Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Swiss Waffen-SS Officer Biography
Among the French volunteers for the Waffen-SS there were a number of Swiss. Here a German 1943 newsreel about new French volunteers.
I today learnt that a fellow volunteer-researcher in Switzerland has released a new book, a biography about the second highest Swiss volunteer in the Waffen-SS, Heinrich Hersche from Appenzell.
In Swedes at War my co-author and I especially compare Swedes and Swiss in the Spanish Civil War and in the Waffen-SS. Our main source of information re. Swiss volunteers was the Swiss author Vincenz Oertle. He has written the most comprehensive book there is on the Swiss in the Waffen-SS: Sollte ich aus Russland nicht zurückkehren: Schweizer Freiwillige an deutscher Seite 1939-1945 (1997). That book is a real must-have source if you have a special interest in the Germanic volunteers (and read German).
Oertle's new book, released in December last year (2011), is entitled Ein Appenzeller in der Waffen-SS and focuses on the life of a battalion commander within the 33rd Waffen-Grenadier-Division "Charlemagne". Hersche was a former major in the Swiss Army cavalry. I have not read the book but judging from the brochure I received today the book is mainly about Hersche's years in the SS - he served right until the end - but also about his prewar personal and political life.
If you can read German here is a Swiss article about the book, and here one can order the book.
Herr Oertle has previously written books about Swiss citizens in the French Foreign Legion, since its inception, and the Swiss Guard of the Vatican. Although the guards may seem like a medieval army, they nowadays also have modern equipment and even a website of their own in English.
BTW, I wrote about the military links between Switzerland and Sweden in this post. I can add that the deal about JAS Gripen has not yet been concluded.