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Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Discussions on the foreigners (volunteers as well as conscripts) fighting in the German Wehrmacht, those collaborating with the Axis and other period Far Right organizations.
Hosted by George Lepre.

Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Rob - wssob2 on 10 Nov 2012 06:20

Hi Jampol,

Flanders or Flandern is a part of Belgium not the Netherlands.


I know. That must have made you mad.

But the Flemish fascists of the VNV advocated for a "Greater Flemish Union” (Dietsland) comprising Flanders,
the Netherlands and parts of northern France, at least when they weren't arguing with the other Flemish fascist party, Devlag, which wanted Flanders incorporated into the Reich.

Three unpalatable facts confront those who want to rehabilitate the Waffen-SS "European Volunteer Movement"

a) Hitler had no interest in the political aspirations of indigenous fascists
parties of the occupied territories; he in fact viewed them with great suspicion.

b) The SS was primarily concerned with raising recruits - cannon fodder if you will - for its militarized arm

c) Ultimately, the value of the "volunteer movement" was more a policy component to further compliant collaboration in the occupied territories than a military objective to form an effective, multinational SS army. Remi Schrijnen's press junket after his Knight's Cross award being a case in point.

To respond on your words....


In deference to Marcus's admonishment not to digress off the subject I'll avoid responding to your rather boilerplate accusations of US 20th century policies.


I will however, remind you that the US did provide substantial relief to Belgium post WWI

http://hoover.archives.gov/exhibits/col ... index.html

http://www.archives.gov/publications/pr ... lgium.html

and that the Flemish economic historian Herman Van der Wee pronounced the Marshall Plan "a great success"

http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/ ... _Plan.html

So at least as far as Belgium is concerned, US polices were not all pernicious.

As for the extent of devastation of Belgium as a result of WWII, The Unknown Dead: Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge
(http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Civilians-Ba ... 0813123526 ) gives a good account. It might be a bit too Walloon-centric for your taste however! ;)


Concerning my historybooks: I have interviewed former
Waffen-SS veterans, DRK-veterans, reading books and visited historical places in France, Germany and Belgium.



As have I. And Harro.


Don't judge about people before you know them,...
and in the eyes off every person his choice was the best choice to made at that moment.


It's also important for us to recognize that underneath the postwar equivocations, fabrications and whitewash,
totalitarianism, lust for power and prestige, admiration for National Socialism, toadying to the Reich and anti-Communism/anti-Semitism
also stirred those volunteer heartstrings as well. I believe this was Harro's point when he mentioned the recent book about Henk Feldmeijer:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/voorman-h ... /795019707

http://www.historischnieuwsblad.nl/nl/a ... eijer.html
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Rob - wssob2 on 10 Nov 2012 06:22

Panzermahn - I'll try to dig up that old Ken Estes thread to respond to your post about Ken Estes. - r
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby skylinedrive on 10 Nov 2012 08:08

Why are the Dutch Korps Mariniers elite soldiers and being one is a great honour. This is the same for the Waffen SS in those days


Are the mods asleep?
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Wim on 10 Nov 2012 10:59

Harro wrote:As for the Dutch Marines:


The reason wy i brought up the Dutch Marines was that i wanted to make the point that you rather choose for being an elite unit than a 3rd rang unit. And that the Dutch Marines are considered in the Netherlands an elite unit. Nothing more nothing less.

My remark about Indonesie and the Netherlands was just to say that you have to be carefull about telling we are the democrating good guys and they are the evil guys. Time and the ones who get the victory will tell the history.

Harro wrote:Comparing Flemish volunteers for the Waffen-SS with Dutch volunteers for the Dutch marines is like comparing apples and oranges.


Maybe i should have taken the French Foreign Legion as excample.

I think that you make it to hard on yourself that some facts are more simple than you think and sometimes you just have to accept them.

Wim
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Harro on 10 Nov 2012 11:18

Wim wrote:My remark about Indonesie and the Netherlands was just to say that you have to be carefull about telling we are the democrating good guys and they are the evil guys. Time and the ones who get the victory will tell the history

Nonsense, victory for Nazi-Germany would not have turned them into "democrating good guys" so perhaps you could stop countering all my questions with the "they were bad too" argument (because that's what you're doing with your reference to Indonesia, colleteral damage in Afghanistan, etc.) because they're just feeble attempts to steer away from my questions.
Last edited by Harro on 10 Nov 2012 11:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Rob - wssob2 on 10 Nov 2012 11:31

Wim, your comparisons are completely fatuous.

Dutch Waffen SS units such as Landesverband Flandern/SS-Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade "Langemarck" never approached the specialized equipment, advanced physical stamina, physical or tactical training of the Dutch Marines.

http://www.tactical-life.com/online/spe ... etherlands’-korps-mariniers/

The Flemish Legion was basically a inadequately trained clone of a Germany Army infantry battalion.

The sturmbrigade was a modest improvement, adding an assault gun unit plus upgunned AT company and the SS's ORBAT effort to address the inherent military weakness and ineffectiveness of the legions. The unit was chewed up in the Jambol fighting in March 1944 and the Narva battles in July of the same year.

Despite the title, the unit never achieved division strength - even of a reduced-level 1944 division. Flemish men never even commanded the unit - it was all German SS men. The unit suffered from a severe lack of training and replacements - which is why a "youth battalion" of Flemish teenagers was sent to the unit in the spring of 1945. Those teenagers did not get scuba gear, jump-training, assault weapons or learn Swahili. Nor for that matter, did any Langemarck troops. The "eliteness" you speak of was and remains propaganda.

As for the comparison to the FFL - please! Comparing one endlessly mythologized unit with another endlessly mythologized unit is just an exercise in confirmation bias.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Wim on 10 Nov 2012 12:13

Well Harro and Rob i rest my case because you are not hearing what i am saying.

I hope i didn't offence anyone because that was never my intention.


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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Rob - wssob2 on 10 Nov 2012 13:19

Well Harro and Rob i rest my case because you are not hearing what i am saying.


I'm hearing what you are saying fine. I just don't agree with it because it is factually incorrect.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Martinski on 10 Nov 2012 13:49

Hello!

I fully second Wim but have to add some remarks. Our main problem (I am Flemish too) is that our political situation is so complex and not undertandable by anyone who is not Flemish. Even the German military Government did not understand (or even did not try to cope with) the "Belgian" situation during their occupation.

My main point: recently, a Flemish historian, Aline Sax, published an excellent study about the reasons and motivations of the Flemish Voluntary collaborating (in different German organisations and on different levels). She used an awful lot of personal files (still hidden in the vaults of the belgian Ministry of Justice) and studied the mail (Feldpost) contained in these files.

And her conclusions are fascinating! It is certainly NOT the "Yes / No" or "Good / Bad" discussion as in the previous posts but really very differentiated. The reasons and motivations of these volunteers are a broad spectrum, ranging from pure ideological to even personal, economical and irrational ones... Just a pity that the book is published in Flemish language.

But another reason that, in my point of view is even more detestable, is the fact that the real (political) leader of the walloon volunteers, Leon Degrelle, could not cope with the fact that his volunteers were considered as "second category" and only served as a Wehrmacht bataillon, underwent all possible steps and making up stories to convince the RFSS and the RSHA that the walloons somewhere in the ancient times detained Germanic blood. So, by his own choleric character and endless efforts, he made it possible for "his guys" to change uniform and enter the rangs of the Waffen-SS in Summer 1943. And to continue this discrepancy, the walloons continued to bear the BELGIAN colours (black / yellow / red) as an opposition against the Flemish, historically more correctly, bearing the Flemish colours and heraldic symbols.

Entering the Waffen-SS was for Degrelle more a political step and an individual satisfaction to his own ego than a rational one. With even consequences up to today.

Martin
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Wim on 10 Nov 2012 14:18

Rob - wssob2 wrote:I just don't agree with it because it is factually incorrect.


We are here not discussing if its factually correct or incorrect or if you are agree with there choice or not but we are discussing what the motivation at that time was for the Flemisch volunteers to make there choice with there knowledge of that time of the situation!

So no you are not hearing what i am saying.

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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby George Lepre on 10 Nov 2012 14:33

Time to take a break, guys.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby George Lepre on 10 Nov 2012 14:38

Robwssob2:

Rob - wssob2 wrote:Hi Jampol,

I know. That must have made you mad.

It might be a bit too Walloon-centric for your taste however! ;)


Remarks such as these add nothing to the discussion.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Marcus Wendel on 16 Nov 2012 09:44

After a cooling off period the thread is now once again open for discussions on why non-Germans (not only Belgians) joined the Waffen-SS.

/Marcus
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Panzermahn on 18 Nov 2012 05:48

The primary reason and motivation why foreigners joined the Waffen SS was the struggle against communism/Bolshevism. This can be judged by the fact that numerous volunteer units made it clear that they could only be used in the Eastern Front against the Russians and NOT against the Western Allies. (A fact that Rob-WSSOB2 rarely mentioned in his postings about foreign Waffen SS units)

From the Ukrainians of the 14th SS Division "Ukrainische Nr.1', the Walloons of the Wallonie Division, Flemings of the Langemarck Division, the French of the Charlemagne Division, the Danes of the Freikorps Danmark, the Norwegians of the Norwegian Legion, the Finns of the Finnish SS Battalion (of the multinational SS Panzer Division Wiking), the Dutchmen of the Legion Nederlande, the Latvians of the Latvian Legion, the Estonians of the Estonian Legion the Swedes, the Spaniards and a lot of more had made it clear that the struggle was ONLY against the Soviet Union and not against the Western Allies.

The motivation against the communist hydra that were beginning to envelope Europe were so strong that there are even more volunteers enlisting in 1943 as compared in 1941. In fact, the last foreign volunteers for Waffen SS actually enlisted as late as March 1945 (!).

No doubt the Waffen SS had its share of criminals and psychopaths just like any other army in the world at that time but one must remember the main reason why foreigners joined Waffen SS was to fight against the spectre of communist domination of all over Europe.
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Re: Why did foreigners join the Waffen-SS?

Postby Arto O on 18 Nov 2012 07:06

Hi,
To understand why a young lad from Flanders, Holland etc voluntereed to Waffen-SS, we need to understand how was the times on those days and how is a mind of young man in his 20ies. He see that his country was invaded by an enemy, he must(?) have seen deportation or bad/horrible treatment of his countrymen or jews. But surely he never saw the KL camps, like Auswitz. Maybe later he learn about them, but it was too late. But is a man in this age worried necessary about that. He saw the winners (germans), he was called to be part winners, he was called to be part of the elite (SS). Is it easy to go.
Times were different. The communism were the bad guys on those days. No further comment.
Nowadays we have better education, we are more connected to news etc. and I know that the further comment is not the best one, but trying to understand forum members, I do the comparization:
If nowadays young lads in US would be called to form a Legion to combat ever rising thread of Muslim, Al-Qaeda etc. I would suppose there would be volunteers.
with all my respect
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