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Foreign Volunteers

The German army in WWII was not entirely made up of native-born Germans. The First unit to embrace soldiers from the greater German Reich was Grossdeuschland. This unit purposely drew soldiers from all over Germany proper as well as Austrians and Ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsch)  from places like Czechoslovakia and Poland. As the war ground on even more foreign volunteers were enlisted in the German army. Our unit, the 353rd Infantry Division is known to have large numbers of foreigners in its ranks. Interrogation reports of captured soldiers show Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, and captured Russians from Stalingrad.  The German army also had entire units made of ethnically homogeneous foreign volunteers from The Soviet Union such as the cossacks.  Other soldiers from Africa, India, Asia, and other more "exotic" locations found a home in the German Army. When these foreign troops were in dedicated units their insignia and uniforms were often marked with special badges or insignia and ethnically specific grooming standards may have been used such as allowing Sikhs to have long hair and beards). When the volunteers were enrolled as part of a regular German unit they would have had uniforms and grooming standards that conformed to the German Army. We do know from Interrogation reports of the 353 Infantry that the Captured Soviet volunteers wore standard german uniforms without a breast eagle. 

These photographs were taken from a number of online sources and auction sites.  They are presented here for educational purposes.  

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