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Volkssturm

From Academic Kids

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The Volkssturm, literally translated as People's Storm in the meaning of National Storm, was a German national militia of the last months of the Nazi regime. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and effectively conscripted all males between the ages of 16 to 60 years of age (who did not already serve in some military unit) as part of the German Home Guard.

Contents

Origins

The Volkssturm had existed, on paper, since approximately 1935, however it was only after Hitler ordered Martin Bormann to recruit 6 million men for this militia that the group became a physical reality. The basic unit was a battalion of 642 men and the units were mostly composed of members of the Hitler Youth, invalids, or men who had previously been considered unfit for military service. The Volksturm was under the ultimate command of the Home Army which, in late 1944 and early 1945, was commanded by Heinrich Himmler.

Uniforms and insignia

The Volkssturm "uniform" was only a black armband with words Deutscher Volkssturm with a series of silver collar pips pinned to the wearer's collar. Because the Wehrmacht had no uniforms to spare, some members of the Volksturm wore makeshift paramilitary uniforms or uniforms from their civilian jobs (such as train conductors of the Reichsbahn). The simple paramilitary insignia of the Volksturm was as follows:

Volkssturm Rank Translation Collar Insignia
Bataillionsführer Battalion Leader Missing image
SSmajEarly.gif


Kompanieführer Company Leader Missing image
SS2ndLTptch.gif


Zugsführer Section Leader Missing image
SSSrg1ptch.gif


Gruppenführer Group Leader Missing image
SSsrgptch.gif


Volkssturmmann Peoples Storm Trooper No Insignia

Training and Impact

Typically, members of the Volkssturm received a brief indoctrindation training, on use of basic weapons such as the rifle and Panzerfaust, before taking a customary oath to Hitler and then dispatched to face the enemy. Volkssturm units were supposed to be used only in their own districts, but many were sent directly to the front lines. The most extensive use of the Volkssturm was during the Battle of Berlin, during which Volkssturm units fought the best they could. The Battle of Berlin was particular devastating to the Volkssturm, since many Volkssturm members fought to the death when facing Red Army troops, mostly out of fear of what awaited any German combatant who fell into Russian hands.

Most war historians agree that Volkssturm had negligible strategic effect on the outcome of the war.

Books

  • David K. Yelton: Hitler's Volkssturm (2002)

External links

no:Volkssturm pl:Volkssturm

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