The SS-Kavallerie-Brigade was formed when SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 1 & SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 2 merged under the command of Kommandostab RFSS. The SS-FHA ordered the two regiments to merge on 30 August 1941 and the order became effective 1 September.
It ordered to be upgraded to a division and redesignated SS-Kavallerie-Division (later 8. SS-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer) on 26 June 1942.

Known war crimes

Soldiers from this brigade took part in numerous atrocities under the command of Kommandostab RFSS.

In August 1941 SS-Kavallerie Brigade took part in large-scale murder of Jews during operations in the Pripet Marshes area.

In response to an order from RFSS Heinrich Himmler that "All Jews must be shot. Drive the female Jews into the swamp" SS-Sturmbannführer Franz Magill reported "Driving women and children into the swamp was not successful, because the swamp was not so deep that sinking could occur". (1)

General der Infanterie Max von Schenckendorff, commander of Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Mitte described their operations the following way:

The SS Cavalry Brigade operates as follows: at dawn, without prior reconnaissance, the troop tasked with the inspection of a village rides into it at full speed and out the other end, occupies the outer edges of the village in a trice, in accordance with an agreed plan, and then gathers the whole population together, including women and children, for inspection. In many cases the skill and experience of the commanding officer, and also of the accompanying SD and GFP groups together with their interpreters, will decide upon the composition of the male inhabitants and their occupation, as well as upon their fate, so that the area is cleared of opposition and pacified. (2)


On 23 August 1941 21 civilians in Starobin were killed in reprisal following an attack by partisans.

Commander

SS-Standartenführer Hermann Fegelein (1 Sep 1941 - ? May 1942)

Chief of staff

SS-Hauptsturmführer Christian Reinhardt (5 Aug 1941 - 1 Sep 1941)
SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Gesele (1 Sep 1941 - 20 Apr 1942)

Holders of high awards

See 8. SS-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer

Order of battle

SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 1
SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 2
SS-Radfahr-Aufklärungs-Abteilung
SS-Artillerie-Abteilung
SS-Flak-Batterie
SS-Nachrichten-Kompanie
SS-Sanitäts-Kompanie
SS-Veterinär-Kompanie


Insignia

The tactical marking of the brigade was a white sword, slanted with the point to the upper right.


Troops from the SS-Kavallerie-Brigade on horseback 1941
ss-kav-brig-horses-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Armored cars of SS-Kavallerie-Brigade 1941

ss-kav-brig-cars-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler visiting the SS-Kavallerie-Brigade in June 1941ss-kav-brig-himmler
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3 0 Germany)

Soldiers of the SS-Kavallerie-Brigade on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1941/1942wss-kav-brig-winter
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3 0 Germany)

 

Footnotes

1. "Final Solution: Origins and Implementation" by David Cesarani, page 140.
2. "Case studies on Anti-Partisan Warfare during the Eastern Campain" by Ruth Bettina Birn in "From Peace to War: Germany, Soviet Russia and the World, 1939-1941" edited by Bernd Wegner, page 278.

Sources used

Yitzhak Arad - The Holocaust in the Soviet Union
Ruth Bettina Birn - Case studies on Anti-Partisan Warfare during the Eastern Campain
Christopher R. Browning - The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution
David Cesarani - Final Solution: Origins and Implementation
Martin Dean - Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-44
Dr Jeffrey T. Fowler - Axis Cavalry in World War II
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
James Pontolillo - Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
James C. Steuard - Tactical Markings of the Waffen-SS, Part 5 (in AFV-G2 Vol 4 No 7)
John E. Strandberg - Horsepower: The use of horses by the German armed forces during World War II (in Military Advisor Vol 21, No 4)
Charles Trang - The Florian Geyer Division / La Division Florian Geyer
Paul J. Wilson - Himmlers Cavalry: The Equestrian SS 1930 - 1945
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 4: Cavalry Brigade & Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Riding East: The SS Cavalry Brigade in Poland and Russia 1939 - 1942

Reference material on this unit

Martin Cüppers - Wegbereiter der Shoah: Die Waffen-SS, der Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS und die Judenvernichtung 1939-1945
Henning Herbert Pieper - The SS Cavalry Brigade and its operations in the Soviet Union, 1941-1942 (Doctoral thesis, University of Sheffield, 2012)
G.M. Prechtl - Unsere Ehre Heißt Treue: Kriegstagebuch des Kommandosstabes Reichführer-SS - Tätigkeitsberichte der 1. und 2. SS-Inf.Brigade, der 1. SS-Kav.Brigade und von Sonderkommandos der SS
Charles Trang - The Florian Geyer Division / La Division Florian Geyer
Paul J. Wilson - Himmlers Cavalry: The Equestrian SS 1930 - 1945
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 4, Cavalry Brigade and Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Riding East: The SS Cavalry Brigade in Poland and Russia 1939 - 1942

 

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