Totenkopf, elite or criminals...?

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
Wolf
Member
Posts: 241
Joined: 12 Aug 2002 21:56
Location: Sweden

Totenkopf, elite or criminals...?

Post by Wolf » 03 Dec 2002 02:38

So - how about the Totenkopf division, an elite formation or a band of criminals...?

Personally I feel Totenkopf performed somewhat unimpressive in comparison with (most) other German units and are stained by the nasty sides of Nazi Germany, the SS, etc to a much greater degree than (most) other German combat formations...

Not one of my 'favourites'... :|

User avatar
David C. Clarke
Member
Posts: 11368
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 17:17
Location: U.S. of A.

Post by David C. Clarke » 03 Dec 2002 03:49

Well, the Russians clearly considered the entire division war criminals.
Regards, D

User avatar
Bad Tolz
Member
Posts: 289
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 07:24
Location: Many places!

Post by Bad Tolz » 03 Dec 2002 07:10

No,they certainly fought valiantly,read about Demyansk pocket,one example.
They are stained because of their association with concentration camps and Theodor Eicke.

ISU-152
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 14 Nov 2002 14:02
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Post by ISU-152 » 03 Dec 2002 10:28

David C. Clarke wrote:Well, the Russians clearly considered the entire division war criminals.
Regards, D


The soviets considered all SS divisions to be war criminals.:wink:

User avatar
Birgitte Heuschkel
Member
Posts: 660
Joined: 18 Mar 2002 08:07
Location: Fredericia, Denmark

Post by Birgitte Heuschkel » 03 Dec 2002 10:34

ISU-152 wrote:
David C. Clarke wrote:Well, the Russians clearly considered the entire division war criminals.
Regards, D


The soviets considered all SS divisions to be war criminals.:wink:


So did Nuremberg and that wasn't right either. I'd say, though, that the T-division is highly tainted by its original function.

ISU-152
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 14 Nov 2002 14:02
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Post by ISU-152 » 03 Dec 2002 10:50

Birgitte Heuschkel wrote:

So did Nuremberg and that wasn't right either.


No it wasn't. Some of the Wehrmacht formations should have been tried at Nuremberg as well. Especially those burning village churches with all inhabitants inside. :x

tonyh
Member
Posts: 2911
Joined: 19 Mar 2002 12:59
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by tonyh » 03 Dec 2002 11:39

Once again an elite group (well after the initial stages) with some members who commited some attrocities.

Are we going to go through the whole Waffen SS?
:wink:
Tony

tonyh
Member
Posts: 2911
Joined: 19 Mar 2002 12:59
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by tonyh » 03 Dec 2002 11:41

Especially those burning village churches with all inhabitants inside.


emmm....which ones were those?

And considering the Soviets did the same activity with their "Scorched earth" policy, how accurate would that have been.

Tony

User avatar
Roberto
Member
Posts: 4505
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 15:35
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Post by Roberto » 03 Dec 2002 12:03

tonyh wrote:
Especially those burning village churches with all inhabitants inside.


emmm....which ones were those?


Among others, the ones that Reich Commissar Hinrich Lohse referred to when he forwarded General Commissar Kube’s report on Operation “Cottbus” with the following remark:

“What is Katyn compared to this? […] To lock men, women and children into barns and to set fire to these, does not appear to be a suitable method of combating bands, even if it is desired to exterminate the population.” [italics in original, translator's note]


My translation from Christian Gerlach’s book Kalkulierte Morde, see the thread

Major Anti-partisan Operation in Belorussia
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... d2e598ed71

tonyh wrote:And considering the Soviets did the same activity with their "Scorched earth" policy, how accurate would that have been.


What on earth does the “scorched earth” policy that the Soviets hurriedly pulled off in 1941/42 (a perfectly legal measure, according to German historian Max Domarus’ assessment of Hitler’s own “scorched earth” order for Germany of 19.03.1945) have to do with the devastation wrought and massacres committed by the German invaders and occupiers during “anti-partisan” operations or while retreating ?

Some more quotes from the a.m. thread:

[…]Between 26 March and 6 April 1942, within 12 days, the reinforced 707th infantry division, the Slovakian infantry regiment and the German police battalion 315 destroyed a series of villages in a broken through forest area between Oktjabrski and Kopakevichi and murdered their inhabitants. In Chwoineja (Choino) 1,350 people were among other things locked into their houses and killed by hand grenades and burning, in Rudnja 800 persons were collected and shot in groups (the men first had to undress), in Oktjabrski 190 persons were burned alive inside the club house, the inhabitants of Kurin were in part shot, in part burned alive, similar as in Kovali, where the children were burned.[…]


[…]The course of the massacres in the doomed places shows an organized procedure by the German units and their helpers. In more than a few cases there were shootings at pits similar to the executions of Jews by SS, police and Wehrmacht, carried out with machine guns. In other cases the killing took place in barns, stables or larger buildings, sometimes by burning the people alive. These places of execution were meant to keep the victims from running apart and escaping. The third possibility was that every single family was arrested in its house and there killed by gunfire – especially from machine pistols – and hand grenades. After this the houses were burned down. Special detachments were in charge of the burning of the villages. Sometimes all inhabitants of every single house were registered days before, in a few cases gas vans were used as murder tools.
The burning down was not only meant to deprive partisans later passing through the village of shelter. The killing method employed, sudden killing with machine weapons and hand grenades inside building, led to some of the victims not being hit mortally or not being hit at all. The survivors were to be killed by fire; the buildings set on fire were often kept surrounded. The basic experience of those who actually managed to escape was the threat by the fire after the execution and the desperate attempt to get out of the buildings.[…]


[…]About the ensuing extermination campaign there are several sources and accounts. Two Wehrmacht propagandists reported as follows about the attempt “to turn this area into no man’s land”: “This was carried out by slaughtering the population of the villages and farms located in this area down to the last infant. All houses were burned down. Cattle and food stocks were collected and taken out of the area.” They also mentioned the panic that had spread even among the hardened Belorussian auxiliary policemen, who still spoke about it months thereafter:
“A particularly strong impression was left by accounts from members of the former Drushina I, who in February were witness to extermination actions against the Russian civilian population south of Sluzk. The description of German cruelties, like for instance cramming women and children in burning houses, goes around also among the civilian population.” […]


[…]At this place we shall refrain from describing and picturing the excesses of violence in detail. Some cases were already mentioned. Thus the Battalion Dirlewanger, on 21 July 1943 during Operation “Hermann”, chased the inhabitants of the village of Dory together with the pastor into the church and burned them alive there.[…]


[…]The shooting and burning in barns was, as has been explained, also based on a concept aimed at minimizing the effort required to murder and letting the least number of victims get away.[…]

Wolf
Member
Posts: 241
Joined: 12 Aug 2002 21:56
Location: Sweden

Post by Wolf » 03 Dec 2002 13:34

Bad Tolz wrote:No,they certainly fought valiantly,read about Demyansk pocket,one example.


I agree that Demyansk was no picknick. Nor some of the other battles fought by the Totenkopf Division, but does it merit the 'elite satus'...? There's no lack of German units fighting 'valiantly', but few with the same 'brutality' as the Totenkopf.

User avatar
Juha Hujanen
Financial supporter
Posts: 2196
Joined: 20 Mar 2002 11:32
Location: Suur-Savo,Finland

Post by Juha Hujanen » 03 Dec 2002 14:56

Field Marshal Von Manstein had high opinion of Totenkopf.

"I had it( the 3rd SS panzer Division Totenkopf) under my command on frequent occasianations later on, and i think it was probably the best Waffen-SS Division i ever came across".

And on 15.11.43.

"Bravo SS-Totenkopf.Ihr sind mordskerle".

ISU-152
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 14 Nov 2002 14:02
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Post by ISU-152 » 03 Dec 2002 15:15

Good pick, Roberto. Thank you for providing those pieces of information.

tonyh
Member
Posts: 2911
Joined: 19 Mar 2002 12:59
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by tonyh » 03 Dec 2002 16:17

What on earth does the “scorched earth” policy that the Soviets hurriedly pulled off in 1941/42 (a perfectly legal measure, according to German historian Max Domarus’ assessment of Hitler’s own “scorched earth” order for Germany of 19.03.1945) have to do with the devastation wrought and massacres committed by the German invaders and occupiers during “anti-partisan” operations or while retreating ?


Because I would be dubious about Soviet "accounts" of German attrocites considering their own "scortched earth" policy burned down many town and villages and left their inhabitants in the cold. And when advancing toward Germany they shot many a "fascist sympathiser". How many of these incidents were simply and conveniently blamed on the Germans a la Katyn, I wonder.

Attrocity stories are never cut an dry.

I've no doubt that the Germans commited many an attrocity in the East, but likewise I have no doubt that many a Soviet incident was blamed on the Germans too.

Tony

ISU-152
Member
Posts: 711
Joined: 14 Nov 2002 14:02
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Post by ISU-152 » 03 Dec 2002 16:22

tonyh wrote:
Attrocity stories are never cut an dry.

I've no doubt that the Germans commited many an attrocity in the East, but likewise I have no doubt that many a Soviet incident was blamed on the Germans too.

Tony


:roll: Katyn? :roll: Maybe Khatyn? :roll: Where hundreds of inhabitants were burned alive?

tonyh
Member
Posts: 2911
Joined: 19 Mar 2002 12:59
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by tonyh » 03 Dec 2002 16:29

I've been called a Communist too ISU, why don't you try that one in your next post :D

Tony

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”