Conversation with family in Brandenburg

Potsdam / Kharkiv. “He was finally happy,” says Bjorn C.’s grandmother. She searches for the photo on her phone, the last photo her grandson sent before his death. It’s a group photo taken in the driveway to the high-rise complex. In the background, you can see broken windows in the houses, in front of twenty uniformed men with assault rifles and yellow insignia. Most smiles. Björn C. stands center back, puts his arm around his companion and looks into the camera as if there is no danger in the world that could harm him.

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He died a few days later, Bjorn C., 39 years old, grew up in Berlin, lives in Oranienburg, died on May 31 in an artillery attack near Kharkiv. He is the first German war casualty in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His leave from the front has already been approved. Bjorn See wanted to return to Germany. His health has suffered since his arrival in Ukraine.

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He was a member of the “International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine”. The unit was created three days after the start of the war at the request of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Volunteer fighters from all over the world can submit reports to defense attaches at Ukrainian embassies in their countries.

Bjorn C International Corps unit in Ukraine.

How many Germans did this is unknown. Upon request, the Legion does not provide figures on how many armies come from which country. At a press conference, a spokesperson mentioned the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Finland and Japan as the main countries of origin. Two Americans have been killed in the fighting so far. Besides the death of Bjorn C., the Corps reported a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and an Australian. “There are no words to express our gratitude for their superior service and sacrifice. The Corps’ Facebook page said that their courage and memory will always inspire us. In other units, according to social media reports, there are more foreign fighter casualties.”

Only volunteers with combat experience are required – it was different at first

Legion is only looking for volunteers with combat experience on its website. It seemed that Bjorn See had not even completed basic military training. “He was never in the Bundeswehr,” said the survivors. He received professional training in the security industry. Weapon handling was not among them.

Bjorn C from Ukraine sent this selfie to his grandmother in Berlin

Bjorn C from Ukraine sent this selfie to his grandmother in Berlin

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“Originally, we did not have very strict criteria for joining the Corps,” a unit spokesperson says. “That has changed. Fighting experience has been mandatory for several weeks now.”

“If they had decided earlier,” Bjorn C.’s grandmother argues. Together with two other relatives, she wants to report her grandson. All three wish to remain anonymous. They also request that Bjorn C’s images be polka dots. But they still want to share their sorrows and memories.

Bjorn C. said he wanted to go to Ukraine to fight a few days after the war began. He has no family ties to Ukraine, but his grandmother reports that there are Ukrainian colleagues or friends in Oranienburg.

He wanted to fight for peace

It was about fairness to him. “He wanted to fight for peace and the defense of Ukraine,” says the deceased. The way forward was full of obstacles. At first, Bjorn C could not find anyone who could take care of his dog. He was then returned at the Polish-Ukrainian border because he did not have a valid passport. “I was still hoping he wouldn’t get a new passport anytime soon,” his grandmother says.

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Maneuvers in an enclosed space: “The potential for collisions and misunderstandings is very high here”

On the Baltic Sea, the ships of NATO and Russia meet each other in a very small space – the risk of escalation has increased significantly due to the Ukraine war. Kiel naval expert Sebastian Bruns referred to the balance of power at sea, the state of German ships and the Navy as the “Swiss knife of security policy”.

Then Bjorn C. received weapons training at a barracks in western Ukraine. He fell ill, had to go to the hospital, recovered and finally went to the front. The family does not know who served there.

Protecting the state and protecting the constitution You don’t know anything about the fighter

Right-wing extremists are also drawn to Ukraine. There are no such findings about Bjorn C. in state and constitutional protection. The surviving relatives say that the Knights Templar’s red cross inscribed with a red cross, which he drew on his right hand, has no political background.

The legion announced that the bereaved are now awaiting the remains of Bjorn C. The urn with his ashes will be transported to Germany by train. The following can be heard from the State Department: “We are aware of the case. Our embassy is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities and will provide consular support to the bereaved if they so desire.”

No further cases of injury or killing of German citizens are known in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression.

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