Atrocities of 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend"

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LV
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Atrocities of 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend"

Post by LV » 12 Oct 2006 17:37

According to the evidence in presented in Meyers book Grenadiers (Grenadiere) there were two cases of Allied prisoners being shot in Normandy by SS-Hitlerjugend (a couple of Canadian prisoners somewhere near Caen and some seven others near a regimental command post in a monastery). It was clear that Meyer knew nothing of these shootings. Still however, the Internet is full of wild stories of "sadistic and fanatical young nazis" of the division cold bloodedly murdering allied prisoners in the most gruesome methods. After the war there were many writings even in the Canadian press for the release of the unjustly imprisoned SS-Oberführer Meyer.

It is clear that all nations who participated in the war committed atrocities (even countries with a good reputation in this sense such as Finland). But what was the true extent of crimes of the 12th SS-Armored Division?

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Post by Reader3000 » 12 Oct 2006 18:18

The young men of the 12. SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend", being trained during the rather long period of summer 1943 until spring (May) 1944, saw their first action in Normandy against the Western Allies - the British/Canadian troops in the Caen sector.

There they obviously shot some Canadian prisoners of war, some were shot by the German initiative, some were shot due to "revenge" because the opponent shot some German lads of this Division before.
These cases of shooting allied Pows took place at the Ancien Abbaye d'Ardenne, near Rots and near Norrey-en-Bessin, all in early June 1944.
Meyer had the military responsibility for the case of the Ardenne abby, because it was done by some men of his SS-PzGrenRgt. 25.
There took an investigation place to find and trial the murderers of Meyer's regiment, but then he had to take over the Division from Witt on 14th June, because Witt was killed. Meyer then didn't make more steps towards identification and clearing up the murder.

The other responsible officer was Wilhelm Mohnke, Kdr. of SS-PzGrenRgt. 26, because the murder of Norrey took place in his sector of the front. He was never tried or charged for it and it seems that he didn't even tried to search the murderer among his unit.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask and I'll see what I can do for you.

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Re: Atrocities of 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend&

Post by Harro » 12 Oct 2006 18:50

LV wrote:It was clear that Meyer knew nothing of these shootings. [...] the unjustly imprisoned SS-Oberführer Meyer.

Depends on what you call injust. As their commanding officer Meyer was responsible for the conduct and misconduct of his men.

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Post by Reader3000 » 12 Oct 2006 18:59

Indeed, Timo, that's what I forgot in my first posting here. Meyer was imprisoned because he was responsible as the military leader. There were these murders of POWs, no doubt.
In addition, there is the argument that the Canadians made the trial be a political issue, too. They also wanted to have a war criminal to convict.

In his book "Grenadiere", Meyer presents his view on the trial and does not mention that there was this investigation to find the murderers from his unit.

But there's no doubt at all that Meyer was the responsible man in militarty point of view for the murders, because he was the commanding officer and the shootings took place in his sector and were comitted by men who were subordinated to him.

Further on I suggest to read:
1. Craig Luther's "Blood and Honour", Bender publishing from the late 80s
2. Tony Foster's "Meeting of Generals".
3. if you read German - Kurt Meyer "Geweint wird, wenn der Kopf ab ist. Annäherungen an meinen Vater "Panzermeyer", Generalmajor der Waffen-SS". Written by "Panzermeyer"'s son - very critical, but it helps to understand how Meyer acted as a character.

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Post by Andreas » 12 Oct 2006 19:46

I am moving this to the correct forum.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Reader3000 » 12 Oct 2006 21:21

You could also read this useful thread: viewtopic.php?t=14359
All the best.

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Post by Penn44 » 12 Oct 2006 22:42

Recommend you also consult Howard Margolian's Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy.

Penn44

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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 13 Oct 2006 03:03

Don't forget the reprisal executions by the 12th SS at Ascq. See

viewtopic.php?t=52242

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Re: Atrocities of 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend&

Post by LV » 13 Oct 2006 13:49

Timo Worst wrote:Depends on what you call injust. As their commanding officer Meyer was responsible for the conduct and misconduct of his men.


Well, if a commander is responsible for all the individual actions of his men that he has not ordered nor is aware of them, then the allies would as well had very few senior officers left.

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Post by LV » 13 Oct 2006 14:15

Penn44 wrote:Recommend you also consult Howard Margolian's Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy.

Penn44


I don't have the book, but what I could tell from the few pages that can be viewed at amazon.com, it seemed that the author is determined to provide the reader with a picture of a satanic horde of nazi punks bound for the most bestial atrocities. Anyway, it's better for me to not comment on that book since I've not read it.

If the evidence is so convincing, I wonder why wasn't Meyer condemned of like 100 murders and hanged immediately? Back then the evidence must have been fresh and many, especially allied, witnesses available. I think that there would have been tens of Canadian soldiers eagerly witnessing to have seen dozens of their comrades tortured and wildly executed. I'm not trying to say that the Germans didn't shoot any prisoners, but it's just odd that now somebody comes up with a story to which nobody before, even the Canadians back in the 1940's, didn't resort to.

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Post by gunslinger » 13 Oct 2006 21:55

Penn44 wrote:
Recommend you also consult Howard Margolian's Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy.



How can you recommend this?

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Post by Roger Griffiths » 13 Oct 2006 21:55

12SSPD got the name of 'the murder division' in the German Army in Normandy. This however needs clarification. It was made up of rank and file brought up during the Third Reich. The perception was that it would thus be an elite Nazi formation. Gottlob Berger, head of Waffen SS recruitment wanted to command it. Himmler, disallowed this as Berger's talents lay in organization. It was elite but for other standard reasons. No atrocities ocurred for some weeks. Then an order came from ISS Panzerkorps 'You're taking too many prisoners'. This is the sort of order that could be issued in any army. Meyer was put on trial for his life by the British post war. He made such a good impression that he escaped.

The Canadians were loath to take prisoners. It is said that German prisoners captured by American Forces only had a 50/50 chance of surving capture. My mothers brother, a tank commander in N. Africa told me that if a big battle was going on, it was customary to shoot prisoners rather than detach soldiers to guard prisoners.

Roger

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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 03:19

gunslinger wrote:
Penn44 wrote:
Recommend you also consult Howard Margolian's Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy.



How can you recommend this?


Margolian served as a former war crimes investigator for the Canadian Dept of Justice for seven years. The book covers the alleged crimes, the Canadian investigation, and subsequent trials. The book is extensively researched using archival resources and is well referenced.

Penn44

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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 04:02

LV wrote:
Timo Worst wrote:Depends on what you call injust. As their commanding officer Meyer was responsible for the conduct and misconduct of his men.


Well, if a commander is responsible for all the individual actions of his men that he has not ordered nor is aware of them, then the allies would as well had very few senior officers left.


Can you offer any evidence to support your shotgun blast of accusations against Allied generals other than offering us an opinion post? Please provide specific examples, and then perhaps we can discuss the issue.

Under the concept of command responsibility every commander has a positive responsibility to control his troops. The commander must take all reasonable and appropriate measures to create an environment within his command to encourage his soldiers to not commit war crimes, for example, the commander can issue a strongly worded policy statement to his soldiers that he will not tolerate war crimes within his command and that he will punish all those who commit such crimes. The commander has an obligation to know what his troops are doing as permitted by the limitations of the battlefield. When a crime is alleged, the commander has an obligation to investigate the allege crime, and if necessary, discipline the offenders, and ensure that further crimes do not occur.

The above is not far-fetched. Some German commanders attempted to create a discipline climate within their commands, for example, on 25 June 1941, the commander of XLVII Panzer Corps issued the following order:

I have observed that senseless shootings of both POWs and civilians have taken place. A Russian soldier who has been taken prisoner while wearing a uniform, and after he had put up a brave fight, has the right to decent treatment.


Source: Omer Bartov, Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich, p. 85

In mid-July 1941, "the 12th Infantry [Division] urged its troops to understand that 'bumping off' [Umlegen] Russians who had taken prisoner is unworthy of German soldiers."

Source: Omer Bartov, Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich, p. 84

Unfortunately, the Panzer Corps commander and the commander of the 12th Infantry Division were swimming against the current. However, their orders represent examples of positive actions taken by commanders to control their troops.

Penn44


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Post by Penn44 » 14 Oct 2006 04:14

LV wrote:
Penn44 wrote:Recommend you also consult Howard Margolian's Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy.

Penn44


I don't have the book, but what I could tell from the few pages that can be viewed at amazon.com, it seemed that the author is determined to provide the reader with a picture of a satanic horde of nazi punks bound for the most bestial atrocities. Anyway, it's better for me to not comment on that book since I've not read it.


LV:

I recommend you go ahead and buy the book, or if they have anything like inter-library loan in Finland, ask your local library get get the book for you. Margolian is incensed not only over the murders, but also over what he describes as the Canadian government's reluctance or inability to adequately pursue the investigation into the crimes, locate the alleged offenders, and adequately punish the guilty.

Penn44

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