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.
Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 7096
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Feb 2020 14:33

Hi Aida,

There was no "imminent danger of an Allied invasion", just a poorly informed fear of one.

Why was LAH out of combat for the better part of a year in the middle of the war if it was fit for action? What was so tender about this particular division that it "was not in much combat from February 1942" to late January 1943?

You seem to be under the impression that the divisions in an Army Group were in fixed establishments. They weren't. in 1942 the bulk of Manstein's 11th Army was transferred from the southern end of Army Group South to the northern end of Army Group North! There was no obstacle to using the two senior W-SS divisions in the Caucasus, had the will to do so been there.

In 1942 France was undoubtedly a backwater. In the entire year there was one day of ground combat by one division on either side (Dieppe). Compare that to the Eastern Front, where around 400 German and Soviet divisions were in the front line for every day of the year. In other words, in 1942 there were about 150,000 more division days spent on an active battle front in the East than in France! You don't help your case by trying to defend the indefensible!

The fact remains that ".....all three missed arguably the decisive campaign of the war at Stalingrad over the winter of 1942-43." They may not have been absent without leave, but they were certainly absent!

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 11 Feb 2020 14:53, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 7096
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Feb 2020 14:49

Hi Cult Icon,

You post, "I believe your work is well covered in various studies on SS that they received negative evaluations in the early war by skeptical army critics." Which leads to the question as to why, if professional military opinion was that the W-SS's predecessors had not performed particularly well in Poland, was the W-SS created and expanded, not broken up, over the winter of 1939-40? One suspects politics rather than military factors drove this.

Yup, on the whole, the divisions "of the SS fought..... well in the Soviet Union 41-44, Normandy 44'..." And so they should have done. They were all mechanised, unlike 90% of the German Army, and were drawn entirely from volunteers, unlike all except one late war division of the German Army. The "cream of the German Army" were, by contrast, largely conscripts. The better W-SS divisions performed as well as the wider panzerwaffe, but there was every reason why they should have and it has nothing to do with any "value added" by virtue of being W-SS. Nor is there any reason to think that the same men would not have fought as well in the Army given the same circumstances.

As I have said before, there was no magic W-SS fairydust that could make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Cheers,

Sid.

histan
Member
Posts: 1522
Joined: 14 Jan 2008 17:22
Location: England

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 11 Feb 2020 15:23

Hi Cult Icon

The report was for September 1939 and is clearly not representative of performance throughout the war. But the concrete examples given need to be examined and explained. Examples of "withdrawal" can be identified but the context and the performance of associated army units need to be examined before conclusions can be made. I would expect a serious book on the performance of VT in Poland quote this report and address the issues identified in it.

The SS is not my field of study. The English language publications on the Waffen SS seem to be unreliable and not well sourced. Many myths were created, for example the initial After the Battle description of the death of Wittmann proved to be a complete fantasy.

I can quote examples of Waffen SS successes, particularly in Russia. By success I mean achieving the objectives of the military activities they were tasked to undertake. Two examples are Totenkopf in the Demjansk pocket and Wiking in 1942. Equally, examples of failure can be identified.

The reason for my current series of posts is to try clear up misconceptions about the reasons for the deployment of LAH, DR, and later T to France, the activities that they undertook while they were there, and the reasons why they were not deployed to the Eastern front until January 1943.

Presenting primary source material allows people to make up their own minds and shows the evidence I have for my own assessments. When other people present additional evidence that casts doubt on my assessments, I am happy to change them.

Regards

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 15:53

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35
Hi Histan,

Thanks for your detailed exposition.

I agree with much of it.

I am not sure that the speed of conversion of the existing LAH and DR divisions into panzer-(grenadier?) divisions is equivalent to the Army. You will have to give me some more stats on that. In 1943 the German Army divisions entirely annihilated at Stalingrad at the beginning of February were already being used to invade northern Italy in July-September. W-SS divisions constituted at the same time took rather longer to field, especially the 12th. This was probably because the W-SS lacked the military infrastructure possessed by the Army.

Conversion to a panzer-grenadier division from a motorised division is an upgrade rather than a major reorganization and certainly not equivalent to reconstructing a division from scratch.

As the most political of formations, the conservation of the LAH is politically, if not militarily, understandable and, if I remember correctly, its overall casualties were rather lower than those of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions. Its use in politically sensitive Italy in 1943, rather than on an active battle front, is also politically, if not militarily, justifiable. No Army formations suffered from such political sensitivity in their employment.

But the fact remains that, for whatever reason, all the senior W-SS divisions missed arguably the decisive campaign of the war and this looks even worse if at least two of them were entirely combatworthy throughout. The rough equivalent in the German Army would have been to withdraw all the active Welle I divisions from the front simultaneously, which is inconceivable.

The fact that most of the mechanized front-line W-SS divisions could be withdrawn from the front simultaneously at a decisive moment was (1) because, though useful, they were not vital and (2) because they were behind the shield of the German Army.

Must go,

Thanks,

Sid.
You are a very stubborn individual as you could have read litterally that Halder did not want to part with the LAH so it was supposed to take part in Fall blau(as it was part of AGS) and he rather absolutely wanted to have it so he had a very high opinion of it .
And Das Reich would never have taken part in Fall Blau as it was not part of AGS. Neither did many veteran Heer Pz divisions about whom you will not make similar comments. Your comments make no sense at all. You even succeed in making the Waffen SS a separate army and making comparisons that are completely ridiculous. :roll:
Given your low opinion of waffen ss divisons it is strange you want them absolutely in Fall Blau while the absence of most veteran Heer pz div does not bother you at all. :lol:
Last edited by Aida1 on 11 Feb 2020 16:12, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 16:08

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 14:33
Hi Aida,

There was no "imminent danger of an Allied invasion", just a poorly informed fear of one.

Why was LAH out of combat for the better part of a year in the middle of the war if it was fit for action? What was so tender about this particular division that it "was not in much combat from February 1942" to late January 1943?

You seem to be under the impression that the divisions in an Army Group were in fixed establishments. They weren't. in 1942 the bulk of Manstein's 11th Army was transferred from the southern end of Army Group South to the northern end of Army Group North! There was no obstacle to using the two senior W-SS divisions in the Caucasus, had the will to do so been there.

In 1942 France was undoubtedly a backwater. In the entire year there was one day of ground combat by one division on either side (Dieppe). Compare that to the Eastern Front, where around 400 German and Soviet divisions were in the front line for every day of the year. In other words, in 1942 there were about 150,000 more division days spent on an active battle front in the East than in France! You don't help your case by trying to defend the indefensible!

The fact remains that ".....all three missed arguably the decisive campaign of the war at Stalingrad over the winter of 1942-43." They may not have been absent without leave, but they were certainly absent!

Cheers,

Sid.
Ridiculous as usual. :lol: Whatever you may think in hindsight, Hitler seriously believed in the imminence of an allied landing and that is exactly why he wanted Das Reich to send anything that was ready immediately. You could have read that but you choose to ignore it. Obviously you will not ask why 6., 7. and 10. Pz spent 1942 in a supposed backwater and instead newly constituded pz div took part in Fall blau. You make the same ridiculous comment about transferring divisions. Why would the Das Reich needed to be transferred to AGS at all ? Ridiculous. Why were some very veteran army Pz div not transferred from AGC ? The reasion is actually very simple. Fall blau was going to be executed by the units of AGS .There were not enough resources to put up to strength more than one army group. You seem to want the german army to make all sorts of useless transfers without any valid reason . :roll: And by the way it was a bad idea to send 11 th army all the way north.
You are defending the indefensible because of your deep bias. You will not ask why 9 of the 10 most veteran pz div were not in Fall Blau for obvious biased reasons.
Last edited by Aida1 on 11 Feb 2020 16:47, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 16:17

Cult Icon wrote:
11 Feb 2020 14:16
General der Panzertruppen Balck seems to made significant bad feelings and bad evaluations of the SS while commanding 6th (SS) Army in Hungary. Gille's IV SS Panzer Corps had issues with subordination to orders even prior to its attachment to the 6th (SS) Army.

Balck had personal issues with Gille. He also wanted to shift the blame for the red army breakthrough on the Waffen ss which was pretty ridiculous as he was himself to blame.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 16:22

histan wrote:
11 Feb 2020 15:23

The report was for September 1939 and is clearly not representative of performance throughout the war. But the concrete examples given need to be examined and explained. Examples of "withdrawal" can be identified but the context and the performance of associated army units need to be examined before conclusions can be made. I would expect a serious book on the performance of VT in Poland quote this report and address the issues identified in it.

There was clearly a serious disagreement between Kempf and the higher authorities about the performance of his division. I read a report of his where he is positive about his units including the SS ones and then the corps above him being critical of his division.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 16:28

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 14:49

Yup, on the whole, the divisions "of the SS fought..... well in the Soviet Union 41-44, Normandy 44'..." And so they should have done. They were all mechanised, unlike 90% of the German Army, and were drawn entirely from volunteers, unlike all except one late war division of the German Army. The "cream of the German Army" were, by contrast, largely conscripts. The better W-SS divisions performed as well as the wider panzerwaffe, but there was every reason why they should have and it has nothing to do with any "value added" by virtue of being W-SS. Nor is there any reason to think that the same men would not have fought as well in the Army given the same circumstances.

As I have said before, there was no magic W-SS fairydust that could make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Cheers,

Sid.
But at the same time you want the senior ss divisions absolutely to be engaged by the high command in Fall Blau opposed to the veteran Heer pz that were not there either. And this despite you saying that the ones were as good the other. :roll:

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 16:56

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35
Hi Histan,


As the most political of formations, the conservation of the LAH is politically, if not militarily, understandable and, if I remember correctly, its overall casualties were rather lower than those of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions. Its use in politically sensitive Italy in 1943, rather than on an active battle front, is also politically, if not militarily, justifiable. No Army formations suffered from such political sensitivity in their employment.
You could have known that Hitler wanted to send the whole 2 nd ss corps after the allied landing in Sicily and it was certainly meant as a political statement that it would be his elite(certainly in his view) ss divisions that he would send and not any Heer corps. Nothing to do with sensitivity. It obviously makes politically speaking towards Italy a stronger statement of support when the SS divisions are sent. It should not be rocket science to you that Hitler sending the division which has his name is a very strong statement . Probably the reason why specifically this one eventually still went while the whole corps could not be spared on the eastern front.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 17:03

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35

The fact that most of the mechanized front-line W-SS divisions could be withdrawn from the front simultaneously at a decisive moment was (1) because, though useful, they were not vital and (2) because they were behind the shield of the German Army.
Sid.
Given that Das Reich was already refitting for a few months you make a strange assertion. And LAH was not a division yet. It was converting to it .And the 3 Heer Pz div refitting in France seem not to have been needed either. :lol: Why do you want these ss formations absolutely to take part while you think they were not better than any Heer PZ div. :roll:

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 17:22

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35

I am not sure that the speed of conversion of the existing LAH and DR divisions into panzer-(grenadier?) divisions is equivalent to the Army. You will have to give me some more stats on that. In 1943 the German Army divisions entirely annihilated at Stalingrad at the beginning of February were already being used to invade northern Italy in July-September. W-SS divisions constituted at the same time took rather longer to field, especially the 12th. This was probably because the W-SS lacked the military infrastructure possessed by the Army.
Sid.
When you are referring to 16 and 24 pz then you are simplifying things because these divisions did not have to,be reconstituted from scratch as more than you think was outside the encirclement and there were the wounded and men on leave so there was a good core available to build around. Also you ignore the difficulties the german army had to replace its casualties once the USSR was attacked.

Leprechaun
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 21 Feb 2018 09:44
Location: Cardiff

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Leprechaun » 11 Feb 2020 20:48

Sid raises an important point if the SS-Divisions were combat ready, why didn't the pioneer units fly into Stalingrad and help the Heer units with operation Hubertus on the 11.11.42.If these troops were the best it may have led to a victory at Stalingrad ??
Jack

Leprechaun
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 21 Feb 2018 09:44
Location: Cardiff

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Leprechaun » 11 Feb 2020 20:55

Aida1 wrote:
11 Feb 2020 17:22
Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35

I am not sure that the speed of conversion of the existing LAH and DR divisions into panzer-(grenadier?) divisions is equivalent to the Army. You will have to give me some more stats on that. In 1943 the German Army divisions entirely annihilated at Stalingrad at the beginning of February were already being used to invade northern Italy in July-September. W-SS divisions constituted at the same time took rather longer to field, especially the 12th. This was probably because the W-SS lacked the military infrastructure possessed by the Army.
Sid.
When you are referring to 16 and 24 pz then you are simplifying things because these divisions did not have to,be reconstituted from scratch as more than you think was outside the encirclement and there were the wounded and men on leave so there was a good core available to build around. Also you ignore the difficulties the german army had to replace its casualties once the USSR was attacked.
So why waste men going into SS-Panzer units that had no experience fighting as a panzer unit it would have been better having the men reforming the original Heer panzer units which would have had an experienced cadre of men and would have been a better use of the new equipment and men.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 21:53

Leprechaun wrote:
11 Feb 2020 20:55
Aida1 wrote:
11 Feb 2020 17:22
Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2020 12:35

I am not sure that the speed of conversion of the existing LAH and DR divisions into panzer-(grenadier?) divisions is equivalent to the Army. You will have to give me some more stats on that. In 1943 the German Army divisions entirely annihilated at Stalingrad at the beginning of February were already being used to invade northern Italy in July-September. W-SS divisions constituted at the same time took rather longer to field, especially the 12th. This was probably because the W-SS lacked the military infrastructure possessed by the Army.
Sid.
When you are referring to 16 and 24 pz then you are simplifying things because these divisions did not have to,be reconstituted from scratch as more than you think was outside the encirclement and there were the wounded and men on leave so there was a good core available to build around. Also you ignore the difficulties the german army had to replace its casualties once the USSR was attacked.
So why waste men going into SS-Panzer units that had no experience fighting as a panzer unit it would have been better having the men reforming the original Heer panzer units which would have had an experienced cadre of men and would have been a better use of the new equipment and men.
Given how the divisions performed, there was no waste. And one could also have not set up new Heer pz div too.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 1012
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2020 21:55

Leprechaun wrote:
11 Feb 2020 20:48
Sid raises an important point if the SS-Divisions were combat ready, why didn't the pioneer units fly into Stalingrad and help the Heer units with operation Hubertus on the 11.11.42.If these troops were the best it may have led to a victory at Stalingrad ?? :roll:
Jack
Very strange idea. :roll:

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”