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Christian Frederik von Schalburg
Born (1906-04-15)15 April 1906
Died 2 June 1942(1942-06-02) (aged 36)
Place of birth Zmeinogorsk, Russian Empire
Place of death Demjansk
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Danish Army,
Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1939–1942
Rank SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel)
Commands held Frikorps Danmark, Mar – Jun 1942
Awards Iron Cross First Class
Iron Cross Second Class
Winter War Medal

Christian Frederik von Schalburg (15 April 1906 – 2 June 1942) was a Danish army officer and the second commander of Free Corps Denmark.

Biography

Christian Frederik von Schalburg was born in Zmeinogorsk, Tomskaja Gubernija Russian Empire (now Altai Krai, Russia). His father, August Theodor Schalburg, was Danish and his mother, Elena Vasiljevna, came from a Russian noble family and was born Starizki von Siemianowska. Still a boy von Schalburg received a military education in the Tsar's cadet corps and lived in Russia until the October Revolution of 1917 when he fled with his family to Denmark. These dramatic events caused him to long for Russia and to feel a burning hate of communists and jews.[1]

Von Schalburg served as a captain in Royal Danish Life Guards, where he was eventually described as 'unstable and for the army possibly a dangerous man'. In a letter to the king he defended himself as a victim of Jewish slander.[1]

From 1939 von Schalburg headed the youth branch (NSU) of the National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark (DNSAP), where he became very popular. That same year he and a group of NSU members called 'bloddrengene' (the blood boys) were among the Danish volunteers for the Finnish Winter War against the USSR in 1939–1940.[1] He was thus not at home when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany on 9 April 1940. Despite his national socialist beliefs he was deeply distressed that Denmark had surrendered almost without fighting.[2]

In September 1940 with the consent of the Danish army and the king, von Schalburg joined the Waffen-SS[1] and served with 5th SS Division Wiking as a SS-Hauptsturmführer.

In February 1941 von Schalburg suggested to his friend, head of DNSAP Frits Clausen, the formation of a Danish SS unit, 'Regiment Dannebrog', to be commanded by himself.[1]

During Operation Barbarossa von Schalburg served on the divisional staff of Division Wiking.[1] He was awarded the Iron Cross of 1st and 2nd class while serving in Division Wiking.

On 27 February 1942 von Schalburg arrived at Frikorps Danmark in Treskau[1] and on March 1 he was given command of the corps now ranked Sturmbannführer (Major).

The SS gave von Schalburg this command mostly because of his political reliability and willingness to provide his corps with the required ideological training and also because he enjoyed good relations with his subordinates, all qualities that his predecessor C.P. Kryssing lacked.[1]

As part of his responsibility for the unit's training, he introduced lessons in German and Russian, a 1/2 hour of PE every morning and extended duty hours from 5 (05:00) to 20 (20:00).[1]

On 8 May 1942 von Schalburg was flown by Junkers Ju 52 with parts of the corps into the Demyansk Pocket.[3]

On 2 June 1942 von Schalburg initiated the first offensive operation of Frikorps Danmark. In an attempt to monitor the progress of the battle, von Schalburg advanced towards the front line, but stepped on a mine and was moments later killed by shrapnel from a Russian artillery shell. The subsequent rescue of his corpse, which caused a casualty, revealed extensive injuries including a leg torn off at the hip and a missing foot.[4]

After his death

On 3 June 1942, von Schalburg's body was transported in a coffin draped in Dannebrog (Danish Flag) to the cemetery of the corps located in the small village Biakovo in the Demjansk area. The commanding officer of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf SS-Brigadeführer Hellmuth Becker spoke at the funeral.[4]

On the same day Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler posthumously promoted von Schalburg to SS-Obersturmbannführer, but was first effective on June 1.

In Denmark the newspaper of the DNSAP 'Fædrelandet' (the Fatherland) filled the front page with the news of the fallen commander, while a memorial service for von Schalburg was disturbed by insults shouted by a student.[4] The poet Valdemar Rørdam who had already gotten himself into public scandal with a poem praising Hitler, was further alienated from the Danish public when he published a tribute to Schalburg.[5] A Danish medal, the Schalburg Cross and the Danish Germanic-SS Schalburg Corps, was named after von Schalburg. His widow founded Schalburgs mindefond (memorial fund), which sent packages to Danish volunteers on the Eastern Front.[1]

The fact that von Schalburg advanced (against the advice of a company commander) towards the front line and jeopardized not only his own life but that of his corps made him a reckless commander in some eyes. However his record indicate that he was a competent commander and it must also be noted that in the SS this behaviour was not uncommon and that the losses of commanders in the SS were exceptionally high, including von Schalburg's successor who fell just two days after arriving at the corps.[4][6]

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Christensen, C. B.; Poulsen, N. B.; Smith, P. S., Under hagekors og Dannebrog : danskere i Waffen SS 1940–45, Aschehoug, 2006 (Hardcover, ISBN 978-87-11-11843-6, p. 139-142). (Danish)
  2. Kirkebæk, M., Schalburg - en patriotisk landsforræder, Nordisk Forlag, 2008 (Hardcover, ISBN 978-87-03-03193-4, p. 130-134). (Danish)
  3. Christensen, C. B.; Poulsen, N. B.; Smith, P. S., Under hagekors og Dannebrog : danskere i Waffen SS 1940–45, Aschehoug, 2006 (Hardcover, ISBN 978-87-11-11843-6, p.152). (Danish)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Christensen, C. B.; Poulsen, N. B.; Smith, P. S., Under hagekors og Dannebrog : danskere i Waffen SS 1940–45, Aschehoug, 2006 (Hardcover, ISBN 978-87-11-11843-6, p.155-158). (Danish)
  5. http://historienu.dk/rordam.pdf
  6. Christensen, C. B.; Poulsen, N. B.; Smith, P. S., Under hagekors og Dannebrog : danskere i Waffen SS 1940–45, Aschehoug, 2006 (Hardcover, ISBN 978-87-11-11843-6, p.164). (Danish)

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