Formation   Structure   Combat history

The formation of 'Landstorm Nederland'

Names:

12-03-1943: Grenadier-Regiment I Landwacht Nederland
16-10-1943: SS-Grenadier-Regiment Landstorm Nederland
01-11-1944: SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Brigade 'Landstorm Nederland'
10-02-1945: 34.SS Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division 'Landstorm Nederland'

Commanders:

11-03-1943: SS-Oberfüher Viktor Knapp
01-04-1944: SS-Obersturmbannführer Deurheit
11-05-1943: SS-Standartenführer Martin Kohlroser

On the 12th of March 1943 the Landwacht Nederland was formed. The unit had to be a part of the defense against foreign or domestic enemies. Landwacht Nederland was not the same organisation as the Nederlandse Landwacht. The first was a pure military organisation that was used as a territorial defensive unit, the Nederlandse Landwacht served merely as a sort of police unit. On the 16th of October 1943 the name Landwacht Nederland was changed into Landstorm Nederland. The unit consisted of Dutch volunteers and was stationed in Den Bosch, Vught, Roermond and Hoogeveen.

From left to right: Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, Höhere SS und Polizeiführer Rauter en Befehlshaber der Waffen-SS Demelhuber
Many Dutchmen volunteered for Landstorm Nederland, especially in 1944. The men were given a job (=money), housing, food and they escaped the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labour). Next to that Landstorm soldiers in general didn't have to fear a transfer to the Eastern front since Landstorm was a territorial defense unit. Although Landstorm wasn't officially (yet) an SS unit, it was subjected to Waffen-SS laws and jurisdiction of the SS-und Polizeigericht. The men wore the Feldgrau uniform of the Waffen-SS, but without the Sig-runes. The German officers and transferred eastern front veterans were allowed to keep wearing the runes.

NSB-leader Anton Mussert was very satisfied with the new unit and offered every cooperation. With the establishment of the Landstorm, NSB members had the opportunity to arm themselves. Mussert hoped that this would an effective measure aginst the raising number of attacks on Dutch collaborators from the beginning of 1943. Apart from this Landstorm Nederland could, like SS-Standarte 'Westland' in 1940 and Freiwilligenlegion 'Niederlande' in 1941 well be a forerunner of a new Dutch army.

Mussert appealed to his members, especially his armed NSB guard de Weerafdeling (WA), to join Landstorm Nederland. The SS and Rauter in particular hoped that the new volunteers could soon be transferred to 'Wiking' or the III.SS-Panzerkorps. Next to that Rauter expected to get a stronger hold on the NSB: 'Wir kriegen so die ganzen wehrhaften Nazionalsozialisten der NSB in die Hand der SS' ('This way we'll get all the able-bodied NSB National-Socialists under the control of the SS'). Remarkably Rauter kept Landstorm Nederland as a sort of personal combat unit. During the battles against the allies in the Netherlands Rauter was in tactical command of Kampfgruppe Rauter in which Landstorm Nederland was incorporated.

A contingent of Landstorm Nederland taking the oath, Den Bosch April 20th 1944.
The education and training of the men, now called Grenadiere, started at May the 3rd 1943. The first contingent took the oath on Adolf Hitler (as Germanic führer) at the 30th of the same month. In October 1943 Landstorm Nederland counted 2.400 men, a year later the number had already risen to 3.400. Most of the new volunteers were NSB members. At first Rauter wasn't very pleased with this. He had hoped that many non-NSB members would volunteer. Later on, in 1944, he changed his mind. Rauter feared that non-NSB volunteers would turn against the Germans as soon as the allied armies entered the Netherlands. So in 1944 he tried to rise the number of the reliable NSB volunteers in Landstorm Nederland.

Most of the officers and also nco's were German. In order to give the unit a more Dutch character several initiatives were taken to get more Dutchmen in these ranks. 130 Dutch 'Wiking' and 'Nederland' veterans recieved a NCO rank in Landstorm Nederland. Within Landstorm Nederland the position of company commander was the highest a Dutchman ever reached.

Sources: (read literature for title specifications) Vincx en Schotanius, De Landstorm; Klietmann, Waffen-SS, eine Dokumentation; In 't Veld, de SS en Nederland.



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