorzeny (left) and the former Brandenburger Adrian
von Flkersam (right) now with Skorzenys SS-Jagdverbnde in
Budapest after Operation Panzerfaust, 16 October 1944

Hippels vision was reminiscent of that of David Stirling,


founder of the British SAS. Hippel proposed that small,
lite units, highly trained in sabotage and uent in foreign
languages, could operate behind enemy lines and wreak
havoc with the enemys command, communication and
logistical tails. When Hippel approached the Reichswehr,
his idea was rebued. The traditionalist Prussian ocers
saw this clandestine form of warfare would be an aront
to the rules of war, and claimed that men who fought
that way would not deserve to be called soldiers. Undaunted, Hippel then took his idea to Admiral Wilhelm
Canaris, commander of the German Intelligence service,
the Abwehr. Hippel was employed in the Abwehr's 2nd
Department, and given the task of making his vision a
reality.

members of the Brandenburg German Special Forces unit


during World War II.[1]

Summary

Units of Brandenburgers operated in almost all fronts the invasion of Poland, Denmark and Norway, in the
Battle of France, in Operation Barbarossa, in Finland,
Greece and the invasion of Crete, Romania, Bulgaria
and Yugoslavia. Some units were sent to inltrate India,
Afghanistan, Middle East countries and South Africa.
They also trained for Operation Felix (the planned seizure
of Gibraltar), and Operation Sea Lion (the planned inva- 3 Bataillon Ebbinghaus Poland
sion of Great Britain). The unit had considerable successes early in the war acting as advance units that cap- The original formation, designated Bataillon Ebbingtured strategic bridges, tunnels and rail yards in Poland haus was formed mostly from Volksdeutsche from Poland
and the Netherlands.
who were uent in Polish. The battalion was formed with
1

5 FRANCE AND THE LOW COUNTRIES YUGOSLAVIA

support of the OKW, which had been arranged by Canaris, but meant that the unit fell under Wehrmacht command. A large number of the recruits were small time
criminals and various thugs who ed from Poland.[2]
Fall Weiss (Plan White), involved small groups of German special forces dressed in civilian clothes crossing
the Polish border the night before the German invasion
and seizing key strategic points before dawn on the day
of the invasion. The secret Abwehr battalion detailed to
undertake these operations was given the euphemistic title of Training and Construction Company 800 for Special Duties. A group under the command of Lieutenant
Hans-Albrecht Herzner had to capture a railway station
at Mosty in the Jablunkov Pass to prevent the destruction of a railway tunnel. Crossing the border on August
26, 1939, Herzners group managed to capture the railway station at Mosty later that afternoon. Out of contact
with the Abwehr, Herzner did not know that the previous evening, after the British and French hinted at further appeasement of Hitlers demands, Adolf Hitler had
postponed the invasion; every other commando unit had
been informed of this except his. It was not until 9.35am
the following day that the Abwehr nally managed to get
through to Herzner and order him to release his Polish
prisoners and return (see Jabonkw Incident).
The Ebbinghausers also had created confusion in the Polish rear by capturing or destroying major road and rail
junctions, as well as helping the advancing troops by securing vital bridges and other strategic targets and preventing their demolition. Despite the success of the
Bataillon Ebbinghaus, it was disbanded immediately after
the campaign.
During the invasion of Poland itself, Battalion Ebbinghaus engaged in mass atrocities against Polands population and captured PoWs.[3] On September 4, members
of the Freikorps Ebbinghaus executed 17 defenders of
Pszczyna among them boy scouts from the Pszczyna secondary schools,[4] and 29 citizens of Orzesze who were
tortured before execution.[5][6] Further massacre happened in Siemanowice on 8 September where 6 Poles
were murdered in mass execution, on 1 October 1939
Freikorps murdered 18 people in Nowy Bytom.[7] Larger
massacres happened in Katowice where hundreds of people were executed.[3]

Recruitment for the company was almost directly contrary to those of Heinrich Himmler's SS. Rather than recruiting only those who embodied the Aryan ideal of the
bermensch, Hippel scoured the Reich to nd Slavs, Poles
and other ethnics willing to ght for Germany. Every
recruit had to be uent in at least one foreign language.
However, many recruits were uent in several. The recruits were also schooled in the customs and traditions of
their specic region. Knowing every habit and mannerism in their area of operations would enable the men to
blend in and operate as eective saboteurs.
The formation was barracked at Stendal in the old Mark
of Brandenburg, Berlin, and had training grounds nearby
in Friedenthal (Oranienburg). The inux of new recruits
meant that on 15 December 1939, less than three months
after its founding, the company was expanded and redesignated Bataillon Brandenburg (Brandenburg Battalion). The men of the Bataillon came to be known as the
Brandenburgers.
The original battalion consisted of four companies, organised along ethnic 'Front' lines, as shown below.
The battalion also included a Motorcycle platoon and a
Fallschirm-platoon.
1. Kompanie (based in Baden bei Wien), men from
Baltic/Russian territories
2. Kompanie (based in Brandenburg an der Havel),
men who had lived in English-speaking territories
and North Africa
3. Kompanie (based in Bad Mnstereifel), Sudeten
Germans / Yugoslavia
4. Kompanie (based in the Lower Rhine), Volksdeutsche Ethnic Germans from countries such as
Poland
As the battalion expanded further, it created more mixed
units. The so-called Arabic Brigade was nominally connected to the Brandenburgers, took its orders from the
German oriental mission, and was composed mainly of
men from the Caucasus.

5 France and the Low Countries


Yugoslavia
Abwehr takes control Brandenburgers
The Brandenburgers saw extensive action in Fall Gelb,

Canaris gave Hippel the go-ahead to create an Abwehr


controlled unit along the lines of the Ebbinghaus Battalion. Basing the new formation on many of the former Ebbinghausers, Hippel formed the original regiment,
Lehr und Bau Kompanie z.b.V. 800 (or Special-Purpose
Training and Construction Company No. 800) on 25 October 1939.

clearing the way for the Fallschirmjger before the Battle


of Fort Eben-Emael. On 8 May, two nights before the
opening of the oensive the Brandenburgers went into action. Donning the enemies uniforms over their own German ones (so they could quickly change in case of capture
and be treated as POWs rather than spies and facing execution), small groups began to cross the border into the
Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

3
One of the few actions that was successful[8] in the opening days of the campaign was the seizure of the Meuse
bridge in the Dutch town of Gennep. An eight-man team,
led by Leutnant Wilhelm Walther, was given the task of
capturing the bridge intact. At 2am on May 10, Walthers
team, now disguised as Dutch military police escorting
German prisoners, made their assault. Two guard posts
were destroyed, but three Brandenburgers were wounded
and the team was pinned down. Dressed in a Dutch
uniform, Walther advanced across the bridge. The confused defenders hesitated, allowing the rest of the team
to take them out, seizing the bridge and disabling the
detonators. Many more operations like this took place
over the course of the campaign. However very few were
successful and on another bridge, Brandenburgers were
arrested by Dutch troops and shot as spies.
After the capitulation of France, the Brandenburgers
(along with the elite Infantrie-Regiment Grodeutschland) were moved to northern France in preparation for
Operation Seelwe. After the invasion was called o, the
Battalion moved to southern France and began training
for another aborted plan, Operation Felix, the proposed
assault on Gibraltar.

Despite these precautions to remain within the rules of


war, all Brandenburgers carried a suicide pill when operating behind enemy lines.

7 North Africa
Main article: Operation Salaam
When the Afrika Korps shipped to Libya, Brandenburgers did also. The men, raised as four companies of special Tropical Units, were uent in either English or Arabic
and used captured British vehicles to operate behind enemy lines in raids and reconnaissance missions, mirroring
the actions of the British LRDG. Generalfeldmarschall
Erwin Rommel at rst disapproved of the Brandenburgers, but after he saw the damage being inicted by the
LRDG and Stirlings SAS, realised their value and accepted their unorthodox methods. The unit was charged
with disrupting British supply lines, but it was dicult
to resupply them or provide transportation, so most men
were either killed or captured.

During this time, the Battalion was again enlarged, and redesignated Regiment Brandenburg. Along with the increase in size, the Regiment also received Coastal Raider
and specialist Tropical components.

8 Operation Barbarossa Ostfront

After Benito Mussolini's botched invasion of Greece,


Hitler was forced to postpone his invasion of the Soviet
Union and invade Yugoslavia and Greece a plan codenamed Operation Marita and to be launched on 6
April 1941. Again, the Brandenburgers were to play a
role, with a large 54 man team from III./Regiment Brandenburg (the Sudeten and Slavic battalion) seizing the vital dockyards at Orova on the Danube a day before the
opening of the campaign.

The rst German units to cross the Soviet frontier in June


1941 were the men of the Brandenburg Regiment. On
the rst day, Brandenburgers seized road and rail junctions, secured river crossings and wreaked havoc with
the already inadequate Soviet communications and supply lines.

Training and structure

Main article: Operation Barbarossa

During the early days of Barbarossa, a Brandenburger


unit seized the bridge over the Daugava in Dnaburg
(in Latvia). This prevented a halt in the advance of
Heeresgruppe Nord on Leningrad.

Meanwhile, the Kstenjger-Abteilung (or Coastal


Despite the increased size, the Brandenburgers were still Raiders Battalion) of Rittmeister Conrad von Leipzig
performed many amphibious raids along the coasts of
highly skilled. The training was physically and mentally demanding, with focuses on foreign languages, small the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Sea of Azov.
unit tactics, parachuting, demolitions, covert operations, In Ukraine, the Brandenburgers operated in co-operation
use of vehicles and aircraft and familiarity with enemy with the volunteer Ukrainian unit Ukrainische Gruppe
weapons, including tanks. Some sub-units were speci- Nachtigall in support of Heeresgruppe Sd. The units encally trained as pilots or trained in forgery, demolitions or joyed overwhelming success, despite the questionable accamouage. One company was formed from 127 expert tions of some of the Ukrainian units.
cross country skiers, and was specially trained to ght in In early August 1942, a Brandenburger unit of 62 Baltic
the frozen wastes of the northern Soviet Union. The com- and Sudeten Germans led by Freiherr Adrian von Flkpany was also equipped with dog sleds.
ersam penetrated farther into enemy territory than any
In action, a Brandenburger unit could consist of two-man
teams, to 12-man squads, to full 300-man companies, depending on the mission requirements. At this stage in the
war, virtually all Brandenburger operations took place behind enemy lines.

other German unit. They had been ordered to seize and


secure the vital Maikop oilelds. Disguised as dreaded
NKVD men, and driving Soviet trucks, Flkersams unit
passed through the Soviet front lines and moved deep
into hostile territory. The Brandenburgers ran into a

11 LOSS OF ABWEHR CONTROL TRANSFER TO THE FRONT

large group of Red Army deserters eeing from the front.


Flkersam saw an opportunity to use them to the units
advantage. By persuading them to return to the Soviet
cause, he was able to join with them and move almost at
will through the Russian lines.
As part of Operation Schamil, Brandenburgers continued
to operate deep behind the Soviet lines, carrying out commando operations in the Grozny area.

operations.
On May 25, 1944, specialist members of the division,
attached to SS-Fallschirmjger-Bataillon 500, took part
in Operation Rsselsprung, an airborne operation to capture Yugoslav Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito at his headquarters near Drvar, thereby ending communist resistance in the Balkans. Tito escaped just before the SSFallschirmjger reached the cave in which he made his
headquarters and the SS-Fallschirmjger were forced to
withdraw to the town cemetery, where they dug in and
endured a night of ferocious partisan assaults. German
casualties were 213 killed, 881 wounded, and 51 missing, with a total of about 6,000 on the Partisan side (German wartime estimates). SS-Fallschirmjger-Btl 500 was
all but wiped out, one of four times this happened to the
unit and its successor, SS-Fallschirmjger-Btl 600, in the
eighteen months from November 1943 to May 1945.

Operating under false identity of NKVD Major Truchin


based in Stalingrad, Flkersam explained his role in recovering the deserters to the Soviet commander in charge
of Maikops defenses. The commander not only believed
Flkersam, but the next day gave him a personal tour of
the citys defenses. By August 8, the German spearheads
were only 12 miles away. The Brandenburgers made their
move. Using grenades to simulate an artillery attack, they
knocked out the military communications center for the
city. Flkersam then went to the Russian defenders and
told them that a withdrawal was taking place. Having
seen Flkersam with their commander and lacking any 10 Dodecanese Islands
communications to rebut or conrm his statement, the
Soviets began to evacuate Maikop. The German spearMain article: Battle of Leros
head entered the city without a ght on August 9, 1942.
By 1943, the most common mission assignment was
long range reconnaissance. During the 1942 advance of
Heeresgruppe Sd in Ukraine, the Brandenburgers revived
their role from the early days of the campaign, forging
ahead of the Panzer columns, seizing bridges, road and
rail junctions, and attacking the Soviet command and
control structure. Mostly, these missions were performed
by units of 20-60 Brandenburgers, dressed as Soviets and
driving captured Red Army vehicles.
Between January and April 1943, the Brandenburgers
were expanded to the size of a division, and specialized
sub-units for U-boat crews, air defense, artillery, tank,
antitank and combat engineering were created. Men were
transferred from the Afrika Korps and Kriegsmarine.

Brandenburg
Balkans

Division

the

By late 1942, the majority of the Brandenburg regiment


was being used in re brigade duties, acting as elite infantry and plugging gaps in the German lines. In February 1943, the Brandenburgers were pulled out of the line
and moved back to Germany. The Regiment was being
expanded again, this time to become Division Brandenburg. The divisions rst commander was to be Generalmajor Alexander von Pfuhlstein. The division was to be
formed by four regiments. One regiment was returned
to the Eastern front, to resume duties as a re brigade,
one battalion was sent to Africa to continue harassing the
Allies in the Mediterranean. The remainder of the division was sent to the Balkans, to engage in anti-Partisan

In mid 1943, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy ousted


the Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini and changed
sides. Following this, many Brandenburger units were
moved from the Balkans, and took part in actions to disarm Italian soldiers and secure regions vital to the German war eort.
One vital area was the island of Kos, in the Dodecanese
island chain o the coast of Turkey. Kos had been secured by British troops in September 1943, and a large
garrison of allied Italian troops was also present. The island had a vital airstrip, and had to be recaptured. Along
with Luftwae Fallschirmjger, men of the KstenjgerAbteilung along with the Fallschirm-Kompanie of the
Brandenburg Division took part. The Brandenburgers,
under command of Leutnant Langbein, landed at night
on the southern coast of the island, and quickly subdued
the beach defenses, controlled by Italian troops. The unit
then advanced to the town encountering no resistance,
and began clearing the town. The British and Italians attacked later in the evening, the Brandenburgers repulsed
them and then assaulted and captured the British and Italian positions, linking up with the Fallschirmjger and securing the island.

11 Loss of Abwehr control transfer to the Front


Since the beginning, Admiral Canaris and the Abwehr
had been watched closely by Himmlers SS and in particular by Walter Schellenberg, Chief of Amt VI, Ausland-SD
that made up the foreign intelligence branch of the SD.

5
The anti-Nazi views of the Abwehr came to a head in
July 1944, when several high-ranking Abwehr ocials,
including Canaris himself, were implicated in the July
20 plot to kill Hitler. Control of the Brandenburg division was passed to the SD, but in September 1944 it was
decided that special operations units were no longer necessary. The Brandenburg Division became InfanterieDivision Brandenburg (mot), was equipped as a motorised infantry division and transferred to the Eastern
front.
1,800 men (including Freiherr Adrian von Flkersam)
managed to obtain transfers to SS-Standartenfhrer Otto
Skorzeny's 502nd SS Jger Battalion and continue operating as special forces within SS-Jagdverband Mitte, but
mostly SS-Jagdverband Ost until the end of the war.

Jger Regiment 3 Brandenburg


Jger Regiment 4 Brandenburg
Tropische Einheiten Brandenburg
Coastal Raiders Battalion Brandenburg
Parachute Battalion Brandenburg
Signal Company Brandenburg
Independent Companies
14.Company
15.Parachute Company
Auxiliary Units

For the rest of the division, the return to conventional op Lehrregiment Brandenburg z.b.v Nr.800
erations damaged morale, but despite this, the Branden(Training Regiment)
burgers were still considered lite, and so were assigned
to Panzerkorps Grodeutschland along with its old train- Panzergrenadier-Division Brandenburg 1944-1945.
ing partner from 1940 to 1941, the Grodeutschland division. The Brandenburgers fought well in the Eastern
Division Sta
front, being involved in the ghting retreat through the
Baltic States and into East Prussia.
Panzer Regiment Brandenburg
In late 1944, the division was equipped with a Panzer
Regiment and redesignated Panzergrenadier-Division
Brandenburg and returned to the front. The Brandenburgers were involved in heavy ghting near Memel, until their withdrawal, along with the Grodeutschland, via
ferry to Pillau. The division was all but annihilated during the heavy ghting near Pillau. While some survivors
surrendered to the British in Schleswig-Holstein in May,
many Brandenburgers, highly skilled in evading detection, simply disappeared.

Jger(mot) Regiment 1 Brandenburg


Jger(mot) Regiment 2 Brandenburg
Panzerjger Battalion Brandenburg
Artillery Regiment Brandenburg
Heeres Flak Battalion Brandenburg
Reconnaissance Battalion Brandenburg
Pioneer Battalion Brandenburg

12

Orders of battle

Signals Battalion Brandenburg


Supply Train

Battalion Brandenburg December 1939


1. Company
2. Company
3. Company

13 Sub-Battalions
13.1 Bergmann Battalion
Main article: Bergmann Battalion

4. Company
Motorcycle platoon
Parachute platoon
Division Brandenburg February 1943 - March 1944
Division sta
Jger Regiment 1 Brandenburg
Jger Regiment 2 Brandenburg

The Special Group Bergmann or the Bergmann Battalion (German: Sonderverband Bergmann, meaning
highlander) was a military unit of the German Abwehr
during World War II, composed of ve German-ocered
companies of the Caucasian volunteers. The Bergmann
battalion was formed of the migrs and Soviet POWs
from the Caucasian republics at Neuhammer in October 1941. Subordinated to the German commando
battalion Brandenburgers and placed under the command of Oberleutnant Theodor Oberlnder, the unit received training at Neuhammer and Mittenwald (Bavaria)

13 SUB-BATTALIONS

with the Gebirgsjger. Later a special 130-men-strong


Georgian contingent of Abwehr codenamed Tamara-II
was incorporated into Bergmann. By March 1942, there
were ve companies of some 300 Germans and 900 Caucasians:
1. Georgian
2. North Caucasian
3. Azerbaijan
4. Georgian
5. Sta company, composed of 130 Georgian migrs
In August 1942, Bergmann went to the Eastern Front,
where it saw its rst action in the North Caucasus campaign in August 1942. The unit engaged in anti-partisan
actions in the Mozdok-Nalchik-Mineralnye Vody area
and conducted reconnaissance and subversion in the
Grozny area. At the end of 1942, Bergmann conducted a
successful sortie through the Soviet lines, bringing with
them some 300 Red Army defectors, and covered the
German retreat from the Caucasus. Bergmann went
through a series of hard-fought engagements with the Soviet partisans and regular forces in the Crimea in February 1943 and was dissolved like other Ostlegionen units
at the end of 1943. The signicantly shrunken exBergmann companies were dispatched to conduct police
functions in Greece and Poland.[9]

Shukhevych and on the German, Theodor Oberlnder.


(Oberlnder was later to become Federal Minister for
Displaced Persons, Refugees and War Victims in the
Federal Republic of Germany.) Ex-Brandenburger Oberleutnant Dr. Hans-Albrecht Herzner was placed in military command of the Battalion. The Nachtigall unit was
outtted in the standard Wehrmacht uniforms. Before entering Lviv, they placed blue and yellow ribbons on their
shoulders.[12]
In comparison to Nachtigall which used ordinary
Wehrmacht uniform the Roland Battalion was outtted in the Czechoslovakian uniform with yellow armband with text Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht
(In the service of the German Wehrmacht). They were
given Austrian helmets from World War I.[13] The Battalion was set up by the Abwehr and organized by Richard
Yary of the OUN(b) in March1941, prior the German
invasion to Soviet Union and commanded by Yevhen Pobigischiy . Approximately 350 Banderas OUN followers
were trained at the Abwehr training centre at the Seibersdorf under command of the former Poland Army major
Yevhen Pobiguschiy.
In Germany, in November 1941 the Ukrainian personnel of the Legion was reorganized into the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion. It numbered 650 persons which
served for one year at Belarus before disbanding.[12]
Many of its members, especially the commanding ocers, went on to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and 14
of its members joined SS-Freiwilligen-Schtzen-Division
Galizien in spring 1943.[14]

The Bergmann group used as insignia a traditional Caucasian dagger (kindzhal) with curving blade, worn on the Russian historian V. Chuyev states that despite the endleft side of the cap. Made of yellow metal, it was 7 cm ing, OUN achieved its ultimate goals - 600 members of
their organization had received military training and had
long.[10]
battle experience and these men took positions as instructors and commanders in the structure of the newly formed
13.2 Nachtigall and Roland Battalions
Ukrainian Insurgent Army.[15] S. Bandera wrote: The
end of OUN was such: the revolutionary columns were
The Nachtigall Battalion (English: Nightingale Battal- commanded by Roman Shukhevych with a small party
ion), also known as Ukrainian Nightingale Battal- of ocers who had not only undergone military training,
ion Group (German: Bataillon Ukrainische Gruppe but had come to a clear understanding of military tactics.
Nachtigall), ocially known as Special Group Nachti- The most important, they brought with them - an undergall,[11] and the Roland Battalion (German: Battalion standing of organization, strategies and tactics of partisan
Ukrainische Gruppe Roland), ocially known as Spe- ghting, and the German method of dealing with partisan
cial Group Roland, were the subunits under command groups. This knowledge was very useful in the formation
of the Abwehr special operation unit Brandenburgers (1st and activities of the UIA and in its future conicts.[15]
Brandenberg Battalion). They were the two military During its short history the Nachtigall Battalion had 39
units formed February 25, 1941 by head of the Abwehr casualties and had 40 wounded soldiers.
Wilhelm Franz Canaris, which sanctioned the creation of
the Ukrainian Legion under German command. They
were manned primarily by occupied Poland citizens of 13.3 Tropical Division von Koenen
Ukrainian ethnicity directed to unit by Banderas OUN
orders.[12]
The commander of a North African Abwehr unit durIn May 1941, the German command decided to split a
700-strong Ukrainian Legion into two battalions: Nachtigall (Nightingale) and Roland Battalion. Training for
Nachtigall took place in Neuhammer near Schlessig.
On the Ukrainian side, the commander was Roman

ing World War II, Friedrich Fritz von Koenen (1916


1944), was born in Danzig on 28 June 1916. Raised
in German South West Africa (Deutsch-Sdwest-Afrika)
he joined the Abwehrs emerging Brandenburg Division
in 1941 and assumed command of the Tropenkompanie

13.4

Battaglione(M) IX Settembre

(Tropical Company; later named Tropenabteilung von


Koenen, or Tropical Division von Koenen) in North
Africa. Its members were handpicked, uent in other
languages, and used equipment acquired from Allied
forces (such as a British Spitre aircraft). Deployed on
numerous commando and reconnaissance missions, the
Tropenkompanie served as an advance unit for Erwin
Rommels Afrika Korps. One particular success occurred
in February 1943, when Koenen conducted a raid against
American troops at the village of Sidi-Bou-Zid, Tunisia,
and captured 27 tanks and armored troop carriers along
with large supplies of guns and munitions. A Knights
Cross was awarded to him later that year. Transferred
to Yugoslavia, Koenen was killed in action on 22 August
1944 near Visegrad, Bosnia.

7
June 1942, when it seemed as if Rommel had defeated
the British Eighth Army and was about to drive on to the
Nile.
In May 1943 the unit managed to escape to Italy. After
North Africa, he in action with his unit in Greece and Yugoslavia in 1944. Major von Koenen was killed in action
(Croatia) on 21 August 1944.

13.4 Battaglione(M) IX Settembre

Formed in la Seyne a Tolone France, the Italian allvolunteer unit Btg IX Settembre came from elements of
special assault landing battalions XLII and L, elite Marine
ghting units and were attached to the Brandenburg division. The unit was named in honor of the rst day after
the Italian armistice 8 September 1943 in deance of the
13.3.1 Tropen-Abteilung von Koenen
capitulation by the Italian King. From its inception, the
unit was assigned to the second Regiment of the WehrmaFive companies, based on the former Afrika-Kompanie
cht s Panzergrenadier-Division Brandenburg which operand led by Fritz von Koenen. 5th Co. was a Brandenated in southern France and Italy.
burger coastal raider unit (Kstenjger). Beginning in
mid-1941, the 13th Company of the Bau-Lehr-Regiment In Italy, the Btg IX Settembre continued its ght against
z. b. V. 800 Brandenburg was readied in Brandenburg the Allies. They also fought to contain the Anzio beachas a catch basin for the formation of a tropical company. head, on the Gustav Line, and participated in repelling
On 28 October 1941 the rst half-company under Ober- Operation Anvil in 1943-1944. The Btg IX Settembre
leutnant Wilhelm von Koenen departed Brandenburg for participated in bloody urban warfare ghting communist
Tripoli via Naples. It was to be employed as a supply partisans in the mountains and small towns of Italy. It
also participated in the German invasion of the island of
company.
Elba, the island known for Napoleons exile, where the
The rst live action by the Brandenburgers in North
unit seized tons of needed Italian weapons, ammunition,
Africa took place during Panzer Group Africas eastward
and equipment. The Btg IX Settembre soon found itself
advance which began on 22 January 1942. As this move
in the mountains bordering on France and Italy ghting
into Africa had been so quickly conceived and executed,
US and British troops. These battle hardened veterans
Wilhelm Canaris had had no time to prepare for the emwere then transferred to the Russian Front where they
ployment of his agents there. Within Brandenburg were
fought bravely and suered the same privations alongside
men who had lived or worked in tropical lands. Most
German units in East Prussia in 1945.
of them were from families that had colonized the former German possessions of East and South West Africa. Shortly before the end of the war, Btg IX Settembre was
There were also Palestinian Germans and others from transferred to Italy where its remaining members surrenSouth Africa. Volunteers were called for and these for- dered to the Allies. This remnant, about 150 men, was inmer migrs came forward in such numbers that within carcerated in the Gotti barracks in Vittorio Veneto. The
weeks more than sixty had been sifted, interviewed, se- unit was ocially disbanded in Vittorio Veneto (Treviso)
lected and accepted. To the number of those chosen for on 28 April 1945
the Afrika Kompanie were added communication experts. Command of the Company was given to Oberleutnant von Koenen, a man of wide experience with a great
14 Awards
knowledge of Africa. He divided the Company into two
half-Companies and sent them to Tripoli where the rst
half-Company arrived in October 1941. The second de- Among so many other Orders and Awards 18 members of
tachment sailed four months later. Most of the men in the Brandenburg German Special Forces were recipients
Africa Kompanie not only spoke English more or less of the Knights Cross, three of them also recipients of the
uently, but also had command of Arabic and Swahili Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.
as main languages, backed up by several of the African
dialects. It was intended that the Brandenburg detachments be used for reconnaissance operations: to pene- 14.1 Recipients of the Knights Cross
trate a short distance into the British lines and glean infor Hauptmann Afheldt, Eckart, 17.03.1945 als Obermation about the conditions awaiting the Panzer Army.
leutnant, Fhrer II./JgerRgt 2 Brandenburg
This idea of short, sharp missions was changed during

16 FURTHER READING
Major Voshage, Werner, 08.05.1945 als Major,
Kommandeur HeeresFlakAbt Brandenburg
Oberstleutnant Walther, Wilhelm,[18] 24.06.1940
als Oberleutnant, Stotruppfhrer 4./BauLehrBtl
z.b.V. 800 Brandenburg

14.2 Recipients of the Knights Cross of


the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Oberleutnant Siegfried Grabert on the Eastern Front, August/September 1941

Oberstleutnant Brckerho, Wilhelm, 08.05.1945


als Major, Fhrer PzArtRgt Brandenburg
Oberst Brckner v., Erich, 11.03.1945 als
Oberst,Kommandeur JgRgt 1 Brandenburg
Sturmbannfhrer
Flkersam
Baron
v.,
Adrian,[16][17] 14.09.1942 als Leutnant d. R.,
Adjutant Stab I./LehrRgt z.b.V. 800 Brandenburg
Major Kirn (Witzel), Dietrich F., 12.12.1944
als Hauptmann, Fhrer Front-AufklrungsKommando 202
Rittmeister Knaak, Hans-Wolfram, 03.11.1942
als Oberleutnant, Chef 8./LehrRgt z.b.V. 800
Brandenburg
Oberstleutnant Koenen v., Friedrich, 16.09.1943
als Hauptmann, Kommandeur III./4.Rgt Brandenburg
Major der Reserve Lau, Werner, 09.12.1942 als
Leutnant d. R., Zugfhrer 5./LehrRgt z.b.V. 800
Brandenburg
Leutnant der Reserve Leipzig v., Hellmut,
28.04.1945 als Leutnant d. R., Zugfhrer PzAufklAbt Brandenburg
Hauptmann
Mller-Rochholz,
Friedrich,
08.05.1945 als Hauptmann, Kommandeur PzSturmPiBtl Brandenburg
Leutnant der Reserve Prochaska, Ernst,
16.09.1942 als Leutnant d. R., Fhrer 8./LehrRgt
z.b.V. 800 Brandenburg

Major der Reserve Grabert, Siegfried, 10.06.1941


als Oberleutnant d. R., Fhrer SonderKdo im
BauLehrBtl z.b.V. 800 Brandenburg
320. Eichenlaub, 06.11.1943 als Hauptmann
d. R., Chef 8./LehrRgt Brandenburg z.b.V.
800
Oberstleutnant Oesterwitz, Karl-Heinz, 30.04.1943
als Oberleutnant, Chef 7./LehrRgt z.b.V 800
734. Eichenlaub, 10.02.45 als Oberstleutnant,
Kommandeur JgerRgt 2 Brandenburg
Major der Reserve Wandrey, Max, 09.01.1944 als
Oberleutnant d. R., Chef 11./JgRgt 1 Brandenburg
787. Eichenlaub, 16.03.45 als Major d. R.,
Kommandeur II./JgRgt1 Brandenburg

15 See also
Battle of Velikiye Luki
Kommando Spezialkrfte (KSK) has a disputed heritage of the Brandenburgers
Special Sta F
Christian Nissen: Geistersegler (Ghost Sailor) of the
Brandenburgers
Robey Leibbrandt

16 Further reading

Hauptmann der Reserve Rseke,


Erich,
14.04.1945 als Oberleutnant d.
R., Fhrer
9./JgRgt 1 Brandenburg

Spaeter, Helmut (c. 1990s). The History of the


Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland Vol I-III. Winnipeg,
Canada: J.J. Fedorowicz. ISBN 978-0-921991-502.

Major der Reserve Steidl, Kurt, 26.01.1944 als


Hauptmann d. R., stellv. Fhrer I./2.JgRgt Brandenburg

Westwell, Ian (2004). Brandenburgers: The Third


Reichs Special Forces (Spearhead 13). USA: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-2979-8.

9
Kurowski, Franz (c. 1990s). The Brandenburgers: Global Mission. J.J. Fedorowicz. ISBN 9780-921991-38-0.

[10] Williamson, Gordon & Pavlovi, Darko (2002), World


War II German Battle Insignia, p. 43. Osprey Publishing,
ISBN 1-84176-352-7

Kurowski, Franz (2005). The Brandenburger Commandos: Germanys Elite Warrior Spies in World
War II. ISBN 978-0-8117-3250-5.

[11] Abbot, Peter. Ukrainian Armies 1914-55, p.47. Osprey


Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-668-2
[12] .. . () 1940
1942 . \-
, 2004 (No ISBN)
p.271-278

Spaeter, Helmut (1984). Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland: Panzergrenadier-Division Grossdeutschland,


Panzergrenadier-Division Brandenburg und seine
Schwesterverbnde... Podzun-Pallas-Verlag. ISBN [13] .. . () 1940
1942 . \-
978-3-7909-0214-3.
Lefevre, Eric (1999). Brandenburg Division: Commandos of the Reich (Special Operations Series).
Histoire & Collections. ISBN 978-2-908182-73-6.

, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the
years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University
\ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine p.287

Lucas, James (1998). Kommando - German Special


Forces of World War Two. Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-304-35127-5.

[14] .. :
: , 2000.
[15] (Russian) Chuyev, Sergei Ukrainskyj Legion - Moskva,
2006 pp. 179-184

17

External links

[16] Baron Adrian von Flkersam (20 December 1914 21


January 1945) was a German Brandenburger and WaenSS ocer in World War II.

Westwell, Ian. Brandenburgers - The Third Reichs


Special Forces.
[17] Who was Adrian Baron von Flkersam?
[18] Who was Walther Wilhelm?

18

References

[1] The Brandenburg Commandos. Weider History Group.


Retrieved 2012-08-06.
[2] Wrzesie 1939 na lsku - Page 37 Pawe Dubiel - 1963
[3] Bartomiej Warzecha Niemieckie zbrodnie na powstacach lskich w 1939 roku nr 12-1/2003-2004 Biuletyn
Instytutu Pamici Narodowej
[4] The fate of Polish children during the last war Roman Hrabar, Zoa Tokarz, Jacek Edward Wilczur, Rada
Ochrony Pomnikw Walki i Mczestwa (Poland) Interpress, 1981
[5] Rocznik przemyski - Volume 21 - Page 130 Towarzystwo
Przyjaci Nauk w Przemylu, page 130 1982
[6] A wic wojna":ludno cywilna we wrzeniu 1939
r. Anna Piekarska, Instytut Pamieci Narodowej0 ReviewsInstytut Pamici Narodowej, page 21, 2009- 238
pages
[7] Zbrodnie hitlerowskie na wsi polskiej:1939-1945 Jzef
Fajkowski, Jan Religa Ksika i Wiedza,page 100, 1981
[8] http://www.zuidfront-holland1940.nl/index.php?page=
de-brandenburger
[9] (German) Homann, Joachim (1991), Kaukasien
1942/43: Das deutsche Heer und Orientvoelker der
Sowjetunion. Freiburg, S. 4647, 56, 195, 267. ISBN
3-7930-0194-6

10

19

19
19.1

TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Text

Brandenburgers Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburgers?oldid=672629325 Contributors: AxelBoldt, Skysmith, Phoebe,


Cjrother, Moncrief, Mervyn, BigBen212, Mboverload, Comatose51, Quadell, Klemen Kocjancic, CALR, Chowells, Pilatus, PWilkinson,
Wendell, Hunter1084, Max rspct, BLueFiSH.as, Axeman89, Commander Keane, Markizs~enwiki, Descendall, BD2412, Rjwilmsi, Lockley, Ligulem, Feco, Olessi, MarnetteD, MWAK, Leo44, Ansbachdragoner, Eubot, Ground Zero, WouterBot, Noclador, RussBot, Gaius
Cornelius, Fnorp, Leutha, Welsh, R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine), Whitejay251, Deville, Closedmouth, Curpsbot-unicodify, Nick-D,
SmackBot, P b1999, Srnec, Hmains, Marc Kupper, Chris the speller, TimBentley, Rex Germanus, Colonies Chris, Can't sleep, clown will eat
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MyMoloboaccount, Alfons2, EmausBot, Moswento, , Helpful Pixie Bot, Tom soldier, BG19bot, TchmilFan, Peacemaker67, BattyBot,
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19.2

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? Original artist: ?
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File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-210-0219-02A,_Russland-Nord,_Siegfried_Grabert.jpg Source:
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wikipedia/commons/4/46/Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-210-0219-02A%2C_Russland-Nord%2C_Siegfried_Grabert.jpg License:
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as part of a cooperation project. The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic representation only using the originals (negative
and/or positive), resp. the digitalization of the originals as provided by the Digital Image Archive. Original artist: Ngele
File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-680-8283A-30A,_Budapest,_Otto_Skorzeny,_Adrian_v._Flkersam.jpg
Source:
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Original artist: See source
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