When the Wehrmacht invaded the USSR ("Operation Barbarossa"), it prided itself on its "racial purity." However, he soon encountered the imperative need to incorporate replacement troops, owing to the large numbers of casualties and the enormous territory that he had to conquer, occupy and control, which made the Germans radically abandon such concepts. Initially, the so-called Volksdeutsche (racial or ethnic Germans) from Poland and those from the Balkans were forced to volunteer. Its exact classification was that of Abteilung 3 der Deutschen Volkklits (Section 3 of the list of the German race); Meant that the persons thus classified were granted German citizenship for a period of 10 years, being susceptible to be called to rows but without being able to ascend the rank of command.
Between 1942 and 1943, an aggressive recruitment was carried out in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union for the fight against the communism: the calls Ostlegionen (also known as Osttruppen and Ostbataillonen); It should be said in this respect that the validity of the recruits who volunteered at the beginning was quite reliable, since men from the western republics of the Soviet empire subscribed to the struggle against the Stalin regime. At the onset of the German withdrawal, the number of volunteers (Freiwilligen) decreased ostensibly in favor of the presence of auxiliaries (Hilfswilligen, commonly known as Hiwis) from the occupied territories and huge contingents of prisoners of war captured from the Red Army. In early 1944, the Wehrmacht had "volunteers" from Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ruthenia, Muslim republics of the USSR as well as Volga Cossacks , Crimean Tatars and even Indians. The so-called Ostbattalionen (or "East Battalions"), lost effectiveness to forced marches after the German defeat in the crucial Battle of Kursk. Subsequently, they were sent to France to replace the necessary German troops there.
On Utah Beach, the day of the Normandy Landing, Lieutenant Robert Brewer of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st North American Airborne Division captured four Asians wearing the Wehrmacht uniform. No one understood their language, nor did they know what the hell they were doing there. It was finally learned that they were Koreans. Nothing more and nothing less. But how was it possible that Korean soldiers were fighting in France, on the other side of the planet, on Hitler's side to defend the Norman coasts of the Allied invasion? Stephen E. Ambrose tells us in his book "D-Day" that he most likely would have been forcibly recruited into the Japanese army in 1938 - Korea was then a Japanese colony - then captured by the Red Army during the border wars against Japan In 1939, and forced into the Russian army. Captured later by the Wehrmacht in December 1941, on the outskirts of Moscow, their journey ended in France, where they were entrusted with the defense of the Atlantic Wall.
Ambrose was not misguided. The soldier in the picture up here is Yang Kyoungjong, born in Shin Wuijoo, North Korea, on March 3, 1920. As I said before, Korea was then a Japanese colony - and Yang, like many other young Koreans Was forcibly recruited by the Japanese army, the Kwantung, in 1938 and sent to Manchuria. During the Battle of Khalkin Gol, the little-known (but fundamental) battle between the Japanese and the Soviets in Mongolia in 1939, was captured by the Red Army and sent to a gulag. However, it was not long before he was involved in another war, when the Germans invaded the USSR in 1941 and the Soviet army, in need of troops, forcibly recruited him along with thousands of other prisoners, sending him to fight the Germans. In 1943 he was captured again, this time by the Germans in Ukraine during the 3rd Battle of Kharkov, and became part of the Wehrmacht Osttruppen that were destined in France, on the Cotentin peninsula, to defend the French coasts of The allied forces of invasion. His last defeat was spent in a German uniform when he was taken prisoner by the Americans in Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. After spending time in a prison camp in Britain, he emigrated to the United States, establishing himself In Illinois, where he lived the rest of his life. He died in 1992.
By the way, there is a Korean movie, "My Way" (2012) that tells the story of Yang Kyoungjong. I have not had the opportunity to see it, but for those who might be interested, here is the trailer: