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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:05 pm 
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What prompted me to research this unit was my recent viewing of the Belarussian film 'Come and See' about the genocide in Belarus (I highly recomend this film, it's very grim but is also excellent).

Further reading led me to find that the film is also based on the activities of an SS unit the 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, better known as the SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger" or the Dirlewanger Brigade after it's commander SS Oberfuhrer Oskar Dirlewanger. Dirlewanger was a convicted sex offender who due to close connections to Himmler managed to get a position in Allgemenie SS. In June 1940 the Wilddiebkommando Oranienburg (Oranienburg Poacher's Command) was formed. Himmler admitted Dirlewanger into the Waffen-SS as the commander of this unit. By July 1940, it numbered 84 men.

The unit originally made up of convicted poachers but was later expanded to allow common criminals within its ranks. The idea was that service in the division would rehabilitate men, it had the opposite affect and they were allowed freedom to continue there activities in Poland and Russia. As it became more well know many hundreds of concentration camp prisoners (those imprisoned for criminal activities) applied to join the unit. By September 1940, the formation numbered over 9,000 men. Due to the amount of criminals applying to join the unit there was no longer an emphasis on poachers, prisoners convicted of severe crimes, such as assault and rape were admitted. The unit stopped being part of the Waffen-SS and the name was then changed to Sonderkommando "Dr. Dirlewanger" (Special Command "Dr. Dirlewanger") and it was placed under the command of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the formation responsible for the administration of the concentration camps) and it was redesignated SS-Sonderbatallion "Dirlewanger" (it became a Waffen-SS unit again in late 1944).

In order to rebuild its strength in early 1942, after fighting in Russia, the unit was authorised to recruit from Russian and Ukrainian volunteers. Eventually it included increasing numbers of political prisoners, homosexuals, Gypsies (likely recruited from Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps) and patients from psychiatric hospitals.

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The unit in action during the Warsaw Uprising 1944

The unit ranked up a large amount of complaints from the Wehrmacht and regular Waffen SS units (this unit being very much irregular). It was destroyed on May 1st 1945 by the Soviets.

Unit insignia:

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Some interesting links:

Axis History.com - the bare facts and figures http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=766

Feldgrau.com - http://www.feldgrau.com/36ss.html

I hope you find this interesting.

Regards,
Grenadier1

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:56 pm 
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I remember posting this picture a while back for a different reason, do you think the guy with the MP40 may just lose the end of his thumb?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:31 pm 
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I hope so.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:35 pm 
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grenadier181 wrote:
I remember posting this picture a while back for a different reason, do you think the guy with the MP40 may just lose the end of his thumb?


Seen that pic before, he looks like he's gagging to let rip with that MPi :twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:28 pm 
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Im in the process of writing somthing up on them. Will post when im done.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:15 pm 
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Read the book The Cruel Hunters i recommend it

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:06 pm 
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JDR wrote:
Read the book The Cruel Hunters i recommend it

Second that

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