Dutch Legion Military and Feldpost History

    Freiwilligen Legion Nierderlande

    The Netherlands is an enclave culturally and politically of their German neighbors. On 10 May 1940, Holland was occupied by Germany. The Germans drove the Queen with her cabinet into exiled. The Dutch were then governed under the Commission of Arthur Seyss-Inquart.
    The German occupation forces established recruiting centers in all the major cities of Holland. Many Dutch men volunteered to join the German Wehrmacht. The majority however enlisted in Waffen-SS units. These men were members of pro-Nazi Parties such as the Dutch National Socialist Movement "N.S.B" led by Anton Mussert.

    In May 1941, a contingent of 631 Dutch men with a cadre of German personnel were incorporated into the SS Regiment "Westland," which was attached to the "5. SS Wiking Division." Prior to the outbreak of the German-Russian war, a large contingent of Dutch men had enlisted in the "6. SS Nordwest."

    Dutch Legion Card

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    It was decided to form a Dutch formation within the lines of the "Nordwest" Regiment. On 16 July 1941, a Dutch Legion Battalion was created. A contingent of 2000 volunteers wearing civilian clothing and Dutch uniforms departed to the SS training camp at Debica in Poland. By August 1941, two battalions of Dutch volunteers were formed. These two battalions were placed under the leadership of a 69year old former Dutch Army Chief of Staff Lt-General H. A. Seyffardt.

    These volunteers wore German SS uniforms. A Dutch national sleeve shield was worn on their uniform and a cuff title bearing the Legions name. A standard collar patch (right collar only) displaying a "Wolf Hook" was issued and worn. Locally made Dutch arm shields was also worn by the volunteers.

    In September 1941, the Legion was sent for further training at Ayrs in East Prussia, where it was joined by a third battalion formed from Dutch Nazi Storm Troopers. A special "Wolf Hook" Pennant emblem was presented to the newly formed Legion. In late September with the dissolution of the SS "Nordwest" Regiment, the "Freiwilligen Legion Nierderlande" (Dutch Volunteer Legion), became a fully independent entity. After advanced training at Ayrs, a contingent of 2600 troops departed to Danzig from which it traveled by sea to Libau, Latvia, accompanied by its own all-Dutch red cross and its own propaganda company of some 50 reporters and press cameramen. In early 1942, the Legion moved by foot and later by motorized transportation to the Volkhov Front, in the vicinity of Gusi-Gova north of Lake Ilmen near Leningrad. There in March 1942, the Legion was engaged in major combat and suffered 80% casualties. It was then withdrawn to Germany for refitting.

    In June 1942, the Legion returned to the Leningrad Front while serving with the German 2nd SS (motorized) Infantry- Brigade. The 2nd SS Brigade was an international unit composed of Dutch, Flemish and Latvians.
    In spring of 1943, it was withdrawn to Grafenwohr, Germany and disbanded.

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    4. SS Panzer-Grenadier Brigade Nederland

    The "4. SS Panzer-Grenadier Brigade Nederland" was formed in October 1943. Some 2500 veteran Legionnaires joined with additional 3000 volunteers from the SS Nordland Regiment. This brigade was composed of two regiments: the "General Seyffardt" (named after the legion commander who was assassinated by the Dutch resistance in 1943) and the "De-Ruyter" Regiment (named after the 17th century Dutch Admiral, Michael de Ruyter).

    Members were reformed into an independent brigade at Grafenwohr training camp. The brigade was placed under the command of Brigadeführer Juergen Wagner. The brigade first saw action in Croatia against Tito's Partisans. In early January 1944, the brigade was transferred to the Leningrad Front as part of the III SS Panzer Corps, which included the 11th SS Nordland Division. After heavy combat the brigade was pulled back to the Oranienbaum Front and late January it retreated through heavy snow while crossing the Luga River. The brigade was then assigned to the defensive positions known as the Tannenberg Line, located about 17Kms west of Narva, Estonia. The Tannenberg lines rested on three strategic hill positions.

    The "De-Ruyter" Regiment was tasked to hold one of the hills known as the Grenadier Hill, where it's Headquarters was located. The "De-Ruyter" Regiment was engaged in an unsuccessful defense of the hill and was virtually annihilated by the Soviet counter-attacks. Following the loss of the Narva bridgehead, the brigade fought three other defensive battles against the Russians while retreating through the Baltic and on to Courland peninsula.

    There the remaining elements of the brigade were withdrawn from Libau, Latvia and sent by sea to Pomerania in late December 1944. Disembarking in Stettin, Germany in early January 1945, the brigade had to hurriedly regroup to try and defend the approaches to the cities of Stargard and Stettin. On 28 February 1945, the massive Russian offensive took aim at the defending German Army Group Vistula.

    23. SS Freiwilligen Panzer-Grenadier Division Nederland

    The 4th SS Panzer-Grenadier Brigade with the addition of the 54th SS Artillery Regiment "Nederland" was refitted to form the "23. SS Freiwilligen Panzer-Grenadier Division Nederland" (23rd Volunteer Panzer-Grenadier Division Netherland). This division however remained at the strength of a brigade due to the shortage of personnel. Some units of the division constantly served as components of other divisions. For example, the "De Ruyter" Regiment was temporary assigned to the 547th Volksgrenadier Division.

    The 23rd SS Division Nederland and the 11th SS Nordland Division subordinated to the III SS Panzer Corps. By early April 1945, after constant fighting the remnants of the division were sent to take up positions southwest of Frankfurt on the Oder, to restrain the Russian counter-offensive. It was surrounded in the "Halbe Cauldron," where it was decimated. Reduced to a few hundred men, they were re-organized as combat groups. The men of SS Regiment "General Seyffardt," which had seen hard fighting before, were virtually wiped out for the third time. Some survivors capitulated to the Soviets in early May 1945 however many escaped through the south of Furstenwald where they surrendered to the American forces.

    There were three Dutch men who received the Knight Cross of the Iron Cross. Of the 50,000 Dutch men who served with the Germans, more than 10,000 were killed in action on the eastern Front.

    Dutch Postal History

    Postal History: Dutch volunteers who served with the German forces in Russia utilized the same Feldpost services as their fellow compatriots. Mail weighing up to 250gms could be sent free to the Netherlands. There was a 20Rpf fee for packages weighing up to 1000gms. All Feldpost mail sent by Legionnaires was subject to censorship.

    In 1941, Feldpost mail addressed to SS-Dutch volunteers was forwarded to the "SS Ersatzkommando Niederlande" in "Den Haag" (the Hague) for examination.
    By March 1944, this function had been transferred to the "SS Hauptamt D-II-2" in Maastricht.

    The Dienstpost Systems were established in most occupied countries because of possible sabotage and espionage activities in the local post offices. On 5 June 1940, the "Deutsche Dienstpost Niederlande (DDPN)" (German Official Postal Service in the Netherlands) was set up. The purpose of the DDPN was to provide postal services to and from Germany for civil service and military personnel. Mail could be posted by Dutch citizens to German and Dutch military personnel through the Dienstpost system free of charge same as the Feldpost services. However mail sent through the DDPN system by German civilians and commercial businesses not dealing with the military required German postage. A 15Rpf fee was charged for mail weighing 100 to 250gms and for packages up to 1000gms a 20Rpf fee was charged.

    Feldpost mail sent through DDPN system was sent to the Ehrenfeld branch of the Cologne-Riehl censor office before postal delivery. By April 1944, incoming Feldpost mail was forwarded to Maastricht in southern Holland for censorship and delivery service.

    Feldpost numbers assigned to the Dutch Legion

    The Dutch Legion was immediately placed under the Waffen-SS administration. From July 1941 to April 1943, the Waffen-SS Dutch Legion was assigned the following Feldpost numbers:

    Regimental Staff-------------- 40112

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.) -------------- 40889

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)-------------- 41450

    3rd. Btl. (9-12 Co.)------------- 42278

    13th. Co.--------------------------- 43156

    14th. Co.--------------------------- 43990

    15th. Co.--------------------------- 44277

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    Dutch Legion Feldpost

    SS-Feldpost cover mailed by a Dutch Legionnaire (Feldpost no. 43990). The German Feldpost cancel is missing, however, backside shows Dutch postal cancel dated July 16, 1942 indicating the arrival of letter. The unit postal seal was applied in the front. The cover was censored. On the backside it has a SS sealing tape with red SS censor hand-stamp.

    Feldpost Numbers assigned to the 4th SS Volunteer Pz-Gren Brigade Nederland

    By the summer of 1943 the Legion was disbanded and reorganized as the SS Volunteer Panzer-Grenadier Brigade 4 "Nederland." This brigade was composed of two regiments designated as 45th and 46th as of November 1943. The original Feldpost numbers from the Legion were transferred to the 45th Regiment. New Feldpost numbers were added for the 46th Regiment and the 54th Artillery Regiment.

    45th Regimental Staff-------------------40112

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)------------------------------- 40889A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)------------------------------ 41450A-D

    3rd. Btl. (9-12 Co.)----------------------------- 42278A-D

    13th Company---------------------------- 43156

    14th Company--------------------------- 43900

    15th Company--------------------------- 44277

    16th Company--------------------------- 58770

    Staff & Anti-aircraft Battery--------- 57720

    46th Regimental Staff--------------------------- 59176

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)----------------------------- 56387A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)---------------------------- 58547A-D

    3rd. Btl. (9-12 Co.)--------------------------- 57711 A-D

    13th Company-------------------------- 56045

    14th Company------------------------- 58298

    15th Company------------------------- 57651

    54th Artillery Regiment------------ 56420

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)-------------------------- 59048A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)---------------------------- 557362A-D

    SS Supply Staff Troop-------------- 57881

    1st. Motor Co.----------------------- 46133

    2nd. Motor Co.------------------------ 44675

    Motor Repair Vehicle Co.--------- 58651

    SS Medical Co.----------------------- 59719

    SS Engineer Btl.---------------------- 58308

    SS Military Police Troop----------- 47428

    SS Armored Fighter Btl. ----------- 57173

    SS Signal Co.------------------------- 58949

    SS Reconnaissance Btl.------------ 56084

    SS Logistic Co.----------------------- 59884

    SS Field Reserve Btl--------------------- 40004A-D

    SS Field Post Office Co.----------- 56655

    Dutch SS Brigade Feldpost

    Dutch 4th Brigade Feldpost

    Dutch 4th Brigade SS Feldpost Cover

    This Brigade was heavily engaged defending Narva in Northeast, Estonia during April 1944. On top is a SS Feldpost cover that was mailed from FPN 58308 (54th SS Engineer Battalion) via FPN 44277 (45th SS Regiment). SS-Feldpost cover shows unit seal and SS "As" censor marking.

    Feldpost Numbers assigned to the 23rd SS Volunteer Pz-Gren Division Nederland

    In late December 1944 the brigade was re-designated to 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer-Grenadier Division Nederland. The following Feldpost numbers were assigned:

    48th SS Rgt. "Gen Seyffardt" Staff------------- 57720

    Rgt. Staff & Co.--------------------------------------- 40112

    1st Battalion-------------------------------------------- 42278

    2nd Battalion------------------------------------------- 41450

    13th Company------------------------------------------ 43156

    49th SS Rgt. "De Ruyter" Staff------------------- 59176

    1st Battalion--------------------------------------------- 56387

    2nd Battalion-------------------------------------------- 58547

    13th Company------------------------------------------ 56045

    14th Company------------------------------------------ 58298

    Dutch SS Brigade Feldpost

    Dutch 4th Brigade Feldpost

    SS Luftfeldpost cover that was mailed to a Dutch volunteer in the SS Field Reserve Battalion, FPN 40004. The cover shows a purple handstamp marking indicating that letter was rejected.

    54th SS Artillery Rgt. Staff--------------------------- 56420

    1st Battalion---------------------------------------------- 04528

    2nd Battalion--------------------------------------------- 57362

    3rd Battalion---------------------------------------------- 59048

    SS Supply Troop----------------------------------------- 57811

    1st Motor Vehicle Co.--------------------------------- 46133

    2nd Motor Vehicle Co.-------------------------------- 44675

    Motor Vehicle Repair Co.---------------------------- 58651

    SS Medical Co.------------------------------------------ 59719

    SS Engineer Btl.---------------------------------------- 58308

    SS Anti-aircraft Btl.------------------------------------ 46140

    SS Military Police Troop----------------------------- 47428

    SS Armored Fighter Btl.------------------------------ 57173

    SS Signals Co.------------------------------------------- 58949

    SS Recconnainsance Co.----------------------------- 56084

    SS Logistics Co.---------------------------------------- 59884

    SS Vetirinary Co.--------------------------------------- 05275

    SS Field Reserve Btl.--------------------------------- 40004

    SS Field Post Office 23-------------------------------- 56655

    SS Div. Nederland SS Headqtrs. Staff------------ 04953

    Note: The division was assigned FpA SS-23, FPN 56655 and Kenn 168, from December to May 1945. There exist unit seals with "Waffen-SS Freiwilligen Niederlande" in addition to propaganda/recruiting postcards.

    Dutch NSKK Feldpost

    Scarce foreign volunteer NSKK feldpost cover that was mailed by a NSKK Dutch FPN L51945 LPGA Brussel to the Hague, Holland, dtd Sep 12, 1942. The reverse shows sealing tape and a very rare "Dutch "NSB" Party sticker.

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