German Wehrmacht - A Polical Army ?

About German Wehrmacht - A Polical Army ?


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June 27th, 2005   #1
Macoy
 

German Wehrmacht - A Polical Army ? info


Novadays there are exibitions in germany with photos and other documents, that want to mark the "Wehrmacht" as a army of war criminals.

I dont think so. The majority of the soldiers of the german army where normal people like me and you. They had to serve two years before the war and in the war all men must go into the army.

Yes, we lost the war. But this is not a reason to say, that all soldiers of the german "Wehrmacht" are war criminals. Most of them are people, that never want to go to army. They where labourers or farmers with families.

And this defamation continues:

The actual example: Soldiers of the east-germany army are convicted because they shoot at people that tried to leave east germany.

But they just followed their orders: Dont let someone run across the border. If they did not shoot, they would be sent to prison.

I was in KFOR.In this operation we had no UN Mandate. This was a attack on a sovereign state.

Maybee, if sometime a new goverment takes the rule over germany, they mark us soldiers of KFOR guilty for war crime...
 
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June 27th, 2005   #2
ghost457
 
 
well, at the nuremberg trials after WW2, they decided taht following orders wasnt a valid excuse for war crimes, such as killing civilians, but i agree, they didnt (for the most part) volunteer for the army, they had to join. the way i understood it was that the true bad guys were mostly in the Gestapo or SS, which i believe were volunteer assignments, but for the most part, no, the Wehrmacht wasnt an army of war criminals.
 
June 28th, 2005   #3
Doppleganger
 
 
The Wehrmacht certainly was not a political army, nor an army of war criminals, although they did commit what we would call today war crimes.

Every army in WW2 did.

The savage nature of the fighting on the Eastern Front meant that both sides, German and Russian, routinely shot POWs, burned down villages/towns and sometimes brutalized or killed the local civilian population. These soliders had become de-sensitized to killing and acts of brutality that, pre-war, would have horrified them, now seemed normal. This process spilled over to other fronts to but it was on the Eastern Front that it probably reached its height.

Like any army in wartime the vast majority of the Wehrmacht consisted of men called to the ranks, ordinary men who were not professional soldiers. And the Waffen SS was, de-facto, part of the Wehrmacht even though it was officially a separate organization. So you can't make the distinction that those who volunteered were more likely to be responsible for the true nature of Nazi Germany's crimes. At the core of the Wehrmacht was the 100,000 strong, post WW1 Reichswehr, professional soldiers and volunteers. As already pointed out the true architects of Nazi Germany's crimes was the Nazi Party hierarchy, whose duties were mainly carried out by the Nazi Party Gauliters, the Allgemeine or General SS and the Gestapo.


"An Emperor is subject to no-one but God and justice."

Frederick 1, Barbarossa
 
June 28th, 2005   #4
vargsriket
 
Difficult question really. No, I don't think everyone were criminals. Political army? Probably. Most soldiers were ideologically motivated. A lot did believe in the idea of the NS party. Just as the Russians believed in the Communist idea. Criminals were on every side, Allied and Axis, however I think the German side commited more atrocities and crimes against humanity than any other nation. I suppose as a soldier you must obey all orders, but there should be at least a shred of morality left in you, something that differentiates you between a beast and a human, something that says 'wait, this is not right' when immoral orders are given. But war is known for desensitizing men. Hard to judge without being in a similar situation. My opinion is that no, they weren't criminals, they were soldiers following a highly flawed and inhuman political system, and soldiers must carry out orders. But some took a sick pride in doing it, that is criminal.

I'll go as far as to say that all SS were, in fact, war criminals.
 
June 28th, 2005   #5
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vargsriket
I'll go as far as to say that all SS were, in fact, war criminals.
Then you'd be doing the men of the Waffen SS a GREAT injustice. They fought alongside the Wehrmacht and were there at Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk to name the 3 major battles of the Eastern Front. They are no more war criminals than the Wehrmacht.
 
June 30th, 2005   #6
Farseer
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vargsriket
Difficult question really. No, I don't think everyone were criminals. Political army? Probably. Most soldiers were ideologically motivated. A lot did believe in the idea of the NS party. Just as the Russians believed in the Communist idea. Criminals were on every side, Allied and Axis, however I think the German side commited more atrocities and crimes against humanity than any other nation. I suppose as a soldier you must obey all orders, but there should be at least a shred of morality left in you, something that differentiates you between a beast and a human, something that says 'wait, this is not right' when immoral orders are given. But war is known for desensitizing men. Hard to judge without being in a similar situation. My opinion is that no, they weren't criminals, they were soldiers following a highly flawed and inhuman political system, and soldiers must carry out orders. But some took a sick pride in doing it, that is criminal.

I'll go as far as to say that all SS were, in fact, war criminals.
Have to take different opinion. I have great doubts that most of those people under Soviet flag nor German flag fought because of their parties. Especially in Soviet Union most people was forced into army against their own will. Under Stalin's iron grasp there were few who dared to question it and most or all of them were dead quite soon. Mainly same is right for Germany as well, even in beginning more soldiers believed into party because they believed that Hitler would unite Germany. And I think that Stalin's Soviet Union made much more evil things that Hitler's Germany. Still always have to remember that even Hitler's NSDAP never got even half of seats in Reichstag. At last, Hitler rose to power with false promises and because of backroom stabbing. For communists they were never elected to lead Russia and had to fight for their existence in civil war. And that's why Soviet Union soldiers had much lower morale, many in Red Army wanted their own country free from Soviet Union, and were ready to surrender quickly. Still those politrucks were sent to force those people to fight against their will and do terrible things. For Germany there were Gestapo for that. Regular troops cannot be blamed for their actions if their other option was that they would've been shot.

And for SS, that's interesting question. For example, from Finland there were something like 1300 volunteers to fight against Soviets in WWII. What I've heard that they were noble elite squad who only wanted to end Soviet threat once and for all. Mainly same goes for Estonia's volunteers and other states that were under threat from Soviet Union. Could you blame them war criminals just because they fought against Communism on Hitler's side with truly no other option? After all, for some areas Hitler's rule was better than Stalin's rule. For rest of SS, there were some other elite troops who fought for example in Battle of Kursk and who were not doing war crimes all the time I think. Only Gestapo may have been full of war criminals, but even SS has its brighter side.


There are no desperate situations, the are only desperate people - Heinz Guderian
 
July 7th, 2005   #7
vargsriket
 
In ex-USSR WW2 is called the Great Patriotic War. As in any country there were people pro and against the ruling political system. Sure there were traitors that joined the other side, etc etc. But overall, 99% of the people were fighitng for their survival, their land, their heritage, their families, their culture. The people knew what awaited them if Hitler would win, in Mein Kampf Hitler clearly states what he wants to do with the Slavic people. There was a blind, tremendous, indescribable hatred towards the germans, which aroused a kind of Patriotic feelings that was overwhelming, it kept the flame of the resistance and then the offensive alive. Everyone was fighting for a future without nazi rule, slavery, and/or extermination. I'm sure not everyone was fighting for Communism, but the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. Stalin had an iron grip, but he was defending and building his nation, and to win a war like WW2 you cannot think about the individual. My great-grandfather fought and lived through WW2 on the Russian side of course, and he told me many stories about it in my childhood. Stories that inspired and made you wonder just what those men and women felt and what kind of patriotism made them do the feats that they did. Most did believe in the Communist ideal. It just came with the territory.
 
July 8th, 2005   #8
Ashes
 
On May 13, 1941, the Wehrmacht High Command issued an order that became known as the Barbarossa Jurisdictional Decree. It was virtually a license to kill Russians of any age or gender and the Whermacht were a part of it, a war of extermination.

The commissar-order provided for the immediate execution of political commissars of the Red Army, by the Wehrmacht, a definite war crime. The order was formulated on Hitler's behalf by the Wehrmacht command and distributed to units among usual command channels.

Apart from shooting thousands of Soviet commissars and other political officals out of hand,
in a mere eight months of 1941-42, the invading German armies killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet prisoners-of-war through starvation, exposure, and summary execution. This gendercide is one of the most concentrated mass killings in human history.

Although many POWs from the eastern fronts ended up in death camps run by the SS, the P.O.W. camps were run by the Wehrmacht.

The Whermacht not knowing or being involved in the exterminations in Russia is one of the many myths that has come out of the second world war.

Hitler's high command carefully planned the extermination campaign on the eastern front, drawing up directives for mass killings, and distributing them to Wehrmacht and SS commanders. They established special SS teams devoted exclusively to mass murder, the Einsatzgruppen and their subgroups, the Sonderkommandos and Einsatzkommandos, and set up liaison between the killing teams and the army commanders at the front to ensure that the killing teams received the necessary intelligence and logistical support.

Many Wehrmacht commanders willingly helped the Einsatzgruppen find the best sites, and transported and guarded the prisoners, at times even helping with the exterminations.

Over seven million Russian civilians were killed, how many of those were murdered, nobody knows.
The Wehrmacht didn't just fight to defeat Russias armies, they were a part of a war of extermination, in which many were more then willing to participate.

Below are just some of the Wehrmacht officers convicted of war crimes................

Field Marshal Albert KESSELRING:

Tried by a British court at Venice for being concerned in the massacre of 335 Italians in the Ardeatine caves and other war crimes; sentenced to death on 7.5.47. Sentence commuted to life imprisonment 4.7.47.

Field Marshal Erich von MANSTEIN:
He was convicted by a British tribunal and sentenced to eighteen years in prison.


General Hermann HOTH: After the war, he was put on trial at the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, found guilty of war crimes in the High Command Trial, and on 27 October 1948 sentenced to 15 years in prison.


General VON KLEIST: was captured by United States forces in 1945. He was sent to communist Yugoslavia to face alleged war crimes charges in 1946. In 1948 he was then extradited to Soviet Russia where he was condemned to a 10-years sentence in 1952 for war crimes and he died in captivity in Vladimir prison in 1954.


General Eberhard von MACKENSEN:

Tried by British war crimes court in Rome, as responsible for the massacre, by way of reprisals, of over 300 Italian civilians in the Ardeatine Caves, near Rome. Sentenced to death by shooting on 30.11.46. (Sentence commuted to life imprisonment 4.7.47.)

Major-General Karl von OBERKAMP:

Former Commander of Prinz Eugene Division. Tried by a Yugoslav military court at Belgrade on 27.3.47 for massacres of civilians. Sentenced to death and executed 1.4.47.

General Wilhelm LIST: . . . . . . . Life imprisonment
General Lothar RENDULIC: . . . . . .20 years imprisonment
Lt.-General Walter KUNTZE: . . . . .Life imprisonment
Lt.-General Helmuth FELMY: . . . . .15 years imprisonment
Lt.-General Hubert LANZ: . . . . . .7 years imprisonment . . . .
Lt.-General Ernst von LEYSER: . . . 10 years imprisonment
Lt.-General Wilhelm SPEIDEL: . . . .20 years imprisonment

Field Marshal von WICHES, a defendant, was withdrawn from the trial on account of illness. Lt.-General Franz BOEHME, another defendant, committed suicide.


As for the Waffen S.S., where do you start, suffice to say only the Einsatzgruppen were worse when it came to committing atrocities.

Apart from the imfamous atrocities of the Normandy massacre by the ‘Hitler Jugend’, the Le Parades massacre by the SA 'Totenkopf', the Wormhoudt atrocity by the 'SA Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler'', of British, Canadian and American P.O.W's, there is a huge list of other atrocities on record on the western front.


Below is just a few samples of a list of repeated atrocities by virtually all major Waffen S.S. units, and this is just on the western front, the war in the east was probably 10 times worse...........................

ORATOR-SER-GLANE
(Central France, June 10, 1944)

In the town of St. Junien the 'Dar Führer Regiment' of the 2nd SA Panzer Division, 'Das Reich', was regrouping. Following many encounters with the local maquis in which two German soldiers were killed, a unit of the regiment arrived at Oradour, in a convoy of trucks and half-tracks. The 120 man SS unit surrounded the village, ordering all inhabitants to parade in the market square for an identity check. Women and children were separated from the menfolk and herded into the local church. The men were herded in groups into six local garages and barns and shot. Their bodies were then covered with straw and set on fire. The 452 women and children in the church were then suffocated by smoke grenades lobbed in through the windows and shrapnel grenades that were thrown down the nave while machine-guns raked the interior. The church was then set on fire.


SANT' ANNA MASSACRE
(August 12, 1944)

On August 12, the 6the Panzergrenadieren 'Reichsführer-SS' Division reached the outskirts of SAINT' Anna, their orders to shoot on sight all partisans found in the area. Believing that the inhabitants of the Sant'Anna were all partisans, or partisan sympathizers, the SA herded the entire village together into the village square, where all of them, men, women and children, were shot. In all, 560 people were massacred, including 110 children. The houses in the village were then burned to the ground. Many of the corpses were doused with petrol and then set alight before the SS unit departed.




THE MARZABOTTO MASSACRE
[September 29th, 1944]

The Marzabotto massacre was a massacre that took place in the small Italian town of Marzabotto. Between September 29 and October 5, 1944, soldiers of SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Reichsf?SS, led by Sturmbannf? Walter Reader, killed 955 people in the territory of Marzabotto, Monzuno and Grizzana, in the largest civilian massacre perpetrated by Nazis in Western Europe.

Among the victims, 45 were less than 2 years old, 110 less than 10 years old, 95 less than 16 years old, 142 were more than 60 years old, 316 were females, 5 were priests.


And the list goes on and on.

It wasn't just the odd isolated shooting of prisoners now and then , it was systematic repeated war crimes on a gigantic scale.

There was the holocaust by extermination in the death camps, and another holocaust by extermination in the attack on Russia.
 
July 8th, 2005   #9
Doppleganger
 
 
Ashes. There's no doubt that both the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS both committed war crimes, especially on the Eastern Front. There's also no doubt that the pattern of viciousness that prevailed on the Eastern Front was established by the ruthlessness and contempt that Hitler and the Nazi Party had for the Slavic peoples in general. Finally senior Wehrmacht commanders must have been aware, as you pointed out, of the Nazi Party policy towards the elimination or displacement of millions of Soviet peoples to assist in the infamous directive for Lebensraum, or 'living space' for eventual German settlement.

There are a few things I must point out though, as your post makes it seem that the entire Wehrmacht was constantly committing atrocities, which simply wasn't true.

1 - You cannot compare 'The Holocaust' and the invasion of a nation, however brutal.

2 - The vast majority of the Wehrmacht probably had little choice when it came to their orders.

3 - The nature of the Eastern Front meant that actions considered war crimes by the West were committed routinely and by both sides.

4 - By and large the Waffen SS were no more brutal than the regular Heer. You make it sound like they were committing acts of atrocities daily which is very misleading and certainly not true,

5 - All sides committed war crimes in WW2. The victors are given the luxury of somewhat writing the 'history'.

6 - The Soviet Union, although provoked, were just as brutal in kind to the German Armies in their country.

In short your post is very unbalanced. Although some of your points are valid, nowhere do you acknowledge that every army in WW2 committed war crimes which must be the start for any objective and unbiased debate.
 
July 8th, 2005   #10
vargsriket
 
To hell with that. As hard as I try to think "soldiers have to follow orders", it just is not enough to justify what was done to my motherland. Germans were the most brutal and vicious of all no matter how hard you try to implicate the Russians, or any other allied forces into it. There's only so much that you can get get hit, hit, hit, until you hit back, and HARD. Unprovoked violence is far worse than provoked one. It's easy to judge another country's tragedy when you're sitting in a air conditioned room having a cold drink in a comfortable chair. The germans HATED the "Ivans" with a passion, and routinely with no mercy killed PoWs, civilians, children, women, elder folk, etc. There was no code you could follow that would guarantee your and your family's survival. I may now know this first hand, I was born a good 35 years after WW2, but I have members of my family who lived through or fought in it. So at best I have first hand accounts. I'm not saying ALL the Germans were Satan's spawns, of course not. A high percentage were not willing to be there, I know that, a lot did realize that what they were doing was wrong. I know that not everyone had a choice, and that humanity and compassion still shined through the gritty realities and horrors of war. My grandmother told me about this German guy, she forgot his name, when she was little, he would bring them bread and canned food every week or so during the German occupation of my native city of Kharkov, Ukraine. But on the grand scale, I'm sorry, I cannot forgive the Wehrmacht, SS, Gestapo, whoever else stood on and desacrated my motherland. It's not only me, far from it. WW2 ended a long time ago, but the Russian people still are uneasy about the German language, for example, it's a very stark reminder of the War. I have nothing against the German people of today, I'd be a fool to, it's all history, however terrible, but on a very subconscious level a part of me diststrusts them.