Mutiny in the German Army?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
Ezboard

Mutiny in the German Army?

Post by Ezboard » 29 Sep 2002 20:31

DrS enhanced
New Member
Posts: 1
(8/12/01 1:08:22 am)
Reply Mutiny in the German Army?
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I wonder if anybody knows or has information about large units (like regiments or divisions) having disobeyed the orders of the high command and if so, who was held responsible?

lord88
Visitor
(8/12/01 4:24:16 am)
Reply err..
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I dont think there were cases of unit wide disloyalty(dont quote me on this, im not sure)

Anyways, I believe it was mainly higher ups that were plotting, they usually still followed hitlers orders, despite plotting his death

I could be wrong on this. I would appreciate it much if someone could inform me on this issue also.

Dante
Visitor
(8/12/01 8:07:16 am)
Reply Crimea
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46th Inf Division,under Corps command of Von Sponeck,evacuated Kerch in December 1941,after Manstein ordered no withdrawal.

Von Sponeck court martialled,reduced in ranks,and given death sentence.Hitler changed to 7 years detention but Sponeck exceuted in 1944.

In January 1942 "because of the slack reaction to Russian landing on the Kerch peninsula,as well as its precipitate withdrawal from the peninsula,I hereby declare 46th division forfeit of soldierly honour.Decorations and promotions are in abeyance until countermanded.Signed Von Reichenau,FM."

Not a mutiny but it was a blatant disobedience to superior orders in Manstein's view.


LEVE
Member
Posts: 75
(8/12/01 8:29:35 am)
Reply Re: Mutiny in the German Army?
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Waffen Gebirgs Division der SS Skanderbeg, the 369th, 373rd, and the 392 Infantry divisions were made up of a mostly conscripted Croats. The officers of the division were Volksdeutsch. I

n September of 1943 some of the troops mutinied and a few of their officers were killed while at their training base at Le Puy France. 14 soldiers were executed as mutineers.

It was a harbinger of things to come as over 2000 Croats deserted with their arms while in the field later in 1944. Some of these deserters went over to the Communists; others just left and went home, hopefully to defend their homes and families.

Stephen
Veteran Member
Posts: 208
(8/12/01 10:01:27 am)
Reply german army mutinies
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During WW2 approx 15,000 German soldiers were executed by their own side, a further 23,000 were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment and 404,000 to shorter terms of imprisonment or penal battalions.

Source: Why The Allies Won, by Richard Overy

Allen Milcic
Veteran Member
Posts: 110
(8/13/01 2:49:38 pm)
Reply Croats
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LEVE:

A portion of your posting is missing? At any rate, the "Skanderbeg" Waffen SS Division was an Albanian, not Croat unit. The three Heer divisions you listed - 369th "Devils", 373rd "Tiger" and 392nd "Blue" - were German-Croatian legion units, and their war record shows no mutinies, which was the original question posted. All three divisions do show a slightly above-average desertion rate, but we are talking about men that were forcibly conscripted, or who were more interested in defending their homes than a tottering Reich. A great majority of the unit's volunteers fought to the bitter end.

As to the Le Puy mutiny by the Waffen SS "Handschar" Division, it was a minor uprising instigated by 5 Communists, infiltrated into the unit during recruitment. The short-lived mutiny by a small number of recruits has been blown way out of proportion over the years.

Curious about this harping on the Croats? What's your beef?

Allen Milcic


Scott Smith 01
Veteran Member
Posts: 272
(8/13/01 9:33:36 pm)
Reply
Re: german army mutinies
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I think Mr. Overy's case that the Germans lost the war because they punished more deserters and so on is a bit preposterous. A case of putting the cart before the horse. (I know, other arguments are made in favor of classical liberalism and asserting that the Allied Total War was not in fact "totalitarian liberalism" and all, but perhaps my point is clear.)

In any case, comparing the experience of the Allies and the Germans/Soviets is a little "bourgeois" to say the least. Most of the war was fought by the Germans and the Russians and in those dimensions. Besides, the Allies felt the need to try to impress the Russians with how "tough and ruthless" they could be, terror bombings, atomic bombings, and so on, when negotiating with them.

Overy reminds me of Kenneth Macksey's latest disappointment: Why the Germans Lose at War. The answer is basically because they are Germans, and hubris is part of their national character. To join the comity of nations, therefore, the German nation today must protest ever-so-loudly that they are not in fact a Fourth Reich; the Bundestablishment are, indeed, the biggest denazification zealots there are: Totalitarian Liberals.
:-)

Edited by: Scott Smith 01 at: 8/15/01 7:26:39 pm

Stephen
Veteran Member
Posts: 210
(8/14/01 12:16:35 am)
Reply German morale
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Scott,

The figures in Overy's book arise in the context of a discussion of the moral aspects of WW2.

Overy's point is that one of the factors contributing to the success of the Allies was their feeling that they were in the "right", that they were fighting for a just and moral cause.

He contrasts this with the decided lack of enthusiasm of many Germans for the War. One indicator he gives of that is the much larger extent of disciplinary problems in the German armed forces than the Allied, for example, I believe that the corresponding figure for executions in the British armed forces was about 40.

He also notes that while it is a common perception that the Soviet army was kept motivated by the fear of harsh discipline the proportion of Soviets executed/imprisoned/sent to penal units was actually lower than in the German armed forces.

To say that his point is that the Germans lost the war because they punished more deserters is a trivialisation of his argument.

Stephen





Scott Smith
Veteran Member
Posts: 916
(8/14/01 2:19:05 am)
Reply
Re: German morale
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Hi Stephen,

<<The figures in Overy's book arise in the context of a discussion of the moral aspects of WW2.>>

Yes, and I am very suspicious of "moral arguments," crusades, inquisitions, "Totalitarian Liberalism," etc.

<<Overy's point is that one of the factors contributing to the success of the Allies was their feeling that they were in the "right", that they were fighting for a just and moral cause.>>

Of course morale and esprit d' corps is very important. Then why was unit cohesiveness better in the German Army if their cause was so unjust? And why so many psychiatric casualties among the Americans? "Making the world safe for democracy" is not exactly the barn-burner it is supposed to be, despite the propaganda about the Good War and "apple pie histories" like from Ambrose and Overy.

<<He contrasts this with the decided lack of enthusiasm of many Germans for the War.>>

Certainly the German people did not want war in 1939, but mostly they did their duty. I commend them; the odds were not good. I wonder if Americans or others could fight-on once they knew that the war was hopelessly lost or if they would meekly accept Unconditional Surrender. Are WE too liberal to fight?

<<He also notes that while it is a common perception that the Soviet army was kept motivated by the fear of harsh discipline the proportion of Soviets executed/imprisoned/sent to penal units was actually lower than in the German armed forces.>>

I find that extremely hard to believe. One could be arrested without warning or cause in the Soviet Union in those days. One may or may not have been "convicted" for any such "political crimes" but it was an atmosphere of arbitrary terror nonetheless, wholly unlike Germans unless one were in an automatic security category or a resister/traitor. Anyway, I doubt that Soviet statistics are going to put Red Army discipline during the Great Patriotic War in a very harsh light. I'm skeptical.

<<To say that his point is that the Germans lost the war because they punished more deserters is a trivialisation of his argument.>>

Yes, and I acknowledge that above, but anything published that is "anti-Hitler" is readily marketable, nonsense or not. I hope that you can see my point. Overy's point-of-view is not necessarily wrong. I just don't agree with it.

Thanks,
Scott

Edited by: Scott Smith at: 8/14/01 7:43:46 am

Stephen
Veteran Member
Posts: 215
(8/15/01 1:35:04 am)
Reply morale
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Scott

you fail to distinguish between your perceptions of the justice of the allied cause during WW2 and the point Overy and others are making.

Their point is that the Allied warfighting ability was enhanced because the population of the Allied countries largely felt that they were on the "right" side and were fighting a "just" war. Obviously you disagree because as an apologist for Nazi Germany you believe it was in the "right" (I use apologist in the strict sense of the word).

However, whether they were wrong or right to feel that way does not alter the fact that this was the common perception. And all other things being equal, the side that feels it has the moral right will gain an advantage from that.

There are numerous indications that the average German did not share this belief that they were fighting a just and moral war. I know that elite SS men felt differently but they were the exception. The SD opinion reports made during the war graphically demonstrate that the average German's feeling towards the war was generally negative.

Another manifestation of this was the much larger extent of disciplinary problems in the German armed forces.

Stephen







Scott Smith 01
Veteran Member
Posts: 280
(8/15/01 1:58:21 am)
Reply
Re: morale
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Okay, Stephen, I see your points. The Allies certainly believed in the unalloyed justice of their cause and still do.

<<The SD opinion reports made during the war graphically demonstrate that the average German's feeling towards the war was generally negative.>>

Okay, but I would argue that this was largely due to their steadily losing the war, though the Germans did not want war in the first place.

I would also argue that if the Allies were losing the war, their enthusiasm would change too.
:-)

dan
Visitor
(8/15/01 2:40:28 pm)
Reply losing
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When you are vastly outnumbered and after inflicting huge losses on you enemy, you lose, maybe there are other reasons besides goody goody feelings for the outcome.

Stephen
Visitor
(8/16/01 3:20:44 am)
Reply morale
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Where did I say that superior morale, or "goody-goody feelings", was the only reason that the Allies triumphed?

In fact I said:

" And all other things being equal, the side that feels it has the moral right will gain an advantage from that."

As for huge losses, no doubt the Germans inflicted huge losses, both combatant and non-combatant on the Soviets but I doubt you could say the same about the Western Front. I don't have the figures to hand but I would guess that Germany suffered considerably more casualties on the Western Front than were inflicted.

Stephen




oleg
Visitor
(8/16/01 3:23:46 pm)
Reply hm...
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The armored formations of Army Group Center are a good case in point. Here the official policy of selective murder outlined by the "Barbarossa" decree had an immediate and striking effect on the troops. On 25 June 1941, that is, on the third day of the campaign, 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." From this passage one would assume that General Lemelsen considered the Russian campaign to be a war like any other, and for this reason was shocked by his men's behavior. Yet as he proceeded to explain to the troops the real goals of the campaign, the corps commander revealed that his own thinking had been molded by that combination of ideology and ruthless, indeed cynical practicality typical of National Socialism: "We want to free the civilian population from the yoke of Bolshevism and we need their labor force." The Russians were to be freed from Bolshevism so that the Germans could enslave them for their own purposes. At the same time, the political goal of destroying Bolshevism was to be carried to its ultimate conclusion. Hence the general hastened to clarify that his instructions to spare the lives of the prisoners did not apply to this political leaders: " This instruction does not change anything regarding the Fuhrer's order on the ruthless action to be taken against partisans and Bol-
shevik commissars." This meant that both the political officers in uniform, and anyone described as a partisan by the army, a category which include "racially undesirable elements" such as Jews, were to be done away with. And, while Red Army soldiers belonging to neither criteria were to be initially spared, they too .could expect to perish later or at best to become the Reich's slaves. Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that merely five days later Lemelsen had to appeal once more to the troops, as they had entirely ignored his first order. Yet significantly, even now the general did not threaten to punish the culprits, in spite of the fact that he was confronting what amounted to a collective breach of discipline:"In spite of my instruction of 25.6.41 . . . still more shootings of POWs and deserters have been observed, conducted in an irresponsible, senseless and criminal manner. This is murder!" But again the corps commander felt obliged to explain to his troops what the war was about, thereby belying his overt intention of conducting the fighting according to the traditional rules of war: " We want to bring back peace, calm and order to this land which has suffered terribly for many years from the oppression of a Jewish and criminal group." So as to make sure that the men did not misunderstand his criticism, nor take his ideological clarifications as mere theoretical rationalizations, the general repeated in even greater detail the murder instructions which had set off the brutalities he was trying to stop:"The Flihrer's instruction calls for ruthless action against Bolshevism (political commissars) and any kind of partisans! People who have been clearly identified as such should be taken aside and shot only by an order of an officer." So much for Guderian's claim that his Panzer Group 2, one of whose elements was XLVII Panzer Corps, never even received the "commissar order." More important, as this incident clearly revealed, soldiers could and did disobey orders, and though they were occasionally admonished for doing so, as long as their disobedience concerned greater brutality against the enemy, rather than attempts to evade combat, they were hardly ever punished. It was now obvious that attempts to control the troops while issuing them with a license for murder could not possibly succeed. "

Seems to me that German soldiers were quite unruly already.

Landser
Visitor
(8/16/01 5:51:45 pm)
Reply Commissars
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I have to add personal experiences
with Soviets and Ukrainians which were POWs and after the war became
classified as Displaced Persons(DP)
in the American Zone.It was in 1946 they were kept in a former Fremdarbeiter Lager and awaited
their future destinations.As Neighbors we had a lively contact with the camp population,thats when I learned much from the other sides fews.
None off them wanted to go back to USSR most of them emigrated through the UNNRA program eventually.Now when their war stories came up, generally they all agreed on one thing about their comissars;That they were the first shot in combat before anybody fired at the enemy.
Seems to me the Germans could never find any to execute.If you talk to some Eastfront veterans they tell you similar encounters.
BTW; I wonder were them Millions of POWs came from in the first month'
of Barbarossa.That must be an unprecedented historical record.

tovarich2
Veteran Member
Posts: 566
(8/16/01 9:16:36 pm)
Reply Re: Commissars
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I guess none of them ever got around to shooting Brezhnev who was on the front lines.


-Tovarich

Landser
Visitor
(8/17/01 3:33:32 am)
Reply Commissar
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Towarisch

Who knows maybe he never left his bulletproof Ferrari?(Breshnev)

tovarich2
Veteran Member
Posts: 579
(8/17/01 4:13:59 am)
Reply Comrade Historian
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Landser - Brezhnev was a car enthusiast as I understand it, this of course much after WWII. However, with the considering the usual accuracy of anti-communist historians I wouldn't be surprised to read from them that he drove to the front in a corvette.

Stephen
Visitor
(8/17/01 5:15:17 am)
Reply shooting commisars
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"Now when their war stories came up, generally they all agreed on one thing about their comissars;That they were the first shot in combat before anybody fired at the enemy.Seems to me the Germans could never find any to execute.If you talk to some Eastfront veterans they tell you similar encounters.
BTW; I wonder were them Millions of POWs came from in the first month'
of Barbarossa.That must be an unprecedented historical record."

There are plenty of accounts of the shooting of captured commisars, the einsatzgruppen reports actually have statistics I believe.

It would not surprise me to find that Russian DPs being held by the Americans would be keen to exaggerate their anti-communism.

The number of POWs taken in the first stages of Barbarossa may well be a record in armed conflict.

Stephen




oleg
Visitor
(8/17/01 7:19:52 am)
Reply re
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Hitler's Army by Omer Bartov has chapter called The Perversion of Discipline which might be useful to whoever interested in a subject.

medorjurgen1168
New Member
Posts: 10
(8/20/01 6:19:28 pm)
Reply Re: shooting commisars
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Stephen,

<<The number of POWs taken in the first stages of Barbarossa may well be a record in armed conflict.>>

About 3.5 million Soviet soldiers were taken prisoner by the Germans between June and December of 1941. Spectacular as this number is, it shows nothing other than a repetition of earlier blitzkrieg campaigns on a larger scale. About 700,000 prisoners were taken during the Polish campaign, about two million in the West in 1940, hundreds of thousands in both Greece and Yugoslavia. The contrast between Barbarossa and earlier campaigns that German commanders and troops noticed was not a greater willingness of Soviet soldiers to surrender, but the fact that they often fought like hell in hopeless situations where any other army would have given up.

As to the German army, it developed a tendency to fight the Western Allies only half-heartedly and to surrender to them in ever greater numbers as the war became more and more hopeless. As early as May, 1943, about 130,000 German troops surrendered in North Africa without much of a fight, if compared to that which was put up by the 6th Army encircled at Stalingrad. Hundreds of thousands of German prisoners were taken by the Western Allies in their advance through France, and between the end of the Battle of the Bulge and the conclusion of the war in Europe most Allied troops did little else than collect prisoners, of which millions had been taken even before the final capitulation. On the Eastern Front, it was another matter, of course, because hatred and terror of the Soviet enemy kept the troops fighting. In April 1945, the number of combat fatalities on the Eastern Front was thirty times higher than in the West, whereas the number of prisoners in the West was twenty times higher than in the East.

You also mentioned the Einsatzgruppen in your post. Here's a site that may interest you, containing i.a. translations of some original Operational Situation Reports USSR that the EG sent to the RSHA on an almost daily basis:

http://www.pgonline.com/electriczen/einsatz.html

Regards,

Roberto

Ezboard

Post by Ezboard » 29 Sep 2002 20:32

tovarich2
Veteran Member
Posts: 610
(8/21/01 4:36:06 am)
Reply Re: Mutiny in the German Army?
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Roberto - thanks for the interesting overview.

-Tovarich

DPWES
New Member
Posts: 2
(8/23/01 12:14:55 pm)
Reply Polish mutineers
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Many thousands of Poles ran away from the German Army and joined the Polish forces on the western front. These Poles were given German citizenship on racial grounds and then conscripted by the Nazis. Many went along with the whole game until they got the first chance the run. Some stayed on in the Wehrmacht and forged links with the French resistance, informing them about the movements of German units. I know that a few of Poles were executed by the Wehrmacht for that. They were seen as traitors, obviously, and not enemy soldiers. Anyhow, after changing sides these Poles fought well for the allies and I think that, by the end of the war, they constituted about a third of all Polish units on the western front. When they returned home, however, the communists accused them of being traitors. Some had a very hard time for many years. Cheers.

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