Bataillon Nachtigal

Bataillon Nachtigal The formation of the ‘Nachtigal’ battalion (‘Nightingale’) began in Krakov in March, 1941. The formation centre was located in the suburb in former “Arbeitdienst” barracks. German instructors trained there the volunteers that wore the “Arbeitdienst” uniform for security. Those students who had pretensions to get sergeant-major posts finished their training in Germany. Others (50 students) were moved into the Barvinok school. In Neuhammer the volunteers got the Wehrmacht uniform and arms. The strength of the battalion was 330 soldiers and officers. It had four companies.

Herzner was the battalion commander, Vontun, Gogenstein, Middelhauwe and Schiller were the companies commanders. Sotnik Roman Shukhevich was considered as the commander from the Ukrainian part. The ‘Nachtigal’ was regarded as an insignificant operational unit, so it was attached to the 1st battalion of the “Brandenburg 800” regiment.

On the 18th of June, 1941, Nachtigal was transfered to the region that was contiguous with the USSR. On the 22nd of June, 1941, in 3.15 a.m. the 1st Brandenburg battalion got the order to cross the river San and to advance on Peremyshl. It was to attack the Soviet Army defensive positions in Lvov fron the North. Nachtigal marched as its reserve in the front line.

Both battalions joined the 1st Mountain Infantry Division and had the order to defend it on march to Lvov. Receiving the reconnaissance information of the mass executions in the town the “Brandenburg 800” commander ordered to capture it. Both units came into Lvov at 4.30 a.m. The Nachtigal companies occupied some strategic and industrial objects, including radio.

Ukrainian commander Shukhevich (his brother was executed in Lvov prison by NKVD) took part in the work of Ukrainian Representatives’ Assembly, that declared the restoration of independent Ukraine. After this declaration all Ukrainian officers from Nachtigal were deprived of their posts and put under the direct German command. On the 7th of June the battalion moved in the direction of Ternopol and on the 14th of June reached Proskurov. It didn’t see action even once till the 5th of June. Later the battalion fought near Brailov and after Vinnitsa stayed for two weeks in Yuzvin. There the volunteers learned that Galicia became the part of Hans Frank’s General-Governorship and Reichscommissariat “Ukraina” was created. On the 13th of August Nachtigal was withdrawn from the front and was sent to Neuhammer for additional training. But there battalion was disarmed and dismissed.