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Americans in German military?


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#1 David Layne

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 07:11 PM

We all know that many Americans served with Canadian and British forces prior to Americas entry into the war.

I was curious to know if anyone was aware of Americans serving in the German military. Given the huge German/American community in America at the time of the start of WW2 it certainly is a possibility.
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#2 von Poop

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 07:45 PM

I've tried to look into the American/German 'Volksdeutschers' before and found very little. A few other forums seem to have got little further than a few posts either.
It's perhaps understandable that the possibility has been discarded by the folk-memory but I also reckon there must have been quite a few.

I can't work out if this is novelised or straight non-fiction:
Old Warrior Books - Military Books - Nebraska Doppelganger Preview

Amazon.com: Nebraska Doppelganger: Books: Thomas J. Morrow,Barbara Brill,Helen Hartley

Site feels slightly 'odd'
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#3 Owen

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 08:37 PM

I have read of German-Americans returning to the Fatherland in The Great War but nothing about WW2.
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#4 marcus69x

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 08:49 PM

There's a scene in BoB where a German/American has been captured. Even though he was American he says that all true arians should return to the Fatherland. That's the only example I know of.
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#5 Kyt

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 09:03 PM

VP, the book is fiction:

Morrow will be discussing his first novel, Nebraska Doppelganger. The author draws upon his interviews with Allied and German combat veterans of World War II and his own Nebraska roots to create the story of a young German American caught up in the Nazi movement.

Kearney Nebraska - The Heart of Nebraska!

I don't think there were many Germans who returned to fight. There are certainly cases of Germans whose parents returned from America, and then were called up. This was probably more the case later on in the war. And there's debate about Skorzony's commondos during the Battle of the Bulge, and whether some were ex-Americans.

But the important thing to remember is that they were all considered Germans, legally, because I've yet to come across any treason cases after of the war involving such individuals.

Just as interesting are the cases of Japanese returning - especially as they were more recent arrivals in America, and used to travel back to their ancestral home more frequently to visit family. I've read of cases of individuals who were caught out in Japan after Pearl Harbor - I'm trying to find the reference to one who witnessed the Hiroshima bomb.
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#6 Owen

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 09:05 PM

Thinking about this, I vaguely remember reading in one of my books about a German Officer speaking with an American accent as he grew up there.
Either he was taken POW or the British soldiers remember meeting him when they were POWs.
Sorry, can't recall where I read it now.
God knows which book it's in, one of my British Regimental Histories, I think.
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#7 Harry Ree

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 10:04 PM

There was a number of cases of Germans leaving the US at the start of the war with Great Britain in 1939 and later confirmed by a number of British POWs who met them during the course of their capivity.Some Germans who had returned to Germany on holiday and were not naturalised US citizens were conscripted into the Wehrmacht.

I do remember references to this type of occurrence where people were caught up in the wrong country and others who volunteered readily.
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#8 sapper

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:15 AM

Here we are. An excerpt from my book "Cameos of War" Americans inthe Enemy army.

The American.
The most willing prisoner

Always on the move. The British and Americans had broken through into the open French country side and then their tank columns had turned North, to enclose the Enemy in what was to become known as the "Falaise pocket" We were pushing at the back of the pocket, driving the Enemy towards the ever tightening noose at the head of this great trap. The Germans in some places were running for their lives, in others they stayed and fought it out, in some skirmishes, they fought like demons. During this time the line between our forces and the Enemy had become very fluid, one was never sure if we had passed the Enemy, or whether he was still in front. To pay tribute to the Germans, they put up a fierce and spirited resistance in some of the rear guard actions that took place, actions that were fought with the purpose of giving their comrades time to get away. Our Company was battling down the Vire-Tinchebray road in hot pursuit and had stopped for the day for food and refueling. We set about digging our fox holes and needed something to keep the rain off, doors keep you dry and also give one a false sense of security Spud! Now there is a name to conjure with, Spud Murphy our D.R and myself always tried to share the task of digging our holes! First back from that day's operation would start the hole for both of us.
We both decided that a door over our hole would improve our creature comforts and set off for a farm a short distance away, when we got there, all seemed safe and quiet, no sign of the Enemy, we started to look for our door, no sign of civilians, they had long departed for safer areas, while looking for our door we found the farm cattle in an enclosed yard, all suffering from wounds that had been sustained by setting off booby traps, this had an immediate effect of making us a great deal more cautious, still in search of our door for the night we came to a farm outhouse, this was one of those typical Normandy outhouses where they kept the great cider barrels up on racks at the back and on the cobble stone floor. Spread-eagled on the cobbled floor was a dead German officer, resplendent in full uniform with sword and nazi dagger, his medals pinned on his chest, including the iron cross. Knowing the Germans and their dirty tricks, we were only too aware that moving him would set off a booby trap of some description. Spud and I talked about "making him safe" by putting a rope round his feet and giving him a pull from a safe distance, to set off the very loud bang we knew would follow, in the end we decided against it, some else could do it, it would be far to messy.
Now with even greater care we moved on to a hay loft, a door that had very narrow steps leading up to the loft from the outside. Now! I can still see those steps, worn from constant use, the treads of the stairs hollowed by years of scuffing farmers boots, a nice door, Just what we wanted! We had both decided that we would get it off its hinges when we heard footsteps coming down the loft steps and a pair of German jackboots appeared. Spud pointed his empty Sten gun at him and I drew my trusty Bowie knife that the Yank had given me prepared to do this fellow some very serious harm, when a voice called out. "I want to give myself up" in a voice with an American accent, in these unusual circumstances and with great caution, we let him come on, having seen what they were prepared to do with their own officer, we took no chances. None! I have never seen anyone so keen to give himself up, he told us that he was the son of an American mother and a German father, while they were on holiday in Germany the war had broken out and he was unable to get home, subsequently he was called up to serve in the German army, sent to Normandy, he told us that his mum had told him to stay behind and give himself up to the Americans. Having listened to him for some time, I was quite convinced that he was telling the truth, we gave him a cigarette and had quite a long chat before turning him in, he was not far away from the American sector, they were quite close, but not close enough. For many years I have wondered what happened to this man? One cannot be anything else but curious when faced with such bizarre events. I would give a lot to trace this man, just to find out what happened to him afterwards? Sometimes I lay awake, and wonder about these people.
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#9 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 03:40 PM

One would expect some Germans from America joining the Wehrmacht etc., seeing as how the US had a larger population of Germanic desent than Germany itself did.
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#10 Doc

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 07:29 AM

If you look at the SS foreign units (Divisions?), I think you will find there was (at least on paper) an American one. This is not my area of expertise, but I remember reading about it many years ago-- IIRC, the book I was reading said it never was fully activated, and did not have more than a dozen American members. But, if true, that would imply that there were at least a few.... Doc
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#11 Owen

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 08:00 AM

Axis History Factbook: US volunteers in the Waffen-SS
Not alot to go on.
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#12 enawn00

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 02:42 PM

We all know that many Americans served with Canadian and British forces prior to Americas entry into the war.

I was curious to know if anyone was aware of Americans serving in the German military. Given the huge German/American community in America at the time of the start of WW2 it certainly is a possibility.


BoB does make reference to some of these guys getting captured and then being shot. I believe this is at the end of the D Day battle. I have watched tons of old B/W WWII movies, and they also make reference to these guys. They would take them and band them into platoon size units and then run missions behind the "enemy line" to fight the Allied forces.
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#13 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 03:02 PM

There is also a reference in the film, Band of Brothers, to a German soldier being captured who spoke American as he was born in the USA and returned to Germany with his family when the Reich called.

Regards
Tom
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#14 Drew5233

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 03:05 PM

There are several witness affidavits filed at Kew regarding the massacre at Wormhout in 1940.

At the barn prior to the massacre taking place Captain Lynn-Allen is heard by several of the soldiers that survived protesting to a German soldier about the conditions and space and that the wounded needed medical attention. He was told by the German (I have his name somewhere if anyone is interested-He was a SNCO if I remember correctly) in an American accent 'There will be plenty of room where you are going'.

Seconds after that the German with the accent pulled a stick grenade from his boot and throw it into the barn followed quickly by another thrown by another German.
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#15 Za Rodinu

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 03:55 PM

How about this well known failed attempt? A few were or had been American citizens.


But I suppose you'd be looking for Americans serving Germany in European territory.
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#16 bofors

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 01:19 AM

Hi all

Didn't they use them in the battle of the bulge to infiltrate the Yank lines, dressed in US uniforms?

regards

Robert
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#17 canuck

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 04:21 AM

This subject was explored in some detail in the 1964 historical novel, The High White Forest (Ralph Allen). It is an excellent read and describes the activities of the German Bund in New York and some of the circumstances leading to German Americans serving for the Fatherland.
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#18 Stig O'Tracy

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 04:54 AM

There is a book called "Panzer Gunner - A Canadian in the German 7th Panzer Division, 1944 - 45". It's the story of Bruno Friesen who was born in Kitchener, Ontario to Ukrainian-German parents who in their infinite wisdom thought it would be a great idea to move their family to Nazi Germany when the world was on the brink of war with that nation. They left on March 22nd, 1939. only five months before the invasion of Poland.

Bruno returned to Canada after the war and is now a volunteer at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
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#19 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 07:46 AM

Going slightly off thread by including the thought of British serving in the German Forces I am reminded of an episode that occured during our month in Ulm in Germany:


As we were now a British outpost in the heart of Germany we often had visitors turning up looking for repatriation to England, and I was often called in to interpret. On one occasion a strange young man turned up claiming to be of British origin and I was told to translate.

When I found my German was not enough to cope with the situation I switched to French and Italian whereupon the young man said to me: "You must be Jewish," going on to say that the only British he knew who could speak so many languages were Jewish !


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#20 n68188

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:08 AM

My unlce was good friends with a photographer who worked for the local paper. His parents were from, I want to say Latvia or Lithuania, but I could be mistaken. The family all had German names including the photographer in question. He was about 18yrs old or so when war broke out. Wolfgang (the photographer) had grown up in the US and spoke only English. His family including his father and brother had traveled back to the old country to visit before the Germans invaded. When the war kicked off they got stranded. With German names he, his father and his brother were prevented from boarding a ship back to the states and 'thrown into the German Army' as conscripts. The stories I heard while growing up were of Wolf constantly being in trouble because he couldn't understand a word of German, was less than highly motivated and was a bit too independent for service in the German Army.

From time to time a call for fluent English speakers would filter down and all such unwilling conscripts would volunteer in the hopes of getting a free trip home as a 'spy.' Unfortunately for them the Germans sent only those who were loyal and in better graces with their superiors. I knew he'd been in Europe at some point during the war and even took a few shots at a low flying P-47 with an AA gun. He hadn't led the plane properly, missing the p-47 completely. His shots went mostly into an apple orchard. The result was an angry mob of Frenchmen charging out of the orchard with pitchforks and what not. Such was Wolf's luck and the nature of the stories I heard growing up. This crazy one-eyed mad man even gave me my first ride in a small plane. A one eyed old man with two artificial knees and god forbid, a private pilot's license. What was my father thinking when he said it was OK for me to go for a ride?

While I was in Tech School back in '03 my parents sent a copy of his obituary in the mail. It said he had been sent to the Russian front where he was decorated for heroism. I had never known about that. He had an extreme modesty common among WWII vets. He told only stories about himself screwing up while stationed in Europe, and nothing about the worst of his experiences or what he had done to get through them (partly due to the complexity of his circumstances I'm sure.) He was always a stereotypical old school German hard ass but in a way that was curiously benevolent. He always sent Christmas cards yet claimed to be an atheist. He was quite a character, its a shame stories like his will likely be lost to history if they haven't already been. Even what I was privileged to learn about and from the man has faded to a point where I can't even remember in what country he was conscripted against his will.

His story isn't the most bizarre I've heard. A pair of Koreans in German uniforms were taken prisoner on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. They had apparently been pressed into service with the Japanese army after same conquered Korea. Later during the Russo-Japanese war they were again taken prisoner and pressed into involuntary military service, this time with the Russian Army. They were later taken prisoner by the Germans and subsequently pressed into service on the West front, specifically in Normandy. Sadly, they made it home after so many years only to experience the Korean war of 1950.

In today's era of all-volunteer military forces, its difficult to comprehend the idea of such forced service in another nation's military. Especially one considered an enemy.
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#21 La-de-da-Gunner Graham

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 02:50 PM

There is also a reference in the film, Band of Brothers, to a German soldier being captured who spoke American as he was born in the USA and returned to Germany with his family when the Reich called.

Regards
Tom


This is recounted in Don Malarkey's book Easy Company Soldier. He met a German Master Sergeant who was from Portland, Oregon who,as coincidence would have it, had worked at an American defense plant across the street from Malarkey's place of work before returning to Germany in 1938.

(Easy Company Soldier, p92,93)

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#22 Za Rodinu

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 03:59 PM

My uncle was good friends with...


Quite an interesting post. Welcome!
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#23 Assam

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 10:30 PM

On the flip side, there was a young German family who migrated to Australia after WW1. During the depression the mother divorced & returned to Germany with the father & son remaining in Australia.

The son, joined the RAAf during WW2 & was posted to bomber command. He eventually was shot down, & made a POW ending up in Colditz.

The SS became interested in him because of his german name. They located his mother living in Hamburg with the result that this POW was ordered to the commandants office 1 day where he had afternoon tea with his mother.


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#24 Dave55

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 12:56 AM

Here we are. An excerpt from my book "Cameos of War" Americans inthe Enemy army.

The American.
The most willing prisoner


Great story.

Thanks

Dave
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#25 Harry Ree

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 07:59 AM

The Germans would exploit any German having a background of living in the Anglo Saxon world.

Cases come to mind of those who operated behind the Allied lines in the Ardennes in Hitler's ruse to capture the port of Antwerp in December 1944.

They also could masquerade as Allied airmen in attempting to penitrate escape networks.Nothing like meeting someone,while on the run, who apparently speaks your language,possibility without accent, who you think can provide a safe haven.

I think these English speaking types were also used in the Luftwaffe interrogation structure.

Other odd references to these people seem to be associated with brutality from people who had lived in the US and condemned the democracy of the Anglo Saxon world against the new order of Hitler.

On the fiction aspect,some might remember Stalag Luft 17.
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