The Waffen Grenadier der SS Division "Charlemagne" was formed in August 1944 (it was designated as 33rd SS Division "Charlemagne" in February 1945), when the Légion des Volontaires Français merged with the SS Sturmbrigade Frankreich to transfer the French volunteers over from the Heer, and into the Waffen SS. Previously, the LVF had been formed as early as June 1941, and fought on the Eastern Front, where it was engaged in bitter fighting during the Soviet winter offensive.
Approximately 8,000 Frenchmen volunteered for service either with the Heer, or the Waffen SS.
Frenchmen of the LVF.
Marhsal Henri Phillipe-Petain, the Vichy Chief of State was a man with an impressive military record, who had served his nation with great distinction at Verdun, in 1916. He was known as the "Saviour of Verdun", and his arrival on the political scene was greeted with relief by much of the populace in June 1940.
The other chief collaborators were Pierre Laval (Vichy Prime Minister) and Joseph Darnand, member of the pro-Royalist, anti-Republican group, Action Français. Darnand was given the rank of SS-Sturmbannfuehrer (Major) and formed the Vichy French police force, the Milice Français.
Joseph Darnand in French Army uniform.
The unit's history can be found at: