Hein Severloh and WN62 at Omaha Beach

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Eisenfaust
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Post by Eisenfaust » 09 Jun 2004 16:49

D. Löwenhamn wrote:Eisenfaust, two men never march.

Best regards/ Daniel


Indeed. See my edited posting.

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 09 Jun 2004 23:28

If Lasse watched the program "D-Day" on Swedish TV today he would have seen an interview with Franz Gockel as well a dramatization of his experiences on the 6. June 1944. Together with Severloh, Gockel was the only person to make it out alive from the WN62.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwtwo/ ... o_07.shtml

Best regards/ Daniel

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Post by Larso » 10 Jun 2004 01:21

I think that total US KIA on Omaha was about 2,000, so perhaps that 'figure' of 2500 actually includes wounded. Even so it's not an unrealistic count considering how numerous and easy the targets were for most of that day.

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Post by Lasse » 10 Jun 2004 12:29

Yes i saw that program actully, it was quite good in my eyes, I actully dident know that they where 2 guys that where shooting for so long time, i only thought it was one from the begining.

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Eisenfaust
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Post by Eisenfaust » 10 Jun 2004 19:14

A very good article here. From the Independent.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=528420

Still searching for peace: the German who felled more than 2,000 Allied soldiers

With Germany represented at commemoration for the first time, Tony Paterson meets the 'Beast of Omaha' Beach'

05 June 2004


He would be a war hero if he were British or American. Yet Hein Severloh is nicknamed the Beast of Omaha Beach for the carnage he inflicted on D-Day. He is reputed to be the German soldier who killed and wounded the most enemy troops in a single day during the whole of the Second World War.

Four thousand, one hundred and eighty-four Americans were shot in front of his bunker WN 62, above Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944. Hein Severloh was responsible for at least half of those deaths. He fired his machine gun at advancing GIs, almost without a break, for nine hours. The heat from the gun barrels he had to keep changing set the grass on fire around his bunker as American bodies bobbed and floated towards him on a flood tide stained pink with their blood.

Today his victims lie buried in the vast American cemetery above Omaha Beach that President George Bush will visit this weekend. They account for nearly a quarter of the 9,368 white stone crosses and Stars of David that cover the graveyard.

Hein Severloh was a raw 20-year-old Wehrmacht private on D-Day, and the invasion was his first real taste of action. He is now a frail and bespectacled pensioner of 81, who lives in a timbered farmhouse in the village of Metzingen near Hamburg. He speaks with a lisp, the result of a stroke he suffered years ago.

Last week, he nervously slapped his thigh in an attempt to fight back his tears as his mind went back to that day of slaughter. He wept as he said: "What should I have done? I thought I would never get out of there alive. I thought I am fighting for my life; it's them or me, that's what I thought."

This weekend, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder will become the first post-war German leader to attend D-Day anniversary celebrations. Opinion polls show more than 70 per cent of Germans are glad he is going. The German Chancellor said the decision to invite him to the D-Day celebrations "shows that the postwar period is over and done for good". On D-Day, he was two months old.But that day is all too real for Hein Severloh. He is plagued by a recurring nightmare, not from when he was mowing down Americans 600 yards away on Omaha Beach. "At that distance, the enemy look like ants," he said. It happened when he reached for his rifle during a lull in the fighting.

A young GI who had survived the onslaught in the sea was running up the beach. Mr Severloh took aim and fired. The round smashed into the GI's forehead and sent his helmet spinning. The soldier slumped dead on the sand. Mr Severloh still remembers the man's contorted expression. "It was only then I realised I had been killing people all the time," he said, "I still dream of that soldier now. I feel sick when I think about it."

For Hein Severloh, the war began and ended that day. His bunker was knocked out by a grenade which killed his commanding officer. He was taken prisoner by the Americans and sent to the United States five days later. He spent three years as a prisoner-of-war.

By 1959, his story had become well known in the United States. The Americans called him the Beast of Omaha Beach. Mr Severloh was too ashamed to tell his four children about his experiences, yet he was desperate to meet Americans who had survived. Eventually, he found David Silva, a GI wounded three times on Omaha Beach. When the men met in Germany in the 1960s they hugged each other for five minutes. "He never asked me to forgive him, but I have done so all the same," Mr Silva says today. "It is important for him." Franz Gockel served with Hein Severloh at bunker WN 62. Yet in many ways he has been luckier. For the 78-year-old veteran, the country he once occupied has become a second home. Every summer, he and his wife Hedwig rent a cottage in the Normandy village of Colleville-sur-Mer, barely a quarter of a mile from the former killing fields on Omaha Beach.

Tomorrow, Franz Gockel will be among the handful of German veterans who will meet Chancellor Schröder and President Jacques Chirac at D-Day celebrations in Caen castle. "I am glad Schröder is attending," he said. "For me and my former comrades, it demonstrates the terrible experiences of the Second World War are now behind us and that we are now finally on the way to build a new Europe."

On D-Day, Gockel was just 18. He was ordered to his gun emplacement at one in the morning on 6 June, hearing gunfire to the west as the Allies were parachuted in at the start of the invasion. As dawn broke, his crew was horrified to see the sea in front of them thick with warships, troop ships and landing craft. "We knew we had no hope of fighting off such a force," he said.

The shelling lasted for five hours. Franz Gockel cowered under the heavy wooden platform that served as a mount for his machinegun and prayed. "We could do nothing against the shells. I just kept shouting out, 'Hail Mary Mother of God, please save me'. Somehow, it helped."

As the Americans began to pour out of their landing craft, the young soldier stood to his Polish-made machinegun and opened fire. Six hundred yards away across the sand, the bodies began to slump in the water. "I didn't know how many I was killing until the corpses started being washed up the beach on the tide," he said.

Then his gun was knocked out in a grenade attack that left him with only a few cuts. Then he poked his head over the edge of a slit trench and felt a massive blow to his left hand. "I saw three of my fingers dangling from their tendons," he said. " But for me it was a million-dollar shot; I was out of the battle." Franz Gockel was evacuated with other wounded Germans. Back in action in November 1944, he was captured by the Americans in eastern France.

Today, a tall obelisk commemorating the American dead stands above the grassed-over remains of bunker WN 62. There is nothing to remind the millions of visitors to the site, of the Germans who were killed there. Last year, Franz Gockel erected a small wooden cross outside his bunker in memory of the 18 men of his 25-strong unit who died in action. Less than a week later, it was vandalised.

Chancellor Schröder said the D-Day anniversary "means that for us Germans the Second World War is finally over." But the German survivors of D-Day know the war, and all the guilt, will end only when they are dead.

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Post by gabriel pagliarani » 11 Jun 2004 19:35

Eisenfaust wrote:.....Many sources indicate him killing about 2,500 GI's with about 12,000 rounds in about 7 hours. In average that's roughly 5 rounds/GI, and 6 GI's/minute.....He did his job the best he could, and was very efficient.,,,.


Figures obtained without computing the change of hot barrels or the reload of ammos. Both complex ops under enemy counter-fire. How many barrels to change when strifing 12K rounds? At least 6-7 complete substitutions with the asbesto handles... Try to cut 2,5k casualties by 10 times... :roll:

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 11 Jun 2004 21:12

gabriel pagliarani wrote:Both complex ops under enemy counter-fire.


They were in a bunker.

Best regards/ Daniel

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Post by gabriel pagliarani » 12 Jun 2004 09:33

D. Löwenhamn wrote:
gabriel pagliarani wrote:Both complex ops under enemy counter-fire.


They were in a bunker.

Best regards/ Daniel


Naval counterfire... grenades weighing as small cars :roll:

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Post by Eisenfaust » 13 Jun 2004 15:59

lasse from sweden wrote:Ok!
Please tell me more when you have seen the program as i dont have the channel myself (Or would understand much of what they said :) )


OK, the documentary just ended. Not quite what I expected but worth seeing. It begun by telling Severloh's and Silva's (Silva was wounded by Severloh on June 6th) backround, and what they had done before June 6th 1944.

The story is pretty much what the various sources tell. WN 62 contained 30 men and the commander was Oberleutnant Frerking. The bunkers were pretty good I think, since Severloh said one naval shell hit 10 m from his position, but he wasn't afraid - he felt safe.

He had great respect for his commander (Frerking) who was like a father to him, although being only ten years older than him. The main reason for not pulling back earlier was to protect himself from the Americans, but also to protect his commander, Frerking. Another officer had brought him 12,000 rounds for his MG-42 with the order to hold that position.

He tells how he used his rifle, and that it was pretty easy to get a hit. He said that of 50 rounds, only 5 rounds missed. Good hit indicator was the water, and it was easy to correct aim by the splashes. He also stated, that when the GI's were wounded, to the arm for example, some of them just drowned since the water was to their waist.

An officer (Peter Lützen) said he left the bunker at 15:00, but Severloh stayed. He kept shooting until about 15:30 and then he pulled back. There was no information in the documentary that he was wounded. It was told that he pulled back and was captured in the evening. When telling that he waited for his commander, and that he didn't make it, he had to take a deep breath and wait awile. It was obviously a tough moment then and still is today.

After his capture, he was shipped to US where he spent two years working in farms picking cotton and potatoes. He didn't tell anyone about his involvement in the Omaha beach landings. Neighter to the Americans nor the Germans.

The documentary clearly showed, that Severloh feels extremely bad about the whole day of June 6th. He thinks about it every day, and it wasn't easy to speak about those events. He had to pause on several occations and he said he felt sick to his stomack. He said that every night as he closes his eyes, he can see the soldier he shot in the head and fell to his face with mouth open. It has haunted him every single day since.

From the Independent article:
A young GI who had survived the onslaught in the sea was running up the beach. Mr Severloh took aim and fired. The round smashed into the GI's forehead and sent his helmet spinning. The soldier slumped dead on the sand. Mr Severloh still remembers the man's contorted expression. "It was only then I realised I had been killing people all the time," he said, "I still dream of that soldier now. I feel sick when I think about it."

He met Mr Silva for the first time in the 60's. They have been writing to each other once a year, and on 2003 they met each other infront of WN 62. For Heinrich Severloh it was a pretty emotional moment. However, yesterday's enemies are today's friends.

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Post by Peter » 14 Jun 2004 13:44

I have checked my notes, his officer was

Oblt Bernhard Frerking

Born 1 Dec 1912
Gefallen 6 Jun 1944

German War Cemetery La Cambe


cheers
Pete

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Post by karltrowitz » 15 Jun 2004 20:17

I've just bought the book "Omaha beach" published by Heimdal. This contains details and photo's of all the WN's on Omaha plus first hand accounts from veterans on both sides , including Hein Severloh. I know it is printed in both French and English and is widely available in the souvenir shops of Normandy at the moment!

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Post by dragos » 18 Jun 2004 21:38

Severloh is also mentioned in the book "Le grand jour - 6 juin 1944" by Gilles Perrault

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Post by Topspeed » 22 Jun 2004 13:04

lasse from sweden wrote:Beast of omaha was the name the americans gave him while in captivity.


I watched the same movie..he never said a word of what he had been doing in the war. I guess he'd be executed immediately, if they knew what his job was and what he'd done. This impression I got.

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Post by Sturmman » 04 Jul 2004 10:15

''Beast of omaha was the name the americans gave him while in captivity.''

Yes lasse this isnt true! In this tv documentairy where the beast had a interview, he said ''Ive never told to anyone (when I was captivity, even to Gi's or germans) what i did and how many soldiers I had killed''. He always tried to hid it for other people!

And the as I said to you, WN62 isnt a single bunker but a complete complex, but I think others have told you that here!

Best Regards Sebas :)
Last edited by Sturmman on 04 Jul 2004 10:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Lasse » 04 Jul 2004 10:30

Hmm, ok, i read somewhere about that he would have gotten that name from the americans.

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