"The case of the death of the Norwegian battalion"
Original taken from
June 25, 1944 the forest silence of one of the Karelian front plots Kestenga tore gunfire artillery barrage and machine gun fire: 571 th regiment of the 205th Infantry of the Polar Division stormed the fortified hills Kaprolat and Hasselman held by the Norwegian volunteer battalions Mountain SS Division "Nord".
How did the citizens of the German-occupied country turn out to be in the ranks of the SS troops - the bloody guard of the Third Reich? The fact is that the admission of Nazi volunteers from European countries in part of the SS was a fairly common practice.
There were divisions entirely formed of foreigners who had come under the banner of Hitler "for the new order against Bolshevism."
Norwegian volunteers appeared in the Nord division in 1943. The Aryan younger brothers, the Quislingers, members of the Nazi youth militia organization NS, came to the aid of the Germans, who fought on the northern theater, especially in winter, far from being brilliant.
In January 1943, after training in Germany, the 1st police ski company "Norway" became part of the reconnaissance division of the Nord division.
Being good athletes, the Norwegians were instructors of ski and mountain-chasseurs training, fought with our reconnaissance groups, penetrated into the Soviet rear, conducted reconnaissance and patrolling, participated in battles in which they suffered losses. The company commander G. Schnassen and O. Halmen were killed.
At the end of the 43rd, the company was reformed into the SS Norway chasseur battalion "Norway" (4 companies, 700 people), joining the Scandinavian SS volunteers from the Nordland division.
In June of the 44th, as part of the battalion defending the hills of Kaprolat and Hasselman, there were already, according to various estimates, from 240 to 300 soldiers and officers.
The course of this battle can be seen in some detail according to Soviet, German and Norwegian sources - archival documents and memoirs of veterans from both sides, as well as the work of search teams, which are described below.
The battalions of the 571st regiment stormed Kaprolat in the forehead from the west, and our soldiers helped by the fact that the mines were visible to run through the minefield set by the enemy. The Germans put them in the winter, but did not drown them in the spring.
The fierce onslaught of the Norwegians knocked out of the fortifications, part of them randomly moved away in the direction of Zasheika (they fled so far that they were barely found and returned to service with the help of the Finns). About 25 people by night made their way to their neighbors, Hasselman.
The storming of this hill, in the Soviet documents called the "steep", began at 3 pm on 26 June. Units of the Polar Division launched several bloody attacks from various slopes.
According to the report of one of the few Norwegians, non-commissioned officer Yader, who survived that fight, the battalion commander Major Axel Steele and company commander Lieutenant Olaf Magnuson were out of order in the first minutes of the battle, which in his opinion made the position of the defenders hopeless.
In addition, Yadir, who took command, was confronted with disobedience: a group of Norwegian rangers, sowing in a warehouse dugout, three times refused to take a weapon, claiming that for them "this war was over."
According to Yader, the Russians, in the ranks of which "were soldiers of the Mongoloid race," attacked despite the losses: on a steep, forty-five degrees, eastern slope of the height under the devastating fire of nine easel machine guns killed more than 200 advanced.
The assault on the hills went from different directions for three hours with breaks and ended in a fierce hand-to-hand: in the trenches, pillboxes and dugouts, the enemy was finished off with bayonets, grenades and flamethrower jets.
According to Yadar, part of the Norwegians, using military cunning, allegedly threw themselves on a breakthrough, shouting in Russian: “Hurray! Long live Stalin!” While the Russians allegedly shouted in the attack: “Niht Schiessen! Vir zind Deutsche Zoldaten! "
The nucleus with the three comrades escaped by a miracle, rushing to swim across the lake. Now, the 80-year-old Norwegian veteran is living and living in Oslo ...
According to the estimates of researchers and search engines, more than 600 people fell on both sides at the battle site on an area of about three square kilometers.
About 400-450 soldiers of the Polar Division, 142 Norwegian volunteers died and went missing (38 people were captured). The Germans suffered significant losses, trying to come to the aid of the besieged.
This battle is the glorious page of the heroic history of the Polar Division, which distinguished itself in many battles in the Arctic and Karelia. Remember him in Norway. In 1992, the book “The Tragedy in Karelia” by the former Norwegian battalion of Sven Arneberg was published in Oslo in Oslo, and two years later the author himself and a group of volunteer veterans visited the site of this battle in Loukhsky district.
In recent years, the hills of Kaprolat and Hasselman (so named, by the way, in memory of the dead German officers) have been the subject of close research by the "archeologists of World War II" - the Karelian and Murmansk search teams.
In the seasons of 2004 - 2005, the search party of the Karelian public organization "For the Motherland!" - the founder of the organization is the deputy of Petrosovet, Vladislav Green, the head of the detachment, Viktor Komkov - undertook six expeditions to the battle sites at the Kaprolat and Hasselman (there was also another well-known Karelian search engine Victor Dvoretsky who took part in them)
In the course of difficult studies (difficult also because the terrain was heavily dug up by the so-called black pathfinders), search engines met with success.
The remains of ten Soviet soldiers were raised. According to the number of the medal “For Courage”, the researchers of the local history museum, upon request, identified the personal data of one of the fallen: Sergeant Yakov Sannikov from the village of Sokolovka of the Udmurt Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, commander of the 571st rifle regiment.
The second soldier is installed on the surviving "mortal medallion": Private Romanov Dmitry Vasilyevich 1911R., from the village of Grideny, Yaroslavl region.
In October of this year, the ashes of three fighters were buried in the village of Svyatozero, the remains of the rest were taken out by the head of the Murmansk search party for burial at the memorial military cemetery of the Polar Division.
In general, Komkov and his comrades in the squadron carried out a unique work relying on the data of a natural search on the hills, finds of remains with soldier's numbered tokens and medallions, their personal belongings, other material evidence of the battle, archive documents and memories.
Having established contacts with researchers in Norway, it was possible to actually restore in detail the picture of this military tragedy and even the circumstances of the death of many participants in the battle on both sides.
The remains and fragments of 40 soldiers of the Norwegian battalion were found and raised on the site and 14 names have already been clarified, including the battalion commander Major Axel Steele, company commander Lt. Olaf Magnusson, 16-year-old machine gunner Franz Nilsson, the rank and file Hakon Belgonen, Peder Haberst Harald Olsen, Selga Swarvo, Ron Himbert.
Says Vladislav Green: - On the scale of even the Karelian Front, this is a battle and loss of local significance.But for Norway, whose total losses in World War II are more than a thousand people, the death of the Norwegian battalion turned out to be noticeable. An obituary was published about each of the dead, many of those found were relatives alive.
I foresee the question: why do we bother about those who came to our land conquerors? Even in Norway they are considered traitors to the Fatherland and the king.
I answer. We adhere to the principle: every soldier, even an enemy, has the right to the grave. And if our northern neighbors, relatives of the Norwegian volunteers (by the way, Private Behem - brother of the country's economy minister in the 70s), want to take the ashes, then we are ready to help.
By the way, when our comrade Andrey Lysenko began to go to the Norwegians with requests and information via the Internet, he literally caused a sensation, they wrote about him in the newspapers. He has established links with the Norwegian explorer of this topic, Tommy Nettedal.
After our appeals through the Russian Foreign Ministry to the Norwegian consulates in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the original official position of the Norwegian side was approximately the following: the burial of the Norwegian volunteers was the work of Germany, for which they fought.
However, opinions were divided in the country, an article appeared in the metropolitan newspaper calling for the government to help in returning the remains, and we received requests from relatives.
According to the last reply of the Consul General of Norway in St. Petersburg, Mr. Otto Mamelund, the authorities do not object to the relatives taking the remains of the dead Norwegian soldiers to their homeland for burial.
Our search at heights was quite difficult, and with the remains found, everything is not so simple - you need to collect tokens that went hand in hand, without which it is impossible to identify the dead.
The matter was complicated by the fact that in August Murmansk search engines suddenly dug up and took out seven remains of Norwegians with tokens. True, according to the latest data, they are ready to return everything and assist in every possible way if the question arises of exporting them to Norway ...
"The case of the death of the Norwegian battalion," if you can call it that, received a great response in the republic thanks to the press. All his collisions in November were considered at a special meeting with the First Deputy Head of the Administration of the Head of the Republic of Kazakhstan A.Moiseev, where the question "On the organization of interaction during search operations in places of former battles by members of the search group" For the Motherland! "Was discussed.
It was decided to oblige KROO "For the Motherland!" return the exported remains of the Norwegians back to Loukhsky district and, together with the administration, decide on their reburial (on December 26, the head of the search squad, Victor Komkov, moved the remains to Loukhi).
In addition, the district administration was recommended to officially notify the association of international military-memorial cooperation "War Memorials" and the representative office of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation in Petrozavodsk about the discovery of the remains of participants in the fighting - citizens of Norway.