Forgotten Fact: Nazi Germany Used Cavalry in World War II

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Adendorff-002-18A / Adendorf, Peter / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,
November 17, 2018 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Nazi GermanyHorsesCavalryWorld War IIMilitary History

Forgotten Fact: Nazi Germany Used Cavalry in World War II

Thousands of pack animals and cavalry horses in WWII labored in the German Army, and many were killed in combat or slaughtered by starving soldiers.

In March 1945, the horse troops took part in defensive operations along the Danube River. They surrendered in good order to the British in Austria, with a final horse march through Wurttemberg in June 1945. Held as prisoners of war for only a brief period, they were released, and their horses were returned to the fields under the care of local farmers.

The two Waffen SS Cavalry Divisions, after fighting for two years on the Eastern Front, were destroyed in the desperate fighting around Budapest, which was taken by Soviet forces on February 11, 1945. Wehrmacht cavalry units composed of anticommunist Cossack volunteers surrendered to the British, and despite promises to the contrary, they were forcibly repatriated to the Soviets who considered them collaborationists and traitors. As a result, the common soldiers received eight-year prison sentences in the Gulag system, while the higher ranking officers were hanged.

The number of horses and mules used by the German military eventually amounted to 2,750,000. Of these, an estimated 750,000 died during the war.

Paul Garson has done extensive research on wartime postcards and photography. He resides in Los Angeles.

Originally Published in 2018.

This article by G. Paul Garson originally appeared on the Warfare History Network.

Image: Wikimedia Commons