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1st Cossack Cavalry Division
1st Cossacks Division.svg
Insignia of the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division
Active 1943–1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Type Cavalry
Role Anti-partisan operations
Size Division
Part of XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps
Engagements World War II
Helmuth von Pannwitz
Don Cossack insignia

The 1st Cossack Cavalry Division (German language: 1. Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division) was a Russian Cossack division of the German Army that served during World War II. It was created on the Eastern Front mostly out of Don Cossacks already serving in the Wehrmacht, those who escaped from the advancing Red Army and Soviet POWs. In 1945, the division was transferred to the Waffen SS, becoming the 1st SS Cossack Cavalry Division (1. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division). At the end of the war, the unit ceased to exist.

Military history

Upon the formation of the unit in April 1943, the Division was dispatched to Croatia, where they were placed under the command of the Second Panzer Army and were used to provide rear area security to the army.

The Division's first fighting engagement was on October 12, 1943, when the unit was dispatched against Yugoslav partisans in Fruška Gora Mountains. In the operation the Cossacks aided by 15 tanks and 1 armoured car captured the village of Beocin with the partisan HQ. Subsequently the unit was used to protect the Zagreb-Belgrade railroad and the Sava valley. Several regiments of the division took part in several anti-partisan operations and guarded the Sarajevo railroad against the partisans. As part of a wide anti-partisan operation Napfkuchen the Cossack division was transferred to Croatia, where it fought against partisans and chetniks in 1944.

In 1944, the unit saw heavy action in Yugoslavia and suffered losses when Siberian Cossacks 2nd Regiment was surrounded by the partisans and held on for several days until other Cossack regiments were able to provide relief and break the encirclement.

The Cossacks' first engagement against the Red Army happened in December 1944 near Pitomača. The fighting resulted in Soviet withdrawal from the area. In January 1945, the 1st Cossack Division together with the 2nd Cossack Division was transferred to the Waffen-SS. As the 1. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division it became part of the newly formed XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps.[1]

At the end of the war, Cossacks of the division found themselves in Austria and surrendered to British troops. Even though they were given assurances that they would not be turned over to the Soviets, they nevertheless were forcibly removed from the compound and transferred to the USSR. This event became known as the Betrayal of the Cossacks. Most of the Cossacks were executed for treason.[citation needed]


  • Lieutenant-General Helmuth von Pannwitz
  • Colonel Hans-Joachim von Schultz
  • Colonel von Baath
  • Colonel Alexander von Boesse
  • Colonel Konstantin Wagner

Order of battle

In 1944, the division was composed of the following units:[2]

1st Cossack Cavalry Brigade Don

  • 1st (Don) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • 2nd (Ural) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • 3rd (Sswodno) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • Cossack Horse Artillery Regiment Don

2nd Cossack Cavalry Brigade

  • 4th (Kuban) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • 5th (Don) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • 6th (Terek) Cossack Cavalry Regiment
  • Cossack Horse Artillery Regiment Kuban

Divisional units

  • 55th Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 55th (Kuban) Cossack Horse Artillery Regiment
  • 1st Cossack Engineer Battalion
  • 55th Cossack Engineer Battalion
  • 1st Signal Battalion


  1. Newland 1991, p. 143–145.
  2. Mitcham 2007, p. 350.


Further reading

  • François de Lannoy. Pannwitz Cossacks: Les Cosaques de Pannwitz 1942 - 1945
  • Richard Landwehr. Steadfast Hussars: The Last cavalry Divisions of the Waffen-SS

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