What did the waffen ss do?

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

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  1. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    This is the time of the Falaise pocket by the way. Sapper.

    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.
    Sapper
     
  2. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    The die for SS atrocities was cast on the Eastern Front, after this Oradour and the 2nd Das Reich and Peiper and Malmedy were just confirmation. The SS had a reputation for being fanatical fighters, but who could put a number on the numbers in their ranks who were not of the ilk of Peiper or similar. How would one know? Were the majority that bad or a small minority who sank to that level?

    There were units of the Wehrmacht who committed atrocities but not to the scale of the SS. The SS being Hitler's personal bodyguard wouldn't have boded well for any in their ranks. Ironically some of the worst atrocities were committed by foreign SS.

    At the end of the day it is down to the person. I can understand Sapper's viewpoint as the war drags on and you see more of your mates dead around you, you appreciate life even more and more determined to hang on to it. If that enemy is then resorting to gutter tactics I can't see any reason to give him an advantage. Dog eat dog, while not sinking to their level. Come out the other end and let outsiders give their judgements from the position of never having been there.

    If one looks at it in this light I can understand Sappper blowing his top now and then when he has to explain his actions and justify himself.

    If you heard of civilian atrocities and the massacre of the Norfolk and you were then coming up against this sort of ilk would you be concentrating on I wouldn't do this or that - or putting him away before he has chance to do what he did to those. Did those who committed the atrocities look any different from the rest. Could you distinquish them from the rest, which were the bad and the good SS. A ranker in the SS after those atrocities knew that he was tarred with the same brush and could expect little quarter. Hindsight is a great thing, it is a pity we didn't know of it before. It is a luxury those back then didn't have.
     
  3. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    The fifty Air Force officers that were murdered from the" Great Escape" - that wasn't committed by SS. The shooting of commandos if captured. The shooting of villagers in reprisals for resistance acts of sabotage - the SS couldn't have been everywhere.
     
  4. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The die for SS atrocities was cast on the Eastern Front, after this Oradour and the 2nd Das Reich and Peiper and Malmedy were just confirmation. The SS had a reputation for being fanatical fighters, but who could put a number on the numbers in their ranks who were not of the ilk of Peiper or similar. How would one know? Were the majority that bad or a small minority who sank to that level?

    There were units of the Wehrmacht who committed atrocities but not to the scale of the SS. The SS being Hitler's personal bodyguard wouldn't have boded well for any in their ranks. Ironically some of the worst atrocities were committed by foreign SS.

    At the end of the day it is down to the person. I can understand Sapper's viewpoint as the war drags on and you see more of your mates dead around you, you appreciate life even more and more determined to hang on to it. If that enemy is then resorting to gutter tactics I can't see any reason to give him an advantage. Dog eat dog, while not sinking to their level. Come out the other end and let outsiders give their judgements from the position of never having been there.

    If one looks at it in this light I can understand Sappper blowing his top now and then when he has to explain his actions and justify himself.

    If you heard of civilian atrocities and the massacre of the Norfolk and you were then coming up against this sort of ilk would you be concentrating on I wouldn't do this or that - or putting him away before he has chance to do what he did to those. Did those who committed the atrocities look any different from the rest. Could you distinquish them from the rest, which were the bad and the good SS. A ranker in the SS after those atrocities knew that he was tarred with the same brush and could expect little quarter. Hindsight is a great thing, it is a pity we didn't know of it before. It is a luxury those back then didn't have.
    Nicely put.

    And I'm never surprised that the Freiwillegen behaved the worst, you're obviously fanatic to start off with and then you burn all your bridges by putting those runes on. No surprise they fought so hard until the bitter end. Nowhere left to go.
     
  6. lancesergeant

    lancesergeant Senior Member

    More SS POWs here.Link removed,bit dubious.

    Some of whom are 12th SS HitlerJugend Division.
    Surely the cockiest of cocky little sh*ts.
    Can anyone find the picture of the SS-Mann captured in Normandy who looks like he's had a good kicking? It's quite a famous picture.

    I know which one you're on about, as if he has had a right kicking, left side of the face all swollen up. To them they would know no different, it is like a form of religious indoctrination almost to the fanatic, perhaps more so. They were classed as kids but look how they defended Carpiquet airfield near Caen. It shows how a belief system can keep someone going, even if it is the likes of the Jugend.
     
  7. Dave--

    Dave-- Member

    I beleive that anyone complaining about anything related to "rules of war"
    If somone has enough time to sit and make rules, on most accounts, i would have to say they havnt fought enough or at all.
    In terms of surrenduring and attrociets with the waffen ss, it all comes down to you and your morals. If you think what you did was best in your sitouation then you can argue and should be left alone. Now i know i would be commented by a "well what about the concentraction camps"
    People that could do things like that have lost part of thier humanity, because even in basic millitary training, all humans have a basic barrier against killing. I dont know how people can do such things, but i have never been in a war or been in a sitouation like that obvioulsy. When you can go down to the level of shooting another human or killing others, I would belive you just act on instinct and you feel like anohter person amidst the slaughter and carnage of war.
    If not a more depressing note, if we as people ever get to other planets and start to expand to a huge poplulace, we will either be a utopia peace nation(doubtfull) or we will once again go back to our primitive ways and turn back the clock to a war on an even bigger scale then ww2. Today's fast and mobile "fear of nukes" and conflicts, would be replaced by mass scale.
    I have only pondered this, and its more of a far distant and more opinion bassed theory. I probably should have started a new thread for this but oh well!
     
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only
    because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
    -George Orwell.-
     
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think we should not forget that the SS and Waffen SS were indicted at Nuremberg as criminal organisations despite many pleas from the defence and those post war, who declared that the Waffen SS had fought as ordinary soldiers.

    The SS and its militarised form, the Waffen SS represented Nazi ideology and from the SS being the personal protection guard of Hitler, by 1939 it had become Hitler's personal army on the battlefield as the Waffen SS.Hitler along with Himmler (who had his own agenda for power at the head of a Nazi state) saw the SS and Waffen SS as political bodies that Hitler could trust rather than the Wehrmacht.Had Hitler been successful in his conquest for Europe,then the Waffen SS would have replaced the Wehrmacht.

    There has been a lot of effort by those in the Waffen SS and those post war apologists to separate the Waffen SS from the deeds of the SS.This has fallen on deaf ears for there was flexibility between the two roles,the Waffen SS were involved in the Einsatzgruppen policies,the searching and elimination of "partisans" behind the lines on the Eastern Front and the shooting of POWs and hostages.The Waffen SS provided flexibilty in the manning of concentration camps as a secondary role and as a defence would say that these duties were given to those unfit for front line duties.

    Post war in August 1956 when the West Germans were trying to come to terms with the SS atrocities,Konrad Adenauer,the former Federal Chancellor and "father" of the emerging West Germany state stated that "the men of the Waffen SS were soldiers just like the others".Other Germans had the view that "Every nation has its criminals,ours were called the SS.

    For the Nazi Party,it became the ideal for members to embellish their loyalty to the party by serving in the Waffen SS.Most were honorary members of the SS and it became part of the ideology to be seen as a Waffen SS battle hardened veteran.Theodor Eicke comes to mind as the first commandant of the Dachau Concentration Camp who served in Russia as an Obergruppenfuehrer in the Waffen SS and was killed in action.The atrocities of both the SS and Waffen SS have been well documented and is not surprising given that the ideology of the SS had been firmly planted in the Waffen SS.Regarding the Eastern Front, after Hitler had stated that no German would be charged for an offence against a Russian,it followed that the ensuing conflict would know no bounds in its barbarity.

    The original leadership of the SS were readily recruited from the Freikorps,the body of Freiwilligen who saw their role as one of protecting the German frontiers in the East against the Poles and Russian in the chaos of post 1918 Germany.The Freikorps shared with Hitler the resentment of the Versailles Treaty and the Reichwehr,the army of the democratic Weimar Republic and thus were easy and willing recruits to the SS and its Nazi ideology.

    There is something of a myth being built up regarding the Waffen SS,their bravery was not unlike other well trained,well led and well equipped force on any battlefield.However fighting to the last man was derived from following orders, however irrational, to the bitter end.Having a policy of not conceding ground leads to encirclement and ultimate defeat which was a feature of the German experience on the eastern front.It might be good for the ideology but is no good for materiel and manpower loss.The Waffen SS, from 1943 found itself short of manpower and standards laid down by Himmler were put to one side and consequently recruitment drifted towards conscription.Himmler saw propaganda value in this mixed bag of Germans,ethic Germans,fellow Aryan state volunteers and Fascist volunteers as a Europeam Army brought together to fight the westward sweep of Russian communism.

    Regarding the Waffen SS as captives,I am sure that on falling into enemy hands,they would have the same fears and anxiety as any other POW or irregular.On the eastern front,if they were identified as Waffen SS or SS,then they would be quickly deposed of by a bullet,A Soviet policy on the battlefield that was akin to the dispatching of Soviet Commissars and the harsh treatment meted out to Russian POWs both as a result of each side propaganda.

    For many the end was not chivalrous,for them it was far better to strip off the uniform and present themselves as members of the Wehrmacht or even as victims of Nazism.There was not much ideology left in the end unless they were full converts and the defence was that it was always someone else to blame.

    Overall as the historian Gerald Reitlinger recorded,"The SS:The Alibi of a Nation" tells of the nightmare reign of Hitler's political cum military war machine.A lesson in European history that no one should forget.
     
  10. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Well said Harry.
     
  11. LuftwaffeFuehrer

    LuftwaffeFuehrer Junior Member

    I think we should not forget that the SS and Waffen SS were indicted at Nuremberg as criminal organisations despite many pleas from the defence and those post war, who declared that the Waffen SS had fought as ordinary soldiers.

    The SS and its militarised form, the Waffen SS represented Nazi ideology and from the SS being the personal protection guard of Hitler, by 1939 it had become Hitler's personal army on the battlefield as the Waffen SS.Hitler along with Himmler (who had his own agenda for power at the head of a Nazi state) saw the SS and Waffen SS as political bodies that Hitler could trust rather than the Wehrmacht.Had Hitler been successful in his conquest for Europe,then the Waffen SS would have replaced the Wehrmacht.

    There has been a lot of effort by those in the Waffen SS and those post war apologists to separate the Waffen SS from the deeds of the SS.This has fallen on deaf ears for there was flexibility between the two roles,the Waffen SS were involved in the Einsatzgruppen policies,the searching and elimination of "partisans" behind the lines on the Eastern Front and the shooting of POWs and hostages.The Waffen SS provided flexibilty in the manning of concentration camps as a secondary role and as a defence would say that these duties were given to those unfit for front line duties.

    Post war in August 1956 when the West Germans were trying to come to terms with the SS atrocities,Konrad Adenauer,the former Federal Chancellor and "father" of the emerging West Germany state stated that "the men of the Waffen SS were soldiers just like the others".Other Germans had the view that "Every nation has its criminals,ours were called the SS.

    For the Nazi Party,it became the ideal for members to embellish their loyalty to the party by serving in the Waffen SS.Most were honorary members of the SS and it became part of the ideology to be seen as a Waffen SS battle hardened veteran.Theodor Eicke comes to mind as the first commandant of the Dachau Concentration Camp who served in Russia as an Obergruppenfuehrer in the Waffen SS and was killed in action.The atrocities of both the SS and Waffen SS have been well documented and is not surprising given that the ideology of the SS had been firmly planted in the Waffen SS.Regarding the Eastern Front, after Hitler had stated that no German would be charged for an offence against a Russian,it followed that the ensuing conflict would know no bounds in its barbarity.

    The original leadership of the SS were readily recruited from the Freikorps,the body of Freiwilligen who saw their role as one of protecting the German frontiers in the East against the Poles and Russian in the chaos of post 1918 Germany.The Freikorps shared with Hitler the resentment of the Versailles Treaty and the Reichwehr,the army of the democratic Weimar Republic and thus were easy and willing recruits to the SS and its Nazi ideology.

    There is something of a myth being built up regarding the Waffen SS,their bravery was not unlike other well trained,well led and well equipped force on any battlefield.However fighting to the last man was derived from following orders, however irrational, to the bitter end.Having a policy of not conceding ground leads to encirclement and ultimate defeat which was a feature of the German experience on the eastern front.It might be good for the ideology but is no good for materiel and manpower loss.The Waffen SS, from 1943 found itself short of manpower and standards laid down by Himmler were put to one side and consequently recruitment drifted towards conscription.Himmler saw propaganda value in this mixed bag of Germans,ethic Germans,fellow Aryan state volunteers and Fascist volunteers as a Europeam Army brought together to fight the westward sweep of Russian communism.

    Regarding the Waffen SS as captives,I am sure that on falling into enemy hands,they would have the same fears and anxiety as any other POW or irregular.On the eastern front,if they were identified as Waffen SS or SS,then they would be quickly deposed of by a bullet,A Soviet policy on the battlefield that was akin to the dispatching of Soviet Commissars and the harsh treatment meted out to Russian POWs both as a result of each side propaganda.

    For many the end was not chivalrous,for them it was far better to strip off the uniform and present themselves as members of the Wehrmacht or even as victims of Nazism.There was not much ideology left in the end unless they were full converts and the defence was that it was always someone else to blame.

    Overall as the historian Gerald Reitlinger recorded,"The SS:The Alibi of a Nation" tells of the nightmare reign of Hitler's political cum military war machine.A lesson in European history that no one should forget.

    i like what you said, but i don't agree that the Waffen SS would have
    replaced the Wehrmacht as the Army

    although Werhmacht means armed forces
    while Heer means Army :elkgrin:
     
  12. Dave--

    Dave-- Member

    so on a finishing note, what would be good reading books on the ss and thier equipment, i see hundreds but only see and few. Plus my money is precious and needs to be well spent, most of the time.
     
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    so on a finishing note, what would be good reading books on the ss and thier equipment, i see hundreds but only see and few. Plus my money is precious and needs to be well spent, most of the time.
    For equipment and a good bare-bones History try the 'Waffen-SS Handbook' by Gordon Williamson:
    [​IMG],
    for a more serious (but cheap) read try 'The Order of the Death's head' by Heinz Hohne:
    [​IMG],
    Sometimes heavy going but very good.
     
  14. Dave--

    Dave-- Member

    thanko sir!
     
  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    In the Forward to "Arnhem Spearhead" by James Sims, John Frost CB, DSO, MC ex-CO of 2 Para has this to say.
    ..the author is wrong in asserting that the soldiers who brought the wounded out of the burning building [page 85] were other than troops of the 9th SS Panzer Division. Although at times these men were a bit 'quick on the draw', during our battle they were a chilvalrous foe. Their sympathy and kindness for us wounded I, for one, will not forget.
     
  16. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I used to have the Order of the Deaths Head VP ( I Say used to because an Ex ripped up my copy and that is part of the reason why she is my ex!!) and I found it very informative but like you say heavy going!!
     
  17. PeterG

    PeterG Senior Member

    The Nazi concentration camps did not fall under the control of the Waffen-SS; the two were separate entities. However, this did not apply to individual SS personnel. Over 43% of all Waffen-SS officers served in the general concentration camps and in the death camps. The following data are from an expensive specialist book, The Camp Men - The SS Officers Who Ran the Nazi Concentration Camp System by French L. MacLean:

    1st SS Division "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler": Sixteen SS concentration camp officers have been identified in this division.

    2nd SS Division "Das Reich": Thirty-nine concentration camp officers served in this unit.

    3rd SS Division "Totenkopf": One hundred and fifty-nine SS concentration camp officers served, at some point in the war, in this formation.

    4th SS Division "Polizei": twenty-nine concentration camp officers served in the unit (from this point on I will just give the figure of those SS officers who served in the concentration camps)

    5th SS Division "Wiking": 55

    6th SS Division "Nord": 57

    7th SS Division "Prinz Eugene": 23

    8th SS Division"Florian Geyer": 28

    9th SS Division "Hoenstauffen": 22

    10th SS Division "Frundsberg": 20

    11th SS Division "Nordland": 12

    12th SS Division "Hitlerjugend": 6

    13th SS Division "Handschar": 9

    14th SS Division: 5

    15th SS Division: 5

    16th SS Division: 16

    17th SS Division: 15

    18th SS Division: 7

    19th SS Division: 3

    20th SS Division: 6

    21st SS Division "Skanderbeg": 4

    22nd SS Division "Maria Theresia": 3

    23rd SS Division "Kama": 5

    24th SS Division "Nederland": 1

    25th SS Division "Hunyadi": 2

    26th SS Division: 3

    27th SS Division "Langemarck": 5

    28th SS Division "Wallonien": None

    29th SS Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (russische Nr. 1): 1

    29th SS Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (italienische Nr. 1): 2

    30th SS Division: believed none

    31st SS Division: 2

    32nd SS Division "30 Januar": 2

    33rd SS Division "Charlemagne": 1

    34th SS Division: 6

    35th Division: 1

    36th SS Division "Dirlewanger": 7

    37th SS Division "L├╝tzow": none

    38th SS Division "Nibelungen": none

    Given the high number of Waffen-SS officers who served as concentration camp officers, it is really stretching credulity to breaking point to believe that the Waffen SS knew nothing about concentration camps. Are we to assume that these officers never drank and chatted with their fellow officers? The officers of the elite Waffen SS divisions, 1st to 6th, had been particularly heavily involved in concentration camp administration. A staggering 159 of the officers in the 3rd SS Division "Totenkopf" had served in them.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I used to have the Order of the Deaths Head VP ( I Say used to because an Ex ripped up my copy and that is part of the reason why she is my ex!!) and I found it very informative but like you say heavy going!!
    Was she one of those 'can't even touch a nazi hat' types? Or just did all your books? :screwy:

    It's a great book, still cheap in quite a few of the remaindered shops but yeah, the translation and 19th century style do stop it from being any sort of page-turner.
     
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    PeterG
    Thanks for those figures.
     
  20. ourbill

    ourbill Senior Member

    I remember reading somewhere that no Waffen SS were in North Africa or Italy. Rommel was offered some and (I think) only a small observation team came to North Africa.
    I suppose in reality most were busy with the USSR in the early stages and post D-Day there wasn't any uncommitted to send anyway.
     

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