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Indo China Wars 1945 - 1975. Covering, French Indo China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

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Former Waffen -SS in French Foreign Legion
Old 04-06-2012, 08:45 AM   #1
Dan M
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Default Former Waffen -SS in French Foreign Legion

Years ago, I recall reading an article about former Waffen -SS members joining the FFL and fighting in Vietnam. Any truth to the story?
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:18 AM   #2
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I had also heard this. The FFL post WW2 had large numbers of ex German soldiers in their ranks so it would stand to reason that a portion of these would have been SS. And a portion of these would likely have served in Indochina.

The way it was presented was that some of these ex SS soldiers needed to disappear after the war and a great place to disappear was in the FFL.

I am unsure how dilligent the French were in weeding out these individuals.

An acquaintance of mine who had served in the FFL in the mid 70's said at that time their were still a number of FFL NCO's that were ex German soldiers.
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:23 AM   #3
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FFL is one big happy family for the worlds naughty boys who crave adventure.
And what a party was going on in Indo-china in the late 40s early 50s .
Who could resist the fun.

owen
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:45 AM   #4
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many ex W-SS members were recruited in french POW camps, instead of serving their time in camps they had a deal to serve instead in the FFL.

HCMT
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:54 AM   #5
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A dutch artist named Jan monteyn joined the FFL after serving in the German army.
I don't know if here is the right place but it might be of interest for some of you.
http://www.janmontyn.com/roles2.html
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:26 AM   #6
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This is one of those legends that springs up around usually baseless rumours. Very few 'SS men' served in the Foreign Legion post WWII. Those that tried to join were weeded out by the French Duxieme Bureau and sent to prison as war criminals. The whole thing about dodgy people needing to disappear and the legion looking the other way springs up from the nineteen hundreds when they had to fill their dreary and dangerous Saharan forts with runaway debtors, thieves, fraudsters and adventurers. The Legion had a very healthy intake of volunteers post WWII and they didn't need to lower themselves to accepting runaway war criminals. There were more than enough experienced soldiers of all nations flocking to join them. Europe was an impoverished and damaged place at that time and people joined up for three square meals and a roof over their head.
The French Colonial Army did form a unit of French nationals who had served in the Milice, Waffen-SS (Charlemagne Div & Sturmbrigade), the Legion Volontaire Francaise, and the various other German services. This was called the BILOM (bataillon infanterie legere d'outre mer) and was raised on 6th July 1948. It wasn't Legion and only accepted French nationals. They werved mostly in Cambodia and Laos. Casualties were high and they were initially not allowed rank or awards although this changed as they proved to be (mostly) quite effective. The unit was renamed several times and ended up as a Bataillon montagnard in 1950. Several men survived and went on the fight as paratroopers in Algeria.

If anyone has documented proof of Waffen SS Germans serving in the Legion I would be very interested to see it.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:50 AM   #7
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"The French Colonial Army did form a unit of French nationals who had served in the Milice, Waffen-SS (Charlemagne Div & Sturmbrigade), the Legion Volontaire Francaise, and the various other German services. This was called the BILOM (bataillon infanterie legere d'outre mer) and was raised on 6th July 1948. It wasn't Legion and only accepted French nationals."

This sounds like an important distinction. Yes rumours do unfortunately turn into reality. thank you for this clarification.

Is it true that a number of Wehrmacht Germans "non SS" served in the FFL in the imediate post WW2 era? I had always accepted this as fact, rightly or wrongly.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:52 AM   #8
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Devils Guard is a good read on the subject and banned in a lot of country's (google it) it's a tail of a whole battalion of Waffen SS who join the FL rather than surrender to the Russians. I read this book whilst doing jungle warfare training with the British Royal Marines in Brunei so the hard fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, using controversial techniques made fitting reading for me at the time. It's a good read and at the end of the day it as to be acknowledged the Waffen SS are right up there along side any elite fighting force and a good addition to any fighting force, if only they could put em in against the Taliban, lol.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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xxx

Last edited by hochiminhtrail; 04-06-2012 at 02:18 PM.
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ffl
Old 04-06-2012, 02:16 PM   #10
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you had quite a few germans in the FFL post 1945, not all were former SS of course, in germany you had advertising to beware against french recruiters especialy in the french occupied zone, and being a member of an W-SS unit does not make you war criminial, so i guess the normal W-SS soldier had no problem to join.

A certain Mister de Broca who served as a "sous secretaire detat" under the vichy regime took refuge in the FFL post 45 and served with the 3 eme REI in Lang Son under the command of the famous Colonel Constant, the 2 em burreau was looking to get Mr. De Broca, but the legion took care of him. De Broca was a former Officier and WWI veteran, in indochina he served as a sergeant. he later died in Indochina, he was in his early 60s.

HCMT[/QUOTE]
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:51 AM   #11
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Devil's guard is roundly considered a tale of fantasy and BS.

Service in the Legion is hard and described as brutal by vets.

Naughty boys did not get very far.

Today there is a long period of psychological testing just for determining if one could take legion life.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:11 AM   #12
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Yes, Devils Guard is a work of fiction. Nothing more. It seems to be the source of this persistent fantasy about the Waffen SS in indochina.

The Legion enjoyed a very high number of recruits from Germany post 1945, but numbers were kept in check so as to make sure there were never too many Germans. I think the number was kept at something around 30% per unit. The authorities did not want to make the Legion a German entity - the German influences in the Legion had already become very deep rooted (a number of tradititions and songs are of German origin).
Also, something most people seem not to be aware of, or intentionally ignore, is that the Legion in Indochina, some 30,000 at peak strength, was always short of manpower. Up to 50% of EVERY Legion unit in Indochina at any time was made up of locally recruited Indochinese 'volunteers'. Each Legion unit had a 'compagnie d'indochinoise de la legion etrangere' - even the paratroopers. Further to this, Indochinese recruits filtered through into every other company as casualties had to be replaced.

To answer Irish's question yes, members of the other German services were welcomed into the Legion. A number of ex Fallschirmjaeger joined the Legion paras. I think one of the most famous of the ex-Werhmacht recruits to serve in the Legion was Sgt Chef Bleyer of the 13e DBLE. He had served in WWII on the Russian front in the GrossDeutschland Division as a young conscript. He went on to fight at Dien Bien Phu and survived Viet Minh captivity. Of course, a Waffen SS soldier of the late war years, usually a conscript re assigned from the Luftwaffe or Kreigsmarine, and who did not have a blood tattoo, would have managed to get into the Legion without that tell tale sign. But in the immediate post-war years service in Indochina was harsh and casualties from mines, snipers, ambushes, diseases, desertion and rotation etc were high and did not lessen as the war went on. By 1950 the 3e REI, CIE Para 3e REI and the 1er BEP, were all almost wiped out to a man on RC4 and had to be re manned wholesale. How many WWII veterans would have been around by then?
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:11 PM   #13
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For what it's worth, (little anecdote - not specifically German) two of my Kuban Cossack great-parents' cousins served in the legion in Indochina. Both were veterans of the White army in the Civil War, like my great-grandfather. One was Fedor Eliseev, he actually wrote a book about his time in Indochina (1940s), but the other cousin actually served as a captain in a German-Cossack unit in the Balkans during the war. To avoid the Soviets/repatriation, he really did "do the legend" of changing his name and joining the legion. He served in Indochina from 1947 to 1952 in the 1st REC (and other units), later immigrating to Venezuela. Apparently, he was so fearful about the Soviets getting him that he kept his French name even while living in South America years later. Since the Civil War, there was a tradition of White Russians joining the legion. I am sure the French recruiters knew his German army background, but I guess they were sympathetic to Russian exiles to some degree.
All of my relatives on that side just wanted to get out of postwar Europe and avoid the Soviets.
As for my great-grandfather, he just had his daughter marry an American officer, which is why I'm here......"living happily ever after."
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:48 PM   #14
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Very interesting comments Cookie. Martin Windrow in his excellent book The Last Valley touches upon this and it seems waffen ss/ German ww2 vets would have been very few indeed.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:03 PM   #15
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Great tale Darwin .
We must talk at length about this in person.

To say no SS served in the FFL is .........????

owen
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