Author(s): Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr.
When war broke out in 1939, Hitler created Strafbattalion (Penal Battalion) units to deal with incarcerated members of the Wehrmacht as well as ‘subversives’. His order stated that any first-time convicted soldier could return to his unit after he had served a portion of his sentence in ‘…a special probation corps before the enemy’.
Beginning in April 1941, convicted soldiers, even those sentenced to death, who had shown exceptional bravery or meritorious service could rejoin their original units; however, those in probation units were expected to undertake dangerous operations at the front.
Refusal entailed enforcement of the original sentence. The soldiers who ‘won back an honourable place in the national community’ had done everything that was asked of them from suicidal advance teams, shock troops, and laying mines under fire. By 1945, over 50,000 Wehrmacht troops had served in punishment regiments. Strafbatallion: Hitler’s Penal Battalions examines the penal units, their combat history and order of battle.
|234 x 156 mm
|15 December 2017
|32 black-and-white photographs