What did the waffen ss do?

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Dave--, Apr 22, 2006.

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  1. Dave--

    Dave-- Member

    This is my first post on this sight so anything you can point out will help.:)

    Now the subject.
    I have read accounts of all the branches of the german army carying out acts of murderd and what not on local populations and rounding up jewish persons, but were the waffen ss prime suspects of many crimes done?
    im going to start reading up more on them becasue they are one of the orginizations i know little about.:confused:
     
  2. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Although associated with some attrocities, on the whole the Waffen SS were an elite fighting force. For the most part they were brave and skilled soldiers who were supplied with the best weapons and equipment. If there was a tough job to do, they would be there using not only their great skill and leadership, but also their reputation to temper the moral of their enemy to their favour.
     
  3. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Not sure if this applies to the Waffen SS but the SS on the Eastern Front would fight to the bitter end as they knew that the Russians would give them no quarter if they surrendered.
     
  4. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Not sure if this applies to the Waffen SS but the SS on the Eastern Front would fight to the bitter end as they knew that the Russians would give them no quarter if they surrendered.

    I think that was the view of most of the men on the Ostfront. Surrender was often the very last option.
     
  5. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Sorry, bad manners. Welcome Dave and hello.
    Yes I should say you're right there, PP.
     
  6. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Ooops, you are so right Gage, what was I thinking. Welcome to the forum Dave, hope you enjoy your stay and find what you are looking for.
     
  7. MalcolmII

    MalcolmII Senior Member

  8. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Hi, Dave, welcome to the boards, and do tell us about yourself.

    While the Waffen SS's divisions amassed an impressive battle record on all the fronts they served on, they also perpetrated a number of atrocities, including the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane, massacring Canadian, British, and American POWs, and massacres of Yugoslavian and Russian civilians.

    Kenneth Macksey wrote a good book on them for the Ballantine series.
     
  9. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Hi, Dave, welcome to the boards, and do tell us about yourself.

    While the Waffen SS's divisions amassed an impressive battle record on all the fronts they served on, they also perpetrated a number of atrocities, including the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane, massacring Canadian, British, and American POWs, and massacres of Yugoslavian and Russian civilians.

    Kenneth Macksey wrote a good book on them for the Ballantine series.

    I agree on the main point there, but would like to point out that attrocities were not limited to the Waffen SS and facing an SS unit didn't mean that your chances of survival were any less if you were captured. You may however not successfully get to the captured stage, or that is what they probably would have liked you to believe.
     
  10. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Welcome to the forum Dave. Don't forget Malmedy Kiwi (I think that was Waffen SS anyway). They were the elite and they did commit a lot of atrocities for which their image is tarnished, they were probably the best troops in the German inventory.
     
  11. Exxley

    Exxley Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Dave. Don't forget Malmedy Kiwi (I think that was Waffen SS anyway). They were the elite and they did commit a lot of atrocities for which their image is tarnished, they were probably the best troops in the German inventory.

    A little correction here: some Waffen-SS units were among the best troops in the German inventory, but they were certainly the most "glamorous" ones especially in post-war publications.
     
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Welcome David, and good luck with your research.
     
  13. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Welcome Dave, one atrocity was committed at Heusden, Holland. 132 women and children were blown up in a building there in 1944. Which prompted a "we didn't give them the option of surrender from that time on" my fathers quote!
     
  14. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Forgot to add, a lot of the veterans I have spoken to thought the German para's were as tough if not tougher!!
     
  15. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

  16. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Hello Dave and welcome to the forum. Yes there were certainly Elite Units in the Waffen SS but of the 38 formations only about 8 or 9 truly achieved that status. By all acounts they were tough as nails and were always sent to the most hard-pressed area of the front. Although initially sceptical many wehrmacht units came to respect these units although I have read that there was some jealousy as usually they had first pick on all new equipment. I would agree that the Fallschirmjager (early in the war) were as good if not better. The guys who took Eban-Emael and jumped into Crete were a different breed to the "9th Parachute Army" which fled as soon as the Russians attacked at the Seelow Heights during the Battle of Berlin. Another German formation which were extremely good were the "Grossdeutchsland" Division.
     
  17. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    I would agree that the Fallschirmjager (early in the war) were as good if not better. The guys who took Eban-Emael and jumped into Crete were a different breed to the "9th Parachute Army" which fled as soon as the Russians attacked at the Seelow Heights during the Battle of Berlin. Another German formation which were extremely good were the "Grossdeutchsland" Division.

    Good points, well made, but I would again like to point something out. All German units tended to be better in the early years of the war, but this tendency was amplified in the more elite units.

    The elite units were, as GH pointed out pushed into the hard fights and, if I can paraphrase the old saying "Only the good die young", in those sorts of situations it is your bravest and best that are usually your casualties.

    Later in the war, even elite SS and FJ units were 'padded' out with replacements that were mediocre at best as available recruits became harder to find. A hard core of fine soldiers with plenty of experience padded out with mediocre keen and possibly not too keen wannabes does not make an elite unit.

    It is not an accurate comparison, in my opinion, to compare a units achievments in the early years and with the same unit in the later part of the war.
     
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Just a word about the Waffen SS. If I captured a German Soldier, a young man like myself. I would light a cigarette, stick in his mouth, hands on head, and send him back on his own. A very happy POW puffing away happily on his cigarette, as he made his way back.

    But the SS? Surly, arrogant, and completely untrustworthy. It was rumoured that on several occasions they would raise the white flag of surrender, and when you moved forward to accept their surrender, another would pop up and cut the British down with a burst of machine gun fire.

    They certainly murdered our men taken prisoner in cold and calculated way. That was the 12th SS Panzer Hitler Jugend...

    They paid a price for it! Let me ask this? Would you take a prisoner knowing what they had done to your own men? Would you really? Nah! Specially as the war in Normandy was bitterly fought, in front of Caen, where we took on the SS Panzers to keep them away from the American front.

    The whole area always had the smell of death around, It never went away till we went down to the USA sector near Vire.
    SS? Murderers!
    Sapper
     
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Just a word about the Waffen SS. If I captured a German Soldier, a young man like myself. I would light a cigarette, stick in his mouth, hands on head, and send him back on his own. A very happy POW puffing away happily on his cigarette, as he made his way back.

    But the SS? Surly, arrogant, and completely untrustworthy. It was rumoured that on several occasions they would raise the white flag of surrender, and when you moved forward to accept their surrender, another would pop up and cut the British down with a burst of machine gun fire.

    They certainly murdered our men taken prisoner in cold and calculated way. That was the 12th SS Panzer Hitler Jugend...

    They paid a price for it! Let me ask this? Would you take a prisoner knowing what they had done to your own men? Would you really? Nah! Specially as the war in Normandy was bitterly fought, in front of Caen, where we took on the SS Panzers to keep them away from the American front.

    The whole area always had the smell of death around, It never went away till we went down to the USA sector near Vire.
    SS? Murderers!
    Sapper

    Great stuff.
    Did you and your comrades feel the same way towards the 'Grossdeutschland', 'Herman Goring' or the other 'elite' German Units that wore the Cuffbands Sapper?


    (Oh Yes, and hello there 'Dave--' thread starter, welcome to the site)
     
  20. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Heusden 1944; "The next building to be liberated was being held by Men in SS garb. As we closed on them the survivors emerged "Nicht Schissen" and "Kamerad". Nicht Schissen my arse, we shot them without a second thought".

    From the memoires of 2934077 Sgt George Sands MM. 5th Queens Own Cameron Highlanders.
     

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