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 infamous Wagner Group – a Russian private military company (PMC) led by a close ally of Putin whose fingerprints are all over the invasion of Ukraine.

Wagner mercenaries work for Russia abroad to support Russian interests. They do the work that no official military branch can. They have a reputation for using brute force and violence to achieve their goals.

The chief financier and founder of PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin claims his contractors are deployed across the border to help achieve the Russian president’s goal – the so-called ‘denazification’ of Ukraine.

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

MailOnline reviews the foundations of Wagner and their heinous crimes. It also examines the traits of the reviled Dirlewanger brigade. Finally, it reveals the disturbing extent to which these two organizations share a modus operandi.

Oskar Dirlewanger, A Child Rapist And Leader Of The Ss-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger

Yevgeny Prgozhin (left), an ally of Putin and financier of PMC Wagner’s, sent mercenaries to commit war crimes against several continents. These methods are strikingly similar to those of Oskar Dirlewanger’s Dirlewanger brigade.

Wagner Group Insignia Is Pictured

The Wagner Group Insignia is shown


PMC Wagner is a mercenary organization headed by Prigozhin, ‘Putin’s chef’ and led by Dmitry Utkin, a sinister ex-Lietenant Colonel of Russia’s Spetsnaz’ special forces.

This group was Putin’s personal enforcers for many years. However, it still maintains close ties with Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency the GRU.

Wagner contractors was founded in 2014. After the annexation Crimea, they immediately set to work arming and organizing separatist groups within the Donbas region in Ukraine. These events culminated earlier in the year in Putin’s invasion.

Wagner mercenaries have been deployed abroad in covert support of Russian interests over the eight years that have passed between Ukraine’s invasion and Crimea’s annexe.

They were implicated as part of the Russian intervention in Syria. There they supported the Assad government.

While their objectives may differ from one region to the next, most of their tasks involve supporting the military forces of the Kremlin’s preferred regimes through weapons delivery and training as well as providing additional security services.

Russia receives access to natural resources, investment opportunities, and geopolitical influence.

Wagner assignments include gaining control of the local population and other elements that are hostile to the regime. The mercenaries have proven particularly brutal in this regard.

The violence against Malian civilians has increased significantly since the arrival of the group in Mali in December 2019, to support the new military junta.

According to a report by The Guardian, the first quarter of 2022 saw civilian deaths rise more than any other quarter in 2021. Data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

Numerous reports claim that Wagner troops were involved in the massacre of 300 civilians in Moura. Claim Wagner murdered around 12 civilians and dug shallow graves close to a military base to try and 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 Privozhin (left), is the chief financial officer of Wagner Group and is close to 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

Pictured are PMC Wagner mercenaries


The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division, SS – more commonly known as the Dirlewanger Brigade – is among the worst units of Adolf Hitler’s savage paramilitary group. 

The Dirlewanger brigade, which was established in 1940, was named after Oskar Dirlewanger who was a drug-addictive sex offender and a prolific prisoner bouncer.

Dirlewanger was convicted of raping 14-year-old girl in 1934. It looked like Dirlewanger was headed for prison, but his military service in WWI had brought him close friends.  

Nazi Lieutenant General Gottlobberg Berger – a close comrade in Holocaust architect Heinrich Himmler – managed to get him released from jail. After Dirlewanger impressed him by fighting alongside General Francisco Franco during the Spanish civil wars, Dirlewanger was invited back into Nazi ranks and received an SS unit as a reward.

Dirlewanger’s brigade was a small, unorganized group of criminals, mostly poachers known for their hunting skills. It was formed to assist in the arrest and capture of resistance fighters.

Many SS commanders disliked Dirlewanger and his group degenerates. However, the men proved effective in their work. As the war raged and manpower demands increased, Dirlewanger was granted carte blanche to expand his ranks.

The life expectancy of the brigade was low. They were given little equipment, were placed in very hostile conditions and it was quite common for fellow ‘wangers, who were fighting over minor issues to end their lives.

The brigade did not grow from a small group of poachers to a large number of soldiers, and eventually became a thousand-strong battalion made up of savages who had been scraped from the barrel.

Their reputation for brutality grew and the brigade stopped pursuing Jews and manning concentration camp camps. It became a unit of pure exterminators. 

They were sent to war-torn countries to suppress civil uprisings, terrorize local populations and massacrate large numbers of people in the most brutal and barbaric ways possible. 

Dirlewanger’s killers loved to exterminate their victims by starving dogs, setting fire to houses, setting people alight and beating children and women with riflebutts. 

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 believed to have been part of the Dirlewanger Brigade are shown in Poland in 1944 as they attempt to end the Warsaw uprising

The Insignia Of The Dirlewanger Brigade Features Two Crossed Grenades On A Black Shield

The Dirlewanger brigade’s insignia features two crossed grenades mounted on a shield black.

Their common bond is their sheer cruelty at PMC Wagner, and the Dirlewanger brigade.

Although violence and death are not a byproduct of war, there is ample evidence that Wagner and ‘wanger took a special pleasure in inflicting it upon civilians and foes. 

Consider the 2017 treatment of Hamadi Bouta, a Syrian army deserter, by Wagner mercs. While it’s not surprising that the mercenaries executed Hamadi Bouta in a brutal execution, the sheer joy they had is unreal.

Bouta was initially forced to the floor by gunpoint. A merc stood on Bouta’s neck to secure him. Next, others broke Bouta’s wrists, feet, and ankles with a sledgehammer. 

The Wagner crew used a blunt shovel to break down Bouta’s limbs, until they could no longer use them. To behead Bouta they used the same method, then roast his body in a fire. Then they played football with his head.

The whole ordeal was recorded and posted on the Internet Good measure. 

It is safe to assume that the Internet His troops would have done exactly the same if they had existed during the time of Oskar Dirlewanger. 

One Particularly harrowing is this account A survivor from the Wola massacre told us that the Wola massacre crew marched into Warsaw’s district and slaughtered innocent civilians.

Dirlewanger’s men raped many Polish women and girls, before killing them. They held their victims against tables or walls and brutally assaulted. After taking their bayonets, they cut their captives open from neck-to-tummy and watched as their organs sprang out. 

The Bodies Of Polish Resistance Fighters And Civilians Massacred By The Dirlewanger Brigade In Warsaw In 1944 Are Pictured

Pictured are the bodies of Polish resistance fighters, and civilians killed by the Dirlewanger brigade at Warsaw in 1944

Prigozhin Was Filmed Recruiting Inmates In One Of Russia'S Penal Colonies In September 2022

In September 2022, Prigozhin was filmed in Russia recruiting inmates at one of Russia’s penal colonies.

People Sit At The Desk In The Office In The 'Pmc Wagner Centre' In St. Petersburg

People are seated at the desks in the office of the ‘PMC Wagner Centre in St. Petersburg

PMC Wagner also drew inspiration from commander Dirlewanger’s recruitment policies.

His brigade was filled with like-minded Nazis. Initially, the group consisted of poachers and minor criminals as well as Wehrmacht troops disgraced who were expelled from their ranks.

Dirlewanger began to recruit a steady stream criminals to help him. By the end of World War II, Dirlewanger had enlisted thousands of rapists, murderers, and mental asylum patients as his subordinates in return for their freedom. 

Wagner Group, on the other hand, has tried to be a professional organisation by opening a new corporate headquarters in St. Petersburg.

However, video of Prigozhin visiting a number of Russian penal colonies was released in September. He invited any hardened criminals to join his band.

He The prisoner was told that they would be sent directly to the frontlines and were at high risk of being killed or maimed, but they promised to expunge all their criminal records and restore freedom if they survived for six months. 

Prigozhin isn’t a convicted rapist, but he has a dark criminal past. Nine years in prison Fraud and burglary 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

During the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg on the National Unity Day (November 4, 2022), visitors wearing military camouflage pose before the entrance of PMC Wagner Centre. This is an association with Yevgeny Prgozhin, founder of Wagner private military group (PMC).

Their differences are in the operational parameters of both groups. 

Dirlewanger’s men were most often deployed as a pack of hunting dog dogs.

Their only purpose was to either track down and destroy hostile uprisings on territories in Europe occupied by Nazis or terrorise civilian populations to impose Germany’s supremacy.

While the brigade was certainly effective, its members had poor training and were often defeated by well-armed military opponents.

PMC Wagner, however, is more flexible in its operations. 

These mercenaries, who have provided security and training services to militant groups and regimes throughout Africa in the past, played an active role in training, supplying and supporting separatists in Donbas in 2014. They are currently fighting alongside regular Russian army soldiers in Ukraine.

However, despite these differences, the basic focus and approach of both the groups is the same. They act as blunt instruments and use excessive force to reach their goals. They also regularly commit outrageously violent actions in an attempt to subjugate and subjugate others. 

This philosophy also applies to the ranks. 

Yevgeny Nuzhin Was Extrajudicially Executed By Sledgehammer

Nuzhin Defected From The Wagner Group To Ukraine But Was Recaptured

Yevgeny nuzhin, 55, was a former prisoner, who joined the ranks the Wagner group, but later defected. He was brutally killed by his former coworkers

Wagner was able to free a Russian criminal who had been held in prison earlier this year and later defected with the Ukrainians. The mercenaries captured the grisly scene and made it widely available to show their contempt for traitors. 

Also, Wagner mercs have been reported as keeping Russian army units under check by capturing deserters before torturing and firing them in designated holding centers in the Donbas. 

Dirlewanger’s men were nearly as barbaric to one another as their enemies.

Dirlewanger or one of his commanders could execute dissenters within the ranks on the spot.

Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust, once called the brigade’medieval’ to refer to its methods of maintaining internal order.

He stated that the regiment’s atmosphere was often medieval in the use corporal punishment. If someone pulls an expression when asked if they will win the war, he would collapse to the table dead because the other soldiers will have shot him.

Europe has enjoyed peace and stability since the dark days of Nazism’s march across the globe and the Dirlewanger brigade. 

The war in Ukraine and the Wagner group’s rapidly expanding influence serve as stark reminders that humans have not lost their ability to savagery or cruelty. 

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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