Did the Generals know?

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tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 23 Jul 2007 22:48

I can't say for sure that that was the true reason. I don't know the breakdown of units that carried out the order and the units that didn't. It could be that some units NEVER carried out the order, or that the "realisation that it was actively counterproductive" was arrived at from day one by some units.

Either way, it goes some length to illustrate that not all German military personnel were willing to toe the line regarding nazi war making policy.


Tony

nickterry
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Post by nickterry » 23 Jul 2007 23:59

tonyh wrote:I can't say for sure that that was the true reason. I don't know the breakdown of units that carried out the order and the units that didn't. It could be that some units NEVER carried out the order, or that the "realisation that it was actively counterproductive" was arrived at from day one by some units.


The only division that 100% for sure refused to carry out the commissar order from the _outset_ was General von Arnim's 17th Panzer Division. Others may not have done, but some records don't survive thanks to the retreat before Moscow causing various units to burn their war diaries.

Either way, it goes some length to illustrate that not all German military personnel were willing to toe the line regarding nazi war making policy.


No one has claimed otherwise. Stop creating strawmen.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 09:21

tonyh wrote:And as pointed out before...the "Kommissarbefehl" had to be abandoned because it wasn't being carried out.


tonyh wrote:I don't know the breakdown of units that carried out the order and the units that didn't. It could be that some units NEVER carried out the order, or that the "realisation that it was actively counterproductive" was arrived at from day one by some units.


It could also be that some units always carried out the order because they were commanded by bloodthirsty Nazi mutant zombies from the 45th dimension who were sent to the eastern front in Flugscheiben from Neuschwabenland. It could be that the Virgin Mary appeared to some units and asked them to stop killing commissars. Anything could be, it only depends on how far you are willing to go in your suspension of disbelief.

Your contribution to this thread continues to be lamentable and largely pointless. Well, unless one includes as a positive the fact that it got Nick to post some actual information to help you out.

If you don't have anything to add to the topic other than generalisations based on no facts and admitted absence of knowledge, strawmen, and OT diversions, stop wasting everybody's time and let those willing to discuss seriously get on with it.

Thank you.

Andreas

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 24 Jul 2007 10:04

No one has claimed otherwise. Stop creating strawmen.


I wish some people would stop using that stupid phrase about points they don't like to hear. There are no "strawmen" being created anywhere.

Tony

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 10:08

tonyh wrote:Either way, it goes some length to illustrate that not all German military personnel were willing to toe the line regarding nazi war making policy.


In order for this not to be either a strawman or off-topic, somebody here on this thread would have had to claim that all German military personnel were willing to toe the line regarding nazi war making policy. Please show us where somebody has said that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman

Thank you.

Andreas

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 24 Jul 2007 10:08

Your contribution to this thread continues to be lamentable and largely pointless.


What...like this?
It could also be that some units always carried out the order because they were commanded by bloodthirsty Nazi mutant zombies from the 45th dimension who were sent to the eastern front in Flugscheiben from Neuschwabenland. It could be that the Virgin Mary appeared to some units and asked them to stop killing commissars. Anything could be, it only depends on how far you are willing to go in your suspension of disbelief.


Fine double standard Andreas.

Tony

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 10:19

Instead of getting the intent of my post wrong, I think your case would be better served in finding the point in the thread where somebody makes the claims you are so busy refuting tony.

All the best

Andreas

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 24 Jul 2007 10:29

As I have said to you before Andreas, nowhere did I say that anyone here on the thread did anything.

My points from the first post on the thread was about the article linked at the beginning and counter points to other posters points.

If my contribution has been "lamentable" and "largely pointless" ask yourself what your contribution has other than to snipe from the sideline.

Tony

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 10:33

nickterry wrote:
tonyh wrote:I can't say for sure that that was the true reason. I don't know the breakdown of units that carried out the order and the units that didn't. It could be that some units NEVER carried out the order, or that the "realisation that it was actively counterproductive" was arrived at from day one by some units.


The only division that 100% for sure refused to carry out the commissar order from the _outset_ was General von Arnim's 17th Panzer Division. Others may not have done, but some records don't survive thanks to the retreat before Moscow causing various units to burn their war diaries.


I need to check this, but I think that the infantry division in which Meier-Welcker (post-war head of the MGFA) was 1a during Barbarossa may also not have implemented the Kommissar order, according to his "Aufzeichnungen eines Generalstabsoffiziers" - they had an explicit order not to engage in requisitioning without payment, and refer to the action of neighbouring divisions who did that. I'll check that tonight.

I was astonished to read Warlimont's discussion of the gestation of the Kommissarbefehl (for which he was sentenced as a war criminal) in his "Im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht", where he basically tried to discuss it all away. Especially his signature.

The actual text of the order can be found here:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/1941/kommissarbefehl.php

And the first request to do away with it, together with Jodl's note on Hitler's response here:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/1941/komm ... uefung.php

Note that in this request, dated 23.9.41, is explicitly using only one reason, namely the need to remove the incentive to fight to the death.

Von Befehlshabern, Kommandeuren und aus der Truppe wird gemeldet, daß sich eine Lockerung des Kampfwillens auf russischer Seite dadurch erreichen lasse, wenn den Kommissaren, die ohne Zweifel die Hauptträger des erbitterten und verbissenen Widerstandes seien, der Weg zur Aufgabe des Kampfes, zur Übergabe oder zum Überlaufen erleichtert würde.


My translation: Higher commanders, commanders, and troops are reporting that a lessening of the willingness to fight on the Russian side could be achieved if the commissars, who without a doubt are the main support of the strong and relentless resistance, were given a way to give up the fight, to surrender, or to change sides.

Hitler refused the request.

All the best

Andreas

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 10:43

As for what was known, here is an interesting insight from AOK 11, dated 22.7.41 (when Ritter von Greim was CO), dealing on the occasion of a special occurance (Sonderfall) with the behaviour of soldiers observing "Massenhinrichtungen, Ermordung von
Zivilgefangenen, Juden u.a.m" (mass executions, murder of civilian prisoners, Jews, etc):

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/woehler/sonderfall.php

Es ist eine Selbstverständlichkeit für jeden gesund empfindenden Menschen, dass von solchen abscheulichen Ausschreitungen keine fotografischen Aufnahmen angefertigt werden oder über sie in Briefen an die Heimat berichtet wird. Das Anfertigen oder Verbreiten solcher Fotografien oder Berichte über solche Vorgänge werden als ein Untergraben von Anstand und Manneszucht in der Wehrmacht angesehen und streng bestraft. Alle etwa vorhandenen Bilder oder Berichte über solche Ausschreitungen sind zusammen mit den Negativen einzuziehen und unter Angabe des Herstellers oder Verbreiters dem Ic/A.O. der Armee einzusenden.


My translation: It goes without saying for every human of sound feelings that no pictures are made or reports in letters home written about such revolting excesses. The making or distributing of such pictures will be regarded as a weakening of the discipline in the Wehrmacht, and will be severely punished. Any existing pictures or reports are to be taken including negatives, and have to be sent to Ic/A.O. of the Army including the name of the person who made or distributed them.

All the best

Andreas
Last edited by Andreas on 24 Jul 2007 11:03, edited 1 time in total.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 11:01

Here is the text of the so-called Reichenau Befehl from 12.10.41, in which "draconian" measures are ordered to be extended to male civilians who did not interfere with or report partisan activity, i.e. passive bystanders:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/untermens ... #anweisung

Wird im Rücken der Armee Waffengebrauch einzelner Partisanen festgestellt, so ist mit drakonischen Maßnahmen durchzugreifen. Diese sind
auch auf die männliche Bevölkerung auszudehnen, die in der Lage gewesen wäre, Anschläge zu verhindern oder zu melden.


My translation: If behind the back of the Army weapons use of individual partisans is noticed, draconian measures are to be used. These are to extended to the male population who would have been in a position to prevent or report the attacks.

This order was addressed to AOK 11, 17, PzAOK 1, and copied through to commander rear area South, and AOK 6 (the latter without the actual text). Manstein at the time was commander AOK 11.

Has anyone read this book, which looks particularly at the occupation policy of AOK 11 and 17?

Manfred Oldenburg: Ideologie und militärisches Kalkül. Die Besatzungspolitik der Wehrmacht in der Sowjetunion 1942. Köln; Weimar; Wien : Böhlau 2004, 365 S., ISBN 3-412-14503-3, EUR 39,90.

All the best

Andreas

nickterry
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Post by nickterry » 24 Jul 2007 11:15

Andreas wrote:
nickterry wrote:
tonyh wrote:I can't say for sure that that was the true reason. I don't know the breakdown of units that carried out the order and the units that didn't. It could be that some units NEVER carried out the order, or that the "realisation that it was actively counterproductive" was arrived at from day one by some units.


The only division that 100% for sure refused to carry out the commissar order from the _outset_ was General von Arnim's 17th Panzer Division. Others may not have done, but some records don't survive thanks to the retreat before Moscow causing various units to burn their war diaries.


I need to check this, but I think that the infantry division in which Meier-Welcker (post-war head of the MGFA) was 1a during Barbarossa may also not have implemented the Kommissar order, according to his "Aufzeichnungen eines Generalstabsoffiziers" - they had an explicit order not to engage in requisitioning without payment, and refer to the action of neighbouring divisions who did that. I'll check that tonight.


This is also plausible. Note that I am not saying that 144 divisions in the attack formation all carried out the Kommissarbefehl like automata while 1 did not.

The pattern will never be entirely known because Ic activity reports for many divisions were destroyed, and other units wrote up retrospective reports for the quarter, half-year or chronological year (through to mid-1942) and rewrote their actual histories as they were fighting.

I was astonished to read Warlimont's discussion of the gestation of the Kommissarbefehl (for which he was sentenced as a war criminal) in his "Im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht", where he basically tried to discuss it all away. Especially his signature.


Warlimont inserted a commentary into the Case 12 records to be found in Britain. Whether this was also sent out to NARA and other archives I don't know. The signature was in ink and genuine. He was a very concerned little bureaucrat after the war.

The actual text of the order can be found here:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/1941/kommissarbefehl.php

And the first request to do away with it, together with Jodl's note on Hitler's response here:

http://www.ns-archiv.de/krieg/1941/komm ... uefung.php

Note that in this request, dated 23.9.41, is explicitly using only one reason, namely the need to remove the incentive to fight to the death.

Von Befehlshabern, Kommandeuren und aus der Truppe wird gemeldet, daß sich eine Lockerung des Kampfwillens auf russischer Seite dadurch erreichen lasse, wenn den Kommissaren, die ohne Zweifel die Hauptträger des erbitterten und verbissenen Widerstandes seien, der Weg zur Aufgabe des Kampfes, zur Übergabe oder zum Überlaufen erleichtert würde.


My translation: Higher commanders, commanders, and troops are reporting that a lessening of the willingness to fight on the Russian side could be achieved if the commissars, who without a doubt are the main support of the strong and relentless resistance, were given a way to give up the fight, to surrender, or to change sides.

Hitler refused the request.


The request to abolish the order was made first by 2nd Army, which also documented most thoroughly the participation of its infantry divisions in the order.

In all cases, we are talking a couple of hundred executions for the summer of 1941 across an entire army. Participation cannot have been total, since 1000s were executed in the rear areas by the _Wehrmacht_ and at least 40,000 remained undetected even as far back as the Reich, judging by the numbers selected for execution by the SS in the camps during 1941-2.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 11:20

I agree that actual implementation (as opposed to passing through the order) was probably quite spotty. The Reichenau Befehl certainly indicates an unwillingness on the part of the soldiers who were expected to murder people to do so. If every German soldier had been up to expectations, there would have been no need to issue the order.

As an aside, I remember watching a documentary a few years back in which a German tank crew member was interviewed about the advance to Stalingrad. He said they took POW some Russians during the advance when he was in the point section. One of the POW was either an officer or a commissar. They sent them all back. When he looked after them he saw an infantry NCO shoot the officer/commissar in the back. The interviewee was still revolted by this, sixty years later.

All the best

Andreas

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Penn44
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Post by Penn44 » 24 Jul 2007 11:21

nickterry wrote: In all cases, we are talking a couple of hundred executions for the summer of 1941 across an entire army. Participation cannot have been total, since 1000s were executed in the rear areas by the _Wehrmacht_ and at least 40,000 remained undetected even as far back as the Reich, judging by the numbers selected for execution by the SS in the camps during 1941-2.


Under the Kommissarbefehl, the Germans also screened for Jews among Soviet POWs and turned these POWs over to the Einsatzkommandos for "special action." Could some of the 40,000 you cited above been Jewish POWs or was that a separate figure? The Germans screened for Jewish POWs at Division and Army-level POW pens as well as in the Stalags.

Penn44

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Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 11:35

More fundamentally, after reading the Kommissarbefehl it should have been clear to anyone with a passing knowledge of the laws governing the conduct of war (which should be known to General officers), that they were serving a regime that was acting illegally in the pursuit of its goals. Not passing/executing the order can qualify as passive resistance, but it does not remove the knowledge of the fact that the regime was acting criminally in this case, yet the officers continued serving it regardless of their opinion on the legality of the order. For an interesting insight into the mind of an officer (whose journey ended with execution for his role in the 20 July conspiration), one can read the article on the letters of Major-General Stieff here:

http://www.ifz-muenchen.de/heftarchiv/1954_3.pdf

As a direct consequence of this failure to draw the consequences (the right one would presumably have been to resign their commands), the Bundeswehr has an obligation on soldiers to refuse illegal orders, AFAIK.

All the best

Andreas

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