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Thread: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

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    Default The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Based on the responses in the following thread links, I went ahead and transcribed some paragraphs from Beevor's latest work:

    http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...452#post196452

    http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...460#post196460

    In his latest book on the Battle of the Bulge Ardennes 1944, Antony Beevor writes:

    Tensions between the Waffen-SS and the German army were growing because of Hitler's insistence on saving SS formations in a retreat while ordinary (Heer) divisions were left to fight on as a rearguard
    ...
    "There were many comments"' acknowledged General Warlimont, "to the effect that the SS no longer considered itself a member of the Wehrmacht but had its own organization." Sepp Dietrich wanted his Sixth Panzer Army to be designated an SS panzer army, but this was denied because he had non-SS formations in his command. Dietrich even refused to have General der Artillerie Kruse as his chief artillery officer because he was not a member of the SS. Manteuffel, like many others, had little respect for Dietrich's generalship. He thought that the Sixth Panzer Army "was not commanded as one formation, and that its component parts did not fight with the same sense of duty as the Army divisions". Dietrich was regarded as a bad joke by senior army officers.

    Oberstleutnant von der Heyte was even more scathing, after meeting (Dietrich) to discuss his parachute drop in front of the Sixth Panzer Army. He said that Dietrich liked to pose as "a people's general", but he was "a conceited, reckless military leader with the knowledge and abilities of a good sergeant. He has not moral scruples." Heyte, although a German nationalist, detested the Nazis. (pg. 88)

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Thanks for that.

    Admittedly it appears to be late 1944 when the Germans had their backs to the wall, but it also suggests that the SS weren't as good as the Heer when both had their backs to the wall as the SS were when they were in the ascendant in the early years of the war, which is consistent with the behaviour of most thugs when they're receiving rather than giving a belting when they're outnumbered or outclassed.

    Could be interesting to examine the background, battle experience and training of the troops in your quote, as I suspect that by late 1944 the Heer was pulling in a lot of green troops. Was the SS maintaining its selectivity and training by that stage? If so, it reflects poorly on the SS.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Could be interesting to examine the background, battle experience and training of the troops in your quote, as I suspect that by late 1944 the Heer was pulling in a lot of green troops. Was the SS maintaining its selectivity and training by that stage? If so, it reflects poorly on the SS.
    I think the most correct and final characteristic of ss and pesronally Dietrich as warriors has been given by...Hitler. He ordered after the opearation Spring Awakening:
    .... the "armband order" that followed. The order was issued to the 6th SS Panzer Army commander Sepp Dietrich by Adolf Hitler, who claimed that the troops, and more importantly, the Leibstandarte, "did not fight as the situation demanded." As a mark of disgrace, the Waffen-SS units involved in the battle were ordered to remove their treasured cuff titles. Dietrich did not relay the order to his troops

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Thanks for that.

    Admittedly it appears to be late 1944 when the Germans had their backs to the wall, but it also suggests that the SS weren't as good as the Heer when both had their backs to the wall as the SS were when they were in the ascendant in the early years of the war, which is consistent with the behaviour of most thugs when they're receiving rather than giving a belting when they're outnumbered or outclassed.

    Could be interesting to examine the background, battle experience and training of the troops in your quote, as I suspect that by late 1944 the Heer was pulling in a lot of green troops. Was the SS maintaining its selectivity and training by that stage? If so, it reflects poorly on the SS.
    I was gonna quote more but got tired of copy-writing. I will post more, but Beevor goes on to paint the Waffen-SS with disgrace for not least of which their looting of their OWN people. Bad habits die hard, so the SS even looted and stole from Germans often before fleeing towards the end. I believe one instance took place in Strasbourg just prior to a U.S. Army push where the SS and Luftwaffe fled, but not before stealing wholesale from their already battered people. He also writes of an instance were some German civilians openly told the SS to leave or surrender to the advancing Allies since the war was lost and they were only perpetuating suffering and prolonging the inevitable. In that instance, the Germans (old women) were fortunate that the SS commander tacitly agreed that the war was lost and the Nazi authorities (referred to as "Golden Pheasants" mocking their eagle insignias IIRC) were cowards for fleeing. He didn't report them...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 04-24-2016 at 11:17 AM.

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    I think the most correct and final characteristic of ss and pesronally Dietrich as warriors has been given by...Hitler. He ordered after the opearation Spring Awakening:
    Most Waffen-SS did fight hard in the Bulge, but they were also prone to senseless orgies of violence against American POW's and Belgian civilians that did little but stiffen Allied resolve and create a virtual death sentence for most SS prisoners captured by American troops. I believe some U.S. Army reports also painted a picture of the SS (in particular) being rather inept on the offensive and just wading through snow into American artillery and small arms fire...

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I was gonna quote more but got tired of copy-writing. I will post more, but Beevor goes on to paint the Waffen-SS with disgrace for not least of which their looting of their OWN people. Bad habits die hard, so the SS even looted and stole from Germans often before fleeing towards the end. I believe one instance took place in Strasbourg just prior to a U.S. Army push where the SS and Luftwaffe fled, but not before stealing wholesale from their already battered people. He also writes of an instance were some German civilians openly told the SS to leave or surrender to the advancing Allies since the war was lost and they were only perpetuating suffering and prolonging the inevitable. In that instance, the Germans (old women) were fortunate that the SS commander tacitly agreed that the war was lost and the Nazi authorities (referred to as "Golden Pheasants" mocking their eagle insignias IIRC) were cowards for fleeing and didn't report them...
    In (and I have difficulty saying this) fairness to the SS, that sort of conduct wasn't any worse than a lot of conduct by the advancing Allied Western armies, whose troops often took what they wanted when it suited them from civilians in France and, especially, Germany and at times with threatened or great violence, e.g. as described IIRC in Stephen Ambrose's 'Band of Brothers' which I read many years ago,
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    .. they were also prone to senseless orgies of violence against American POW's and Belgian civilians that did little but stiffen Allied resolve and create a virtual death sentence for most SS prisoners captured by American troops.
    The motiveless cruelty to pows from SS member was also a bold reason why red army executed the ss-pows almost immediatelly. In eastern front the ss and especially waffen-ss had a long row of military crimes lists, commited toward civils. Plus ideological hate added much

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    In (and I have difficulty saying this) fairness to the SS, that sort of conduct wasn't any worse than a lot of conduct by the advancing Allied Western armies, whose troops often took what they wanted when it suited them from civilians in France and, especially, Germany and at times with threatened or great violence, e.g. as described IIRC in Stephen Ambrose's 'Band of Brothers' which I read many years ago,
    He writes: "The defense of Strasbourg was an inglorious episode in the history of the German Army. The SS had looted Strasbourg before withdrawing. According to one general defending the town, soldiers ordered to 'fight to the last round' tended to throw away most of their ammunition before the battle, so they could claim that they ran out and then surrender. Generalmajor Vaterrodt, the (Heer) commander, was scornful about the behaviour of senior officers and Nazi Party officials. 'I'm surprised that Himmler did not have anyone hanged in Strasbourg,' he told fellow officers after he had been captured. 'Everyone ran away (including high ranking Nazi officials)...'" p. 74
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 04-24-2016 at 11:39 AM.

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    The motiveless cruelty to pows from SS member was also a bold reason why red army executed the ss-pows almost immediatelly. In eastern front the ss and especially waffen-ss had a long row of military crimes lists, commited toward civils. Plus ideological hate added much
    That pretty much happened during "Operation Watch the Rhine!" Most SS prisoners were executed with the tacit (and even not so tacit) approval of senior U.S. Army officers. They had to however order the stopping of reprisal killings in order to get intelligence from 'mouths' that tended to talk more freely when captured after suffering "reversals". The Waffen-SS were particularly brutal to select Belgian civilians massacring hundreds as reprisal for Belgian partisan attacks during their withdrawal from Belgium the previous late summer/early autumn. I believe they also massacred most of the civilian population in one town in full view of U.S. combat engineers in retaliation for the sappers blowing a vital bridge and blocking panzers. IIRC, two half track APC's and some small recon vehicles were allowed to cross before the bridge was blown. The Engineers then shot all of the crews and threw their bodies in the river...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 04-24-2016 at 11:46 AM. Reason: added

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    The motiveless cruelty to pows
    And the motiveless cruelty to everyone a bit east of Berlin based on Nazi ideas about untermensch and lebensraum which justified treating everyone who wasn't like them as worthless, yet worthy of displacement at best and extermination at worst.

    Anyone want to identify the current form of this virulent thinking contributing the most to current world problems?
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    They were a "cruel to enemies" as the national-socialistic propogand demanded, but were the ss so effective in combet even witin the first stage of the war? I read the "Das Reich" and "Adolf Hitler" done a much succesfull fight on the east until the 1943

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    And the motiveless cruelty to everyone a bit east of Berlin
    Actualy one could think that the germans feels sort of magic tremblin toward the East and to all what is associated with East. I think same feels our friend, imi
    based on Nazi ideas about untermensch and lebensraum which justified treating everyone who wasn't like them as worthless, yet worthy of displacement at best and extermination at worst.
    And they stil persistly told - the Wermach come to east to ..save eastern peoples from the bolshevism and jewish kagal

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    I believe the overall summary was that these particular Waffen-SS under Dietrich were a sort of golden, strategic reserve that were well equipped and rested, yet very experienced overall from the Eastern Front. They were sort of the cream of what the Nazi Reich had left and received the best tanks such as the Tiger Royale. But they were inexperienced at the art of offense and the advance since they had been retreating on both fronts for years. The men were highly motivated and were salivating over the prospect of going over to the attack and driving over the Meuse and onto Antwerp to force the British "out of the war" in Hitlers pipe-dream.

    Of course this was pure fantasy, they never reached the Meuse and suffered heavy casualties while inflicting the same and causing a huge, politically embarrassing row in the "soft", under-defended Ardennes sector which proved controversial and severally damaged the reputation of General Omar Bradley and effectively ended the career of Gen. Hodges. It also made General Montgomery, and insufferable cock in the best of times, even more of a politically insensitive bastard after he shot his mouth off in an infamous press conference where he essentially took credit and overstated the British involvement in the battle. Beevor rates most of Montgomery's military decision making as sound during the battle as he helped organize and consolidate the American defense. But Beevor controversially repeats the claim that Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery perhaps suffered from a form of Asperger Syndrome. Monty was high functioning cognitively speaking, but unable to discern human emotions nor gauge the reactions of those he spoke with making him seem extremely arrogant and even "psychotic" in the words of General Eisenhower. But in the end it was a Nazi folly, they lost most of their tanks (many simply ran out of fuel and were abandoned, and the Germans never had near enough and they couldn't capture enough American petrol). Dietrich ended up walking back to German IIRC. And the Luftwaffe's Operation Bodenplatte turned out to be a complete disaster as they forced a draw with the Allies in terms of aircraft lost, but lost what precious few veteran pilots they had left and could not make good their aircraft or pilot losses, unlike the Americans and British. Many Luftwaffe Jagdwaffe fighters were shot down by their own AA gun crews due to excessive secrecy!

    In the end, The Battle of the Bulge/Watch the Rhine was a military blunder and disaster for the Reich in the air as well as the ground. It only hastened the Eastern Front collapse as the last German battle groups were decimated stupidly in the West on the eve of major Soviet Red Army offensives such as the Vistula–Oder Offensive. As for the SS effectiveness in battle, one famous anecdotal tale is that a unit of U.S. Army military intelligence, reconnaissance personnel (that were not particularly well trained for infantry combat) found themselves surrounded. The men thought that they should surrender since they had only light arms along with a 12.7mm/.50 caliber machine-gun and perhaps a mortar. Their commander, and young lieutenant refused, and ordered a hasty defensive perimeter to be formed. Over the following hours, the rear echelon U.S. Army soldiers proceeded to mow down wave-after-wave of attacking SS troopers wading through snow until the SS could barely climb over the bodies of their dead comrades. The Americans were forced to surrender after literally running out of ammunition. The men expected that they would be shot after the toll they inflicted and hearing stories of SS killings of POWs. To their surprise, the Waffen-SS men were congratulatory and fed them and even gave them some liquor because they had fought so well...

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    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 04-24-2016 at 12:39 PM.

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    The Waffen-SS was formed first, Hitler's personal bodyguard group at the begining with meticulous selection, (for example, have not been included in the beginning under 180 cm of SS soldier height.)
    The German Wehrmacht soldiers parade mocked and called them "parade soldiers" as just before the war because the SS only present in the Nazi rallies and military parade attended which Hitler himself was present
    The SS soldiers still got everything to the best care and special blood group received a tattoo that immediate first aid, benefit, if necessary (after the war, this tattoo has been on the Russian front in the SS soldiers destiny because no avail dressed over. The Russians were looking for tattoos and who have tattoos are generally shot down)
    In 1939 underwent a baptism of fire during the Polish campaign in France and Russia will come later
    The Waffen SS often pulled in tight situations the Germans but remember not only the war but also the SS fought the Wehrmacht, so respectful of the Wehrmacht heroes
    "The consciousness that I am alive, makes me wild dreams every day"
    (Helmut Wolff lieutenant colonel, one who survived the breakout of Budapest)

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    Default Re: The 'Elite' Waffen-SS

    Interesting (and rather explosive) thread. It is difficult to generalize about the quality and utility of the Waffen-SS. It is necessary to consider the organization both in relation to the time at which it is assessed, and by unit not higher than divisional status. There was a great difference between the early German SS divisions that took part in the Western campaign of 1940, the divisions of the 1442-'43 period, and the divisions of "boys and old men" of 1944-'45. Also, the Waffen-SS, from 1942, changed greatly; by the war's end, it included the older German and Germanic units, as well as a substantial number of "second class" (or perhaps third class) units composed of confused conscripts, many of whom would not have come near to passing the racial purity standards that applied up to 1942. 1942 is a key date. It marked a major expansion of the Waffen-SS, and the quiet introduction of conscription, with the coming national draft devoted in part to providing the basic raw material for three new "German" Waffen-SS divisions, and the advent of the first "divisionen der Waffen-SS" consisting of Eastern European "volunteers" (often actually conscripts) serving under German officers and (in the main) German NCOs. Generalizing over this range of variations (and believe me, I am greatly simplifying) is tricky, to say the least.

    Also, the quality of Waffen-SS commanders varied considerably, from the likes of Dietrich and Eicke to those of Bittrich, Hausser and Gille. One persistent problem for the Waffen-SS was the relative absence of advanced military training and, particularly, staff training and experience. This became very evident in the Western campaign. Efforts were made to compensate through training courses, "recruiting" middle level staff officer from the Heer, and so on. However, this serious deficiency was never really put right.

    I do believe that the representation of the Waffen-SS as a whole as an élite is considerably overstated. They fought most of their most distinguished actions in defense and, whether in Holland in 1940 or in the Ardennes in 1944, were much less convincing in offense. Was it worth having a Waffen-SS in the first place ? It would be difficult to give a definitive answer. One suggestion might have been in Hitler's reluctance to sacrifice his "élite" in the Bulge, based on the fanciful notion that that the Waffen-SS units of 1944-'45 were actually an "élite". It rather resembles Napoleon's withholding of the Imperial Guard at Borodino and Waterloo. If one becomes reliant on a so-called élite, one can end up in a position where one does not use them because one does not dare lose them. Something to ponder ... Yours from the Bagration Fletches, JR.

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