TAR Savanorių is a Lithuanian Infantry unit in Steel Division II.
Tėvynės apsaugos rinktinė was organized in July 1944, after a group of Lithuanian officers decided to join the Wehrmacht in an attempt to defend their homeland from the Soviet forces rapidly advancing towards the shores of the Baltic Sea. Several thousand men were organized into a militia under Captain Izidorius Jatulis, who then established contact with Generalmajor Hellmuth Mäder (thus its alternate moniker, Kampfgruppe Mäder). Eager to have any additional forces at his disposal, Mäder agreed to take them under his command and promised them weapons, uniforms, and other equipment.
Although he envisioned the TAR as a division, the Fatherland Defense Force fell short of expectations. Only a little over a hundred officers were available to command over six thousand men, predominantly untrained youths with no military training. Only a single Lithuanian general joined the TAR, with the rest refusing to join what was seen as a slaughter in the making. Their doubts proved correct: The Nazis had no intention of treating the TAR as anything more than a meat shield for Wehrmacht and SS units.
In their first engagement with the 19th Tank Corps, they proved to be no match for hardened Soviet troops. No German support and badly chosen defensive position resulted in both regiments being mauled and forced to flee across the river. The TAR never reorganized, disintegrating as its members deserted or joined the partisans. Only one thousand reached Ostpreussen, where they were reformed into pioneer battalions, erecting field fortifications to aid the German retreat.
|52. Sicherungs-Division z.b.V.|