Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
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Geoff Walden
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Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Geoff Walden » 11 May 2006 14:01

I have heard that when the US Army came through the town of Wertheim in early April 1945 (far northern Baden-Württemberg, west of Würzburg), the town was defended by women (maybe BDM girls), who engaged the Americans in combat, and that there is a monument somewhere in the area that mentions this. Anyone ever heard of this?

Geoff Walden

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Siegfried Wilhelm
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Post by Siegfried Wilhelm » 13 May 2006 17:36

Geoff,
I used to live in Wertheim, and I do not recall any monument to this effect anywhere around. My landlord was a one-armed vet and I used to speak of the war with him and his friends, but I don't recall any particular story such as this...but then maybe it just never came up.
I do remember hearing of there being a hell of a fight a little south, at our Kreisstadt at Tauberbischofsheim which is where the American army first crossed the Tauber river (they had been trying to find a local crossing of the main)--then they were operating on the east side of Wertheim, pretty much cutting it off from the rest of the Reich so even though there was a small Luftwaffe base above the town, there was not so much reason for that spirited of a defense I would suppose.
Of course it has been years, and even though I was interested in the war then, I'm sure there was a lot I didn't know.

SW~

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Fallschirmjäger
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Post by Fallschirmjäger » 16 May 2006 05:33

Maybe it was just a few of them with the other male defence forces that where there,because the us soldiers found some female fighters or killed some?.

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Richard_
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Post by Richard_ » 16 May 2006 10:32

Historians like to ascribe the Hitler Youth as a whole a large role during the fighting at the end of the war and often assume, based on few references, that this included the girls of the League of German Girls.

In reality, many local BDM groups had ceased to exist by the time the Allies entered Germany, and unlike the male Hitler Youth, which was being called up as part of the Volkssturm, girls of the BDM played a very minor role. Some of them, along with local civilians, would help to fortify towns and dig trenches to repel advancing Allied troops. In a few rare instances, women joined the Volkssturm as well - but they were few and far between. I have only found one reference of a BDM girl being in armed ground combat.

A number of BDM girls - small compared to the overall number of its membership - became flak helpers with the Luftwaffe where they mainly manned searchlights and in some cases anti-aircraft batteries. There are no concrete numbers of the overall total of women who served in this position, but among the 14th Flak Division, which protected Southern Germany, some 3,000 women served as auxiliaries.

In March of 1945, Hitler's secretary Martin Bormann sent a letter to the Gauleiters of Germany regarding the weapons training of women and girls. In short, the letter started that it would be a good idea for girls and women, particularly those who lived out in the country, to become proficient in the use of a rifle or pistol for self-defense purposes against advancing enemy troops. This was partially fuelled by the horror stories about Russians raping and murdering German women as they advanced on Berlin. The training was supposed to be instructed by members of the local Volkssturm units, but in most regions, training never was organized and conducted because things were too chaotic, and weapons in too short of a supply. A group of approximately 200 BDM leaders from the Berlin area were sent on a two week course to become proficient in weapons, but there are no reports that they ever used that knowledge after their return from the course.

A few girls also joined the Wehrwolf organization, which is now generally referred to as the Nazi guerilla movement. While only about 5000 members strong, Wehrwolf's ranks included some 500 women, a small percentile of whom were BDM girls. The most notable BDM girl to serve in the Wehrwolf was a young former Gaufuehrerin, Ilse Hirsch, who became part of a Wehrwolf team that parachuted into Belgium behind Allied lines, and then crossed into the city of Aachen on foot where they assassinated the mayor who had been appointed by the Allies.

Source: http://www.bdmhistory.com


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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Heimatschuss » 20 Apr 2008 23:23

Dear Geoff,

I think this a mix-up of variousl historical events. The only case of noteworthy WWII fighting in the Wertheim region seems to have been the village of Breitenbrunn, about 5 kilometers WNW of Wertheim. There Gen.(ret.) Hans Gaul put up some resistance with scattered elements of various units that resulted in the partial destruction of the village ( http://www.trachtenkapelle-breitenbrunn ... chte10.htm ).

The other ingredient seems to be the medieval legend of the 'Treue Weiber von Weinsberg' (Faithful wifes of Weinsberg). The ladies rescued their besieged husbands from Weinsberg castle which was about to surrender by carrying them away on their backs. In Weinsberg there is indeed a monument commemorating these women, situated in front of the town hall.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgruine_Weibertreu
http://www.schule-bw.de/unterricht/faec ... u/ab2a.pdf

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by thunderloop » 29 Dec 2010 00:59

For what it's worth, the my father was assigned to the 65th Signal Battalion during the final year of WW2.
The following is a cut-and-paste from one of the few emails he sent that mentioned what he saw or did during the second world war:

Tauberbischofscheim is where we were when Guignon and I drove a 3/4 ton
truck into the countryside, up over a hill and into a small town that
neither of us knew was there. White flags popped everywhere as we drove in
and the Burgomaster surrendered the town to us. Then things got itchy. Seems
there were SS troops in town and the people had cornered them and wanted to
turn them over to us. We finally convinced him to lock then up in the local
jail. We had no way to take them anywhere... and they were untrustworthy and
really tough cookies.

Then joy of joys! What a winery we discovered . Got a bunch of bottles and
drove back to where the Bn was and dispersed them and then headed back to
find that men of Patton's 3rd had moved in and had a guard on the door. We
drove around the block and entered a residence that we thought was behind
the storage building. It was. The fun begins then...

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by murx » 01 Jan 2011 20:08

Don't forget that there is also Wertheim/Donau and o ne in Poland, renamed "Renoma".

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Heimatschuss » 17 Feb 2013 14:12

Hi Geoff,

I think I've found the solution for the story you've heard in Stadtmüller (1982, pp.488). There was hard fighting in the village Nassig, about 5 km SW of Wertheim on March 30th and 31st, 1945.

A unit of about 50 men, mostly recruits from an Ersatz-Bataillon stationed in Wertheim was deployed to Nassig on Mar 29th. Their task was to delay the advance of US forces so all installations on the Wertheim airfield could be completely destroyed.

When tanks of 12th US tank division approached Nassig on the evening of March 30th the Germans destroyed three of them. The US forces withdrew and opened heavy artillery fire on Nassig that lasted till the evening of the next day. In dogged fighting US infantry cleared Nassig of German resistance during Mar 31st. German losses were 36 soldiers KIA and 5 local civilians (3 women, a girl and a boy) dead. US losses were 10 soldiers KIA. The village largely burnt down during the struggle.

The german soldiers were buried in a mass grave on the Nassig cemetery. Later a monument was erected on this grave.
Here's a list of war dead buried on the Nassig cemetery: http://www.weltkriegsopfer.de/Namensreg ... _4392.html
The others are supposedly unknowns. Strangely http://www.volksbund.de says the persons above are buried in single graves so I'm not sure if the mass grave and the monument still exist.

In 1965 the events in Nassig were treated in several articles in the regional newspaper Main-Echo. That may be how the story came to you, just that the women killed warped somehow into being part of the fighting force or even constituting the bulk of it.

References:

Stadtmüller, Alois
Maingebiet und Spessart im Zweiten Weltkrieg.
Überblick, Luftkrieg, Eroberungen
Veröffentlichungen des Geschichts- und Kunstvereins Aschaffenburg e.V., Vol.19; Aschaffenburg; 1982

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Geoff Walden » 18 Feb 2013 16:02

Torsten,

Thanks very much!

I never did go search for that monument; with your new info, perhaps I will make it over to Wertheim to visit the Friedhof and the old Kaserne, which I have heard looks much like it did in the 1930s.

Geoff

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Starfire94C » 11 Jan 2018 13:14

My father was an AH-1G pilot at Peden Barracks, Wertheim, from 1972-75. I was 11-13 years old and we explored everything we could on Peden Barracks and the surrounding area.

One thing I found that made me wonder of possible fighting in the area was a a crumpled artillery cartridge, I believe a 105mm. It had been fired. I found it in a plowed farmers field approximately 100-200 meters directly west of the officers housing (the few real houses for the commanders, above the tennis courts and playground), the rest of the officers, my father included, were in four apartment buildings on the other side of the road from the houses.

The area I found it would not have been used as an artillery range, so I always assumed this round was fired in anger.

On another day, I found a live artillery projectile lying on the ground in a shrub right outside a military building on post. Again, I'd say a 105 round, but very unusual in that there were three or four "vents" on the side (not holes drilled to demil it). A soldier walking by saw us in the shrub, I say this as we left the shell there intending to come back for it(!!!), yet it was gone the next day. I guess EOD removed it, thankfully! I don't recall if this shell had been fired (grooves in the driving band or not), or was simply discarded there. I can't believe no one noticed it before I found it.

These two artillery leftovers always made me, as a boy and until now, wonder if any fighting or artillery shooting occured at or next to Wertheim/Peden Barracks, but from the posts above, I see not. Possibly someone simply discarded that expended 105 case in the farmers field, or was there German artillery firing in support of the fight at Nassig, 5km SW of Wertheim and well within range of an LeF 18 10.5cm? Did a battery set up in that field? I doubt we could ever answer my question, but I've been curious for a very long time.

Even at the age of 11-13 I was very familiar with artillery, having been exposed to it a lot, even standing behind M109s shooting live rounds at Grafenwoehr. I was fascinated with self-propelled artillery.

And, this would never be allowed today--our Peden Barracks Boy Scout troop took over the Friday afternoon retreat ceremony. At first we just lowered the flag, but eventually we fired the M116 75mm pack howitzer ceremonial round. I was the loader (at 13 years old!), my younger brother passed me the ammo, my older brother fired it. My training and "safety" briefing was: "Use your fist to shove the cartridge in, as if you use your fingers they might get chopped off if the breach is closed too early(!!!)." We even towed the 75mm downtown in a jeep driven by our scoutmaster (an army NCO) to fire around six rounds from the Wertheim castle "shooting" out over the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers for a town celebration. The ceremonial smoke got so bad we couldn't see. My mom took pictures of us firing it, still have them and a newspaper article with another picture.

Amazing times to live there as a history loving boy, thank you all for finally answering my questions I've wondered about since then, and for letting me bore you with what I found back in the '70s.

Don Hinton
Major, USAF (Ret)

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Re: Women Defenders of Wertheim?

Post by Bagaudas » 11 Jan 2018 18:21

Good afternoon.

The story is not incredible. During the combats of the Halbe, the commander of the 32 SS-Freiwilligen Grenadier Division, the SS-Standartenführer Hans Kempin, spoke to all the civilians who accompanied them, whether men or women, and told them that leaving there did not depend on His men, but also of them, and whoever could hold a gun and help would be more useful. Something normal, since at that time his unit was practically annihilated, of his 11,000 I do not think there were more than a thousand. Therefore, and because of the terror that women had to the savagery of the Soviets, possibly many tried to fight.

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