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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Koreans in German WWII Service

How could a Korean end up serving in the German Wehrmacht in Normandy?

"My Way" is the first movie about Koreans in the German Wehrmacht. It might seem like a weird fantasy, but there were actually such cases, the most well documented one being Yang Kyoungjong. Perhaps the time is ripe for films about non-Germans in German uniform?

Recently I saw the Russian movie "Paradox Soldiers" that is partially about Ukrainians in the Waffen-SS. Before that one there was "Frostbite" that touches on the subject of Nordics in the Waffen-SS. Going further back there was "Soldier of Orange" with Rutger Hauer (!) that has some Dutch soldiers of the Waffen-SS in the story. But none of these movies deeply explores the subject of non-Germans in German service. There is hardly anything in them about motives for joining or the reasons for being conscripted. What about "My Way" then? Well, I have not seen it yet, only the above trailer. The film has reached Sweden on DVD, but here it is called "My War". I guess the distributors here thought "My Way" was too Sinatra. I will check it out eventually. Perhaps someone reading this has already seen it?

Considering the many men from Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Russia (not just Cossacks), Spain etc in German uniform - why has there not yet been made a movie about them, or have I missed something? Note, I mean regular movies, not documentaries.


  1. Perhaps understandingly, there are few movies told from the german point of view. It would be impossible to make a movie gloryfying german soldiers, well, because it would look like nazi propaganda. Therefore any such movies have to depict the soldiers as reluctantly fighting for themselves, their comrades, and perhaps mother germany, but not the nazis. They invariably end in disaster with most of the characters dead or maimed.

    A movie about foreigners in german service immediately hits upon the problem that most are volunteers... some of them even believing in the nazi cause. And that is a big problem.

  2. Thanks Leif! You are right about Western Europeans who donned German uniforms - most SS-uniforms and a minority Heer or NSKK-uniforms. Most of these men were volunteers. However, if you instead look at the Russians, Ukrainians and Balts in German uniform you will find that many of them were not very keen to join and had joined e.g. for the sake of food. A great number of the Balts had been conscripted. Cheers, Lars