Journal of History School


The Legion of Turkestan in World War II: Organızatıon, Operatıons and Turkey's Approach

World War II, which started with Germany's attack on Poland, was the most violent and bloody war in the history of the world. One of the breaking points of World War II was Germany's struggle against the USSR. During the Barbarossa Operation, launched by the Germans in 1941, about three million USSR soldiers were captured. Most prisoners struggling to survive in the prison camps were USSR soldiers of Turkish origin. The situation of the prisoners of war was evaluated via the newly established Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories; committees were established to improve especially the situation of the prisoners with Turkish origin and to make them fight against the Red Army. The important figures of the leadership of the Turkish peoples living in different parts of the geography of the USSR were brought together in these committees. Leaders such as Mustafa Çokay, Veli Kayyum Khan, Alihan Kantemir, Ahmet Temir, Osman Hocaoğlu, Mehmet Emin Buğra, Mehmet Emin Resulzade, and Cafer Saydahmet spent an intensive time on this issue. The Eastern Legions were organized from the prisoners of war by the committee work under the control of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories; The Turkestan Legion was organized in January 1942. In addition to this military structure, the Germans fought against the Red Army by forming Azerbaijan, Idil-Ural, Georgian, and Armenian Legions. After the death of Mustafa Çokay in a short time, Veli Kayyum Khan was appointed to the Turkestan Legion. The Turkish Government and the Turkist circles in the public closely followed and supported this process. The Turkestan Legion was first fought with the Red Army on the Eastern Front, and in 1943 it was shifted to the Western Front. The soldiers of Turkestan suffered heavy casualties both during fighting against the Red Army on the Eastern Front and fighting against the Allied Forces on the Western Front. When Germany lost the war, Turkish originated soldiers captured by the USA and Great Britain were surrendered to the Soviet Union; and the Soviet Union executed these soldiers by calling them Traitor. Furthermore, the Soviet regime punished a large part of the Turkish originated and Muslim population living in the areas occupied by the Germans and exiled the deterritorialized people to other places which were thousands of kilometers away. However, the exile process turned into genocide, and most of the Turkish originated citizens of the USSR had lost their lives before they arrived their destinations. Those who could arrive their destinations had to struggle to survive under severe conditions. Due to the conditions that emerged at the end of the war, Turkey remained unresponsive to the execution and exile of the Turkish originated soldiers.


Turkestan, Germany, Soviet Union, Turkestan Legion, Veli Kajum Han

Author : Mehmet Korkud AYDIN
Number of pages: 621-663
Full text:
Journal of History School
E-Mail Subscription

By subscribing to E-Newsletter, you can get the latest news to your e-mail.