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Humane side of war


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#1 PzJgr

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Posted 22 December 2000 - 04:39 AM

We mostly hear about the barbaric side of war. Are there any stories of any good encounters or acts of kindness displayed by the enemy?

For example, my grandfather was a StuGIII commander at the time of the invasion of France. They were manually refueling their vehicle as British prisoners were being escorted to the rear by Wehrmacht soldiers. In the prisoner columns there were 'walking' wounded. Some of the guards were harassing the prisoners. The guards exchanged conversations with my grandfather's crew. They were making fun of the thin body build and pale pasty skin of the British prisoners. Being in the SS and considering themselves chivalrous, my grandfather chastised the wehrmacht guards. The prisoners may not have understood German but they knew the guards were in trouble. My grandfather then instructed the severly wounded to be loaded up onto his vehicle. Since he was on his way back to restock, he would take the wounded to the hospital which was on the way.

This may sound like a fairy tale but you must remember, at the begining, Germany had plenty of supplies and had yet to be exposed to the mass murder experience of the eastern front. I have heard of many such experiences during the French invasion and many more during the Afrika campaign. Any comments or stories to share?

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#2 C.Evans

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Posted 22 December 2000 - 07:28 PM

After my grandfathers ship had been torpedoed by U-181 and were all in lifeboats, the German Kapitan and the crew manovered their sub nearer the lifeboats. They gave my grandfathers men, extra blankets, food, medicines, ciggarettes and a flare pistol.

Thanks to their kindness, someone did survive.

#3 PzJgr

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Posted 24 December 2000 - 05:24 AM

Wow! That was extreme kindness. There was the unwritten order from Der Fuhrer not to take prisoners onto submarines. Most abandoned them and others outright murdered them. Your grandfather was lucky. May kindness have been returned to that U-Boat crew.

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#4 C.Evans

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Posted 26 December 2000 - 06:31 PM

What was also more difficult about my grandfathers position, was also the fact that he was from an occupied country, Norway, and if captured by the wrong gents; could have been executed.

#5 J.Mahoney

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Posted 28 December 2000 - 07:24 PM

I heard that there was an order that was given out that if an enemy Captain was captured, that they were to be shot, is that true?

#6 PzJgr

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Posted 29 December 2000 - 02:56 AM

J.Mahoney,
What type of Captain are you referring to? I know about the Commisar order where all Soviet Commissars were to be immediately shot. My grandfather broke that order and gave them a well deserved slow death. Have not heard of an order specifying Captains. Thanks for your input.

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#7 J.Mahoney

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Posted 29 December 2000 - 03:25 AM

I was just talking about Navy Captains captured after their ships were sunk. I had heard that there was an order given to the U-Boat crews, to shoot captured captains of ships. I dont recall where I heard that before, I remember hearing about it from my mother.

#8 C.Evans

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Posted 29 December 2000 - 03:58 AM

Hi J.Mahoney: Ive talked to many German WW2 Kriegsmarine vets, and they all havs told me, that there never was on order put out by OKM (Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine) or Navy High Command.

My grandfather was a Captain of a ship that was torpedoed by German U 181. Incidently, I met almost all the U 181 survivors just three months ago. I had asked them about such an order, but they all said there never was one issued. I do believe them.

The supposed order, was that if an enemy ships Captain who was captured, and was from an occupied country, was to be shot. I have never heard of the supposed order ever being carried out.

Welcome to the forum.

#9 Guest_SlickAG_*

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 04:02 AM

Don't you think that there COULD have been an order? I mean they might have wanted to spare this particular crew. But I have also heard around that there were orders that forced the Germans to murder the crew of naval vessals. I am not questioning what you said evans, u sound like you know a lot more than me, but I am just suggesting a possibility.

#10 Ron

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 08:29 AM

Didn't Hitler issue an order that any survivors be killed? Although i also wanna say that most captains ignored it...but i bet some did follow it too? Did you ever hear of that Evans?

#11 mart

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 11:18 AM

as already told in a true story by me in another topic, there was some chivalry between german paras and dutch marines too :
Rotterdam Bridges, may 10, 1940

6 Marines made it to the bridge and managed to crawl underneath the roaddeck. From there they stopped german para and infantry attempts to cross the bridge for 4 days. Seeing the situation, the germans bombed the center of rotterdam, and threatened to do so to every city in holland, causing the dutch to surrender. As germans reached the north side, 4 marines crawled from underneath the roaddeck, all blackened. German para's lined up and saluted the 4 marines for their bravery.

Even though the marines had caused heavy casualties amongst German elite troops, they were saluted for their deeds.

chivalry was also to be found throughout the North Africa Campaign.

#12 C.Evans

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 11:46 PM

Dear Slickag: Im sorry but, I have to disagree with you. Not for one second do I believe that such an order was ever given to U-boat crews.

The crew of U 181 showed much kindness to my grandfather and members of his crew. U 181 could have blown them out of the water with their deck guns, as easy as lifting a finger.

The Kriegsmarine was probably the most honorable of German services with certain units as an exception. I do not believe that any U-boat crew would stoop down to that level. U 571 had a scene in which the U-boat Commander orders his man to open fire--that is Hollywood bunkem and bosh.

There is an unconfirmed rumor that a U-boat commander did if fact fire on some survivors in a lifeboat, to which he was supposedly executed for by the Kriegsmarine High Command. I have never heard nor seen any proof that such an order was ever given.

On September 17-18th 2000, I had the great pleasure of meeting most of the surviving members of the U-boat (U 181) crew that fired torpedoes at my grandfathers ship. Just yesterday as a matter of fact, I recieved a 3 page letter in the mail from the Merchant Marine Vets historian for the North Atlantic Chapter.

In this letter, it states several facts that completely correspond with what the U 181 vets told me, plus with what my grandfather had written. Unfortunately, the U 181 could not see everything that happened because this was late in the evening appx after 8:00 pm. They surfaced and some several hundreds of yards from the SS Fort Lee, and the weather was going from bad to worse.

Unfortunately, the first torpedo hit the ship on the port side of the fireroon demolishing that area of the ship. In this explosion, 6 crew members and 3 Navy armed escourts were killed in the explosion. The U 181 surfaced and manned their deck guns for possible action (they had to for their safety).

They obseved lifeboats in the water and about 25 minutes after the first torpedo was fired, and after they gave water-food-blankets and even a gun-to my grandfathers crew, they manovered and fired a second torpedo. As it was at night and in stormy waters, it was impossible for them to know that two lifeboats were being lowered on that side of the ship-there was no lights as the first torpedo destroyed the engines and all power ceased.

Lifeboats #3 and #5 were being lowered at the moment the second torpedo struck, killing all on those boats. The U 181 crew then and now are not aware that that happened. Had they seen that there were lifeboats still being lowered, not for one split second, do I believe that the U 181 crew would have fired that second torpedo had they been able to see the boats being lowered. I will be notifying Herr Kaiser by email today, and he will tell the rest of U 181s crew this new information.

The Kriegsmarine had no place for Nazis--especially in U-boats. I wish you would believe me on this, I can only tell you what I have learned and what I am told.

My grandfather was from norway and he-being a Captain of an Allied ship being form an occupied country, was at greater risk of harm than the ordinary sea Captain would be. The reason is because the Axis might look at them as "traitors" just because they were Europeans.

Now I think where all this order to kill survivors might have come from was, that at sometime--someone somewhere being from a country that was occupied by the Germans, might have mentioned this fear of being shot because of where he came from.

I do not believe that such an order has ever existed. Read Marts posting--it proves that all Germans were not murderers, as I hope my posting also does.

Soon there will be much info on this once I can get all my info together and give it to Otto. I also only hope that you do not feel that all Germans are evil disregarding what branch they served in.

I happen to know and be friends with at least 40 former members of the Kriegsmarine, and some from the Waffen SS. I know it was U 181s duty to fire those torpedoes--these men only did their jobs. They stuck their necks in the noose to help my grandfather and his crew.

If you wish, I can send you some vets addresses and you can contact these men and see for yourself that they are just like out vets, only fought on different sides and speak a different language.

I dont hate Germans, but I do not like their some of their leaders and their insane policies. I know that you arent disputing what I say but, the truth has to be known.

Now, there was a komissar order issued I think to the Einsatzkommando units but never to the the Heer, the Luftwaffe or the Kriegsmarine. The war on the Eastern Front was much differant than the Western Front war. Both sides were ruthlessly barbaric at times but, what might surprise you is that the Russians and Germans had much respect for each other. When I visited with the Kriegsmarine and Waffen SS vets, I was surprised to hear what they actually thought of their war-time foe.

At the reunion in bad Camberg, the U 181 crew, my friend Susanne and I, all bowed our heads in prayer for the men who were lost at war, and in peacetime. Most recent at that time was the mourning for the Crew of the Soviet Sub the Kursk. 118 men died for nothing, that is a great tragedy. The Germans look at all Submariners from all nations as their brothers--this I am convinced of, and also saw proof of while visiting the U 995, the German Marine Memorial in Laboe, and the U-boat Memorial in Moltenort.

ALL I do know is that you have to see it first hand as I did, and you will feel as I do. I will be glad to tell you my complete story of my month in Germany at these places and with the vets if you wish.

Sorry to ramble on but, I hope you see my point. Take care--Carl.

[This message has been edited by C.Evans (edited 15 March 2001).]

#13 Ron

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 11:59 PM

oh i don't believe all germans were bad people either...but i could have SWORN i heard that an order had been delivered to like admiral Doornitz (spelling?) from Hitler to kill all prisoners that were rescued. But Dornitz...ignored it...did that ever happen?
Also i always wondered why Admiral Dornitz was even at the war crimes trials...he is the one that surrendered germany...and he seemed to be a reasonable man?
I have read many accounts of germans being chivalrous...i totally agree that the average german soldier wasn't a killing nut...only people in the SS or high up in the ranks do i believe were rather shady people.

#14 JoCon

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Posted 20 March 2001 - 11:50 PM

Originally posted by PzJgr:
We mostly hear about the barbaric side of war. Are there any stories of any good encounters or acts of kindness displayed by the enemy?

For example, my grandfather was a StuGIII commander at the time of the invasion of France. They were manually refueling their vehicle as British prisoners were being escorted to the rear by Wehrmacht soldiers. In the prisoner columns there were 'walking' wounded. Some of the guards were harassing the prisoners. The guards exchanged conversations with my grandfather's crew. They were making fun of the thin body build and pale pasty skin of the British prisoners. Being in the SS and considering themselves chivalrous, my grandfather chastised the wehrmacht guards. The prisoners may not have understood German but they knew the guards were in trouble. My grandfather then instructed the severly wounded to be loaded up onto his vehicle. Since he was on his way back to restock, he would take the wounded to the hospital which was on the way.

This may sound like a fairy tale but you must remember, at the begining, Germany had plenty of supplies and had yet to be exposed to the mass murder experience of the eastern front. I have heard of many such experiences during the French invasion and many more during the Afrika campaign. Any comments or stories to share?


Was your grandfather a german or american? It's a little confusing to understand.

#15 JoCon

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Posted 20 March 2001 - 11:51 PM

Originally posted by C.Evans:
After my grandfathers ship had been torpedoed by U-181 and were all in lifeboats, the German Kapitan and the crew manovered their sub nearer the lifeboats. They gave my grandfathers men, extra blankets, food, medicines, ciggarettes and a flare pistol.

Thanks to their kindness, someone did survive.


Did your grandfather surive?

#16 JoCon

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Posted 21 March 2001 - 12:01 AM

i'm sorry i didn't read your note before i questioned in thanks C.



#17 PzJgr

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Posted 21 March 2001 - 12:04 AM

Originally posted by Ron:
I have read many accounts of germans being chivalrous...i totally agree that the average german soldier wasn't a killing nut...only people in the SS or high up in the ranks do i believe were rather shady people. [/B]


I disagree because if you look at the profiles of Germany's prolific killers, they were highly intelligent and proper. Not apologizing for what was done but nobody can stereotype.


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"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet or fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."

#18 PzJgr

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Posted 21 March 2001 - 12:06 AM

Originally posted by JoCon:
Was your grandfather a german or american? It's a little confusing to understand.


My grandfather was a Spanish volunteer with the Waffen-SS.

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"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet or fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."

#19 A.GREG

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Posted 21 March 2001 - 04:31 AM

Hey C. Evans, do you think you could send me any of those veterans addresses? I would really like to get in contact with some of them.

#20 C.Evans

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Posted 21 March 2001 - 11:29 PM

Dear JoCon: No problem--glad you read my posts. He was Norweigan and he passed away in Walla Walla Washington in late May 1969.

U 181s Kapitan--Kurt Freiwald, passed away in 1975.

Dear A Greg: I can give you many addreses, just email me at: Laughingsawfish@hotmail.com The reason for that is because some of these men dont want their addreses all over the internet. I have about 30 Waffen SS, about 20 Kriegsmarine, and hundreds of Heer and Luftwaffe addresses. Let me know what you want and I will pick the best ones to contact.




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