SS-Fallschirmjager Battalion Himmler supposedly got the idea to form an SS-Fallschirmjäger batallion in September 1943 (evidence suggests that

SS troops were undertaking parachute training as early as 1937), after Operation Oak (Unternehmen Eiche). Operation Oak was launched on 12 September and included an airborne raid on the Campo Imperatore Hotel at Gran Sasso. The operation was planned by Kurt Student and lead by Otto Skorzeny by command of German dictator Adolf Hitler. During this raid, a group of German parachutists aided by a daring glider-based assault freed deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini without firing a single shot. An SS Airborne Formation is Born In October 1943, orders were given by Führer HQ to raise an SS airborne formation. This unit was often inaccurately referred to as a penal unit but was in fact made up of both regular volunteers and SS military prisoners classified under the SS military code as 'BewahrungsSoldaten' or 'b-soldaten.' This classification meant they commited violations such as sleeping on watch, failure to obey an order etc., rather than outright criminal acts such as murder, rape, larceny, etc. Dishonoured men of all ranks of the SS who volunteered were thouroughly screened by recruiters and those deemed worthy and rehabilitable could redeem themselves in this Batallion. The Batallion’s number designation, 500, stood for probationary unit, although more than half of the Batallion was made up from regular volunteers. SS Fallschirmjäger Batallion 500 under the command of SS Sturmbannführer Herbert Gilhofer carried out jump training at the Kralyevo parachute school in Yugoslavia during November 1943, training was completed in Hungary, early in 1944. In February 1944 the Batallion was given its first operation, not an airborne assault but rather an anti partisan sweep in Yugoslavia. By April 1944 the Batallion had returned to its base and was given orders to prepare for another mission (this time it was an airborne operation) and command of the Batallion was handed over to SS Hauptsturmführer Kurt Rybka. The Raid on Tito's HQ Unternehmen Rösselsprung (knights move) was the name given to the operation which had the objective of capturing Tito, at his Partisan HQ in the mountains surrounding the town of Drvar in Bosnia. They were also tasked with destroying allied military missions in the area as well as capturing the allied military liaison officers. Due to a shortage of aircraft, the SS FJ Btl 500 would be dropped in two waves, one at 7am and one at midday. Other forces involved in the operation were the 7th SS Gebirgs Division & 1st Gebirgs Division who were to surround the town itself, as well as members of Yugoslavian anti-Tito factions and the 373rd Infantry Division (croatian). The paras would be accompanied by Brandenburgers and a Luftwaffe signals unit, for intelligence purposes. At 7am on the 25th May 1944 (Tito's birthday), Hauptsturmführer Rybka and 313 FJs (in 3 groups) jumped from their transport aircraft over the town of Drvar. They met no resistance and within minutes they had secured their landing zone. Next came the gliders. They carried 320 men who were organized into 6 gruppen, each assigned an objective; Panther (to capture Tito), Griefer (British military mission), Sturmer (Soviet military mission), Brecher (US military mission), Draufganger (intelligence group) and Beisser (radio station). Rybka was to attach himself to Gruppe Panther. The 6 gliders of

The Newly Formed SS-Fallschirmjäger Batallion 600 The SS FJ Btl 600 was formally mustered on November 9th 1944 in Neu-Strelitz. the Batallion was used as a “Fire Brigade” being rushed to hot spots all over the northern area of the Ostfront. Ultimately. only 200 remained unwounded at the end of it. The FJs eventually headed to Estonia from where they were airlifted to Lithuania. soldiers of the 500th were given back their previous ranks and the right to wear the siegrunen. After the Raid This battle was over for the survivors of SS Fallschirmjäger Batallion 500. Austria where after a week's rest. He directed several attacks which collapsed under heavy partisan fire from well prepared defensive positions. Now numbering approximately 90 men. Rybka signalled the para's in the town and with these men attempted to take the mountain stronghold. The Batallion was finally withdrawn and sent to support other sectors. The SS-FJs were finally relieved in late October and were flown to Deutsch-Wagram. they were incorporated into the SS-Fallschirmjäger Batallion 600. after repeated attempts to secure the mountain. At midday. By daybreak on the 26th. their garrison town. they were sent to carry out other anti partisan operations elsewhere in Yugoslavia. the FJs fought off repeated partisan attacks. It was not until early June 1944 that the Batallion. As part of the formation of the 600 Batallion.Gruppe Panther had landed on target but met heavy resistance from Tito's men firing down from the mountainside. the town cemetery. suffering heavy casualties to fierce partisan MG fire. Little did Rybka know that Tito and his entourage had already escaped by railway and were heading to the coast. as planned. At the end of June the Batallion was again mobilized and sent to the Eastern Front. allowing the evacuation of the wounded and the re-supply of the Vilnius defenders. . was sent for rest and refitting. On 10 July 1944. Despite their heavy losses. Meanwhile the partisans were being reinforced and launched their own counter attack taking back ground won by the SS FJs. link-up between the initial assault forces and their reinforcements was conducted and the combined force tried once again to take the stronghold. a reconnaisance unit of the 7th SS Gebirgs Division "Prinz Eugen" managed to break through the encirclement to relieve them. Lithuania. The men were exhausted. By late afternoon. the FJs remained in combat for the next several months as the Germans were desperate to stave off the Soviet offensive. the second wave dropped into the battle zone. now under the command of SS Hauptsturmführer Siegfried Milius. All through the night of May 25th/26th. the Batallion along with a regiment from the Großdeutschland Division was sent to relieve German forces trapped in Vilnius. its depleted ranks bolstered by volunteers. and of the nearly 1000 FJ’s that entered the fray. There was no rest for the survivors. This Kampfgruppe parried a Soviet armoured thrust on the city and stalled the Russian advance for over two weeks. Rybka decided that his position was becoming untenable and decided to withdraw his forces back into the best defensible position available. many were wounded including Rybka.

The 999 series units are most popularly known to history by way of the 999. It consisted of the 961. Germany http://www. These prisoners were. the 30. und eine Amnestie verdienen Könnten. among other places. This unit was formed in Wehrkreis V in October 1942 as Afrika Brigade 999. which were also to be found resurrected in the JulyAugust 1944 Heer 28th. there is a pejorative nuance to the term in english (ie. or were generally serving long terms in military gaol for presumably non-military criminal or political offenses.for special employment) of the Heer (also. Interestingly enough.hrungstruppen. if "further education" was not likely. problem men were transfered into a naval company of the Heer Field Disciplinary Battlion. the first being the Sonderabteilung der Kriegsmarine (Naval Disciplinary Unit) which after WWII began was renamed the Kriegsonderabteilung (Wartime Naval Disciplinary Unit).Btl. or harsher disciplinary conditioning. or the punishment. As the end of the war approached.-500 is commonly referred to as a penal unit. activities leading to restoration of rank and placement within their former units.AfrikaSchützen-Regiment.500.Schiffstammabteilung and 31. that is. SSFj.Schünau. punishment) which the Germans disdained to use outright for this type of unit. The seriously depleted battalion continued to fight as a fire brigade north east of Berlin and at the end of April 1945 provided the rearguard for German forces pulling back from the Oder front. Besides the 500 series units for probation. had assaulted superiors. or Officer who had dishonored himself by minor infractions of the military code could be given the chance to.b.decree: ". it was a unit where officers and men convicted by courts-martial of minor infractions and currently in disciplinary straits could redeem their soldierly honour by participation in hazardous duties and operations.The renamed Batallion would next see action in the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) when 2 Kompanies attached as part of Otto Skorzeny's 150th Panzer Brigade. such as rape or black-marketeering. Prisons for Wehrmacht personnel directed by the OKW also existed at the Alte-Festung Gemmersheim. and after 1940 at Ingolstadt. and thereby earn an amnesty. in the words of a 2. The Batallion stayed on the eastern bank until the April 1.. Some battalion sized unit numbers of the 5xx series had also been former Bewärungs units (z..Schiffstammabteilung (30th and 31st Ship Cadre Battaions) were formed. generally more treated to Strafvollzug. for use in the North Sea area. such as that of the notoriously brutal SS-military prison at DanzigMatzkau.prove oneself by service at the Front. or active resistance to the NS regime. in this case.Afrika-Schützen-Regiment." (ie. 1945 when it was forced to withdraw under heavy Russian pressure. After being virtually wiped out three times in its eighteen-month existence.com/ Although SS-Fj. ". and 999 series designations for Bew&aml. After this operation."). They were. The 500 series numbering system was also shared by the Heer. SS Fallschirmjäger Batallion 600 found itself fighting many rearguard actions before finally being isolated in one of the many pockets in Northern Germany. The Kriegsmarine established a special section for their disciplinary cases at Hela on the Baltic. and at Fort Alvensleben in Metz.V. though the latter units were considered soldaten Zweite. units. The Luftwaffe also had a disciplinary section at Prüfungslager (testing center) Leipzig. Waffen-SS and Polizei) employed on the Eastern Front and integrated into new Grenadier formations in the course of. 29th and 31st mobilization waves of Grenadier and Volksgrenadier formations. all made up of the "verlorener haufe" (lost souls) dredged from the bottom of the Militär-Strafgefängnisse (military .b.zur besondern Verwendung .Btl. those soldiers who had refused direct orders.V. In the case of the Waffen-SS men being recruited for the SS-Fj. composed of more hardened disciplinary cases that the 500 series would normally not consider for rehabilitation. by sentence. The Kriegsmarine also had specific battalion sized units for its disciplnary cases.Afrika-Schützen-Regiment. the remainder of the Batallion was rushed to the Oder front to take up positions on the eastern bank of the river to help stem the flow of Soviet forces. and the 31. In other words.ssfallschirmjager. than of redemptive probation.4.Btl.an der Front bewähren..section for SS personnel at Dachau. in the Baltic Sea area.Leichte Afrika Division. NCO.. Another such unit was formed later in WWII named Kriegsonderabteilung Ost.500 was a 500 series Bewährungs or probationary unit in which an enlisted soldier. it would have probably been at one of the harsh SS-Strafanstalten. by their criminal nature. the Heer also exclusively employed both 300 series . 962.1942 Hitler. the unit surrendered to US forces in early May 1945 near the town of Hagenow.Klasse (second-class soldiers). but should not to be confused with the post-1940 500 series designated divisional units. the JulyAugust 1944 reorganization of the Feldheer.z. Also during the War the 30. and later at Dedelsdorf in Kreis Gifhorn. and 963.

delinquents and criminals. habitual criminals.b. These were only two of fifteen notoriously bleak camps situated in the dank peat-bog marshes surrounding the Ems river.SS Special and Assault troops created from punishment companies 2. or reconnaissance and commando raids far behind enemy lines.) . political.Special Staff F and 361-numbered rifle. or doing the dog construction work of the Organization Todt labor details. D: SS-Sonder und Stürmtruppen .V.Heinrich Himmler as Reichsminister des Innen. continued to process potentially redeemable criminal and political prisoners from the various Wehrmachtstrafslager for replacement positions within other Heer units.) Delinquenten were minor disciplinary cases scared into discipline by the harshness of their sentence and surroundings. In the harsh disciplinary milieu (Eiserne Disziplin der Truppe) of the Waffen-SS specifically. as the tide of war turned against the Reich). After the surrender of the 999.ie. the dirty work of clearing mines.Verbände zur besonderen Verwendung (z. B: Bewährungseinrichtung der Org. and the German Wehrmacht in general. (Literally translated. like for mine or bomb clearing. In fact. in the ranks of the Wehrmacht. once a soldier-prisoner was relegated to Esterwegen camp by the military authority. there was a quite profound difference between the punishments accorded to the general classifications of "delinquenten". and that of "verbrecher". near the Dutch border.prisons) throughout the Reich . the Divisional replacement Ersatz u. the imagined benefits of a harsh-but-fair rule of military justice evaporated.Leichte. decorations and dignity.Rhodos) in May 1943. decorations and honor. Allied prisoners of war. and other so-called himmelsfahrtkommando type duties.men stripped of rank. religious objectors.Afrika Division fought well and honorably in Tunisa. such as penal battlion. and anti-partisan operations . and Fortress units. Perhaps the most luckless of all German military prisoners of this type relegated to Wehrmachtstrafgefangenlager (Armed Forces Punishment camps) were to be found in the Emsland camps of NW Germany at Esterwegen and Börgermoor near Papenburg.) and Bewährungsabteilungen (Field-punishment and probationary detachments) which performed dangerous engineer and assault functions at the blunt edge of attacks.Todt . fighting partisans. and not a unit type. and simply put disciplinary cases in pre-designated Feldstrafgefangenabteilungen (FstrGAbt.Probationary hard labor cases assigned to Organiztion Todt construction details at the front The 2nd class soldiers were stripped of rank. Himmelfahrts Kommando means "Journey-to. The 999.heaven-mission" and descibes any operation with extremely high risk. C: Feldbataillone z.a.Luftwaffe special employment battalions made up of minor disciplinary cases. and was only somewhat relaxed. although members of penal units were often sent on these types of missions. and considered "un-Wehrwurding". and after 1939. digging trenches or peat-bogs. The breakdown of the various types of Bewährungs troops can be more clearly established in the following order: 1.Units for special employment: A: 500er u. while verbrecher were hard-core cases (recall 2nd class soldiers) upon whom presumably the harshest of sentences had little affect.b. der Heerestruppe .series 500 and other battalions for special employment under command of OKW. Generally. Jews. This colloquialisme is sometimes used in civil connotation also. and civil crimes were purposely sent to be ultimately broken.Ausbildungs organization located at its home station of Heuberg. these camps later went on to hold KPD and Socialist Political prisoners. which made it a virtual "Zuchthaus" (civil penitentiaray) type establishment subject to all the grim brutalities and deficiencies inherent in an institution ultimately under command of RFSS.V. where soldiers convicted of military.) That is not to say that these local punishments were officially any better or worse than soldiers in a rear-area punishment camps. although not nesseccarily suicidal. front line commands disregarded official formalities in sending soldiers to the farrear for proper military-judicial discipline. This unit went on to become the nucleus of Sturm-Division Rhodos (aka 440. (ie. From their inception in 1933 as SA-manned detention centers for enemies of the new regime. this black-humor term was understood to mean a mission where the chances of survival were practically nil. Bataillone z. as Esterwegen and it's ancilliary camps were administered by the Reichsjustizministerium.or punishment units which only gradually shifted. In a number of cases.b.Leicth-Afrika-Division. military-offenders. It's 963. The term is in reference to a specific type of mission. It can be concievably stated that life in the dangerous environment . B: Sonderstab F und 361er Afrikaschützen .SturmDiv. cutting wood. unit designations intact. or basic infantry units deployed in North Africa.Afrika-Schützen-Regiment was transferred to Greece from Sicily before ever reaching North Afrika. Examples were rearguard actions of small groups to cover the retreat of a larger unit by holding a position and delaying the enemy as long as possible until it usually was too late for their own withdrawal. der Luftwaffe .Formations composed of 2nd class soldiers: A: 999er Afrika und Festungstruppe -999 numbered units deployed to Africa. or "unworthy of bearing arms" in the defense of Germany (An important distinction to consider between the types of Straf. Formationen für Soldaten Zweiter Klasse: . and surrendered with the remnants of the DAK in May 1943.V. This was perhaps the lowest rung on the military-prison hierarchy to be found in the Wehrmacht prison system. with the accompanying 999.

/KG 200's ORBAT as the 3rd Staffel. or promotion allowed. after Budapest. involved men of the 500. the unit refused serious cases. these hapless men would be stripped of rank and decorations. he was commissioned and ended up as a company commander in SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 600. However. Scheu was not scared to express his opinion and had scant regard for red tape and he upset the wrong people. However. So while the second Budapest mission. Their most famous action was the parachute and glider assault on Tito's HQ on May 15th 1944. Depending on the severity of the individual cases. Albania. It is sometimes stated in histories of the French Resistance that SS paratroopers carried out a parachute assault in July 1944 against French partisan forces on the Vercors plateau in the French Alps where hundreds of partisans had created a stronghold from which they were mounting operations against the German occupiers.. These para-trained commandos of II. although it must be said that where many of them were concerned. the 600's first mission although the new battalion was not formally mustered until November 9th 1944 in Neu-Strelitz. they were not Waffen-SS but Luftwaffe special forces from the secretive Kampfgeschwader 200. their units were happy to see the back of them and the feeling was reciprocated. and also the ability to write home and to take leave. Operation Panzerfaust. hence veteran SS paratroopers' tendency to bristle with indignation when the unit is described as penal! Most of the offences involved were quite minor infractions of the draconian Waffen-SS code of conduct. It was the only occasion on which SS paratroopers faced the Western Allies until. There were also two missions in Budapest. fleeing the Soviets. The battalion was virtually wiped out three times in its eighteen month existence./KG 200's ORBAT as the 3rd Staffel. However. the individual soldiers paybook (Soldbuch) was usually stamped "no decorations./KG 200 remain a little-known arm of Germany's WW2 parachute forces and were listed on II.can you substantiate this claim? I spent a year on attachment in the area and visited the site (and paraded at the annual memorial service)..of the front only exacerbated the punishment. and at the discretion of the Commanding officer. and divisional Strafabteilungen or penal-detachments is that depending on the gravity of the offense. The B-Soldaten of the 500 who survived long enough to see the formation of the 600 were also given back their previous ranks and the right to wear the sigrunen on November 9th 1944. Yet as soon as he put in for a transfer to SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 in March 1944. be refused mail and packages from home. whose harsh wintertime conditions can only be imagined to have somewhat increased the severity of sentence in one of the luckless punishment details. one in March 1944 and the other in October 1944 by which time the surviving members of SS-FallschirmjägerBtl 500 had learned that they were to be part of the new SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 600. CAG147 . After the Ardennes. The 500 was slated to jump on the Baltic island of Aaland at the end of June 1944 with Fallschirm Bataillon "Brandenburg" but the mission was cancelled. is that of the 20. their garrison town. Lithuania. . Two companies of the newly forming SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 600 were then attached to Otto Skorzeny's Panzerbrigade 150 in December 1944 for the Ardennes. NCOs and men who just wanted a change.Gebirgsarmee (fighting in the far north of Finland. The SS-Fallschirmjäger never fought in France. they surrendered to US forces early in May 1945. they were not Waffen-SS but Luftwaffe special forces from the secretive Kampfgeschwader 200./KG 200 remain a little-known arm of Germany's WW2 parachute forces and were listed on II. it can be said to have been. the Kola. officially. Courland and Memel." A good example of frontline punishment for disciplinary infractions from early on in the Russian campaign. the 600 fought heroically on the Oder Front in the Schwedt and Zehden bridgeheads and in various epic rearguard actions across Northern Germany at the very end of the war. It is sometimes stated in histories of the French Resistance that SS paratroopers carried out a parachute assault in July 1944 against French partisan forces on the Vercors plateau in the French Alps where hundreds of partisans had created a stronghold from which they were mounting operations against the German occupiers. Places in which SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 fought include Yugoslavia. Every account I saw at the time claimed that the paratroopers were Waffen SS. Corps. Even then. But they were hardly hardened criminals! The rest were officers. Another aspect of the duty in these Army. A typical case was Walter Scheu who served with the Wiking's prestigious reconnaissance detachment throughout Barbarossa and up to early 1944 without advancing further than corporal even though he was a party member and a brave soldier with the EK2 and NKS in Bronze. The SS-Fallschirmjäger never fought in France. there was a former LAH officer broken in the ranks and set to work breaking rocks for being homosexual. Another case was a young Norwegian from the Norge Regiment sentenced to ten years' hard labour for shooting himself in the hand to get out of the front line. and Karelia) setting up three notorious camps known as Feldstraflager I-III. Only about half of the initial intake of recruits to SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 in October and November 1943 were bewährungs-soldaten (disciplinary cases). awards. These para-trained commandos of II.

it was a unit where officers and men convicted by courts-martial of minor infractions and currently in disciplinary straits could redeem their soldierly honour by participation in hazardous duties and operations. These para-trained commandos of II.500 was a 500 series Bew&auml. although he is not 100% sure. * In 1943. More than 600 French were killed and a little more than 100 Germans too. 200 civilians killed and 40 deported. and integrated throughout the new unit.ger-Bataillon.1942 Hitler-decree: ". while being overseen by a special probationary staff attached to the Battalion HQ.May and 17 July for jump training. I will work on it . and maybe someone else contribute to this question . In reprisal..500. and at Danzig-Matzkau. When the order came down from FHQu. punishment) which the Germans disdained to use outright for this type of unit. This company has also been engaged against the resistance in the Vercors battle.rungs units (z.b.. und eine Amnestie verdienen K&ouml.-500 is commonly referred to as a penal unit. to SS-FHA in late 1943 (post-Skorzeny-Gran-Sasso) to form an SS-Fallshirmj&auml. In other words. in this case. and thereby earn an amnesty. 29th and 31st mobilization waves of Grenadier and Volksgrenadier formations. 180 French men formed the 8th company of the 3rd Regiment of the Brandenburg division. Prisons for Wehrmacht personnel .. In the case of the Waffen-SS men being recruited for the SS-Fj. I quoted one German historian./KG 200 remain a little-known arm of Germany's WW2 parachute forces and were listed on II. or Officer who had dishonored himself by minor infractions of the military code could be given the chance to.zur besondern Verwendung . The French resistants had lost the desperate battle but mobilized important German forces. but should not to be confused with the post-1940 500 series designated divisional units. or the punishment-section for SS personnel at Dachau.. known as Section III (Abt. Every account I saw at the time claimed that the paratroopers were Waffen SS. they were not Waffen-SS but Luftwaffe special forces from the secretive Kampfgeschwader 200. it would have probably been at one of the harsh SS-Strafanstalten.for special employment) of the Heer (also.gungstruppe (later Waffen-SS) gathered at the Fallschirmschule at Stendal between 23. the idea suffered crib-death in it's infancy. I have called my friend recently. and the troops were returned to their regular units. SS-Fallshirmj&auml.III). Most such cases were at the time imprisoned at the Strafvollzugslager der Waffen-SS und Polizei in places like SS-Straflager Dachau. Some battalion sized unit numbers of the 5xx series had also been former Bew&auml. ".. who is "a W-SS expert" and he would supports your point of view.The SS-Fallschirmjäger never fought in France.Btl. However. which were also to be found resurrected in the JulyAugust 1944 Heer 28th. such as that of the notoriously brutal SS-military prison at DanzigMatzkau.")." (ie. there is a pejorative nuance to the term in english (ie..hrungs or probationary unit in which (as mentioned above) an enlisted soldier.Btl. Waffen-SS and Polizei) employed on the Eastern Front and integrated into new Grenadier formations in the course of.ger-Bataillon-500 The first attempt to form an SS airborne unit was in 1937 when a small group of volunteers from the Germania Regt./KG 200's ORBAT as the 3rd Staffel..nnten. the July-August 1944 reorganization of the Feldheer.V. The former military prisoners were restored their rank and standing. Although SS-Fj.prove oneself by service at the Front. In June 1944 4. and more specifically. and a number of clerks to keep track of the records concerning the disciplinary cases in the unit. However. several villages (573 houses) have been burned. end of July another assault with about 15.000 men. NCO. which included an SS Lawyer.. for opportunities for officially disgraced officers and enlisted men wishing to redeem themselves from minor disciplinary sentences to do so under fire. in the words of a 2. First a German Gebirgsdivision couldn't defeat them but then. CAG147 . artillery support and the landing of gliders with soldiers from the Brandenburg division* defeated the defenders who had no supply and no support. They organized the glider attack usually said as being a Waffen-SS attack but the French witnesses have probably taken the "Brandenburg" arm patch for a SS marking. Unfortunately I cannot.Btl. It is sometimes stated in histories of the French Resistance that SS paratroopers carried out a parachute assault in July 1944 against French partisan forces on the Vercors plateau in the French Alps where hundreds of partisans had created a stronghold from which they were mounting operations against the German occupiers. Often Engaged in Southern France.hren. of the SS-Verf&uuml. SSFj. it was decided that there would be an equal percentage of volunteers from both existing Waffen-SS units. The 500 series numbering system was also shared by the Heer. imitating resistants (with captured radios) they captured many equipments/weapons deliveries and proceeded to many arrests.000 maquis members concentrated on the Vercors plateau in the foolish aim to held it like a fortified area.can you substantiate this claim? I spent a year on attachment in the area and visited the site (and paraded at the annual memorial service).an der Front bew&auml..4.

In fact.Afrika-Sch&uuml.Afrika-Sch&uuml. Allied prisoners of war.Leichte.fungslager (testing center) Leipzig-Sch&uuml. It consisted of the 961. Besides the 500 series units for probation.Special Staff F and 361-numbered rifle.rgermoor near Papenburg. continued to process potentially redeemable criminal and political prisoners from the various Wehrmachtstrafslager for replacement positions within other Heer units. all made up of the "verlorener haufe" (lost souls) dredged from the bottom of the Milit&auml.tzen .men stripped of rank.tzen-Regiment.V. The 999 series units are most popularly known to history by way of the 999. decorations and dignity. and later at Dedelsdorf in Kreis Gifhorn. or were generally serving long terms in military gaol for presumably non-military criminal or political offenses.rmtruppen . and at Fort Alvensleben in Metz. der Luftwaffe .Leicth-Afrika-Division. the first being the Sonderabteilung der Kriegsmarine (Naval Disciplinary Unit) which after WWII began was renamed the Kriegsonderabteilung (Wartime Naval Disciplinary Unit). the Heer also exclusively employed both 300 series . by their criminal nature. Formationen f&uuml. decorations and honor. and civil crimes were purposely sent to be ultimately broken. those soldiers who had refused direct orders. 999er Afrika und Festungstruppe -999 numbered units deployed to Africa. 962. the 30. such as rape or black-marketeering.Sturm-Div.hrungstruppen. the Divisional replacement Ersatz u. SS-Sonder . composed of more hardened disciplinary cases that the 500 series would normally not consider for rehabilitation.AfrikaSch&uuml.series 500 and other battalions for special employment under command of OKW b. if "further education" was not likely. Another such unit was formed later in WWII named Kriegsonderabteilung Ost. generally more treated to Strafvollzug.ngnisse (military prisons) throughout the Reich . After the surrender of the 999. 500er u. and was only somewhat relaxed.tzenRegiment.Afrika-Sch&uuml.Probationary hard labor cases assigned to Organiztion Todt construction details at the front The 2nd class soldiers were stripped of rank. Bataillone z. that is. problem men were transfered into a naval company of the Heer Field Disciplinary Battlion. or basic infantry units deployed in North Africa c. The Kriegsmarine also had specific battalion sized units for its disciplnary cases. The Luftwaffe also had a disciplinary section at Pr&uuml. for use in the North Sea area. habitual criminals.nau. by sentence. though the latter units were considered soldaten Zweite-Klasse (second-class soldiers).Leichte Afrika Division.a.r-Strafgef&auml.or punishment units which only gradually shifted.V. had assaulted superiors. and the 31.) . Interestingly enough. The breakdown of the various types of Bew&auml.hrungseinrichtung der Org.und St&uuml. Also during the War the 30.Schiffstammabteilung (30th and 31st Ship Cadre Battaions) were formed. The Kriegsmarine established a special section for their disciplinary cases at Hela on the Baltic.b.SS Special and Assault troops created from punishment companies 2.b. or harsher disciplinary conditioning. and surrendered with the remnants of the DAK in May 1943. Perhaps the most luckless of all German military prisoners of this type relegated to Wehrmachtstrafgefangenlager (Armed Forces Punishment camps) were to be found in the Emsland camps of NW Germany at Esterwegen and B&ouml.Ausbildungs organization located at its home station of Heuberg. Jews.b. activities leading to restoration of rank and placement within their former units. as the tide of war turned against the Reich). Feldbataillone z.V. der Heerestruppe . and considered "un-Wehrwurding".b.Units for special employment: a.z.V. near the Dutch border. From their inception in 1933 as SA-manned detention centers for enemies of the new regime.r Soldaten Zweiter Klasse: . in the Baltic Sea area.tzen-Regiment was transferred to Greece from Sicily before ever reaching North Afrika.Formations composed of 2nd class soldiers: a. units. and Fortress units b.Afrika Division fought well and honorably in Tunisa. These prisoners were.directed by the OKW also existed at the Alte-Festung Gemmersheim. The 999. than of redemptive probation. political.Rhodos) in May 1943. once .Schiffstammabteilung and 31. military-offenders. and after 1940 at Ingolstadt. and 999 series designations for Bew&aml. or "unworthy of bearing arms" in the defense of Germany (An important distinction to consider between the types of Straf. and after 1939.Todt .tzen-Regiment.nde zur besonderen Verwendung (z. among other places.Verb&auml. It's 963. These were only two of fifteen notoriously bleak camps situated in the dank peat-bog marshes surrounding the Ems river. religious objectors.hrungs troops can be more clearly established in the following order: 1. They were. these camps later went on to hold KPD and Socialist Political prisoners. or active resistance to the NS regime. with the accompanying 999. Sonderstab F und 361er Afrikasch&uuml. Bew&auml. where soldiers convicted of military. unit designations intact.Luftwaffe special employment battalions made up of minor disciplinary cases d. and 963. This was perhaps the lowest rung on the military-prison hierarchy to be found in the Wehrmacht prison system. This unit went on to become the nucleus of Sturm-Division Rhodos (aka 440. This unit was formed in Wehrkreis V in October 1942 as Afrika Brigade 999.

) That is not to say that these local punishments were officially any better or worse than soldiers in a rear-area punishment camps. Examples were rearguard actions of small groups to cover the retreat of a larger unit by holding a position and delaying the enemy as long as possible until it usually was too late for their own withdrawal. The first gathering of recruits was at Chlum in Czechoslovakia in October of 1943. such as penal battlion.tzen mannschaften. and also the ability to write home and to take leave. and divisional Strafabteilungen or penal-detachments is that depending on the gravity of the offense. (ie.hrer Herbert Gilhofer. this black-humor term was understood to mean a mission where the chances of survival were practically nil. or doing the dog construction work of the Organization Todt labor details. or promotion allowed. front line commands disregarded official formalities in sending soldiers to the farrear for proper military-judicial discipline. and that of "verbrecher". Himmelfahrts Kommando means "Journey-to-heaven-mission" and descibes any operation with extremely high risk.tzen mannschaften.rser mannschaft 3. and the German Wehrmacht in general. Corps. the imagined benefits of a harsh-but-fair rule of military justice evaporated. and not a unit type. It can be concievably stated that life in the dangerous environment of the front only exacerbated the punishment.) Delinquenten were minor disciplinary cases scared into discipline by the harshness of their sentence and surroundings.tzen-Kompanie 3 Z&uuml.Fallschirm-Sch&uuml.3. or reconnaissance and commando raids far behind enemy lines. these hapless men would be stripped of rank and decorations.rser mannschaft 2.Gebirgsarmee (fighting in the far north of Finland. fighting partisans. be refused mail and packages from home. as Esterwegen and it's ancilliary camps were administered by the Reichsjustizministerium. delinquents and criminals. the individual soldiers paybook (Soldbuch) was usually stamped "no decorations. Depending on the severity of the individual cases. and 1x M&ouml. the dirty work of clearing mines.at the newly relocated Luftwaffe Fallschirm-Schule nr. (Literally translated.ge & Nachrichten mannschaft each of 3x Sch&uuml.ge & Nachrichten mannschaft each of 3x Sch&uuml.Komp (267 men): 1x -Nachrichtenzug 1x -Aufkl&auml." A good example of frontline punishment for disciplinary infractions from early on in the Russian campaign. and .near Sarajevo. and at the discretion of the Commanding officer. After training as a unit.Stab. digging trenches or peat-bogs.ger later relocated to Papa. The fledgling SS-Fallschirmj&auml.tzen-Kompanie 3 Z&uuml. and other so-called himmelsfahrtkommando type duties.rungs mannschaft 1x -Kradmelder abteilung 1x -Fallschirm-wartenzug 1. At this time the composition of the 1000 man SS-Parachute battalion was: Btl. The first commander of the mixed Battalion was SS-Sturmbannf&uuml.500 moved into Yugoslavia in April 1944 for its baptism of fire near Tuzla in Bosnia-Herzegovina.) In November 1943 the Batallion began intensive parachute jump-training at Madanrushka-Banja. and simply put disciplinary cases in pre-designated Feldstrafgefangenabteilungen (FstrGAbt.hrungsabteilungen (Field-punishment and probationary detachments) which performed dangerous engineer and assault functions at the blunt edge of attacks. awards.) and Bew&auml.Gren. In a number of cases. although members of penal units were often sent on these types of missions. there was a quite profound difference between the punishments accorded to the general classifications of "delinquenten". and anti-partisan operations . although not nesseccarily suicidal.Fallschirm-Sch&uuml.a soldier-prisoner was relegated to Esterwegen camp by the military authority. of SS-Pz.tzen mannschaften.Fallschirm-Sch&uuml. like for mine or bomb clearing. the SS-Fj-Btl. Generally. The term is in reference to a specific type of mission. in the ranks of the Wehrmacht. This colloquialisme is sometimes used in civil connotation also. In the harsh disciplinary milieu (Eiserne Disziplin der Truppe) of the Waffen-SS specifically. Another aspect of the duty in these Army.ge & Nachrichten mannschaft each of 3x Sch&uuml. Hungary for their final jump-training in early 1944. the Kola. and Karelia) setting up three notorious camps known as Feldstraflager I-III. whose harsh wintertime conditions can only be imagined to have somewhat increased the severity of sentence in one of the luckless punishment details.ie. and 1x M&ouml. is that of the 20. cutting wood. which made it a virtual "Zuchthaus" (civil penitentiaray) type establishment subject to all the grim brutalities and deficiencies inherent in an institution ultimately under command of RFSS-Heinrich Himmler as Reichsminister des Innen.tzen-Kompanie 3 Z&uuml. while verbrecher were hard-core cases (recall 2nd class soldiers) upon whom presumably the harshest of sentences had little affect.Rgt 21 (Frundsberg Div.

Heer.and then assist group Greifer.Fallschirm-(schwer-waffen)-Kompanie 1x MG (h. each glider group was assigned a specific task: -Panther group . encamped and ranging throughout . Bosnia & Unternehmen R&ouml. The airdrop/airlanding mission.350 strong). along with combined Lutwaffe..incl.Inf. In a concerted effort.ger did not end there.Btl. tasked with destroying partisan signals unit and collection of radio code books and signal intelligence references. Numerous Partisan brigades. or Knights Move. The order of battle for the May 25.) 1x Panzerj&auml.110 men to neutralize Tito's bodyguard (ca.500 Serbian partisans who.4 with Ju52's & SM79 Sparviero with RSI crew.42) 1x Flammenwerfer-zug (3 x flamethrowers) 1x M&ouml.50 men to destroy the US military mission. -Greifer group .Div.Rgtr.373.). and 20 men of "Abteilung Svadil" . and would be the highlight of a major ground sweep by 2. & 384.50 men to destroy the USSR military mission. The prize had escaped.Abt. LW signals experts. the SS-Fj.Brandenburg Rgt. (not confirmed) SS-Hauptsturmf&uuml. while the remainder.(Kroat. the unit was prepared to drop on communist Partisan leader Josef Brosz Tito's headquarters in a heavily armed mountain stronghold above the town of Drvar in western Bosnia. which steamed him west to the coast of the Adriatic. 1944 airborne operation included: -III/LLG1 (3rd Btl.300 men of Croatian Republic's Guard unit. and interpreters from 7. had escaped through a natural fissure at the top of the cave.ca. would land by DFS230 & Go-242 glider.) from Strasbourg-Polygon-Mannheim. and capture him in his headquarters.rserzug (12cm.a special composite detail of (Abwehr) Brandenburgers. which commenced at 0700 on May 25. elements of the SS.with 8 towing detachments -II/Transportgschw. of partisan held territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina.gun) Mobility inlcuded 100 Kraftwagen & 30 Kradfahr Operations in W.Gebirgsdivision. the ever elusive Tito. -Ustasha . well beyond the immediate grasp of the troops detailed to capture him. and SS-Hauptsturmf&uuml.1944.Air Landing Group 1) from Nancy. but the ordeal of the attacking glider-troops of SSFallschirmj&auml. SS-Fj. At this time SSSturmbannf&uuml.hrer Rybka planned for a total of 654 fallschirmj&auml.sselsprung.50 fallschirmj&auml. In what would be the first and only combat parachute drop (and gliderassault) made by the SS-Fj. -Beisser group .Fallsch.SS-Frw. in an attempt to kill or capture him. and Croatian troops attacking from the ground. situated in a well defended cave.Panzer-Armee of Armeegruppe F.ger to drop in the first assault wave. was a near debacle.500 was returned to barracks at Madarushka-Banja in mid-April 1944 to prepare for a new mission.20 men to sieze a specific outpost radio station. along with Slovenian partisan leader Edvard Kardelj.hrer Kurt Rybka took over command. Serbia. This was to be undertaken in an operation known as R&ouml. while having no love for Croatian's. and Macedonia in anti-partisan (Bandenkampf) sweeps. assault group quickly came under heavy defensive fire from Tito's bodyguard detachment.) -373.sselsprung (Knight's Move) After spending close to three months moving through the rough terrain of Bosnia-Herzogovina.hrer Gilhofer returned to the Frundsberg Division. -Daufnanger group . hated the communist Tito as well.1x M&ouml. and initially stunning the partisan defenders. -II/1.Bataillon during the war.Brandenburg Rgt. [Heer] (elements) -92. -Sturmer group . organized into six assault groups. France with 17 towing detachments -4. -Chetnik .ger.Gebirgsdivision Prinz Eugen.373/Pz.Inf.SS-Freiwillige-Gebirgsdivision "Prinz Eugen" (elements) -1.gerzug (anti-tank) = 4 x LG 40/75 (recoiless para/mtn./Aufkl.ca. -Brecher group . & III/1. The O/B of the operation's ground units included: -7.abt.rser mannschaft 4.Jag.) zug (MG.II/LLG1 (4th Squad. heavily escorted by partisan echelons to a nearby mountain-railway. which delayed thier entrance into the inner-sanctum of Tito's mountain lair. Montenegro. Three hundred and fourteen (314) of these men would drop by parachute. Bataillon 500 would boldly land near the top of the citadel and storm Tito's headquarters.2nd Btl. While reaching the citadel in near perfect execution of their plan. In the meantime.Infanterie-Regiment (mot.40 men to destroy the UK military mission.383. At the heart of the mission.

they ended up in the town cemetery.sselsprung.Inf.Panzerarmee. which had been shattered by a partisan grenade.J&auml. elements of 7. and they were further moved by airlift from Rakvere.hrer Kurt Rybka went on to the hospital. and 58. and 252.Panzerkorps.Inf.and 196 enlisted men remained.500 were ordered to report directly to Marine-Oberkommando-Ostsee (Naval High Command Baltic) at Gotenhafen on the Baltic Coast in East Prussia for a special mission. by 30 June only 15 Officers. In early June 1944. surrounded on all sides.Div's) around Sintauti.Gebirgs-Div.Armeekorps./Panzer-regiment Grossdeutschland for the relief of the 11. SS-Hauptsturmf&uuml. 212. and the use of his left arm. along with the remnants of the Bataillon which had parachuted into the village earlier that morning. resupply the units fighting there.Panzerarmee (CO Hasso v. but by the time of their arrival at MO-Ostsee at Gotenhafen.. On the hillside. At daybreak on 26 May.hrer Siegfried Milius took command of SS-Fj.Btl.ger-Abteilung 731 to help stem the advance of the Soviet 33rd and 11th Guards Armies.ger Btl. outflanked in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. 1944.. and relieved them of their defensive burden. a two-week long furious see-saw battle eventually pushed the Germans out of the Lithuanian captial for good between the last week of July and the first week of August 1944 . to deny them to the Russians. Lithuania. mounted on the tanks of the Grossdeutschland.Panzer-korps. other elements of the Bataillon were at the same time. the 292 men of SS-Fj. the Bataillon was immediately dispatched to 39. While the assault gliders brought SS-Fj.rungs-Abteilung of the Prinz Eugen Division linked up with Rybka and his decimated command. and a newly tailored General's uniform.500 in the east was in early October 1944. Despite the hard fought actions of the 39.Inf. Meanwhile. A plan had been formulated for their participation in a pre-emptive assault-landing and occupation of the Aaland Islands in the Baltic Sea. Given a few days rest after this engagement.Btl. parachuting directly into and around the perimeter of the smoldering town of Drvar. and both sides suffered heavy casualties throughout the morning and afternoon of May 25. ordered the last 90 combat-fit men of SS-Fallschirmj&auml. only to capture a few scattered maps and documents. Upon it's arrival in the area of 3.Bataillon helped secure the front around Raseiniai. to move in and evacuate the wounded. The unit's stay there was brief however.Btl.Panzer & 561. Ordered to stand down for rest and re-fit that very day. Prinz Eugen were relentlessly driving thier way from the southwest through heavy partisan defensive fire and rough valley terrain toward Drvar and the SS-Fallschirmj&auml. they attempted to halt .Panzerkorps.Panzer-Division. and into an ad-hoc Kampfgruppe with the I.ger's beleaguered positions. helping to stem the tide of the Soviet armored thrust on Vilnius to the southeast. an emergency on August 20th among the units of 26.500 was a part. Estonia to Kaunas. and taking heavy mortar fire from well equipped and determined partisan fighters.the SS-Fj-500 helped to evacute the last of Vilnius' defenders near the city's Airport . The Bataillon's Feldersatzkompanie had only been able. was still being area-bombed by the Luftwaffe in a less than elegant synchronization of the operational timetable. north of Memel. the Bataillon had been greatly reduced in size and effectiveness. On June 29. which Tito had not yet worn. 1944 the Bataillon entrained from the Balkans for the Eastern Front. the the fit elements of SS-Fj.(Kroat. 1944.Btl. the remaining fit members of his Bataillon were sent on to Petrovac for a subsequent anti-partisan operation. troops directly on top of the heavily guarded mountainside. Grossdeutschland. which.(Germanisch) SS-Panzerkorps.500.with the Soviet 51st Army battering it's way west toward the Baltic sea. Estonia to join the III. and bolster the defense of 11.Manteuffel) on July 10. 1944.Summer 1944 With the opening of the Russian summer offensive of late June 1944 and the impending withdrawal of Finland from active hostilities against the Soviet Union. allowing another battlegroup (KG-Schmidt). along with elements of the 7. Rybka and his men had finally subdued the defenders of Tito's cave. of which the SS-Fj. to return lightly wounded men and briefly trained replacements to the ready-roster of the Bataillon.) Infanterie Division and the 7. well northwest of Kaunus.Armeekorps. As a result of losses incurred during Unternehmen R&ouml.ger. The SS-Fallschirmj&auml. the ground forces of the 373. While SS-Hauptsturmf&uuml.500 to join up with s.Btl. Operations in the Baltic states .SS-Frw. 81 NCO's. the unit was again linked with the Grossdeutschland and 39. the much dwindled and hard-fought SS-Fj.Armeekorps (6. attacked along the Kaunas-Vilnius highway the very day of their arrival at the front. The furious fight for the cave had cost Rybka both many good men.the hilly fastness around the Drvar citadel quickly responded to the alarm and began to converge upon their beleaguered comrade's positions. On 26 June. the plan had been cancelled. Of the 1000 battle-ready men on May 25.Panzer Div. and still contested town of Drvar. fighting alongside Panzer-Brigade von Werthen.Pz. The Bataillon was then entrained for Narwa. On August 19. in September 1944. Despite an early afternoon glider landing of ammunition and medical supplies.500 were sent to barracks at Ljubljana for rest and a much needed reorganization. The final battle of the SS-Fj. The fighting in Drvar was bitter. By nightfall. Rybka found his position on the hillside untenable and so ordered his remaining assault force to pull back in an orderly fashion into the valley. and the eventual creation of the Kurland Pocket. and 3.Division. by this time. the Aufkl&auml. on the northern flank of the crumbling Heeresgruppe Mitte. There.Divisons.Btl. much to the chagrin of both attacker and defender.

the SS Para Bn had over a hundred trucks and thirty motorcycles. the SS Para Bn had 267. SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 comprised: Stab/SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 (HQ Coy) Supply Coy Motor Transport Pln Signals Pln Motorcycle Dispatch Section Repair & Maintenance Pln Parachute Equipment Maintenance Section Legal Section (for handling the Disciplinary Soldiers) 1./SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Signals Detachment 2. to be numbered 600. NCOs and SS men who had problems of various kinds in their parent units. the Field Training & Replacement Company became the new 1st Coy. and the new Bataillon would be composed of totally of volunteers.Ausbildungs Kompanie currently involved in the formation of a completely new SS-Fallschirmj&auml. three light MG detachments. Additionally. During its eighteen months existence./SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Signals Detachment 3. What made the SS Para Bn different from its Luftwaffe counterparts was its totally self-contained. and sent to Zichenau in East Prussia. Where a Luftwaffe Para Bn HQ had 138 men on its ORBAT. an unsuccessful spoiling operation which led to the eventual siege of Memel and the entrapment of the formerly named units. They were recalled to Deutsch-Wagram in Ostmark (Austria) to join their Ersatz u. (schw)/SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 (4 (Heavy) Coy or “Support Coy”) Heavy MG Pln (Four MGs) Heavy Mortar Pln (Four 80mm mortars) Light Artillery/Anti-Tank Pln (Four 75mm LG40s) Flamethrower Pln Feld-Ausbildungs-Kompanie (Field Training Coy)* *Sometimes called Feld-Ausbildungs und Erstaz Kompanie Each of the Rifle Platoons consisted of three rifle sections. first at Drvar in May 1944 and then on the Eastern Front http://www.html .militaryphotos.hrungs.the advance of the Soviet's to the sea. while many of the other volunteers were officers. three submachine-gun detachments and a mortar squad. When reformed as SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 600 in November 1944. At this point the remnants of the Bataillon were plucked from disaster.php/t-15705. The bew&auml. The new SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 600 came under the administrative control of Otto Skorzeny’s SS-Jagdverbände organisation at Friedenthal. which was all but annihilated four times. When initially formed in November 1943.ger-Bataillon. The SS Para Bn even had its very own training and replacement company. Posted on Waffen-SS forum: The SS Parachute Bn was larger than a Luftwaffe Para Bn. Roughly half the initial intake were disciplinary cases invited to volunteer to regain their honour on the battlefield. an estimated 3500 men passed through the ranks of the SS Para Bn.net/forums/archive/index./SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Rifle Pln Signals Detachment 4. self-reliany nature. or probationary status of the unit was dissolved. with almost 1100 men to the typical LW ORBAT of about 850 men.

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