There was a book review recently in the Korea Times about a couple of authors who had published recently. The review was titled
Masters Return With Bitter History and covered a couple of areas of Korean History.
What particularly interested me was a photo from World War II that served as an inspiration for Jo JungRae, an author, for his latest book, “Oh God.” The photo shows a Korean soldier in German uniform on a Normandy beach in 1944. The photo itself had been previously featured in “D-Day” by Stephen Ambrose. Apparently an American soldier from the war had told Ambrose that he had met four Koreans wearing German uniforms when his unit participated in action against German troops on the beaches of Normandy.
It seems that the Koreans had been conscripted into the Japanese Army but after being captured by the Russians at the Battle of Nomonhan in the Russo-Japanese War (part II, the 1940’s one, not the 1904-05 one). They were pressed into service in the Russian Army. Captured by the Germans in a battle near Moscow, the Koreans were then pressed into service in the Wehrmacht. They were then captured by the Americans whilst they were engaged working on the Atlantic Wall. The Americans (mercifully) did not press them into service but rather held them as prisoners of war.
It seems that these poor souls never made it back home to Korea as apparently the Koreans were exchanged with the Soviets for American POWs liberated by the Red Army. This I find a little suspicious as at that time the Red Army and the US Army were on the same side and no POW exchanges should have been necessary. I could accept that they were returned to the Soviet’s however as at that time there was a largish Korean Diaspora under Soviet control and they therefore would have seemed like a Soviet problem to deal with.
The picture itself can be viewed at the
WW2 Multimedia Database == World War II Multimedia Database, WW2 Talk the homepage of the Database being here at http://www.worldwar2database.com/. The book itself is written in Korean so I cannot read into it, however, the idea behind the book was appealing, doubly so as I have been doing some research into the Battle of Nomonhan anyway. I will post an article about that later when I get the research finished.
Added 3 May 2016: For some further information have a look at https://thomo.coldie.net/2011/06/20/korean-soldiers-in-ww2-german-armypart-2/
I have recently added a post which has some illustrations of Central Asians caught up in the war against Germany – in this case Mongols and possible Kazakhs. See Images of War – Two Books Reviewed for details