Why the Waffen-SS

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Jan 2020 13:42

Hi John,

Very interesting. The SS unit in Danzig had a similar run of failure, yet its activities were turned into a minor military epic by Himmler in a speech in 1944 and it has received its own booklet today!

Which leads us back to the question: if the precursors of the Waffen-SS (in 1939 largely regular units, unlike the conscript German Army) did not perform particularly well in Poland, why was the Waffen-SS created and expanded over the winter of 1940-41?

As ever with the Waffen-SS, the key motivator in its expansion seems to have been political, not any evidence of added military value.

From the moment that Germany re-entered the Saarland in 1935, the SS was always present to advertise Nazism. The same was true in every single one of the occupations in the 1930s and in almost all the campaigns of the 1940s.

Yet, at no point was its military contribution indispensible to the outcomes.

In virtually every case where the W-SS reached Army standards it (1) had largely German volunteer manpower [unlike the largely conscript Army] and (2) was fully motorized, or armoured [unlike 90% of the Army].

Take away one or both of these factors and you won't find a single W-SS formation that is ever advanced as "elite".

There was no magic Waffen-SS military fairy dust that created "elite" units.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Aida1
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 07 Feb 2020 21:34

ljadw wrote:
21 Aug 2018 20:09
The SS divisions were not operational when they arrived in France, thus they were not sent as protection against an allied invasion .They were only remainings of divisions .
The fact that they remained in France in the autumn,when there was no danger of an allied landing, but while the east front begged desperatedly for reinforcements, proves that they were still not ready to go to the east .
The same happened again in the spring of 1944 when the rest of the LSS arrived in Belgium, not as a reserve to be used against an allied landing, but to be rebuilt .
The LSS and the other units returning from the eat were not used at Dieppe, and neither was the LSS used against Overlord . In both cases the LSS was not ready .
Factually wrong as shown in this excerpt from an order by Hitler on 09.07.42:

" Telex
09.07 1500
To Gen St dH OpAbt
Chef H rüst
ObdM
ObWest
ObdL


1) the quick and big successes in the east could put England before the alternative: either undertake immediately a big landing to build a second front or lose sowjet Russia as political and military factor. It is therefore with high probability to be counted in the near future with enemy landings in the area of OB West.
Indications are particularly
a) Increased reports from agents and other results from the intelligence service
b) Strong build-up of landing means in south England
c) Restraint of the english airforce in the last days

2) As particularly endangered have to be considered:
a) In the first place the Channel islands, the area Dieppe- Le Havre and Normandy , because these areas can be reached by the enemy airforce with fighter protection and are within range of the majority of the landing means.
b) then the Southern part of the dutch coast and Bretagne
c) furthermore the main roads, airfields and headquarters of the staffs are endangered by enemy paratroop and airlanding units as by sabotage

3) I order hereafter the imediate execution of the following measures :
a) Gen Stab des Heeres
1) SS Reich is to be conveyed to OB West with the ready units, without each time waiting for the end of the setting up of the reinforced regiments and the achievement of full mobility
(vgl OKW/WFST/Op.H Nr. 002199/42 g.k from 1.7)
2) The SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler is to be transported to the west immediately
3) SS Gen Kdo (mot) is after accelerated setting up to be conveyed to OB West. The assembly of all SS units in the west under this Gen Kdo, if possible also the brigade "Göring" , is to be planned
………


Signed Adolf Hitler
OKW/WFSt Nr. 551 231/42 g.Kdos. Chefs."

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 07 Feb 2020 22:18

histan wrote:
23 Jan 2020 00:00
But see also this from Wodrig - copy of a post I made in this thread some years ago

Here is an example of an "After Action Report" relating to the performance of a Waffen SS regiment in the Polish campaign. It forms Annex C to Case White by William Russ. A copy of the original can be found on NARA T-314 R-750 Frames 1001 to 1002.

It is from Führungsstab zbV (Korps Wodrig) and dated 25.09.1939. It is titled "Regarding the combat value of the SS Units"

"During the time that Pz Div Kempf was attached to the Führungsstab zbV, the following shortcomings in the combat value of the SS units appeared.

In all cases the SS Reconnaissance Battalion (consisting of two motorcycle reconnaissance companies), failed to carry out its assigned missions. The battalion was not even able to overcome weak enemy resistance. On the contrary, when weak enemy forces were presumed to be in the area, or targeted the path the battalion [was?] following, it failed to bring back any reconnaissance results at all. The complete failure of the SS Reconnaissance Battalion resulted in severe problems for the staff and other units of the division.

It is difficult for the Führungsstab zbV to assess whether the causes of the failure lay with the training or a lack of courage.

Motorized infantry units of a Panzer Division are often called upon to remove obstacles and to clear the way in terrain unsuitable for tanks by rapidly attacking and thereby opening up the way for the armoured formation to advance. The SS Standarte Deutschland failed to accomplish these tasks. Almost always it was necessary to wait for the leading elements of the follow up infantry divisions to carry out these tasks, which they then successfully completed within a short time. Cooperation between the infantry and tanks was unsatisfactory. A possible explanation might be the lack of training and experience.

Aggresiveness combined with tactically correct and practical action left much to be desired. The latter must also be said about the behaviour of the SS units behind the lines against the civilian population, which was in complete opposition to those principles that the German soldiers have always stood for.

A separate report regarding this matter will be submitted.

Elements of the SS units were the only ones within the command of the Corps which retreated several times before enemy attacks. The not inconsiderable casualties suffered by SS units are probably the result of a lack of training and wartime conduct.

Particularly striking was a lack of discipline, especially in march movements, improper behaviour towards non-commissioned and commissioned officers of the Army, and an exaggerated over-estimation which had no basis when compared to their performance.. Especially characteristic for SS units is their exaggerated or even incorrect reports, which often lead to command decisions which later proved unnecessary.

The staff cannot make any judgement regarding the combat effectiveness and achievements of the SS Artillery Regiment.

Without doubt the frequent occurrence of shortcomings in the combat value of the SS units can be traced back in part to inadequate combat training and combat experience. The lack of discipline, the exaggerated self-importance, as well as in some cases the lack of steadfastness under fire and the lack of aggressiveness cannot be explained.

Signed Wodrig"

Not a very good report at all.

Maybe the other Standarten performed better.

Some of this is perhaps what one might expect from units formed for internal security duties deployed in a combat role for the first time- lack of experience and lack of training. Exaggerated self-importance can be expected from men who have been told that they form a political elite within the NASDP and hence within Germany.

Lack of steadfastness and lack of aggressiveness are more difficult to explain - perhaps poor quality leadership.

Regards

John
Very strange as Kempf had said exactly the opposite in his report on the SS VT units under his command . And the SS VT units were certainly the ones that were the best trained and this by army officers like Steiner and Hausser.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 08 Feb 2020 00:07

Very strange indeed.

I would have expected this to be discussed in any book on Das Reich or SS VT and the differences explained. For example does any book mention the withdrawal of SS VT units during the Polish campaign. Any discussion of the activities of the SS Reconnaissance Battalion and the information it provided?

Perhaps someone could post a copy of Kempf's after action report.

Need to look at the dates under Wodrig's command - perhaps early in the conflict? and maybe their performance improved?

Regards

John

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 08 Feb 2020 00:23

Das Reich and LAH were sent to the west both to reform and re-equip and to provide a limited response to an attempted allied landing - such as Dieppe. The thinking at the time was that there might be an attempt to seize a port.

If you look in detail at the files you will discover that the bulk of these two divisions spent their time re-equipping and training. They were not planned to be used as divisions but to provide a battalion+ sized quick response task group with contingency plans to reinforce the defenders of a number of ports.

The same was true of the army panzer divisions sent to the west.

In 1942, unlike 1944, there was no fully equipped panzer force - just a collection of reforming divisions with limited capability.

Incidentally, despite what is stated in some books Das Reich and LAH played no part in the occupation of Vichy France - they were specifically ordered by von Rundstedt to remain in their current locations as army group reserve.

Later, a small unit of Das Reich did support 7 Panzer Division in the failed attempt to stop the scuttling of the French Fleet.

Regards

John

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2020 10:27

histan wrote:
08 Feb 2020 00:07
Very strange indeed.

I would have expected this to be discussed in any book on Das Reich or SS VT and the differences explained. For example does any book mention the withdrawal of SS VT units during the Polish campaign. Any discussion of the activities of the SS Reconnaissance Battalion and the information it provided?

Perhaps someone could post a copy of Kempf's after action report.

Need to look at the dates under Wodrig's command - perhaps early in the conflict? and maybe their performance improved?

Regards

John
The report by Kempf of 25.9.1939 to AOK 3 is in the annexes of Das Reich I Otto Weidinger. Seems to have been made at the request of AOK 3. Very complimentary to the different SS VT units under his command.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2020 10:33

histan wrote:
08 Feb 2020 00:23
Das Reich and LAH were sent to the west both to reform and re-equip and to provide a limited response to an attempted allied landing - such as Dieppe. The thinking at the time was that there might be an attempt to seize a port.

If you look in detail at the files you will discover that the bulk of these two divisions spent their time re-equipping and training. They were not planned to be used as divisions but to provide a battalion+ sized quick response task group with contingency plans to reinforce the defenders of a number of ports.

The same was true of the army panzer divisions sent to the west.

In 1942, unlike 1944, there was no fully equipped panzer force - just a collection of reforming divisions with limited capability.

Incidentally, despite what is stated in some books Das Reich and LAH played no part in the occupation of Vichy France - they were specifically ordered by von Rundstedt to remain in their current locations as army group reserve.

Later, a small unit of Das Reich did support 7 Panzer Division in the failed attempt to stop the scuttling of the French Fleet.

Regards

John
Das Reich was refitting in Fallingbostel since march 1942 and when Hitler's order came, regiment Der Führer was sent immediately to France and the rest of the division followed at the end of the month(Das Reich III O. Weidinger pp 436-444) .
Leibstandarte was refitting in the east behind the front when Hitler's order came.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by ljadw » 08 Feb 2020 14:51

Aida1 wrote:
07 Feb 2020 21:34
ljadw wrote:
21 Aug 2018 20:09
The SS divisions were not operational when they arrived in France, thus they were not sent as protection against an allied invasion .They were only remainings of divisions .
The fact that they remained in France in the autumn,when there was no danger of an allied landing, but while the east front begged desperatedly for reinforcements, proves that they were still not ready to go to the east .
The same happened again in the spring of 1944 when the rest of the LSS arrived in Belgium, not as a reserve to be used against an allied landing, but to be rebuilt .
The LSS and the other units returning from the eat were not used at Dieppe, and neither was the LSS used against Overlord . In both cases the LSS was not ready .
Factually wrong as shown in this excerpt from an order by Hitler on 09.07.42:

" Telex
09.07 1500
To Gen St dH OpAbt
Chef H rüst
ObdM
ObWest
ObdL


1) the quick and big successes in the east could put England before the alternative: either undertake immediately a big landing to build a second front or lose sowjet Russia as political and military factor. It is therefore with high probability to be counted in the near future with enemy landings in the area of OB West.
Indications are particularly
a) Increased reports from agents and other results from the intelligence service
b) Strong build-up of landing means in south England
c) Restraint of the english airforce in the last days

2) As particularly endangered have to be considered:
a) In the first place the Channel islands, the area Dieppe- Le Havre and Normandy , because these areas can be reached by the enemy airforce with fighter protection and are within range of the majority of the landing means.
b) then the Southern part of the dutch coast and Bretagne
c) furthermore the main roads, airfields and headquarters of the staffs are endangered by enemy paratroop and airlanding units as by sabotage

3) I order hereafter the imediate execution of the following measures :
a) Gen Stab des Heeres
1) SS Reich is to be conveyed to OB West with the ready units, without each time waiting for the end of the setting up of the reinforced regiments and the achievement of full mobility
(vgl OKW/WFST/Op.H Nr. 002199/42 g.k from 1.7)
2) The SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler is to be transported to the west immediately
3) SS Gen Kdo (mot) is after accelerated setting up to be conveyed to OB West. The assembly of all SS units in the west under this Gen Kdo, if possible also the brigade "Göring" , is to be planned
………


Signed Adolf Hitler
OKW/WFSt Nr. 551 231/42 g.Kdos. Chefs."
This does not contradict what I said and what I repeat : the SS divisions were not operational .DR had lost til the end of the Winter ( March 1942 ) more than 14000 men,and was transformed in a Kampfgruppe with regiment strenght ( Lexicon der WM ) .
This is proved by what Hitler said ( the operational units of DR must be transferred to France ) and by the fact that DR was not committed in Dieppe. Which means that it was not operational .

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2020 15:16

ljadw wrote:
08 Feb 2020 14:51
Aida1 wrote:
07 Feb 2020 21:34
ljadw wrote:
21 Aug 2018 20:09
The SS divisions were not operational when they arrived in France, thus they were not sent as protection against an allied invasion .They were only remainings of divisions .
The fact that they remained in France in the autumn,when there was no danger of an allied landing, but while the east front begged desperatedly for reinforcements, proves that they were still not ready to go to the east .
The same happened again in the spring of 1944 when the rest of the LSS arrived in Belgium, not as a reserve to be used against an allied landing, but to be rebuilt .
The LSS and the other units returning from the eat were not used at Dieppe, and neither was the LSS used against Overlord . In both cases the LSS was not ready .
Factually wrong as shown in this excerpt from an order by Hitler on 09.07.42:

" Telex
09.07 1500
To Gen St dH OpAbt
Chef H rüst
ObdM
ObWest
ObdL


1) the quick and big successes in the east could put England before the alternative: either undertake immediately a big landing to build a second front or lose sowjet Russia as political and military factor. It is therefore with high probability to be counted in the near future with enemy landings in the area of OB West.
Indications are particularly
a) Increased reports from agents and other results from the intelligence service
b) Strong build-up of landing means in south England
c) Restraint of the english airforce in the last days

2) As particularly endangered have to be considered:
a) In the first place the Channel islands, the area Dieppe- Le Havre and Normandy , because these areas can be reached by the enemy airforce with fighter protection and are within range of the majority of the landing means.
b) then the Southern part of the dutch coast and Bretagne
c) furthermore the main roads, airfields and headquarters of the staffs are endangered by enemy paratroop and airlanding units as by sabotage

3) I order hereafter the imediate execution of the following measures :
a) Gen Stab des Heeres
1) SS Reich is to be conveyed to OB West with the ready units, without each time waiting for the end of the setting up of the reinforced regiments and the achievement of full mobility
(vgl OKW/WFST/Op.H Nr. 002199/42 g.k from 1.7)
2) The SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler is to be transported to the west immediately
3) SS Gen Kdo (mot) is after accelerated setting up to be conveyed to OB West. The assembly of all SS units in the west under this Gen Kdo, if possible also the brigade "Göring" , is to be planned
………


Signed Adolf Hitler
OKW/WFSt Nr. 551 231/42 g.Kdos. Chefs."
This does not contradict what I said and what I repeat : the SS divisions were not operational .DR had lost til the end of the Winter ( March 1942 ) more than 14000 men,and was transformed in a Kampfgruppe with regiment strenght ( Lexicon der WM ) .
This is proved by what Hitler said ( the operational units of DR must be transferred to France ) and by the fact that DR was not committed in Dieppe. Which means that it was not operational .
You literally said that they were not sent as a protection against the threat of an allied landing which is factually wrong. Without the threat of an allied landing LAH would have remained in Russia and Das Reich would have continued its refit in Fallingbostel.
Regiment Der Führer was certainly operational as it was sent first and became the operational reserve of OB West under 7.Army. The rest of the division followed at the end of july. At the end of august the division was fully operational(Das Reich III O.Weidinger pp 444). The mobile divisions were not used at Dieppe because the landing failed. LAH was certainly alerted but did not need to intervene(LAH II Lehmann pp 315-316).
Simply accept the fact that LAH and Das Reich were in France as operational reserves of OB West. And the quoted order shows that Hitler was not bothered about units being fully ready given the imminence of the perceived threat.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by ljadw » 08 Feb 2020 16:17

LAH and DR were not operational reserves of OB West, because they were not operational : OB West did not need operational reserves in the Autumn of 1942,but the East needed operational reserves in the Autumn of 1942 : the fact that LAH and DR were not send to the East at the end of 1942,when there were not needed in the West, but that 6 Pz was sent to the East, means that 6 Pz was operational,and that LAH and DR were not operational .
On November 3 1942 Hitler ordered the transfer of 6Pz and 306 ID to the Don , but the LAH and DR remained if France,where they were not needed .The reason is that they were unfit for the east .

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2020 17:14

ljadw wrote:
08 Feb 2020 16:17
LAH and DR were not operational reserves of OB West, because they were not operational : OB West did not need operational reserves in the Autumn of 1942,but the East needed operational reserves in the Autumn of 1942 : the fact that LAH and DR were not send to the East at the end of 1942,when there were not needed in the West, but that 6 Pz was sent to the East, means that 6 Pz was operational,and that LAH and DR were not operational .
On November 3 1942 Hitler ordered the transfer of 6Pz and 306 ID to the Don , but the LAH and DR remained if France,where they were not needed .The reason is that they were unfit for the east .
Completely ridiculous and contradicted by the original document i posted an excerpt from. Contrary to what you pretend without support of any sources, Hitler did believe there was a need of mobile divisions in the west as operational reserves of OB West and that is why Das Reich and LAH were sent there. They were not sent there to refit and automatically return to the east when operational so your argument is wrong. Without the threat of an allied landing DR and LAH would not have been in France.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by ljadw » 08 Feb 2020 22:01

WRONG : both divisions were scheduled to go to the West to be refitted and to be transformed into motorized units, and this already before Hitler's order of July 9 .
It happened again in 1943/1944 when both returned to the West, not because of Overlord, but to be refitted again .

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2020 22:18

ljadw wrote:
08 Feb 2020 22:01
WRONG : both divisions were scheduled to go to the West to be refitted and to be transformed into motorized units, and this already before Hitler's order of July 9 .
It happened again in 1943/1944 when both returned to the West, not because of Overlord, but to be refitted again .
Totally untrue as both divisions were already refitting(Das Reich in Fallingbostel and LAH in the east) before they were ordered to the west in response to the perceived threat of an allied landing. Also the reason why only regt Der Führer went immediately and the rest of Das Reich had to follow later. IF you had made the effort to read Hitlers order then you could have seen that he states the following: "SS Reich is to be conveyed to OB West with the ready units, without each time waiting for the end of the setting up of the reinforced regiments and the achievement of full mobility" . Shows that the units were urgently rushed to France in the midst of their refit .
In 1944 the units were refitted in the west because they were intended to be used there. Otherwise, they could have refitted in the east behind the front as happened with Viking in 1944. You seem to have difficulty accepting that OB West needed units too to deal with an allied invasion. There were two fronts, not one.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 09 Feb 2020 00:15

Just a quick response - I have a more thorough discussion of the situation in the West.

They were not "operational reserves" as for example the panzer divisions were in 1944, that is under the control of either OKW and Heeresgruppe B. They were tactical reserves, one placed under the command of AOK 15 and one placed under the command of AOK 7.

The "Operational Reserve", under the command of OB West / Heeresgruppe D was Pz Bde 100.

They operated in the same way that the panzer divisions already there operated - providing quick response units to support the defence of ports.

Der Führer regiment went immediately because it could provide just such quick response units. The rest of the division then deployed into the training area of AOK 7 where it continued its training. It joined 6 Panzer Division, carrying out the same role that 6 Panzer Division had been carrying out. Both these divisions were under the command of AOK 7.

LAH when it arrived was deployed into the training areas of AOK 15, where it joined 10 Panzer Division, carrying out the same role that 10 Panzer Division was already carrying out. Both divisions were under the command of AOK 15.

They remained in these locations and roles until after the raid at Dieppe on 19.08.1942

At that point the command of the mobile divisions was changed.

Please note, it is clear that there was a decision to use them to reinforce OB West. The discussion is around what the plans in theatre were for their use and the fact that they spent most of their time refitting and training.

One or both divisions might have achieved a high "Kampfwert" rating in August/September but unfortunately decisions were made that reduced that rating and required both more individual and collective training that could not be completed before December 1942 when both divisions and the corps headquarters were deployed to an active front.

Regards

John
PS are you sure that LAH was in reserve - in the Schematische Kriegsgliederung for 04.07.1942 it is shown under III Panzer Korps. In any case it moved quickly - the order was issued on 09.07.1942 and it was moving by train on 12.07.1942.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 09 Feb 2020 10:22

histan wrote:
09 Feb 2020 00:15
Just a quick response - I have a more thorough discussion of the situation in the West.

They were not "operational reserves" as for example the panzer divisions were in 1944, that is under the control of either OKW and Heeresgruppe B. They were tactical reserves, one placed under the command of AOK 15 and one placed under the command of AOK 7.

The "Operational Reserve", under the command of OB West / Heeresgruppe D was Pz Bde 100.

They operated in the same way that the panzer divisions already there operated - providing quick response units to support the defence of ports.

Der Führer regiment went immediately because it could provide just such quick response units. The rest of the division then deployed into the training area of AOK 7 where it continued its training. It joined 6 Panzer Division, carrying out the same role that 6 Panzer Division had been carrying out. Both these divisions were under the command of AOK 7.

LAH when it arrived was deployed into the training areas of AOK 15, where it joined 10 Panzer Division, carrying out the same role that 10 Panzer Division was already carrying out. Both divisions were under the command of AOK 15.

They remained in these locations and roles until after the raid at Dieppe on 19.08.1942

At that point the command of the mobile divisions was changed.

Please note, it is clear that there was a decision to use them to reinforce OB West. The discussion is around what the plans in theatre were for their use and the fact that they spent most of their time refitting and training.

One or both divisions might have achieved a high "Kampfwert" rating in August/September but unfortunately decisions were made that reduced that rating and required both more individual and collective training that could not be completed before December 1942 when both divisions and the corps headquarters were deployed to an active front.

Regards

John
PS are you sure that LAH was in reserve - in the Schematische Kriegsgliederung for 04.07.1942 it is shown under III Panzer Korps. In any case it moved quickly - the order was issued on 09.07.1942 and it was moving by train on 12.07.1942.
Mobile divisions needed to intervene quickly against any landing so the command arrangement of 1942 was certainly more efficient than in 1944 .Das Reich and LAH were always considered as a Heeresgruppen reserve. I have no doubt that both divisions would already have had a II combat readiness when they arrived. LAH had had a much quieter time on the eastern front in 1942 than Das Reich and was in reserve of Pz AOK 1 from the beginning of june and refitting. Meanwhile, in Germany units had been setting up in Sennelager and Lichterfelde for the stocking up to a division since february. Das Reich had been refitting for some time too in Germany already .Divisions training does not mean that they are not combat ready. Intensive training is always needed. That luxury was not even available when a short refit behind the front was done.The divisional history of Das Reich considers that the division was at prewar level again by august but with the advantage of a core of combat experienced veterans(Das Reich III O Weidinger p 444).

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