Original German WWII Russian Cossack Wool Hat

Item Description

Original Item: Only One available. The 1st Cossack Cavalry Division was a Russian Cossack division of the German Army that served during World War II. It was created on the Eastern Front mostly out of Don Cossacks already serving in the Wehrmacht, those who escaped from the advancing Red Army and Soviet POWs. In 1945, the division was transferred to the Waffen SS, becoming the 1st SS Cossack Cavalry Division (1. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division). At the end of the war, the unit ceased to exist.

This is an excellent genuine example of a Russian Cossack Officer wool hat as issued to the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division. It is in excellent condition and is approximately a size US 7 (56cm). Features Aluminum German insignia and silver cross ribbon top. Lining is cotton with sweatband. Certainly one of the finest condition best quality Cossack hats we've ever encountered.

Upon the formation of the unit in April 1943, the division was dispatched to the puppet Independent State of Croatia, where they were placed under the command of the Second Panzer Army and were used to provide rear area security for the army.

The division's first fighting engagement was on October 12, 1943, when it was dispatched against Yugoslav partisans in the Fruška Gora Mountains. In the operation the Cossacks, aided by 15 tanks and one armored car, captured the village of Beocin, where the partisan HQ was. During that operation many villages were burned, including a monastery on Fruška Gora, and around 300 innocent Serbian villagers were killed. Subsequently, the unit was used to protect the Zagreb-Belgrade railroad and the Sava Valley. Several regiments of the division took part in security warfare (Bandenbekämpfung) and guarded the Sarajevo railroad. As part of a wide security sweep, Napfkuchen, the Cossack division was transferred to Croatia, where it fought against partisans and Chetniks in 1944.

While in Croatia the division quickly established a reputation for undisciplined and ruthless behavior, not only towards the partisans but also the civilian population, prompting Croatian authorities to complain to the Germans and finally to Adolf AH personally. Besides raping women, killing people and plundering and burning towns suspected of harboring partisans and their supporters, the division used telegraph poles along the railroad tracks as a warning to the partisans and others. During its first two months of deployment in Croatia, special divisional courts-martial imposed at least 20 death sentences in each of the four regiments for related crimes. The author notes that though the behavior of the Cossacks was not as ruthless as portrayed by Partisan propaganda, at least 20 death sentences were imposed on the division for behavior.

The Cossacks' first engagement against the Red Army occurred in December 1944 near Pitomača. The fighting resulted in Soviet withdrawal from the area. In January 1945 the 1st Cossack Division, together with the 2nd Cossack Division, was transferred to the Waffen-SS. As the 1. SS-Kosaken-Kavallerie-Division it became part of the newly formed XV SS Cossack Cavalry Corps.

At the end of the war Cossacks of the division retreated into Austria and surrendered to British troops. They were promised safety by the British but were subsequently forcibly transferred to the USSR. Once in Russian captivity, the majority (including their German cadre officers) were executed.

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