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.
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pintere
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by pintere » 29 Apr 2019 05:23

Good points, but you forgot to list the Tiger companies in the LSSAH, DR, T and GD divisions. They had a fair number of award holders as well, with the 13./SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 being among the most decorated German tank companies of the whole war.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Apr 2019 09:53

Hi Guys,

I would again urge caution in comparing Army and W-SS awards.

Recommendations for awards were made from within units and the number often depended on the internal culture within a unit and its commanding officer's inclinations and standards.

The Waffen-SS had both a very high opinion of itself and a political imperative to outshine the Army, and this must also be factored in.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 01 May 2019 00:43

pintere wrote:
29 Apr 2019 05:23
Good points, but you forgot to list the Tiger companies in the LSSAH, DR, T and GD divisions. They had a fair number of award holders as well, with the 13./SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 being among the most decorated German tank companies of the whole war.
I would have to create my own list for that. I don't recall more than a couple off-hand. Wittmann's swords was the the only RK award given to the 501 SS.

Of the Tiger battalions, the 507th (with unit history published) stands out as being highly decorated relative to duration of action. Generally speaking it looks like with awards, the Army beat the SS in terms of late-war raised Tiger battalions. (not including units that fought extensively in 1943 like the 502nd and 503rd).

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 01 May 2019 15:30

To add, the highly decorated 507 Tiger (fielded in March 1944) was set up from I./Panzer-Regiment 4-

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 03 May 2019 17:14

"Tigers in Combat II":

Knight's Crosses:

13./SS-Pz.Rgt. 1 : 5

The other 3 elite companies seem to have zero RK's.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by DKig » 14 May 2019 08:55

i have much strong feelings that SS has very strict standards to reward their soldiers during the war,
so many SS soldbuch has nothing awards, or just got Kvk2, or just wound badges, some owners of the soldbuch
serviced from 1941-1945, but only got Ostm., wound badges, and EK2, PAB, i am very surprised he is not qualified
for EK1, that is so common in Army. Looking for a SS soldbuch with EK2 is very difficult,
especially SS 9,10,12,17, you can hardly see a soldbuch with EK1, even only EK2, they participated Normandy, Arnhem...
i think it is easy to get EK2 after these battles....
why??
because SS has strict awarding standard? you can see 98% DKiG/KC are SS officers.
or because so many destroyed after the war?
or because so many are not revealed to the public?

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 15 May 2019 13:46

^
Interesting. In the preceding pages, only 2.SS, 5.SS, 11.SS, SS-PR1, have unusually high awards relative to their combat history. The heavily engaged 4.SS Police division is only ranked in the 45-50th of infantry divisions in terms of RK/GCG. Basically the idea that the WSS as a whole was "very loose" with high awards is a myth.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 May 2019 10:57

Hi Cult Icon,

What does ".....relative to their combat history" mean?

If I remember rightly, 4th SS Division spent much of the war (1943-44) on anti-partisan operations in the Balkans and was regarded as poor by the standards of its three senior divisions and so never became a full panzer division. It need surprise nobody that it didn't merit many awards. The fact that it got as high as 45th-50th in the list of infantry divisions might even be regarded as flattering given the large number of Army infantry divisions that spent far longer on active battle fronts than it.

There is no denying that the W-SS had a very high opinion of itself and there was a political need driven by Hitler (see his "Table Talk") to prove it was a military elite through a blood sacrifice. The question is whether this distorted the decoration levels it awarded itself.

I would therefore suggest that the possibility that "the idea that the WSS as a whole was "very loose" with high awards" seems very much open. Remember, most of the W-SS only took the field at the front from 1943 and all its three senior divisions missed the Stalingrad campaign of 1942-43 entirely. By contrast, most of the Army's field divisions were engaged continuously at the front from 1941 onwards.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 19 May 2019 19:48

On Training- from an old book. It is not hyperbolic at all and it leads me to wonder where the myths on SS training came from:

"Das Reich" I by Weidinger has a 114 page segment (1934-1939) about SS-VT training. Very informative and detailed however I believe that it "whitewashes" the political aspect of the unit and does not include details on ideological training, which should have been 10-20% of overall training.

-leadership corps were made from transferred Reichswehr professional Officers and ncos, State police, and professionals from the Chief of Training (Training Army). All-volunteer force, largely from the General SS, State police, and volunteers.

-the SS-VT was largely trained to achieve the standards of the 100,000 man Reichswehr Army and units/personnel were schooled by army training resources and manuals. Army officers routinely inspected the SS-VT units for their quality and units/personnel were detached to state police and army infantry divisions for training. These standards were achieved. The Units of the SS -VT were actually only horse-drawn until 1938. The SS Artillery regiment- probably a weaker point- was also very late coming- it was established in 1939 with only two months of formation from some 2,000 SS infantry gun/MG gunners.

-Felix Steiner was considered the best training officer of the SS-VT and focused on stormtrooper tactics which spread throughout the SS-VT. This seems to be the signature trait of the SS-VT- their drill in the assault.

-The SS-VT seems to have been pretty conventional as a unit and is comparable to the German army's first wave horse-drawn infantry divisions (not like the panzer divisions). It's main outstanding element was the physical conditioning of the soldiers, which was of a high level which won them many top awards in military sports. The other was routine detachment of units to perform ceremonial duties as an honor guard for the state- this interfered with training but was something of psychological value even if it was considered tedious. The lengthy description of these SS glamour activities show something of a more pedestrian type compared the 1st Company LAH.

-Weidinger's opinion (he eventually was commander of elite infantry regiment "Der Fuhrer" of the 2.SS "Das Reich" in 44/45) was that the SS units achieved peak training in 1939 and never reached that the level of the Polish campaign for the duration of WW2.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 May 2019 04:25

Hi Cult Icon,

According to Goldsworthy, ideological training of W-SS officers took up more time than any other aspect except tactical training. Both were allocated the same number of hours. This was presumably a diversion the Army didn't have to spend time on.

You emphasise an important point - the SS-VT/W-SS expertise came from the Army. It was not self generated. There was virtually no original military contribution made by the W-SS to the art of war. If Steiner focused on sotrmtrooper tactis, he was following the Army, which had developed them in 1917-18.

I am not surprised the Army inspected the SS-VT regularly. Until 1938 all its manpower was expected to be mobilized for the Army in time of war.

The SS-VT may well have been horsedrawn until 1938. However, by the outbreak of war all its senior field units were motorised. This meant they could be allocated to exploit the Army's panzer breakthoughs and not plodding along with the bulk of the infantry. The one thing the minority of good W-SS divisions have in common was that they were motorised throughout the war. This was their main advantage over the bulk of the German Army, not any unique quality of intangible "Waffen-SSedness".

The SS-VT seems to have fought without organic artillery support in Poland, which may explain its relatively heavy casualties. It therefore did not shine in the Polish Campaign. As an apparently unproductive experiment, the logical result should probably have been to return SS-VT manpower to the Army. Instead, for political reasons, the SS-VT was expanded into the W-SS and its three senior formations were all issued the full range of Army heavy weaponry by the French Campaign and were more effective thereafter.

Cheers,

Sid.

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