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Waffen-SS vs. Einaatzgruppen

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Hummel, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Pelekys

    Pelekys Member

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    Additionally to my previous above post; generally Waffen SS did not go to Einaatzgruppen volunterally. They went as a penalty for discipline or other offenses. Or some men in order to escape the hard fight of the Waffen SS units could askk for transfer just because it it is easier to kill unarmed jewas than to fight determined Russians. Another fact maybe not known widely is that the joining in Waffen SS was volunterally till 1943. After 1943 and 1944 while the Germans retreated everywhere, and it was very difficult to recruit men in order to replace the casualties, many men belonged to 'Volksdeutches' were obligatory joined Waffen SS. They knew that they have not in fact place in the future, Hitler was planned, because of their origin, so not easy you can call them Nazis. The ones who were put in first class Waffen SS divisions were absorbent easily and became same like the other fighters. However the second class divisions have not same level fight ability and they easily were fallen to atrocities. As a conclusion in Einaatzgruppen were not so many German Waffen SS. The Germans in Einaatzgrupen were members of police units or members of military police of Waffen SS. There were also other Waffen SS members but they were not Germans.
     
  2. gorehound

    gorehound Member

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    It does appear then that in case of Einsatzgruppen only one group had Waffen-SS on hand while the other groups only used them occasionally as "support"
    1.Einsatzgruppen were mostly made up of police,security,and administrative SS goverment men
    2.local police and local colaborators who were armed and took part in actions
    3.local villagers who either collaborated or were forced to do things like this::::
    stories i read of young boys and girls who were forced to dig the ditches used to kill people
    also these young boys/girls would throw sand over a layer of dead bodies and then walk on them to tamp them down
    then they would throw more sand and get ready for the next group of civillains till the pit/ditch was full.
    so even the local population had no choice but obey whatever they were ordered to do by these Einsatzgruppen
    For more info on this subject a good read is "Holocaust BY Bullets"
    so it appears so far i still need to read more but as noted above there were many men in Waffen-SS and that is over 500,000 men
    i would guess so far that as far as waffen vs einsatz my simple conclusion is of follows::::::::::::::::
    1.over 500,000 men in waffen well we could say most fought on the front lines and a small percent would of done some kind of "crime"
    2.einsatz were formed for the reason to kill not soldiers but civillians.like unarmed women,babies,children,etc
    Conclusions would be einsatz = evil killing machine of innocents
    waffen = tough courageous front line solidiers who for most part fought other soldiers.i take from wikipedia what i found on Wffen-SS and selected the only thing i saw that pertains to this subject maybe.
    Read ON
    This is from wiikipedia on the one thing I found that has to do with Waffen-Ss who were assigned to...................well just read this below.i still need to research more.
    The 1 SS Infantry and 2 SS Infantry Brigades, which had been formed from surplus concentration camp guards of the SS-TV, and the SS Cavalry Brigade moved into the Soviet Union behind the advancing armies. At first they fought Soviet partisans and cut off units of the Red Army in the rear of Army Group South, capturing 7,000 prisoners of war,[37] but from mid-August 1941 until late 1942 they were assigned to the Reich Main Security Office headed by Reinhard Heydrich.[34][38] The brigades were now used for rear area security and policing, and, most importantly, they were not under Army or Waffen-SS command. In the autumn of 1941, they left the anti-partisan role to other units and actively took part in the Holocaust. While assisting the Einsatzgruppen, they participated in the liquidation of the Jewish population of the Soviet Union, forming firing parties when required. The three brigades were responsible for the murder of tens of thousands by the end of 1941.[38] Because it was more mobile and better able to carry out large-scale operations, the SS Cavalry Brigade played a pivotal role in the transition from "selective mass murder" to the wholesale extermination of the Jewish population.[39] On 27 July, the Brigade was ordered into action, and by 1 August the SS Cavalry Regiment was responsible for the death of 800 people; five days later, on 6 August, this total had reached 3,000 "Jews and Partisans".[40] On 1 August, after a meeting between Heinrich Himmler, Erich von Bach-Zelewski and Hinrich Lohse, the brigades received the following order:
    Explicit order by RFSS: All Jews must be shot. Drive the female Jews into the swamps.[41]




     
  3. Pelekys

    Pelekys Member

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    I think that anyone who is trying to understand, searching in surface, what is the conclusion about the Waffen SS will be in confusion as above in Wiikipedia.
    Were the Waffen SS, blind fanatics who had lost any human feeling (like the Einaatzgruppen) or they were best quality fighters, trained to fight under any situation, and they can stand much more than even an elite fighter could?
    The answer is that they were both. This is result of their origin and their ideology.
    There were divisions like Libestandarte, Das Raich, Wiking, Hohenstaufen, Frundsberg, Nordland which were distinguished and honored in battle. The inspired leadership, the excellent training, the strict choice of the fighters (specially up to 1943), and of course the best equipment, make fighters who can stand anything and continue to fight even if the fight looks like lost.
    On the other hand there were other divisions like Polizei, the SS Cavalry Brigade-Florian Gayer, or divisions of Muslims, Ukrainians and Albanians or gangs like Kaminky's and Dirlevanger's who consisting of poor quality men or by criminals and every time they had to fight in front line their performance were from poor to negative so they engaged usually in the rear front or at occupied countries, against partisans or locals or against Jews. Their reputation and the atrocities they made, were negative to the first class units and in fact the equipment they got or the officers they had in some cases, were missing from the first class units.
    Still I'm in confusion about 'Totenkopf'. I cannot register them in the fighters (the majority of the men for sure they were excellent fighters) or to the criminals (maybe the majority of them should be passed from a court which should be like a purgatory).
     
  4. gorehound

    gorehound Member

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    that was a great answer.thanks for the comment
     
  5. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    In the beginning, the Totenkopf started out as a regiment with a cadre from the Totenkopfverbande (concentration guards). But as the years went by and the unit grew to division size, the ranks were filled with normal volunteers and conscripts. So the 3rd SS Panzergrenadier Division can be viewed as a fighting force in the field. As a unit, they did not participate in any kind of round up and mass killings of Jews. This does not mean that shooting of prisoners and such did not take place.
     
  6. gorehound

    gorehound Member

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    i agree.i do have th book soldiers of destruction.it says a bunch on this group.
    as the group grew in size it took on normal volunteers and conscripts.in the beginning they were made up of totenkopfverbande.
     
  7. Sturmpioniere

    Sturmpioniere Member

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    +1 Evans! No matter the circumstances, you cannot always judge everyone in an ENTIRE group.You have to separate the good from the bad, and that's that. I believe 60% of the Waffen-SS was made up of foreign volunteers, and out of that 40% of Germans I would think most of them joined up because a). they thought it was honorable b). they believed in the Nazi ideology c). they thought it was the best branch of the military for them to join or d). all of the previously stated reasons. Like I've said before, if you learn about only 1 side of the war your going to make nothing but generalizations. In fact whenever I talk to a veteran of any kind, I tell them I believe most soldiers that fought for Germany were normal everyday people fighting for their country rather than for the Nazis, and they always agree with me. Don't get me wrong, the SS had some really bad people in it's ranks, but not every single one of them was bad.

    On topic, I did a report awhile back about the Einsatzgruppen. Except for some nut heads, I remember a lot of the guys in the Einsatzgruppen were horrified by what they did, some even committed suicide or were sent to insane asylums. That being said, I would think if anyone had to do what the Einsatzgruppen did, they'd be pretty shaken up.
     
  8. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    The Waffen-SS was attractive to many young German and European volunteers because it enjoyed an elite status, and most felt that destroying Communism was an important cause (and still do). The notion that all Waffen-SS members were no different than the einsatzgruppen, or the concentration camp guards, is ridiculous. They were another branch of the Wehrmacht, and for the most part acted honorably as such. They had their own heroes, and fought with bravery and valour until the end. I have never heard of an SS veteren whining about his service, pointing fingers in blame, making excuses, or complaining about losing the war. This is pure tact, and in my opinion represents the essence of a real man, of whom not many exist anymore. I am positive that the regular soldier had no idea what was going on in those camps, save for a few higher-ups. The morale of the troops would suffer if it had widely been known, and the Nazis couldn't afford to let that secret out. Now I'm sure someone will say, "but the Waffen-SS comitted so many atrocities! How can you say they were brave, honorable soldiers?" Well, let me tell you. War brings out the worst in people, and incidents happen. It is no different though, than the Russians raping every woman with a pulse, Americans/British executing Waffen-SS POWS, French or Yugoslav Partisans slitting the throat of some 17 year old kid on watch duty in the middle of the night and calling it "heroic resistance". All people exposed to the horrors of war have the impulse for retaliation and handle it in different ways- it's human nature. And as far as I know, being an imperfect human being doesn't make you a "monster" or a "criminal" right off the bat. It is so easy to judge from the safety of an armchair what one "should have" done. War is not black and white, good versus evil; rather, it is infinite shades of grey.
     
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  9. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Just a few rouges then and the rest knights on white chargers ridding the world of the red peril?

    There's none so blind as those who will not see...............
     
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  10. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    "I am positive that the regular soldier had no idea what was going on in those camps, save for a few higher-ups"


    They knew that civilians were being slaughtered in their tens of thousands in the East though, many regular units were involved abd allowing for transfers and the way soldiers talk I doubt there was one who didn't have a suspicion of what went on.
    Operation Bamberg

    Between 26 March and 6 April 1942, within 12 days, the reinforced 707th infantry division, the Slovakian infantry regiment and the German police battalion 315 destroyed a series of villages in a broken through forest area between Oktjabrski and Kopakevichi and murdered their inhabitants. In Chwoineja (Choino) 1,350 people were among other things locked into their houses and killed by hand grenades and burning, in Rudnja 800 persons were collected and shot in groups (the men first had to undress), in Oktjabrski 190 persons were burned alive inside the club house, the inhabitants of Kurin were in part shot, in part burned alive, similar as in Kovali, where the children were burned. The number of Belorussian dead was officially put at about 3,500 by the Germans, but the actual number was much higher. The partisans estimated it at 5,000, and according to the listing by Romanowski et all 4,396 people died in 15 localities alone.
    The actions that took place before and afterwards in the surrounding areas are not included in these figures, which means it must be assumed that at least 6,000 people were murdered. The great majority of them were locally residing peasants and non-fugitive Jews, who were also targeted by the operation. It is justified to speak of people “murdered”, for there was hardly any fighting, there was “no greater resistance to be broken”, which is not surprising for actions against villages. The losses of the German and allied troops during the core action were merely seven dead and eight wounded, 47 rifles and machine pistols were captured. The partisans in the area, whose number was estimated at 1,200 to 2,000 men, got away.
    Like almost all later major actions against partisans or those around them, the operation “Bamberg” consisted of four phases:
    Phase 1: Marching up and forming a great cauldron, in this case with a diameter of 25-30 kilometers, until 28 March inclusively;
    Phase 2: Tightening the cauldron - in this care until 31 March inclusively;
    Phase 3: The so-called clearing out of the cauldron in the form of the “last concentric attack” - in this case on the 1st and 2nd of April, and
    Phase 4: The so-called mopping up backwards - here the “repeated thorough cleaning and crossing of the area in backward direction up to the second initial position”, during which the villages and farmsteads lying inside the inner target area were destroyed together with the majority of their inhabitants, in this case between 3 and 6 April

    translation from Gerlach, as above, pages 898 and following.

    Taken from another forum a translation from Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde

    The operation Bamberg was the beginning of a series of campaigns of plunder, murder and deportation against the peasant population of Belorussia in the surroundings of the partisan areas. What follows is an overview of the greatest of these operations, their temporal and regional distribution and the number of their victims:


    Codename; Period; Area; Number of Dead Partisans/Civilians; Number of Captured Firearms; Number of Dead in German Formations

    1942

    Bamberg; 26.03 - 06.04; Glusk, Bobruisk; 4,396; 47; 7

    ?; 09.05 - 12.05; Klitshev, Bobruisk; 520; 3; 10

    ?; Beginning of June; Slovodka, Bobruisk; 1,000; ?; ?

    ?; 15.06; Borki; 1,741; 7; 0

    ?; 21.06; Zbyshin; 1,076; ?; ?

    ?; 25.06; Timkovtshi; 900; ?;?

    ?; 26.06; Studenka; 836; ?;?

    ?; 18.07; Yelsk; 1,000; ?; ?

    Adler; 15.07-07.08; Bobruisk, Mogilev, Beresino; 1,381; 438; 25

    Greif; 14.08-20.08; Orsha, Vitebsk; 796; ?; 26

    Sumpffieber; 22.08-21.09; White Ruthenia; 10,063; ?; ?

    ?; 22.09-26.09; Malorita; 4,038; 0; 0

    Blitz; 23.09-03.10; Polozk, Vitebsk; 567; ?; 8

    Karlsbad; 11.10-23.10; Orsha, Vitebsk; 1,051; 178; 24

    Nrnberg; 23.11-29.11; Dubrovka; 2,974; ?; 6

    Hamburg; 10.12-21.12; Neman-Shtshara; 6,172; 28; 7

    Altona; 22.12-29.12; Slonim; 1,032; ?; 0

    1943

    Franz; 06.01-14.01; Grodsyanka; 2,025; 280; 19

    Peter; 10.01-11.01; Klitshev, Kolbtsha; 1,400; ?; ?

    ?; 18.01-23.01; Sluzk,Minsk, Tsherven; 825; 141; 0

    Waldwinter; until 01.02; Sirotino-Trudy; 1,627; 159; 20

    Erntefest I; until 28.01; Tsherven, Ossipovitshi; 1,228; 163; 7

    Erntefest II; until 09.02; Sluzk, Kopyl; 2,325; 314; 6

    Hornung; 08.02-26.02; Lenin, Hansevitshi; 12,897; 133; 29

    Schneehase; 28.01-15.02; Polozk, Rossony, Krasnopolye; 2,283; 54; 37

    Winterzauber; 15.02 - end of March; Osveja, Latvian border; 3,904; ?; 30

    Kugelblitz; 22.02-08.03; Polozk, Osweja, Drissa, Rossony; 3,780; 583; 117

    Nixe; until 19.03; Ptitsh-Mikashevitshi, Pinsk; 400; ?; ?

    Fhn; until 21.03; Pinsk; 543; ?; 12

    Donnerkeil; 21.03-02.04; Polozk, Vitebsk; 542; 91; 5

    Draufgnger II; 01.05-09.05; Rudnya and Manyly forest; 680; 110; 0

    Maigewitter; 17.05-21.05; Vitebsk, Surash, Gorodok; 2,441; 143; ?

    Cottbus; 20.05-23.06; Lepel, Begomel, Ushatshi; 11,796; 1,057; 128

    Weichsel; 27.05-10.06; Dniepr-Pripiet Triangle southwest of Gomel; 4,018; 1,570; 28

    Ziethen; 13.06-16.06; Retshitza; 160; ?; 5

    Seydlitz; 25.06-27.07; Ovrutsh-Mosyr; 5,106; 528; 34

    ?; 30.07; Mosyr; 501; ?; ?

    Gnther; until 14.07; Voloshin, Lagoisk; 3,993; ?; 11

    Hermann; 13.07-11-08; Ivje, Novogrodek, Wolishin, Stolbzy; 4,280; 986; 52

    Fritz; 24.09-10.10; Glebokie; 509; 46; 12

    ?; 09.10 - 22.10; Stary Bychov; 1,769; 302; 64

    Heinrich; 01.11-18.11; Rossony, Polozk, Idritza; 5,452; 476; 358

    ?; December; Spaskoye; 628; ?;?

    ?; December; Beloye; 1,453; ?; ?

    Otto; 20.12-01.01.1944; Osveja; 1,920; 30; 21

    1944

    ?; 14.01; Ala; 1,758; ?; ?

    ?; 22.01; Baiki; 987; ?; ?

    Wolfsjagd; 03.02-15.02; Glusk, Bobruisk; 467; ?; 6

    Sumpfhahn; until 19.02; Glusk, Bobruisk; 538; ?; 6

    ?; Beginning of March; Beresino, Belnytshi; 686; ?; ?

    Auerhahn; 07.04-17.04; Bobruisk; 1,000; ?; ?

    Frhlingsfest; 17.04-12.05; Polozk, Ushatshi; 7,011; 1,065; 300

    Pfingstausflug; June; Senno; 653; ?; ?

    Windwirbel; June; Chidra; 560; 103; 3

    Pfingsrose; 02.06-13.06; Talka; 499; ?; ?

    Kormoran; 25.05-17.06; Vileika, Borissov, Minsk; 7,697; 325; 110

    This overview is based on a multitude of sometimes incomplete, contradictory or unclear data [detailed listing in footnote]. It can especially be proven only for given individual cases that reported prisoners were shot, although this should have been the rule. It must also be considered that the density of sources is very different for the various operations. Nevertheless a number of tendencies and connections become apparent. It can be seen, for instance, that the operations were carried out to an equal degree by SS and police and by the Wehrmacht. As far as can be established, 23 of the cases here presented were operations by SS and police and 15 were Wehrmacht operations. In eight other operations both participated with about equally strong forces. There was a far-reaching co-operation. The Wehrmacht operations were not substantially less damaging and brutal than those of the SS.
    []
    The overview especially shows very clearly who were the victims of German major operations between 1942 and 1944. The relation between the number of so-called enemy dead or those liquidated or shot self-explanatory terms on the one hand and the number of captured rifles, machine pistols and machine guns on the other was usually between 6:1 and 10:1. As since the end of 1942 at the latest every partisan possessed such a weapon new members had to bring one along this means that about 10 to 15 percent of the victims of the German actions were partisans. The remaining 85 to 90 percent were mainly peasants from the surroundings as well as refugees. This is confirmed by the extremely low German losses, the relation of German dead to those on the other side usually being 1:30 to 1:300, on average 1:100.
    What these relations meant was generally known among the German occupation officials in Belorussia.

     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    This is a bit of a strawman though isn't it? Clearly not all were on the otherhand I've read that there was considerable movement of individuals back and forth between the Waffen SS and the concentration camp guards.
    Were they and did they? My understanding is that the Wehrmacht was composed of the Heer, the Luftwaffe, and the Kriegsmarine. The SS was an arm of the Nazi party.
    Bravery certainly in many cases. Valour, that's another matter.
    Well we aren't taling "regular soldeirs" here we're talking SS and with the amount of movement back and forth and the way information moves around the military I'd be very surprised if you were correct.
    Would it? I don't see why if they bouth into the whole "ubermench" thing. There's certainly evidence they did.
    How can you call people who behaved like that "honorable". Comparing attrocities doesn't excuse anything. Certainly the Red Army was guilty of more than a few atrocities on thier own. On the otherhand it was hardly institutionalized in the western armies to the extent it was in the SS. The moral equivalncy argument you post has been refuted numerous times. And there are considerable diffeneces in some of your latter comparisons.
     
  12. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    VonKoenigsberg,

    You are dangerously close to swimming out past the point of return. Notice the quote in my signature right above the T-34; it is there to remind individuals such as yourself that the war in the East was very different from what occurred in Africa or Europe.
    If you were a German soldier on the Ost front and did not consider yourself racially superior to your adversary you were the minority. The Waffen SS (while an excellent fighting machine) was the most fanatical. These men did not cross borders to liberate.... In the East, their conduct on the battlefield versus in the cities which they occupied after, were very different.

    The panel of judges at Nuremburg did, afterall; label every German SS unit criminal for a reason ;)
     
  13. VonKoenigsberg

    VonKoenigsberg Member

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    Okay, I see your point IWD and Sloniksp. I don't mean to defend people who murder. Admittedly, the SS was responsible for many horrible things. I just find this subject to be a little emotional; in fact I find all subjects that I feel are disproportionally judged in an unjust way a bit emotional. I am not making excuses for those who were convicted as criminals. I am simply questioning the validity of a judgement passed on the opposition by the victorious parties during a war. An entire organization was generalized and branded as criminal. Any reasonable man can see how that might be unfair, to place the blame on every single person within a group for the actions of some (even if it was the majority who were responsible for those actions!) However, I suppose its impossible to make a judgement call that's entirely unbiased in a case like this. I have met a few Waffen-SS veterans, (including my own grandfather -gulp!), and from my personal experience, these men seemed very different than how they are usually portrayed. Perhaps personal experience can cloud one's perception of the larger picture? It's very likely. I apologize if I offended. Thanks for insight, gentlemen.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But in this case is it "disproportionate" or "unjust"?
     
  15. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    I was surprised by a lot of posts in this thread. I had always thought the Einstatzgruppen were composed entirely of volunteers as opposed to having some men placed there for disciplinary purposes.

    I have also heard a lot about the Latvian SS, who helped the Einst. in that area of operations. Also some Ukranians helped the Enst. out as well at Babi Yar and other massacres at Zhitormirh and Lwow.
     
  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Notice the quote in my signature right above the T-34; it is there to remind individuals such as yourself that the war in the East was very different from what occurred in Africa or Europe.

    That's actually an argument against treating everyone in the SS the same.
     
  17. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Im afraid you have miss understood my post.

    The war in the East was different from that of the West. While an SS division might have conducted itself admirably in the West, once on the Eastern Front this conduct evaporated. I am unaware of any SS divisions that did not fight on the Ost front at some point of the war....

    Himmler to the Waffen SS before Barbarossa: “This is an ideological battle and a struggle of races. Here stands a world as we conceived it – beautiful, decent, socially equal (and) full of culture; this is what our Germany is like. On the other side stands a population of 180,000,000, a mixture of races, whose very names are unpronounceable and whose physique is such that one can only shoot them down without mercy or compassion. When you fight over there in the east, you are carrying on the same struggle against the same sub-humanity, the same inferior races, that at one time appeared under the name of Huns, another time of Magyars, another time of Tartars, and still another time under the name of Genghis Khan and the Mongols. Today they appear as Russians under the political banner of Bolshevism.”
     
  18. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I believe that, in the east, the Waffen-SS and the Einsatzgruppen were virtually indistinguishable. The Nuremburg tribunal noted that the entire Waffen-SS was a criminal organization. We already know that the Einsatzgruppen did despicable things. So did the Wafffen-SS in the east. As Slonik noted, Himmler himself saw the eastern conflict as a race war, so nothing was forbidden. Both groups were equally to blame.
     
  19. Vanir

    Vanir Member

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    The diary entries of the general staff during the 1943 summer campaign, regarding the sönderkommando unit operating around Nizhny (Don bend), well it's just horrific. Not just to me, the general who wrote the entry was horrified. They were murdering children as young as ten by the truckload, he said, the local korps commander had to order them to the countryside because they were affecting moralé in the staging areas leading into the battles of Stalingrad.
     
  20. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    This may sound stupid, but I dont know enough to comment on Estonia and ss apart from in general terms. Estonia is closer to me than India and Burma so I really should, but thats Brits for you. I take your point stated many times on threads here regarding fighting the Soviet and reasons for joining ss if Lithuanian, Estonian or Latvian etc. But was there no other unit Estonians could join rather than the SS? was that the choice? SS or nothing? Surely there are ranks filled of Baltic folk in German uniform that in fact were not SS? If so the excuse of joining to fight the Soviets should wear thin after a while of telling? I don't know...Someone tell me...
     

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