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Von Marseille bis Nowosibirsk

The account of a French volunteer in the Charlemagne Division 1943-45, eastern front.

Von Marseille bis Nowosibirsk, A French volunteer fighting for Europe, published in German, 2014

Andre Bayle, a trapeze artist, toured Europe with a circus. Bayle attended the 1936 Olympics and was impressed with the athleticism and organisational abilities of the German host nation. Bayle, aged just 17 joined the eventual Waffen SS Charlemagne Division to fight Bolshevism and to fight communism. War in Europe was everywhere, Spain, Finland, Poland the Baltic States, communism threatened a free Europe.

At least 40,000 Frenchmen joined the fight against communism. The French military police, the Milice, was an obvious recruiting base for the proposed French division. Training from July 1943 in Sennheim and Zug leader school in Posen-Treskau until March 1944 was thoroughly comprehensive with an emphasis on artillery along with infantry weapons. In Neweklau the attempt to assemble a French Brigade continued.

Bayle was at the front at Mukatschevo, (Munkacs) Soviet Ukraine and met Monika, a French speaker. The French Sturmbrigade patrolled Galicia, the Carpathian front. German intelligence clearly identified the Red Army units opposing them and Bayle further identified through careful patrolling Red Army artillery units soon to be destroyed by German mortar fire. ‘Roten, Roten’ warned about Red Army attacks again dealt with by accurate mortar fire.

‘Magyaren, Honved’ clearly identified an ally, a friendly Hungarian unit which boosted the numbers in Bayle’s patrol. On the Wisloka strict patrolling rules, no weapons fired, again allowed the hard pressed German/French units to deal with overwhelming Red Army units.

980 volunteers became 840 dead, wounded, missing or prisoners, the 140 remaining. SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer und Generaloberst der Waffen SS Paul Hausser, the leader of the first European Army, arranged the first French speaking Battalion to be recruited and trained SS-Obergruppenfuehrer und General der Waffen SS Felix Steiner continued this policy.

Caporal-SS Bayle le commandant le 1er batallion de la brigade d’assault des volontaires francais de de la Waffen-SS avec 40 hommes. In Konitz, in a hospital, with malaria for 2 months Bayle nursed to recovery by Madalena, followed by a break in Munich where he met his Circus family.

The chaos of the eastern front with constant retreats revealed 30 young women lying half naked, their faces bloody, lying on the ground, they were nurses sadistically murdered. Other treatments of women were encountered. March 8 1945 Bayle’s unit was surrounded by 50 T34 tanks with little chance of escape his unit surrendered to the Polish 1st Army.

A train journey to Vladimir where there was no wash facilities for 2 months, a hut full of cadavers, starvation diet and finally in 1946 de Gaulle arranged with Stalin for their repatriation with a compulsory service as a French parachutist allowed Bayle not yet 21 to lead a normal life.

Source: Von Marseille bis Nowosibirsk, Franzozische Freiwillige imKampf fur Europa, Andre Bayle, Adora, 20i4

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