ϟϟ-Freiwilligen-Division „Galizien“

SS-Brigadeführer der Allgemeine-SS von Wächter
The idea to organize a division of volunteers from Galicia was proposed by Baron Otto Gustav von Wächter who was an Austrian Nazi politician and a high-ranking member of the Allgemeine-SS. In 1943, he suggested creation of a Waffen-SS division composed of Galician volunteers to fight with the Germans on the Soviet front. The creation of the division was announced in April 1943 at ceremonies throughout Galicia. In total 81,999 men enlisted for service in the division. Of these, 27,000 were deemed fit for military service and 13,000 were enlisted. The SS-Freiwilligen-Division Galizien enjoyed support from multiple political and religious groups within the western Ukrainian community. Otto von Wächter himself sought to be released from his administrative obligations in the General Government in 1944 so that he could take up a position in the Waffen-SS. Following German capitulation, he successfully hid for 4 years. Otto von Wächter received last rites from pro-Nazi Bishop Alois Hudal in the evening on July 13 1949 and died the next morning. Due to Wächter’s death in the Vatican, his criminal involvement in the Allgemeine-SS was never brought forth to a court. The SS-Division Galizien, redesignated 14.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS in June 1944, surrendered to British and US forces on May 10 1945. Former volunteers were allowed to immigrate to Canada and the United Kingdom in 1947. The Honourable Justice Jules Deschênes of the Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes concluded in October 1986 that members of the division were not implicated in war crimes and that mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution. However, the Commission's conclusion failed to acknowledge or heed the International Military Tribunal's verdict at the Nuremberg Trials, in which the entire Waffen-SS organization was declared a "criminal organization". Although Ukraine remains divided on the legacy of World War II, monuments in the western Ukraine and in Canada commemorates those who served with the SS-Division Galizien. Credit: Wikipedia. Image: Otto von Wächter as SS-Brigadeführer in the Allgemeine-SS, here photographed wearing the early style of gorget patches that were used until April 1942. The ranks of the General SS were paramilitary ranks, this meant that officers in the Allgemeine-SS were unable to order personal in the Wehrmacht or the Waffen-SS. Fair use.

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