How Did 'Ordinary' German Soldiers Feel About The Waffen SS?

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by von Poop, Jun 12, 2010.

Tags:
  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Thought provoked by a throwaway little comment in a Ken Tout book that they were 'hated by their own side'.

    Interested in any contemporary quotes or commentary people might potter onto.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  2. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Having captured and talked to German prisoners (many spoke good English) They disliked the SS. For example: if I captured a German army man I would light a cigarette stick it in his mouth, put his hands on his head, and point the way back...
    ,
    But not the SS. They were violent and fanatic. They were watched and guarded.

    One SS shite hawk had far too much mouth off to a Suffolk's Sgt. resulting in the Sgt belted him so hard, he lifted the man off his feet.... Its fatal to insult your captors ...Especially after a battle where mates were lost.

    The Wehrmacht hated the SS. Though the toughest unit ever, was the 12 SS Hitler Jugend Panzer's....
    Sapper
     
  3. azza

    azza Member

    Thats a hard one. I think there would have been a lot of hatred once the wehrmacht had learnt of the ss atrocities. What the ss were doing after the regular army had been through was not widely known at all, so eventually when they did find out, a lot of them would have felt disgusted.... Which would have sparked an inferno of hatred.
    I think the ss and the wehrmacht were a completely different breed of soldier.
     
  4. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    x
     
    Za Rodinu and Drew5233 like this.
  5. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Thats a hard one. I think there would have been a lot of hatred once the wehrmacht had learnt of the ss atrocities. What the ss were doing after the regular army had been through was not widely known at all, so eventually when they did find out, a lot of them would have felt disgusted.... Which would have sparked an inferno of hatred.

    Azza, not all atrocities were made by SS, Wehrmacht also did many war crimes especially in the East and South Europe. It hard for me to believe that regular German Army hated SS only because of they atrocities when they also did the same thing.
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Kate.

    I've only come across coments regardoing the SS in the 1940 France campaigns and what little I've come across in German and British soldiers statements regarding the Paradis and Wormhout Massacres fits into what you've said. I've read in a few accounts of regular German soldiers saying the SS don't take prisoners and you get the impression in 1940 Herr didn't want them and they were not needed on the battlefield. I got the impression they were regarded as organised thugs with little knowledge or skill in the art of tactics and fighting.

    A good example of what the higher ranks in the Wehrmacht thought of the SS in 1940 is easy to appreciate with the reaction by senior Wehrmacht officers after the Paradis massacre.
     
  7. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Lovely 'low level' stuff K, what's the nature of the above document?
    (couldn't find it on the NA site)
     
  9. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Assumed so - I'd be interested in any more you spot, that one's rather funny, and confirms what I'd thought about normal German squaddies attitudes.
    Cheers to others for their responses too, of course!

    Edit to reflect your edit with extra quotes - :lol:
     
  11. azza

    azza Member

     
  12. Bobs grandson

    Bobs grandson Member

    With my limited knowledge of the ss and the wehrmacht so forgive me if i am totally wrong i would have thought a lot of hatred or would that be jealousy of the ss may have arisen from the supply problems especially on the eastern front as if my understanding is correct the ss were virtually always the first to aquire new weapons i.e. tanks artillery etc before the wehrmacht not only because of them being the fuhrers blue eyed boys (tongue in cheek) but also for there fighting capabilities and willingness to take tremendous losses in seemingly lost causes and fire fighting actions . this would surely have caused friction between the 2 different services ?
    I have no love for the ss but much admiration for there fighting spirit even though it was on the fanatical . if i am correct i do wonder if this was as much a reason for the supposed wehrmcht dislike of the ss as much as the war crimes these units commited?
    however saying that lets say that 20% of waffen ss soldiers comitted war crimes just as a figure ive come up with on the top of my head(high i grant you) what would be the equivelent figure within the wehrmacht ? I doubt it would be as high but im not so sure it would be that far short?
    Im not convinced that the wehrmacht was as innocent and nieve as it likes to make out and likes the idea of having a fall guy such as the waffen ss but i appreciate that there are others on this forum much more informed than myself and can tell me im wrong. phil
     
  13. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    In the early days the SS was an entirely volunteer formation, later in the war recruits were assigned to SS formations through the call-up system in the various Wehr Kreiese - to this the Wehrmacht objected and the SS resorted to recruiting Volksdeutschem and later other Aryan recruits into what were effectively ethnic sub-units - some of them not very Aryan at all such as the Handschar Division. A good proportion of the Hitlerjugend Division were conscripts from the 1923 year intake, with a cadre of officers and sncos from other Waffen SS formations.
     
  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    From 1943 when the impact of manpower shortage hit the German war machine,any man and his dog could join the Waffen SS.An element of the shortage was caused by the Wehrmacht leadership refusing to allow Himmler to take his share of the manpower pool.Consequently Himmler,following the structuring of Dutch,Nowegian,Danish and Belgian (both Flemish and Walloon) volunteers in 1941 into the Waffen SS,recruited,Russians, Ukrainians,Albanians, Hungarians,Romanians ,Yugoslavs,Estonians,Latvians,French,Italians (although the latter two at the war end) and not forgettng the Muslims of Yugoslavia.

    So after 1943,the strict assessment of a recruit's physical condition and racial purity were dismissed to maintain numbers but the antibolshevism and racial doctrine remained as the cornerstone of Nazi ideology within the Waffen SS.

    While the Waffen SS had early successes on the Eastern Front,by the time of Stalingrad,the Waffen SS had largely been withdrawn to France and were not caught up in the defeat of Stalingrad as were the Wehrmacht.This along with the Nazi party affillation and the fact that Waffen SS military commanders such as Eicke requistioned the best equipment for Russia may have raised some unofficial resentment by the ordinary foot soldier.It certainly did at Wehrmacht leadership level against the publicity machine which projected the Waffen SS as elite.The Wehrmacht leadership also were resentful of the Waffen SS,who although reporting to Wehrmacht commanders appeared to be a law un to themselves when required to fit into battlefield strategy and tactics.Early successes in Russia brought praise from Hitler but it was the Wehrmacht who were to suffer the major losses.Further the racial brutality of the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front drew criticism from some of Wehrmacht leadership.

    Postwar there was a question of war crime guilt between the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS.The Wehrmacht leadership on trial, insisted that the Waffen SS were wholly responsible for battlefield atrocities while the Wehrmacht,a regular army, had fought a war to the the traditional ruels of warfare.For their part, the Waffen SS pointed out that the Wehrmacht were not innocent of the happenings on the Eastertn Front.Despite this,the ruling at Nuremburg was that both the SS and the Waffen SS were criminal organisations.

    There is no doubt that those who served in the Waffen SS were proud to do so after all these years and this is confirmed by the many documentaries produced postwar.On the other hand, those who served in units external to the SS and Waffen SS organisations would not normally wish to be associated with the organisations.In a strange sort of way, it follows that the Waffen SS like to think that they were above the louts, as they have referred them as,who participated in the concentration camp system.

    It is interesting to note when the subject of war crime guilt was high on the domestic agenda in German domestic politics in the 1950s,Konrad Adenauer,in an effort to unify West Germany in its infancy,declared that the Waffen SS were no different to the ordinary soldier.They were merely carrying out their duties as German soldiers.
     
  15. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    I lived in Germany whilst serving,a very good friend said to me one day over a beer, never ask what I did, or what I thought, like you I was a soldier. He would laugh when he said some now tell that they were whiter than white, best left to the past!
     
  16. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

  17. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    It hasn't been proved yet that the Waffen-SS formations received better/the best material. What you have to keep in mind is that at least the armoured formations were per se privileged; but that applied to the Heer units just the same! And it seems that from the equipment point of view the SS divisions didn't differ greatly from the Heer divisions (at least that's the tendence of fresh studies on the subject).

    It's a myth that the Waffen SS got newer/better equipment than their Heer counterparts e.g.

    The first Panthers were issued to Heer units, Pz Abt. 51 & 52.
    The first Tiger I's went to sPz Abt 501 & 502.
    The first StG44 Assault Rifles were (if I remember right) first issued to newly formed Volksgrenadier Infantry Divisions.
    The only Panzer division to have all of it's Infantry Battalions armoured(i.e. equipped with Sdkfz 251 apc's) was the Heer's Panzer Lehr.

    The Leibstandarte, Das Reich & Totenkopf may have been favoured as 'Premier' divisions' by being given a company of Tigers each, until the advent of sPz Abt 101 & 102 when the Leibstandarte and Das Reich lost theirs, but that has to be put into the context of them being used as the spearhead in most of the Germans major offensives. They also sufferred from material shortages at times just like any other division.

    The Grossdeutschland PzGr division also received a Tiger company(later upgraded to full Abteilung) as the Heer's premier division also.
     
  18. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Thats not quite true Steelers, they ended up slashing the wartime establishment of Heer units to boost that of the crumbling SS formations.

    Annoyingly my German books that cover this are being translated, but chunks of them cover this (from 276 and 277 Div perspective) feeling inferior to the top quality troops next to them.

    This ultimately disintergrates into disdain and contempt when the SS refuse to inform them that they have withdrawn leaving a Regimental sized hole next to their forward elements that get somewhat rolled up in Falaise.

    I think contempt and disdain was evident on both sides of the SS/Heer divide, definately by NWE 1944.
     
  19. steelers708

    steelers708 Junior Member

    Thats not quite true Steelers, they ended up slashing the wartime establishment of Heer units to boost that of the crumbling SS formations.

    Some specific examples would be nice to back up and provide proof of your blanket/cover all statement. Then we can actually look into the facts.

    Annoyingly my German books that cover this are being translated, but chunks of them cover this (from 276 and 277 Div perspective) feeling inferior to the top quality troops next to them.

    I'm sure there are examples in all armies of this feeling, I'm equally sure that there are examples when units were grateful for having top quality units next to them. It would be nice to know which top quality units you mean, but unfortunately I don't have time to go through my books etc to see which units operated with the 276th & 277th Infantry divisions. I do know that at the beginning of July the 276th was on the right wing of the Panzer Lehr division, then the most powerful division in the Wehrmacht, but it was a Heer unit and not Waffen SS.

    This ultimately disintergrates into disdain and contempt when the SS refuse to inform them that they have withdrawn leaving a Regimental sized hole next to their forward elements that get somewhat rolled up in Falaise.

    Again it would be nice to know which units you are talking about, but having said that I'm sure if I go through alll my unit history books I'll find similar examples regarding Heer/Waffen SS, Waffen SS/Heer, Heer/Heer and even Waffen SS/Waffen SS units. In fact I'm pretty sure you would find examples of this in all armies, so taking a single example does not make this disdain of the Waffen SS by a single Heer unit a universal symptom.



    I think contempt and disdain was evident on both sides of the SS/Heer divide, definately by NWE 1944.

    Again I'm sure examples could be found, but I would'nt assume from them that it was universal and long lasting, once more I'm sure I could find examples where one or the other(Heer/Waffen SS) was grateful for the contribution made by the other at what ever level.
     
  20. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    In Guderian's book (1943 when Guderian was Inspector of Armour), he comments that the Wehrmacht soldier considered that the Waffen SS were favoured with new equipment and more of it than the Army.
     

Share This Page