Frikorps Danmark
Free Corps Denmark was a Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 volunteer free corps created by the Danish Nazi Party (DNSAP) in cooperation with Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, to fight the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during the Second World War
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. On June 29, 1941, days after the German invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, the DNSAP's newspaper Fædrelandet proclaimed the creation of the corps. Its formation was subsequently sanctioned by the democratic elected Danish government which authorized officers of the Danish Army to join the unit. The corps was disbanded in 1943.

During the course of the war, between 6,000 and 10,000 Danes joined the corps, including 77 officers of the Royal Danish Army.


Denmark had signed a treaty of nonaggression with Nazi Germany in 1939. Germany invoked this treaty on April 9, 1940, when it ordered the military occupation of Denmark
Occupation of Denmark
Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, and lasted until German forces withdrew at the end of World War II following their surrender to the Allies on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish...

 under the guise of protecting the Danes from British invasion. Faced with potential German aerial bombing, King Christian X and the Danish government accepted "protection of the Reich" and permitted the "peaceful occupation" of the country in return for nominal political independence. The Danes began a policy of collaboration that included diplomatic and economic support of Germany. Cecil von Renthe-Fink
Cecil von Renthe-Fink
Cecil von Renthe-Fink was a German diplomat. He was plenipotentiary of Denmark from April 9, 1940 until 1942.He was appointed ambassador to Denmark in 1936. In 1939 he became a member of the Nazi party. After the occupation of Denmark he became plenipotentiary. In 1942 he was replaced by Dr....

, a German diplomat, was accredited to the Danish King and Cabinet as Reichsbevollmächtigter
The word plenipotentiary has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to a person who has "full powers." In particular, the term commonly refers to a diplomat fully authorized to represent his government as a prerogative...

 ("Imperial Plenipotentiary") and charged with the duty of supervising Danish government.

At the outset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany asked Denmark to form a military corps to fight with the Germans against the Soviets. On June 29, 1941, seven days after the invasion had begun, the Danish Nazi Party newspaper Fædrelandet ("Fatherland") proclaimed the creation of the Free Corps Denmark. Danish Foreign Minister Erik Scavenius
Erik Scavenius
Erik Julius Christian Scavenius was the Danish foreign minister 1909–1910, 1913–1920 and 1940–1943, and prime minister from 1942 to 1943. His cabinet resigned in 1943 and suspended operations...

 entered into an agreement with the Reichsbevollmächtigter that officers and soldiers of the Danish Royal Army wishing to join this corps would be given leave and allowed to retain their rank. The Danish Cabinet issued an announcement stating that "Lieut. Colonel Christian Peder Kryssing
Christian Peder Kryssing
Christian Peder Kryssing , commonly known as C.P. Kryssing, was a Danish artillery officer and an ardent anti-communist but not a member of the Danish Nazi party, DNSAP....

, Chief of the 5th Artillery Regiment, Holbæk, has with the consent of the Royal Danish Government assumed command over Free Corps Denmark.

The role of the Danish government in forming the Free Corps Denmark is today disputed. Some authorities maintain that the Corps was unique among the legions of foreign volunteers fighting for Hitler in that it carried the official sanction of its home government. Others maintain that while the Danish government may have sanctioned formation of the Corps that it did not itself form the Corps.


It is estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 Danes served in the Free Corps Denmark during the course of the war.

A 1998 study showed that the average recruit to Free Corps Denmark was a Nazi and/or a member of the German minority in Denmark and that recruitment was very broad socially. Bo Lidegaard notes: "The relationship between the population and the corps was freezing cold, and legionnaires on leave time and again came into fights with civilians meeting the corps' volunteers with massive contempt." Lidegaard gives the following figures for 1941: 6,000 Danish citizens had signed up for German army duty and 1,500 of these belonged to the German minority in Denmark.

It should be noted, though, that a majority of the over 10,000 Danes that initially volunteered for active service were regarded as being not suitable for active service.

Service record

With about 1,000 recruits, the corps was sent to Langenhorn
Langenhorn is the name of two places in Germany:*Langenhorn, Hamburg, a quarter of the city of Hamburg*Langenhorn , a municipality in the state of Schleswig-Holstein...

 barracks near Hamburg for basic training in late July 1941. It was considered ready for action by September 15 and sent to Owinska
Owińska is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Czerwonak, within Poznań County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, in west-central Poland. It lies approximately north of Czerwonak and north of the regional capital Poznań. The village has a population of 2,500.Owińska lies close to the...

 in Poland.

C.P. Kryssing was dismissed in February 1942 for insufficient ideological adherence to Nazism. He was transferred to the artillery where he actually ended his career as a general.

Christian Frederik von Schalburg
Christian Frederik von Schalburg
Christian Frederik von Schalburg was a Danish army officer and the second commander of Free Corps Denmark.-Biography:...

 — a Danish-Russian aristocrat, anti-communist and member of the DNSAP. He had been raised in Russia and had seen the aftermath of the Russian revolution in 1917 — replaced Kryssing as the leader of Frikorps Danmark.

On May 8, 1942, the corps was ordered to the front line. The corps fought near Demyansk
Demyansk is an urban locality and the administrative center of Demyansky District of Novgorod Oblast, Russia, located along the Yavon River. Population:...

 south of Lake Ilmen
Lake Ilmen
Ilmen is a historically important lake in the Novgorod Oblast of Russia, formerly a vital part of the Trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The city of Novgorod lies six kilometers below the lake's outflow....

 and Novgorod. During the night of June 2, Schalburg was killed. Hans Albert von Lettow-Vorbeck, his German replacement, was killed only a few days later. On July 11, 1942, Knud Børge Martinsen
Knud Børge Martinsen
Knud Børge Martinsen was a Danish officer and the third commander of Frikorps Danmark.-Biography:Knud Børge Martinsen was born in Sandved in 1905 and became a soldier in 1928. After only ten years of service he was an officer with a rank of Captain Lieutenant...

 took command of the corps.

From August to October, the corps returned to Denmark, and met much hostility from the civilian population. On November 13, 1942, the corps was deployed to Jelgava
-Sports:The city's main football team, FK Jelgava, plays in the Latvian Higher League and won the 2009/2010 Latvian Football Cup.- Notable people :*August Johann Gottfried Bielenstein - linguist, folklorist, ethnographer...

 in Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. Originally it was intended for anti-partisan activities, but was then moved up to the frontline. In December the corps engaged in the Battle of Velikiye Luki
Battle of Velikiye Luki
The Velikiye Luki offensive operation was executed by the forces of the Red Army's Kalinin Front against the Wehrmacht's 3rd Panzer Army during the Winter Campaign of 1942-1943 with the objective of liberating the Russian city of Velikiye Luki as part of the northern pincer of the Rzhev-Sychevka...

 in intense fighting, alongside the 1 SS Infantry Brigade
1 SS Infantry Brigade
The 1 SS Infantry Brigade was a unit of the German Waffen SS formed from former concentration camp guards for service in the Soviet Union behind the main front line during the Second World War. They conducted anti-partisan operations in the rear of the advancing German army and were involved in...


In March, the corps was transferred to Grafenwöhr
Grafenwöhr is a town in the district Neustadt , in the region of the Upper Palatinate in eastern Bavaria, Germany. It is widely known for the United States Army military installation and training area, called Grafenwöhr Training Area, located directly south and west of the town.- Early History:The...

 near Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 in Germany. Then on June 6, 1943, the corps was disbanded. Most soldiers were transferred to "Regiment 24 Dänemark" in "Division Nordland
11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
The 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, also known as Kampfverband Waräger, Germanische-Freiwilligen-Division, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 11 or 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland, was a Waffen SS, Panzergrenadier division recruited from foreign volunteers...

". Others joined groups such as the HIPO Corps
HIPO Corps
The HIPO Corps was a Danish auxiliary police corps, established in 1944 by the German Gestapo when the Danish police was disbanded and most of the regular policemen on September 19, 1944 were arrested and sent to concentration camps in Germany. Most members were recruited among Danish collaborators...

 or Schalburg Corps
Schalburg Corps
The Schalburg Corps was a Danish volunteer army corps and a branch of the Germanic-SS. Named after Christian Frederik von Schalburg, commander of the Free Corps Denmark who was killed in combat operations in the Demyansk Pocket in 1942...



  • SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Peter Kryssing 19 July 1941–23 February 1942
  • SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Frederik von Schalburg 1 March 1942–2 June 1942
  • SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans von Lettow-Vorbeck 9 June 1942–11 June 1942
  • SS-Obersturmbannführer Knud Børge Martinsen 11 June 1942–21 March 1943
  • SS-Sturmbannführer P. Neergard-Jacobsen 21 March 1943–20 May 1943
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