Hein Severloh " The beast of Omaha "

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Hein Severloh " The beast of Omaha "

Post by hein » 19 Oct 2004 20:15

Split from Casualties on Omaha, as per Hein's request

- The Moderator

(source der spiegel, times, alan hall, pics coris,)

Hein Severloh
" The beast of Omaha "

"There was no glory on the beach that day-just a lot of blood and screams
and good young men dying."...

He has been back to the beaches many times, to say his own private prayers
for the dead of both sides

Omaha beach invasion day

6 juin 1944

At 5am, a German gunner began shooting young Americans on the beach.
Nine hours and 12,000 rounds later, he was still firing.

When world leaders walk through the U.S. war cemetary above Omaha beach
, a man who put dozens of young Americans into those graves
will be hundreds of miles away in Germany.

But Hein Severloh says his thoughts will still be absorbed by the events
of 60 years ago in Normandy.

He has been back to the beaches many times, to say his own private prayers
for the dead of both sides.
But on this D-Day anniversary, the first time German soldiers have
officially been invited to attend, he does not think a man with his
nickname and past would be entirely welcome.


For Hein Severloh became known to those desparate Americans on the
bloodiest of the Normandy landing places as The Beast of Omaha Beach.

He was the first to open fire on them and the last to stop, nearly nine
hours later.

Manning his machine gun, he raked the Americans with bullets, turning the
sand and sea red with their blood.

His weapon became so hot it burned the grass around him. But they still
came on, wave after wave disgorged from the landing craft that made it

"I remember the first to die" said 80 year old Mr Severloh at his home
near Hanover. "The man came out of the sea. He was looking for somewhere
to hide.
I shot him in the head. I saw his steel helmet roll into the sea. Then he
dropped. I knew he was dead. What could I do? Them or me- that's what I


Rommel " the enemy has to be stopped on the beach... if not ...the war's over

For the next nine hours in machine gun nest 62, Corporal Severloh sprayed
the beach with his MG-42. His position 75ft above the broad sands gave him
a perfect field of vision and fire.

"There were 30 of us," he said. "Every one had only one thought in our
heads that day-would we be coming out of this alive?"

"I didn't want to be in this war. I didn't want to be in France. I didn't
want to shoot a machine gun at young fellows my age. But there we were,
serving in a war that was already lost and obeying the orders of our
Lieutenant-to open fire as soon as they were knee-deep in water"

Having survived a spell of duty on the Eastern Front, France was a 'soft
billet' for men like Hein Severloh. That ended in the pallid dawn light of
June 6, 1944, as the Allied armies stormed ashore.

Corporal Severloh had 12,000 rounds for his machine gun.
"I started shooting at 5am," he said. "I was still shooting nearly nine
hours later.
There was no panic, no hate. One did what one had to do and knew that they
as sure as hell would be doing it to you if they got the chance"

"At first the corpses were 500 metres away, then 400, then 150. There was
blood everywhere, screams, dead and dying. The swell of the sea bobbed
more bodies onto the beach."


Widerstansnest 62 (Resistance Nest 62).

"There were small pauses, when no landing craft came, when I could cool
down the machine gun."

"I was aware that some of my comrades had made off, but I had this
terrible vision of being confronted in the eye by my officer and so I
stayed at my post."

"In the early afternoon, I realised I was the last person still firing. I
could see tanks manouvering on the beach and knew that I couldn't hold
them alone."

"I heard an order to shouted by Lieutenant Ferking-a fine fellow and, at
32, a veteran-that we should retreat."

"I ran from bomb crater to bomb crater behind our bunker complex. I waited
but he never came."


Gefreiter Heinrich Severloh, November 1943, on leave in Germany before joining his new unit, A.R. 352 in St. Lo, Normandy.
(Copyright H. Severloh)


Hein Severloh
The frustration of Hein is that he himself says he is probably the only German who killed so many enemy's

"I visited his grave in Normandy ten years after the war. He took a head
shot from one of the Americans as he tried to follow me. I was taken
prisoner that night. I don't think I would have survived had I been
captured at my post."

"They knew what I had done to their friends. I don't think those
first-wave troops would have shown me any mercy."

Some 2,300 Americans died on 'Bloody Omaha' before overwhelming the German

Mr Severloh was sent as a PoW to America and put to work picking cotton
and potatoes before returning to Germany in 1947 to resume his pre-war
life in farming.

Through his many visits back to Normandy he became friends with visiting
American veterans, and realised they has christened him The Beast of Omaha
One veteran, David Silva, who took three bullets in the chest that
day-possibly fired by Severloh-became his close friend.

"I told David how I had dreams about two men that day-the first American I
killed and Lieutenant Ferking," he said. "The memories make me cry."


David Silva & Hein Severloch

"I wont be back on the beaches this year, I am sick. I suffered a stroke
and must sleep a lot."

"Besides, I think there will be a lot of glorifying events and I wouldn't
be welcome."

"There was no glory on the beach that day-just a lot of blood and screams
and good young men dying.".......





Severloh was sent with 500 other POW’s to Bedfordshire in England to build roads. ...

He spent three years never telling anyone there what duty he performed on Omaha Beach. He returns to his home in Metzingen in Lower Saxony, marries and had children. 13 years after his return, he reads the book "The Longest Day" and first hears of the name David Silva - an American soldier who was on Omaha Beach and survived it, although he was hit by three shots and was badly wounded.

Since the end of the 1950s, David Silva lives in Karlsruhe, in Germany. Eventually, he and Hein Severloh meet there, they become good friends. Silva said in an interview with the "SPIEGEL" that Severloh never asked to be forgiven, though David Silva did forgive him anyway. "It's important to him.", Silva said.

Stories like this are what is important such a long time after the war which changed the world. People being able to understand each other and to forgive each other. There are still a lot of people - mostly those who were born shortly after the war - who are terribly uncomfortable with the war. This year is the first time in those 60 years the German Federal Chancellor will attend the gathering in Normandy, and hopefully this means that a lot of people here in Germany will be able to deal with the war a lot better.


Last edited by hein on 09 Nov 2004 23:53, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by LegalAssassin » 20 Oct 2004 20:25

Very good, I've read about him before, but this was a nice compact version.
Thanks for sharing!

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Post by gunslinger » 30 Oct 2004 04:00

Good read, thanks for sharing.


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Post by sniper1shot » 06 Nov 2004 02:59

Thanks for the short story. Well worth the read!!

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Post by hein » 06 Nov 2004 16:18

thank u all !

here some air pics from the normandy coast

1 = omaha beach
2 = pegasus bridge
3 = point du hoc

Image Image


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Post by WOLF1 » 09 Nov 2004 20:59

Thanks for sharing...it is good that veterans can forgive and realize that each side was only doing their duty….you did yours and fought bravely. My father fought in WWII ( Italy,France,Germany,Austria) and did his share of killing, but he never held a grudge against Germany or the German people.
Thank you for your remembrance and concerns for the slain ones


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Post by Rand » 09 Nov 2004 21:54

Is there a book in the english language on "The Beast of Omaha"?

Thank for sharing this great story Hein.


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Post by hein » 09 Nov 2004 23:09

Hallo Rand,

Indead there's a book.
The name is "WN 62, Erinnerungen an Omaha Beach, Normandie, 6.
Juni 1944". but i'm afraid its only available in German
If you find in English let me know..

http://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/3 ... 03-1606425

isbn 3932922115



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Post by Sotka » 19 Nov 2004 21:47

Rand wrote:Is there a book in the english language on "The Beast of Omaha"?

Thank for sharing this great story Hein.

"Beast of Omaha". Quite laughable name for book, or what you think? :roll:

Best regards,

Tuomo Aalto

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Post by hein » 21 Nov 2004 01:50

Hi Sotka,

No, the beast of Omaha is what the allies used to call the man, but the name of the the book is

" WN 62 Memory's of Omaha beach, Normandie 6 Juin 1945....

Only available in German



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Post by Alp Guard » 27 Jun 2005 08:04

W62 is a very impressive book. This man, who were not a nazi nor even a very motivated soldier ( he was his officer's servant in an artillery company), held his stand for 9 hours, firing 12'500 rounds with his MG 42.

It is very moving, how he thinks today about D-Day and how he met US veterans long after the war and became a friend with most of them. No gloryhunting, no excuses, but the simple truth about the most tragic day in his life.

Whoever understands the german language: Read this book!

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Post by EddyHansi » 16 Apr 2007 17:50

I can say, that this text is really good written.
I heard about Mr Severloh some time ago, but the last 2 years i worked some about the 2nd World War, I was in Normandy and visited some Museums, some graveyards (i can tell you, you fell some kind of strange). You must know that I'm german, and i can't believe what people of my origin did to others, but i think Heinrich Severloh only did, what his Leutnant ordered him to do.
I think nobody can imagine how this day was for Heinrich, the other german, american, french, british and all other soldiers who fought that day.
And i have to thank to the American veterans because it is so noble from them, to forgive Heinrich.
My Grandfather told me some stories, when he was in the Wehrmacht, he was captured in 1944 in Holland.

Okay then i say, bye, and thank you for this great text.


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Post by hein » 16 Apr 2007 18:06

Hi Eddy

I think the clue of this story is that after all what happend people can forgive and even become good friends!


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Reply to Biography HEIN SEVERLOH

Post by Gremlin1991 » 29 Aug 2007 18:00

I don't know if Anybody still reads this Biography.

But I'm a sixteen year old Boy from Germany and Im Very interested in Second World war.
I've often heard about Hein S. and I also had many discussions.
A Main Reason of (almost) all Discussions is, If the German can see Hein Severloh as an Hero (or better a man to show up to), but the Fact is, he Killed (about) 2000 people at Omaha Beach.
On the other hand, if this man, would have been on the Allied site, he would be An Hero today.
I would say (seen as an Soldier, withou any Racial thoughts) this man IS a man to look up. I dont mean just the day at Omaha, also his life after where he became good Friend with one of the poor souls which where his enemy.

I think thi Biography is a very good, short and very good

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Re: Hein Severloh " The beast of Omaha "

Post by hassiman » 27 Jan 2010 19:11

Herr Severloh was indeed a brave soldier performing his duty as so many brave allied soldies performed theirs. He probably did kill thousands of Americans as they stormed the beaches but it was kill or be lilled and it was the duty he had been assigned and he carried it out braveky as did those he shot. If anything this story points out the futility and tragedy of war... though few would argue that the toppeling of the NAZI was a bad thing. Heim was not GESTAPO, he was not SD, he was not Einsatzgruppen, he was not a camp guard... those were the true beasts or Nazi Germany. This man was the German equivilant of an American dogface GI. He will be the first to admit that like most that have had to kill in battle he was haunted for the rest of his life by each and every one of the 12,000 8mm rounds he fired that horrendous & wonderful day.

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