Puneet Varma (Editor)

Roland Battalion

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Country  Nazi Germany
Size  240 to 350
Branch  Abwehr
Engagements  Operation Barbarossa
Active  25 February - late October 1941

The 'Roland Battalion (German: Battalion Ukrainische Gruppe Roland), officially known as Special Group Roland, was the subunit under command of the Abwehr special operations unit Lehrregiment "Brandenburg" z.b.V. 800. Along with the Nachtigall Battalion it was one of two military units formed on 25 February 1941 by head of the Abwehr Wilhelm Franz Canaris, which sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. It was manned primarily by occupied Poland citizens of Ukrainian ethnicity directed to unit by Bandera's OUN orders .


In Germany, in November 1941 the Ukrainian personnel of the Legion was reorganized into the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion. It numbered 650 persons which serve for a year at Belarus before disbanding.


Prior to Operation Barbarossa, the Bandera's OUN actively cooperated with Nazi Germany. According to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and other sources, OUN-B leader Stepan Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany's intelligence, regarding the formation of "Nachtigall" and "Roland" Battalions. On 25 February 1941 the head of the Abwehr, Wilhelm Franz Canaris, sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. The unit would have had 800 persons. Roman Shukhevych became a commander of the Legion from the OUN-B side. OUN expected that the unit would become the core of the future Ukrainian army. In the spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities against the USSR. In the spring of 1941 the Legion was reorganized into 2 units. One of the units became known as Nachtigall Battalion, a second became the Roland Battalion, and the remainder was immediately dispatched into Soviet Union to sabotage the Red Army's rear.

The Battalion was set up by the Abwehr and organized by Richard Yary of the OUN(b) in March 1941, prior the German invasion to Soviet Union. Approximately 350 Bandera's OUN followers were trained at the Abwehr training centre at the Seibersdorf under command of the former Poland Army major Yevhen Pobiguschiy. .

In comparison to Nachtigall - which used ordinary Wehrmacht uniform, the Roland Battalion was outfitted in the Czechoslovakian uniform with yellow armband with text "Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht" (In the service of the German Wehrmacht). They were given Austrian helmets from World War I. The Battalion had arms consisting of 2 Czechoslovakian light machine guns and Germans light weaponry .

Operational history

The Roland Battalion moved to Romania- Soviet border by 15 June 1941 and placed under command of the Army's Group South. On 27 June 1941 they placed under command of the German 11th Army with task to move in the direction Campulung Moldovenesc - Gura Humorului - Suceava- Boto┼čani with the tasks of clearing road and transportation corridors, organizing groups of Ukrainian home guard, guarding transportation of food, helping with the evacuation of POW's, and guarding strategic objectives.

On 30 June 1941 Abwehr received an order to prevent the unit from taking any military action, and it was held at Frumusola. On 24 July the Roland Battalion was transferred to the command of the 54th army corps with the task to guard roads to East of the Dniester river. At that time the Battalion had 9 officers and 260 soldiers. In time the Battalion was planned to be topped up with another 150 volunteers from the occupied areas and spend some time near Yassy

From 28 July the Battalion was directed to front-line crossed the Dniester at Dubossari and headed to Odessa.


On 10 August 1941 the Command of the 11th Army received a telegram from Abwehr: "After consultations with the Reichsminister of the occupied territories of the East, the Roland organization should be excluded from campaign because of political reasons". On 14 August the battalion was recalled. The 50 from the Roland personnel remained as translators at the established occupational administrations of the Reich. They were restricted however, from political activity, and after 30 days they were all relieved of duty. The rest of the Battalion returned to Foc┼čani on 26 August 1941. Their weapons were taken from they while they travelled; they were transported to the town of Mayerling near Vienna and their weapons returned to them.

By 21 October 1941 the unit was transferred to Neuhammer where it was merged with the Nachtigall Battalion to form the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion.


Roland Battalion Wikipedia

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