indian wehrmacht


The Indians of the German Army in World War II

In the early years of World War II, the German military, especially the SS upheld the idea of Aryan superiority and racial purity.  However, as the war progressed Germany began to suffer profound man power shortages, forcing the military to make compromises.  Eventually the German Wehrmacht and SS would be comprised of units from various foreign nationalities.  Among the most unique was a Wehrmacht, later Waffen SS unit called the Indische Legion, comprised of soldiers who hailed from the Punjab region of India.

The Indian Legion was formed as the behest of Indian politician Subhas Chandra Bose, who was a staunch supporter of Indian independence from Britain.  In 1941 he convinced the German government to form a German military unit from like minded Indians.  Initially the unit was made up of Indian POWS captured in North Africa and Indian students studying in Germany.  Later Indian expats all over Europe would join the Legion.  By the time of its completion, the Indian Legion consisted of around 2,600 men. 

Originally the Indian Legion was formed to be an assault unit which would take part in a hypothetical joint German/Indian/Japanese invasion of British India.  When it became clear that such an invasion would never come even close to happening, the Indian Legion was assigned to other duties.  About 100 troops would be parachuted in to Eastern Iran on an ill fated sabotage mission, and a company would be sent to Italy for frontline combat duty.  However most of Legion would be assigned to rear echelon duty, either guarding the Atlantic Wall, partaking in anti-partisan activities, and guarding supply convoys.  Most of the combat experienced by the Legion was against the French Resistance. 

When the war ended, most of the Legion made a mad dash for the Swiss border, hoping to be granted asylum by the Swiss.  However, most were captured, and sent to stand trial for treason