The lifestyle of The High Ranking Prussian Officer

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Benoit Douville
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The lifestyle of The High Ranking Prussian Officer

Post by Benoit Douville » 12 Apr 2004 22:02

I am looking for info about what kind of music the High Ranking Prussian Officer were usually listen to. I know that Wagner, Back and Beethoven were pretty popular but besides that what else? Also, what they were reading during and before World War II. Any info would be really appreciated.

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 14 Apr 2004 03:52

I would think that musical taste would vary as much as any other group's would. At least according to popular myth, graphic accounts of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign became very popular with German officers in the winter of 1941/1942.

Von Brauchitsch liked reading detective stories. Apparently, he hid his pulp books away when he thought he would be discovered reading something as profane... he was a bit of a weirdo even for an officer. He often strolled around in a colonel's uniform from a regiment that had made him an honorary colonel. As a consequence, he would sometimes be addressed as a mere colonel by officers that really ought to know better, but he didn't mind that.

Rommel was into archeaology.

In true Junker style, Guderian liked to go buck hunting.

Many officers also liked horseback riding.

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Post by varjag » 14 Apr 2004 11:59

Benoit - it's a valid question. I have often been amused by the admiration, if not adolation shown by forum members for several members of Germany's military 'caste'. For a caste they were. They had very little time for, nor understanding of the social problems and stresses that motivated the 'Volk' they were set to defend. Irrespective of financial means - which varied greatly amongst them - they regarded themselves as a special elite, an upper class that viewed most everything outside their circles a little bit 'von oben' (from above) not least through the many ridiculous monocles worn by them. The social 'rules' within the caste could be very strict which led to many social disgraces = never promoted beyond major. The 'stiffness' of most of these people, for them natural, made them stumbling blocks in any gathering, not of their own kind. Whatever private tastes, hobbies or activities they had/undertook - were - very private and were never allowed to interfere with their 'von oben' outlook. They were products of, perhaps the most perfect military machine, the world had ever seen - The Prussian Army - and only rarely let that ideal down.

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Post by Benoit Douville » 15 Apr 2004 01:17

I believe Rommel was collecting stamps and Himmler was into archeaology.

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Post by Jon G. » 15 Apr 2004 20:10

I read somewhere that Rommel was smitened by one of his adhudant's enthusiasm for archeaology while in North Africa, where there is plenty of opportunity to pursue that interest.

Himmler set up Ahnenerbe and all that, but his goal was idealogical more than it was a hobby, and he did not really belong to the officer class, even though he had been an officer cadet in WWI.

Traditionally, German officers were predominantly Prussian, traditionally, they were upper class, and traditionally, they were at least supposed to live the life of a Junker when not on duty - that is, a life of huntin', shootin' and fishin'.

However, the rapid expansion of the German army after Hitler came to power lead to many 'upstarts' attaining high rank - Rommel and Model, for example, came from relatively nondistinguished middle-class families.

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Post by Witch-King of Angmar » 15 Apr 2004 20:32

varjag wrote:Benoit - it's a valid question. I have often been amused by the admiration, if not adolation shown by forum members for several members of Germany's military 'caste'. For a caste they were. They had very little time for, nor understanding of the social problems and stresses that motivated the 'Volk' they were set to defend. Irrespective of financial means - which varied greatly amongst them - they regarded themselves as a special elite, an upper class that viewed most everything outside their circles a little bit 'von oben' (from above) not least through the many ridiculous monocles worn by them. The social 'rules' within the caste could be very strict which led to many social disgraces = never promoted beyond major. The 'stiffness' of most of these people, for them natural, made them stumbling blocks in any gathering, not of their own kind. Whatever private tastes, hobbies or activities they had/undertook - were - very private and were never allowed to interfere with their 'von oben' outlook. They were products of, perhaps the most perfect military machine, the world had ever seen - The Prussian Army - and only rarely let that ideal down.
Until Hitler's time the old caste of the "stiff & straightforward" Prussian officers had begun to dwindle. Their champions Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff had died for natural causes, Werner von Blomberg had been made to resign, Ludwig von Beck and others sent to retirement, others "embraced the cause" like Paul Hausser, and new figures raised from below like Erwin Rommel & Heinz Guderian. Guess Onkel Adi was pleased with the idea, for the new structures that took shape before 1939 were more "flexible".

~The Witch-King of Angmar

PS many newly-promoted officers practiced various sports, activity that was encouraged by the regime

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Post by Jon G. » 15 Apr 2004 20:55

Guderian was no upstart. He came from an old Prussian family, and his father was a general. But his ideas on panzer warfare made him many enemies among his fellow officers.

Blomberg treated Hitler with barely concealed contempt, a major reason why he was intrigued out of his position on false charges. Göring originally tried to secure the post as CiC for himself - but the Heer was too strong to allow the post to become a party post, and in any event Göring would have become too powerful compared to the other members of Hitler's inner circle for Hitler to allow that to happen. Instead, he set about expanding the Luftwaffe still further with land units etc. just as Himmler began expanding the Waffen SS into a competing land army.

Instead von Brauchitsch got the job as CiC - and Hitler had him somewhat under heel, because Hitler had paid his divorce settlement out of his own pocket, putting von Brauchitsch in a debt of gratitude to Hitler.

Hitler also personally paid for refurbishing von Kluge's estate, again trying to put the old Prussian in a debt of gratitude to him.

I don't know if there are other cases of Hitler trying to turn senior officers into 'clients'. It would be interesting to know.

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Post by xcalibur » 15 Apr 2004 21:45

Shrek wrote:Guderian was no upstart. He came from an old Prussian family, and his father was a general. But his ideas on panzer warfare made him many enemies among his fellow officers.

Blomberg treated Hitler with barely concealed contempt, a major reason why he was intrigued out of his position on false charges. Göring originally tried to secure the post as CiC for himself - but the Heer was too strong to allow the post to become a party post, and in any event Göring would have become too powerful compared to the other members of Hitler's inner circle for Hitler to allow that to happen. Instead, he set about expanding the Luftwaffe still further with land units etc. just as Himmler began expanding the Waffen SS into a competing land army.

Instead von Brauchitsch got the job as CiC - and Hitler had him somewhat under heel, because Hitler had paid his divorce settlement out of his own pocket, putting von Brauchitsch in a debt of gratitude to Hitler.

Hitler also personally paid for refurbishing von Kluge's estate, again trying to put the old Prussian in a debt of gratitude to him.

I don't know if there are other cases of Hitler trying to turn senior officers into 'clients'. It would be interesting to know.

Hans Lammers recorded (at Nuremberg, 24 October 1945) the following gifts/bonuses to senior officers and government officials:
*Reichsleiter Dr. Ley: One million Reichsmark to buy, that is to enlarge,the family estate close to Walbroehl.
*Reichsminister von Ribbentrop: one million Reichsmark in two parts each of 500,000 Reichsmark each.
*General of the Army Keitel: land purchse amounting to about one million Reichsmark which was to be added to his estate Herscherede (Braunschweig).
*Reichsminisster Funk: 500,000 Reichsmark in cash with which he established a foundation for the next-of-kin of those employed in his ministry and in the Reichsbank who had died in action.
*General Guderian: a rather large estate in Warthegau. Value unknown to us.
*General of the Army von Kleist: a rather large estate in Silesia for the enlargement of his estate there. I do not recall the value.
*General of the Army Ritter von Leeb: an estate in the woods of Bavaria. Value approximately 600,000 Reichsmark according to my recollection.
*General of the Police Daluege: an estate in the protectorate...
*Family of the deceased General von Reichenau: large estate in the province of Saxony. Value about one million and two hundred thousand Reihsmark.
*Family of the deceased SS Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich: large estate Jungfrau, Breschau in the proectorate.
*General of the Army von Runstedt: 250,000 Reichmark and a raather large estate in Silesia near Breslau, the latter through Reichsmarschall Goering.
- Richard Overy, Interrogations, pp. 272-276, passim.

[/quote]

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Post by Jon G. » 15 Apr 2004 23:10

Thanks for the info, xcalibur! Most of the notables you sum up were not part of the officer caste, though... I would assume that the estate given to Guderian was his old family estate, re-acquired after the German conquest of Poland.

But all those gifts and donations do amplify my impression of Nazi Germany as inherently feudal and clientilist in nature...

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Post by xcalibur » 15 Apr 2004 23:50

Shrek wrote:Thanks for the info, xcalibur! Most of the notables you sum up were not part of the officer caste, though... I would assume that the estate given to Guderian was his old family estate, re-acquired after the German conquest of Poland.

But all those gifts and donations do amplify my impression of Nazi Germany as inherently feudal and clientilist in nature...
Anytime... A little more from Lammers supports your point:
Bonuses were granted in land and property, however chiefly in cash. Cash payments were intended to enable the recipient to acquire property, but there as no compulsion brought to bear to use the money for this purpose. The money or the equivalent property bonus was paid out of the Fuhrer's "Disposition" fund which was under my administration.

In individual cases Party funds were also probably used. Category of bonus eligibles whom the Fuhrer personally designated: Minister, State Secretaries, General of the Army, Generals, Reichsleiters, Gauleiters, etc. Usual amount of the bonus in these cases: Between 100,000 and a million Reichsmark. Occasion for granting the bonus: Birthdays (50th, 55th, 60th, etc.) special anniversaries, retirement, etc. In addition, bonuses of lesser value (perhaps between 10,000 and 100,000 Reichsmark) were also given to persons closer to the Fuhrer for birthdays, weddings, etc. and in larger numbers to persons in industry (factory directors, engineers, down to section heads and foremen) based on lists given the Fuhrer by Reichsminister Speer.... I did manage to have the Fuhrer make a ruling that he alone as Supreme State Chief should have the right to bestow the bonuses as discussed here.
--Overy, op cit.

Note: Lammers goes on to say that the list produced was in no way "exhaustive". Unfortunately the dates of these bonuses are not noted.

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Post by Michate » 16 Apr 2004 09:17

Hi,

The amount of corruption seems to have been large and included all elites of the 3rd Reich.

If you can read German, the matter of these bonuses is treated in Gerd Ueberschär/Winfried Vogel: "Dienen und Verdienen. Hitlers Geschenke an seine Eliten". I do not know whether an English edition exists.

Best regards,
Michael

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Post by Benoit Douville » 17 Apr 2004 23:17

This is an interesting discussion. However, it was not the type of answers I was looking for. What was the style of music did the High Prussian Ranking Officer were listening to and what do they read. Any sources will be greatly appreciated.

Regards

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Post by Wolfkin » 17 Apr 2004 23:19

Hello!

Shrek, I believe that you may be confusing Von Rundstedt with Von Brauchitsch. It was Rundstedt that read detective novels and wore the insignia of the regiment that made him an honorary Colonel.

Cheers,

Wolfkin

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Post by Jon G. » 17 Apr 2004 23:34

Hi Wolfkin -

Maybe you are right. I forget where I read that von Brauchitsch liked detective stories... I am however fairly certain that he liked his honorary colonel uniform better than his CiC uniform, and this lead to embarrassing situations occasionally.

Von Rundstedt does come across as an interesting character. He seemed to speak his mind rather more freely than other top officers.

I can remember seeing footage of von Manstein playing chess. Maybe film shot just for propaganda purposes, but I could well imagine him being really into that game :)

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Post by Leutnant » 21 Apr 2004 15:44

Wasn't Rommel from Schwaben?
Don't think he was a Prussian.

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