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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I have questions
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by I have questions » 05 May 2020 00:45

BillHermann wrote:
02 Jul 2012 20:13

The simple question still is why are they trendy (Cool), why has so much fiction been created. Why is there whole sale defence of the organization and the constant effort to separate the organization completely from the SS when we know it's not factual. Finally I find it ironic that the Elite status is always floating around while at the same time trying to disasoosiate the organization from the SS and Nazis. When it's the association with the SS and Nazis that gave them the propaganda Elite status in Nazi Germany.
Personally, I never jumped on the Waffen-SS bandwagon. I thought I'd just throw in my two-cents to try and answer your question.

The Waffen-SS received a lot of publicity during and after the war. Elite (or in the case of the Waffen-SS, the perception of elite) military units have always received their fair share of attention. The Germans made the WSS out as the cream of the crop. In the aftermath (as the Cold War set in) there wasn't a whole lot of opposition to the Wehrmacht superiority myth, the WSS was sort of the poster child of this "misunderstood military" being as they were made out as ruthless killers during the war, and, now, in a time where revisionism was running rampant, the WSS suddenly became just a bunch of ordinary soldiers doing their duty. It was more than likely accepted because the U.S and the west in general was trying to whitewash the Germans who were now our allies. The myth of the WSS was heavily perpetuated by its officers after the war in numerous publications, justifying massacres by blaming someone else or fabricating events or blowing actual things out of proportion and making mountains out of mole hills as far as the WSS' combat exploits were concerned. People ate it up, the information made it into other publications. Before you know it the entire view of the WSS changed.

In short, a lot of the reverence is based on a lie. There really isn't anything the WSS did combat wise that separates it from the Heer.

So, to answer your question, while some find the WSS interesting out of the intent to preserve that chapter of history, the ones who seemingly worship them are simply misguided.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Cult Icon » 16 Jun 2020 14:21

The Waffen SS english-language literature is really not much different in its characteristics than the Heer literature. Both exhibit traits from the German military that it came from, with differences subjective and in small degrees. There is more hero worship in the SS literature but I believe that wartime realities show that there was quite a lot in both cultures.

I say this as my personal Heer/SS stash is in the hundreds. Before I collected this stuff I had read this thread and expected to see some funny scandalous stuff but ended up being deceived by false opinion. The "lie" so to speak is claiming that is hugely different.

Basically the failure is in its interpretation by some individuals on the internet, not the inherent traits of the material itself. IF one were to find reason to hero worship the WSS massively over the Heer then the issue is their own. IF one were to claim that the SS material was massively more propagandist than the Heer than it reveals that they have a weak personal library. The irony is that the some of the SS fans eventually became good researchers and as a consequence, published some good books...more the merrier, I say. Even the so-called SS "fanboy" books are somewhat interesting if you read them and look at the photo albums with mature eyes. Basically the reference material, SS or Heer are much more similar than different, I don't believe anyone is committing moral crimes by reading one, or the other, or both.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Jun 2020 17:48

Hi Cult Icon,

My main objection to W- SS English language literature is its sheer scale compared with that on the German Army. Given that (1) the German Army was far bigger than the Waffen-SS and (2) it achieved all Germany's conquests without indispensable W-SS assistance, it serves to distort the historical record to have so much on the W- SS.

The majority of W-SS divisions seem to have at least one English language history. The Charlemagne, which never even campaigned as a division and had no discernible impact on operations, has at least three "divisional" histories in English! This is more than some British or US divisions! Indeed, it is more than some entire countries have!

All this serves to distort the historical record because it gives the W-SS an importance to today's publishing industry that it never had in battle.

It would be easier to get a book on "W-SS cuff-links, 1940-42" published than a military history of Bulgaria in WWII.

The Reich-raised W-SS divisions should be studied as part of the Panzerwaffe. This includes all those that were of any particular military quality.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by LucilleK » 21 Jun 2020 12:52

I'm related to someone whom was in the 12th division and I often find myself defending the SS, but...not everything of course, certain things only. To me I've always been fascinated by the sheer power behind them and the history, although brutal in parts it's our history.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by WCM2020 » 24 Jun 2020 14:10

I appreciate your reply, Sid, as you add elements of a perspective that I am still trying to catch up with. Perhaps I am caught up in some of the personalities of the W-SS, from Wittman and Pieper to Meyer and others. Though surely they had their counterparts in the other branches of the armed forces. Those other personalities just don't seem to stand out like the fighting leaders of the SS. If I could read one book on the W-SS to better understand your points, what do you suggest?

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by I have questions » 24 Jun 2020 20:26

Cult Icon wrote:
16 Jun 2020 14:21
The Waffen SS english-language literature is really not much different in its characteristics than the Heer literature. Both exhibit traits from the German military that it came from, with differences subjective and in small degrees.
I singled out the WSS because that is the subject of this thread, I'm not saying they were the only ones guilty of attempting to whitewash their history.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Jun 2020 00:26

Hi ECM2020,

You have hit upon the problem.

There is no mileage for publishers in a book about the W-SS not being a military elite or any better than it should have been.

I would identify four phases of the puffing of the W-SS.

(1) There was the initial wartime Nazi propaganda.

(2) There was self promotion by W-SS veterans organizations from the early 1950s

(3) There was an English language publishing boom in the W-SS from the late 1960s that inflated its significance.

(4) This spawned a whole generation of under critical W-SS groupies on the internet, in which I would identify the now moribund Feldgrau as a significant player.

It doesn't even require falsification to distort the historical record. It just requires an over emphasis on some less important areas at the expense of others of greater importance.

Thus the W-SS has been puffed up at the expense of the Army, even though it made no indispensible contribution to Germany's conquests and it was militarily little more than an unoriginal clone of the German Army.

All the most capable W-SS formations were motorized or armoured. They should be studied as part of the Panzerwaffe.

The only really distinctive part of the W-SS was its political aspect. This does deserve investigation in its own right.

Cheers,

Sid

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