What did the waffen ss do?

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

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  1. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

     
  2. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

     
  3. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot 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.

    Same battle; "3 Germans came in one wounded being supported by 2 others, wearing SS Uniforms, under a white flag. I sent one of my boys to bring them in. When he reached them the wounded one stood up and shot my boy between the eyes. He was just 18 years of age. We emptied our guns into them. We would be reluctant to honour a white flag again".
    Memoires of 2934077 Sgt George Sands MM. 5th Queens Own Cameron Highlanders.

    The first case, even if it occured after the other one, seems to be on very dodgy ground. Enemy soldiers having made a visible attempt to to indicate a wish to give up, shot without a thought. I don't really care what went on before, you can't shoot some unarmed soldiers dead just because elsewhere similar soldiers had used a trick. That is a clear breach of LoAC, no questions, no ifs or buts.

    The second case, seems to be a clear breech of LoAC on the German's part. At least it would if it was a logical thing to do. Walk towards your enemy with three men in order to kill one man and knowing that all three of you would die on the spot. maybe the injured one thought he wasn't going to make it and he unilaterally decided to take one last British Soldier? That doesn't meant that the other two were part of it even if they did pay with their lives. They would have died legally though as the flag of truce was abused and the British had no idea if it was one or all three. If anything the one German was guilty of murder of the poor British soldier and manslaughter of his two commrads.

    If that is how the event happened, it is still no reason to ignore LoAC in concequent cases. More caution taken, yes. But to kill solders who are trying to surrender out of hand is disgraceful and should never be accepted. You cannot condemn the actions of the SS when you are doing the same yourself.
     
  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    "If there is a God waiting to receive me at the end of my days, I think he will find it difficult to forgive me for some of the things I have done or been party too. My only excuse is that I was like a crazed animal, with all the death and destruction and the mutilation of young men around me.
    I confess to having killed unarmed men, men who were trying to surrender, but seeing those bodies of the women and children, blown up and burned in the building in Heusden, me and my comrades totally lost control. Who knows we may have done the free world a favour.
    When you discover the bodies of your comrades, face down with hands tied behind them with barbed wire, shot through the back of the head or their throats cut, you lose any and all morals.
    Seeing a young lad, shot between the eyes, when he is going to the aid of a supposedly wounded man carrying a white flag, it totally destroys your faith in your fellow man.
    I have....................".
    The above are my fathers thoughts.
    The incident in Heusden occurred (6th November 1944) about a week after 5th Camerons had entered SS Kamp Vught with all its atrocities.
    The wounded man occurred in the Reichswald Forest battle February 1945.

    I for one cannot imagine how the people on the spot were feeling and I defy anyone who has not lived on their nerve ends in battle from October 1942 to end of hostilities in 1945 to understand it either.

    It is easy to say Disgraceful, but in the heat of battle all reasoning disappears.
     
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    There is no doubt these men were arrogant pigs and deserved to be treated like pigs. Yes we felt the same about them.
    To trot out the political correctness Plant_Pilot where the SS are concerned is to say the least, unfortunate.

    Rather like trying to placate a raging and ferocious beast that is killing right left and centre. with a biscuit..."Here doggy... theres a good boy!" only to see your hand bitten off at the wrist.

    You shoot mad dogs, before they bite your head off. Not politically correct....but sensible..that is if you wish to stay alive?
    Sapper
     
  6. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    There is no doubt these men were arrogant pigs and deserved to be treated like pigs. Yes we felt the same about them.
    To trot out the political correctness Plant_Pilot where the SS are concerned is to say the least, unfortunate.

    Rather like trying to placate a raging and ferocious beast that is killing right left and centre. with a biscuit..."Here doggy... theres a good boy!" only to see your hand bitten off at the wrist.

    You shoot mad dogs, before they bite your head off. Not politically correct....but sensible..that is if you wish to stay alive?
    Sapper

    It's a hard situation to judge, never having been in it. Seeing all that underhandedness and wickedness dealt out. If I wanted to survive and go home then I would do whatever it took. Total war is what it says. If it was them or me then.....I would worry about it later when I was safely home.:mellow:
     
  7. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    I've been in situations where I've been face to face with people that we knew were responsible for some horrific acts of murder, of soldiers, and civilians, and who could be responsible for more tomorrow or next week or next month. Breaking the rules would have been a very real option, probably would have saved lives, but made us as bad as them and outside the law.

    The LoAC is there to protect everyone. If you ignore it "because they did" what's to say they are only ignoring it because you are. There is no protection for anyone any more. You can no longer expect to be allowed to live if you try to surrender.

    I know it's not all black & white, but what is more black and white than killing someone who is offering no resistance and trying to surrender. No better than cold blooded murder. And I do understand the difficulties of LoAC and that feelings run high, and even defended the use of enemy clothing as a diguise recently, but can anyone condone the killing of a soldier that has decided the game is up and offered himself on the mercy of the victors? From there it's a slippery slope to saying that the killing of civilians is okay and that the final solution was justified.
     
  8. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    As they say, there is no smoke without a fire. Like sapper and his cigarette story, thats a pretty consistent thing. Patton described his encounters with captured German generals. With the Wermackt he treated them with a certain honor, given them preferential treatment, certain priviledges and spoke to them honorable as soldiers. Contrast that with captured SS generals that were brought before him (which was rare because they shot themselves like cowards). He treated them with great disdain and actually verbally and mentally abused them especially since they were in the "I was just doing my job and following orders" mode.

    I was reading a book by a US B-17 pilot in the 8th and he said that it was pretty much a known thing that if you were a bomber crew shot down over Germany and were captured or delivered to the Wermackt, then you were treated well. But if the SS came upon you they would shoot you where you stood, as they gave no quarter and were simply heartless.

    One only needs to think about the Malmedy situation where the 80 or so soldiers with their hands on their head where shot in the back by SS. I don't think all SS were neccessarily evil b******s but like I said, there has to be substance to the many claims, and stated "there is no smoke without a fire".

    I believe sapper's right. Though most of us would say "I would never do such and such", the fact is until you see your buddy die needlessly and heartlessly from a sleezebag trick of a dog, you simply don't know what you would do.

    It is much easire being a soldier in a retrospective and imaginative battle field than the real thing, just as flying a plane on a flight simulator is different than actually flying one. There is no way to simulate or visualize the thoughts, excitement, sensations, fears, etc of actually being there. War is likewise probably nothing at all like the video game where as sapper said the smell of death is actually around you.

    I am compelled to believe that he is right and even in his claim of the rest of us, there are going to be less and less SS taken prisoner as the war and the rumors of dishonorable acts began to accumulate. It is best not to fill someone with rage and indignancy who might be holding a weapon on you at some time, especially a kid which most soldiers were.

    Wermackt by and large were patriots, SS trained animals. You shoot a mad dog, you have to. It's instinct, not the lack of mercy or else you would have shot Wermackt as well, which did not often happen. JMHO
     
  9. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    I've been in situations where I've been face to face with people that we knew were responsible for some horrific acts of murder, of soldiers, and civilians, and who could be responsible for more tomorrow or next week or next month. Breaking the rules would have been a very real option, probably would have saved lives, but made us as bad as them and outside the law.

    The LoAC is there to protect everyone. If you ignore it "because they did" what's to say they are only ignoring it because you are. There is no protection for anyone any more. You can no longer expect to be allowed to live if you try to surrender.

    I know it's not all black & white, but what is more black and white than killing someone who is offering no resistance and trying to surrender. No better than cold blooded murder. And I do understand the difficulties of LoAC and that feelings run high, and even defended the use of enemy clothing as a diguise recently, but can anyone condone the killing of a soldier that has decided the game is up and offered himself on the mercy of the victors? From there it's a slippery slope to saying that the killing of civilians is okay and that the final solution was justified.
    This I believe as well. I am guessing what soldiers did to such people would be reflexive not contemplated. I can't imagine the contradiction of emotions it must invoke.
     
  10. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    I've faced people that I knew were responsible for the deaths of friends and comrades too, but I haven't been under almost constant fire for the length of time that ww2 veterans were. It probably makes a difference.
     
  11. Tyrulf

    Tyrulf Member

    The brother of my grandfather was a SS-Soldier.
    It was at the very end of the war when a car with some nazi fat cats drove to the farm of my grandparents and told them that their son has to aquaint in the next bigger city . He was 17 years old.
    In the city his size and symmetrie of his head was measured and because he was tall and had the size like "aryans" should have he was send to a SS-fighting group.He was never in the HJ nor a nazi .

    A few days later he was wounded and was brought to a military hospital in a small town,Burgau.
    At night a us jeep including 5 soldiers drove to the hospital and went into the house.They went from room to room and shot every german who had SS-signs in his room into the head. 5 were dead immediately , one survived. Among the 5 my granduncle was.

    It was a few days before the end of the war.
     
  12. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    The brother of my grandfather was a SS-Soldier.
    It was at the very end of the war when a car with some nazi fat cats drove to the farm of my grandparents and told them that their son has to aquaint in the next bigger city . He was 17 years old.
    In the city his size and symmetrie of his head was measured and because he was tall and had the size like "aryans" should have he was send to a SS-fighting group.He was never in the HJ nor a nazi .

    A few days later he was wounded and was brought to a military hospital in a small town,Burgau.
    At night a us jeep including 5 soldiers drove to the hospital and went into the house.They went from room to room and shot every german who had SS-signs in his room into the head. 5 were dead immediately , one survived. Among the 5 my granduncle was.

    It was a few days before the end of the war.

    That's terrible. This subject is so full of grey areas. The 40s were a different time than now. Seeing all that death, seeing your friends and comardes die must affect your judgement. You can only react a certain way in certain situations. Everybody is different.
    All I hope is that none of us at any time have to make those choices.:(
     
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I believe from memory that those German Soldiers who refused participation in cold atrocity (as opposed to 'heat of the moment' incidents) were not routinely punished?
    Anyone confirm if this is so?
    I'm sure it cropped up at Nuremburg, maybe in the Neave book as one extra addition to the participants guilt?
    Thus "I was only obeying orders!" was no defence of their actions???
     
  14. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Not too sure of that, but I do know that the slow and complicated method of executing Russian prisoners of war in Buchenwald, by shooting then one by one in the back of the neck from a conceled room, under the pretence of a medical examination, was introduced because of the reluctence of the soldiers to take part in repeated firing squads. It was also part of the reason that gas was found as an alternative to shooting.

    A very macarbre subject.
     
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Warrior or not He was an absolutely committed Nazi though.
    (that's one of those websites I've always wanted to see in book form, though I suspect chunks of it are lifted from a certain nameless tome)
    'Best' tankman of ww2 maybe. I think the Israeli's might provide a few other contenders for all time though.
    ..... thank you Owen for that opportunity to turn the conversation to tanks.....but I'll try and stop now.:)
     
  16. Tyrulf

    Tyrulf Member

    If I had been in one of those units and came across an SS soldier trying to surrender, I'm sure I would forget the Geneva Convention. Would it make me as bad as them, who cares? It would be revenge for my mates.

    "if you gaze too long into the darkness , the darkness gazes into you"
    Nitzsche

    you have to separate SS-Soldiers. Of course a lot of SS-soldiers were cold hearted nazs who comitted crimes but there were also normal human beings.

    To become a SS-Member the most important condition was to look aryan to be nordischen gebl├╝ts.So there were many people who did not want to join the SS but had to and many who were volunteers.

    the ss itseld was like a order of knighthood with own rituals.
     
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just to completely go off thread, has anyone clicked on Dave--'s profile?
    If you do you get the wrong Dave, one who hasn't posted since 24-12-05.
    Wierd.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Anyone see that recent channel 4 (??) program on the SS??
    Very good, as good as the World at War. Similar style.
    One of the SS Veterans being interviewed made the point as his emotions built that At least the Allied soldiers died for a good reason, those that were left could mourn their mates and believe that they died in a great cause. "what did my friends die for??.....Absolutely nothing!!, what consolation do I have??", that's paraphrased but it was a very moving and Human moment
     
  19. Tyrulf

    Tyrulf Member

    I believe from memory that those German Soldiers who refused participation in cold atrocity (as opposed to 'heat of the moment' incidents) were not routinely punished?
    Anyone confirm if this is so?
    I'm sure it cropped up at Nuremburg, maybe in the Neave book as one extra addition to the participants guilt?
    Thus "I was only obeying orders!" was no defence of their actions???

    yes your right.someone , especially in the ss , who refused to do certain orders could be executed immediately , a so called Standgericht.

    "I was only obeying orders " or "We had to carry out our orders ",like Bomber Harris said , is a term , sadly used in every war.
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Ayup Tyrulf!
    You say I'm right but I said I thought they could refuse and were generally NOT punished (Maybe a minor translation prob? your English still beats my total lack of any other language skills though:)). I knew the option to Shoot on site was there but I thought it wasn't usually applied at the cold-blooded organised murders, I thought a lot of Soldiers who refused to participate were allowed to walk away??
     

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