(literally "Eastern Legion") were conscripts and volunteers from occupied territories who fought in the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer
) of the Third Reich
during the Second World War
. They were poorly paid, clothed, fed, armed and treated. Many Ostgruppen divisions were guarding the inland region of Normandy
during Operation Overlord
(specifically Utah and Juno and Sword.) The staff of the disbanded 162d Infantry Division in Poland
was charged with the raising and training of the six Eastern Legions. It eventually raised and trained 82 battalions. A total of 98 battalions were raised with 80 serving on the Eastern Front
and in the Balkans
. 12 were later transferred to France
There were six legions:
size formations wore German uniforms and equipment and were used mainly for anti-partisan actions and rear guard duty. They were not independent, they were usually integrated into German units.
They began as private initiatives of military commanders, but eventually became formalized, by late 1943 they contained 427,000 volunteers, which was a force equivalent to 30 German divisions. Many were utilized in the west, e.g. Yugoslavia.
The battalions of the Turkistani Legion formed part of the 162nd Infantry Division and saw heavy action in Yugoslavia and Italy. Its commander considered it to be the equal of a normal German Division.