Between 1941-45, the Germans recruited around 175,000 men from a number of minorities in the USSR, distinguishing between 'Turkomans' (predominantly Muslims) and 'Caucasians' (predominantly Orthodox Christians). Of these, many formed rear-area auxiliary units, but at least 55,000 were combat troops. The first recruits formed two battalions in the 444th Security Division raised as early as November 1941; during 1942-43 seven legions were formed, each of several battalions, eventually totalling some 53 battalions (equivalent to about 6 full divisions). However, with one exception (162nd Turkoman Division), they were not deployed as whole formations; after training in Poland, individual battalions were posted to fill out German regiments in the front lines, at first in Army Group South but later in all three Army Groups fighting on the Eastern Front. Units were also sent to Yugoslavia, Italy and the Western Front.
This fully illustrated history of the Eastern legions details the organization, battle orders, combat history, uniforms and insignia of these unique units, combining contemporary photographs and full-colour illustrations with expert research from military historian Dr Nigel Thomas.