Sie sind auf Seite 1von 210

Valhalla’sWarriors

AHistoryoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFront1941-1945.

AHistoryoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFront1941-1945. ForMandyandHayley ©2007byTerryGoldsworthyAllRightsReserved.

ForMandyandHayley

©2007byTerryGoldsworthyAllRightsReserved.

Nopartofthispublicationmaybereproduced,storedinaretrievalsystem,ortransmitted,inanyformorbyanymeans,

electronic,mechanical,photocopying,recording,orotherwise,withoutthewrittenpermissionoftheauthor.

AllphotographscourtesyoftheUSNationalArchivesandtheGermanFederalArchives.

FirstpublishedbyDogEarPublishing

4010W.86thStreet,SteH

Indianapolis,IN46268

www.dogearpublishing.net

Indianapolis,IN46268 www.dogearpublishing.net ISBN:978-159858-445-5

ISBN:978-159858-445-5

LibraryofCongressControlNumber:0000000000

Thisbookisprintedonacid-freepaper.

ThisbookisaworkofFiction.Places,events,andsituationsinthisbookarepurelyFictionalandanyresemblanceto

actualpersons,livingordead,iscoincidental.

PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica

Preface

ThisbookisanexplorationoftheWaffen-SS,andbynecessityofevil.TheWaffen-SSare

commonlyregardedastheeliteofGermany’sarmedforcesduringWorldWarII.They

gainedmuchofthisreputationwhilstfightingontheEasternFrontinRussia.Germany’s

waragainsttheSovietUnioninWorldWarII,inparticulartheroleoftheWaffen-SS

formsmuchofthesubjectmatterofthisbook.

Thedeathanddestructionduringthisconflictwouldresultnotjustfrommilitary

operations,butalsofromthesystematickillingandabusethattheWaffen-SSdirected

againstJews,Communistsandordinarycitizens.Thisbookprovidesaclear,concise

historyoftheWaffen-SScampaignofconquestandgenocideinRussiabylookingatthe

actionsbothonandbehindthefrontlines.Bydrawingonthebestofmilitaryand

Holocaustscholarship,thisbookdispelsthemythsthathavedistortedtheroleofthe

Waffen-SS,inboththemilitaryoperationsthemselvesandtheunthinkablecrimesthat

werepartofthem.

TheconventionalwisdomthattheWaffen-SSinWorldWarIIfoughtarelativelyclean

fight,unsulliedbytheatrocitiescommittedbytheNazis,ischallenged—andlargely

demolished.FocusingontheEasternFront,thebookcontendsthattheNazivisionofa

racial-ideologicaldeathstruggleagainstSlavichordesandtheirJewish-Bolshevik

commissarsresonatedwithsoldiersoftheWaffen-SS,steepedintraditionalanti-Semitic

andracistdogmas.IndoingsothisbookclearlyshowsthattheWaffen-SSwasan

organisationthatcommittedwidespreadatrocities,andweretrulysoldiersofevil.

Contents:

Preface…………………………………… iii Contents:…………………………………….v ListofTables:……………………………… vi

Introduction………………………………….1

1.TheoriginsandideologyoftheWaffen-SS………….11

2.ThestructureoftheWaffen-SS………………….41

3.CombatoperationsoftheWaffen-SS………………57

4.Anti-partisanandEinsatzgruppenoperations……… 80

5.TheConcentration-Camps…………………….120

6.TheWaffen-SSasacriminalorganisation………….145

7.AnexaminationofWaffen-SSactions…………….163

Conclusion:…………………………………214

GlossaryofTerms:……………………………221

viValhalla’sWarriors

DramatisPersonae:……………………………223

Appendix1:Waffen-SSRankStructure…………… 238

Appendix2:FeaturesofWaffen-SSOfficers………….239

Appendix3:OrderofBattleoftheWaffen-SS……… 241 Appendix4:StrengthoftheWaffen-SS…………… 246 Sources:………………………………… 247Endnotes:…………………

……………….269

ListofTables:

Diagrams,illustrationsortables TableofNSADPmembershipofsenior

Waffen-SScommanders………………………32

TrainingcurriculumoftheWaffen-SS.………………44

TableshowingtheracialmakeupoftheWaffen-SS.…… 54 Tablerepresentingthepersonnelmakeupof

EinsatzgruppenA………………………….114

TableshowingtheWaffen-SSofficersintheEinsatzgruppen 116 TableshowingofficersoftheWaffen-SSwhohadservedinthecampsystem…………

………………132

Introduction

WhytheWaffen-SS?

MyinterestintheWaffen-SS 1 wasfirstsparkedwhenIreadashorthistoryofthe TotenkopfDivisionmanyyearsago.Itstruckmethatherewasamagnificentfighting force,yetatthebackofthisimagesomethingdarkerlurked.Thespectreoftheatrocities apportionedtotheWaffen-SSreareditsheadandservedtointriguemeastotherealstory behindtheWaffen-SS.Tothisendadisturbingquestionarose.WeretheWaffen-SSjust simplesoldiersdoingtheirdutyordidtheycommitsomeofthemostevilactsinrecent history?Itisenvisagedthatthisbookwillfillalargevoidinrelationtoexaminationsof theWaffen-SSandtheperceptionofthisorganisationfromacriminologicalandhistorical perspective.Thisexaminationisimportantforanumberofreasons.Firsttheanalysisof theWaffen-SSallowsclosescrutinyofgrossorganisationalbehaviourwithinhistorical frameworks.SecondtheexaminationoftheWaffen-SSbecomesevenmorepertinent whenoneconsidersthattherehasbeennomeaningfulandobjectivediscussionofthe criminalactivitiesoftheWaffen-SS.Thestudyofthismilitaryformationallowsaclose examinationofsituational,dispositionalandinteractionalfactorsthathelpedtopromote thegrowthandoccurrenceofevilinthecontextofthegenocidalbarbarityoftheEastern Front.FromthisunderstandingIhopetobeabletodrawanaccuratepictureandreacha defendableanalysisastotheactionsoftheWaffen-SS.

SinceStein’s(1966) 2 seminalexaminationtherehavebesomeanalysesofthecrimesof

individualunitsaswellasamajorworkbyTheile(1997)indefenceoftheWaffen-SS.

TheWaffen-SShasalsobeenexaminedbyanumberofauthorswithitsformationand structurebeingthemainfocus.However,thefewstudiesavailableontheWaffen-SSpoint toahighfrequencyofcrimesbeingcommittedbythiseliteforceduringtheconflictonthe

EasternFront(Christensen,Smith,&Poulsen,2003:9).Thepurposeofthisbookisto

drawuponthesestudiesandothersourcestoexploretheWaffen-SSwithintheframework

ofthecriminalliabilityforactionsundertakenontheEasternFront.Wegnernotesthat:

IfonesurveystheliteratureonthehistoryoftheSSandtheWaffen-SS,itbecomes obvioushowimmensethediscrepancyisbetweentheveritableavalancheoftitlesandthe quitemodestyieldofcredibleandscholarlyinsights.Thereasonforthisdiscrepancyis clear;morethanagenerationafterthecollapseoftheThirdReich,theSSasahistorical phenomenonhasexercisedapowerfulemotionalattraction.Atthesametimeitdemands thatwecometotermswithitmorally,andbothofthesefactorsaretheleitmotivsofpublic

discussion.(Wegner,1990:1)

ThisabsenceofrealdiscussioninrelationtothecrimesandcriminalityoftheWaffen-SS

hasallowedproponentsbothforandagainsttheWaffen-SStocreatevariousmythsabout

whoandwhattheWaffen-SSactuallywere.

TheWaffen-SSpossessesasurprisinglywidecultfollowingamongmilitarybuffs.The

statusofamilitaryelitewithintheGermanarmedforces…theimpressivecombatrecord

andauraoftoughnessthatsurroundedtheforce:allholdenormousfascinationfor

modellersandcollectorsalike,asthehugevolumeofpost-warphotographicand

illustratedmaterialrelatingtotheWaffen-SSattests.(Mackenzie,1997:135)

ItisforthisreasonthattheWaffen-SSisoneofthemostfrequentlydiscussedand persistentlycontroversialsubjectsofthatera.Indeedthe“…SSposessociologicaland psychologicalquestionstopoliticalsciencethatgofarbeyondthestillexistingneedto furnishdocumentaryproofforthefunctionsassignedtocertainformationsoftheSS”

(Paetel,1959:34).Oneofthemostpressingsocialandpsychologicalquestionsisthe“…

extraordinarypowertoaccomplishpureevilthathelpstomaketheSSanendlessly

fascinatingsubjecttostudy”(Kren&Rappoport,1976:87).

SincethecloseofWorldWarIItheveteransoftheWaffen-SShavebeenactivelyinvolved

inthedenialofitsinvolvementinandresponsibilityforatrocitiesonthebasisthatits

membersweresimplesoldierswithnolinkstotheterribleactionsthattookplaceonand

behindthefrontlines.Thisbookwillargueotherwise.ThroughoutthisbookIwillusethe

termWaffen-SSapologists.Thisisaloosegroupingofproponentssupportiveofapositive

imagefortheWaffen-SS.BythistermIamreferringtothoseorganisations,veteransand

writerswhohavedeterminedlyundertakeneffortstorehabilitatetheimageoftheWaffen-

SSandseparateitfromtheSSorganisationasawhole,andthecrimescommittedbysuch. Themotivationsoftheseapologistsaremanyandvaried,butthemostcommon underlyingthemewouldseemtobethatthemilitaryachievementsoftheWaffen-SSfar outweighanycrimescommittedbysuch,andthereforeanyelementsthatmaytarnishthe fightingreputationoftheWaffen-SSshouldbediscountedorignored.Itisnotthatthis bookisseekingtoshowthatthecrimescommittedbytheWaffen-SSwereanymoreor lessevilincomparisontoothermilitaryformationsduringorsinceWorldWarII.As pointedoutbyKnopptheWaffen-SSwere“…notuniqueintheirbrutalbehaviour,and thedifferencebetweentheWehrmacht 3 andtheWaffen-SSwasbynomeansasgreatas

hasbeenclaimed”(Knopp,2002:xiii).

TheroleoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFrontwassomethingakintoaholycrusade;its purposewastodestroythosegroupswhowereabhorrenttotheidealsoftheNaziParty. TheseincludedSlavs,JewsandBolsheviks.DuringtheconflicttheWaffen-SSwereto provethemselvestobeexcellentsoldiersandtheybecameknownastheFuhrer’sfire brigade,withtheresultthatWaffen-SSunitswererushedwhereverthefightingwas

fiercest.InhisextensiveworkonthewarasaglobalconflictWeinberg(1994:458)

describestheWaffen-SSontheEasternfrontasfollows;“…thearmedformationsofthe SS.Fanaticalinspirit,favouredovertheregulararmyindeliveryofweapons,andnot alwaysparticularlyobedient,thesecontingentswereintheprocessofbecomingakindof firebrigadefromcriticalpointsonthefront”.Butthisgroupwasalsoemployedinother roles.Infact,clearlinkscanbedrawnbetweentheWaffen-SS,theconcentrationcamp systemandtheEinsatzgruppen 4 .

Thismilitaryformationwaspeculiarinthatitwasintegratedintotheoverallsystemof violencethatwastheSSandassuchdidnotpossesstheprofessionalautonomyofthe army.Forthisreasonitcannotbeseenasapuremilitaryforce,ratherithadallthe hallmarksofbeingapoliticaltooloftheNaziregime.WhenItalybegantowithdrawfrom thewarafterthefallofMussolini,Waffen-SSunitswererushedtoItalydespitethefact theyweredesperatelyneededontheEasternFront.Foremostamongthembeingthe1 st Waffen-SSPanzerDivisionLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler.ThereasoninggivenbyHitler

tohisgeneralsatamilitaryconferenceonthe26 th July1943wasasfollows:

…Ihavetotakeunitsthatarepoliticallyreliable…InItalyIcanonlyaccomplish somethingwithcrackformationsthatarepoliticallyclosewithfascism.Ifitweren’tfor thatIcouldtakeacoupleofarmydivisions.Butasitis,Ineedamagnettogatherthe peopletogether…Imusthaveunitsthatcomeunderapoliticalbanner(Gilbert,

1950:106-109).

Thesepoliticalaspectsareimportantastheyprovideabackgroundagainstwhichthe

actionsoftheWaffen-SScanbeexaminedtodeterminetheperceivedliabilityfortheir

actions.InordertoexaminetheWaffen-SSitisnecessarytolimitthescopeofthe

investigationtothespecificactionsoftheWaffen-SSintheEast.Thisisduetothe

enormityoftheconflictitselfandtheneedtoexamineadefinedandspecificgroupforthe

purposeofthisbook.Toexaminemoreissimplybeyondthescopeofthisbook.The

EasternFront,inparticulartheactionsoftheWaffen-SS,provideanexcellentcasestudy

ofthetotalwardoctrineandgenocidalactions.Theexaminationofthisselectedand

limitedsectionoftheGermanarmedforces(theWaffen-SS),allowsdevelopmentofa

morecompletepictureofthefactorsthatcancausesoldierstocommitactsofevil.To

completethisexaminationthenatureoftheconflictontheEasternFrontisstudiedto

placetheactionsoftheWaffen-SSinanoverallcontext.Lastlyspecificactionsofthe

Waffen-SSareexaminedandanalysedinthelightofthepost-warWarCrimeTrials.

TheEasternFront–Anintroduction

TheformationoftheNaziPartyandit’sascensiontopowerundertheguidanceofit’s leader,AdolfHitler,wasaneventthatwouldbegintheGermanrevolutionandinamatter

of12yearsbringtoanendwhatwasgoingtobethe1000-yearReich.WorldWarIIwas

oneofthemostpivotaleventsofthe20 th century.TheconflictontheEasternFrontwas seenasthemostimportantphenomenonoftheconflictanditspoliticalrepercussions lastedfordecadesafterthewarended.Butofevenmoreimportanceistheimpactthatthe EasternFronthadonthecourseofthewaranditseventualoutcome.Itwasawarthat

unleashedunparalleledgenocidalbarbarityandresultedinadeathtollinexcessof30

millionpeople.IndeedithasbeenarguedthatevenbeforeitbeganHitlerinsisteditwasto beaVernichtungskrieg,orwarofannihilationunlikeanyotherinhistory.Inhisdirective number21issuedonthe18 th ofDecember1940tothearmedforces,Hitlermadeclear thattheaimofOperationBarbarossa 5 wastocrushSovietRussiainarapidcampaign.It wasenvisagedthattheEastwouldseeadifferentkindofoccupationfromthetypeusedin theconqueredcountriesintheWest.Theoccupationpolicieswouldseethebrutal impositionofGermaninterests.Itwaspartoftheplanthattheconqueredterritorywasto beresettledbyGermansandthecurrentpopulationusedasslavelabourwherepossible.

TheseedsforthisbarbaritystemmedfromHitler’sramblingviewoftheworld.His

policiessprungfromapoliticalideologythatmixedtheideasoflivingspace

(lebensraum),racism,anti-Semitism,economicindependenceandthevisionofGermany

beingaworldpower.HitlerperceivedGermanyasanationwithoutspaceandsheneeded

toconquerlandintheEasttoobtainlivingspaceandextensionofGermanresources.

CertainlyHitlersawtheconflictinRussiaasbeingawarofabsoluteswithtwooutcomes,

eithervictoryorannihilation.HitlerinvadedRussiatocrushapoliticalandideological

systemthatwasabhorrenttotheNationalSocialistideals.FurtherheenvisagedaNazi

stylecolonialismthatwouldgainlivingspacefortheraciallysuperiorGermansand

reducetheSlavslivinginRussiatothestatusofsubhumanswiththeresultthatinthe

militaryspheretoo,thebloodinessandbarbarityofthestruggleowedmuchtoits

ideologicalcharacter.ThisviewoftheRussianasasubhumanisreflectedinthepost-war

commentsofWaffen-SSgeneralMaxSimon:

AllhaveingreaterorlesserdegreetheAsiaticcharacteristicsoffrugality,cunning, cruelty,hatredofforeignersandindifferencetodeath.Thefactthat,asAsiatics,theyhave littleornowilloftheirown,indulgingonlyinmassthinking,butatthesametimecan

facemassdeath,facilitatedCommunisteducationanduniformity.(Simon,1953:4)

DuringoneofhisprivateconversationsinAugust1941Hitleroutlinedhisthoughtsonthe

wayinwhichtheseGermancolonistswouldlive:TheGermancolonistoughttoliveon handsome,spaciousfarms.TheGermanserviceswillbelodgedinmarvellousbuildings, thegovernorsinpalaces.Beneaththeshelteroftheadministrativeservices,weshall graduallyorganiseallthatisindispensabletothemaintenanceofacertainstandardof

living.Aroundthecity,toadepthof30to40kilometres,weshallhaveabeltofhandsome

villagesconnectedbythebestroads.Whatexistsbeyondthatwillbeanotherworld,in whichwemeantolettheRussiansliveastheylike.Itismerelynecessarythatweshould

rulethem.(Trevor-Roper,2000:24).

ThenatureoftheRusso-Germanconflictwasdistinctinthatnotonlywasitabattleof

racialoriginsandideology,butitwasalsoseenasawarofeconomicsurvival.Hitler

neededthelandofRussiaforthreemainreasons:livingspacefortheGermanpeople,

foodtofeedtheGermanpeople,andresourcestodriveGermanindustry.Withoutthese

Germany,inHitler’sview,wouldbeunabletoconductalengthyconflictandwouldbeat

riskbothfromamilitaryandeconomicstandpoint.Hitlerwasdrivenbystrategicand

ideologicalmotives,whichresultedinhisperceivedneedtodestroytheraciallyinferior

SlavsandtaketheirlandwhileatthesametimedestroyingtheJewish-Bolshevikthreatto

Germany.TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal(IMT)recognisedthatthisconflictwastobe

conductedinamannerconducivetocommittingwarcrimes.

…warcrimesweredeliberatelyplannedlonginadvance.InthecaseoftheSovietUnion, theplunderoftheterritoriestobeoccupied,andtheilltreatmentofthecivilianpopulation,

weresettledinminutedetailbeforetheattackwasbegun.Asearlyastheautumnof1940,

theinvasionoftheterritoriesoftheSovietUnionwasbeingconsidered.Fromthatdate onwards,themethodstobeemployedindestroyingallpossibleoppositionwere continuouslyunderdiscussion.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946Vol1:227)

DuringthetrialofthemajorwarcriminalsbytheIMTitwasheldthatGermanyhad conductedanaggressivewaragainstRussia. TheplansfortheeconomicexploitationoftheU.S.S.R.,fortheremovalofmassesofthe population,forthemurderofCommissarsandpoliticalleaders,wereallpartofthe

carefullypreparedschemelaunchedonthe22ndJunewithoutwarningofanykind,and

withouttheshadowoflegalexcuse.Itwasplainaggression.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946Vol1:215)

HitlersawtheopportunityofaquickblowagainstRussiaasbeingimperativein1941,as

onceRussiawasoutofthewaritwouldallowGermanytofocusonthestill-defiant Britain,andAmericashoulditdecidetoenterthewar.UponhisrisetopowerHitlerhad alwaysseenhisdestinyandthatoftheGermanReichbeingdecidedintheEast.Foritwas therethathesawhistrueenemy.Atdinneronthe17 th ofSeptember1941Hitler commentedonthestruggleintheEast:

ThestruggleforthehegemonyoftheworldwillbedecidedinfavourofEuropeby possessionoftheRussianspace…theessentialthing,forthemomentistoconquer.After thateverythingwillbesimplyaquestionoforganisation…TheSlavsareamassofborn

slaveswhofeeltheneedofamaster.(Trevor-Roper,2000:33)

Therecentexhibition“TheGermanArmyandGenocide”bytheHamburgInstitutefor SocialResearchprovidedclearevidencethat:ThewarintheEastwasnotsimplya particularlyruthless,ideologicallychargedwar,butitnowappearedasadestructivewar againstentirepopulations–awarwhichaimedatthetotalannihilationofsomegroupsof

peopleandthedecimationandenslavementofothers.(Bartov,1999:7)

ForthepurposeofthisbooktheEasternFrontshallbedeemedtoincludefront-line actionsandoccupiedareasthatweretotheEastoftheGermanReichborderspriortothe beginningtheWorldWarII.Thetimeperiodbeingtakenintoconsiderationisfromthe 22 nd ofJune1941untilthetakingofBerlinbyRussianforcesinMay1945.Fromapurely militarystandpointconflictonthescaleoftheEasternFronthadnotbeenseenpriortoor sinceWorldWarII.IndeedOperationBarbarossa,theinvasionofRussia,pittedthelargest nationalarmieseverassembledagainsteachother.Onthe22 nd ofJune1941Hitler unleashedthreeGermanArmyGroupsupontheSovietUnion.ArmyGroupNorth

eventuallyadvancedtoLeningradandbesiegedthatcityforsome900days,butfailedto

takethecity.ArmyGroupCentreadvanceduponMoscowandcamewithinviewofthe goldenspiresoftheKremlin.ThiswasascloseastheGermanswouldcometotakingthe city.ArmyGroupSouthadvancedintotheUkraineandCrimeauntilthedisasterof

Stalingradin1942whereanentireArmywaslost.In1943theGermansgambledona

strategicvictoryatKursk,butultimatelyfailed,beingbeatenbythoroughRussian

preparationfortheoffensiveandGermanvacillation.FromtheendoftheKurskoffensive,

withfewexceptions,thenextfewyearswouldbeonesofconstantretreatbytheGerman

forcesuntiltheirultimatedefeatbeforethegatesofBerlin.AsnotedbySS-Gruppenführer

MaxSimoninapost-warstatement:

Verysoon,werealisedthatwehadunderestimatedouropponent…theflowerofour shocktroopshadbeenirretrievablylostbythen,andtodayIfeeljustifiedinsayingthata completemisjudgementandunderratingoftheRussianpowerofresistancewasoneofthe

reasonsforthefailureofGermany’scampaignagainstRussia.(Simon,1949:3)

SourcesofinformationontheWaffen-SS

TobuildapictureoftheoperationsandnatureoftheWaffen-SSIhavereferredtoa

numberofsourcestogiveanaccurateaccount.Theprimarysourcesincludethemilitary

trialsheldafterthewarbytheAllies,andlaterbyGermanyitself.Thesebeingthetrialsof

theMajorWarCriminalsconductedbytheInternationalMilitaryTribunal(hereafter

referredtoastheIMT–commonlyreferredtoastheBlueseries),acomprehensive42-

volumesetofdocumentsandtestimonyfromthefirstwarcrimestrialatNuremberg.In

particularvolumesIVandXX,whichdealwithvariousaspectsoftheWaffen-SS.Aswell

asthis,theeight-volumesetofthedecisionoftheInternationalMilitaryTribunalagainst

thedefendantsatNuremberg(commonlyreferredtoastheRedSeries),summarisesthe

crimesforwhichthedefendantswereputontrialandexplainstheCourt’sdecisionagainst

eachdefendant.Italsoincludesthedissentingverdictsandthesentenceshandeddownto

thecriminals.ThissetwaspublishedintheUnitedStatesbytheOfficeofChiefof

CounselfortheProsecutionofAxisCriminality.ItisgenerallyreferredtoastheNazi

ConspiracyandAggressionset.

TheNurembergMilitaryTrials(hereafterreferredtoastheNMT-TheGreenseries)a15

volumesetofdocumentsandtestimonyfromthelast12Nurembergtrials.Thiswasa

seriesof12trialsforwarcrimestheU.S.authoritiesheldintheiroccupationzonein

GermanyinNurembergaftertheendofWorldWarII.ThetrialsthatIshallreferto

includetheDoctors’Trial,whichexaminedmedicalexperimentsonconcentration-camp

prisoners.TheEinsatzgruppenTrial,whichlookedattheactionsoftheSSmobilekilling

groupsintheEast,andthePohlTrial,whichexaminedtheroleoftheSSMainEconomic

andAdministrativeOffice(WVHA)invariouscrimesagainsthumanity.

FurtherinformationwasavailablefromthewartrialsheldinGermanyafterthewar.The

Germanpost-wartrialsincludethoseconductedinWestGermanyintheFederalRepublic

(hereafterreferredtoastheFRseries)and;EastGermanyintheGermanDemocratic

Republic(hereafterreferredtoastheGDRseries).

IhavealsoutilisedmanuscriptspreparedbyformerWaffen-SSofficersfortheHistorical Division,UnitedStatesArmy,Europe. 6 Themanuscriptsdealwithvariousfacetsofthe armedconflictinvolvingtheWaffen-SS.TheStudiesconsistofsevenseriesasfollows:

ETHINT(EuropeanTheatreInterrogations)1-80;A855-1000;B001-850;C1-102d;D

001-431;P001-217andT1a-123K3.Thereare1,737itemsinEnglishand2,169itemsin

German.CopiesofthemanuscriptsareheldattheNationalArchives,Washington

(catalogueavailableonpaperandmicrofilm).

TherearealsoanumberofSSpublicationsreferredtothroughoutthetrialsthatprovidean

insightintotheideologyandpoliticaloutlookoftheSSanditsmembers.Anumberof

thesedocumentsofthisnaturehavealsobeentranslatedintoEnglishandpublishedin

recenttimes.

Idecidedtoincludeunithistorieswrittenbyveteransandalsointerviewsgivenbysuch veteransforvideoproductionsandbooks,etc.Thisisbecauseitallowsaviewfrombelow incontrasttotheviewsofthecommandandcontrollevel,thedifficultieswiththesebeing thatwhiletheyprovidefirst-handaccounts,naturallyfewoftheveteransaregoingto discloseifanyatrocitieswerecommitted.Indeedtherehasbeenaconcertedcampaignto rehabilitatetheimageoftheWaffen-SSinpost-waryears.Tothisendorganisations,such astheMutualAidSocietyoftheWaffen-SS(HAIGorganisation)havefinanceda multitudeofmemoirsandunitshistoriesthatfocuspurelyonthemilitaryroleofthe

Waffen-SS(Mackenzie,1997;Paetel,1959;Sydnor,1973).Ihaveincludedtheseaccounts

becauseoftheirvalueasprimarysourcesandsecondbecausedirectquotesfromsomeof

themainactorsgiveaclearinsightintotheirintentionsandreasonsfortheiractions.As

notedbyformerWaffen-SSofficerGeorgMaierinhishistoryofthe6 th SSPanzerArmy:

“Contemporarywitnessesareabletoprovideessentialinsightforthecourseoreventsand evaluationofthem.Thecanhelpfillintheobviousgapsandfrequentlybringimportant

informativefactstolight,clarifyingthemforthehistorian”(Maier,2004:1).TothisendI

haveutilisedtheaccountsofmanyWaffen-SSveterans.

Therehasbeenaninterestbothinpopularjournalismandcontemporaryhistoryastothe

actionsoftheWaffen-SS.AsnotedbySydnortherehasbeen“…anoutpouringof scholarlyliteraturerecording,andanalysingthepersonalities,agencies,andinstitutionsof

theSS…”(Sydnor,1989:249).However,oneofthedifficultiesindealingwiththe

Waffen-SSisthatoftenstudiestendtobepolarisedinthattheyeitherportraytheWaffen-

SSasaterrororganisationortheyadoptanapologetictoneandfocuspurelyonthe

militaryachievementsoftheWaffen-SS(Koehl,1962;Wegner,1985).Assuch:

…itsachievementsonthebattlefieldareisolatedfromthecontextofthehistoryoftheSS andNationalSocialismandpresentedasitwereinahistoricalvacuum.Inthisway membersoftheWaffen-SSappeartohavebeenjustlikeothersoldiers.(Wegner,

1985:221)

Asnotedbyoneauthor,sensationalistjournalismhasbeenresponsibleformanystories abouttheSSwhere“…theemphasisisonthegoryatrocity,thecloakanddaggerstory, thesexuallyabnormal,theidiosyncrasiesofpersonalitiesandthefantasticplansand

dreamsofindividuals”(Koehl,1962:276).Itismyintenttopiercethisveilofmilitary

achievementandsensationalismtolookatthesystematicabusesthatwerecommittedby

theWaffen-SS.Othersourceshave,however,becomeavailabletoassistinanyanalysisof

theWaffen-SS.Inrecentyearsanumberofnewbooksandscholarlyarticleshavebeen

publishedthatassistwithunderstandingandexploringtheactionsoftheWaffen-SSonthe

EasternFrontanditsassociationwithotheraspectsoftheSSstate.

AswellasthisIhavereliedonsuchcrucialsourcesofinformationastheprivate

conversationsofHitler(Trevor-Roper,2000)andthetranscriptsofHitler’smilitary

conferencesandthemilitarydirectivesissuedfromsuch(Gilbert,1950;Heiber&Glantz,

2003;Trevor-Roper,1964).FromthesevariedsourcesIhopetobeabletodrawan

accuratepictureandreachadefendableconclusionastotheactionsoftheWaffen-SSand

theapplicationoftheconceptofevil.Thisbookisalsoaccompaniedbyappendicesthat

willassistthereaderinacquiringtheknowledgerequiredinsuchaspecialisedareasuch

astheWaffen-SS.

Outlineofthebook

Thisbookisstructuredinthefollowingmanner.Chapter1essentiallyexamineswhothe

Waffen-SSwereandwhytheywerecreatedfromanorganisationalstandpoint.The

chapteralsostudiesthelogicoftheNazisandtheideologicalpurposebehindtheWaffen-

SS.InparticulartheroleofHimmler’sinfluenceovertheWaffen-SSisdiscussed.

Chapter2examinesthestructure,organisation,training,economicandsociological

makeupoftheWaffen-SStosomedegree.FromthisdiscussionIhopetobeabletogive

thereaderagoodunderstandingofwhotheWaffen-SSwereasanorganisation.

Chapters3,4and5lookattheactionsoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFrontbylooking

atlinkstotheconcentration-camps,involvementintheEinsatzgruppen,anti-partisan

operationsandgeneralcombatactions.Thesechaptersareessentiallyansweringthewhat

partofthequestion;thatbeing,whatcrimesdidtheWaffen-SScommit?Inthesechapters

IdescribetheviolenceandatrocitythatwereundertakenbytheWaffen-SS.

Chapter6addressestheimportantquestionofgroupresponsibilityandcollectiveguilt.

ThishasoftenbeenanareawhereapologistsfortheWaffen-SShavebasedmuchoftheir

argumentthattheWaffen-SSwerejustinnocentsoldiers.TheargumentthattheWaffen-

SSsoldiersweredemonicorevilisalsorejectedandtheconceptofdemonisationis

refuted.

InChapter7Ianalysethereasonsbehindthecriminalandevilactscommittedbythe

Waffen-SS.Thisisdonesothatonecanunderstandwhytheactswerecommitted.I

examineanumberofareasthatarerelevantinexplaining(withoutcondoning)whythe

Waffen-SScommittedthecrimestheydid.Theseissuesincludeobediencetoorders,the

factorsofdevaluingtheenemy,andresponsibilityoftheindividualsoldier.Theroleof

difficultlifeconditionsontheEasternFrontisthenexploredasabackgroundcontextto

theactionsoftheWaffen-SS.

1.TheoriginsandideologyoftheWaffen-SS

TheSSwereinitiallyformedasabodyguardforHitlerwhocouldnolongerrelyonthe supportorloyaltyoftheoriginalSA 7 stormtroopers,whowerethefootsoldiersofthe NaziParty.FromthishandfulofmentheWaffen-SSbecamethelargestbranchoftheSS. Indoingso,apologistsfortheWaffen-SSarguethatitbecamethedefactofourthbranchof theGermanarmedforcesofWorldWarII,theothersbeingtheNavy,ArmyandAirForce. DuringthecourseofthisbookIwillshowthattheWaffen-SSwasclearlynotjustanother branchoftheGermanArmedforces.

TheWaffen-SSsoldierswereuniqueinthattheywerethefirstofGermany’sarmedforces thatsworeapersonaloathofloyaltytoHitler,andunderwentarigorousprocessof indoctrinationtoNaziidealsandweretrainedtobeahighlydisciplined,motivatedand successfulmilitaryformation.ForthisreasontheWaffen-SShasbeenviewedbysomeas

a“…praetorianguardandelite”oftheNazistate(Wegner,1985:220).Indeed,duringa

dinnerconversationonthe1 st ofNovember1941Hitlerremarkedthat“Withinahundred yearsorsofromnowalltheGermanelitewillbeaproductoftheSS,foronlytheSS

practicesracialselection”(Trevor-Roper,2000:106).TheWaffen-SSgainedconsiderable

respectbothfromfoesandfriendsduetothefactthatTheWaffen-SSpossessedmilitary qualitiesequalledbyfewothersandsurpassedbynone.Bywar’senditnumberedsome 900000 8 men.

DefiningtheWaffen-SS

OneofthemostcontentiousissueswhendealingwiththeWaffen-SSisactuallyclearly

definingwhatunitsanddepartmentsshouldbeconsideredtobepartoftheWaffen-SS.As

notedbySydnor:

AttemptstodefinewhattheWaffen-SSwasleadinvariablytoquestionsabouttheextent towhichtheWaffen-SSwasorwasnotanintegralpartoftheoverallSSorganisation,and thedegreetowhichitwasorwasnotinvolvedinthecriminalactsattributedtothe

SchutzStaffel.(Sydnor,1973:339)

Onthe2 nd ofMarch1940HitleracceptedaproposalfromOberkommandoderWehrmacht (OKW)orArmedForcesCommandthatledtothere-organisationofSSunitsandtheuse

ofthetermWaffen-SSbecameofficial(Stein,1966).Asaresultofthisproposalthe

Waffen-SSwasatthatstagetoincludetheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler,theSS-

VerfügungstruppeDivision 9 (SSVTwastheforerunnertotheWaffen-SS),theTotenkopf Division,theSS-PolizeiDivision,theSS-Junkerschulenortrainingacademiesandall replacementandtrainingunits.Ofcrucialimportanceisthattheproposalalsorecognised theSSTotenkopfverbändeaspartoftheWaffenSS,withthequalificationthat“…the decisionastowhetherthisdutycountsasmilitaryserviceistobetakeninthefuture”

(Stein,1966:49).

TheproposalalsoacknowledgedthattherewereadditionalsectionsoftheWaffen-SSthat

wentbeyondthearmedfightingunits.Theseincluded“…sevenadministrative

organisationshandlingrecruitment,supply,administration,justice,welfare,weapons

developmentandmedicalservices”(Stein,1966:49).Serviceinsuchunitswasconsidered

tobemilitaryservice.InadditiontothisthetermWaffen-SSactuallyincludedallSS formationsandofficesborneonthebudgetoftheReichMinisterofFinance.Ina memorandumdatedthe11 th ofMay1942Himmler,whenreferringtothebudgetofthe Waffen-SS,includedthefightingdivisions,schoolsandtheconcentration-campsandother

ancillaryunitsasbeingpartoftheWaffen-SS(Butler,2004;Krausnick,Buchheim,

Broszat,&Jacobsen,1965).Thisorderwastobe:

ThemostcogentargumentagainstthoseSSapologistswhoclaimthattheWaffen-SShad nothingtodowiththeconcentration-camps.Onboththehighestformallevelandthe lowestguardlevelHimmlerhadirrevocablyboundtheknightsofhisblackordertothe

murkiestcornersofhisdeadlyempire.(Mollo,1982:42)

Thisatleastprovidesastartingplatformastowhatunitsorsectionscanbeconsideredto

bepartoftheWaffen-SS.However,likemostapparatusoftheNazistatethisorganisation

wassubjecttorevisionasthewarwenton.AsIproceedthroughthefollowingchaptersI

willdiscussmyargumentsinmoredetailastowhytheunits,whichundertookanti-

partisanduties,andtheactivitiesoftheEinsatzgruppenandtheconcentrationcamps,were

eitherpartof,orheavilylinkedtotheWaffen-SS.

ItismyargumentthattheWaffen-SSwasnotjustlimitedtothefightingformationsatthe

front.Afightingunitreliesonasupplyandadministrativeapparatustosurvive.Itisnot

sensibletoseparatethecombatunitsfromtheotherunitsthatweresonecessaryfortheir

abilitytoundertakethedutiesplaceduponthem.DuringhistestimonyatNuremberg,SS-

OberstgruppenführerPaulHausserattemptedtodistancetheWaffen-SSfightingunits

fromtheconcentration-campguards.

HAUSSER:Allpersonswhoservedathomeandinthepolicehadtobeexemptedfrom militaryserviceinthearmybytheWehrkreisordistrictcommanderinordertocarryout theirpolicetasks.ThatdidnotapplywhenallguardunitsweredesignatedasWaffen-SS, forthesewereapartofthearmedforces.InthemainofficesinBerlintheseunits,inorder todifferentiatethem,weredesignatednominalWaffen-SS.ButallthisIlearnedonlyhere later.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:366)

HausserhasoutlinedamajorargumentofWaffen-SSveteransandtheirsupporters,that being“…exceptfororganisationalconnectionstherewerenofundamentaltiesbetween

theSSandtheWaffen-SS”(Krenetal.,1976:88).Thisisjustsimplynotthecase.

ApologistssuchasTheileattempttodistancetheWaffen-SSfromtheunsavourypartsof theSSorganisation.Inhisstudy,TheileexcludesfromhisdiscussionoftheWaffen-SSthe concentration-camps,theEinsatzgruppenandthemainSSadministrativeoffices(Theile,

1997).AsnotedbyStein,theSS-Totenkopfstandarten(Death’sHeadunitsformedfrom

concentration-campguards)“wereeventuallyincorporated,unitbyunit,intothelarger

fieldformationsoftheWaffen-SS”(Segev,1987;Stein,1966:50).TheDeath’sHeadunits

wereusedtoformvariousWaffen-SSformations,whichsomedescribeasasecond

Waffen-SS.ThiswasdueinthemaintotheappallingreputationoftheTotenkopfunits;it

suitedtheapologiststodistancethesegroupsfortheotherfightingunits.Thissecond

Waffen-SSissimilartotheexpressionusedbytheSSintheirdefenceatNuremberg

wheresomemembersweredescribedasnominal.Thisisaflawedapproach;itseemsthat

theargumentisthatthosepartsoftheWaffen-SSthatappeartaintedshouldbeexcluded

fromaccount.Thisissimplynotthecase;theseformationswerepartoftheWaffen-SS

andassuchshouldbeincludedintheexaminationoftheWaffen-SSorganisationasa

wholejustasmuchasthefront-linefightingunits.

Theactionsofofficersandmenattachedtosuchastheaboveraisedproblemsforthe

defenceoftheWaffen-SSatNuremberg.Totryandcircumnavigatethisproblemthe

defencecoinedthetermnominalmembersoftheWaffen-SS,whichtheyalmost

exclusivelyappliedtothosemembersoftheWaffen-SSwhowerenotinthecombatunits

orwhocommittedatrocitiesinplacessuchasthecamps.Theargumentofnominal

Waffen-SSmemberswasaconstantthemeusedbytheSSdefencewitnesses.Itisof

concernthatatthetimeofthetrials,thedefenceandwitnessesneverpresentedany

documentaryevidencethat,indicatedthattheWaffen-SScommandhadprotestedagainst

theinclusionofsuchofficersormenwithintheranksoftheWaffen-SS.Certainlythereis

noevidencethatofficerslikeHausserattemptedtoresigntheircommissionsorleavethe

Waffen-SSinprotestatsuchactionsthattheyclaimedwereaninsulttotheirhonour.

InessencethewitnessesweretryingtosaythattheseotherpeoplewereWaffen-SS,but

notWaffen-SS.Thedifficultyinincludingsuchunitscanbeseenbytheanswersgivenby

Waffen-SSofficerssuchasRobertBrillwhenquestionedbytheRussianprosecutor:

MR.COUNSELLORSMIRNOV:Willyoutellus,please,whowasinchargeofthe commandwithintheconcentration-camp.WasitnottheWaffen-SS? BRILL:No,theywerenotcommandsoftheWaffen-SS.Certainmembersofthenominal Waffen-SSwerewiththecommands;butthereisaclearorderoftheHighCommandof theArmedForceswhichIhavealreadymentioned.ItisincludedintheArmycircularof

December1940,andstatesthatmembersoftheDeath’sHeadunitsdonotdoanymilitary

serviceinthesense’oftheWaffen-SS-MembersoftheDeath’sHeadunits.MR. COUNSELLORSMIRNOV:Iwouldliketoaskyoutobemoreconcise.Soyoucontend thatthecommandsinconcentration-campswerenotWaffen-SScommands? BRILL:ThecommandswerenotundertheHighCommandoftheWaffen-SS;butIwish topointoutthatmembersoftheWaffen-SSwerewiththecommands.Thisisthe difference.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:352)

Thiswouldappeartobeaninaccuratestatement.Thequestionneedstobeaskedatwhat pointdidthesemembersoftheWaffen-SSbecomenominal?Wasitbeforetheyjoinedthe fightingdivisionsoftheWaffen-SS,orwasitaftertheyleftthemandtookupdutiesinthe camps?AtwhatpointdidMaxSimon,commanderoftheReichsführer-SSDivision,or GeorgBochmann,commanderoftheGotzVonBerlichingenDivision,consider themselvestobemerelynominalWaffen-SSmembers?SimonandBochmannbothserved

atSachsenburgandDachau(MacLean,1999a).

OnepurposeofseparatingtheWaffen-SSfromtheseotherorganisationsisthatitallows

thereputationoftheWaffen-SStoberehabilitatedtosomedegree,andthishasoftenbeen

theaimofpost-warapologists.AsstatedbyWegnerwhenhebeganhisstudyofthe

Waffen-SS:

InitialinvestigationssoonrevealedthattheanalysisoftheWaffen-SSsolelyintermsofits

militarycharacteristicswouldnotbehistoricallyrelevantbecausethisapproachwould

havehiddenthecentralfactthattheWaffen-SS,asaresultofitsintegrationintotheall-

encompassingsystemoforganisedviolencethatwastheSS,neitherpossessedthe professionalautonomyofthearmynorcoulditbedefinedasstrictlymilitaryinthe

traditionalsense.(Wegner,1990:3)

ThisstudyrejectsthenotionofthenominalWaffen-SSmemberasitwasrejectedat

Nuremberg.ItismycontentionthattheWaffen-SSneedstobeexaminedasawhole

organisation,ratherthenjustisolatingcertainsectionsoftheorganisation.Itisbeyondthe

scopeofthisbooktoperformafullanalysisoftheSSorganisation.Themaindepartments

astheyrelatetotheWaffen-SSonlyhavebeenincludedinthisbook;assuchitisnota

completerepresentationoftheSSstate.FurtherdiscussionofspecificHimmlerandFührer

orderswillshedmorelightontherelationshipbetweentheWaffen-SSandother

departmentsoftheSS.

TheNaziideologyandthecreationoftheWaffen-SS

Isweartoyou,AdolfHitler,asLeaderandChancelloroftheReich,loyaltyandbravery.I

pledgetoyouandthesuperiorsappointedbyyou,obedienceuntodeath.SohelpmeGod.

“Loyaltyismyhonour”,thiswastheoathofallegianceoftheWaffenSSman.Itwaswith thisoaththatthemembersoftheWaffen-SSboundtheirdestinytoamanwhocommitted someoftheworstatrocitiesinhistoryandembarkedonapathofmurderandmayhemthat wouldresultinthedestructionoftheNazistateandthedeathsofmillions.Thepurposeof thischapteristobasicallyexplorewhotheWaffen-SSwerefromanideological standpoint.ThattheWaffen-SSwasaprodigyoftheNazisisbeyonddoubt;Wegnerstates that“…therewasanintimateconnectionbetweenthedevelopmentoftheWaffen-SSand

thewholeoftheSSasapartyorganisation”(Wegner,1990:62).IndeedtheWaffen-SSas

anorganisationwaspreparedtosurrenderitsmoralresponsibilitytotheNazistate.The

followingpageswilloutlinehowthisoccurred.

TheSSwasinitiallyformedin1925asaprotectionsquadforHitlerandotherleading

Nazis.Itwasformedfromonlythemostactiveandreliablepartymembersandwasseen

tobeanintegralpartofthepartystructure.UpontheelectionofHitlertotheofficeof

Chancellor,SS-ReichsführerHeinrichHimmlerandtheSStookupanumberofofficial

administrative,policeandmilitaryfunctions.ItwasintheserolesthattheSSwould

becometheultimateterrormachineryoftheNazistate.IndeedattheInternational

MilitaryTribunal(IMT)theprosecutiondescribedtheSSasbelow:

FortheSSwastheelitegroupoftheParty,composedofthemostthorough-going adherentsoftheNazicause,pledgedtoblinddevotiontoNaziprinciples,andpreparedto carrythemoutwithoutanyquestion,andatanycost,agroupinwhicheveryordinary valuehasbeensosubvertedthatitsmemberscanask,“Whatisthereunlawfulaboutthe thingswehavedone?”.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:161)

FromitsinitialbeginningstheSSdevelopedintothreemainmanpowersections.Initially

therewasthepoliticalarm,theGeneralorAllgemeineSS,fromwhichgrewtheSS-

Totenkopfverbände(Death’sHeadunits)orcampguards,andfinallytheWaffenor

fightingSS.Attheoutbreakofwarin1939theWaffen-SSemergedfromafewregiments

tosome38divisions 10 bywar’send.TheGeneralSSbywar’sendwouldceasetobea significantforceandtheDeath’sHeadunitswouldbeabsorbedintotheWaffen-SS.As notedbytheNurembergMilitaryTribunal(NMT):

Aftertheoutbreakofwar,unitsfromboththeSpecialServiceTroopsandtheDeath’s HeadFormationswereusedinthePolishcampaign.Thesetroopscametobeknownasthe

Waffenorarmed[Combat]SS.By1940theWaffen-SScontained100,000men,56,000

comingfromtheSpecialServiceTroopsandtherestfromtheAllgemeineSSandthe DeathHeadTroops.Concentration-campguarddutiescametobeperformedprimarilyby membersoftheAllgemeine-SS.TheWaffen-SSfoughtineverycampaignwiththe exceptionofthoseinNorwayandAfrica.Bytheendofthewaritisestimatedtohave

comprisedabout580,000men.Thus,itwasnumericallybyfarthelargerbranchoftheSS,

theAllgemeine-SShavingdeclinedinstrengthtolessthan40,000.

(NurembergMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5:214)

TheSSrosetosignificancewithintheNaziworldbybeingutilisedtospyonother

membersofthepartyandotherpartyorganisations(Muhlberger,1991).Himmlerandthe

SSwerealsousedbyHitlertocounterthegrowingpowerandthreatfromErnstRohmand theSturmAbteilung(SA)orNaziBrownShirts,whoweretheoriginalfootsoldiersofthe Nazis.ThepoliticalreliabilityoftheSSwasconfirmedwhenmembersofthe LeibstandarteandotherSSunitswereusedbyHitlertoeradicatetheleadershipoftheSA

in1934duringtheRohmpurge,thesocalledNightoftheLongKnives.Duringthisaction

theSAleadershipwasemasculatedanditsleadersexecuted.Asaresulttheorganisation wasneveragainaseriouspoliticalthreat.AtNuremberg,SSGeneralPaulHausserdenied anyinvolvementoftheWaffen-SSinthisincident.OtherWaffen-SSgeneralsstateda differentstory.SS-ObergruppenführerKarlWolfflaterrelatedhisroleonthisnightafter thewar.Herecountedhowa“charmingfellow”,whowasthepersonaladjutantforRohm, theleaderoftheSA,and“…alsoaclosepersonalfriend,weoftendinedtogether”was

executed(Messenger,2002).ClearlyfriendshipwasnottostandinthewayoftheSS.

FormurderingmanyoftheirformercomradestheSSearntHitler’sfavourandgratitude.

Waffen-SSGeneralVonEbersteinhadthistosaywhenaskedaboutkillingtheirformer

comrades:

MAJORJONES:Youarenotansweringmyquestion,youknow.Youarewanderingoff intodetailsthathavenorelevancetomyquestionatall.Isuggesttoyouthatthekillings

bytheSSonthe30thofJune1934wereacharacteristicuseoftheSSasthefistof

Nazism.

VONEBERSTEIN:Theeventsofthe30thofJune1934were,accordingtomyfirm

convictionandtothatofmycomrades,theresultofastateofemergencyandtheorders whichweregivenwereadheredtobecausetheyweretheordersoftheheadoftheState.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:312)

TheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlersuppliedtroopsthatexecutedanumberofhigh-ranking

SAofficials.TheaffirmationoftheirloyaltyandthatofotherSSunitstoHitlerwas

signedinthebloodoftheirformerSAcomrades.Waffen-SSGeneralOttoKummnoted:

“ThatisthenthattheimageoftheSSreallychangedforthefirsttime,aftertheFührer

said‘SSmen,yourhonourliesinloyalty’.Youseeforusthatwasnaturallyvery

uplifting”(Halliley,2003).AsaresultoftheRohmpurgetheSSbecamethemost

powerfuleliteorganisationwithintheNazistate.TheroleoftheSSintheRohmpurge effectivelyensuredthatfromnowontheSSdisplayedawilltoactinconformitywiththe willoftheFührer. TherecanbelittledoubtthatthemenoftheWaffen-SSenjoyedaspecialrelationshipwith Hitler.ForinstanceonHitler’sbirthdaymembersoftheWaffen-SSusuallyreceiveda

bottleofwinefromtheirNazipoliticalofficerasagift(Verton,2007).NicolausVon

BelowwasHitler’sLuftwaffeadjutantfrom1937to1945.Heprovidesaglimpseof

Hitler’sspecialrelationshipwiththeWaffen-SS:

HitlerspedbytraintoMetz,wheretheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerwerequartered. Amongthesemenhewasalwaysingoodspirits.Inhisspeechhegavethisfeelingvisible expression.TheSS-Leibstandartemustalwaysexpecttobedeployedtothehottestspots ofthebattle.Hesaid,“Itisforyouwhoarehonouredtocarrymynametostandatthe

forefrontofthestruggle”.(VonBelow,1980:80)

ItwasinthisrolethattheWaffen-SScametorepresentasortofelitethatplacedheavy emphasisonloyaltytoone’scomrades,commonvaluesandpracticesandasenseof

obediencetotheNazicauseandideology(Gingerich,1997;Ripley,2004;Staub,1989;

Stein,1966;Sydnor,1990;Wolfson,1965;Ziegler,1989).ThisnotionoftheSSbeinga

NazieliteattachedtotheSSbecauseofthefactthatitsdutieswerecarriedoutonbehalf oftheNaziregime.Itwasseentobeanelitefromasocial,racialandpoliticalaspect.In thisrespectlimitedresearchofsomeWaffen-SSofficershasindicatedthatmanyjoinedto ensurethattheycouldachieve“…amoresatisfyingself”throughtheapparently

legitimateandsociallyacceptablemeansofjoiningthiselite(J.Steiner,1963:416).

TheSShadprovenitsloyaltybeyonddoubt;itwasforthisreasonthattheFührercould placeabsolutefaithinhisSSlegions.AssuchtheSSwereindependentfromboththe PoliceandtheWehrmacht,andavailableforHitler’sexclusiveuse.TothispurposeHitler issuedasecretFührerorderonthe17 th ofAugust1938,whichoutlinedtheroleanduses oftheWaffen-SSbothinpeacetimeandinwar.HeclearlydelineatesthattheWaffen-SSis indeeddifferentfromjustordinarysoldiers.

II.TheArmedUnitsoftheSS. TheSS-Verfügungstruppe.

1.TheSS-VerfügungstruppeisneitherapartoftheWehrmachtnorapartofthepolice.It

isastandingarmedunitexclusivelyatmydisposal.AssuchandasaunitoftheNSDAP, itsmembersaretobeselectedbytheReichsführer-SSaccordingtotheideologicaland politicalstandardswhichIhaveorderedfortheNSDAPandfortheSchutzstaffeln.Its membersaretobetrainedanditsranksfilledwithvolunteers…(TheInternational

MilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:170)

Soldiers ofthe LeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler marchinginBerlin.

Soldiers

oftheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlermarchinginBerlin.

NotethatHitlerhimselfhasdescribedtheWaffen-SSasanorganisationoftheNaziParty.

ThisstatementbyHitlerisstrongevidenceagainstthoseapologistsoftheWaffen-SSwho

claimthatitwasnotanorganisationwithpoliticalaffiliationstotheNaziParty.Himmler

alsostipulatesthepoliticalrootsoftheSSinanindoctrinationpamphletwherehestates:

“NowIcometotheSchutzstaffelitself.ItisapartofthisNationalSocialistGerman WorkersPartycreatedandtrainedbyAdolfHitler.WithinthemovementoftheFührerit hasreceiveditsspecialtaskfortheprotectionoftheReichinternally”(PruessPublishing,

2001:25).ThistaskwasbeingcarriedoutbytheSSasearlyas1938whenHitler’sArmy

Adjutant,MajorGerhardEngel,recalledHimmlerreportingtoHitler“abouthiscleansing measures”thatwerebeingundertakeninViennaafterAustriawasabsorbedintothe

GermanReich(Engel,1974:37).HitlerhimselfstipulatedtheroletheWaffen-SSwillplay

intimesofconflict.

III.OrdersincaseofMobilisation. A.TheemploymentoftheSS-Verfügungstruppeincaseofmobilisationisadoubleone.

1.BytheSupremeCommanderoftheArmywithinthewartimearmy.Inthatcaseit

comescompletelyundermilitarylawsandregulations,butremainsaunitoftheNSDAP

politically.

2.Incaseofnecessityintheinterioraccordingtomyorders;inthatcaseitisunderthe

Reichsführer-SSandChiefoftheGermanPolice.IncaseofmobilisationImyselfwill

makethedecisionaboutthetime,strengthandmanneroftheincorporationoftheSS-

Verfügungstruppeintothewartimearmy;thesethingswilldependontheinternalpolitical situationatthattime.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:170)

Ascanbeseenfromthisorder,theWaffen-SSwastoundertakeapolicingroleinternally

aswellastakepartinanyconflictwithexternalenemies.Thisisclearlyillustratedby commentsmadebyHitlerduringdinneronthe24 th ofJuly1941whereheisreferringto thelossessufferedbytheWaffenSSintheopeningstagesoftheRussiancampaign.

Foraneliteforce,likeourSS,it’sgreatlucktohavesufferedcomparativelyheavylosses. Inthiswayitisassuredofthenecessaryprestigetointerveneifneedbe,onthehome front,whichofcoursewon’tbenecessary.Butit’sgoodtoknowthatonedisposesofa

forcethatcouldshowitselfcapableofdoingsoonoccasion.(Trevor-Roper,2000:13)

ThisisfurtherproofthatHitlersawtheWaffen-SSasapoliticalforcetobeusedagainst theirfellowGermansifneedbe,somethingthatwasnotexpectedoftheotherGerman armedforces.HitlermadethedifferentiationoftheWaffen-SSevenmoresuccinctwhen hecommentedonitsroleinrelationtotheotherarmedforcesafterthewaronthe4 th of

January1942.

Assoonaspeacehasreturned,theSSwillhavetobegivenitsindependenceagain,a completeindependence(fromtheArmy). 11 Therehasalwaysbeenarivalrybetweentroops ofthelineandguardsmen.That’swhyit’sagoodthingthattheSSshouldconstitutein relationtotheothers,anabsolutelydistinctworld.Inpeacetimeit’sanelitepolice,capable

ofcrushinganyadversary.(Trevor-Roper,2000:167)

Duringaconversationonthe19 th ofApril1938HitlerexpressedhisviewsontheWaffen- SStohisArmyadjutant,MajorEngel:Hewantstokeepthiselitesmalloritwillnotbean eliteforlong.IthastobeapoliticalforceblindlyloyaltostateandFührer.Intheeventof disturbances,thisforcewouldputthemdownbrutally.HeseesitasarealPraetorian Guardtosnuffoutallthose,evenwithinitsownranks,whoswimagainstthecurrent.

(Engel,1974:38)

Hitler’sfavouritismfortheWaffen-SSwastodisplayitselfinotherformsasheinsured

thatitremainedindependentoftheGermanarmedforces.

TheSSCourts

TherewastobeoneimportantamendmenttotheorderissuedbyHitlerregardingtherole oftheWaffen-SS.ThatwastheremovaloftheSSfrommilitaryjusticeandregulationsby virtueofaHitlerdecreeonthe17 th ofOctober1939(Krausnicketal.,1965;Weingartner,

1983).Allmattersofmilitarylawsandregulationsandenforcementweretobeundertaken

bytheSScourts,notthemilitary.Himmlersawthisasbeinganimportantstepinensuring theindependenceoftheSSfromtheWehrmacht.ItwouldensurethattheWaffen-SSwas judgedbytheirownunderthesupervisionofHitlerandHimmler.OnlyHitlercould imposeadeathsentenceonofficersandcommandersoftheWaffen-SS,andHimmler reservedtherighttomakedecisionsincasesconcerningSSmenwithmembership

numberslessthen15,000(Krausnicketal.,1965).

ThejudgesoftheSScourtswerealmostentirelymadeupofWaffenSSofficers.Anofficer

listoftheSScourtsin1944showsthatsome599belongedtotheWaffen-SSwithjustsix

belongingtheAllgemeineSS(Krausnicketal.,1965).

ThejudgesintheSScourtswereSScommandersqualifiedfortheoffice,theywere

nominatedbyHitlerhimself,werenecessarilymembersoftheWaffen-SS,andfor disciplinarymattersweredirectlysubordinatetotheReichsführer-SS.Membershipofthe Waffen-SSwasobligatorysincetheprivilegedpositionoftheSSinthepossessionofits ownlegalsystemwasbasedupontheexistenceoftheWaffen-SS…(Krausnicketal.,

1965:253)

Himmlercommentedthat“…wetrytotrainourlawyersbyputtingthemintheSSand

infusingthemwithourownspirit”(J.Steiner,1963:439).InthepervertedviewoftheSS

courts,justicewouldservetheideologicalgoalsoftheNazimovement.Thedecisionsof

theSSjudgeswererequiredtofurthertheideologicalaimsoftheregimeandalsoserveas

preceptssupplementingtheideologicalindoctrinationofSSmembers.

Inanominouspremonitionofwhatwastocome,HitlerhadremovedtheWaffen-SSfrom

theaccountabilityofnormalmilitaryexpectations;itwasnowtobejudgedbyitsown.

ThisisofevenmoreimportancewhenoneconsidersthatinitiallyonlytheSSunitswho

wereatthecuttingedgeoftheSSoperationswereincludedunderthisprotection.These

unitsincludedtheconcentration-campoperatives,membersoftheSSbureaucracy,theSS-

Verfügungstruppe,membersofpoliceunitsonspecialactionsandtheSS-Junkerschulen

(Weingartner,1983).Itwouldappearthattherealintentofthismovewastoensurethat

thoseSSunitswhocouldbecalledupontocommitcrimeswouldbeprotectedbytheSS

justicesystem.Himmlerhadinfactcreatedalegalsysteminwhichthecriminalorders

thatweretobeissuedhadbeenlegitimised.

Politicalandideologicalroots

EventheGermanpeopleheldtheWaffen-SSinsometrepidationwithsecretreports indicatingthattheimpressionofsomeGermancitizenswasthattheWaffen-SSwas“… themostruthlessforce.Ittakesnoprisioners,buttotallyannihilatesitsenemy”(Simpson,

1990:7).HimmleritseemedenjoyedhisSSsoldiershavingthiskindofreputation.Ina

pamphletpresentedattheNurembergTrialstitled,“TheSSasanAnti-BolshevistFighting

Organisation”(document1851-PS),HimmlersaidthisofhisSS:

IknowthattherearesomepeopleinGermanywhobecomesickwhentheyseethese blackcoats.Weunderstandthereasonforthisanddonotexpectthatweshallbelovedby

toomany.(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:182)

ManyapologistsarguethattheWaffen-SSwasjustamilitaryformationthesameasthe

Army,NavyandAirForce.FormerWaffen-SSadjutanttoHitler,RichardSchulze-

Kossensarguedthat“TheideathatwiththeWaffen-SSHimmlercreatedapoliticaltroop afterhisownimageiscompletelyincompatiblewithhistoricalreality”(Schulze-Kossens,

1982:33).NotedauthorHeinzHohneattemptstopaintseniorWaffen-SSgeneralssuchas

HausserandSteinerasbeingnon-political;asbeingsoldiers“…whojustwantedto

devotethemselvestoanexclusivelymilitaryjob”(Hohne,1969:449).YetbothHausser

andSteinerweremembersoftheSAandalsomembersoftheNaziParty(Yerger,1997;,

1999).AnorderofthedayissuedbySteinerafterheavyfightingdatedthe30July1944

wouldseemtoindicatethatSteinerhadpoliticalaffiliationsevenuptothelatestagesof

thewar.

Comrades,todayyouhavegainedadefensivevictory…Withyourexcellentsoldierly

moraleandperformanceyouhaveprovedyourprofoundloyaltytoourFührerAdolf Hitler.Ideeplythankeachofyouforhisunshakeablesteadfastnessandshakehishandin

comradeship.Steiner.(Ertel&Schulze-Kossens,2000:179)

IncontrasttoHausserisSSColonel,SS-StandartenführerLeonDegrelle,aBelgium nationalandfavouriteofHitlerwhowasthecommanderofthe28 th SSWallonien Division.HegoestogreatlengthstostressthattheWaffen-SSwasan“…organisation

thatwasbothpoliticalandmilitary”(Degrelle,1983:11).ThepoliticalnatureoftheSSis

evenmorerecognisableifoneconsidersthat“…fromtheverystarttheonlypersonnel selectedfortheSSwerethosethoughttohavequalificationsbeneficial…”totheNazi

Party(J.Steiner,1963:430).InthebiographyofSS-ObergruppenführerKarlWolffitis

notedwhenhefilledouthisapplicationformtojointheSSthatitincludedthebelow

statementundertheheadingofcommitment:

IcommitmyselftosupportAdolfHitler’sideas,toobservethestrictestpartydiscipline, andtoconscientiouslycarryouttheordersoftheReichSSLeader.IamGerman,ofAryan descent,IdonotbelongtoanyMasonicLodgeorsecretsocieties,andIpromiseto

promotethemovementwithallmystrength.(VonLang,2005:7)

ThiswasthestandardapplicationformusedforallSSmen.Asnotedbyatleastone

authortheargumentthattheWaffen-SSwasjustanothermilitaryformationmayseem

plausibleonthefaceofit,however,anentirelydifferentpictureemergeswhenwe

consideritsorigins.SSGeneralHausserclaimedthattheWaffen-SSwaspartoftheArmy

whenquestionedatNuremberg.

HERRPELCKMANN:SurelyyoufeltyourselftobeapartoftheArmy?HAUSSER:We werecompletelyincorporatedintotheArmy,andthedesignation“fourthbranchofthe Army,”althoughitwasnotanofficialdesignation,wasreallymuchtothepoint.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:367)

However,eventhegeneralsoftheWehrmachtmadeitclearthattheWaffen-SSwasnot

partoftheregulararmybutratheracreatureofHimmler’s.Formerchiefofthe

WehrmachtGeneralVonBrauchitschstatedthisatNuremberg:

DR.LATERNSER:Now,thesubordinationoftheWaffen-SSwillhavetobeclearedupas well.JustwhatwasthesubordinationofaWaffen-SSdivisiontotheArmy? VONBRAUCHITSCH:TheWaffen-SSwassubordinatedtotheArmyonlyfortactical purposes.ItwassubordinatedtotheArmyneitherfordisciplinenorforjudicialmatters. TheArmyhadnoinfluenceonpromotionsordemotionsofpeople,andsoforth. DR.LATERNSER:TowhomwasaWaffen-SSdivisionsubordinate,whenitwasnot engagedinatacticaltask?Thatis,whenitwasneitherinbattlenorintheoperational area? VONBRAUCHITSCH:Inanyevent,nottheArmy.Itwassubordinatetothe Reichsführer-SSortotheHighCommandoftheArmedForces.DR.LATERNSER:And towhomwasitsubordinateinthehomearea?VONBRAUCHITSCH:Tothe Reichsführer-SS.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:580)

TheRoleofHimmler

TheReichsführer-SS;thiswaswhotheWaffen-SSansweredto,exceptwhenindirect

combat.IntheyearssincethewarmanyhavepaintedHimmlerasthemeekandmild

bureaucratwhocommittedatrociousactsofevilandyetwasnotthekeeperoftheWaffen-

SS.Realitywouldpaintadifferentpicture.HimmlerkeptatightcontrolontheWaffen-SS

byensuringthatadministrativemattersinrelationtopersonneloftheWaffen-SSremained

underhiscontrol.HimmleralsoremainedthenominalCommanderinChiefofthe Waffen-SSthroughhisfieldcommandpostandallrecruitingfortheWaffen-SSwas handledbytheMainSSOffice.Aspartoftherehabilitationprocessoftheimageofthe Waffen-SS,Himmlerinsomerespectshasbeenportrayedasaleader“…heldincontempt

andfrequentlydisobeyed”bytheSSgenerals(Sydnor,1973:340).SSGeneralPaul

HausserhadthistosaywhenquestionedastoHimmler’sleadershipcapabilities:

HAUSSER:HeinrichHimmlermostassuredlytriedinpeacetimetoexerthisinfluenceon thesmallVerfügungstruppe.Duringthewarthiswaspracticallyimpossible.Hedidnot addresstroopsoftheWaffen-SS.Onoccasionhedidtalktosomeofficersand commandersofsomedivisionsinthefield.ItwasgenerallyknownthatHeinrich Himmler,whohaddoneonlyoneyear’smilitaryservice,hadnoconceptionofthe militaryandunderestimatedthemilitarytasksandtheworkinvolved.Helikedtoplaythe roleofthestrongmanthroughexaggerationandthroughsuperlatives.Ifsomeonecomes alongwithbigwords,thesoldieronthefrontdoesnotpaymuchattention.Therefore,the influenceofHimmlerwasveryinsignificantduringthewar.Heworehisuniform,of course,butthereputationoftheWaffen-SSwasestablishedbyitsofficers,bytheexample theysetandbytheirdailywork.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946Vol20:368)

WhilesomeWaffen-SSGeneralsandothershaveattemptedtowriteHimmleroffas somewhatofanuisance,otherauthorsstatethatHimmlerwasapowerfulandeffective leader,firmlyincontroloftheentireSSorganisation.Atleastoneauthorraisesthe importantpointthattheSScouldneverhavereacheditspowerfulpositionintheNazi

statewithoutaneffectiveleaderintheformofHimmler(Noakes&Pridham,1988).

Respectedauthor,AlexanderDallin(1981),makestheimportantpointthatifithadcome

toashowdown,nootherleadingNaziwouldhavebeencapableofmatchingHimmlerin

regardstopower.

ThosewhoderideHimmler’sinfluenceforgetoneimportantfact;hewassuccessfulin

orderingthemurderofmillionsofinnocentpeople,afeatthatsomeone,whoisindeeda

bumblingeccentric,wouldbeunlikelytoachieve.IndeedtheSSwasaconscious,

preconceivedandcentralconcernofHimmler’ssocialthinking.HecontrolledtheWaffen-

SSanddirecteditinaccordancewiththepoliticalandideologicalwilloftheFührer.An orderofthe4 th SSPolizeiDivisionprovidesevidencethatHimmlerremainedincontrolof thepoliticaltrainingofthetroopsevenwhentheywereservingwitharmyformations:

AsofthedayofintegrationintotheSS-PolizeiDivision,thenewlyformedelementswill besubordinatedtotheCommanderinChiefofthearmy…theauthorityofthe Reichsführer-SSandChefderDeutschenPolizeiintheareaofpoliticaltraining…

remainsunaffectedbythis.(Husemann,2003:10)

DuringthewartheSSdivisions,whosepersonnelowedtheirloyaltypersonallytoHitler

ratherthantheGermanstate,andwhomhethereforetrustedmorewereusedtimeand

timeagainforcrucialoperationsthattheFührerwouldratherentrusttohispolitical

soldiersthantheregulararmy.AsnotedinthestudyofKrausnicketal(1965),tosaythat

theWaffen-SSwasafourthbranchofthearmedservicesistotallyuntrue,itispolitically

andhistoricallyuntrue;theWaffen-SSowedallegiancetotheFührer.

ApamphletonSScultureandtitledSoldierhadthistosayabouttheWaffen-SS.“Todayit

mayalreadyseemincomprehensiblethattherewereoncenon-politicalofficersandnon-

politicalsoldiers…Thegreathistoricalendofsuchideologicaldivisioncameabout throughtheFührerthroughthecreationofthepoliticalsoldierinhisembodimentofthe

Waffen-SS!”(PruessPublishing,2004a:34).Theapologistsandothershaveoftentriedto

maintainthattheWaffen-SSwasmerelyanothermilitaryorganisation.Tothisendthey

haveattimesenlistedtheassistanceofseniorWehrmachtgeneralssuchasColonel-

GeneralHeinzGuderian,whostated:

IcanthereforeassertthattomyknowledgetheSSdivisionswerealwaysremarkablefora highstandardofdiscipline,ofespritdecorps,andofconductinthefaceoftheenemy. Theyfoughtshouldertoshoulderwiththepanzerdivisionsofthearmyandthelongerthe

warwentonthelessdistinguishabletheybecamefromthearmy.(Guderian,1996:447)

TheWaffen-SSwasnevermeanttobeapermanentpartoftheGermanmilitarysystem.

TheWaffen-SSwaspartoftheSSsystem;itwasnotpartoftheWehrmacht.Assuchitis

besttoapproachanystudyoftheWaffenSSbyviewingitasanintegralpartoftheSS

ratherthanasanordinaryelitemilitaryforce.ItfollowsthenthatclaimsthattheWaffen-

SSwasanorganisationnotcontrolledbyHimmlerortheSSaresimplynottrue.Thiswas

tohavechillingimplications.WithHimmlerincontroloftheSS,legitimacywaslentto

thecriminalpoliciesthatwouldbeissuedandactedonbytheWaffen-SS.

TheWaffen-SSaspoliticalsoldiers

TheSSwasabeastbornofpoliticalnecessity,anditwasapoliticalbeastbynature.As hasbeennoted,theWaffen-SS“…wasoneofthefewmilitaryformationsthatowedits existenceexclusivelytotheemergenceofaparticularpoliticalsystem,andwhosenature

reflectedinmicrocosmtheessenceoftheregimeitserved”(Lucas&Cooper,1975:1).

TheinitialmembersoftheSSweremadeupofyoungpoliticalfighterswhohadbeen employedasbodyguardsandbouncersbytheNaziParty.Butitwasnotlongbefore Himmlerenvisagedthattheirrolewouldextendfarbeyondthis.Theywereseentobethe revolutionaryshocktroopsoftheReich.Assuchtheyweretoholdaspecialplaceinthe affectionsoftheFührer.UnitssuchastheTotenkopfDivisioncouldnotdenytheir birthright;“…fromthedayofitscreationuntiltheendofthewar,theTotenkopfDivision remainedboundbythegeneralpolitical,racialandadministrativelawsoftheSS”

(Sydnor,1973:360).

Hitler’saffectionfortheWaffen-SSisevidencedbythelevelandtypeofequipmentthey received.CertainWaffen-SSformations 12 receivedequipmentinpreferenceandfaroutof

proportiontothesizeofitforceswhenconsideredagainsttheWehrmacht(Darman,2004;

Engel,1974;Krenetal.,1976;Ripley,2004;Weinberg,1994).Thiswasdespitethefact

thattheWehrmachtcontinuallyresistedtheWaffen-SSreceivingsuchequipment.Oneof

Hitler’sadjutantsrecallsthat:

During1943theimportanceoftheWaffen-SShadincreased.Atthebeginningofthewar,

andmoresosincethebeginningoftheRussiancampaign,Hitlerhadbuiltupthese divisionssystematically.Theyembodiedallhisideasforafightingforce.Divisionafter divisionwasformed;privilegedastoitspersonnelandmateriel…Hitlerwas extraordinarilyproudoftheseSSdivisionsandtrustedthemandtheircommandersutterly.

(VonBelow,1980:189)

ThepreferentialtreatmenttheWaffen-SSreceivedinrelationtotheallocationofarmour highlightsthisfavouritismshownbytheFührertothem.Anexampleofthisisthe SchwerePanzerabteilung(heavytankbattalions)thatwereformedbyHitlerasameansto turnthetideofbattlethroughtheuseofsuperiortechnologytoovercomethenumerical superiorityoftheenemy.TheseunitswereheavilyutilisedontheEasternFront.SS General,SS-ObergruppenführerArthurPhelpshadbeggedthattheWaffen-SSbegiven moretanks,“…getustanks,withoutthemthismagnificentforcewillberuined”(Hohne,

1969:471).Giventheimportancethattankshadtakenincombat,theseunits,which

utilisedthelatestinGermanytechnologyandweaponry,wereseenaselite.Theseunits

werenormallyequippedwith40to50tanksofeithertheTiger1orlaterKingTiger

variety.TheWaffen-SShadthreesuchSchwereSSPanzerabteilungassignedtothem,

againstsome10fortheWehrmacht.

Overall,almostathirdofallGermany’sPanzerDivisionsbelongedtotheWaffen-SS.By

theendofthewarsomeoftheSSPanzerDivisionshadtankbattalionsthatweresome20

percentstrongerthanequivalentarmyunits.Outof38DivisionstheWaffen-SShadsome

sevenPanzerDivisionsandsevenPanzergrenadierDivisions 13 .Thiswasaratiothatfar

exceededthatoftheWehrmacht.TheWaffen-SSinfact,whileonlybeing10percentof

thestrengthoftheWehrmacht,madeupaquarterofGermanPanzerunits.

ThefactthatmanyofHitler’soldpartycolleaguesheldcommandsintheWaffen-SSalso

causedhimtofeelaspecialfondnessfortheirunits.HehadthistosayaboutSS-

OberstgruppenführerSeppDietrich,commanderoftheLeibstandarteDivision:

TheroleofSeppDietrichisunique.I’vealwaysgivenhimopportunitytointerveneatsore spots.He’samanwho’ssimultaneouslycunning,energeticandbrutal.Underhis swashbucklingappearance,Dietrichisaserious,conscientious,scrupulouscharacter.And whatcarehetakesofhistroops…FortheGermanpeople,SeppDietrichisanational

institution.(Trevor-Roper,2000:168)

SS- Oberstgruppenführer Dietrich Hitler’sregardfortheWaffen-SSwassohighthatmanyofthedivisionswerepermittedto

SS-

OberstgruppenführerDietrich

Hitler’sregardfortheWaffen-SSwassohighthatmanyofthedivisionswerepermittedto

wearthearmbandsthatwerethehallmarkofGermaneliteunits.WhentheGotzVon

BerlichingenDivisionreceivedtheirarmbandsaspecialceremonywasorderedbythe

divisioncommander,andthiswasattendedbyHimmler.Thedivisionaldiaryrecordedthe

eventasfollows:

Thevariouspreparationsfortheceremonyforthepresentingofthearmbandtothe

divisionwerecompletedonthe9.4.44.ThatsameeveningtherealsoarrivedtheRF-SS

(Reichsführer-SSHimmler),makingtheceremonyanextraspecialoccasion.However,

afterhistiringjourneytheeminentguestretiredearly.(Perrigault&Meister,2004:88)

ThiscloserelationshipwithHitlerisexemplifiedintheactionshetookwhenthe6 th SS PanzerArmy 14 ledbyDietrichfailedinitsoffensiveagainsttheRussiansnearViennaand

Budapestinearly1945.RatherthenremoveorsacktheSSgeneralsashehaddoneto

manyoftheirArmycolleagues,heorderedtheWaffen-SSDivisionstoremovethe

honorificarmbandtitles 15 thathehadallowedthemtowear.Thiswasthemostdemeaning punishmentthathecouldthinkofforhisSSsoldiers.FormerDeputyChiefOperations officerofthe6 th SSArmy,GeorgMaier,wrote,“Thedecreewasconsideredtobeamoral punishment,and,inpractice,meanttheendoftheWaffen-SSasanelitebodyinHitler’s

eyes”(Maier,2004:303).

ItisofnotethatwhenformedtheWaffen-SSwasfirstandforemostaunitforusein

internalpolicingtasksandonlysecondwasittobeusedinanexternalroleifaconflict

arose.Atalltimes,however,theuseoftheunitwasatthepersonaldiscretionofHitler.SS

GeneralPaulHausserattemptedtodenythispolicingrolewhilegivingevidenceat

Nuremberg:

HERRPELCKMANN:WastheVerfügungstruppe,therefore,meanttobeapolitical nucleus?TheProsecutionaccusesitofbeingaspecialinstrumentfortheoppressionand eliminationofpoliticalopponentsandofhavingaidedrealisationoftheNaziideologyby useofforce.HAUSSER:Thatisnottrue.TheVerfügungstruppehadneitherpoliticalnor policetasks.Itdevelopedgraduallyintoatesttroopwhichincorporatedalltheold soldierlyvirtueswiththerequirementsofoursocialistage.Itpaidspecialattentiontothe relationsbetweenofficersandmen,encouragedadvancementwithoutspecial examinations,anddidawaywithanyandallexclusiveness.(TheInternationalMilitary

Tribunal,1946:Vol20:358)

OnewillrecallthatthepreviousFührerorderclearlyoutlinedthattheWaffen-SSwasto beapoliticalinstrument.HimmlersawtheWaffen-SSaspoliticalsoldieryandtoensure thisanindoctrinationprogramwasimplementedthatpermeatedalllevelsoftheSS.As oneWaffen-SScompanycommanderwrotehome,“ThismorningIhaveheldanhourof ideologicalinstruction,consequentlythemenhavehadthenecessarypoliticalknowledge

conveyedthattheyrequireforthebattleagainstworldBolshevism”(Huffman,2005:96).

ThisprogramcoveredsuchissuesasthethreatposedtoGermanybytheJewsand Communism,andtheimportanceofGermanVolkandtheNordicrace.Itneedstobe rememberedthattheWaffen-SSinitsinitialstagesatleast,itwasanallvolunteer organisation,assuchtherecanbelittledoubtthatthosevolunteeringwerenotawareofits closeassociationwiththeNaziPartyanditsideology.Howeverveteransstilltrytoclaim alackofpoliticalaffiliationwiththeNazisascanbeseenbythecommentsofWiking DivisionveteranHendrikVertonwhostated“ThefieldgreycladmenoftheSSdidnot wantapoliticalarmyandforthatreasonremovedthemselvesfromHimmler”(Verton,

2007:57).

AdmissiontotheSSwasideologicallyanchoredintheNationalSocialistdoctrineofracial purity.TheSSevenhaditsownnewspapercalledtheDasSchwarzeKorps,whichwas

approvedin1936byHimmlerandwaspublishedinanefforttowidelydistributeallofthe

SSmessagesofhate.Itcontinuedtobedistributeduptothelastmonthofthewar.

DasSchwarzeKorpsdidmirrortheideasoftheSSleadership,andinitspagesbasic elementsofSSideologyarepresent.Inthisrespect,itwasindeedthevoiceoftheSSand

notjustanotherNazinewspaper.(Combs,1986:35)

AtNuremberg,however,thedefencewitnessesfortheWaffen-SSattemptedtoignorethis

politicalaffiliation.LeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerofficerRobertBrillgavethefollowing

evidence.

HERRPELCKMANN:Andnow,togobacktothevolunteers,canyoutellusanything aboutthemotivesforvolunteering? BRILL:Yes.InmyofficeIreadthousandsuponthousandsofapplicationsforadmission.I

cansaythatupto1939theenthusiasmfortheSS,foritsdecentandproperconduct,was

themainreasonforvolunteering.Besidesthese,manyvolunteeredforprofessional reasons. HERRPELCKMANN:Didthatchangeafterthebeginningofthewar?BRILL:Afterthe beginningofthewar,themainreasonforvolunteeringwasthatthemenwantedtodotheir militaryserviceinaclean,modern,eliteformation.Professionalreasonsalsoplayedapart involunteering.AfterthebeginningofthewarveryfewcametotheWaffen-SSfor politicalreasons…

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:341)

Brill’sclaimsdonotmatchthepoliticalrealityoftheWaffen-SS.Forexample,ofthe

approximately6000DaneswhovolunteeredforserviceintheWaffen-SS,some75per

centhadsomekindofaffiliationwiththeDanishNaziParty(DNSAP)(Smith,Poulsen,&

Christensen,1999).Ofthe125,000WestEuropeanvolunteers,aboutathirdbelongedto

pro-Naziorganisations(Hohne,1969).Some30percentoftheSSFlemishLegionwere

membersoftheDutchNationalSocialistparty(Buss&Mollo,1978).Ofthe

approximately950SScampofficersstudiedbyMacLeanabout80percentweremembers

oftheNaziParty(MacLean,1999a).Acorrectideologicalattitudewasnecessaryforentry

intotheSS;beingamemberoftheNaziPartymadethisalltheeasier.Himmlerhimself constantlyremindedhissoldiersoftheirunderlyingidealsandmission.Shortlyafterthe

GermansinvadedRussiain1941,HimmlermadethefollowingspeechtoWaffen-SS

soldiersofKampfgruppeNord.

Foryears,foroveradecadenowweoldNationalSocialistshavestruggledinGermany withBolshevism…Theseanimals,thattortureandill-treateveryprisonerfromourside, everywoundedmanthattheycomeacrossanddonottreatthemthewaydecentsoldiers would,youwillseeforyourself.ThesepeoplehavebeenweldedbytheJewsintoone

religion,oneideology,thatiscalledBolshevism…(Quarrie,1991:64)

Speechessuchastheaboveallowedtheprocessofdistancingtobegin.TheWaffen-SS

wasclearlybeingencouragedtodistanceitselffromthoseelementsofsocietyviewedby

theNazisasdispensable.DespitethefactthattheWaffen-SSwasentwinedwiththeroots

oftheNaziPartyformermembersstillattemptedtodenythisassociationatNuremberg.

BrillgoesontoexplainwhypeoplejoinedtheWaffen-SSfornon-politicalmotives.

HERRPELCKMANN:IsittruethatinGermanytheWaffen-SSwasconsideredasthe fourthbranchoftheArmedForcesandnot,astheProsecutionsays,thepickedtroopof theNazis? BRILL:Yes.IbelieveIcanaffirmthis,atleastformyfieldofduty.Onlytheselection wascarriedoutaccordingtoSSdirectives,whileacceptancefortheWaffen-SSdepended ontheapprovaloftheWehrbezirkskommando…Wecanalsosaythatwehadno connectionwhateverwiththeParty,forthePartygaveusnoorders.ThefewParty memberswhowereintheWaffen-SSpaidnoPartyduesfortheperiodoftheirservice…

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:344)

ThereweremorethanafewpartymembersintheWaffen-SS;therecanbelittledenialof

thelinkbetweentheNaziPartyandtheWaffen-SS.Yerger(1997;,1999)inhisvasttwo-

volumestudyexaminedthecommandersoftheWaffen-SSDivisions,corpsandarmies.

Heprovidesdetailsforsome105seniorWaffen-SScommanders.Ananalysisofthese

commandersshowsthatsome97percenthadjoinedtheNaziPartyin1933orprior.

NinetypercentoftheseofficersweremembersofthegeneralSSpriortojoiningthe

Waffen-SS.Afurther31percenthadbeenmembersoftheSA.InhisstudyoftheWaffen-

SS,Wegnerestimatesthatabouttwo-thirdsoftheseniorWaffen-SSofficershadbeen membersofthegeneralSSpriortojoiningtheWaffen-SS.Anexaminationofthe

DienstalterslisteorSSOfficerslistforJanuary1942providesaninterestinginsightinto

thepoliticalaffiliationsoftheseniorofficercorpsoftheWaffen-SS.Ofthe30WaffenSS

generalslistedsome25,or83percent,weremembersoftheNaziParty(Schiffer

Publishing,2000).Thebreak-upisasfollows.

RankNumberofofficerslistedasmembersoftheWaffen-SSMembersofthe%membershipNaziParty

SS-ObergruppenführerSS-GruppenführerSS-Brigadeführer

Total

3

1116303100109112752583

Note:SourcedfromSchifferPublishing2000.ThefiguresshowthoseofficerslistedashavingWaffen-SSrankinthe

SS-OfficerlistforJanuary1942.

By193369percentofthefutureofficersoftheWaffen-SSweremembersoftheNazi

Party.Afurther20percentoftheseofficerswouldjointheNaziPartyatalaterstage

(Wegner,1990).Thesefigurescanleavelittledoubtastotheconsensusheldamong

Waffen-SSofficersastotheirpoliticalviews.Wegnermakestheinterestingobservation

thatwhiletheSSgeneralshadabouta25percentmembershipoftheNaziPartypriorto

theNazistakingpower 16 ,thisfigurewasashighas50percentforlowerrankssuchas

SS-ObersturmbannführerorLieutenant-Colonel(Wegner,1990).Theseweretheofficers

whowouldbecommandingtheregimentsandbattalionsoftheWaffen-SSinthefield.

Thispoliticalaffiliationmadeobediencealltheeasier.TheOrganisationBookfortheNazi

PartyitselfsuccinctlystatestheroleofpoliticalobediencethattheSSsoldierwas

expectedtoshowtotheNaziregime:

Obedienceisunconditionallydemanded.ItarisesfromtheconvictionthattheNational Socialistideologymustreign.Hewhopossessesitandpassionatelysupportsitsubmits himselfvoluntarilytothecompulsionofobedience.Therefore,theSSmanispreparedto carryoutblindlyeveryorderwhichcomesfromtheFührerorisgivenbyoneofhis superiorsevenifitdemandsthegreatestsacrificeofhimself.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:179)

ThisclearlyindicatesthestrongpoliticalaffiliationthatseniorofficersoftheWaffen-SS hadwiththeNaziParty.AsnotedbyWegner:Whatmattersisnotsomuchthefactthat therewasagreaternumberofconvincedNazisintheWaffen-SSthaninthearmy.What actuallymadethetwoofficercorpssofundamentallydifferentwasthefactthatwithinthe Waffen-SStherewasfromtheoutsetnoplaceforofficerswhosepoliticalpastcouldhave

beenanythingotherthanNationalSocialist.(Wegner,1990:280)

ButtheSSwasseenasmorethenjustapoliticalforcedrivenbytheNaziideology.

HimmlersawthattheSSmanwouldhaveatwo-foldrolethatwouldhavetheSSheavily

involvedinthepoliticalapparatusofthestateandalsothegeneticfoundationofthenew

Germanicnationaswell.HimmlersawtheSSasakinshiportribalorderthatwouldbind

GermanicmentogetherwithaviewtostrengtheningAryanblood.

TheSSwouldessentiallybethecoreofthenewmasterrace;theywouldbethebiological agentwithwhichhewouldachievehisAryandream.HimmlersawtheSSbeinggrounded inthetermsofbloodandbone;heheldromanticvisionsofNordicpeasantsforminga neweliteintheNaziReich.ThesewerenotjusttheramblingsofaromanticHimmler, HitlerhimselfclaimedtohaveseentheresultsofhisSSpropagatingthespeciesfirst-hand

nearhishomeatBerchtesgadeninApril,1942:

AtBerchtesgadenweoweagreatdealtotheinfusionofSSblood,forthelocalpopulation therewasofspeciallypoorandmixedstock.InoticedthisparticularlywhiletheBerghof 17 wasbeingbuilt,andIwasmostanxioustodosomethingtoimproveit.Today,thanksto thepresenceofaregimentoftheLeibstandarte,thecountrysideisaboundingwithjolly andhealthyyoungchildren.Itisapracticewhichmustbefollowed.Tothosedistrictsin whichatendencytowardsdegeneracyisapparentwemustsendabodyofelitetroops,and

in10or20yearsthebloodstockwillbeimprovedoutofallrecognition.(Trevor-Roper,

2000:434)

Thispureracewastobepreservedbyensuringthatonlythepurestofbloodlineswere allowedtoenterhisSS(thiswouldchangelaterinthewarasmanpowerneedstook precedence).ForthisreasonAryanbloodlineshadtobeprovedforgenerationsasfarback

as1750forSSofficersand1800forenlistedmen.SSGeneralOttoKummexplainedhow

themembersoftheSSwereinitiallyselected;

Ifirsttookalookatthem,howtheywerebuilt,whatimpressiontheymadeonmeand thenweselectedaccordingly.Therewassuchalotofthemthatwecouldn’ttakeallthose whoapplied.Big,blond,blueeyed,thatwasourfirstchoice,wewouldonlytakethebest.

(Halliley,2003)

ItwasforthisreasonthatallrecruitexaminationsfortheWaffen-SS(atleastintheearly

waryears)consistedofadoctorandaracialexaminer,whowastodetermineiftherecruit

wasraciallyacceptabletotheNordicideals.Recruitswererequiredtopossessamedical

andracialfitnesscertificatebeforegainingentrytotheWaffen-SS.Therecruit,inthe

earlydaysofthewaratleast,facedafivepointracialcheck“…toevaluatetheracial

featuresoftheapplicant.ThisstretchedfrompurelyNordicdowntosuspicionofextra-

Europeanbloodmixtures”(Wegner,1990:134).Clearlytherecanbenodenyingthatthe

Waffen-SSwasaraciallybasedorganisation.Indeedaslateas1944Himmlerrefusedto

reducetheracialstandardsfortheWaffen-SSanyfurther,arguingthattheracialselection

wasaninseparablepartoftheSSOrden.

Waffen-SSveteranJurgenGirgensohnrelatedtheimportanceofthisconceptofthemaster raceinapost-warinterview:“…thefactthatweweregenuineAryanswasavery importantpoint.WeasAryansfeltsuperiortootherraces,webelievedthatwereally

wouldruleEuropeoneday”(Halliley,2003).Thismixtureofelitisminthetraditional

senseofaguardunitandthebiologicalpurityofthememberswouldensurethattheSS

wouldbecapableofcarryingouttherevolutionaryroleitwasenvisagedtoperforminthe

neworder.HimmlerexplainedthereasoningandimportancebehindhisvisioninaNordic

orderinthefollowingspeech.ThisspeechbyHimmlerwascontainedinapublication

entitled,“OrganisationandObligationsoftheSSandthePolice”.Itwaspublishedin1937

inabookletcontainingaseriesofspeechesoressaysbyimportantofficialsoftheParty

andtheStateknownas“NationalPoliticalCoursefortheArmedForcesfrom15to23

January1937”(document1992a-PS).

Accordingly,onlygoodblood,bloodwhichhistoryhasprovedtobeleadingandcreative andthefoundationofeverystateandofallmilitaryactivities,onlyNordicblood,canbe considered.IsaidtomyselfthatshouldIsucceedinselectingfromtheGermanpeoplefor thisorganisationasmanypeopleaspossible,amajorityofwhompossessthisdesired blood,inteachingthemmilitarydisciplineand,intime,theunderstandingofthevalueof bloodandtheentireideologywhichresultsfromit,thenitwillbepossibleactuallyto createsuchaneliteorganisationwhichwouldsuccessfullyholditsowninallcasesof

emergency…Theyareverythoroughlyexaminedandchecked.Of100menwecanuse

ontheaverage10or15,nomore.Weaskforthepoliticalrecordofhisparents,brothers

andsisters,therecordofhisancestryasfarbackas1750,andnaturallythephysical

examinationandhisrecordfromtheHitlerYouth.Further,weaskforaeugenicrecord showingthatnohereditarydiseaseexistsinhisparentsandinhisfamily.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol4:176)

FromtheaboveitwouldbedifficulttoseehowanyrecruitfortheWaffen-SScouldclaim thattheywereunawareofthepoliticalorideologicalbasisoftheSS.Inthenewworld orderenvisagedbyHimmler,seenfromaneo-Darwinismviewpoint,onlythestrong wouldsurvive,theweakwouldbedestroyed.Asaveteranofthe4 th SSPolizeiDivision recounted,“Wearetheracethatmustruletheworld,that’swhattheysaidtous,andall otherracesmustbesubordinatedtotheAryanrace.Theyarenomorethenswine,werule

thewholeworld”(Halliley,2003).IndeedastudyconductedonmembersoftheSSin

1933showedthatmostwere“…openlyandviciouslyanti-Semitic…”,andfurther,that

thosewiththemostintenseantiSemitismwereinseniorleadershippositions(Staub,

2002:21).

TheSSattemptedtofosteratribalorfamilyidentitybyinvolvingitselfinallaspectsofits members’lives. Himmler’sGermanisationpolicy,hisproclamationofatribalorderinsteadofan exclusivelymaleorganisation,themarriagelawsoftheSS,thepolicyofLebensborn,the promotionofbirthsoutofwedlockandHimmler’sconsiderationofintroducingpolygamy, wereallmeasuresintendedtoinfusenewbloodintotheGermanpeople.(Wegner,

1990:24)

ThispolicyofGermanisationandpromotionofAryanbloodwastobeachievednotonly bythecullingofthoseofnon-Aryanblood,butalsobyprolificreproductionofthe Aryans.TofacilitatethisHimmler“…demandedtotaldedication,serviceandsubmission

withoutcontradictiontohisownwill,eveninprivatematters”(Birn,1991:356).Members

oftheSSwereencouragedandevenpressuredtorelinquishmembershipofthechurch.

ThelevelofchurchmembershipcancellationsincreasedrapidlyintheWaffen-SSasa

resultofanunderstanding.Ateveryopportunitybytheuseofspeeches,pamphletsand

lecturestheSSwereexposedtoanideologythatfocusedonthegoodoftheVolkorrace.

Waffen-SSGeneralKarlWolffstatedthat“Himmlerhadsetouttoachieveadream,he

wouldinspireanewawakeningoftheGermanicracewithintheGermanpeople”

(Bloomberg,2000).Thisattempttoforgeafamilyidentityandinvolvementinallaspects

ofthemembers’livesledtheSStobecomeatotalinstitution;thisbeinganinstitution wherealllifeactivitiesareundertakenuniformlybyasingleauthority.Forthisreasonthe vastmajorityoftheWaffen-SSofficercorps“…werebroughttogetherunderoneandthe

sameideologicalroof”(Wegner,1990:268).ThiswouldenableHimmlertocalluponthe

SStoundertakeanumberofatrocitiesinthenameofthissharedidealism.

InmanyofhisspeechesHimmlerreferredtotheexterminationrolethatheandtheSShad beencalledontoperform.Hearguedthatthisburdenthattheyundertookwasproofof theirfaithtotheGermaniccause.ManyoftheWaffen-SStriedtodistancethemselves fromHimmlerafterthewarandstatedthattheydidnottakehimseriously.Itisnotthe casethattheofficersoftheWaffen-SSwereunawareofHimmler’sintentions.Himmler clearlyalludedtothisriddingofundesirablesinaspeechtoofficersoftheLeibstandarte

SSAdolfHitlerDivisionin1941wherehemakesreferencetotheinvasionofRussiaand

thetasksthatwillhavetobeundertakenthere:

VeryoftenthememberoftheWaffen-SSthinksaboutthedeportationofthesepeoplehere. Thesethoughtscametometodaywhenwatchingtheverydifficultworkoutthere performedbytheSecurityPolice,supportedbyyourmen,whohelpedthemagreatdeal.

ExactlythesamethinghappenedinPolandinweatherwith40degreesofcold,wherewe

hadtohaulawaythousands,tensofthousands,hundredsofthousands;wherewehadto havethetoughness,youshouldhearthisbutalsoforgetitagainimmediately,wherewe hadtohavethetoughnesstoshootthousandsofleadingPoles,otherwiseonemightlater sorelyregretit.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:348)

Inaspeechonthe16 th ofMay1944toofficersofthe14 th SSGaliciaDivisionat NeuhammerHimmlerstatedthat“Yourhomelandhasbecomesomuchmorebeautiful

sinceyouhavelost–onourinitiativeImustsay–theresidentswhoweresooftenadirty

blemishonGalicia’sgoodname,namelytheJews”(Littman,2003:78).SS-

ObergruppenführerWolffrecountshowthemenoftheSSwere:

…subtlyconditionedtoseethemselvesasthesonsoflight,thattheywereengagedina struggleagainstthepowersofdarkness,anditwastheirdutytofeelthattheywereatall timesondutyforthenationandinawidersensefortheneworderinEurope.(Bloomberg,

2000)

Himmler,ifevertheidealist,wasalsoopentothepracticalitiesofthewar.When addressingthe14 th SSDivisionhemadenomentionofthesubhumanSlavinhisspeech. ThisbeingbecausethedivisionwasconstitutedbyUkrainians.Indeed,whilemostofthe WestEuropeanrecruitsreceivedthesameideologicalindoctrinationastheGerman recruits,specialallowancesweremadefortherecruitsfromEasternEurope.The UkrainianswerenotgivenlecturesabouttheinferiorityoftheSlavrace,andtheBosnian Moslemswerenotexposedtothecriticismsoforganisedreligions.

TheseracialandideologicalmessageswerewellacceptedbymostoftheWaffen-SS.For

instance,soldiersoftheTotenkopfDivisionwereexposedtothisdepictionoftheevil

Jewish-BolshevikenemywhowoulddestroytheGermannation.Asaresulttheyfought

theconflictontheEasternfrontwithindifferencetohardship,contemptfordeathand

genuinehatredoftheJewish-Bolshevikenemy.TheproductsofEicke’stutelage developedalustforkillingRussiansandfoughtwithacorrespondingtenacitythatearned themtheunqualifiedrespectoftheirenemies.Asaformerconcentration-camp commandantandWaffen-SSofficerinthe3 rd TotenkopfDivision,SS-Sturmbannführer JohannesHassebroekstatedafterthewar,“Wewerethebestandthetoughest”(MacLean,

1999a;Segev,1987:63).NorwerethesoldiersoftheTotenkopfaloneinthisviewofthe

world.ThisisreinforcedbythecommentsofWaffen-SSHauptsturmführerMathieuKlein ofthe1 st Waffen-SSPanzerDivisionLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler:

WhydidIvolunteerfortheWaffen-SSandnottheWehrmacht?TheBolshevikswereseen bymeandbytheWaffen-SS,astheprincipalenemy,againstwhoIwantedtofightasa

memberofaneliteforce.(Williamson,1995:22)

Thisviewwasreinforcedbyofficialideologicaltrainingmanualsproducedforthe LeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler,whichincludedsuchsubjectsasGermanHistory,The FührerandthehistoryoftheNationalSocialistmovement,JewryandBolshevism.Indeed, upontakingoverthe5 th SSPanzerDivisionWiking,SS-ObergruppenführerFelixSteiner orderedtheformationofanideologicaltrainingunit,whichthengavethemenabroad

introductiontotheracialandideologicalthemesoftheNazis(Smithetal.,1999).Waffen-

SSveteranOswaldVanOoteghem,aFlemishvolunteer,outlinedoneofthemainreasons forhimjoiningtheWaffen-SSwassothathecouldjointhefightagainstBolshevism

(Halliley,2003).Inhispost-warmemoirsSwedishveteranErikWallin,amemberofthe

11 th SSPanzergrenadierDivisionNordland,showedjusthowresilientthisviewofthe enemyintheeastwas:

AftermorethenthreeyearsofstruggleintheEast,andtwoyearsofalmostcontinuous retreat,ourfightingspiritwasstillunbroken.Weperseveredunderthehardestconditions. Everyday,comradesfaceddeathanddestruction.Thelastphysicalenergyandmental forcewasalmostdrainedoutofthecommonsoldier,butourfightingspiritwasstillthere. Ourfaithlayfirmlyinthefinalvictoryofthesuperiorpowerofourweapons.Ourtrustin ourowncombatskill,againstthebarbaricmassesfromtheEast,wasasstrongasever.

(Hillblad,2002:11)

Theabovecommentshowsthatevenafteryearsofdefeat,membersoftheWaffen-SSstill

sawtheRussiansasbarbarians,barbarianswhocould,however,consistentlydefeatan

armyofsupposedAryansupermen.AsoneWaffen-SSveterancommented;

InretrospectIthinkthattherewasaverystrongspiritofcomradeship,whichwasbased onthesamebeliefssotospeak.Basedonthefactthatwewereconvincedthatwewere conductingajustfight.Thatwewereconvincedthatwewereamasterrace.Wewerethe

bestofthismasterraceandthatreallydoesformabond.(Halliley,2003)

OtherveteranshavesteadfastlymaintainedthattheWaffen-SSwasnotapoliticalor ideologicalbeast,butratherjustmeresoldiers.JohannVoss,amemberofthe6 th SS MountainDivisionNord,arguesthisinhispost-warmemoirs:

ThenotionoftheWaffen-SSaspoliticallyorraciallyindoctrinatedfanatics,drivenby

partyideologyandhate,wasinmyexperiencefarfromreality.Ourtrainingwasfocused

onpreparationforvictoryinmodernwarfare,andallofuswerevolunteerswhowanted

justthatkindofpreparation.Yes,wedidfeelabitdifferentfromtheotherpartsofthe

armedforces…(Voss,2002:57)

SS-ObersturmbannführerRichardSchulze-KossensoftheSSLeibstandartedivisionstated inapost-warinterviewthattheWaffen-SSsoldiersjustlaughedofftheideologicalideas ofHimmler.However,itisofnotethatlaterhestated,“…wewouldgointoactionifit everbecamenecessary–notforHitlertheman,butforGermany.Asfaraswewere concerned,HitlerwastheembodimentoftheGermanStateinthosedays”(Mollo,

1982:86).Thesecommentsfromtheveteranseematodds,asononehandhedismissesthe

influenceofHitler,butinthenextsentenceemphasisestheimportanceofHitlerasa politicalleaderandassuchthepoliticalaffiliationoftheWaffen-SStoHitler.The commentsofSchulzeKossensareunderminedevenfurtherwhenoneconsidersthatthe useofideologyintheWaffen-SSwas“…thereforenotsolelyameasuremeanttoimpose mentaluniformityonitowntroops,butalsotoserveitsambitiontoassertitselfvis-à-vis

theWehrmacht”(Wegner,1990:213).

ThisideologicalbasisiswhatdifferentiatedtheWaffen-SSfromtheregulararmy. CertainlytheaccountrenderedbyoneveteranoftheSSHitlerjugend 18 Division,Herbert Walther,wouldseemtoillustratetheloyaltytodeathshownbyeventheboysoldiersof thisdivisionoftheWaffenSS:

Ayoungladwhodiedinmyarms,whoseeyesIclosedasIcriedasababy,saidtome ‘Leutnant,asktheleaderofmycompanytowritetomymotherandtellherIdiedasa

bravesoldier,formyFührerandmyfatherland”.(Halliley,2003)

OtherveteransoftheHitlerjugendDivisionalsoconfirmthat“…todiefortheFatherland

wasanhonourableact”(Luther,1987:16).VeteranswhotrytopainttheWaffen-SSasjust

simplesoldiersaresupportedtosomedegreebyauthorswhoclaimthattheWaffen-SS units,forexampletheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler,whilenotbeingordinarysoldiers, werenotideologicalfanatics.Rathertheywerean“…elitemilitaryunitwhich,infused withthefreebooterspiritwhichrecognisednomorallimitations,actedasanimmediate

executoroftheFührer’swill…”(Weingartner,1974:172).Thereissomedifficultywith

thisstatement.Ontheonehandtheunitsarenotideologicalfanatics,yetontheotherthey

aredescribedasamilitaryunitwithoutmoralconscienceandactingatthewillofan

ideologicalandpoliticaldemagogue.Ifailtoseemuchdifferencebetweenthetwo

concepts.TheiractionsontheNightoftheLongKniveswouldseemtoindicatethe

oppositetothisclaim.

WhentalkingabouttheWaffen-SSasawholeIwouldagreewithSydnorwhostatesthat “…toconcludethatallofthesemenweremurderersorcriminallunaticswhowillingly indulgedinatrocitieswouldbejustasludicrousastheeffortsbytheapologiststoprove

thattheWaffen-SSreallywasnotpartoftheSS”(Sydnor,1973:341).Certainlyitisnot

theargumentofthisbookthatallthesoldiersoftheWaffen-SSwereideologicalwarriors

bentondestruction.Butcertainlythehigher-commandechelonsandalargecoregroupof

theWaffen-SSweremotivatedbypoliticalandideologicalconcernsandcarriedoutwhat

couldonlybedescribedassystematicorendemicatrocities.Thisraisestheissueofgroup

responsibility,whichwillbediscussedlater.

TheWaffen-SSdisplayedanti-Slavicprejudicesinitsmilitaryactivities.Thistypeof

attitudewascontributedtobytheideologicaltrainingoftheWaffen-SS.Aspartofthe preparationofhisTotenkopfdivision,SSObergruppenführerEickehadaspecialcourseof politicalindoctrinationdevised.Thisinvolvedbreakingthesoldiersintosmalldiscussion groupswithSSofficerswheretheywoulddiscussnationalityandhome,history,

geographyandbiology(Sydnor,1990).Eickeconsideredthesetopicstobeofgreat

importanceas“…theyrepresentedmostofthebasicNaziracialandpoliticaltheories”

(Sydnor,1990:143).Ofnoteisthat;

Manypresent-dayapologistsfortheWaffen-SS,thosewhoclaimthatitsfunctionsand conductwerestrictlymilitaryandnotpolitical,maintaineitherthatnosuchtraining programsexisted,orthatiftheydidtheaverageSSmandidnottakethemseriously.Inthe Totenkopfdivisionsuchpoliticalandracialindoctrinationdefinitelyexisted…the reputationitsubsequentlyearntinRussia,moreover,leavesthedistinctimpressionthat

Eicke’smentookthelessonsoftheirpoliticaltrainingveryseriously.(Sydnor,1990:146)

TheTotenkopfwasnotaloneorpeculiaramongWaffen-SSunitsinthistypeoftraining andattitudetowardscertaingroupsofsociety.TheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitleralsohad acourseofweeklyindoctrinationlessonsthatwereconductedbyeducationofficers.

SessionssuchasthesewerestandardisedfortheentireSSin1935throughtheuseof

indoctrinationjournals,whichcarriedtheusualNaziracialthemessuchas“…onehad

betternotspeakatallaboutafeelingofhonouramongJews”(Weingartner,1974:30).It

hasbeenarguedthattheWaffen-SSasawholewasnotnaiveinrelationtotheaimsand policiesoftheNaziParty,“thereisalsonodoubtthattheywerealreadyawareofHitler’s

racistpolicies,especiallytowardstheJews…”(Reynolds,1999:3).Whenengagedin

bitterfightingwithRussianforcestheWaffen-SSbegantoreadilylabeltheenemyas

JewishorotherenemiesoftheNazistate.Itbecamestandardpracticethatwherethere

wasdesperateRussianresistancethiswouldbeattributedto:

…Jews,bandits,partisansorthesinisterinfluenceofcommissars.Theobjectwasto intensifytheSSmen’shatredfortheenemybyidentifyingtheRussiansoldierwiththe mostperniciousandlethalenemiesoftheThirdReich,whowoulddestroyGermanyfirst

unlessannihilated.(Sydnor,1990:165).

TheabovequoteencapsulatestheunderlyingethosoftheWaffen-SSthattheywere

engagedinabattleofsurvivalagainstideologicalandpoliticalenemies,withwhichthere

couldonlybeoneoutcome,destroythemorbedestroyed.Inconclusionitcanbeseenthat

theWaffen-SSwasinfactpartoftheoverallNazipoliticalapparatus.Itwasnevera

legitimatepartofthearmedforces,butratheranarmedadjunctoftheNaziParty,

availableforutilisationatthewilloftheFührer.Theargumentsbyveteransthattheywere

justsimplesoldiersofnoparticularpoliticalpersuasiondonotholdupunderexamination.

TheWaffen-SSwasanorganisationthatwasheavilybasedontheracial,ideologicaland

politicalbeliefsoftheNaziParty.

2.ThestructureoftheWaffen-SS

UnderstandingtheideologybehindtheWaffen-SSisbutonepartofunderstandingthe

organisationasawhole.Tofullyformapictureastotheorganisationitselfitisnecessary

toexaminethestructural,economicandsociologicalmakeupoftheorganisation.This

allowsthespectatortoappreciatethecloserelationshipbetweenthevariousarmsofthe

SSEmpire,andtheWaffen-SS.

TheTrainingSchools

Inapost-warmemoirPaulHausserhadthistosayoftheWaffen-SS:“Foryearsthe

formersoldiersofthistroop,andalsosoldiersoftheHeer,havebeenconcernedtoshow andtoprovethattheWaffen-SSwastrainedaccordingtotheregulationsandinstructions

oftheHeer…”(AssociationofSoldiersoftheFormerWaffen-SS,1973:9).Inhispleafor

justicefortheWaffen-SSHausserisnotaccurateindescribinghowtheWaffen-SSwere

trained.TheSStrainedtheirofficersatseparateofficercandidateschoolsorSS-

Junkerschulen.Eachyeartheschoolspassedoutsome300militarilytrainedSSofficers

(Wegner,1985).ThisnumberwasinexcessofthatrequiredbytheWaffen-SS,sosomeof

theseofficersservedinotherareasoftheSSotherthentheWaffen-SS.Itservedtwo

purposes,however,tohavethisexcess,first,itmeantthattherewasareadyreserveof

militarilytrainedSSofficers,andsecondithelpedtostrengthenthetiesbetweenthe

variousSScomponents.AsnotedbySS-BrigadeführerDoerfflerSchuband:“Theschools

alsotrainedyoungpoliceofficersforwhomtherewasincreaseddemand.YoungSS

officerswhowereslatedforadministrativeassignmentswerealsotrainedattheofficer

candidateschoolsoftheSS”(Doerffler-Schuband,1949:2).AnumberofSS-

Junkerschulenoperatedbetween1934and1945,withperhapstheJunkerschulenatBad

Tolzbeingthemostwell-known.Thebenefitofhavingseparatetrainingschoolsfromthe regularforceswasthattheSScouldensurethatapoliticalleadershipcorpswastrainedin theeducationalandideologicalareasthatHimmlersawasessentialwithoutinterference.

By1944someone-thirdofWaffenSSregimentalorbattalioncommanderswereproducts

oftheJunkerschulen;theywere,infact,givenpreferenceforfieldcommands(Wegner,

1990).

TheSS-Junkerschulenprovidedacurriculumthatdealtwith“…militarysubjectsand practicalweaponsandcombattraining,similartotheofficeracademiesofthearmy”

(Wegner,1985:226).However,unliketheWehrmachttheWaffen-SSundertheauspicesof

ex-armyofficerSS-ObergruppenführerFelixSteineradoptedamorephysicalapproach, withrecruitstraininginathleticsandsportratherthanparade-grounddrills(Gingerich,

1997;Hohne,1969).ItwasthisphysicalpreparationthatsomeWaffen-SSveterans’claim

madethemsocombateffectiveintheharshclimatesofRussia.Theaimsoftheschools’ trainingaccordingtoSS-BrigadeführerDoerffler-Schubandwereto“…buildcharacterby emphasisingintegrity,fearlessness,chivalry,honour,obedience,helpfulnessandgood fellowship.Moreover,irreproachableconductinpublic,andthedevelopmentofafamily

spiritwerefurtherrequirements”(Doerffler-Schuband,1949:7).

IdeologicaltrainingwasalsoundertakeninanefforttoproduceaspecificallyNational

Socialisttypeofprofessionalsolider.Waffen-SSofficerandcommanderoftheBadTolz

school,RichardSchulze-Kossens,attemptedtodenyanysuchindoctrinationinhisbook ontheSS-Junkerschulen:“AmentalattitudedevelopedinwhichcommonEuropean interestsrankedaboveofficialpartydoctrine…therewasnosenseinbotheringEuropean Junkers…insimplifyingEuropeanhistorytoacourseofeventsinwhichtheNordic

principlereignedsupreme”(Schulze-Kossens,1982:28).However,thepurposeofthe

ideologicalindoctrinationsubjectwas:

Tosupportthecadet’sinneracceptanceofthesemilitaryandspecificallySSvaluesby illustratingtheirideologicalbackground…ThebasicthemesofSSideologyconstituted thecontentsofthissubject:theeternallawoflife,theirrealisationthroughNational Socialism,butaboveallanextensiveportrayalofGermanandEuropeanhistorysince

earlyTeutonictimesfromaracialandgeopoliticalperspective.(Wegner,1990:171)

OtherveteranswoulddisagreewithSchulze-Kossen’sattempttodismisstheideological indoctrinationundertakenattheJunkerschulen.AsLeonDegrelleexplainstheWaffen-SS soldierswere“…taughtwhytheywerefighting,whatkindofGermanywasbeing resurrectedbeforetheirveryeyes…theyweretaughtthatallGermansrepresentedan

ethnicunity”(Degrelle,1983:16).AsnotedbyVuksic,“Inadditiontophysicaltraining,

politicsandideologywereanintegralpartoftheirtraining”(Vuksic,2005:1).Instructors

attheschoolstaughtthestudentsthatthewarwasacontinuationofthe2000-year-old

conflictbetweentheAryanandthenonAryan,theJewandtheSlav.Thishadtheeffectof

creatingdistancebetweentheWaffen-SS,theAryans,andtheirpotentialvictims.

Waffen-SSveteran,ZvonimirBernwald,aracialGerman,recountedhowtheywere trainedattheofficercadetschoolsinmilitaryaspects,butaboveallintheprinciplesof

NationalSocialism(Halliley,2003).Astheveteranexplained,thiswasseenasacrucial

partofthesoldier’scraftforelitetroopsbytheWaffen-SS(Halliley,2003;Smithetal.,

1999).ThisallowedindoctrinationthatstimulatedtheSSman’simpetustoactaccording

toafewbasicrulesofNazimorality.Aspecialtrainingcampwassetupat AusbildungslagerSennheimforintegratingGermanicvolunteersintotheWaffen-SSin

1940.Aspartofthistraining“…ideologicaleducationwasconsideredthemostimportant

componentoftheprogram”(Gingerich,1997:822).Thesetrainingschoolscanbeseenas

thefirststepinmomentumbuildingonthepathtogenocide.TheWaffen-SSofficerswere

clearlybeingconditionedtomovedownthepathofgenocideagainstthoseelementsthat

theNazissawassubhumanorpoliticallydispensable.

ChiefWaffen-SSrecruiter,SS-ObergruppenführerGottlobBerger,wantedtoensurethe non-Germanrecruits“…receivedthesameideologicalinstructionastheirGerman counterparts,learningaboutthegreatideaofNazism,racialscienceandmethodsto

recognisetheenemyinallforms”(Gingerich,1997:822).Theenemyinallformscanbe

takentoincludethatenemiesoftheReichwerebothexternalandinternal.Ofnote, however,isthatfewofficersintheWaffen-SScamefromoutsideGermany.Wegner

studiedsome582officersoftheWaffen-SSandonly48officersoreightpercentcame

fromoutsideGermany(Wegner,1990:235).AsnotedbyHatheway,theSS-Junkerschulen

wereinexorablylinkedtotheNaziPartyanditsideologicalandpoliticalgoals:

Fromtheirinceptionin1934untiltheirdemisein1945.TheJunkerschulen,therefore,

remainedpoliticalinstitutionsinservicetotheNationalSocialistrevolutionandtothe

variousorganisationsofthepartyandstate…indeeditwaspreciselybecausetheSSwas

sohighlypoliticalandrevolutionarythatHimmlerconsideredthedevelopmentofa

standardised,professionaleducationalprocessessential.(Hatheway,1999:9)

Ideologicaltrainingtookupsome10percentofacadet’scoursework.Somemayargue

thatthisisasmallcomponentoverall,however,ideologicalindoctrinationwasgiven

specialweightinginexcessofitstimeallotmentinthefinalevaluationsofallofficer

candidates(Hatheway,1999;Wegner,1990).SS-BrigadeführerDoerffler-Schubandstated

thatpoliticalindoctrinationwasgiventhesameweightingastacticsinthecurriculum,

withbothsubjectshavingthegreatesttimeallocationcomparedtoothers(Doerffler-

Schuband,1949).Hegivesabreakdownofcomparativeweightingsofsubjectsanditis

reproducedbelow.

SubjectWeighting

Tactics8

PoliticalIndoctrination8

OrganisationoftheGermanArmy5

SpecialServicesCourse3

TerrainOrientation3

TroopDuty5

SignalCommunication3

Engineering2

Aviation1

MotorTransport1

Gymnastics5

MountedDrill1

Note:SourcedfromDoerffler-Schuband1949.Thefiguresshowtherelativeamountoftimespentoneachsubject.For

instanceeighttimesasmuchtimewasspentonTacticsascomparedtowiththetimespentonMotorTransport,etc.

Itisinterestingtoreadthepost-warmemoirsofsomeWaffen-SSmembers;despitetrying

towalkthepoliticallycorrectlineonecanglimpsetheirdeeperfeelingscomingtothe

fore.Forinstance,inhisbiographyHansSchmidt,aveteranoftheLeibstandarteSSAdolf

HitlerDivision,commentsonthetraininghereceived.

Amongotherthingswetouchedonsuchsubjectsasracialstudies,culture,European historyfromaNationalSocialisticpointofview,religioningeneralandsocialprogress… themanyhoursaweekofourtrainingwasevenlysplitbetweenpracticalfieldserviceand theoreticalinstruction…Duringourinstructionsaboutracenoattemptwasmadeto imbuehateofothergroupsinus,althoughitwasquiteclearlypointedoutthatmostofthe accomplishmentsofthemodernman,beginningwiththeancientGreeks,camefromwhite Aryans.Perhapsduetotimelimitswetouchedonthevariouscharacteristicsofthemajor racesi.e.white,yellowandblack.Jewsdidnotfallintoeitherofthesecategories,and were,withonesentence,merelydefinedasamixedraceseeminglynotworthyofgreater

consideration.(Schmidt,2001:51)

FurtheronSchmidtcomestothefollowingconclusion,whichseemstosuggestthathe

wasinstructedabouttheJewswithmuchmorethanjust“onesentence”.

LeaderslikeMartinLutherandFredericktheGreathadallbeenrealGermans,and suddenlythesegiantsandotherlikethemhadbeensupplantedbyanethnicallyand geneticallydifferenttribethatbelieveditcoulddoeverythingbetter.Inotherwords,no GermansolutionofGermanproblemswaspossiblewiththeJewsstillinpower.(Schmidt,

2001:56)

Thisclaimoftrainingbeingconductedwithoutanyracialorideologicalindoctrination

wasalsoputforwardbySS-OberstgruppenführerHausser,whowasinitiallyinchargeof

theWaffen-SStrainingprogram.

HERRPELCKMANN:TheProsecutionisparticularlyaccusingtheVerfügungstruppe forincitingracialhatredandforthepersecutionoftheJewsasoneofitsspecialtasks. Wasthetrooptrainedforthesepurposes?HAUSSER:Thepoliticalandideological trainingcouldonlybeachievedbyschooling.I,personally,asdirectoroftheschoolandas aninspector,havecloselywatchedthistraining,forIwasanewmanmyselfandhadfirst toacquaintmyselfwiththesewaysofthinking.Icantestifythatracehatredandthe exterminationofJewryoroftheEasternpeopleswasnevertaughtandwasnever demanded.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:359)

demanded. (TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:359) SS-Oberstgruppenführer Hausser

SS-OberstgruppenführerHausser

ThistestimonyfromHausserbearsexamination.ThisistheSSgeneralwhoalsoclaimed thathedidnotknowabouttheconcentration-camps,yetslavelabourwasemployedatthe SS-Junkerschulenthathewasinchargeof.IntheJunkerschulenatBadTolztherewere cellsbuiltunderneaththeschooltohouseconcentration-campinmateswhosejobitwasto maintainthefacilitiesoftheschool.Infact,thecellsinthebasementoftheschoolwere

usedasasub-campforDachauandcouldhouseupto50prisonersatanyonetime

(Hatheway,1999:83).AsnotedbyStein,toclaimthatthetrainingoftheWaffen-SSwas

notinideologicalsyncwiththeNaziswasjustnottrue;

…Inviewoftheamountoftimedevotedtoideologicalindoctrinationinthepre-warSS andthenatureofthematerialpresented,therecanbelittledoubtthatmanyofthemen

whomadeuptheWaffen-SSof1941–particularlytheofficersandNCOs–subscribedto

thebasicviewsetforthinHimmler’sstatementsontheracialstruggleandsimilarmatters.

(Stein,1966:125)

WhiletheSS-Junkerschulenmayhaveprovidedthetrainingforthefutureleadersofthe

Waffen-SS,theyandthefuturedivisionsoftheWaffen-SScouldnothaveoperated

withoutaneconomicandadministrativeapparatustosupportthem.

TheEconomicandAdministrativeMainDepartment(WVHA)

ThePohlTrial(orWVHATrial)wasthefourthofthe12trialsforwarcrimestheU.S.

authoritiesheldintheiroccupationzoneinGermanyinNurembergaftertheendofWorld

WarII.These12trialswereallheldbeforetheNMT,notbeforetheIMT.Inthiscase,

OswaldPohland17otherSSofficersemployedbytheWirtschafts-und

Verwaltungshauptamt(WVHA),theEconomicandAdministrativeDepartmentoftheSS,

weretriedforwarcrimesandcrimesagainsthumanitycommittedduringthetimeofthe

Naziregime.Themainchargelevelledatthemwastheiractiveparticipationin,and

administrationof,thegenocideoftheJewsandothertargetgroups.Theywerealso

accusedofslavelabour,participationintheconcentration-campsystem,euthanasia

programs,economicexploitationandvariousmedicalexperimentscarriedoutoncamp

inmates.TheWVHAwastheSSofficethatrantheconcentrationandextermination

camps.ItalsohandledtheprocurementfortheWaffen-SS.

AsfarastheWaffenSSwasconcerned,responsibilityforsupplywasdividedbetweenthe SSOperationalHeadquartersandtheWVHA.Broadlyspeaking,theoperational headquarterssuppliedarms,ammunition,andothertechnicalequipment,whiletheWVHA wasresponsibleforrations,clothing,fuel,andpersonalitemsofequipment.Amongother things,AmtsgruppeBwasresponsibleforthesupplyoffoodandclothingto concentration-camps.

(NurembergMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5:217)

ExamplesoftheexploitationconductedbytheWHVAforthebenefitoftheWaffen-SSare nothardtofind.SS-ObersturmbannführerBoberminreportedhowearthworkswouldbe

obtainedfortheWaffen-SSinalettertoWVHAChiefOswaldPohlin1944.

…consideringthatwehaveatechnicallywell-equippedestablishment,andthatthemen oftheforcedlabourcampwillbeatourdisposalatfavourableconditions,weshallmost likelyshowaprofit.Themainreasonforthetakingoveristhesufficientsupplyof buildingmaterialtotheWaffen-SS.

(NurembergMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5:249)

TheWVHAalsoplayedaroleintheestablishmentoftheWaffen-SSfightingdivisionsas isshownbythisorderconcerningthesettingupofthe17 th SSPanzergrenadierDivision

GotzVonBerlichingenin1943.

SS-FHAAmtIVwillraiseby15.11.43SectionIVAofthedivisionwiththedivisional

treasury…ThepersonneldepartmentoftheSS-WVHAisrequestedtoallocatethe

necessaryadministrativeofficersatonce.(Perrigaultetal.,2004:25)

TheWVHAhadthefollowingorganisationalstructure.DivisionAoftheWVHAwas

responsibleforthebudgetoftheWaffen-SSaswellaspromotionsandtransfersofthe

Waffen-SSandthesamesuchmovementsfortheconcentration-campsamongother

things.DivisionBwasresponsiblefortrooporganisationincludingfoodsupplies,

military-campstores,clothingfactoriesandfunds,maintenanceofvehicles,etc.Division

Cwasresponsibleforconstructionsandrealestate,etcoftheWaffen-SS.DivisionDwas

responsibleforthecommandoftheconcentration-camps.DivisionWwasresponsiblefor

economicenterprises.Pohl,whenquestionedbeforetheNMT,confirmedthattheWVHA

wasanintegralpartoftheWaffen-SS.

Q.WhatotheragencyoftheGermanWehrmachtcouldbecomparedwiththeWVHAasit

wasorganisedinFebruary1942?A.Onecouldcompareitwiththearmyadministrative

office.Whatthatofficewasforthearmy,theWVHAwasfortheWaffen-SS.(Nuremberg

MilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5:327)

WVHAdeputy,SS-GruppenführerGeorgLoerner,supportedthiswhenhewas questionedabouttheroleoftheWVHA. Q.What,speakingquitegenerally,wasthemainfieldoftaskoftheWVHA? A.TheWVHAwasthehighestadministrativeauthorityoftheWaffen-SSandtoalesser degreeoftheAllgemeineSS.

(NurembergMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5:744)

AnumberofSSofficerswerebroughttotrialinrelationtowarcrimesandcrimesagainst

humanityinrelationtotheactionsoftheWVHA.Ofthe17defendantsbroughttotrial

some12wereofficersoftheWaffen-SS,somehavingservedinvariouscombatunits.

Theyincludedthebelow:

OSWALDPOHL—SS-ObergruppenführerandGeneraloftheWaffenSS;ChiefoftheSS

EconomicandAdministrativeMainDepartment(SSWirtschaftsund

Verwaltungshauptamt,commonlyknownas“WVHA”)andchiefofDivisionWofthe

WVHA.

AUGUSTFRANK—SS-ObergruppenführerandGeneraloftheWaffenSS.DeputyChief

oftheWVHAandchiefofDivisionAoftheWVHA.GEORGLOERNER—SS-

GruppenführerandGeneralleutnantoftheWaffen-SS.DeputyChiefoftheWVHA,chief

ofDivisionBoftheWVHA,anddeputychiefofDivisionWoftheWVHA.HEINZ

KARLFANSLAU—SS-BrigadeführerandGeneralmajoroftheWaffen-SS.Chiefof

DivisionAoftheWVHA.Fanslauhadalsoservedinthe5 th SSWikingDivision. ERWINTSCHENTSCHER—SS-StandartenführeranddeputychiefofDivisionBand

chiefofOfficeIofDivisionBoftheWVHA.Tschentscherhadservedinthe4 th SS Polizeiandthe5 th SSWikingDivisions. RUDOLFSCHEIDE—SS-StandartenführerandchiefofOfficeVofDivisionBofthe WVHA.Scheidehadservedinthe1 st LeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerDivision. MAXKIEFER—SS-ObersturmbannführerandchiefofOfficeIIofDivisionCofthe WVHA. FRANZEIRENSCHMALZ—SS-StandartenführerandchiefofOfficeVIofDivisionC oftheWVHA. KARLSOMMER—SS-SturmbannführeranddeputychiefofOfficeIIofDivisionDof

theWVHA.SommersawcombatwiththeWaffen-SS.HERMANNPOOK—SS-

ObersturmbannführeroftheWaffen-SSandchiefdentistoftheWVHA,ofOfficeIII,

DivisionD.PooksawcombatwiththeWaffen-SS.

LEOVOLK—SS-Hauptsturmführer,personaladviser(PersoenlicherReferent)onPohl’s

staff,andheadoflegalsection(LeiterderRechtsabteilung)intheexecutiveofficeof

DivisionWoftheWVHA.HANSBOBERMIN—SS-Obersturmbannführerandchiefof OfficeIIofDivisionWoftheWVHA.

(NurembergMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol5)

OftheseofficersPohl,EirenschmalzandSommerweresentencedtodeathbyhanging,the

restweresentencedtovarioustermsofimprisonment.Scheidewasacquitted.SS-

BrigadeführerGlucks,responsiblefortheconcentration-camps,wasnevertriedashe

committedsuicideafterbeingcapturedbytheBritish.

PersonnelCompositionoftheWaffen-SS

TheWaffen-SSwasseverelylimitedbytheWehrmachtinthenumberofGermansitcould

recruit,soitwasforthisreasonthatitlookedtosourcesofmanpoweroutsideGermanyto

expand.ToaddressthismanpowershortagetheSSundertookthreemethodsofcombating

it,firsttheyattemptedtonegotiatehigherconscriptquotaswiththeWehrmacht,second

theyattemptedtoencouragevolunteers,andthirdtheyutilisedsourcesofmanpower

outsideoftheGermanReich.

TooverseethisrecruitmentdriveHimmlerappointedchiefoftheSSMainoffice(SS-HA) andWaffen-SSGeneral,SS-ObergruppenführerGottlobBerger.Bergerwastoundertake hisdutieswithrelishandwithhisstaffhe“…developedthemeansandmethodsto providethemanpowerwhichmadetheWaffen-SSapoliticalandmilitaryforcetobe

reckonedwith”(Rempel,1980:107).OfnoteisthatwhenrecruitingBergerhadinstructed

hisstaffthattheyweretoemphasisethefollowingpointswhenrecruiting:“Afterageneral discussionofcompulsorymilitaryserviceandtheroleoftheWaffen-SSasabranchofthe armedservices,recruitersweretosketchthehistoryoftheSS,stressingtheconceptofthe

politicalsoldier.”(Rempel,1980:109).AtthetimeoftheinvasionofRussiatherewere

some160,425soldiersoftheWaffen-SSwithacombatstrengthofsome95,868(Koehl,

1983:200).Some90percentofthesesoldierswereGermansfromwithintheGerman

Reich,soevenatthisstageofthewartheWaffen-SSwasstillverymuchapureNordic

organisation(Koehl,1983).

By1938theWaffen-SSofficercorpscontainedsome90percentofofficerswhocame

fromapeasantbackgroundascomparedtoonlysometwopercentforthearmy(Hohne,

1969;Simpson,1990:18).Thislackofmilitarybackgroundisfurtherillustratedwhenitis

consideredthatonlyfivepercentofWaffen-SSofficershadamilitarybackgroundofthis

typeasagainstsome49percentforarmyofficers(Hohne,1969;Simpson,1990).Wegner

argues,however,thatatleastforthegeneralsoftheSStheyhadthesamepercentage

militarybackgrounds,some25percent,astheirarmycounterparts(Wegner,1990).

TheeverresourcefulBergeridentifiedtheHitlerjugendorHitlerYouthasanexcellent recruitinggroundfortheWaffen-SSandevenbeforethewarBergerwasrecruiting heavilyfromthissourceofmanpower.Himmlerwasalwaysonthelookoutforideological suitablerecruits.TothisendheenticedleadersoftheHitlerjugendleaderstohis Junkerschulenbyofferingthemashortenedcourseforofficercandidates,inthisway

manybecameofficersandNCOsintheWaffen-SS(Rempel,1980).TheWaffen-SSrelied

heavilyontheyouthfulidealisminGermanytoprovidethismanpower.In1941,for

instance,ofsome50,000recruitsovertwo-thirdsofthemwereundertheageof20

(Rempel,1980).ManyofthemcamethroughtheHitlerYouthmovementtojointhe

Waffen-SS;thishadthebenefitthatbothorganisationswereinideologicalsync.Koehl

givesafigureofsome40,000HitlerYouthvolunteeringfortheWaffen-SSin1941/42,

“…manywithextensivepoliticalindoctrination”(Koehl,1983:208).Hans-Joachim

LindowwasamemberoftheHitlerYouth,whojoinedtheWaffen-SSasamatterof

course;itwasseenasanaturalprogression(Halliley,2003).HesawtheWaffen-SSasa

guardsregimentwithitsassociatedattractionsandbenefits.

Inadditiontothistherewereanumberofnon-GermanvolunteerswhojoinedtheWaffen-

SS.Inallitisestimatedthatsome125,000WestEuropeanvolunteersservedinthe

Waffen-SS.Theseincludedsome50,000Dutch,20,000Walloons,20,000Flemings,6,000

Danesand6,000Norwegians,etc(Hohne,1969;Simpson,1990;Stein,1965).For

example,inJune1941withintheranksoftheWikingDivisionweresome1143volunteers

whichincluded631Dutch,294Norwegians,216Danes,oneSwedeandoneSwiss

(Solarz,2003:15).Otherauthorsclaimthatupto500,000Waffen-SSsoldierscamefrom

foreignsources,withtheresultthatalmosthalfofthepersonneloftheWaffen-SSwere

fromsomenon-Germanorigin(Gingerich,1997;Hatheway,1999;Rempel,1980).Some

375,000ofthesecamefromcountriesinEasternEurope,thesebeingracialGermans

(foreignersofGermandecent)(Hatheway,1999;Lumans,1993).Whatevertheexact

figureofforeignnationalsithighlightsanimportantpoint,themythoftheWaffen-SS beingapureGermanicforceofNordicwarriorsisnotcorrect.Ofnoteisthatallforeign nationalswhoundertookofficertraining“hadtoalsoproveGermanic(Aryan)origin,and demonstratetoaboardofexaminersloyaltytoHitler,totheReich,andtoNational

Socialism”(Hatheway,1999:114).Thisensuredthatthepoliticalandracialloyaltiesofthe

Waffen-SSwerestillmaintainedtosomedegree.Atleastintheinitialstagesofforeign

recruitmentitwasstilltheintentoftheWaffen-SStomaintaintheirracialpurity.Forthis

reasonrecruitmentwaslimitedtotheirfellowNordiccountriessuchasSwedenand

Denmark,etc.

TherecruitmentofGermanicvolunteersinfactdevelopedasanexpressionofSSracial andpoliticalthoughtandambition.Thedecisiontorecruitnon-Germansof“Germanic Blood”fortheWaffen-SSwasinextricablyconnectedwiththedreamofradically transformingthefaceofEuropeaccordingtotheNaziconceptsofraceandethnicity.

(Gingerich,1997:817)

Lateryearsrecruitment

By1943theWaffen-SSwassufferingseveremanpowershortages.AsaresultHimmler

andBergerwereforcedtolookfurtherafieldandconsidersourcesthatwouldneverhave passedinspectionintheearlyyears.Overone-thirdoftheoriginalWaffen-SSDivisions

hadfalleninRussiaby1943(Hohne,1969).Asaresult,in1943some25percentof

Waffen-SSrecruitswereracialGermans.Anotherchangealsotookplaceinthe recruitmentoftheWaffen-SS.Whereastheyhadpreviouslyreliedonanall-volunteer force,nowtheywereforcedtoresorttopress-gangingconscriptsintoservice(Hohne,

1969;Rempel,1980;Stein,1966).ThejudgesoftheIMTnoted:

Until1940theSSwasanentirelyvoluntaryorganisation.Aftertheformationofthe

Waffen-SSin1940therewasagraduallyincreasingnumberofconscriptsintotheWaffen-

SS.ItappearsthataboutathirdofthetotalnumberofpeoplejoiningtheWaffen-SSwere conscripts,thattheproportionofconscriptswashigherattheendofthewarthanatthe beginning,butthattherecontinuedtobeahighproportionofvolunteersuntiltheendof thewar.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol1:270)

TheyalsoreceivedlargedraftsfromtheAirForceandNavy.Thisaffectedtheelite integrityoftheWaffen-SStosomedegree,asnolongerwasitpurelymadeupof

ideologicallyalignedvolunteers(Dallin,1981;Hohne,1969;Krausnicketal.,1965;Kren

etal.,1976;Stein,1966).SSGeneralKarlBrennernotedtheeffectconscriptshadonthe

6 th SSMountainDivisionNordinearly1945afterithadsufferedsome50percentlosses.

Numerically,thelosseshadbeenmoreorlesscompensatedbyassignmentofnew replacements.TheseconsistedforthegreaterpartofyoungforeignnationalsofGerman descent(Volksdeutsche–racialGermans)whohadreceivedonlyabrieftrainingandhad notvolunteered,butbeendraftedtotheWaffen-SSinthenormalconscriptionprocedure. Theirfightingvaluewasthereforecorrespondinglylowerthenhadbeenthecasewiththe formerpersonnelandnaturallyloweredthecombatefficiencyoftheentiredivision.

(Brenner,1947b:1)

IndeedBergerwasforcedtoaddressissuesthatarosefromthenegativeattitudetowards

theWaffen-SSthatmanyoftherecruitsdisplayed.Thisnegativityarosefromthehigh

casualtyratesoftheWaffen-SS,thefactitservedinthemilitaryhotspots,hardtraining,

littlechanceofpromotionandforcefulrepudiationofreligiousbeliefs.AlloftheseBerger

attemptedtodiscountasonlybeenrumoursfarremovedfromthetruth(Rempel,1980).It

wouldappear,however,thatthehighcasualtyratesmayhavebeenmoretruththenfiction,

asHitlercommented,“ForaneliteforcelikeourSS,it’sgreatlucktohavesuffered

comparativelyheavylosses.Inthiswayitisassuredofthenecessaryprestige…”(Trevor-

Roper,2000:13).

EvenGermanFieldMarshalEricVonMansteincommentedonhighcasualtiesinhispost-

warmemoirs,whereheclaimedthattheWaffen-SS“…paidatollofblood incommensuratewithitsactualgains…theblameforsuchunnecessaryconsumptionof manpowermustliewiththemenwhosetupthesespecialunitsforpurelypolitical

motives…”(VonManstein,1982:188).Heseemedtoforgetthathehimselfcommanded

theSSDivisionsandinfactstatedthefollowinginanorderofthedaydated12 th July

1941:“TheSS-TotenkopfDivisionattackedwithgreatcourage…thedivision’sregiments

havesufferedhighcasualtiesinthisfighting.Iexpressmygratitudetoalltheofficersand menofthiscorpsfortheirdedication;myrecognitionforyourhighachievement”

(Ullrich,2002:90).

SovariedwerethemanpowersourcesoftheWaffen-SSthatitdefiesputtingthemintoany specificgroup.In1943the13 th SSHandscharDivisionwasformedbyrecruitingBosnian Moslems.AsecondMoslemDivision,the23 rd SSKamaDivision,wasplannedbutnever reacheddivisionalstatus,anditscadreswerelatertransferredtotheHandscharDivision. Himmlerwasforcedtosomedegreetolessenhisracialstandardsandhisabhorrenceof religion.TheHandscharDivisionwasallowedImamsandthe14 th SSGaliciaDivision madeupofEasternCatholicsfromtheUkrainewasallowedchaplains(Bender&Taylor,

1975;Lepre,1997).Twodivisionswereformedfrompolicemen,thesebeingthe4 th and 35 th SSDivisions.However,itisworthnotingthateventhoughHimmlerwasforcedto reducehisracialstandardsinsomerespects,hestillbelievedthattheywereessentialto thenatureoftheWaffen-SS.Tothisendtherewasa

FundamentalseparationbetweentheGermanandGermanicSStroopsaspartofthewhole SSOrdenontheonehand,andthenumerousSSvolunteerunitswithoutspecialracial qualifications–asortofsecond-classWaffen-SS–ontheother,whichactuallybeganthe transformationoftheSSfromtheFuhrer’sguardintoamultinationalarmy.(Wegner,

1990:139)

ItwasthentheturnoftheBalticStatestocontributetotheSSwarmachine.Twofurther

SSDivisionswereraisedbytheLatvians,onebytheEstonians.Bylate1944Germany

wasacceptinganyhumanmaterialitcouldfindandnosourcewasleftuntapped.Itis thereforenotsurprisingthattheGermansintheiringenuityturnedtotheirownterror apparatus,theconcentration-camps,toobtainmorerecruitsfortheWaffen-SS.SSColonel DrOscarDirlewanger,aPhDscholarandWaffen-SSOberführer,proposedusingcamp inmatesinhisunit.Hehadalreadybeenusingpoachersandothercriminalsforsometime. Now,however,heobtainedpermissiontoutilisepoliticalprisonerscurrentlyheldinthe

campsystem(Breitman,1991;MacLean,1998;Stein,1966).Some1910menwere

recruitedfromcampssuchasAuschwitz,Buchenwald,Dachau,Ravensbruckand

Mauthausen,etcinlate1944.Thisveryrelianceonsuchavarianceofmanpowersources

providedaquandaryforHimmlerastheyunderminedhisveryvisionoftheWaffen-SS

beingideologicallyandraciallypureeliteforthenewGermanReich.Itwasduetothis

expansiontheWaffen-SS,whilestillremainingatoolofNaziconquestandannihilation,

lostsomeofitsdistinctivepoliticalandideologicalmakeup.WhilemanyoftheWest

Europeanvolunteersfellintotheideologicalcategory,manyoftheEastEuropean

membersoftheWaffen-SSwerefightingfornationalisticreasonsatbest,orwerereluctant

tofightatallatworst.

Therewerestill,however,someideologicalreservoirsofmanpoweravailabletoHimmler.

In1944theWaffen-SShierarchydecidedtorecruitadivisionfromtheyoungmenand

boysoftheHitlerjugend.AsnotedbySSBrigadeführerHugoKraas,commanderofthe 12 th SSPanzerDivisionHitlerjugend,aslateasNovember1944thedivisioncouldrelyon thefollowingreplacements:“Theyoungreplacementsconsistedofvolunteers,whose

traininghadbeenveryshort”(Kraas,1947:5).ThisrelianceontheHitlerjugendensured

thatthesoldierswererecruitedfromthe“…racially,ideologicallyandphysicallyfityouth

ofNaziGermany”(Simpson,1990:61).Theotherinherentbenefitondrawingonsucha

resourcewasthattheboysoftheHitlerjugendhadbeensubjectedto“…yearsof ideologicalindoctrination,coupledwiththepurposefulmanipulationofyouthfulidealism withintheHitlerYouth…”;inshorttheyweretheperfectideologicalwarriorsforthe

Waffen-SS(Luther,1987:12).

Withthisinmindsome17,000werecalleduptoformtheSSHitlerjugendDivision,while

another25,000weredistributedtootherWaffen-SSformations(Rempel,1980).These

boysoldierswouldbeaseffectiveasanyofthepremierWaffen-SSdivisions.Infactthey

wereseenasalmostapseudoLeibstandarte,giventheiridealismandthefactthatalarge

percentageoftheofficerandNCOcadrefortheHitlerjugendwastransferredfromthe

LeibstandarteDivision.Thefactthattheywereyoungboyshowever,couldnotbe overlooked.AsoneveteranoftheSSHitlerjugendDivision,BernhardHeisig,recalled, “Theyoungestamongusdidn’tgetanycigarettes,welltheydidn’tsmokeanyway.They

actuallygotsweets,confectionery”(Halliley,2003).

CountryofOriginApproximatenumberofmenSSFormations

NetherlandsBelgium France Italy Denmark Norway Finland Spain Sweden SwitzerlandSovietUnionLatvia Romania Estonia Hungary Croatia Albania Bulgaria Serbia

50,00040,00020,00015,00010,000

6000

3000

1000

300

300

60,000

80,000

50,000

25,000

20,000

20,000

7000

600

10,000

22ndand34thdivisions27thand28thdivisions33rddivision

29thdivision

5thand11thdivisions5thdivision

SSRegimentNordland28thdivision

5thand11thdivisions5thdivision

29thand30thdivisions15thand19thdivisions7thand8thdivisions20thdivision

25thand26thdivisions13thand23rddivisions21stdivision

Various

Various

Note:SourcedfromBishop2005.SomeofthesmallernationalitiesthatcontributedtotheSSarenotmentionedhere.

Thetotalfigureofvolunteersmaydifferfromthatofotherauthorsbutnonethelessgivesanaccountofthevaried

sourcesofmanpower.

ThetableaboveillustratesthenumbersofvariousnationalitiesthatservedintheWaffen-

SSand,mainunitsthattheyservedin.BytheendofthewartheWaffen-SScontained

soldiersofforeignoriginthatincludedDanes,Norwegians,Finns,Swiss,Swedes,

Flemings,Walloons,Frenchmen,Italians,Latvians,Estonians,Russians,Ukrainians,

Croats,BosnianSerbs,Hungarians,Albanians,Romanians,Netherlanders,Spaniards,and

evensomeBritonsandIndians.WiththisinfluxofforeignerstheWaffenSShadgrown

fromasmallGermanicelitebodytoalargemultinationalforce.Ithad,infact,gonefrom

some0.7percentofWehrmachtstrengthin1939to5.4percentin1944(Scherzer,2006).

Accordingtoonesourcebytheendof1944theWaffen-SScontainedsome400,000

Germancitizens,310,000Volksdeutsche(foreignersofGermanicorigin)and200,000

foreignvolunteers(Ploetz,Schramm,&Hillgruber,1960).Thisillustratesthatevenwith

theinfluxofforeignerstheWaffen-SSwasstill,however,primarilyGermanic.Someof

thesenationalitieswereonlypresentinsmallnumbers,butnonethelesstheywerepartof

theWaffen-SSatonepointoranother.

TheapologistsfortheWaffen-SShaveraisedtheargumentthattheyweremerelythe replicationofthepost-warNATOmilitaryformations;theywere,infact,aEuropeanarmy

(Mackenzie,1997).Theargumentbeingthattheywereamultinationalforceformedto

opposecommunism.Indeed,formerWaffen-SSofficershavearguedthattheEuropean volunteerswerenotpro-Nazi,butrathershouldbeseenas“anti-Bolshevists”(Erteletal.,

2000:6).SS-ObergruppenführerSteinerarguedinhispost-waraccountoftheWaffen-SS

that“…theforeignvolunteersweremenofspiritwho,liketheirGermancomrades,saw thediabolicalthreattoWesterncivilisationposedbyBolshevismandfoughtlikelions

againstitunderthebanneroftheWaffen-SS”(Mackenzie,1997:138).

ThisstandssomecredenceuntiloneconsidersthattherecruitmentofGermanicvolunteers wasdone“…withtheNazigoalofcreatingaGermanicReichbydrawinguponthe

Germanicbloodintheentireworld”(Gingerich,1997).Therewerenoplansforautonomy

ofthecountriesthatthevolunteerscamefrom,theywouldcontinueafterthewarunder

theGermanyoke.Indeed,unlikeNATO,whichisastandingforceamongequalpartners,

theforeignerswhoservedintheWaffen-SSwereforexpediencyonlyandwerecertainly

notequalsintherelationship.

NorweretheGerman-raisedlegionsintendedasapermanentforce,sincetheywere formedforonepurposeandonepurposeonly–thedefeatoftheSovietUnion.Hadthe warendedwithGermanvictory,thelegionsweretohavebeendisbanded,theirpurpose

havingbeenserved.(Bussetal.,1978:10)

AswellasthismanyoftheforeigngroupswhojoinedtheWaffen-SSlaterinthewar“… weremotivatedtofightfordifferentreasonsthantheirReichGermancounterparts”

(Wegner,1990:311).Manyfoughtfornationalistreasons,howevertheystilldisplayedand

sharedtheGermandislikeforJewsandBolshevism.Theinclusionofraciallyinferior groupslaterinthewarwasdoneforthesakeofmilitaryexpediencyasgreatholeswere torninthemanpoweroftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFront.TheWaffen-SSremaineda Germanicorder.AsSteinnotes:“TheWaffen-SShadindeedbecomeanarmyof

Europeans;itneverwasaEuropeanarmy”(Stein,1965:22).

InsummaryitcanbeseenthattheWaffen-SSwasgivenspecialtreatmentinrelationtoits

relationshipwithHitler,initstrainingschoolsandtheSScourtsystemusedtoregulateit.

Thesewerebenefitsthatwerenevergiventotheregulararmyunits.Thetrainingofthe

Waffen-SSwasdeliberatelyaimedatproducingeffectivemilitaryleaderswhowouldalso

bepoliticallyandideologicallyreliable.Therecanbelittledoubtthatintheearlydaysat

least,theWaffen-SSwasseenasthegeneticbaseofthenewGermanicReich,andforthis

reasonHimmlerandHitlerhelditinspecialregard.Whileinthelateryearsofthewarthe

racialandpoliticalelitewasdilutedtosomeextentduetomanpowershortages,theredid,

however,remainalargehardcoreofWaffen-SSofficersandmenwhowerealignedwith

theracial,politicalandideologicalviewsoftheNazis.Thisconsensusonaworldview

wouldallowtheWaffen-SStoundertakemassiveatrocitiesinasystematicwayasthe

revolutionaryshocktroopsoftheThirdReichduringtheirwarofdestructioninRussia.

ItcanbeseenthattheWaffen-SSorganisationwasamixtureofsituationaland

dispositionalfactorsthatwereconducivetotheconductofevilacts.Itwasanorganisation

createdtoundertakewhateverwasnecessarytofurthertheNazistateanditattractedand

accepted(intheearlyyearsatleast)onlythosewhowereinideologicalsyncwithitsaims.

ItcanalsobeseenthattheWaffen-SSwassettingthefoundationsforthegenocidethat

wastofollow.

3.CombatoperationsoftheWaffen-SS

Icanimaginetheneedtodiganantitankdikeandabout10,000Russianwomendyingof

exhaustionduringthecourseofthework.Thisisofnointeresttome.Theonlyquestionis

whetherthedikeiscompletedornot.

ThisspeechgivenbyHimmlertoofficersoftheWaffen-SSinPosenin1943succinctly

outlinesthebrutalpracticalityoftheSSpsyche.Infactitgivesclearrepresentationof

whatIwouldterminstrumentalevil.Thelogicwaslet10,000Russiansdie,theirlosswill

preventthelossofGermanlivesandforthisresultthecostisacceptable.Indeed

accordingtoSS-ObergruppenführerBach-Zelewski,asearlyasthebeginningof1941

HimmlerhadameetingwithtwelveSS-Gruppenführers;wherehestatedthatthepurpose

oftheRussiancampaignwastoreducetheindigenouspopulationbysome30million

people(Breitman,1991:147).

IndealingwiththeactionsoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFrontitisnecessarytoclearly outlinetheaspectsthatthisbookwilladdress.Thepreviouschaptershavealreadysetthe sceneandtoneoftheconflict,whatthisdiscussionshallattempttodoisoutlinewhat actionstheWaffen-SSundertookontheEasternFront.IndeedtheconflictontheRussian fronthasanunenviableassociationwiththeSSdueto“…theirpartinpolicingthe country,inthemassacresofJews,inthehuntforpoliticalcommissarsandpartisans,inthe

reprisalsonvillages,andintheround-upofslavelabour”(Reitlinger,1957:166).

ItisnotmyintenttodiscussthemilitaryexploitsoftheWaffen-SStoanylargedegree,

thatisnotmypurpose.Idointend,however,toexaminevariousactsoftheWaffen-SSin

anattempttoshowthatthismilitaryforcedidcommitsomeofthemostheinousactsto

occurduringWorldWarII.TothispurposeIintendtoexaminethefollowingareasinthe

followingchaptersinanefforttoprovideexamplesofwhatmaylaterbecalledevil

actions.Theseareaswillinclude:

Generalcombatduties;

Anti-partisanoperations;

Einsatzgruppenoperations;

Theconcentration-campsand;

Othermiscellaneousactions.

ItisimportanttooutlinetosomedegreetheactionsoftheWaffen-SSasitwillprovide

supportformyconclusionsinthefinalchapterwhenIconductananalysisoftheWaffen-

SS.

TheuseoftheWaffen-SSontheEasternFrontsawtheinstigationofawarofideology andracism. TheinvasionofRussiasawtheWaffen-SSbuildaformidablereputationasafighting force,butitalsoconfirmedthattheywerewarriorsforatrulyevilcause.(Ripley,

2004:73).

IthasbeennotedthattheWaffen-SSingeneralearntareputationforbrutalityinthewayit

conducteditselfinarmedconflicts.DuringtheconflictontheEasternFronttheshooting

ofprisoners,themassacreofciviliansandthedestructionofvillagesbecamesignature

behaviouroftheWaffen-SS.TheWaffen-SSwereaccusedofviolationsoftheGeneva

ConventionandthegenerallyacceptedrulesofwarduringtheconflictinRussiaandalso toalesserextentintheWesternconflict.Itisacknowledgedthattheconflictonthe EasternFrontwasfoughtwithbarbarityonbothsides,however,the“…brutalreprisals forSovietcrimestakenbyWaffenSSsoldierswereoutofallproportion,andrepugnantto

manyoftheirfellowcountrymen”(Hohne,1969:469).

TheSSwenttogreatlengthstoportraytheRussiansoldierasadifferentopponenttothose encounteredintheWest.TheSSnewspapershowed“…Russianprisonerswholook especiallynon-Aryan,andtheyaredescribedasbeinginragsandlice-infested”(Combs,

1986:138).AllthiswasdesignedtoensurethattheWaffen-SSsoldierdidnotseethe

Russianasafellowsoldier,butratherasasubhuman.SS-GruppenführerMaxSimon clearlyespousedtheviewheldoftheRussiansoldierinapost-warmanuscript,“…the primitivewayofthinkingandthementalsluggishnessoftheRussianpeasantdidnot

permittheemploymentofcomplicatedweapons”(Simon,1949:12).TheEasternFront

wasnotaplaceofcomradelypityforavanquishedfoe.Anexampleofthisthinkingis givenbyaGermanArmyofficer,BernFreytagVonLoringhoven,whorecountedhowhe sawarowofRussianprisonerslinedupandagroupofSSsoldiersgettingreadytoshoot theprisoners.WhenqueriedanSScorporalturnedtoVonLoringhovenandsaid,“Ah

Lieutenant,theyarejustbrutes”priortokillingthem(Halliley,2003).Heisnotalonein

recountingincidentslikethis.AtNuremberg,evidencewasgivenabouttheexecutionof

prisonersbytheWaffen-SSin1941byacapturedRussiansoldier,MojzeszGoldberg:

On23June1941IwascalledupintotheSovietArmyinLemberg.InthemiddleofJulyI

wastakenprisonerbytheGermans.AtalocalityfivekilometresfromPodwoloczyskthe SScompaniessoughttheJewsoutofthewholemassofprisonersandshotthemonthe spot.IremainedaliveastheydidnotrecognisemeasaJew.Istressthefactthatitwasthe Waffen-SSwhodidthis.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:388)

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:388) SS-Gruppenführer MaxSimon Thehighcommandofthe Wehrmacht

SS-GruppenführerMaxSimon

ThehighcommandoftheWehrmachtissuedguidelinesforthe“ConductofTroopsin Russia”inwhichitwasstatedthatBolshevismwasthemortalenemyoftheGerman peopleandthefightagainstthisenemydemanded“…ruthlessmeasuresagainst

Bolshevistsagitators,irregulars,saboteursandJews”(Heer,1999:126).Thisallowed

individualstocommitactsthat,couldthenbeideologicallyandmorallyjustified(notethat

thiswouldbesubjectivemoraljustification)inthatcontext.Anexampleofthiswasthe shootingofRussianArmypoliticalcommissars 19 onsightwhencaptured.TheWaffen-SS soldiersoftheTotenkopfdivisionreadilyexecutedCommissarsandtherecordsofthe divisionindicatethatthe“…menzealouslycarriedoutHitler’sCommissarorder”

(Sydnor,1990:314).

AnexampleofthesecriminalordersbeingcarriedoutwasWaffen-SSlieutenant,SS-

UntersturmführerTaubner,whowasattachedtotheWaffenSS1 st Brigade 20 inRussiain

1941.Taubnerwasnotpartofthekillingunitsorinvolvedincleansingoperationsagainst

theJewsorso-calledpartisans,hewaspartofaworkshopdetailrepairingequipment

(Klee,Dressen,&Riess,1988;Rhodes,2002).TaubnerandanumberofotherWaffen-SS

mentookituponthemselvestocommencekillingJewsthattheycameacross,oftenwith

incrediblebrutality.Taubnerorganisedandparticipatedinthekillingofchildren,women

andmen,oftenpausingbetweenthekillingstoplayhisaccordion.Ofnoteisthefactthat

TaubnerwaseventuallybroughtuponchargesbeforeanSScourt,whichdeliveredthe

followingverdict:

TheJewshavetobeexterminatedandnoneoftheJewsthatwerekilledisanygreatloss …theaccusedshouldhaverecognisedthefactthattheexterminationoftheJewswasthe dutyofcommandoswhichhavebeensetupespeciallyforthispurpose…Itisnotthe GermanwaytoapplyBolshevikmethodsduringthenecessaryexterminationoftheenemy ofourpeople.Indoingsotheconductoftheaccusedgivesrisetoconsiderableconcern. Theaccusedallowedhismentoactwithsuchviciousbrutalitythattheyconducted

themselvesunderhiscommandlikeasavagehorde.(Kleeetal.,1988:201).

TheactionsofTaubnerdidnotfitinwithHitler’sideasof“AnewantiSemitismbasedon reason”.Thistypeofthinkingresistedkillingsthatwerebasedonemotionssuchas pleasureorrevenge.IndeedHimmlerhadindicatedthatSSmenwhocarriedout unauthorisedshootingsforpoliticalpurposesshouldnotbesubjecttopunishment,but thosewhocarrieditoutforsadisticorsexualreasonsshouldbetriedformurder.Asearly

as1935HimmlerhadlaiddownstrictinstructionsregardingactionsagainsttheJews.In

anorderdatedthe16 th ofAugust1935,SSmenwereprohibitedfromindependent individualactionas“…thesolutionoftheJewishquestion,asofallotherquestions,isthe businessoftheFührer,andnotofindividuals.Andeventhemostminorcontraventionof

thisorderwillbypunishedbydismissalfromtheSS”(Krausnicketal.,1965:351).

ClearlyTaubnerwasactingouthisneedtosatisfyhispersonalsadisticdisposition,hewas

notrequiredbytheorganisationtoundertakesuchactions.Animportantfactorinthe

behaviourofTaubnerwasthathewasaninitiatorofindependentactions,notjustasoldier

followingordersoftheauthorities.Themostpoignantfactisthathewaspunishedforhis

actionsbytheveryorganisationthatwasundertakingtheexterminationoftheJews.His

roleinthesystemwasnotmeanttobethatofakiller.Hewasmeanttorepairequipment.

Butbyundertakingthekillingshehadallowedhispersonaldispositiontointerferewith

therunningoftheorganisationandassuchwaspunishedbytheorganisation.

IndeedTaubner’scaseisanexampleofoneflawthathasbeenseeninapplyingsituational modelssuchasMilgram’s 21 toeventssuchastheHolocaust.Thisperceivedflawisthat Milgram’sexperimentwashighlycentralised.Thestudentswereunderthedirectcontrol

oftheauthorityfigure(Blass,1993;Hilberg,1980;Milgram,1974).ClearlyTaubnerwas

notunderthedirectcontrolofHitlerorHimmler.Hewasinfactthousandsofmilesaway fromBerlin,thecentreofauthorityinrelationtotheexterminationpolicies.Further,his unitwasnotpartofthekillingsystemthathadbeenputinplace.Hewastheproducerof hisownactionsinrelationtothekillingsofJews.Itwouldappearthathisdisposition drovehimtocommitactsofevil.Indeedthekillingswerenotonlypropelledbythe bureaucracy,butalsoby“…individualinitiativeandasharedsetofbeliefs,valuesand

goals”(Kressel,2002:163).

Examplesofthistypeofbehaviourcanbefoundfromothersources.Asoldierofthe16 th SSPanzergrenadierReichsführerSSDivisionwroteinaletterthat,

InthevicinityofourcampthereissituatedaRussianprisoner-of-warcamp.Intherethey

didnotwanttocorrectlyobeyorders.Nowwehaveshot800men.Nowtheyarequiet.

Yes,theymustbehappythattheystilllive,sinceweknownomercy.Nowtheyhavethe

firstwarning,theconfoundeddogs.(Huffman,2005:153)

Waffen-SSveteranHansSchmidtrecountsinhisautobiographyanincidentwitha

sergeantontheRussianFrontin1944:

ThesergeantandIhadbeentalkingaboutrathermundanethingswhenwecameuponthe woundedenemysoldier.Whenwecamecloserandsawthehorribleshapethefellowwas inthesergeantquietlyliftedhismachinegun,aimedatthewoundedman,shothimdead withashortburstoffire,andthenwalkedonasnothinghadhappened.(Schmidt,

2001:231)

Schmidtlaterattemptstojustifythisactasamercykillinganddidnotconsideritawar crime.TwoSwedishvolunteersintheWaffen-SShadthistosayduringavisittothe

SwedishembassyinBerlinin1941:

PrisonerswereseldomtakenbytheWaffen-SS.Unlesstheysurrenderedingreater numbersthancompanysizetheywouldbeshotonthespot.Theprisonerswereharshly treatedandwerethenmovedforwardbykicksandbeatings.Femalesoldierswerekilled

instantly…(Christensenetal.,2003:21)

Evenasthewarendedin1945soldiersoftheWaffen-SSactedwithcrueltytowards

Russiansoldiers.Forexample,twoescapedRussianPOWswereexecutedbyasoliderof theLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerinMarch1945 22 (Ruter&deMildt,2004:Vol16).This dismissalofthevalueoflifeisclearinthecommentsofHansHossfelder,anofficerofthe DasReichDivision:

ItwasonethingtoenterRussiaandcombattheRedArmy,killpartisansandthelike.We hadbeenindoctrinatedtobelievethattheywereasubhumanculture,slightlyabovethe statusofanimals,andthiswasnottoohardformanyofustobelieve.However,forthe

menwhoenteredGreecebeforeJune1941(theinvasionofRussia),asIwasoneofthem,

itwouldhavebeendifficulttocarryoutorissueanordertokillpeoplesimplybecause

theyhadtodie.ThiswasnotthecaseinRussia.Nowwhenthesepeoplereturnedfrom

Russiaandthebrutalanti-partisanwarinYugoslavia,itwasjustadifferentmatter.Men

hadseenanddonesomuchkilling,italmostseemedtobejustapartofthejob.Idonot

saythatitisrightnow,oreventhatitwasrightbackthen.Itwasonlyrightaccordingto

thetimeswefoundourselvesin,giventheparticularsofthecircumstances.Itwasvery

sad.(Heaton,2001:85)

ThistypeofattitudewasexhibitedbyahostofWaffen-SSunits.Socommonplaceand

widespreadweretheseactsofbrutalitythatIwouldcontendthesetypesofactionswere

endemictotheWaffen-SSunitsasawhole.

ForemostamongthemwastheTotenkopfdivision,whichconductedsuchactionsas“… theburningofvillages,themurderofprisonersandthesummaryexecutionofcaptured commissarsandpolitruks”andearntitsreputationasoneofthemostbrutalSSunitson

theEasternFront(Sydnor,1990:316).Itiswithlittlesurprisethenthatattheendofthe

wartheRussiansaskedforandsucceededingettingallTotenkopfpersonnelwhohad surrenderedtotheWesternAllieshandedovertothemforpunishment.TheTotenkopfwas notaloneinthedestructionofvillagesandthekillingofcivilians.Onthe2 nd ofJuly1941 menfromtheWestlandRegiment(partofthe5 th Waffen-SSWikingPanzerDivision) exactedrevengewiththedestructionofavillageandreprisalsagainsttheinhabitantsin returnforasniperkillingtheircommander,SS-StandartenführerWackerle(Smithetal.,

1999).TheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerconductedthemurderof200Russiancivilians

nearthetownofSluczforthemurderofGermansoldiers.Thecivilianswereherdedintoa petrol-soakedcottage;“Thewindowsanddoorswerethenbarricadedandahandgrenade droppeddownthechimney.Theexplosionandholocaustwerespectacular…”(Wykes,

1974:125).

SomeWaffen-SSveteransclaimedthatnoatrocitieswereevercommitted.Asoneveteran ofthe6 th SSMountainDivisionNordstated“…asIrecallmytimewiththebattalionon Russianterritory,Ican’tthinkofanyactionswhichcouldhavetarnishedourbattalion’s honour.Itisalsomyfirmbeliefthatthisnotionistrueoftheotherunits.”(Voss,

2002:147).Itisofinterestthatlaterinthememoirsofthisparticularveteranhedescribes

hisfirstcombatwithAmericanforceswheretheAmericanswereallowedtotendtotheir woundedonthefield.Hestates,“Icouldn’tbelievemyeyes.Whatkindofwarwasthis? NothinglikethatwouldhavehappenedattheEasternFront,butheresomeoftherulesof

warseemedstilltobeinforce,validforbothsides”(Voss,2002:183).Thisstatement

wouldseemtocontradicthisearlierclaimregardingalackofatrocitiesorknowledgeof

suchontheEasternFront.

DuringJune1941thesoldiersoftheWaffen-SSbegantofighttheirwayintoRussia

againstdisorganisedRussianresistance.Hugelosseswerebeinginflicteduponthe Russians,theresultbeinglargegroupsorpocketsofRussiansoldiersthatwerebypassed andcutofffromtheirmainforces.The1 st TotenkopfInfantryRegiment(partofthe3 rd Waffen-SSTotenkopfDivision)wassubjectedtoattacksbythesegroupsofstraggling Russiansoldierswiththeresultthattheregimentalcommander,SS-StandartenführerMax Simon,orderedthattheseRussiansoldiersbeseenaspartisansandbe“…dealtwithmost

ruthlessly”(Mann,2001;Sydnor,1990:160).This,Sydnor(1990:160)argues,resultedin

thelikelyconsequencethattheSSsoldiers“…shotthemajorityoftheRussianstragglers

theyencountered,especiallythosewhoofferedresistanceratherthenimmediate

surrender”.

ThisclaimissupportedbyseveralreportsfromWaffen-SSofficersofthisunittohigher

commandsdescribingtheRussiansoldiersinpanicstrickentermsas“…fanatical,

inhumancreatureswhoemployedthevilesttrickstokillGermansoldiers”(Sydnor,

1990:160).Tosupporttheseclaimstheofficersgaveexamplessuchassome200Russian

soldierscomingforwardtosurrenderwithhandsraised,whothensuddenlybeganfiring ontheSSsoldiers.TheresultbeingthattheSSkilledalloftheRussians,includingthose

wholaterattemptedtosurrender(Sydnor,1990).AtZhitomirtheSSWikingDivision

carriedoutthefollowingordersinthetown.

Itsmenweregiventheinstructionstosearcheveryhomeandbuildingfor,inadditionto People’sCommissars,allofthetown’sofficials,whethercivilianormilitary.Whenthese

officialswereroundedup,theywereshot.(Butler,1978:106).

TheattitudeoftheWaffen-SStotheRussianciviliansisreflectedinthecommentsof Waffen-SSGeneralKarlHerrmann.Herecalls:Duringtheentireadvanceweencountered scatteredsnipers,saboteursandpartisangroups.Usuallydressedascivilians,these partisanscarriedoninsidiousguerrillawarfarebehindourlines;theyengagedinraids, demolitionandallotherformsofsabotage…theemploymentofthesepartisangroupsas combatunitsconstitutedaflagrantviolationoftherulesofwarfare…asarulecaptured partisanswerehungryandfilthy.Amongthemwerehalf-starvedunderworldcharacters.

Somewereadolescents,15to17yearsold,whosefacesbetrayedtheirlustformurder…

womenwerealsoamongthepartisans.Almostallofthemclaimedtobedoctorsornurses, buttojudgebytheirhardandbrutalfaces,therewasmanyanactivepartisanamongthem.

(Herrmann,1947:2)

WhentheDutchSSvolunteersoftheNederlanddivisionfoundthattheircommunications

werebeingsabotagedthecommanderofthedivision,SS-BrigadeführerJurgenWagner,

decidedthatanexampleneededtobemade.Asaresultcertainareasweredeclaredoff

limits.TheSSsoldiersthenconductedasweepofthearea.

EveryLatvianwhocouldbefoundwasroundedup.Inashortspaceoftime,morethan

150civilianswerecaptured…Wagnerdecidedtohaveanumberofthemexecutedin

frontofeveryonesoastowarnthepeopleofthegravityoftheconsequencesofpartisan

activity.(Pierik,2001:240)

EyewitnessAndrejWachranovrecalledhowuponenteringthenewlyconqueredRussian

townofBorisovoin1941,SSsoldiersoftheDasReichDivisioncollectedallthevillage

activists,theheadofthecollectivefarms,etcandtookthemtoatrenchandexecuted

them,claimingthattheywerepartisans(Halliley,2003).SS-ObersturmbannführerOtto

Weidinger,thelastcommanderofthe4 th SSPanzerGrenadierRegimentDerFührer, wroteanextensivehistoryoftheDasReichDivision.Itisofnotethathereferstothe

battleforBorisovobetweenthe21-23ofOctober1941,however,nomentionismadeof

theaboveshootings(Weidinger,1998,,2002).Herecallshowafterenteringthetownthe

Waffen-SSsoldiersengagedin“…bitterhouse-to-housefighting”torootouttheRussian defenders(Weidinger,2002:145).Anorderofthedaywasissuedonthe23 rd ofOctober

1941bythedivisionalcommander,SS-BrigadeführerWilhelmBittrich,whichstated:

SS-DivisionReichhasattackedfromthe6-21October1941withhardlyabreak…strong

enemyforcesweredefeatedoreliminated…bottomlessroads,stormsandbitingfrost

presentedjustaslittlehindrancetothedivisionasthedeterminedcounterattacksofthe

numericallyfarsuperiorenemy…WewillhelpdestroyBolshevismsothatGermanycan

live.HailtotheFührer.(Weidinger,2002:148)

Nomentionismadeofthemassacreofcivilians.InNovember1942the8 th SSFlorian GeyerDivisionwasinvolvedintheencirclementofseveralRussianunits,whichwas

calledtheBeliyepocket(Trang,2000).Attheconclusionofthebattlethepocket“…was

finallyclosedafterfivedaysfighting,withtheSovietunitcompletelywipedout.Onlya

fewelementsmanagedtoescapeinanisolatedbreakoutatZizina”(Trang,2000:89).

DanishvolunteersintheWaffen-SSrecountedthekillingofRussianPOWsforminor

infractionsandalsoinretaliationfordeathsoftheircomrades(Smithetal.,1999).They

executedanumberofRussianprisonersinretaliationforthedeathoftheircommander, withoneofficerwritinghomethatnoprisonersweretakenthatday(Christensenetal.,

2003).AsoneDanishvolunteerwroteinhisdiary:

6/9/1942AJewinagreasykaftanwalksuptobegsomebread,acoupleofcomradesgeta

holdofhimanddraghimbehindabuildingandamomentlaterhecomestoanend.There isn’tanyroomforJewsinthenewEurope,they’vebroughttoomuchmiserytothe

Europeanpeople.(Smithetal.,1999:92)

DuringfightinginFebruary1943theLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerreportedkillingsome

500Russiansoldierswhiletakingonlyfiveprisoners(Weingartner,1974).Thesehigh

enemydeathratesandlowprisonercountswerenotunusualforotherunitsoftheWaffen-

SS.Duringthe6 th ofJuly1941theSSsoldiersoftheTotenkopfdivisionengagedinsuch fiercefightingthatnoprisonersweretakenfortheday(Sydnor,1990).The49 th SS PanzergrenadierRegimentDeRuyter,partofthe23 rd SSPanzergrenadierDivision

Nederland,reportedduringfightingintheKurlandpocketin1944thatinafewdays

fighting520Russiansoldierswerekilledwithonlysome14beingtakenprisoner(Pierik,

2001:239).

ThisviciousnessofthefightingbetweentheWaffen-SSandRussianarmyunitsis highlightedbythefateofthe9 th Waffen-SSMountainCorpsduringitsdefenceof Budapestinearly1945.AmongotherunitstheCorpscontainedthe8 th SSCalvary DivisionFlorianGeyerandthe22 nd SSCalvaryDivisionMariaTheresa.Some24,000 Germansoldiers(themajorityofwhichwereWaffen-SS)attemptedtobreakoutofthe citythroughRussianlinesonthe11 th ofFebruary1945.FormanyoftheWaffen-SS soldiersthisattempttoescapewastoresultintheirslaughter.Membersofthe22 nd DivisionwereambushedbyRussiantroopsastheytriedtobreakoutoftheencirclement, theRussians“…slaughteredtheGermansbutsparedtheHungarians”(Ungvary,

2005:235).Of24,000whoattemptedtobreakoutonlysome170Waffen-SSsoldierswere

successfulinreachingtheGermanlines 23 .ForthoseWaffen-SSsoldierswhowere capturedanominousendawaitedthem.“TheWaffen-SSandwoundedweremostatrisk. Theformerwerekilledforpoliticalreasons…inthesportsgroundinBudakezi,SS

soldierswereforcedtodigtheirowngravesbeforebeingshot.”(Ungvary,2005:333).

ThepinnacleoftheWaffen-SS,thebattleofKharkov

In1943theWaffen-SSgainedagreatvictoryinthebattleofKharkovwherethey

destroyedsubstantialRussianforcesandrecapturedthecity.Itwastobethelastmajor

victorybyGermantroopsontheEasternFront.Butmorethanthis,itwassolelyaWaffen-

SSvictory,thefeatbeingachievedbythe1 st SSPanzerCorpscontainingthe LeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler,DasReichandTotenkopfPanzerDivisions.Hitler’sspecial relationshipwiththeWaffen-SSisevidentbythefactthathelavishedalargenumberof Knight’sCrossesonhispoliticalsoldiersfortheiractionsinretakingthecity.Fourteen

wenttotheLeibstandarte,10totheDasReichandfivetotheTotenkopf(Butler,1978;

Schneider,1993).Thebattleturnedintoamassacrebyitsend.Duringthefightingsoldiers

oftheTotenkopfdivision:

DrewalongsidetheretreatingRussiansatdistancesof20to30yards,machinegunningat

willthetruckscrammedwithinfantry…theRussianshadabandonedmostoftheir vehiclesandequipmentandweretryingtoescapeonfoot…theSSTKFirst PanzergrenadierRegiment…methodicallycutdownthepanickedherdsofstampeding

Russiansfleeing…(Sydnor,1990:269)

SS-SturmbannführerRalfTiemannoftheSSLeibstandarteDivisiondescribedtheaction

asfollows:

Panzersofthe7.PanzerkompanydrovethroughBulachitothepositionofthe

breakthroughandwereabletoeffectivelysupportthegrenadiersoftheIIbattalionduring

theannihilationoftheenemyforces…Atadistanceof3000to4000metreswecould

observetheSoviethorse-drawnsledsandtanks.DuringtheattackIsuccessfully

positionedmypanzerIIIinasmalldepressionandwasabletokill48Russianswith

machine-gunfire.(Tiemann,1998:35)

ThistypeofactionisgraphicallyillustratedinNipe’s(2002)photoessayontheKharkov

campaign.ItshowsaseriesofpicturesdepictingsomeRussiansoldierswithhorse-drawn cartsontheemptysteppetryingtofleefromWaffen-SSsoldiersoftheSSLeibstandarte division.TheSSsoldiers,heavilyarmedandmountedinhalftracksandassaultguns, rapidlyovertaketheRussiansoldiers,whowithnohopeofflightattempttosurrender.The SSsoldiersthenmachinegunthesoldiersattemptingtosurrender.Oneauthordescribes theactionasfollows,“…forthesoldiersoftheSSPanzerCorpsitwaslikeafieldday

withliveammunitionandmovingtargets”(Simpson,1990:58).Clearlytheaboveactions

areincontraventionofArticle23oftheHagueConventions,whichstatesitisforbidden

“…tokillorwoundanenemywho,havinglaiddownhisarms,orhavingnolonger

meansofdefence,hassurrenderedatdiscretion…”.PlainlyheretheactionsoftheWaffen-

SSareoutsideofsuch.GunterOehmke,asoldierintheLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitler, admittedthat“…especiallyinoffensivecombatunitssuchasthePanzerandfast-moving Panzergrenadierelements,prisonerswereattimesshotorsimplynoteventakenbasically

becauseofmilitarynecessity”(Huffman,2005:151).

DuringthebattleforKharkovin1943theLeibstandarteSSAdolfHitlerDivisionwas

accusedofsettingfiretoabuildingcontaining300woundedSovietsoldiersinone

incidentandshootingsome400woundedofficersintheirhospitalbedsinanother

(Darman,2004;Reynolds,1999;Ripley,2004;Stein,1966).WhentheRussians

recapturedKharkovevidencewasuncoveredofatrocitiescommittedbytheWaffen-SS. Thisincludedsome10,000 24 civilianswhowerekilledbyEinsatzgruppenandotherunits

followingbehindtheWaffen-SS(Darman,2004;Halliley,2003;Stein,1966).Onedoctor

recountedhowSSsoldiers“…threwincendiarygrenadesthroughthewindows,the

buildingsbegantoburnandthewoundedtriedtosavethemselves”,fewsurvived

(Halliley,2003).Thismatterwasinvestigatedafterthewarandoneauthorhadthe

followingtosay.

InresponsethejudicialauthoritiesinNurembergcarriedoutalengthyinquiry,examining

nolessthan688witnesses,allbut13ofwhomwereformermembersoftheLeibstandarte.

OnlyfourofthemprofessedtohavingeverheardofSovietprisonershavingbeenshotand thegeneralviewwasthattheLeibstandartewouldneverhavebeenpermittedtoshoot defencelessprisoners.Whatcouldbeestablishedwasthatthehospitalitselfwaswithinthe areaoftheattackmadebythe1 st SSPanzergrenadierRegimentandthatthemainSoviet defensivebeltwasjustnorthofthehospital.Itisthusverylikelythatitbecameembroiled inthebattle,andgiventhatstreetfightingisoftenconfusedandmerciless,itisquite possiblethattheLeibstandartesoldiersmayhavebelievedthattheywerebeingfiredupon fromthehospitalanddecidedtoeradicateallpossibleoppositioninsideit.(Messenger,

1988:211)

Theaboveexplanationhardlystandsscrutinywhenexaminedinthelightofthe backgroundandotheractionsoftheWaffen-SSingeneral,andtheLeibstandartein particular.Himmlerarrivedinthecityshortlyafterwardsandarecordingwasmadeofthe followingspeechtotheWaffen-SSsoldiersofthe1 st SSPanzerCorps.Atthispointin timeSS-OberstgruppenführerPaulHaussercommandedthecorps.Footageofthetime showsaneagerHaussergreetingHimmlerwiththeNazisaluteashearrivesinKharkov. Himmler’sspeechcontainedthefollowingexhortationtohissoldiers:

Wehavebutonetask.Tofightthisracialbattlewithoutmercy.Thisgreatweaponoffear andterrorwhichhasguidedussincethevictoryofKharkovmustneverbeallowedto

weaken;insteadwemuststrengthenitfurther.HeilHitler.(Halliley,2003)

Hausserattemptedtoplaydownthisspeechlaterwhenitwasintroducedintoevidence beforetheIMT.However,thecommentsofDasReichveteranHans-JoachimLindow servetoillustratethemotivationsoftheWaffen-SSatthispointintime;“…atonepoint therewasthissillysaying,thattheLeibstandartesawitastheirmissiontolayKharkovat Hitler’sfeet,andthatmotivationwascertainlythere,letsnotfoolourselves”(Halliley,

2003).ThecitychangedhandsonanumberofoccasionsandtheWaffenSSwere

responsibleforitsdefence.InpreparingthedefencesoftheKharkovtheSSLeibstandarte

usedslavelabourintheformof25,000Russians,presumablybothprisonersofwarand

conscriptedcivilianstocarryouttheworkrequired(Weingartner,1974).Theinvolvement

oftheWaffenSSincommittingatrocitieswastocontinueinavarietyofconflicts.

TheWarsawUprisings

TwoactionsstandoutinthehistoryoftheWaffen-SSandthesebothconcernthecityof WarsawinPoland.Twouprisingstookplaceinthiscity.Thefirstbeingtheuprisingofthe

Jewsintheghettoin1943;andthesecondbeingtheoffensiveofthePolishHomeArmy

in1944.

TheuprisingoftheWarsawGhetto

Onthe19 th ofApril1943theJewsintheWarsawGhettoroseupagainsttheirNazi

oppressorsandengagedincombatagainstthemforsome28days.Thiswasasaresultof

some300,000JewsbeingtransportedfromtheghettotothedeathcampatTreblinkasince

July1942.Timewasrunningoutfortheremaining60,000orsoJews.TheWaffen-SSwas

tohaveamajorroleinsuppressingthisuprisingbothfromacommandpointofviewand

alsoinrelationtothecombatunitsutilised.

ThecommandofsuppressingtheuprisingwasputinthehandsofWaffen-SSGeneral,SS-

BrigadeführerJurgenStroop,whowaslatertotakeonthepositionofSSandPolice Leader(SSPF)Warsaw.StroophadservedintheTotenkopfDivisionontheEasternFront

in1941.HethenbecametheHigherSSandPoliceLeader(HSSPF)forRussiaSouthand

wasthenmadeSSPFforLvovintheUkrainebeforebeingsenttoWarsawtodealwiththe Jews.AfterthewarhewasextraditedtoPolandandtriedforthecrimescommittedduring theGhettouprising.Hewasconvictedandexecutedonthe8 th ofSeptember1951

(MacLean,2001).WhileStroophaddirectcontroloftheoperationsinWarsaw,hewas

overseenbySS-ObergruppenführerFriedrichWilhelmKruger.KrugerwastheHSSPFfor thePolisharea.HegainedextensiveexperienceintheWaffen-SSbattleformationsby servingcommandpositionsinthe6 th SSNordDivision,the7 th SSPrinzEugenDivision andhethencommandedthe5 th SSMountainCorps.Hecommittedsuicideonthe9 th of

May1945toavoidcapture(MacLean,2001;Yerger,1999).

StroophadthefollowingSSunitsavailabletohimtocombattheuprising:The1 st and2 nd battalionsofthe22 nd SSPoliceRegiment,the3 rd battalionofthe23 rd SSPolice Regiment,the3 rd SSPanzergrenadierTrainingandReplacementbattalion(thiswasthe replacementbattalionfortheTotenkopfDivision)andtheSSCalvaryFieldReplacement

Detachment(thiswasthereplacementunitfortheSSCalvaryDivision)(MacLean,2001).

AswithmanyGermanactionsStroopkeptdetailedreportsastotheactionsundertakenby theunitsunderhiscontrol.ThesewerethensenttoHimmlertokeephiminformedof events.Stroopcompiledafinalreportdatedthe16 th ofMay1943tocataloguehis destructionoftheghettoanditistitled;“TheWarsawGhettoisnomore”.Itwastendered

asanexhibit(documentnumber1061-PS)atNurembergandprovidesproofofWaffenSS

involvementandactionsundertakenduringthecombatoperations(OfficeoftheUnited

StatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:718).Onpageoneofthe

reportStroopliststhedailyaverageoftroopsinactionduringtheconductoftheconflict

(numberofsoldiersinvolvedindicatedasofficers/men).Ofinterestistheinvolvementof

theWaffen-SS.

WaffenSS:

SSPanzerGrenadierTrainingandReserveBattalion3,Warsaw4/440.SSCav.Training

andResBat.Warsaw5/381

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:718)

TheGermanswerebetterarmedandbettertrained.TheJewscouldneverhopetowin

suchaone-sidedfight,andtheydidnot.FromthestartoftheconflictStroopmakesit

clearinhisreportthatthehardestmeasureswereusedagainsttheJews:

TheresistanceputupbytheJewsandbanditscouldbebrokenonlybyrelentlesslyusing

allourforceandenergybydayandnight.On23April1943theReichsführer-SSissued

throughtheHigherSSandPoliceFührerEastatCracowhisordertocompletethe combingoutoftheWarsawGhettowiththegreatestseverityandrelentlesstenacity.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:725)

Thefightingprovedtoughandhard,evenforthesoldiersoftheWaffen-SSasStroop

recounts:

ThenthemenoftheWaffenSS,thePoliceortheWehrmachtEngineerscourageously climbeddowntheshaftstobringouttheJewsandnotinfrequentlytheythenstumbled overJewsalreadydead,orwereshotat.Itwasalwaysnecessarytousesmokecandlesto

driveouttheJews.Thusonedayweopened183sewerentranceholesandatafixedtime

loweredsmokecandlesintothem,withtheresultthatthebanditsfledfromwhatthey believedtobegastothecentreoftheformerGhetto,wheretheycouldthenbepulledout ofthesewerholesthere.AgreatnumberofJews,whocouldnotbecounted,were exterminatedbyblowingupsewersanddug-outs.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:725)

EventuallyalltheJewswerekilledorevacuatedfromtheGhettotothedeathcamps.

StrooppaidspecialhomagetothetroopsoftheWaffen-SSunitsandtheirresilience:

Thelongertheresistancelasted,thetougherthemenoftheWaffenSS,Policeand Wehrmachtbecame;theyfulfilledtheirdutyindefatigablyinfaithfulcomradeshipand stoodtogetherasmodelsandexamplesofsoldiers.Theirdutyhoursoftenlastedfrom earlymorninguntillateatnight.Atnight,searchpatrolswithragswoundroundtheirfeet remainedattheheelsoftheJewsandgavethemnorespite.Notinfrequentlytheycaught andkilledJewswhousedthenighthoursforsupplementingtheirstoresfromabandoned dugoutsandforcontactingneighbouringgroupsorexchangingnewswiththem.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:726)

StroopcontinuesonandpraisesthededicationwithwhichtheWaffenSSapplied themselvestothedestructionoftheJewsofWarsaw;Consideringthatthegreaterpartof themenoftheWaffen-SShadonlybeentrainedforthreetofourweeksbeforebeing assignedtothisaction,highcreditshouldbegivenforthepluck,courageanddevotionto dutywhichtheyshowed…Onlythroughthecontinuousanduntiringworkofallinvolved

didwesucceedincatchingatotalof56,065Jewswhoseexterminationcanbeproved.To

thisshouldbeaddedthenumberofJewswholosttheirlivesinexplosionsorfiresbut whosenumberscouldnotbeascertained.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:726)

Thisreportcontainsaninterestingfact,thatmanyoftheSSsoldiershadonlybeen membersoftheWaffen-SSforsomeweeks.ThesewerenottheSSstormtroopersofthe

1930s.Yettheywerestillpreparedtoundertakethemassacreofunarmedciviliansand

fightwiththemostbrutaloftactics.Ibelievethatthisprovidesstrongevidenceofthe

effectofthesituationonindividuals.Whencalleduponthesenewrecruitsshowedno

hesitationincommittingatrocities.Stroopwentontogointodetailastothekilling

wroughtontheJews:

Ofthetotalof56,065Jewscaught,about7,000wereexterminatedwithintheformer

Ghettointhecourseofthelarge-scaleaction,and6,929bytransportingthemtoT.II,

whichmeans14,000Jewswereexterminatedaltogether.Beyondthenumberof56,065

Jewsanestimatednumberof5,000to6,000werekilledbyexplosionsorinfires.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:727)

DespitethehighnumbersofkilledonlyminimalweaponswerelocatedbytheGermans.

Strooplistedthebooty,ashecalledit,thatherecoveredfromtheJews.

7Polishrifles,1Russianrifle,1Germanrifle,59pistolsofvariouscalibres

Severalhundredhandgrenades,includingPolishandhome-madeonesSeveralhundred incendiarybottles Home-madeexplosives Infernalmachineswithfuses Alargeamountofexplosives,ammunitionforweaponsofallcalibres,includingsome machine-gunammunition.

(OfficeoftheUnitedStatesCounselforProsecutionofAxisCriminality,1946:Vol3:728)

Itcanbeseenwithoutdoubtthatobviouslymostofthosekilledwereunarmedcivilians. SomeoftheWaffen-SSsoldierssuchasHugoMielkeofthe8 th FlorianGeyerCalvary Divisionwerebroughttotrialfortheircrimesafterthewar. 25 Mielkewasconvictedand sentencedtolifeimprisonmentforleadingadestructionunitthatsetfiretohousesand

shotJewsastheytriedtoescapefrombeingburntalive(Ruteretal.,2004:Vol3).SS

GeneralPaulHausserwasquestionedinrelationtotheuseoftheWaffen-SSforcombat

dutiesbehindthefrontlines,withreferencetotheGhettouprising:

HERRPELCKMANN:Apartfromtheaccusationconcerningtheconcentration-camps, theProsecutionfurtherassertsthattheWaffen-SS,onthebasisofitstraining,wasa particularlycruelmilitarytool;andthatistobeshown,allegedly,bytheparticipationof theWaffen-SSmenintheevacuationoftheWarsawGhettoand,sosaystheProsecution, intheviolationsofinternationallawsuchasthemurderofprisonersofwar.Isthat correct? HAUSSER:Ialreadytestified,yesterday,thatourtrainingwasnotorganisedtothatend, thatourmethodoffightingwassupervisedandorderedbytheArmy,andthatwedidnot gainprestigethroughcruelmethods.Thecommanderswhohadpersonalprideinleadinga cleanfightingunitagainsttheenemysawtothat.Ilearnedonlyhereoftheparticipationof smallunitsoftheWaffen-SSintheevacuationoftheWarsawGhettoorintheexecutions whichtookplaceinBohemiaandMoravia.Thiscanonlybeaquestionofsmalldetailsof replacementunits,whichweretemporarilysubordinatedforabriefperiodoftime.

(TheInternationalMilitaryTribunal,1946:Vol20:367)

Hausserraisesanimportantpointherethattrainingandreplacementbattalionsofthe Waffen-SSformationswereusedforcombatoperationsbehindthelineswhennecessary.

ThiswasaresultofHimmlergaininganagreementwiththeWehrmachtin1941thatthese

typesofunitwouldremainunderSScontrol.Theresultwasthat:

HimmlerlostnotimeinscatteringtheSSreplacementunitsalloverGerman-occupied Europe,thusmenwhohadbeenrecruitedforfront-lineservicefoundthemselvesattimes

duringtheirtrainingperiodcalledupontoengagein‘policeactivities’.(Stein,1966:47)

ThisensuredthatHimmlerwouldhaveareadysourceofpoliticallyreliabletroops

availabletodealruthlesslywithsituationsjustsuchastheGhettouprising.Thecityof

WarsawwouldfeatureagaininyetanotherterrorcampaignundertakenbytheWaffen-SS.

TheuprisingofthePolishHomeArmy

Onthe1 st ofAugust1944thePolishHomeArmyGeneralBorKomorovski,withaforce

ofbetween35,000and50,000partisans,attackedtheGermansinWarsaw.Theuprising

wasinstigatedastheRedArmywasontheoutskirtsofWarsaw,however,theRussian offensivecametoastopoutsidethecityandtheGermanswereabletodirectalltheir

attentiontotheinsurgents.Theconflictwastolastforsome63daysbeforeitwas

defeated.AnumberofWaffen-SSunitstookpartinthecombatagainstthePolishHome

Army.

OnesuchunitwastheWaffen-SSSturmBrigadeRona(alsoknownastheKaminski

Brigadeafteritscommander),whichwasformedinJuly1944fromelementsofthe

RussianPeopleFreedomArmy(RONA)(A.J.Munoz,1997;Nafziger,2001;Stein,1966;

Westwood,2001).Thisunitwouldlaterformthe29 th SSGrenadierDivision,butwould

onlyexistforashortperiodoftime.InJune1944thisunitcameunderthecontrolofthe

Reichsführer-SSafterbeingtransferredfromarmycontrol.TheunitwassenttoWarsawto combattheuprising.UnitsoftheTotenkopfandWikingdivisionswerealsousedto

suppresstheuprising(Davies,2003;Quarrie,1981).

Ahugesweepthroughtheforestwaslaunchedonthe27Septemberbythreebattalionsof

theHermannGoeringPanzerDivisionandtheSSPanzerDivisionsTotenkopfandWiking, whoactedlikebeatersinagrouseshoot.Allthevillages,whichhadgiventheinsurgents shelter,wereburned,allthemalevillagersshot.ItwastypicalNazianti-partisanwarfare.

(Davies,2003:397)

TheseWaffen-SSunitscameundertheoverallcommandofWaffen-SSGeneralBach-

Zelewski.Heretheyengageduponanorgyofslaughterandrape.TheKaminskiBrigade enteredahospitalforcancerpatientsandrapedandkilledmostofthestaffandpatients. Theactionsofthisbrigadeextendedtoshootingofinnocentciviliansinacarte-blanche fashion.SoexcessivewerethetacticsofthebrigadethatseveralsourcesclaimthattheSS luredtheBrigade’scommanderKaminskitoameetingandthenexecutedhimforhis

actions(Clark,1965;MacLean,1998;A.J.Munoz,1997;Stein,1966).

This,however,wasnottheonlyWaffen-SSunitpresentatthebattle;norwasittheonly

onetocommitatrocities.TheDirlewangerSS-Sonderkommandowasalsosenttothecity

andthereitfoughtwithitsusualbrutalityandruthlessness.

Duringthedefeatoftheuprising,theDirlewangerbrigadeburnedprisonersalivewith gasoline,impaledbabiesonbayonetsandstuckthemoutofwindowsandhungwomen

upsidedownfrombalconies…(MacLean,1998:177)

Dirlewangerhadahistoryofevilactionsandwouldbeamplysuitedtoputtingdownthe

uprisingwithterror.Itneedstoberememberedthatinwartherewillalwaysbesomeform

ofharminflictedtoachievethegoalsoftheconflict.Butgenerallytheinternationallaws

regulatingwarseektoensurethatminimumorreasonableforceisusedtoachievethese

aims.ClearlytheconductofDirlewangerwouldgooutsidetheselimitsandcouldbe

claimedtobeevil.AsHimmlerexplainedtoGoebbelsthepurposeofthiswastocreate

suchterrorandsheerviolencethattheuprisingwouldbestopped“…inaveryfewdays”

(Clark,1965:391).ToensurethisaimwasachievedHitlerandHimmlerissuedanorderto

thecommanderoftheSSforcesinWarsaw,SS-Obergruppenführer