Strafbattalion: Hitler’s Penal Battalions

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Strafbattalion: Hitler’s Penal Battalions

Product no.: 978-1-78155-647-4
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  • The German Army’s Strafbattalions were infantry units made up largely of convicts, felons, malingerers, thugs and the criminally insane
  • Previously unpublished story of the units
  • The accounts of the most famous Strafbattalion units in combat
  • A story of little-known Nazi units: Hitler’s ‘Dirty Dozens’

When war broke out in 1939, Hitler created Strafbattalion (Penal Battalion) units to deal with incarcerated members of the Wehrmacht as well as ‘subversives’. His order stated that any first-time convicted soldier could return to his unit after he had served a portion of his sentence in ‘…a special probation corps before the enemy’.

Beginning in April 1941, convicted soldiers, even those sentenced to death, who had shown exceptional bravery or meritorious service could rejoin their original units; however, those in probation units were expected to undertake dangerous operations at the front.

Refusal entailed enforcement of the original sentence. The soldiers who ‘won back an honourable place in the national community’ had done everything that was asked of them from suicidal advance teams, shock troops, and laying mines under fire. By 1945, over 50,000 Wehrmacht troops had served in punishment regiments. Strafbatallion: Hitler’s Penal Battalions examines the penal units, their combat history and order of battle.


Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr. is an award-winning writer/editor with over 30 years’ experience and is the author of over 150 published articles and six books. Zapotoczny Jr. is a contributing writer and reviewer for several international publications and is a former historian with the US Army, specialising in military history and Holocaust studies. A native of Pennsylvania, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours in world military history and a Master of Arts with honours in global history from the American Public University.


234 x 156 mm - hardback - 240 pages - 32 black-and-white photographs

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