The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

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sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 14 Oct 2014 05:08

i think the term "ss victory" has to be discussed separately under (1) strategic victory, (2) tactical victory and (3)heroic actions against heavy odds..it must be remembered that the waffen ss came into its own.. as in it flourished at a time when germany had already started losing the war..so the question of strategic victories is rather limited...still their campaigns at kharkov (43) and arnhem (44) may count ? at kharkov, just after the stalingrad debacle, the entire german military viability was at stake.. if the waffen ss had not succeeded at that time.. well.. the russian front may well have collapsed in the central and southern sectors.. at arnhem.. if bittrich's formations had not wiped out the british paras.. and had not been able to hold the line at elst .. south of the rhine.. again.. the war may have taken a different course with monty's forces gate crashing into the ruhr area through the back door and finishing off germany's war industries at one stroke..then they might have just driven into the heartland before christmas..another small but significant waffen ss contribution in this league may be the rescue of mussolini in september 43 from gran sasso by skorzeny's men ( albeit with luftwaffe help).. if not for that coup the course of the war in italy may have been different...as for tactical victories there would be several i am sure? and valiant actions in the face of defeat.. well.. thats what they are best known for .. right? that action at the post office at falaise by sixty 12th ss HJ men trying to buy time for formations to escape the pocket !..waffen ss stay behinds fought like mad in berlin too after the surrender of weidling on 2nd may.. but to put the record straight.. so did heer men at stalingrad for weeks after the surrender by von paulus..

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by JustinYT » 14 Oct 2014 06:14

Hi Rob, yeah I could see how some could see the Falaise gap as a failure, due to the fact that they got pushed into such a pocket, but my view on it is from after they are in the pocket. You would think with the over whelming man power artillery an air power the Allies had that an escape from that pocket shouldnt of happened, so I saw it as a success that they were able to escape, an that the W-SS were able to be a prime factor in holding the gap open for others like those officers to escape.
Yeah I think those numbers of what I've seen 300- your 650 are very wrong, its hard to imagine that a group could loose that amount an be able to be refitted an sent back into combat for the Ardennes offensive, Meyer did not that even though the 12th left Normandy with about 12,000 men that a good portion of them were wounded. The numbers I've seen for the 12th during the Ardennes offensive are much higher than yours, which they came out with 26 tanks and assault guns and about 120 men on average in each Panzergrenadier battalion, an that they lost abot 9,000 men during the battle. So it seems even the numbers for that battle are not concrete

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Oct 2014 10:43

Sandeepmukherjee,

You write, "....Waffen ss stay behinds fought like mad in berlin too after the surrender of weidling on 2nd may."

I have never heard of this. Please tell us more.

Sid

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Oct 2014 11:25

Hi sandeepmukherjee196

My problem with the concept of so-called "Waffen-SS victories" are severalfold.

All Waffen-SS operations were part of wider German Army operations. Usually the Waffen-SS was a minority presence, though on occasion its formations were certainly disproportionally influential. However, I would suggest that the primary reason for this was not any unique quality of "Waffen-SS-edness" but more due to the fact that all the Reich-raised W-SS divisions were always motorized and latterly armoured.

You mention Kharkov. The Waffen-SS armoured corps actually lost Kharkov in the first place (though there was no particular discredit in this), so the successful counter-attack of which its divisions formed the core was to restore the status quo. The reason why the Waffen-SS was available in strength for this operation was that while the Ostheer had been struggling against the Soviets over the winter of 1942-43 and was exhausted, all the senior W-SS divisions had been rebuilding in France on manpower and weaponry largely diverted from the German Army.

At Arnhem a single lightly equipped airborne division landed on the remains of two W-SS armoured divisions. The outcome, while not entirely inevitable, was certainly unsurprising. Again, no particular quality of "Waffen-SS-edness" was either required or evident in achieving this outcome.

The rescue of Mussolini was a Luftwaffe paratroop operation hijacked by Skorzeny, who put its success in jeopardy by insisting on accompanying Mussolini out and thereby overloaded the Fiesler Storch carrying them and nearly caused it to crash. All Skorzeny's successes were as an internal enforcer inside Axis-occupied Europe. The rescue of Mussolini took place from far behind German lines.

One would think that the W-SS were the only Germans conducting valiant rearguards over 1943-45. The whole German armed forces were engaged in such operations. If they are particularly known for it, I would suggest that is largely down to the massive post-war publishing industry devoted to the Waffen-SS, which distorts the historical record by boosting it at the expense of the far larger and more innovative German Army, of which, militarily, the Waffen-SS was little more than a clone.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by JustinYT » 14 Oct 2014 18:02

I have heard of fighting in Berlin after the surrender of the city, but have never heard it was exclusive to W-SS an SS members period, I'm pretty sure it would of been an across the board mixture of German soldiers still fighting. Becoming a POW of the Red Army wasnt exactly a welcomed thing

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Oct 2014 19:59

Rob - wssob2 wrote:Agree with you that there are some pretty wide disparities in the 12th SS manpower strength post Normandy. The lowest figures (e.g. 650 men) are probably for combat troops and exclude service and support troops. The number also probably increased as scattered Hitlerjugend troops managed to regroup. At any rate, by the first week of Sept when the unit was in Germany it was pretty clear the division had lost over 9,000 men in the campaign.

Actually, Hitlerjugend's casaulties were not worse in the Ardennes offensive. Hitlerjugend total casualties for Dec 16-Jan 16 were 577 killed, 1,802 wounded, 755 missing
Rob, the figure of "650" for the 12.-SS at the end of the Normandy campaign originally was a misreading by Max Hastings of a 21st Army Group intelligence report, which was in turn derived from an ULTRA decrypt of a message describing the combat strength of the German Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions at the end of the campaign. It was repeated by Antony Beevor in his rehash of Hastings and so has entered into the legends of the battle. 12. SS actually reported combat losses of 8,572, 369 sick evacuated, and 264 lost to accidents, with 903 wounded and sick still remaining on duty, for the period from 1 January to 31 August 1944. However, the division strength as of 1 June was reported as 20,540, so even excluding any replacements received, so at least 12,238 were remaining "with the division". Mind you, the figures includes all personnel assigned to the division, so included units not actually with the division in Normandy - about 17,000 were actually committed - so overall losses of those committed were about 50%, which is not an insignificant figure.

Cheers!

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 14 Oct 2014 20:07

hi sid..my response to the issues raised by you are as follows: 1) although the 4th panzer army had other heer formations involved near kharkov, it was hausser's ss panzer korps ( + totenkopf) that actually took kharkov with heavy losses..it is particularly commendable since the original manstein - hoth plan was to use the ss korps for encircling kharkov rather than a frontal assault.. this would have delayed the entire operation to the detriment of the overall situation in that sector...however hausser disregarded the directive at great personal peril and responsibility.. he went for the jugular.. and in 4 and 1/2 days of bitter combat took kharkov (11-15 march'43)...this was a tremendous morale booster in the post stalingrad gloomy scenario.. 2) at arnhem the force equation you menton was a canard put out by monty's PR men and the allied press to explain away their disaster.. the facts are : the british 1st airborne was a full strength, elite and properly equipped para formation.. if some of their jeeps failed to arrive that was part of the normal hazards of any airborne operation..the so called " two ss armoured divisions" they were supposed to have landed on were in fact paper formations.. the 9th ss pz div hohenstaufen, commanded by a lt col ( oberstumbnfhr), was on the point of being cannibalised.. ordered to give their remaining beaten up equipment to the 10 th ss pz div, frundsberg and take their remaining men (1500- 2000) back to germany for refitting.. so they had in fact taken the tracks off their remaining few panzers to show them as unserviceable ! so when the british landed.. the 9th was caught with their pants down..to make matters worse.. the 10th ss pz had to defend nijmegen too.. so a kampfgruppe had to leave for the waal bridge and nijmegen.. not to mention the kampfgruppe with around 25 panzers which had already been despatched to the frontline at the dutch border to shore up student's forces.. the total forces available to bittrich at arnhem at that point totalled a full regiment strength of men and just over a company strength of serviceable panzers... to this may be added sturmbnfhrer sepp kraft's training battalion near arnhem of around 435 men,NCOs and officers..later von tettau put together a rag tag force of kriegsmarine shore personnel, luftwaffe ground personnel and sundry depot troops to attack the landing zones.. knaust's kampfgruppe with a strong panzer element joined the battle late.. and that too on the wrong side of the rhine ( south) essentially as a blocking force to stop the british xxx corps from reaching arnhem..bittrich's men ( and their rag tag associate units north of the rhine wiped out the 1st british airborne... punctured monty's hot air balloon of military greatness and demolished the myth around him..they helped hitler and his 3rd reich to breathe for 7 and 1/2 months longer.. led to events that delayed the anglo-american advance significantly and thus helped the russkies reach berlin before the western allies and all that this ensued in the years to come..a strategic victory indeed !

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by seaburn » 14 Oct 2014 20:21

RichTO90 wrote:
Rob - wssob2 wrote:Agree with you that there are some pretty wide disparities in the 12th SS manpower strength post Normandy. The lowest figures (e.g. 650 men) are probably for combat troops and exclude service and support troops.
Rob, the figure of "650" for the 12.-SS at the end of the Normandy campaign originally was a misreading by Max Hastings of a 21st Army Group intelligence report, which was in turn derived from an ULTRA decrypt of a message describing the combat strength of the German Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions at the end of the campaign. It was repeated by Antony Beevor in his rehash of Hastings and so has entered into the legends of the battle. Cheers!

This is what Kurt Meyer said in his interrogation with regard to numbers left in Falaise pocket .

Q. Part of your unit at this time was in the Falaise pocket?

A. All that remained of the troops fit for active fighting was in the Falaise pocket. I then made my way out and had been ordered to re-form my division behind the front. The troops still fit to fight were concentrated under another commander to continue fighting.

Q. How much of your division was lost in Falaise pocket?

A. Not very much was lost because the greater part of the division had already been withdrawn and was on the road east in order to reform. Round about 600 men and some armoured vehicles were all that remained in the Falaise area and a small amount of artillery as well.

Q. Were they small detachments of all units or were they from one unit?

A. No, they were from various units in the division.


(Source:TS26/856-86)

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Oct 2014 21:02

seaburn wrote:This is what Kurt Meyer said in his interrogation with regard to numbers left in Falaise pocket .
I'm not sure what you are arguing? 12. SS incomplete report for the period 15-22 August gives 45 KIA, 248 WIA, and 655 MIA, for a total of 948 battle casualties. For the 11-30 August, the U.S. 90th Infantry Division documented 199 PW from 12. SS, of which 146 were during the period 11-20 August. They documented a total of 1,146 other SS PW during the same period 11-30 August, while II Canadian Corps reported another 206 PW from 12. SS 8-23 August, and another 499 other SS PW.

Hubert Meyer gives rather more details on the breakout battle. The remnants of the division inside the pocket, KG HJ, participated in the breakout attempt along with the remaining elements of 116. Panzer, 2. SS Panzer, and 3. FJD led by Hausser. Those elements outside the pocket were mostly those that had not been committed to Normandy. KG Mohnke was formed using drafts from the FEB to re-establish II./SS-Pz.Gren.Regt. 26 and the rest of the 12. FEB was committed as well, along with elements of the A.A. Those elements appear to be what Kurt Meyer was talking about.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by seaburn » 14 Oct 2014 21:17

I am not arguing anything - I quoted the posts because it was in relation to casualty figures - this is just primarily to add to that, not to argue as these figures are not about the casualty rates for the 12th as a whole in Normandy. This is merely an excerpt from a primary document of the assessment of the Divisional Commander when he was questioned about it. I presumed that forum members may be interested in what he had to say. It's there for anyone to take what they want from it...

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Oct 2014 21:39

seaburn wrote:I am not arguing anything - I quoted the posts because it was in relation to casualty figures - this is just primarily to add to that, not to argue as these figures are not about the casualty rates for the 12th as a whole in Normandy. This is merely an excerpt from a primary document of the assessment of the Divisional Commander when he was questioned about it. I presumed that forum members may be interested in what he had to say. It's there for anyone to take what they want from it...
Oh, sorry, like I said I wasn't sure where you were going with that. Thanks for clarifying. It actually appears as if the majority of those casualties were incurred in the campaign leading up to the Falaise Kessel and - unlike the way Kurt Meyer seems to make it appear - almost all the division was actually trapped in the Kessel except for some convalescents that had returned to duty, elements of the division rear services and the A.A., and other elements that had never been committed to Normandy...maybe 6,000 in all. That appears to be what Meyer is talking about, but the math would indicate that probably on the order of 6,000 or so fought inside the pocket to get out and likely suffered losses of 1,000 or so doing so. On the 21st a report was made that only "300" combat effectives were left in the division, but that seems to have only applied to the remnants that had been inside the pocket, which is reasonable.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 15 Oct 2014 03:37

sid..apropos of your queries about waffen ss stay behinds fighting to the last man in berlin after wiedling's formal surrender i can just give one reference off hand..http://www.history.navy.mil/library/onl ... m....there are several other sources but would need to dig them up friend..yes along with waffen ss there were probably HJ elements too ..but you would agree that the fanaticism and the nihilistic last man..last bullet attitude required to die for a lost cause was usually the preserve of the waffen ss in those last days..they were the ones who enforced the NO Surrender edict and intimidated the other elements who had had enough and were beyond caring..gotta rush to work now sid so would come back to you on mussolini's rescue and the debate on skorzeny vs luftwaffe debate later..thanks..

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by JustinYT » 15 Oct 2014 04:59

In those days members of the German military faced either death fighting or death in the Russian camps, the only choice was die now and take some with you or die a slow death far far from home. Me personally I'd take the first choice, an SS members couldnt loose their uniforms if they wanted since they had to blood mark tattoo which even if they removed it, the scar that was left behind gave them away. If I remember right some of the last attempts to break out of the soviet encirclement was to be bale to reach American lines to surrender to them

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by fuser » 15 Oct 2014 06:55

In those days members of the German military faced either death fighting or death in the Russian camps
This is demonstrably false as death rate in Soviet POW camps were nowhere near 100%.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Oct 2014 11:09

Hi sandeepmukherjee196,

You miss my point.

Every man and weapon possessed by the Waffen-SS was deducted from Army strength. If the remains (as I posted before but you failed to include in your selective partial quote) of two W-SS panzer divisions hadn't been there, it might equally have been the remains of two Army panzer divisions.

The real question is whether there was any particular quality of "Waffen-SSedness" that influenced the outcome at Arnhem.

If so, what was it?

I have been searching for over a decade on AHF and Feldgrau for some indication of military "value added" by creating the W-SS as an independent force, but have failed so far. Perhaps you can identify something.

And if there is no military value added in "Waffen-SSedness", what on earth is the fixation with what is essentially, militarily, a clone of the German Army?

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. Your link regarding fighting continuing in Berlin after the surrender comes up as "link cannot be found" on my screen. Can you copy the relevant part here?

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