Why the Waffen-SS

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
offizier1916
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by offizier1916 » 13 Feb 2019 21:20

Cult Icon wrote:
13 Feb 2019 20:59
The waffen SS PzG divisions of the late war (11.SS PzG, 17.SS PzG, etc. ) were generally sub-standard in their equipment and training. They had a severe shortage of trained personnel like officers and NCOs.

Pretty interesting to see these comparatively unproven units (instead of veteran, reliable Heer PzD/PzG) being used for major panzer counterattacks in the late war in 1945 like Operation Solstice.
documents from the the SS Personalamt and other SS administrations show how critical the men shortage was. It already showed for the formation of the 9th and 10 SS Panzer and climaxed with the formation of the 17. SS PzG were formed. The recruits from the age group of 1925 and 1926 were not enough so that there was the order to "comb out" every office, administration and also revise the "UK Zurückstellungen". But the main Problem was the lack of NCOS and officers, so that even police officers and NCOs were sent to the Waffen-SS

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 14 Feb 2019 07:16

Pretty interesting to see these comparatively unproven units (instead of veteran, reliable Heer PzD/PzG) being used for major panzer counterattacks in the late war in 1945 like Operation Solstice.
Because there was nothing more 'at hand'?

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Feb 2019 14:13

Hi Offizier1916,

Certainly the Waffen-SS was "interesting" for some in the younger age groups. However, Germany had half a million new young men eligible for military service every year, of whom only about 10% volunteered for the W-SS in its best year, and I use "volunteered" in the loosest sense, as there was a lot of pressure for those targeted by recruiters to sign up en masse.

Your examples are interesting, but clearly represent the exception, not the rule.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 15 Feb 2019 15:22

offizier1916 wrote:
13 Feb 2019 21:20

documents from the the SS Personalamt and other SS administrations show how critical the men shortage was. It already showed for the formation of the 9th and 10 SS Panzer and climaxed with the formation of the 17. SS PzG were formed. The recruits from the age group of 1925 and 1926 were not enough so that there was the order to "comb out" every office, administration and also revise the "UK Zurückstellungen". But the main Problem was the lack of NCOS and officers, so that even police officers and NCOs were sent to the Waffen-SS
Looking at photos of the 9.SS and 10.SS Panzer divisions (Rolf Michaels' books and 10.SS Flak (Trang)) and they largely show average youths of the time- 5'8'' (173 cm), ~140 lbs. IF these boys were born two years earlier, they most probably would have been sent to Army Group South as replacements for Case Blue.

Quite different from the 6 ft' tall and above men of the LAH and SS-VT/Reich divisions of the early war. There is a memoir of a LAH man that was a radio operator in Hitler's bunker in the last days and he writes that when he joined up with the LAH early on, the men were highly selected for their physical traits and their education level was above-average (athletes, even Olympians, and high school graduates made up his company). They spent most of their time pre-war doing state events and playing sports- and not enough time training, which caused them bitterness in France.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Feb 2019 05:41

German Cross in Gold- an award given out for more or less 5 leadership actions spanning 1941-1945. I find that (Mark Yerger's Das Reich and Totenkopf series) for 2.SS and 3.SS the majority was given to infantry and to platoon and company commanders for good small unit leadership days. Seems to have low if any propaganda value at all, especially compared to the RK. :

5.SS and 2.SS are at the top of the pack, 3.SS is in the middle and 1.SS is at the bottom.

G.D.:218
5.SS: 180
4.Pz: 167
17.Pz:164
2.SS: 156
5.Pz: 152
14.Pz:149
13.Pz:142
3.Pz: 141
11.Pz:140
24.Pz:135
12.Pz: 131
9.Pz:130
3.PzG:126
3.SS:125
20.PzG:125
6.Pz:124
23.Pz:121
19.Pz:118
7.Pz:116
16.PzG:113
25.PzG:110
1.Pz:108
1.SS:101
2.Pz:92
18.PzG:92
29.PzG:90
10.PzG:90

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by offizier1916 » 27 Feb 2019 10:48

Cult Icon wrote:
27 Feb 2019 05:41
German Cross in Gold- an award given out for more or less 5 leadership actions spanning 1941-1945. I find that (Mark Yerger's Das Reich and Totenkopf series) for 2.SS and 3.SS the majority was given to infantry and to platoon and company commanders for good small unit leadership days. Seems to have low if any propaganda value at all, especially compared to the RK. :
Hello,

I think the the DKiG was still a "rarity". Local Newspapers normally mentioned in an article the Soldier awarded, sometimes - in longer articles - they made a whole story out of it.
But ist not comparable with a RK recipient. I read an archieved article of a local newspaper in Bavaria about a RK-recipient who was welcomed by his whole hometown as he came home for furlough. Delegations of the Hitleryouth, Bund deutscher Mädel and Nazi-Party formations welcomed him and for three days every evening a party was organized. And this was in 1944. If i remember correctly, it was even July of August 44. The Young KC-Holder was a Leutnant and a member of a Panzerregiment

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Feb 2019 14:58

That is interesting story that brings up the question as to how the GCG was perceived. Given the how the actions could span 1941-1945, the entries are typically shorter than a RK citation and don't make as good of a story. Many actions are even mundane. However, few also read at the RK "level" but ended up being credited for a GCG day.

The figures above show about 2-3 GCG's for every RK won by the division. In the case of the late-war SS units posted earlier, they were more like 1 for 1. Also with the RK in general- the awarding of RK increased in 1942 and became very aggressive in 43-45. There was a certain award inflation going on, and the same pattern occurred in the WSS with the award totals of 1939-1942 being approximately equal to Jan 43-July 43. This crop was approx. equal to August 43-Dec 43. Then Jan 44-May 44. Then June 44-August 44. So forth, and so forth. The award count of the first 3 years was now typically condensed into months.

Mooney's WSS Knights and their battles series shows that the vast majority of RK's were awarded to Obersturmfuhrer's and above- the RK could be characterized as mainly an officer's award with NCOs as an exception. NCOs (platoon leaders) factor heavily with GCG's awarded to 2.SS, 3.SS.

Also, it came to me while looking at high awards of SS and Army that given that the senior SS divisions were significantly larger organizations in 43-45 than their army peers then their awards should be adjusted as a comparable. If a 25% haircut or higher is applied to their RKs and GCG's then the 2.SS and 5.SS actually measure in the middle of the pack and the 3.SS and 1.SS at the bottom on a per-capita basis.

I find it interesting that the awards were processed through external agencies, and the SS did not really have much award inflation vs the army.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by offizier1916 » 27 Feb 2019 16:39

Hello,

the "Inflation" of awards is no abnormality imo. At the beginning of the war, they tried to award very strictly in accordance with the requirements ("Verleihungsbestimmungen"). But the bigger the Army grew, the harder the fighting got and especially the more confuse the front situation became, the more it was difficult to fullfill the official channel/channel of bureaucracy ("Verleihungsweg")for the specific award. Furthermore, at the end of the war (1945), the awards were also given to Keep up the moral, which also led to significant higher awarding rates.
One of my Grandfathers ( Hauptmann d.R. at the end of the war) got his IC first class during the french campaign. At this stage of the war, the IC first class was regarded as something very precious and he was the first being awarded the IC first class of his hometown (ca 40.000 inhabitants)

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Feb 2019 15:50

hmmph, from Yerger/Mooney's comments on award submissions to Berlin it looks like some officers struggled to get the RK even into 1945 (repeated submission packets).

The Waffen SS was awarded 435 RKs in WW2, with 234 being awarded by May 1944. You may be referring to the situation in April-May 1945. There is the "Dietrich award" linked to the previously linked thread on awards which was probably illegal. Apparently he was given special powers to circumvent bureaucracy and SS units got a boat load of RK's. A lot of Das Reich RKs are dated May 6, 1945!

It looks to me that what happened was that from 1943 onward, the agency loosened up their strictness in awarding the RK. This made the RK far more prolific, with battalion commanders and above often having them and certainly in the top German units. (literally every DR, LAH, GD field officer had them). In a way it became almost a requirement for promotion for officers. The volksgrenadier divisions also had some kind of regulation where they wanted the field officers to have the RK or GCG IIRC.

IMHO in the late stage of the war (44/45) the 2nd and Third grade of the RK became the distinguished award for officers. Swords bearers became the rare one. (not talking about the diamonds!) For NCOs, the Knight's Cross became the distinguishing factor with the German Cross in Gold being their own version of the RK.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by offizier1916 » 28 Feb 2019 16:16

Hello,

just to be clear: i meant medals/Awards in general - not the KC as a specific award - as i mentioned that by 1944 and especially 1945 medals were awarded at a higher rate (for example to keep the moral high).
IMHO you cant compare being awarded the IC first class in 1940 with being awarded the IC first class in 1945. Fullfilling the requirements were much harder at the beginning. But thats just my opinion.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 03 Mar 2019 03:04

Oh I agree (without getting into subjective evaluations). eg . In GCG1, Heinz Harmel and Otto Kumm's GCG actions of 1941 read more like Knight's Cross actions.

pg. 229 of GCG1 (Das Reich 1 out of 2)

June 22 1941- June 1 1942, SS-regiment Deutschland was awarded 158 Iron Cross 1st Class, 1,397 Iron Cross 2nd Class

This was not unique as I recall other formations being awarded Iron Crosses in mass or, after a battle hundreds of Iron crosses being shipped over.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 11 Mar 2019 19:16

Heer panzer divisions had 4 battalions of infantry in their two PzG regiments and the other SS PzG/PzD had 6 battalions of infantry in their two regiments.

In the appendix of "European Volunteers" p. 298 it shows that in May 1941 the 5.SS "W" had 3 x infantry regiments (Germania, Westland, Nordland) with 3 battalions and 5 additional companies each until Nordland regiment was detached in 1943 to create 11.SS PzG. The uniquely strong infantry component of this unit factors into its especially high GCG number (~180) with 11 GCGs and 2 RKs being awarded to "Nordland" regiment in 41-43.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Nautilus » 27 Apr 2019 14:35

Sid Guttridge wrote:
10 Oct 2018 18:37
the W-SS cult of today is ultimately based on wartime propaganda, filtered through sanitized and self-promoting post-war W-SS memoirs and unit histories, exploited by a sales hungry, largely English-language, publishing and media industry, and lapped up by large numbers of naive readers, some of whom are so lacking in critical faculties that they become W-SS groupies and even apologists!
Actually the difference in wartime propaganda from Heer, Luftwaffe or Waffen-SS was not so striking, a fighter ace or a ground-attack ace like Rudel could be just as publicized as Wittmann.

The seed from which the W-SS cult grew had been sown in the post-war years, then came the self-serving memoirs. It was the treatment of wars in the media as some gigantic, dangerous, murderous form of sports-fighting. Or, to be more accurate, form of dueling. A confrontation of abilities: riflemanship, piloting, mountaineering, seamanship, gunnery, architecture and so on.

Of course, the naive readers jumped right at it: what does it take to be a war hero? Physical and mental ability, nothing more!

Which is just what the Reich authorities had selected for: physique, finished schooling, sports ability, quick-thinking, no more than a few fillings in the teeth... :-)

Humor aside, this may fit the profile of any known figure in the Reich, from Generalfeldmärschalle to junior officers like Wittmann or Marseille. Not incidentally, all Nuremberg defendants, even Streicher, who was literally half-mad as of 1945, had above-average IQs. The highest ranking had genius-level IQs. The way the system was built demanded to strive for physical and mental ability to the best. The industry needed better engineers, the frontline needed better and stronger men, the research needed better physicists, chemists, aerodynamicists. The legend of the Wunderwaffen grew just as the cult of the W-SS and from the same root.

What are the naive readers turned W-SS apologists? Overwhelmingly male gender, young, never more than middle age, highly interested in history and technology, many of them athletic, with great knowledge of weaponry and mechanical stuff... how were the young males of the 1940s, who volunteered at the Führer's call?

Yup.

They are too eager to judge everything in terms of ability, intelligence, physical strength, so they see the war as some competition to the death.

Just as expectably, the deeds of those who fit this image are inflated out of proportion - because they fit their idea of how the war was. They need cool heroes just as they need cool tanks. They worship the W-SS just as sometimes they worship Patton or Zhukov, sometimes all of them together.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Apr 2019 00:17

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4033&p=950588&hilit ... 07#p950588

Most highly decorated Tiger Battalions (RK):

502: 10
507: 6
503 SS: 4
503: 3
505:3
509:3
501:2
502 SS: 1 (possibly 3)
501 SS:1
504:1
506:1
G.D.:1
510:1

The Wittmann obsession is largely due to postwar British/american authors/TV shows/games/internet forums etc. What did Wittmann get in WW2 except for 1 newsreel, news articles, and some PR events? (He was awarded 2 grades of the RK in Jan 1944, and then 1 grade in June 1944. Then he was dead.

Scroll down and one can review the humble Stug arm, which beats the Tigers in awards by a considerable margin and in real world impact.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Apr 2019 00:58

Most highly decorated Tiger Battalions (RK + GCG):

503: 13 (+FHH: 16)
502: 13
509: 11
507: 10
505:10
506: 9
508: 6
510: 5
501 SS: 4
503 SS: 4

504: 4
502 SS: 3 (possibly 5)
501:2
G.D.:1

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