Why the Waffen-SS

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.
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BillHermann
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Why the Waffen-SS

Post by BillHermann » 21 Jun 2012 10:05

I may have missed this.. I have searched for it but I have not found a thread asking, discussing or debating this subject. My question is, why are so many infatuated with the WaffeN-SS and not just a simple interest, or a study from a historical perspective but a real drive to assume and create a false mystique over something that is simple in fact and in recorded history, something that is really obvious. Why do some of us have to manipulate history to serve our own personal agenda and create fictional dreams to protect and honor something like the Waffen-SS

I have been to the the Battle of the Bulge sites.. Walked though Normandy and Falaise battle sites, been to Dachau / Webling, walked around many German cities.... Been in the streets of Berlin, seen the bunker site, battle locations and units fascinate me. Specifically the story behind the SS are a real interest but I do not feel the need to protect and honor them, I stay objective.

What is so appealing about the Wafenn-SS? Why has fiction become fact to so many? Why do ithe SS and Waffen-SS get a special place in the hearts of so many? . Why are they so popular? Why do they get a get out of jail free card?

People even go so far to assume that the later divisions were just as great or special as the the first 5. They even try to wash the Waffen-SS of its involvement with the SS. We know that the Waffen-SS had a direct relation ship with the SS but many try and twist history on this.

Why are they such a hot topic .

Regards Bill

Max Payload
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Max Payload » 21 Jun 2012 13:29

It's a good question. I've never considered them to be anything other than arrogant and vicious fanatics, but a disproportionate number of threads in this section do seem to be concerned with the minutiae of their formations, personnel and activities. Perhaps the fascination is due in part to -
The fact that they were for the most part and for most of the war genuinely elite units with the best equipment
A general fascination with evil and with the servants of evil (Darth Vadar has probably become more popular than Luke Skywalker)
They had, in comparison with the competition, the sexiest uniforms :milwink:
"For what a man had rather be true he more readily believes."
Francis Bacon 1620

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Harro
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Harro » 21 Jun 2012 16:10

Max Payload wrote:The fact that they were for the most part and for most of the war genuinely elite units with the best equipment
Or at least the continued myth that this was a fact. Personally I have only a fascination with a small part of the Waffen-SS: the men of one Kampfgruppe and their crimes. Yet this fascination was sufficient to learn a lot about the facts behind some persistent myths about Waffen-SS superiority.

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Mark in Cleveland, Tn.
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Mark in Cleveland, Tn. » 22 Jun 2012 02:46

Max,good points.
Bill, you brought up some interesting theorys, just the way people study/learn/want to know about history/
One idea might be that Waffen-SS divisions have been , to say it simple.. more publicized, more written since the war about(even during the war) German press had tons and tons of Waffen-SS stories/articles, etc.
LIke the 2nd rate actors we hear about every stinking day... they are sorry actors, but because of press agents, etc you would think they are tops.. Lindsey Lohan, as an example.

But, most 100% of historians, or AHF members are not fooled, or are stupid enough NOT to know the truth about what happened, when,how and by who during WW2.

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BillHermann
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by BillHermann » 26 Jun 2012 06:10

Indeed and agreed however the question is less to do with members here but a general comment. clearly there are a few members on all Axis forums that have a particularly subjective opinon on the Waffen-SS but this is a larger question.

It seems in the defence and the fictional portrayal that has been concocted " an elite group of soldiers that had no association with the SS or Nazis " only weakens thier argument because no association or relationship would have weakened their status or position.

Mark C. Yerger
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Mark C. Yerger » 26 Jun 2012 09:42

Probably for the same reason a new Tiger tank book is released every month.

I'm waiting for Tiger crewmen underwear volume 3.

As for the Waffen-SS, having studied them for 25+ years and written over a dozen books, I won't comment. I've published my thoughts.

But back at the start, when any WW II book was just that in the title, I was there as research progressed. We're talking 40+ years ago.

As specific air, sea, land, etc topics became available that were detailed, I found the least on the Waffen-SS. So curiosity started my search. But mine is rather extreme having known the various commanders personally and done the archive work beyond general opinion or knowledge.

Mark C. Yerger

JamesL
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by JamesL » 26 Jun 2012 16:57

Gentlemen - in case you don't know we have a distinguished forum member who is a former SS Soldier.

Now, back to our regular programming.

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coburg22
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by coburg22 » 26 Jun 2012 18:07

I am interested in the SS due to the Final Solution and the W-SS just fell into place like every other aspect of that organization. My uncles who fought against the Waffen-SS in Europe were impressed by their determination and fighting skills and it was at the young age of 13 (1981) that I first heard these stories and of the SS in general. It does not mean they should ever be taken out of context and glorified as the history of the SS as a body speaks for itself.

Best,

James

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by phylo_roadking » 26 Jun 2012 20:57

Perhaps the fascination is due in part to -
The fact that they were for the most part and for most of the war genuinely elite units with the best equipment
Max - this is actually not true; for their first years, the Wafffen-SS divisions were armed and equiped with "beute" handmedowns and transport...and weren't actually that great as combat units 8O

Later, in the last 2-3 years of the war...the "best equipment" legend probably comes from the fact that as W-SS divisions got chewed up to a greater extent - holding positions longer, for greater casualties etc....and thus perhaps rebuilt more often...they NEEDED new equipment straight off the production lines more often? :P

"First in, last out" meant a lot more broken tanks...and men!...than the average Heer division 8O
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Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

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coburg22
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by coburg22 » 26 Jun 2012 21:52

I think what made the Waffen-SS unique was the fact that they were able to accomplish so much with so little, especially when it came to facing overwhelming numbers in men and material in Russia where they were able to prove themselves again and again by their ability to hold the line, a difficult task at best for any modern army.

Best,

James

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Harro
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by Harro » 26 Jun 2012 22:00

I can give you examples of Waffen-SS units that hardlt achieved anything and I can give you examples of Heeres units which accomplished a lot with so little. Using a broad brush to generalized "the Waffen-SS" as a formation that achieved a lot is pointless. In fact, it is pointless to speak of the qualities of "the Waffen-SS" in every aspect. For that matter there was no "the Waffen-SS", just a few great, some good, many moderate and a fair amount of terrible Waffen-SS units.

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genstab
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by genstab » 26 Jun 2012 23:48

Well well, seems I touched a nerve. Okay, if the LAPD wore "navy blue" before the Waffen SS they can be excepted- but it's still darn stupid- and in a hot weather city yet!

Best.
Bill in Cleveland (OH)

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genstab
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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by genstab » 26 Jun 2012 23:53

Oops- seems I touched a nerve. Well, if the LAPD actually wore "navy blue" uniforms BEFORE the Waffen SS, they can be excused. But it still seems stupid in a hot weather city.

And schribpd, do you really think any police chief would even consider a citizen complaint about uniform color? They listen onlyto Safety Directors and Mayors. I've been around the block a few times and know how these things work.

Best regards,.
Bill in Cleveland (OH)

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by tonyh » 27 Jun 2012 18:56

A lot of people are interested in the Waffen SS because they were a genuinely interesting military body. They were quite innovative for their time too, in the area of tactics, camouflage, etc and have an engaging history.

Some people are attracted to their history also because of their "elite" status and while the so-called classic units were set up as elites and entry was very difficult in the beginning, a little reading into the history of the Waffen SS reveals that the "elite" nature of their ranks fades as the war progresses.

The problem is that some people can only view the Waffen SS through the limited prism of the holocaust (like the war itself in many cases) and this colours the perception badly. The vast majority of men who passed through the ranks of the Waffen SS had nothing whatsoever to do with the nazis, or the final solution. But, interest in the Waffen SS is viewed by some as some sort of an endorsement of sorts of national socialist policies, although that sort of bogus attitude isn't limited to interest in the Waffen SS. Interest in the German armed forces of WWII comes in for that flak too.

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Re: Why the Waffen-SS

Post by heimwehr danzig » 27 Jun 2012 21:13

Speaking for myself; I do feel occasion from time to time to defend the W-SS, be it on the forum or in discussions with friends about the war.
I think that a lot of it comes down to the fact that when we are taught a kind of 'superficial' history at school we seem to be spoon fed this idea of the SS as a monolithic organisation of 6foot blonde fanatics who spend their time murdering Jews and POWs and pretty much anyone else they can get their hands on.
Later, as you look deeper into the war you find that alongside the war crimes are many stories of heroism, sacrifice and military prowess that are often unsung outside of the axis history community. Therefore, those who are impressed by these accounts feel the need to present a more 'balanced' perspective on the W-SS. Now, others will argue strongly against the W-SS having any plus points whatsoever; and sometimes this will in turn provoke a stronger reaction, making the other party appear fiercely pro W-SS.
Also, I think this explains why some seem to lionise the W-SS more than the Heer etc; there is often a distinction made between the "ordinary German soldier", who is fighting for his country bravely and skillfully, but hates Nazis and the SS, and the fanatics of the SS who fight for their own warped ideology. The Heer do not get the bad press of the W-SS and therefore do not usually require so staunch a defence.
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