Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Kriegsmarine except those dealing with the U-Boat forces.
Sawpatin
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Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by Sawpatin » 21 Nov 2019 16:15

My interest was raised after reading a passage from the book "German Seaman 1939-45" by Gordon Williamson (Osprey, 2001).

Page 52-53 described the Kriegsmarine as the "least political" of the German military branches, and even says that membership of any political party (including the Nazi party) was prohibited to serving personnel. The book acknowledges that there were plenty of Nazi believers within the Kriegsmarine, but contends that the navy had generally less interest in enforcing Nazi doctrines among its personnel, and preferred to run along its own code of ethics. Examples the book gives include ship crews failing to follow the 'nazi salute' regulations except on public occasions, and uboat crews clashing with political officials (no details are given of these "clashes").

I was just curious to learn a bit more detail about how much evidence there is for Kriegsmarine personnel resisting Nazi doctrines/regulations, and whether anti-Nazi sentiment was any more notable in the Kriegsmarine than in other branches of the Wehrmacht?

VON THERMANN
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by VON THERMANN » 13 Dec 2019 21:33

Kapitan zur see , Hans Langsdorff, the best example

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Dec 2019 13:08

Hi sawpatin,

You raise an interesting point. The Imperial German High Seas Fleet had mutinied at the end of WWI, so presumably the Nazis were aware of the risk. Yet at the end of WWII it was the head of the Kriegsmarine who was made Hitler's main successor.

The most politically loyal parts of the Wehrmacht seem to have been those organizations created under Nazi rule, notably the Luftwaffe. The Army, whose origins were pre-Nazi, had to be given National Socialist Guidance Officers from late 1943 in order to brace its political conformity.

The Navy also predated the Nazi arrival in power and always had a professional sailor, rather than a politician like Goering, in charge. It was also little involved in the more repulsive underside of Nazi activities, which the Army could not entirely avoid. Furthermore, its area of operations was not crowded with the elderly, women or children and so was not much exposed to "collateral damage". It was also continuously active, unlike in WWI.

Given the pervasiveness of the Hitler Youth, most young German sailors probably joined up already fairly indoctrinated for political conformity. If I remember correctly, the film "U-boat" has a Nazi on board, but he tends to be shunned by the rest of the crew. How typical that was, I do not know. (It is also presumably remarkably difficult to keep giving a straight armed salutes in the confined space on a U-boat!)

Cheers,

Sid.

Sawpatin
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by Sawpatin » 14 Dec 2019 15:06

VON THERMANN wrote:
13 Dec 2019 21:33
Kapitan zur see , Hans Langsdorff, the best example
Could you elaborate a bit? I'm not familiar with him, and the overviews I found online deal mostly with his command of the Admiral Graf Spee . There's mention of the fact that he was generally humane toward his prisoners, but no obvious expressions of anti-Nazi sentiment that I saw, and his suicide note apparently mentioned his "firm faith in the cause and the future of the nation and of [the] Führer."
Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Dec 2019 13:08
-snip-
Some good points Sid, thanks for your reply.

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von thoma
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by von thoma » 27 Dec 2019 17:22

I was just curious to learn a bit more detail about how much evidence there is for Kriegsmarine personnel resisting Nazi doctrines/regulations, and whether anti-Nazi sentiment was any more notable in the Kriegsmarine than in other branches of the Wehrmacht?
There are always exceptions to the rule ; Günther Prien and Joachim Schepke, both had sympathies with Nazism
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Andy H
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by Andy H » 26 Jan 2020 00:23

Hi Sawpatin

There's a general perception that the KM was the least indoctrinated of the other arms of the WH.
That perception to an extent has been manipulated and encouraged by a lot of post-war personnel narratives and excuses from
the main KM protagonists that survived.
There are countless tales of the KM doing the 'honourable' thing, just as there are in the other branches. The problem with proving
some of the KM tales both positive or negative is that the evidence to some extent, lies several miles down on the seabed.
only 1 U-Boote CO was charged with war-crimes after the war (though to be fair others that should have been were already dead) and
that was the commander of U852.

Best

Andy H

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Anti-Nazi sentiment within the Kriegsmarine?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 27 Jan 2020 14:20

Hi Andy H,

I would suggest that the KM as a whole and the U-boat arm may have had somewhat different characters.

The KM was often commanded by senior officers of the old Imperial navy and its shrunken 1920s successor. They were probably often cut from similar conservative cloth to many army generals.

However, like the Luftwaffe, the U-boat arm was almost entirely a product of the Nazi era and, I would suggest, this may have given it a more more Nazi-indoctrinated ethos by virtue of the age profile and Hitler Youth backgrounds of many or most of its officers and crews.

Cheers,

Sid.

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