How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

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
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Sep 2019 10:07

Hi Harro,

It was you who posted that you refused to let me drag this topic into a "people who contact Waffen-SS veterans have questionable motives" discussion. The quotation marks are yours.

I then asked, "Could you please enlighten us as to who posted this and where?"

I would suggest that this apparent quote is entirely your invention and that is why you are unwilling to give us the source or offer any other justification for it.

We are therefore left to draw out own conclusions, good or bad, as to your reasons.

The title of this thread is, "How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?" I have explained my limited interactions with them above.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Ivan Ž.
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Ivan Ž. » 09 Sep 2019 10:27

Dear Sid,

You did explain that you had no face-to-face contact with Waffen-SS veterans except once, and yet you keep posting in this thread for some reason. Please let the people who actually had contact with the veterans share their experiences.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Sep 2019 10:43

Hi Ivan Z,

There is absolutely nothing to stop anyone doing so.

I keep posting on this thread because (1) some things require explanation and (2) Harro has decided to embark on the content-free sniping that he has.

I will continue to answer posts, such as yours, as they arise and I will continue to challenge possible misinformation as it arises.

Can you find who wrote, "....people who contact Waffen-SS veterans have questionable motives"? I have traced it back, so far, only to Harro. He refuses to divulge where he got the apparent quote from. It is part of the forum rules that we give sources when challenged. Perhaps you have more influence with him and can get an explanation?

Harro's complaint is a complete fabrication, as I detailed earlier to him:

"I suspect you are referring to this that I posted earlier, "The only reason to seek out W-SS veterans rather than Army veterans is if one is particularly interested in their ideological motivations (if any) for the Reich-born W-SS men and the nationalist motivations of the Freiwillige W-SS "volunteers" of other nationalities."

If so, these are not questionable motives. They are good reasons to look at the W-SS rather than the German Army, because they are what distinguishes the two. Militarily, W-SS divisions were otherwise pretty much clones of their Army equivalents and their combat experiences pretty much identical.
"

Cheers,

Sid.

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Ivan Ž.
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Ivan Ž. » 09 Sep 2019 11:03

Dear Sid,

Not that it's relevant to the topic, but member Harro (Timo) was obviously referring to your first post and the being "on side", "inherently receptive" and similar suggestive remarks. He never quoted anyone when putting quotation marks around "people who contact Waffen-SS veterans have questionable motives", but was referring to a type of off-topic discussion, as he wrote. Please let's get back on the topic now.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Sep 2019 11:27

Hi Ivan Z,

I think you are probably right, which is why I wrote "apparent quote" to both him and you.

Had he written what you have, as an explanation, the quotation issue would not have arisen.

So, over to you Harro, was that what you meant?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Harro » 09 Sep 2019 17:56

Sid Guttridge wrote:
31 Aug 2019 14:13
The only reason to seek out W-SS veterans rather than Army veterans is if one is particularly interested in their ideological motivations (if any) for the Reich-born W-SS men and the nationalist motivations of the Freiwillige W-SS "volunteers" of other nationalities.
The topic is "how do you see Waffen-SS veterans?" and AFAIK not what blanket statement can you make about people who knew Waffen-SS veterans". I tried to point out my motives for interviewing them but to no avail.

Hence...
Harro wrote:
07 Sep 2019 12:02
Unless an admin renames this topic "Why the Waffen-SS? 2.0" its over and out
You're now on my ignore list

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by lartiste » 09 Sep 2019 19:42

The problem of Sid and new coming members is, that you are trying to answer your questions using optics of 2019 instead of e.g. early nineties, eighties etc.

I am coming from former communist country. Until 1989 it was well known in the country I am coming from, that there were evil SS, organized in three branches - KZ, kind of police (GESTAPO) and army. Available small volume of literature only about crimes against our people, therefore very limited and members of all branches were named “nazis” so difficult to distinguish. After fall of communism in early nineties war literature mainly about air war, including memoirs of aces from all sides. Nearly nothing on ground war and until 1994 nothing on Waffen SS. That’s it.

And remember that after fall of communism it was interesting to get known the evil communists hates and were afraid of. But in pre-internet years it was very difficult to find out any information even information that there is any book about W-SS in any language. So how to begin? Contact Waffen SS veterans was logical way.

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Sarge3525 » 10 Sep 2019 17:42

If you actually go to Germany or grew up in a German family, many grandpas/greatgrandpas are Waffen SS vets.
There is no difference between them and Army vets. Usually scarred by war, don't like talking about the war (though some do depending on experience). Also it's not because he is a Waffen SS that he is necessarily more National Socialist. An Army/Navy/Luftwaffe vet might be even more Nationalist, or even a Third Reich civilian.

People need to realise that Waffen SS vet was a combat soldier like any other, and stop spitting on them and treating them like they are lower than human monsters or something. If the war had been won for Germany they would be considered heroes and treated like America's greatest generation.

Now if you are talking to SS-TV or actual ex NSDAP members that's a different story.

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Ivan Ž.
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Ivan Ž. » 10 Sep 2019 18:43

A Waffen-SS veteran was far from a combat soldier like any other. That's exactly the nonsense that Waffen-SS veterans tried to spread around through their HIAG organisation, and individually. And they did succeed in it, to an extent. Luckily, for history's sake, there's more and more evidence about what these troops truly were, about their involvement in the Holocaust and numerous war crimes. Needless to say that not all soldiers committed war crimes - and needless to say that those who did denied it after the war (and, of course, those recruited at the end of the war had different experiences than those recruited earlier). But they all belonged to the same, nasty, anti-Semitic organisation called the SS, all of whose branches worked for the very same cause. Waffen-SS troops aso participated in the Holocaust, just like the SS-TV troops - only in the field instead of camps - and SS-TV officers (including camp commanders) often commanded the Waffen-SS troops. So, no, they weren't the same as other troops. (Note: some of the other German troops - for example, Heer - also committed brutal war crimes and occasionally participated in the Holocaust, but not to the same extent as the SS.)

See also these rare examples of honest SS veterans' statements that Timo (Harro) shared, regarding them not being the same as any other soldier: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=243715&start=30#p2221109

Ivan

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Harro » 10 Sep 2019 20:32

Sarge3525 wrote:
10 Sep 2019 17:42
People need to realise that Waffen SS vet was a combat soldier like any other
"Under the Sigrunen [we] belonged to Himmler’s ‘Ordensgemeinschaft’ (religious order) which had been the decisive force behind the racial madness and the imperialistic ‘Germano-mania’ of the Third Reich. Unfortunately we were more than Hausser’s ‘Soldaten wie anderen auch"
- Rolf Diercks (Das Reich)

That was how the late SS-Haupsturmführer Rolf Diercks looked back at his service in the Waffen-SS after the war. He wholeheartedly disagreed with SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hausser who vigorously sought to rehabilitate the Waffen-SS after the war. In his 1966 book ‘Soldaten wie anderen auch’ (soldiers like any other) Hausser pictured the Waffen-SS as an honourable band of frontline fighters and categorically denied that it had taken part in war crimes. But as a NAPOLA student and SS-Junkerschule graduate, Diercks fully understood that the SS was ideologically driven and that this set it apart from its army counterpart. In his eyes those who had joined the SS before the war could not hide behind the often perpetuated excuse that they had only joined the SS to defend the western world against communism. The Waffen-SS was the result of a vitriolic anti-communist and anti-Semitic ideology and its pseudo-scientific theories about the Aryan ‘Herrenvolk’ (master race) with its claim on a Greater German ‘Lebensraum’ at the expense of the people referred to as ‘Untermenschen’ (inferior people) or ‘the masses from the East’: the Slavs, Jews and Roma. He also said that not even those who did jin during the war could hide behind that excuse and should have realised immediately after the war that they had fought for an evil regime. He commented in one of his letters that he had distanced himself from the veterans organisations because he found them not critcal enough about their past which he described as a political "Irrweg" (wrong track). His contacts were limited to three NAPOLA comrades - Gerd Bremer, Hans Meyer and Hermann Buch - but even with them he disagreed about how to assess their past.

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Sep 2019 10:19

Hi Sarge 3525,

You post, "People need to realise that Waffen SS vet was a combat soldier like any other.....".

1) Assuming the W-SS soldier "was a combat soldier like any other", this leads to the question why we should be paying more attention to them than to the far more numerous Army veterans who underwent exactly the same combat experiences? It clearly can't be because the W-SS men had a unique military experience, or were a military elite, if they were "combat soldiers like any other". What made them unique, in the case of the Reich-raised W-SS, was ideological, and in the case of the foreign divisions usually nationalism. Both are legitimate reasons to study them rather than the Army.

2) You post, "People need to stop spitting on them and treating them like they are lower than human monsters......" Well, leaving aside their organization's demonstrably higher propensity to be accused of war crimes, I would suggest that they were treated very fairly by the war crimes trials, which stipulated that, while the SS as a whole was a criminal organization, mere membership wasn't a crime. A W-SS man was only deemed responsible for specific crimes he may have committed himself. Only a small minority of them fell into this category. And no-one here is currently "spitting on them and treating them like they are lower than human monsters".

2) You post, "If the war had been won for Germany they would be considered heroes and treated like America's greatest generation." And your point is what? That this would morally absolve the W-SS of any war crimes? Besides, if Germany had won the war by the end of 1941, the W-SS would have played no indispensible role in it.

3) You post, "Now if you are talking to SS-TV or actual ex NSDAP members that's a different story." Well, no it isn't. The W-SS was the Nazi Party in arms and the overwhelming majority of its senior officers were party members. Even where they weren't, they were ideological fellow-travellers who had chosen in favour of service in the W-SS rather than the Army. Furthermore, political indoctrination was allocated the highest number of hours on officer courses, equalled only by tactical training!

Nor was there any firewall between the SS in the camps and the W-SS. Every single W-SS division, barring three short-lived and incomplete late war creations, are known to have contained officers who had served in the camps. Furthermore, there was a regular rotation of manpower between the camps and the W-SS. For example, thousands of Auschwitz guards served in the W-SS and a third of the Einsatzgruppen that killed hundreds of thousands of Jews and others in late 1941 were, by order, made up of W-SS recruits.

However, it is entirely fair to say that the great majority of W-SS men, most of whom were only notionally volunteers, or simple conscripts, almost certainly never took part in any war crime. Indeed, it is likely that most of them never killed anyone in combat either, as most of the casualties they suffered and inflicted were probably due to indirect fire weapons such as artillery.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Cult Icon » 13 Sep 2019 00:58

do any of you who interviewed SS veterans see their wartime plus post war activities rich with potential lessons on the human condition and its contradictions or not?

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Yuri
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Yuri » 13 Sep 2019 11:34

Peter89 wrote:
19 Aug 2019 08:19
One grandfather of mine was a Waffen-SS veteran. But even that is an overstatement, because he was conscripted as an ethnic German in Hungary, and pressed into service at the later stages of war.
In that case, your grandfather was granted German citizenship (see: article I., paragraph 2., Erlass des Führers vom 19.5.1943).
43-05-19_Erlass_des_Fuhreres.jpg
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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by offizier1916 » 14 Sep 2019 19:57

@Harro: i wonder if your (former) interview partners know what you truly think about them personally.

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Re: How do you see Waffen-SS veterans?

Post by Harro » 15 Sep 2019 08:07

I wrote...
Harro wrote:
16 Aug 2019 19:17
Certainly no stupid question. For me talking with veterans was usually a mixed experience ranging from extremely helpful veterans to very reserved. Some talked for hours and hours during meetings, on the phone or in extensive correspondence, others answered a few letters or calls, others remained silent. Some were still ardent believers, most of them quite neutral and focused on military aspects, some repentant (whether genuine or not is difficult to say), apart from one veteran all stuck to the common SS version of what happened at Malmédy and in and around Stavelot. Respect: yes, certainly (apart from one or two). Admiration: in general, no, apart from one or two. Some remained very formal, some were very warm personalities but I would not go as far as call any of them a friend and I never addressed them by their first name, not during meetings, not during long hours on the phone. Not sure if this was the age difference or me distancing myself a bit. Probably a combination. It sometimes felt uneasy but the fast majority of the conversations - in person and on the phone - were very pleasant.
Wonder what triggered your question and wonder why it would matter whether or not they knew.

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