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How the brutality of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries echoes that of a reviled Nazi SS battalion


Summary executions. Torture. Rape. Recruitment of violent prisoners.

These are the hallmarks of the notorious Wagner Team – a Russian personal armed service company (PMC) led by a shut ally of Putin whose fingerprints are all above the invasion of Ukraine.

Wagner mercenaries are deployed to more Russian passions overseas by carrying out the positions that no official military services branch could be linked with and have earned a name for using sheer drive and brutality to achieve their aims.

The chief financier and founder of PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin claims his contractors are deployed across the border to enable accomplish the Russian president’s objective – the so-identified as ‘denazification’ of Ukraine.

But ironically, the solutions utilized by Wagner mercs bare a stark resemblance to all those of the Dirlewanger brigade – a notorious division of the Nazis’ SS paramilitary organisation who raped, murdered and pillaged their way via Europe as they executed Adolf Hitler’s dark styles. 

Here, MailOnline recaps the foundations of the Wagner group and their heinous crimes, assessments the hallmarks of the reviled Dirlewanger brigade, and highlights the unsettling extent to which the two organisations share modus operandi.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close Putin ally and chief financier of the Wagner Group

Oskar Dirlewanger, a child rapist and leader of the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger

The mercenaries of Yevgeny Prigozhin (left), a shut Putin ally and financier of PMC Wagner, have fully commited heinous war crimes on populations on many continents. Their techniques bare a striking similarity to all those of the Dirlewanger brigade, an notorious SS device commanded by Oskar Dirlewanger (ideal)

Wagner group insignia is pictured

Wagner group insignia is pictured


PMC Wagner is a mercenary team headed up by ‘Putin’s chef’ Prigozhin and led by a sinister former lieutenant colonel of Russia’s ‘Spetsnaz’ particular forces, Dmitry Utkin.

The team has for many years acted as Putin’s own band of enforcers, while it maintains connections with Russia’s foreign army intelligence company, the GRU.

Started in 2014, Wagner contractors obtained straight to perform next the annexation of Crimea, arming and organising separatist groups in the Donbas location of Ukraine and setting in movement occasions which culminated previously this year in Putin’s total-scale invasion of his neighbour.

In the eight several years in between Crimea’s annexation and all-out war in Ukraine, Wagner mercs have been deployed abroad to covertly further more Russian pursuits.

They were implicated in the Russian intervention in Syria the place they served to prop up the Assad regime, and went on to function in nations around the world through Africa including Mali, Central African Republic, Mozambique and Sudan.

Their plans vary in just about every region, but assignments just about invariably require bolstering the army forces of the Kremlin’s desired regimes by providing weapons and teaching, and supplying extra safety companies.

In return, Russia gains access to pure methods, financial investment options and geopolitical influence.

But an integral part of most Wagner assignments is attaining control more than the nearby populace and components hostile to the regime – a little something in which the mercenaries have proved especially ruthless.

For case in point, considering that the group arrived in Mali in December 2019 to guidance the new ruling armed service junta, incidences of violence against Malian civilians elevated dramatically.

In the initial quarter of 2022, civilian fatalities were better than in all of 2021 in accordance to details from the Armed Conflict Spot & Function Knowledge Undertaking (ACLED).

There are numerous reports implicating Wagner troops in the massacre of extra than 300 civilians in the town of Moura, and the French armed service statements that Wagner killed all around a dozen civilians and buried them in shallow graves around a armed forces base in an try to discredit French forces. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin (left) is the chief financier of the Wagner group and is a close ally of Russian President Putin (centre)

Yevgeny Prigozhin (still left) is the chief financier of the Wagner group and is a near ally of Russian President Putin (centre)

Wagner Group's hardened mercenaries are pictured in eastern Ukraine. The private military company insignia is seen on the mercenary's uniform

Wagner group mercenary Vladimir Andonov is believed to have massacred Ukrainian POWs. He was later killed in Ukraine

PMC Wagner mercenaries are pictured


The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS – superior recognized simply just as the Dirlewanger Brigade – ranks between the worst of an currently deplorable bunch of models that built up Adolf Hitler’s savage paramilitary organisation. 

The Dirlewanger brigade was formed in 1940 and named soon after its commanding officer, Oskar Dirlewanger, who fought in WWI and by all accounts was a drug-addicted sex offender with a penchant for violence and brutality who bounced in and out of prison.

When he was convicted for raping a 14-year-outdated lady in 1934, it seemed as nevertheless Dirlewanger was destined for a everyday living at the rear of bars, but his early army company in WWI experienced gained him good friends in substantial locations.  

Nazi Lieutenant General Gottlob Berger – a close comrade of Holocaust architect Heinrich Himmler – managed to get him out of jail and immediately after Dirlewanger impressed by battling on the aspect of General Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war, he was welcomed again into the Nazi fold and handed an SS unit to command as a reward.

At its inception, Dirlewanger’s brigade was absolutely nothing more than smaller rag-tag team of criminals – primarily poachers renowned for their hunting expertise – who ended up deployed largely to enable round up Jews and root out resistance fighters.

A lot of SS commanders strongly disliked the convicted rapist and his team of degenerates, but they proved powerful in their do the job and as the war raged on and the demand from customers for manpower improved, Dirlewanger was provided carte blanche to extend his ranks.

Daily life expectancy in the brigade was not large. They were afforded minimal tools, ended up sent into very hostile conditions, and it was widespread for fellow ‘wangers to destroy every single other more than minimal disagreements.

Yet, more than the program of the war the brigade grew from a team of a handful of dozen poachers to a hundreds-sturdy battalion comprised of savages scraped from the bottom of the barrel.

As their popularity for brutality grew, the brigade switched from pursuing Jews and manning focus camps and reworked into a unit of pure exterminators. 

They were being sent into to occupied nations around the world to quell civilian uprisings and terrorise neighborhood populations by massacring big quantities of men and women in the most savage and brutal means possible. 

Favoured methods of extermination amongst Dirlewanger’s band of killers provided releasing starving puppies amongst incapacitated civilians, barricading folks into residences and placing them alight, and beating females and kids to death with rifle butts fairly than shooting them. 

Nazi troops thought to be members of the Dirlewanger brigade are pictured in Poland in 1944 en route to quell the Warsaw uprising

Nazi troops imagined to be members of the Dirlewanger brigade are pictured in Poland in 1944 en route to quell the Warsaw rebellion

The insignia of the Dirlewanger brigade features two crossed grenades on a black shield

The insignia of the Dirlewanger brigade attributes two crossed grenades on a black protect

The sheer cruelty of PMC Wagner and the Dirlewanger brigade is the most apparent characteristic that unifies them.

Violence and loss of life are mere by-products of war, but a torrent of proof shows each Wagner and ‘wanger customers took a specific delight in inflicting it on their foes and civilians alike. 

Take the remedy of Syrian army deserter Hamadi Bouta by Wagner mercs in 2017 for example. It is not surprising that the mercenaries summarily executed him, but the glee they took in accomplishing so is enough to make the skin crawl.

Initially, Bouta was forced to the floor at gunpoint and a person merc stood on his neck to hold him in put. Then some others took turns breaking his toes, fingers, ankles and wrists with a sledgehammer. 

Acquiring incapacitated Bouta, the Wagner crew then took a blunt shovel, smashing and hacking at the man’s limbs right up until they experienced severed his arms. They recurring the same approach to behead their captive, right before roasting his corpse over a hearth and taking part in soccer with his head.

The whole ordeal was filmed and posted it on the Online for great evaluate. 

A single can properly presume that had the World-wide-web existed in the age of Oskar Dirlewanger, his troops would’ve certainly done the same. 

A single particularly harrowing account of the ‘wanger troops’ wanton savagery arrived from a survivor of the Wola massacre, when the crew of murderers marched into a district of Warsaw and slaughtered civilians en-masse.

Dirlewanger’s men raped many of the Polish ladies and girls in advance of killing them. They held their victims from walls or tables and brutally assaulted them, in advance of getting their bayonets and carving their captives open from neck to stomach and looking at their organs spill out. 

The bodies of Polish resistance fighters and civilians massacred by the Dirlewanger brigade in Warsaw in 1944 are pictured

The bodies of Polish resistance fighters and civilians massacred by the Dirlewanger brigade in Warsaw in 1944 are pictured

Prigozhin was filmed recruiting inmates in one of Russia's penal colonies in September 2022

Prigozhin was filmed recruiting inmates in one of Russia’s penal colonies in September 2022

People sit at the desk in the office in the 'PMC Wagner Centre' in St. Petersburg

Men and women sit at the desk in the workplace in the ‘PMC Wagner Centre’ in St. Petersburg

PMC Wagner also took inspiration from the recruitment guidelines of commander Dirlewanger.

The Nazi madman loaded his brigade with like-minded adult men. In the beginning the group was composed of educated poachers, persons who had dedicated insignificant crimes and disgraced Wehrmacht troops who experienced been booted from their have ranks.

But as the need for manpower grew and the war rumbled on, Dirlewanger started recruiting a constant stream of violent criminals and by the stop of the war had known as up 1000’s of murderers, rapists and mental asylum patients to serve less than him in trade for their independence. 

The Wagner group by contrast has attempted to hold alone out as a specialist organisation, getting not long ago opened a shiny company headquarters in St. Petersburg.

But movie emerged in September of Prigozhin himself traveling to a collection of penal colonies in Russia, featuring an open invitation to hardened criminals to join his band of mercenaries.

He explained to the prisoners they would be sent straight to the entrance traces and had a high opportunity of remaining maimed or killed, but promised to expunge their criminal information and restore their independence… if they managed to survive for 6 months. 

And while Prigozhin is not a convicted rapist like Dirlewanger, he as well has a sordid prison qualifications getting spent nine several years in prison on burglary and fraud charges.

Visitors wearing military camouflage pose at the entrance of the 'PMC Wagner Centre', associated with the founder of the Wagner private military group (PMC) Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block on the National Unity Day, in Saint Petersburg, on November 4, 2022

People wearing armed service camouflage pose at the entrance of the ‘PMC Wagner Centre’, associated with the founder of the Wagner personal army team (PMC) Yevgeny Prigozhin, throughout the formal opening of the business office block on the Nationwide Unity Day, in Saint Petersburg, on November 4, 2022

The operational parameters of the two teams are where their discrepancies turn into obvious. 

Dirlewanger’s adult males had been generally deployed like a pack of hunting pet dogs.

Their sole aim was to observe down and tear apart hostile uprisings in territories throughout Europe occupied by the Nazis, or only to terrorise civilian populations and impose Germany’s dominance.

The brigade was unquestionably productive, but its members had been badly qualified troopers and on the rare occasions they came up from a effectively-armed army opponent, they were decimated.

PMC Wagner meanwhile is much more versatile in its functions. 

The mercenaries have furnished training and security services for militant teams and regimes during Africa, took an energetic role in schooling and providing separatists in the Donbas in 2014 and are now deployed in a preventing capability along with regular Russian military troopers in Ukraine, among other issues.

But irrespective of these versions, the principal emphasis and standard solution of equally groups remain the exact same – acting as a blunt instrument, employing extreme power to accomplish their goals and frequently committing outrageously violent steps to subjugate their foes. 

This philosophy even applies within the ranks. 

Yevgeny Nuzhin was extrajudicially executed by sledgehammer

Nuzhin defected from the Wagner group to Ukraine but was recaptured

Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, a previous prisoner who joined the ranks of the Wagner team but afterwards defected, was brutally murdered by his previous colleagues

A Russian assassin plucked from prison by Wagner before this calendar year who later on defected to the Ukrainians was recaptured and subsequently murdered by sledgehammer – a abdomen-churning ordeal which was filmed and greatly disseminated by the mercenaries to display their utter contempt for traitors. 

There are also prevalent stories of Wagner mercs keeping Russian army models in verify by capturing deserters, ahead of torturing and shooting them in focused holding centres in the Donbas. 

Dirlewanger’s gentlemen ended up just about as savage to each individual other as they were their enemies.

It was commonplace for dissenters in the ranks to be executed on the place by Dirlewanger himself or a person of his commanders.

The architect of the Holocaust himself Heinrich Himmler when explained the brigade as ‘medieval’ in reference to its strategies for preserving interior purchase.

‘The atmosphere in the regiment is normally relatively medieval in the use of corporal punishment… if somebody pulls a encounter when asked whether or not we will get the war or not he will slump down from the table lifeless since the other individuals will have shot him out of hand,’ he mentioned.

Because the dark days of the Dirlewanger brigade and the march of Nazism throughout the globe, Europe has largely liked a interval of peace in contrast to any other time in human heritage. 

But the war in Ukraine and speedily developing impact of the Wagner group serve as a stark reminder that the human capability for savagery and abject cruelty has not dissipated one particular bit. 

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