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.
Leprechaun
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Leprechaun » 11 Feb 2020 22:24

Aida1 wrote:
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.
The SS-Pz divisions didn't perform that well they were in retreat 1.43-5.45

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Aida1
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 09:45

Leprechaun wrote:
11 Feb 2020 22:24
Aida1 wrote:
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.
The SS-Pz divisions didn't perform that well they were in retreat 1.43-5.45
The whole German army was so you make no sense.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Feb 2020 12:32

Hi Aida,

Calm down. It is very difficult to make sense of your stream-of-consciousness posts if they are so disjointed and apoplectic!

Anyway, it is good to see that you have dropped your contention that France wasn't a backwater in 1942.

I am also glad that you understand my point about the political importance and sensitivities surrounding the deployments of 1st W-SS Division. 2nd W-SS Division did not suffer such limitations and was arguably, as a result, the best performing W-SS formation.

The fact remains that all three of the most senior, experienced and best equipped W-SS divisions missed arguably the most decisive campaign of the war in 1942-43. This is incontestable.

The only question is why?

The 3rd W-SS Division appears to have been too battered after Demijansk to make a useful offensive contribution anywhere and was rebuilding in France.

However, according to you, the 1st and 2nd W-SS Divisions were perfectly battleworthy and yet still missed the Caucasus campaign by virtue of being in Western Europe. Indeed, the 1st W-SS Division seems to have missed almost an entire year of operations! And it is not just that they weren't on active combat duties in the Caucasus - they weren't on active combat duties anywhere throughout it!

The fact that all three senior W-SS divisions missed arguably the decisive campaign of the war is roughly equivalent to all the Feldheer's Active Welle I divisions being withdrawn simultaneously from all battle fronts. This was inconceivable. The only reason why it was possible for the Waffen-SS in 1942-43 was because the Army could cover its back.

Leprechaun's point has some validity. The German Army undertook all Germany's conquests over 1939-42 without indispensable W-SS support. Thereafter, despite a massive expansion, the W-SS failed to change outcomes over 1943-45. Of course, after the Stalingrad Campaign, which the senior W-SS divisions missed entirely, such a reversal of the fortunes of war was well nigh impossible, so Germany's ultimate defeat is not down to particular failings in the W-SS.

The only bits of the W-SS ever claimed as "classic" or " élite" are its senior formations composed of volunteers (or at least "volunteers"), which were all always motorized, and latterly armoured, unlike 90% of the horse-drawn, footbound, largely conscript German Army. From 1940 some W-SS divisions could be as good as their army equivalents, but so should they have been given these factors.

All the best W-SS divisions were part of the Panzerwaffe and this is what made them arguably part of an elite. There was no magic quality of "Waffen-SS-edness" or military originality that provided added value to the Waffen-SS. Where it was good, so was the Army, most of whose military norms it followed.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Feb 2020 15:12

histan wrote:
11 Feb 2020 15:23
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.
Nipe, Yerger, Nash, Rikmenspoel, etc.?

I have hundreds of books about WW2 combat, and the WSS counts as a sub-interest for me. I am a latecomer: I did not buy up the key english-language literature since about 3 years ago. Between my other interests- German army units, US infantry and armored divisions, and CW divisions, the Waffen SS literature is the best in quantity and quality. The German Army lost the war but the Germans won the battle for unit history... I accept that there are numerous errors in all unit histories and aim at volume.

The myths of the SS are caused by the ignorance and foolishness of the people who promote them (both the SS fans and the Anti-SS crowd), not the secondary source material as a whole. Weidinger's old Das Reich I-V has nothing about exploding hand grenades on helmets and is dry and from war records. Ditto for Lehmann/Tiemann. The growing literature on the Eastern Front is also informative on the combat record of SS formations and I find the new literature to be higher quality than the West front literature.

"Paths of Armor: The 5th Armored Division in WW2" has an interesting insight in the introduction: That the US 5th Armored Division was the combat unit with the highest achievement to casualty ratio and that its obscurity was due to the fact that the unit lacked a press corps. This effected its tally of awards in WW2.

This leads me to the German military, and the Waffen SS in particular, who paid more attention than most to its press, rituals, self-mythologizing, record-keeping, and military regalia. Their efforts during and after the war ensured that they would be remembered. I am overall pleased with these traits as otherwise there wouldn't be so much interesting content available.

On a related subject, the SS formations weren't the only one with a good press corps- The 1st Fallschirmjager division had 128 Knight's Cross Holders and had significant attention to these aspects too.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Feb 2020 15:20

+The best book on the forming of an SS division is Yerger's Totenkopf I and II. That book is a myth buster.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 16:03

Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Feb 2020 12:32
Hi Aida,

Calm down. It is very difficult to make sense of your stream-of-consciousness posts if they are so disjointed and apoplectic!

Anyway, it is good to see that you have dropped your contention that France wasn't a backwater in 1942.

I am also glad that you understand my point about the political importance and sensitivities surrounding the deployments of 1st W-SS Division. 2nd W-SS Division did not suffer such limitations and was arguably, as a result, the best performing W-SS formation.

The fact remains that all three of the most senior, experienced and best equipped W-SS divisions missed arguably the most decisive campaign of the war in 1942-43. This is incontestable.

The only question is why?

The 3rd W-SS Division appears to have been too battered after Demijansk to make a useful offensive contribution anywhere and was rebuilding in France.

However, according to you, the 1st and 2nd W-SS Divisions were perfectly battleworthy and yet still missed the Caucasus campaign by virtue of being in Western Europe. Indeed, the 1st W-SS Division seems to have missed almost an entire year of operations! And it is not just that they weren't on active combat duties in the Caucasus - they weren't on active combat duties anywhere throughout it!

The fact that all three senior W-SS divisions missed arguably the decisive campaign of the war is roughly equivalent to all the Feldheer's Active Welle I divisions being withdrawn simultaneously from all battle fronts. This was inconceivable. The only reason why it was possible for the Waffen-SS in 1942-43 was because the Army could cover its back.



Cheers,

Sid
Repeating the same nonsense does not make it truth. And falsifying what it i wrote does not make you look any better. Your anti-waffen ss bias has led you into committing big mistakes. Debunking your factual mistakes is very easy. :lol:
The west was not a backwater into the eyes of the german high command and Hitler unless you think that they would have had good heer Pz div like the 6.,7.and 10. Pz div spend a large part of 1942 in a backwater. :lol: The Heer 1. Pz spent the first 10 months of 1943 in the alleged backwaters of France and Greece not being in combat. :lol: Hitler did not send 2 ss and LAH to what he considered a backwater. You may think what you want but you are not commander in chief of the German army.
Fact is that only LAH would have participated in Fall Blau as it was part of AGS had it not been sent to France because of the perceived imminent threat of an allied landing. You could have read that Halder did not like to see it go but your bias made you ignore that as it meant acknowledging that LAH was valued high by Halder.. Das Reich would never have participated as it was not part of AGS and was in the same battered state as all divisions of AGC. The last parts of Das Reich only left the front in the beginning of june 1942. The Totenkopf was surrounded in the demjansk pocket until the end of april when a corridor was made and stayed engaged in the front around Demjansk until october when it was transferred to France where it had a (too) short refit. So your comment about the Totenkopf was very stupid indeed. :lol: Any type of research could have learned you that the Totenkopf was rather busy around Demjansk and was sent to France very late so it returned to the eastern front after a much too short refit. :lol:
And LAH was in the frontline until the end of may 1942 so your statement about LAH missing a year in the front was also very stupid. Any research could have learned you that too
Your statement on Das Reich being better than LAH is based on nothing except your own very personal opinion. There were no limitations on the deployment of LAH. I did not say that. I stated that the deployment of the LAH to Italy was meant as a statement of support for Italy.
Your last phrase is totally ridiculous as it implies there were two German armies :lol: . No. There was only one. Not surprising is that you make no coment on withdrawing Heer pz divisions for refit in France in 1942 and the very many other best ones not taking part either in the 1942 summer offensive.
Last edited by Aida1 on 12 Feb 2020 16:15, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 16:12

Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Feb 2020 12:32

Leprechaun's point has some validity. The German Army undertook all Germany's conquests over 1939-42 without indispensable W-SS support. Thereafter, despite a massive expansion, the W-SS failed to change outcomes over 1943-45. Of course, after the Stalingrad Campaign, which the senior W-SS divisions missed entirely, such a reversal of the fortunes of war was well nigh impossible, so Germany's ultimate defeat is not down to particular failings in the W-SS.

The only bits of the W-SS ever claimed as "classic" or " élite" are its senior formations composed of volunteers (or at least "volunteers"), which were all always motorized, and latterly armoured, unlike 90% of the horse-drawn, footbound, largely conscript German Army. From 1940 some W-SS divisions could be as good as their army equivalents, but so should they have been given these factors.

All the best W-SS divisions were part of the Panzerwaffe and this is what made them arguably part of an elite. There was no magic quality of "Waffen-SS-edness" or military originality that provided added value to the Waffen-SS. Where it was good, so was the Army, most of whose military norms it followed.

Cheers,

Sid
Makes no sense at all. There was nothing against setting up a military arm of the waffen ss and the senior divisions had a very good reputation whatever you may think. Too many divisons were set up but that was the same problem in the Heer where also far too many new divisons were formed. And, by the way, a large part of the german army missed the stalingrad campaign including the majority of the most veteran pz div. :lol: You have tunnel vision. :lol:

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 12 Feb 2020 16:18

I looked at Nipe and found this:

"The "Leibstandarte-SS-Adolf Hitler," 2.SS-Division "Das Reich" and 3.SS-"Totenkopf'-Division were withdrawn from the Russian front at various times during 1942. They were subsequently sent to France in order to rest, reorganize and recover from months of heavy fighting on the Eastern Front."

This was one of the sources of some of my earlier statements about why the SS Divisions were sent to France. In actual fact, it was more complicated than that and in this case Nipe is unreliable.

I have no doubt that like many authors he is very reliable on the area that he researched and consulted primary sources. But, like many authors, on the peripheral areas he took "the generally accepted view" without investigating further. That's the problem with secondary sources, the more reliable they are on the main area they cover, the easier it is to accept comments that they make in the peripheral areas.

When ordered to France LAH was just about to be committed to Operation Blau, it was under the command of III Panzer Korps. The army organisation branch in February 1942 had scheduled both LAH and Wiking for "Auffrischung" under 1 Paanzer Army before their commitment to operations in the 1942 offensive. There was no intention or plan to send either of them to France to "rest, reorganize and recover from months of heavy fighting on the Eastern Front." [Yes, I have primary source material to support these statements]

DR and T were actually being reformed (Neuauffstellung) around the cadre that was all that was left of them. The bulk of their manpower was new and it was training, both individual and collective, that they needed rather than rest and recovery.

Regards

John

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 18:03

histan wrote:
12 Feb 2020 16:18
I looked at Nipe and found this:

"The "Leibstandarte-SS-Adolf Hitler," 2.SS-Division "Das Reich" and 3.SS-"Totenkopf'-Division were withdrawn from the Russian front at various times during 1942. They were subsequently sent to France in order to rest, reorganize and recover from months of heavy fighting on the Eastern Front."

This was one of the sources of some of my earlier statements about why the SS Divisions were sent to France. In actual fact, it was more complicated than that and in this case Nipe is unreliable.

I have no doubt that like many authors he is very reliable on the area that he researched and consulted primary sources. But, like many authors, on the peripheral areas he took "the generally accepted view" without investigating further. That's the problem with secondary sources, the more reliable they are on the main area they cover, the easier it is to accept comments that they make in the peripheral areas.

When ordered to France LAH was just about to be committed to Operation Blau, it was under the command of III Panzer Korps. The army organisation branch in February 1942 had scheduled both LAH and Wiking for "Auffrischung" under 1 Paanzer Army before their commitment to operations in the 1942 offensive. There was no intention or plan to send either of them to France to "rest, reorganize and recover from months of heavy fighting on the Eastern Front." [Yes, I have primary source material to support these statements]

DR and T were actually being reformed (Neuauffstellung) around the cadre that was all that was left of them. The bulk of their manpower was new and it was training, both individual and collective, that they needed rather than rest and recovery.

Regards

John
I have no doubt that Nipe knows the detail of the history of the senior waffen ss divisions but when you make a general comment you need to simplify. To know it in minute detail, you need to read the very detailed unit histories. I have them all.
What complicates the story, is that there was also the strenghtening of the units by giving them each a Panzer Abteilung which were setting up in Germany . LAH was also stocking up to a division. Totenkopf was getting an extra infantry regt, the Thule regt which was set up from the former SS IR 9 (mot) .
The refitting of Totenkopf and Das Reich had to take place while remnants were still active in the front. The refit of Totenkopf was originally ordered by Hitler in march 1942 and started in july 1942 in Sennelager where new units for the division would also be setup(Soldaten Kämpfer Kameraden Band III W Volpersal Bielefled 1987 p 1) while parts of the division were still committed around Demjansk .It was faced with recruiting problems as the FHA could give only 5.000 men while 11.000 were needed. Hitler solved the matter by releasing 6.000 Waffen SS volonteers from their service in the RAD. Interesting to note that on 26.08, a few days after the Dieppe raid, Hitler ordered the new Thule rgt, the new Pz Abteilung and any other refitting units of Totenkopf to France because he feared a repeat of the Dieppe landing( Soldaten, Kämpfer , Kameraden Band III W. Volpersal Bielefeld 1987 p 29) . So continuing the refitting of Totenkopf in France was also a consequence of Hitlers fear of an allied landing in France.
Last edited by Aida1 on 12 Feb 2020 18:38, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 12 Feb 2020 18:31

I agree that it's difficult to make a general statement but something like:

'The "Leibstandarte-SS-Adolf Hitler," 2.SS-Division "Das Reich" and 3.SS-"Totenkopf'-Division were withdrawn from the Russian front at various times during 1942. They were sent to France to provide additional mobile forces while they were reforming, re-equipping, and training to become Panzergrenadier Divisions' perhaps provides a better summary of their activities in France.

My point was that most people, including me, don't have the multi-volume detailed histories and rely on the popular English language series. I have found that in one of my main fields of interest, aviation, these are quite reliable and although they do not give sources it is quite easy to see where they have got the information from. For the Waffen SS divisions in France in 1942 these are unreliable to say the least.

Regards

John
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 18:34

histan wrote:
12 Feb 2020 18:31
I agree that it's difficult to make a general statement but something like:

'The "Leibstandarte-SS-Adolf Hitler," 2.SS-Division "Das Reich" and 3.SS-"Totenkopf'-Division were withdrawn from the Russian front at various times during 1942. They were sent to France to provide additional mobile forces while they were reforming, re-equipping, and training to become Panzergrenadier Divisions' perhaps provides a better summary of their activities in France.

Regards

John
Closer to reality but i am not going to reproach an author that his general statement is slighty too general.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by histan » 12 Feb 2020 18:59

Except when you say
"Hitler sent them to France to defend against a possible invasion"

And I say
"they were sent to France in order to rest, reorganize and recover from months of heavy fighting on the Eastern Front" - Nipe says so!

But a small point in the general scheme of things.

In any case I have had a good few days looking around the primary source material that I have, and gaining a better understanding of - German Army "Auffrishung" policy and plans for 1942, the strategic and tactical thinking regarding possible landings in France and the establishment of the SS Generalkommando.

Regards

John

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2020 21:04

On 30.3.1942 LAH was rated to be capable of limited offensive actions( Annexe 2 to Org 791/42 g.Kdos.Chefsache 2.4) Same rating as Das Reich,18 ID(mot),60 ID (mot),25 ID (mot) ,2,3, 6,14 ,and 19 Pz . 6,7,8, 9,13,16,18 and 20 pz, Totenkopf, Wiking, 16 ID mot, 29 Id ( mot),36 id (mot) were rated fully capable of defense.3 id (mot) had only a limited ability for defense. 22. Pz was rated as very limited operational because of a lack of training so did not even get a IV rating. 12 pz did not get a rating either as it was cut up into too many parts. The only mobile units with a Kampfwert I were 17 and 5 Pz and 14 id (mot).1.pz was rated as able of offensive actions after rest.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Feb 2020 12:29

Hi Aida,

You can try to be as insulting as you like, but you can't argue with the fundamental fact that all three senior W-SS divisions missed the decisive campaign of 1942-43. Indeed, they didn't campaign anywhere.

As long as you continue to defend the indefensible, your credibility in everything is undermined.

To repeat:

"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!"

Just because you post something doesn't make it true. Nor does repeating it make it any truer.

As the military maxim goes, "He who defends everything defends nothing".

I think the adult conversation is taking place between others, so perhaps we should listen to some of them.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Aida1 » 13 Feb 2020 13:08

Sid Guttridge wrote:
13 Feb 2020 12:29
Hi Aida,

You can try to be as insulting as you like, but you can't argue with the fundamental fact that all three senior W-SS divisions missed the decisive campaign of 1942-43. Indeed, the didn't campaign anywhere.

As long as you continue to defend the indefensible, your credibility in everything is undermined.

To repeat:

"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!"

Just because you post something doesn't make it true. Nor does repeating it make it any truer.

As the military maxim goes, "He who defends everything defends nothing".

I think the adult conversation is taken place between others, so perhaps we should listen to some of them.

Cheers,

Sid.
At least what i post is historically correct. And i am not the only one here saying that. :lol: You could have noticed that . Historically correct is that only LAH was earmarked for Fall Blau until Hitler sent it to France because he was convinced a landing was imminent. The other two divisions would never have taken part in the summer offensive because not part of AGS and where Totenkopf was concerned, it was not even materially possible . :roll: The latter division was not even out of combat for a long time before it was sent back in the beginning of 1943 after an insufficient refit . Makes your comment about not campaigning very silly. :lol: I noticed you shifted your comment about not campaigning from 1942 to 1942/43 after noticing that the divisions were actually in combat in 1942.
You make it sound like it was a sort of dishonour to be refitting in France or elsewhere in 1942 while in reality divisions were sent there because of a perceived threat of an allied invasion, a fact which you conveniently ignore all the time. :roll: But you do not make this comment when Heer divisions were in France to refit as the 6.,7. and 10.Pz divisions were doing in 1942 at the same time as the SS divisions . Shows your bias. You only want ss divisions never to refit or reorganise in France or elsewhere. :roll:
You have dug a very deep hole for yourself by exhibiting a total lack of knowledge concerning the history of the waffen ss divisions and about the decisionmaking process by Hitler and the OKH concerning the allocation of divisions. You could do with some reading.

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