The Bataillon der Waffen-SS z.b.V. was formed as Sonderkommando Ribbentrop (also known as Sonderkommando Künsberg, Gruppe Künsberg and Sonderkommando AA) and was a unit taking part in the systematic looting of cultural treasures from the areas occupied by the German forces, primarily in Eastern Europe. It targeted the palaces, museums, scientific institutions and libraries of the captured cities and among the items stolen by this unit was the famous Amber Room. It is estimated that a total of over 300.000 items were looted by the unit and most were handed over to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete, RMfdbO) under Alfred Rosenberg. (1) An estimated 40-50 freight cars were sent to Germany each month with valuables looted by the unit and in March 1942 an exhibition was held in Berlin with looted items.

It was originally a part of the Foreign Ministry under Joachim von Ribbentrop but the Waffen-SS and NSKK provided transportation and other support to the group. It was active in Poland and the Balkans but especially during the invasion of the USSR when companies from it was attached to each of the three Heeresgruppe. A fourth company is believed to have been sent to North Africa.
It was transferred into the Waffen-SS 1942 and was disbanded in 1943.

The name Bataillon der Waffen-SS z.b.V. was also used for the SS-Sonderbataillon Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS in 1941.

Commander

SS-Sturmbannführer Eberhard Freiherr von Künsberg

Manpower strength

31 Dec 1942 390

Order of battle

4 x Kompanie

Footnotes

1. Rosenberg also had a unit of his own involved in the looting, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR).

Sources used

Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 7 & 10, testimony of Dr. Norman Forster
Peter Harclerode & Brendan Pittaway -  Lost Masters: World War II and the Looting of Europe's Treasurehouses
Patricia Kennedy Grimsted - Roads to Ratibor: Library and Archival Plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg
Dorothee Hochstetter - Motorisierung und "Volksgemeinschaft": Das Nationalsozialistische Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) 1931-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Lynn H. Nicholas - The rape of Europa: The fate of Europe's treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
Jonathan Petropoulos - Art As Politics in the Third Reich
James Pontolillo - Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes
Gunter Wermusch - Die Bernsteinzimmer Saga: Spuren, Irrwege, Ratsel

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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