JF Ptak Science Books Post 1642
This is the first post in a new series on this blog on "changing sides"--that is, having a new allegiance, Adopting/acting on an something completely out of the mainstream of the personal experience, believing in the opposite of an established belief; to leave something, falling away or rejecting one thing for its opposite or something different, done with integrity or with the abandonment of honesty.
Jacques Doriot.That was the name on the pamphlet that I pulled out of a stack of pamphlets segregated for their cover art. Les Communistes et le chomage was written by Doriot in the year after he became mayor of St. Denis, an ancient commune just north of Paris, in 1932. That was years, of course, after Doriot returned home from being a POW of the Germans in WWI and found himself joining the French Communist Party (PCF), a group in which he rapidly succeeded. HE went to jail for the violent protest of teh French occupation of the Ruhr, emerging into the political arena as mayor of St. Denis.
At one point he was taken by the Communists, but a bitter debate erupted after which he was expelled from the Party (in 1934). He abandoned thoughts of the communists and established a new ultra-nationalist Parti Populaire Français (PPF) in 1936. From there things went downhill, but not yet downhill and on fire.
Doriot supported the idea of France becoming more like its Facsist neighbors Germany and Italy, and when the war rolled into existence in 1939, Doriot jumped on the foreign Fascist bandwagon. In France. He supported the occupation of the Nazi's French occupation of the north, but when that proved to not be fascist enough for him, he toddled off to Paris where he found a better reception for his pro-Nazi sentiments among the Nazis themselves, what with the Vichy government providing too-soft a version of governance. His transformation was in full blossom by that time, when in 1941--after having an Ezra Pound-like experience in espousing pro-Nazi beliefs on Radio Paris--he and Marcel Deat went almost all the way into the heart of the Fuhrer, creating the Legion des Volontaires Francais (LVF), which was a French force organized to fight with the Wehrmacht. (The French were hardly alone in this, with something like 350,000 soldiers in the Wehrmacht coming from places outside of Germany. See the note below for troop strength numbers. 1 )
Not surprisngly the LVF was thrown into the Barbarossa meatgrinder, and was decimated, along with millions of German soldiers as well as more millions of Russian citizens and soldiers. (According to a wiki page, the LVF started out at regiment strength of about 2,400 when they went into battle in October 1941; by the spring of 1942, there were only two batallions left, comprising about 600-800 soldiers in total.2.) Doriot survived, and in what must have been the high point of his life, was awarded the Iron Cross in 1943. In coming back west he pursued other pro-Nazi activities, including what looks the support of German agents inside liberated France in 1944, which I think would leave an ordinary person completely vacant and a deranged one full of pride and fortitude.
Somehow he made it almost to the end of the war, though had he survived it I am sure that he would have been visited with vengeance and retribution. (It seems that most of the officers were tried and executed while the soldiers were either sent to jail or offered to work off their debt to the nation via service in the Foreign Legion.) Doriot was killed when the car he was driving in was strafed by a fighter plane on Washington's birthday, 1945.
It is quite a remarkable, and horrible, little life that Doriot led, a life that actually has me feeling a little hollow as I write about it--very off-putting and upsetting in a dark, struggling way.
1. The LVF was just one of a number of groups formed in countries outside of Germany to fight alongside the Nazis:
Foreign fighters in the Wehrmacht went something along these lines (though I haven't yet found figures of German-Americans who answered the call to return and fight for the Vaterland). Many of these forces were thrown into the campaign against the Soviet Union, to fight against Bolshevism. There were thousands of anti-Communist Russians who also organized and fought with the Nazis. Franco's Spain also famously contributed soldiers to the Wehrmacht: called the "Blue Division" it was a way of Franco to say "thanks" to Hitler for German support during the Spanish Civil War. There were over 18,000 soldiers in the Blue Division--most of them professional--and bu the end of the war over 13,000 of them were casualties, including nearly 5,000 killed.
- Albanian: 6,500 in the 21st SS Division
- Belgian: 13,000 Flemish in the 5th SS Div., 27th SS Div.
- Belgium: 6,000 Walloons 5th SS Div., 28th SS Div.
- British Commonwealth (English): 100 in the The British Freikorps
- Bulgaria: 700 in the Bulgarisches Reg.
- Croatia (includes Bosnian Muslims): 20,000 in the 7th SS Div., 13th SS Hanshar Div., 23rd SS Div.
- Denmark: 6,000 in Frikorps Danmark, 11th SS Div.
- India: 2,500 in the Volunteer Legion
- Estonia: 30,000 in the 20th SS Div.
- Finland: 1,500 in a Volunteer Battalion.
- Hungary: 40,000 in the 25th SS Div., 26th SS Div. and 33rd SS Div.
- Latvia: 60,000 in the Latvian Legion.
- Netherlands: 25,000 in the 23rd SS Div., 34th SS Div.
- Norway: 6,000 in the 5th SS Div., 6th SS Div., 11th SS Div.
- France: 9,000 in the 33rd SS Div.
- Italy: 10,000 in the 29th SS Div.
- Portuguese Volunteers attached, mainly, to the Spanish Blue Division (250th Infantry Division)
- Russian (Belarusian): 15,000 29th SS Div., 30th SS Div.
- Russian (Cossack): 40,000 in the 1st Cossack Div.
- Russian (Turkic): 10,000 in Ostürkische SS, Tatarische SS
- Romania: 6,000 in Waffen-Grenadierregiment der SS (1st Romanian)
- Serbia: 15,000 in Volunteer Corps
- Spain: 18,000 in the Blue Division and in the later stages of the war (namely the Battle of Berlin) in two separated companies - Spanische-Freiwilligen-Kompanie der SS 101 and SS 102.
- Sweden, Switzerland and Luxemburg: 3,000 5th SS Div., 11th SS Div.
- Ukraine: 20,000 in the 14th SS Div.
Source: wiki "Waffen SS-_Foreign Volunteers and Conscripts". Here.
2. The distribution of categories in an army goes, in general, something along these lines: Army Corps, 400,000-1 million soldiers; Field Army, 80,000-200,000; Corps, 20-45,000; Division, 10-15,000; Regiment, 3-5,000; Battalion. 300-600; Company80-22; Platoon, 2-55; Squad, 8-15.