The Germans attitude to their troops

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by marcus69x, Sep 15, 2007.

  1. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    <TABLE id=HB_Mail_Container height="100%" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0 UNSELECTABLE="on"><TBODY><TR height="100%" UNSELECTABLE="on" width="100%"><TD id=HB_Focus_Element vAlign=top width="100%" background="" height=250 UNSELECTABLE="off">I know you all go on about how Ambrose isn't the best source to quote, but anyway,

    talking about motivating troops to fight:

    "Discipline won't do it, because discipline relies on punishment, and there is no punishment the Army can inflict on a front-line soldier worse than putting him in the front line". *

    *Except for certain death. The Wehrmacht in Normandy, for example, had German sergeants standing behind foreign conscripts. A Pole in the Wehrmacht at Omaha Beach managed to be taken prisoner. At his interrogation, he was asked how front-line troops stood up to air and naval pounding. " Your bombs were very persuasive," he replied, "but the sergeant behind me with a pistol in his hand was more so."

    Was this the common practise for the Germans? To treat their troops in this way so as to instill fear to prevent them from deserting?

    I know that most(?) countries especially in WW1 would shoot their soldiers for cowardice or desertion, but to force a man to stay at his position by holding a pistol to his head?

    Was this the German attitude to their troops?

    Cheers
    marcus

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  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Every soldier has his breaking point. It just depends when they reach it.
    There are many tales of British Officers and NCOs using a pistol to make their men stay and fight.

    Don't forget that extract you quote, the Poles aren't "volunteers".
    Lots of them didn't want to fight for Germany.
    I have read that 1st Polish Division in Normandy carried spare uniforms so that captured Poles fighting for the Germans could then change sides and fight alongside their fellow countrymen against the Germans.
     
  3. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    The regular German Units fought better than the "Fortress Units" which were comprised of "volunteers" from other countries!
     
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    The number of Poles serving in Wermacht units in Normandy must have been quite high, and may be an indication of problems in German manpower by 1944. I base this on my Normandy War Diary project; the number of British units reporting Poles serving in German units who deserted/surrender was quite high, even in June 44. By August the trickle had become a flood.
     
  5. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    It was the same with the workers who constructed the Defences in France. A high proportion of them were foreign workers pressed into service by the Organisation Todt.
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Reading Max Egremont's excellent biography of Maj.General Spears, he seemed to encounter much surprise from high ranking French officers in WW1 that we didn't place machine guns behind our troops in order to discourage desertion.

    It's got to be something of a symptom of another flaw in Germany's ww2 war-thinking, the huge bulk of allied troops would at least have the motivation of fighting for an apparently just cause. Whereas Germany's more limited manpower resources, though formed around a large corps of well motivated (even fanatic in some cases) men, had to mean more reliance on 'pressed' troops or those who could be gathered under the swastika for more political/partisan, or even expedient, motivations.
    While troops that the Romans might have termed 'auxilliaries' have performed great feats over time they're always going to raise more questions of discipline/dedication, particularly under such an agressive flag as the Nazis. If you're one relatively small country and you choose to take on the world then you're going to have no choice but to use these men with all their associated difficulties.
    (??)

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  7. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

     
  8. GUMALANGI

    GUMALANGI Senior Member

    about the sergeant with the pistol,. guessed.. every where in the military rules and regulation,. dessertion, AWOL, subversion,.. lead to capital punishment,. as in the war,.. this can decided almost instantly,..

    other wise,.. every soldiers will heap as soon as the first shell burst being heard,.
     
  9. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    According to Hitler's Army by Omer Bartov in WWI 48 German soldiers were executed by their own army compared with 346 British & 650 French. In WWII the numbers were 13-15,000 Germans, 40 British & 100 French. Bartov doesn't divide his figures between military offences such as cowardice, desertion or sleeping on sentry duty & crimes such as murder but estimates that an average of 100 Germans per month of WWII were executed for desertion & another 100 for subversion. From other sources the British executions split 306 for such offences, 3 mutineers & 37 murderers in WWI. All the British WWII executions were of murderers or mutineers as cowardice, desertion etc were by then no longer death penalty offences in the UK.
     
  10. GUMALANGI

    GUMALANGI Senior Member

    I am wondering,.. how many Russians soldiers/conscripts executed by their superiors/political officers during the ww2,..
     
  11. Union464

    Union464 Member

    I believe that Vickers guns were set up behind Australian troops' defensive positions in certain actions during the Korean War to discourage any 'unauthorized withdrawals' in the face of the Chinese human-wave tactics. I cannot vouch for the accuracy or veracity of this reported information, but it is certainly possible; whether it is true or not is another question.
     
  12. Joefraser

    Joefraser Junior Member

    There was a situation in Greece where a group of waffen ss were pinned down in a tricky situation and the commander ( Kurt "panzer" Meyer ) allegedly rolled a hand grenade behind his men to urge them forward. It worked apparently, as they took the ridge and 600 prisoners.
     
  13. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I am wondering,.. how many Russians soldiers/conscripts executed by their superiors/political officers during the ww2,..


    I seem to recollect reading that the Russians had armed guards (NKVD I think) whose orders were to shoot any deserters or soldiers refusing to fight, particularly at Stalingrad.
    I believe a direct order from Stalin, which is hardly surprising.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Tom, I believe they did that on some ocassions just for retreating. I think the Political Commissars played abig part in that.

    I'm sure one of the East Front experts can comfirm that.

    In more modern times I remember a rumour about Argentinian officers shooting conscripts in the feet to stop them retreating too and as for conscripts in Iraq to say they were treated badly is a understatement.
     
  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Yes, there were the barrier troops for that, but reading through this thread I find instances of others of more "civilised" provenance doing the same thing before, so what's the big surprise? ;)
     
  16. [​IMG]sign reads: "I made a deal with the Bolsheviki"

    a "common" situation in nazi occupied countrys and (later) german citys when they turned into battleground: german soldiers, civilians or allies where killed and exhibited (they often were hung-up) when deserting or dealing with the enemy or even beeing in cahoots with them. normally they got a sign around their neck to display a warning to everyone. in the late stage of the war, when a lot of soldiers recognized that it was without sence to fight on, they tried to retreat individually or in small groups. when they were caught they were executed imediately by "Standgerichte". special units were ordered to hunt down these "cowards" as counter action to mass desertion by german soldiers in the desperate situation of Berlin in late April, early May. according to thousands of eyewitnesses, there were countless soldiers hanging from trees and street-light poles after the Battle of Berlin.

    attached pictures show: punishment of "Wehrkraftzersetzer" (Wehrforce corruptors) and two Feldjäger (Wehrmacht police unit)
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    After the collapse at Gazala in June 1942 Auchinleck, the theatre C-in-C, told his senior officers that "if necessary in order to stop panic there must be no hesitation in resorting to strong measures, such as shooting an individual who cannot otherwise be stopped." He pressed the Army Council to reconsider capital punishment for cowardice and desertion, arguing that the "alarming increase" in incidents was undermining the fighting strength of Eighth Army. Similiar arguments were made by Alexander and Wilson in Italy in early 1944.

    No change in policy was ever sanctioned, partly because neither Alanbrooke (CIGS) nor the S-of-State for War was ever convinced that the problem was serious enough; and moreover, the political controversy of such a decision back in Britain was not considered worth the benefit.

    Best, Alan
     
  18. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Guy Sajer's memoir, The Forgotten Soldier, describes his experiences while fighting for the German army on the eastern front and contains a detailed account of the many executions of retreating German soldiers suspected of desertion or derelection.
     
  19. Goomba Fletch

    Goomba Fletch Junior Member

    According to that fountain of all knowledge, Wikipedia, during the defence at Dunkirk the 2nd Grenadier Guards restored order to routed British troops by shooting some of the fleeing men, and turning the rest around at bayonet point (source cited - Lord, Walter. The Miracle of Dunkirk pg. 199).

    Regarding the Soviet 'blocking detachments' according to (Wikipedia again) the article on Order No. 227 the requirement to form such barrier troops was withdrawn after just three months. They were apparently viewed as a waste of manpower.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    According to that fountain of all knowledge, Wikipedia, during the defence at Dunkirk the 2nd Grenadier Guards restored order to routed British troops by shooting some of the fleeing men, and turning the rest around at bayonet point (source cited - Lord, Walter. The Miracle of Dunkirk pg. 199).

    Regarding the Soviet 'blocking detachments' according to (Wikipedia again) the article on Order No. 227 the requirement to form such barrier troops was withdrawn after just three months. They were apparently viewed as a waste of manpower.

    I've wrote a brief article with pictures on that incident on here under a thread called 'Walking in the footsteps of the BEF' amongst the 3 (I think) retreating units was Sappers (a member) Royal Engineer Company and the Guards Officer who turned them around was awarded a Military Cross for his efforts. It happened in the Belgium town of Furnes.

    Cheers
    Andy
     

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