French volunteers in the Kriegsmarine
- Published: 26 January 2011 26 January 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
The Kriegsmarine opened recruitment offices in several large seaports in France in 1943. Training courses in French are organized in Seenheim in Alsace. The volunteers are integrated in German units and don’t bear any particular national insignia.
93 officers, 3,000 NCO and men, 160 engineers, 680 technicians and 25,000 civilian workers are accounted in a German report dated February 4, 1944 as serving in the Brest, Cherbourg, Lorient and Toulon Kriegsmarine bases in France.
In January 1943, the Kriegsmarine started also to recruit about 200 French volunteers to protect the naval installations in La Rochelle, called the Kriegsmarinewerftpolizei "La Pallice", under command of Lieutenant Rene Lanz, veteran of WW1 and of the LVF. Possibly the same kind of units existed in Saint Nazaire and Bordeaux, not confirmed.
On June 30, 1944, the German Commander of La Rochelle gave them a choice between staying to defend the base or joining the French Waffen SS. The same attitude prevailed with other Kriegsmarine commanders in France during this critical period. About 1,500 French Kriegsmarine volunteers reached Greifenberg in Germany to be incorporated into the Waffen SS Division Charlemagne.