Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

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thomas.ham
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Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby thomas.ham » 14 Jul 2008 22:14

Can anyone shed some light on the circumstances around Kurt Meyer's or Max Wünsche's capture?
Information on these events is somewhat elusive.
Thanks
Tom.

Georges JEROME
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Georges JEROME » 14 Jul 2008 23:29

on september 6 1944, just back from HQ of Siebken, Meyer car and escort convoy was in contact with US tanks at Durnal (not far Namur in Belgium) .
trying to escape, he was hidden in a farm where he was captured by belgian resistance. Then he fall in hands of us troops during their progression.

georges

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Harro
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Harro » 15 Jul 2008 02:45

After the near fatal confrontation with the American Task Force "King" (3rd Armoured Division) at the crossroads in Spontin (his vehicles had been surprised by tanks from 33rd Armoured Regiment and infantry from 36th Armoured Infantry Regiment), Kurt Meyer planned to re-establish contact with the Division. But first he and his driver, Unterscharführer Max Bornhöft, had to avoid being captured. This was a close to impossible task, in an enemy village with the Americans nearby, and they decide to hide in a chicken barn and to wait until after dark. Meanwhile the Belgians are searching the village for Germans and it didn't take long before the farmer, Pallud gives his name as Calixte Tasiaux (After the Battle Magazine, Dutch edition no. 98, page 49), wondering why his chickens refused to enter the barn, found the hiding SS men.
Meyer writes in his book "Grenadiers" (English edition, page 175):
"(...) being curious, the farmer sticks his head into the barn. He should not have done that because, before he can open his mouth, he finds himself sitting on an old barrel in the darkest corner. (...) Now we are in a mess. The situation has become more complicated as we will probably be joined by the farmer's wife. We decide to release the old man. He promises to keep his mouth shut (...)"
It is approximately 18.30 hr. Meyer and Bornhöft fear that the farmer probably would break his promise and they decide to move on. They jump over a wall and proceed through the village in search for a way out. After merely 50m, a neighbour of the farmer spots them as they try to pass his back yard. He immediately informs the Rijkswacht (Belgian police) that he saw two fleeing Germans run in the direction of the village church. Two Rijkswachters, Pallud gives their names as Demazy and Tilmant, are ordered to the church and when they arrive at the church they see the two Germans. Demazy orders them to freeze, but Meyer and Bornhöft hide behind tombstones in the graveyard. Both the police and the Germans fired a few shots.
Meyer writes:
"(...) The police take cover in a fraction of a second. I must get away! Anything to escape! I run to the southern edge of the cemetery and again find myself looking down the muzzle of a carabine. Its owner is disappearing into a doorway when I run directly towards him threatening him with my pistol. We are surrounded. The old man has alerted everybody. I jump over the cemetery wall landing in the Village Street, which is some metres lower. Max gasps behind me."
Meyer blames the old farmer for this situation. He seems unaware of the fact that he was spotted by the old man's neighbour. Alarmed by the gunfire, several civilians gather near the church. Two of them, Marcel Bertholet and Alphonse Gerson, are armed with a rifle which they took from a German deserter.
After some time Meyer and Bornhöft are sighted again in a garden near the Rue du Bouchat.
Gerson states:
"I reached the street and saw one of the Germans at a distance of about 30m. I aimed and fired"
Meyer:
"I hear a scream from Max. I turn and fire a couple of shots. Max is lying in the road shot. (...) I turn to the way out of the village and just in time see two more partisans guarding it. Where can I hide? I see a small door only held in place by a large stone, I take cover behind it unnoticed."
The Chief of the Spontin Rijkswacht, François Demlenne arrives, dressed as a civilian because he was off duty that day. He immediately organises the search for the Germans. About ten Belgians, Rijkswacht and civilians, start searching the houses, gardens and backyards of Spontin.
Meyer in "Grenadiers":
"(...) I sit in the corner of a stable in complete exhaustion peering through the cracks in the door. The partisans appear in a few moments running excitedly up and down the road searching every bush, My disappearance can not be explained and they start blaming each other.(...)"
At that moment one of the Belgians noticed that the door of the shed in the Rue du Bouchat was closed. Normally this door was always open and Demlenne, the Chief of police, positioned himself several metres in front of the shed, with his men in a half circle. Rijkswachter Tilmant was present, as were Fernand Paye, Georges Hubot, Marcel Bertholet, Alphonse Gerson and Max, Demlenne's youngest son. Meyer saw them through the cracks in the door:
"(...)In a loud voice one of the partisans demands that I leave my hiding place and surrender. He promises to hand me over to the Americans and to respect the "laws of war". I do not respond to his request."
It was Demlenne who ordered him to come out.
Meyer continues:
"My pistol seems to become heavier and heavier in my hand. At one time we swore that we would never be captured alive. The grim experiences in Russia made us do that. The time has come! There is a bullet in the chamber and a last one in the magazine. Should I fulfil my oath? Was it only valid on the Eastern Front? Aren't these completely different circumstances? Minutes pass. I look at my pistol again and again. I think of my family and the unborn child. It is difficult, very difficult to take the decision."
Demlenne orders Gerson to fire a shot through the door but there's still no reaction. Demlenne then shouts in German that they would throw handgranates into the shed (which they don't have) and now Meyer shouts Ja.Ich bin da! (Yes, I am here!) Demlenne continues in German and orders him to come out with his hands in the air.
Meyer, who realized that the young boy is the son of the leader of the group, writes:
"(...)Two more shots splinter the door and force me further into the corner. I call out to the father, 'my gun is aimed at your boy! Do you keep your promise?' At once he pulls the boy to him and repeats his promise to treat me correctly. It is over. A counter attack by my comrades is my only hope. I throw the pistol's magazine into one corner and the pistol into the other. What a pitiful feeling is created by being taken prisoner!"
Meyer comes out. Demlenne recalled Meyer as a tall man with the Knights Cross around his neck, who saluted and said 'Ich bin ein General' (I am a general). 'You are my prisoner', Demlenne replied. Meyer again asked him to give his word that he would not kill him. 'You have my word', Demlenne said. 'Are you an officer?', Meyer asked. 'No'. 'Then who are you?' ' You will know when we've handed you over to the Americans'. Pallud reconstructed this conversation from the recollections of the Belgians who were involved. Meyer and Bornhöfer, who had a leg wound, were then brought to the Spontin police station, were Bornhöfer wounds were looked after by the village doctor, dr. Louis Kaux.

When he was handed over to the Americans the next day, they were under fire of men from Meyer's HJ Division. Hubert Meyer, Kurt Meyer's adjutant, had organised a search party (two le. PSW's) which had reached Spontin in the early morning of the 7th. The cars were forced to turn around when they encountered enemy fire. However, two SS men reached Spontin later that morning and found out that the Americans captured two Germans, one of them with an award around his neck. At noon American tanks reached Spontin. The accompanying infantry soon reached Meyer's prison, which lay under fire of the SS. An American pushed Meyer into a garden to shoot him, but when he aimed his rifle, an American lieutenant intervened. He put Meyer on the mudguard of his Jeep and, after they had left Spontin, handed him over to a supply column, which was moving some 60 German POW's to Namur. When they reached the Namur city prison in the Boulevard du Nord, a crowd immediately surrounded the SS prisoners, who could be recognised by their uniforms (note that Meyer still had his Waffen-SS generals uniform at this time). Within seconds the mob killed Bornhöft but then the Americans manage to reach the police station in the Rue de l'Arsenal. According to Meyer 20 Germans were killed that day ("Grenadiere", page 179). He writes:
"A partisan group is beating a group of soldiers. On my question, 'what is the matter? Why this brawling?', the sergeant tells me that they are sorting out the Waffen-SS and paratroopers and will then kill them! Then shots ring out across the yard, and about 20 German soldiers are murdered on 7th November 1944 in Namur."
This is when Meyer decides that it is time to get rid of his paybook and SS uniform. He is taken to the prison hospital because of a possible skull fracture, where a novice priest tells him that SS men and paratroopers are shot at once:
"(...) The camouflage jacket seems to be known to (the partisans) and identifies me as a member of the Waffen-SS. It is high time for me to get rid of my treacherous paybook. But how? These fellows watch me like hawks. At the last minute I ask the nurse to let me relieve myself. After a short hesitation she gives me permission and I stagger a few doors on. One of the partisans accompanies me. The paybook disappears with lightning speed. I realise too late that the pipes are broken and that my identification will only be delayed for a few hours. The doctor decides I should be put to bed first and X-rayed later. (...) My filthy jacket is taken from me by the partisans and I watch them going through my pockets looking for my papers. Will I be as lucky in the future? I am asked where my paybook is. It all now depends on how convincing my reply is. I open my eyes and respond in a firm voice 'Americans'. For a fraction of a second I dare not breathe. Then I see my guards satisfied with my response."
After two weeks in hospital he is transported to Reims and then to a POW camp near Compiègne.

thomas.ham
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby thomas.ham » 15 Jul 2008 12:32

Thanks for that, very interesting!!
So where do the reports and picture of Meyer being in a Heer Oberst's uniform come from?

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Ste » 15 Jul 2008 14:08

On the night of 20th Wunsche,with Hstuf Isecke (adjutant), Ustuf Freitag and a wounded medical officer where travelling by foot to escape from the Falaise gap. The medical officer was taken prisoner when they encountered an enemy outpost and Wunsche was wounded in the calf (If I remember well,he also had a dislocation of the left shoulder). Hstuf Isecke was captured on 24th after became separated from the other two.
Wunsche and Freitag were captured on the 25th after that they find a german truck and drive trought St.Lambert (yet occupied by the Canadians) and captured while they were waiting for the darkness hidden by some bushes

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Marc Rikmenspoel » 15 Jul 2008 18:54

Yes, thanks for the detailed description of Meyer's capture. As to the Heer uniform, I believe the Americans put him in it, to make it easier to transport Meyer past Belgian mobs that wanted to kill him. He was a General, and they wanted to keep him alive for interrogation, since he could likely provide a great deal of useful information.

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Ste » 15 Jul 2008 20:42

Why they kill the paratroopers?I could image why people hated the SS, but why they want to kill also the paratroopers?Because they were "elite" troops?

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Parsifal » 16 Jul 2008 00:22

Great reading. Thanks for posting the excerpts.

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Harro
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Harro » 16 Jul 2008 04:13

Ste wrote:Why they kill the paratroopers?I could image why people hated the SS, but why they want to kill also the paratroopers?Because they were "elite" troops?

Because of their camo smocks and uniforms they were mistaken for SS soldiers.

Ste
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Ste » 16 Jul 2008 10:59

I understand...like for the Heer panzer crews, that due to the black uniform where wrongly considered SS troops and killed...when just looking at the collar of the uniform could differentiate from SS,Heer panzer crew and Fallschirmjager.

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby andrek » 22 Jul 2008 14:35

When was Wünsche abused so terrible by the americans that he hated them for the rest of his life?

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby alecu » 22 Jul 2008 15:33

Nice testimony on Allied prisoner handling.

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Georg_S » 22 Jul 2008 19:53

andrek wrote:When was Wünsche abused so terrible by the americans that he hated them for the rest of his life?


According to H Meyers book about the 12 SS-Pz.Div. Wünsche was captured by the british, and was the day after his capture (which he was held in a animalcage, half sunk into water) brought infront of Fieldmarshal Montgomery, who told Wünsche that the british treated all soldiers according to the Geneve Conve. but not the SS who where political scum and worms. During his and the other two escape from the falaise pocket they took away all awards and insignia that indicated that they where officers and members of the SS. I Wonder if his awards still is buried somewhere in Falaise, unfortunately is he dead since 1995 so we´ll never get an answer on that.

Later he meet K Meyer when he was brought to the same POW camp in England.

According to D Irving and his book about Hitler , did Hitler try to exchange some Allied officers in return of Max Wünsche, but as we all know that never happened and if it´s is unknown to me, just because that the only source of that comes from D Irving.

Best regards,

Georg

thomas.ham
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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby thomas.ham » 30 Jul 2008 19:20

Do we know the exact location of Wunsche's capture?
Tom

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Re: Kurt Meyer's and Max Wünsche's capture.

Postby Rob - wssob2 » 26 Feb 2009 17:23

Can anyone shed some light on the circumstances around Kurt Meyer's or Max Wünsche's capture?


Kurt Meyer was captured hiding in a chicken coop by Belgian partisans, who then transferred him to US custody.

He was not wearing a SS uniform; he was captured disguised in a heer uniform by the Belgian irregulars. US forces did not know who he was.

Upon transfer, at least one of the GIs tried to take Meyer's medals. Meyer, in an understandable albeit stupid move given the circumstances, resisted handing the medals over.

The GI smashes Meyer's skull with the butt of his M-1 rifle.

Meyer then spent weeks in a POW hospital with a fractured skull.

Great reading. Thanks for posting the excerpts.


There are few war memoirs as self-serving and loose with the truth as Meyer's Grenadiers.
IMHO it's worthless as a historical source.

Nice testimony on Allied prisoner handling.


It was occasionally brutal, but certainly better than what SS forces did while retreating. On multiple occasions, LSSAH, 12th and 17th SS troops would arbitrarily execute civilians as they retreated from Normandy.

As to the Heer uniform, I believe the Americans put him in it, to make it easier to transport Meyer past Belgian mobs that wanted to kill him. He was a General, and they wanted to keep him alive for interrogation, since he could likely provide a great deal of useful information.


Marc, completely incorrect. After recuperating from his wound received during capture, Meyer was in a regular POW pen in the UK. The Allies still didn't know who he really was.

It wasn't until Nov 18, 1944, when a fellow POW ratted him out as an SS officer, that Meyer was unmasked and taken to the London District Cage as a high-profile prisoner.

In the late spring of 1945,Canadian Lt. Col. MacDonald, in charge of the investigation of the murder of 12thSS prisoners, begain to question Meyer for his role in the murders.


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