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.
Westphalia1812
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 13 Oct 2022 23:50

Concerning the special treatment of W-SS div's during Summer 1943: RH 10/54 Page 110, 112, 114.
https://invenio.bundesarchiv.de/invenio ... 359c9612c/

1.
Every member of the Army on the front lines has the impression that the Army is being "stifled" by the incomprehensible preference given to the Luftwaffe, the Iuftwaffenfielddivisions and the Waffen-SS. The moral backlash is significant and should not be underestimated. The Army cannot understand why it is being set back in such an undeserved manner by the top leadership.
2.
In accordance with their excellent personnel and material equipment, the SS divisions have performed well in detail. However, their leadership does not correspond to the good composition of the troops and requires tight management and constant supervision by the higher command authorities.
3.
Preferential treatment of individual divisions or certain parts of the Wehrmacht, such as the Waffen SS, at the present stage of the war has a considerable effect on the fighting strength of the mass of the divisions of the field army.

We can no longer afford this luxury.
4.
A significant factor has been described by many authorities as the Army's being set back in every respect compared with the Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS. The moral repercussions for the Army are becoming increasingly noticeable.
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 14 Oct 2022 07:56

Army Group South personnel strength comparison:



Additionally, KOSAVE II (Kursk) for further strength and losses comparisons:
https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA360311
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 17 Oct 2022 20:18

The image of prominent Waffen-SS leaders in the army also appears to be uniform. A man like Sepp Dietrich, because of his uncouth and uneducated manner, evoked ridicule, contempt and scorn and was perceived as a classic negative example, in contrast to Paul Hausser, for example, who as a former Reichswehr general was recognized as "one of us," so to speak .
However, it should not be forgotten that there were also appreciative voices among the army generals. General Hans Cramer, for example, defended the Waffen-SS in British captivity during discussions with his fellow soldiers:
"Last night," he remarked on February 14, 1944,
"Müller-Rienzburg scolded the SS and said that they had a big face but did nothing. But that was not true. I have had SS divisions under my command for a long time and have also been able to observe them closely in the schools where I have been active. The SS has long been a point of envy because they are favored in everything, especially in the supply of equipment. However, they have performed impeccably and have fought with tremendous bravery."
The establishment of a significant armed land force alongside the Army thus led to a noticeable rivalry, albeit one that varied greatly in time and region. This rivalry can be illustrated by studying sources on military operations in which Army and Waffen SS units fought side by side. On the northern section of the Eastern Front, it even went so far that the commander of the "Totenkopf" division in 1942 insinuated the Army's intention to deliberately destroy his division, so that Eicke, who was on home leave, noted that "it is high time to free our men from the clutches of a spiteful, jealous guild ". In August 1944 in Normandy, the commander of the 2nd Panzer Division, Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, is said to have harshly refused to provide an armored personnel carrier for the wounded commander of the "Leibstandarte," Brigadeführer Theodor Wisch, in order to bring him out of the cauldron. "For the Leibstandarte? They have enough vehicles, they won't get any from me," Lüttwitz is said to have said indignantly.
Des Forschens noch Wert? in Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift 61 (2002), Sönke Neitzel, p. 407-408
https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/ ... 2.403/html

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 17 Oct 2022 20:32

Already the establishment, but especially the expansion of the Waffen-SS had mainly political reasons for Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. In the long run, Himmler wanted to replace the army with the Waffen-SS. This goal was more important to him than the preservation of an elite military force; therefore, he had more and more large units established at the expense of the quality of the old SS divisions. In most cases, however, these were only second- or third-rate militarily. Already for the 9th and 10th SS-Division ("Hohenstaufen" and "Frundsberg"), whose formation Hitler ordered in December 1942, there were not enough volunteers. Therefore, forcibly recruited young men had to be drafted into these large units. In early 1943, at Himmler's insistence, Hitler ordered the formation of the 13th SS Division, composed of Bosnians, the 14th SS Division, composed of Ukrainians, and the 15th (Latvian) SS Division. All three divisions proved to be largely worthless militarily; there could be no question of an elite in the slightest. Of the 30 SS divisions formed in the second half of the war, hardly any reached the fighting level of the parent divisions. The only exceptions were the 11th SS Division "Nordland" and the 12th SS Division "Hitlerjugend", which together with the "Leibstandarte", "Das Reich", "Totenkopf" and "Wiking" belonged to the elite divisions. Some other divisions of the WaffenSS like the "Hohenstaufen", the "Frundsberg", the 17th SS Division "Götz von Berlichingen" or the 19th (Latvian) Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS were also combat strong units that proved themselves at the front. However, their combat value certainly did not exceed that of similar divisions of the Army. Therefore, it would be wrong to call them elite.
From a purely military point of view, the formation of the Waffen-SS and its excessive expansion would not have been necessary at all. The soldiers, some of them highly motivated, and the war material they were provided with could just as well have been used within the framework of elite divisions of the army. If, as Hitler still wanted in the first half of the war, the Waffen-SS had been kept at an elite level as a special political guard force, then no more than eight SS divisions should have been established. Those volunteer personnel and high-quality material that were supplied to the later formed formations should have been used instead to refresh the first divisions. Then it would also not have been necessary to send forcibly recruited and unwilling soldiers to the Waffen-SS, and the material equipment of the first divisions could also have been kept at a high level at all times. Finally, it should not be underestimated that the Waffen-SS suffered far more than the army from a chronic shortage of leaders and sub-leaders. This shortage could have been made up for, or at least greatly reduced, if there had been a maximum of eight SS divisions. But Himmler's striving for power turned the Waffen-SS into a mass army of, at last, almost one million soldiers, and large mass is rarely compatible with high quality - and certainly not with the principle of an elite, i.e. selection.
Die Waffen-SS: Eine überschätzte Truppe? Roman Töppel (2018), p. 5-6
https://www.academia.edu/resource/work/45636606

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by dgfred » 18 Oct 2022 14:39

Interesting. Thanks W!

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 18 Oct 2022 22:42

Erfahrungsbericht Ost des Generals der Panzer-Truppe Eberbach (07.12.1943)

The excessively large widths that almost every German division has in the east must lead to the proper tactics of keeping good mobile divisions behind the front for intervention against enemy incursions. The more the steadiness of the divisions wears off, the more important such assault divisions become. The front calls this procedure corset-rod tactics.

Since this procedure is generally recognized as correct, it is necessary to keep these assault divisions on their toes and therefore, in the interests of the infantry itself, to order that armored divisions be placed on an equal footing with the infantry in terms of replacements and that recruits be supplied to them in sufficient numbers so that they do not bleed out, as has now happened with many divisions.

The same applies to the Panzer Grenadier Divisions. Schematic distribution of recruit quotas is no longer correct under today's conditions.

With the excellent material equipment of these divisions, the fallowing of GD and SS-Reich for months due to lack of men meant a much greater disadvantage for the whole than the fallowing of an infantry div.
RH 10/55 p. 5
https://invenio.bundesarchiv.de/invenio ... e7ac3babe/

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 19 Oct 2022 18:00

For high repair demand on Pz.Kw. at SS -Pz.Gren.Div. "Das Reich" (19.3.43) the following causes:
1.) Short-term training II. Abt

2.) Lack of driving experience of drivers in difficult winter terrain.

3.) Reckless use during defensive fighting.

4.) Fighting withdrawals made towing over long distances necessary.

5) Speed of the advance on Pavlograd and Kharkov and poor road conditions hampered the work of Pz.Werkst.Komp.

6) Lack of well-trained 'skilled workers' at the Pz.Werkst.Kp.

7) Lack of a repair squadron at the Abt. (Instandsetzungs Staffel)

8) Lack of the 6 ton crane.

9.) Cargo space of the 3 ton trucks available as spare parts cars KW. too small.
RH 10/58, p.7
https://invenio.bundesarchiv.de/invenio ... b6c3e4469/
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 19 Oct 2022 19:18

Telex by SS-Führungshauptamt to SS-Kampgruppe Nord (8.7.41)
1.) A.B. RFSS is to reorganize Kampfgruppe Nord into one Rgt. to three Btls. and one Rgt. to two Btls.

2.) As a replacement for losses will be put on the march by plane: 4 Kp. Führer - 25 Zugführer, 200 active Unterführer.

3.) Stubaf. Graf Baudiss is to be exchanged with Stubaf. Marcks immediately.

4.) You are free, if necessary, to exchange another Btl.Kdr. with Stubaf. Herms.

5.) Oberführer Voss is to return immediately and report to the Waffen-SS Command Office. As a replacement, Ostubaf. Kohlroder is put in march.

6.) Against Uscha. Neumann and Hstuf. Stein are to be court-martialed and judged with extreme severity. Proceedings are to be instituted against any failures.

7.) The Führer and RFSS are of the opinion that there is absolutely no reason for pessimism, decision of the Führer SS-Kampfgruppe Nord remains on the enemy.
RS 3-6/5, p.181 (or 365 for the bar at the bottom)
https://invenio.bundesarchiv.de/invenio ... e77961453/
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 24 Oct 2022 10:05

„Soldaten wie andere auch, nur ein bisschen besser“
Das Selbstbild von Veteranen der Waffen-SS
- Roman Töppel (2017)
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 30 Oct 2022 18:38

Attitude of members of the division (10.SS) towards prisoners of war:
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Westphalia1812 » 26 Nov 2022 09:39

Colloquium on the history of the Waffen-SS
Today, one can no longer say that the history of the Waffen-SS has been poorly researched. So it is not surprising that two conferences on this topic took place within half a year. First, the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism organized a large event in Dresden between December 2 and 4, 2010, followed by the German Committee for the History of World War II with a smaller workshop in Würzburg on May 6-7, 2011. While in Dresden the focus was on "communalization and exclusion" in the Waffen-SS, in Würzburg the focus was more on the military-historical perspective and on a comparison with the Wehrmacht. Thus, both conferences were designed to complement each other, as a planned joint anthology will also show.

First, the chairman of the committee and host RAINER SCHMIDT (Würzburg) welcomed the audience of about 60 in the magnificent Toscana Hall of the Würzburg Residence. He quoted an SD report from 1942, according to which the Waffen-SS allegedly would not take any prisoners of war. On the other hand, SS veterans claimed after 1945 that they had been "soldiers like others." In his introduction, Schmidt linked the hope that the workshop would challenge or even destroy these myths.

First, the chairman of the committee and host RAINER SCHMIDT (Würzburg) welcomed the audience of about 60 in the magnificent Toscana Hall of the Würzburg Residence. He quoted an SD report from 1942, according to which the Waffen-SS allegedly would not take any prisoners of war. On the other hand, SS veterans claimed after 1945 that they had been "soldiers like others." In his introduction, Schmidt linked the hope that the workshop would challenge or even destroy these myths.

The first panel was chaired by Bernd Wegner (Hamburg). He pointed to the formerly meager field of research on this topic, which has undergone a fundamental transformation in the last decade. Among the many recent works on the subject is that by RENE ROHRKAMP (Marburg) on the recruitment practices of the Waffen-SS. In his lecture based on the results of the book, he divided the recruitment policy of the Waffen-SS into four temporal phases and ultimately came to the conclusion that the Waffen-SS had become increasingly younger in the course of the war.

The following presentation by MARTIN CÜPPERS (Ludwigsburg) dealt with a particularly dark chapter of the Waffen-SS: the SS brigades and SS cavalry regiments of the Reichsführer-SS command staff and their participation in the Holocaust. Originally equipped in the summer of 1941 only with the vague order to act mercilessly against looters and to drive women as well as children out of the villages, the SS cavalry regiments deployed in the Pripjet marshes radicalized to varying degrees. While Gustav Lombard's cavalry division (SS Cavalry Regiment 1) proceeded to indiscriminate murder of all Jews from the very beginning, SS Cavalry Regiment 2 initially killed "only" the male Jewish population. On August 1, 1941, Himmler finally sanctioned Lombard's more radical solution in a central order and issued this as the future line of march. For Cüppers, it was a mixture of anticipatory obedience, profiling, and careerism that the discretionary powers were initially interpreted differently. Under this impression, the Reich leadership ultimately opted for the most radical variant.

NIELS WEISE (Würzburg) concluded the first day with a paper on Theodor Eicke and his SS division "Totenkopf" and its role in Nazi propaganda. In the French campaign of 1940, the division, recruited from concentration camp personnel, had turned out to be a frequently robbing and murdering soldateska. Propaganda could by no means present this taint to the German public. This changed from the turn of the year 1941/42, when the division was trapped with other Wehrmacht divisions in the Demjansk cauldron. Under the leadership of "Papa Eicke" the troops held out until relief arrived from the outside and the SS propaganda believed that they had finally found their "story". Sharp arguments followed between the Wehrmacht and SS reporters about the portrayal of the Kesselausbruch. In the end, the Wehrmacht had to cave in, and the leading role of Eicke and his division prevailed as the official version. Nevertheless, even after Eicke's death, he and his division remained important only for SS propaganda, but not for general Nazi propaganda.

In the ensuing discussion, questions revolved mainly around the homogeneity of the Waffen-SS. Ultimately - according to the final tenor of the conference participants - one must distinguish between different phases here. Before 1939, the Waffen-SS was certainly politically homogeneous, but by no means militarily so. Instead, it often resembled a "playground" for desperados who had been rejected by the Wehrmacht or who had failed. Due to the constant exchange of personnel during the war, however, the Waffen-SS became more homogeneous militarily, but lost its personnel homogeneity in the crew area due to the expansion.

The panel chaired by Rolf-Dieter Müller (Potsdam) on the second day was opened by ROMAN TÖPPEL (Munich) with a comparison of the military performance of the Waffen-SS and the Wehrmacht. For this purpose, Töppel drew on the SS divisions "Leibstandarte," "Das Reich," and "Totenkopf" as well as comparable so-called elite divisions of the Army in the Battle of Kursk in 1943. He showed, based on primary sources, that the SS divisions were indeed equipped with better material than their Wehrmacht counterparts. The speaker refuted the frequently raised accusation of poor leadership in the Waffen-SS by arguing that the SS did not suffer above-average casualties at Kursk. Overall, Töppel summed up, the Waffen-SS had proved itself militarily at Kursk; its units were among the most professional and reliable during the battle.

CARLO GENTILE (Cologne) dealt with the different behavior of three major units in the fight against partisans in Italy in 1943/45. While the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Reichsführer-SS" murdered between 2,200 and 2,400 civilians in six months, the parachute tank division "Herman Göring" of the Luftwaffe had 1,000 victims in ten months. Finally, the Army's 26th Panzer Division killed "only" 200 civilians in twenty months. Gentile also emphasized that by no means all units of the 16th SS Division can be proven to have committed murders, but their actions as a whole speak a much more radical and bloody language than those of the 26th Panzer Division. In the history of the division published after 1945, the veterans of this army division remarkably openly confessed to the murders with shame and asked for forgiveness from the descendants of the victims.

In the final presentation of the workshop, JENS WESTEMEIER (Geiselhöring) spoke about Joachim Peiper, often considered an SS icon, and his division, the "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler." Like Gentile, Westemeier emphasized (this time using the Battle of the Bulge) the difference between the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS in the number of war crimes committed. However, Westemeier did not see the Waffen-SS as a military elite. He referred to the horrendous losses, which could not be fully replaced in the long run. Moreover, hardly any of the officers of the Leibstandarte had undergone proper military training.

In the concluding discussion, the audience's questions and comments largely revolved around the question of whether or not the Waffen-SS was a military elite, which had not been clearly clarified after the presentations by Töppel and Westemeier. Further research will certainly be needed here to provide clarity. In the discussion the question was also raised whether the term "elite" seems to be useful at all as an analytical (but not historical!) term.
In the summary, PETER LIEB (Sandhurst) again urged a differentiated view of the Waffen-SS despite the extensive homogeneity of its leader corps. He also stressed how methodologically difficult it is to make military efficiency measurable. Finally, Lieb recalled that almost all comparable crimes committed by the Waffen-SS were also committed by units of the Wehrmacht - albeit with much less frequency in the Wehrnmacht. Moreover, the Wehrmacht - in contrast to the SS - did not kill women and children in the West as part of the fight against partisans, nor did it shoot Allied prisoners of war en masse. Thus, the Allies had already gained the perception of the "clean Wehrmacht" and the "criminal SS" before 1945 - an image that German society liked to take up after 1945.

Overall, the conference provided a good overview of recent research on the Waffen-SS. Thanks to recent empirical studies on the Waffen-SS in France and Italy, it can now be firmly stated that a general equation of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS cannot be maintained when it comes to the topic of war crimes. At the same time, however, the conference also highlighted two major research desiderata: First, the extent of the war crimes committed by the Waffen-SS in the "Barbarossa" enterprise, on which there have so far been studies only of the SS brigades. Second, the assessment of the Waffen-SS as a "military elite." For this point in particular, the Würzburg conference provided some important suggestions that will hopefully soon be taken up by researchers.
https://www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/fdkn-122419

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