US Military Policeman poses with "German" POW's Nonant le Pin POW camp.


Many of the "German" troops in Normandy were in fact not German but from areas of the Soviet Union which included people from the far east of that country. Often they were originally conscripted into the Soviet Army only to be captured by the Germans in the huge encirclement battles of Operation Barbarossa in 1941.

Those who volunteered for service with the Germans were termed Hiwis (short for Hilfswilliger) and were typically used for non combat positions such as working in kitchens and stables. Although they often volunteered rather face probable death in a POW camp, the Germans did not treat POW's captured in the east as well as they did western POW's.

Those who were conscripted or volunteered for combat duties were termed "Osttruppen" (Eastern Troops) although they often formed "Cossack" units used on anti-resistance operations.

Either way, they were almost certain not to see their homes and families again. They were sent back to the Soviet Union where the authorities either sent them to the Gulag, or just executed them.

Examples of Ost units in Normandy were

Ost-Bataillon 561 (Russians) 920 Grenadier-Regiment 343.ID

Ost-Bataillons 795 and 797(Georgians) 709.ID

Ost-Bataillon 635 (Russians) 709.ID

Ost Bataillon 439 (Ukranians) 726 Grenadier-Regiment 716.ID

Ost Bataillon 642 (Russians) 736 Grenadier-Regiment 716.ID

Ost-Bataillon 781 (Turkmens) 731 Grenadier-Regiment 711.ID

Plus many other units and individuals. A estimated 33,000 Hiwis and Osttruppen were in Normandy in June 1944.