How political was the Wehrmacht?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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How political was the Wehrmacht?

Post by Sieger » 18 Jan 2003 04:37

My impression of the soldiers and officers of the Heer was that they were apolitical, they fought not because of Hitler but for fatherland and believed that what they did was the right thing to do(to avoid controversy lets not count the atrocities in this statement). I read a significant portion of the memoirs of Col. Hans von Luck's Panzer Commander (he served under Field Marshall Rommel), he seems to describe Hitler as somone who was out there (as in somebody who was distant from him, maybe due to a complete lack of understanding of who Hitler was).

My impression of the German military is that if a soldier joins believing in Hitler and his idea he clearly is Nazi supporter but once in the military any attempt to politicize is not successful so he stays the way he is (Nazi supporter) until he becomes disillusioned. Some generals supported Hitler (Alfred Jodl) but most Generals didn't really believe in Hitler but merely went along especially after the spectacular success early in the War.

Hitler didn't inderstand the Navy because he wasn't a Navy man himself so the Kriegsmarine happened to have had little bit more of a free hand.

The luftwaffe despite having a Hitler butt kisser in Goering seems to have been just as apolitical as the Heer.

Not even the Waffen SS seems to have been that politicized. Only the security force part(concentration camps, police,etc...) have been politicized and indoctrinated in Nazi ideology.

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Post by historystudent » 18 Jan 2003 05:02

i am reading "plotting the death of hitler" and it appears that the wehrmact indeed had an historic place in politics. (reichschwer). german and especially prussian caste officers apprently did want to control political events. but from behind the scenes.

in fact, many were very disgusted by hitler and his sd thugs. so much so that they were planning a junta style takeover as early as the late 1930's.

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Post by Brig » 19 Jan 2003 05:16

Depends on the individual, in many cases. For instance, to be a member of the SS, you had to be a party member. To be an officer, you had to be a registered Nazi (but not necessarily an active member of the party itself).

It was both apolitical and political in the way that it was a militaristic society as it were

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 19 Jan 2003 10:16

I think as time went on the Wehrmacht was becoming more Nazified, however, I imagine the defeat at Stalingrad would have shaken the faith of many in the Wehrmacht to look at what was happening.

The German army, till the end of WW2, had always been involved with politics, and historystudent is right, a plot was being formed to overthrow Hitler in 1938 to prevent the crisis with the Czechs from erupting into war. However nothing came of this.

It's not fair to say the Wehrmacht was a Nazi army though, rather that many of its ranks were filled with the party faithful and supporters. However a large section of the Wehrmacht would have also been motivated by the thought of fighting for the Fatherland.


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Post by barbarosa » 19 Jan 2003 19:23

i read this book and as far as i could ascertain, members of the heer were NOT allowed to be in politics, please explain where in this book that information is?

historystudent wrote
i am reading "plotting the death of hitler" and it appears that the wehrmact indeed had an historic place in politics

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