Waffen SS criminal organizations?

German SS and Waffen-SS 1923-1945.
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Javier Sandoval
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Waffen SS criminal organizations?

Post by Javier Sandoval » Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:40 pm

Stupid question, but was the Waffen SS a criminal organization of killers? or just another branch of the armed forces?

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Post by Patrick » Sat Oct 09, 2004 1:11 pm

Go here for a general answer to your question.

http://www.feldgrau.com/ss.html

I'm sure some lively discussion will follow!
Cheers,

Patrick

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Post by Javier Sandoval » Sat Oct 09, 2004 9:05 pm

Patrick wrote:Go here for a general answer to your question.

http://www.feldgrau.com/ss.html

I'm sure some lively discussion will follow!
Yes I read that, but it seems to me as if it depicted the Waffen SS as without guilt of the numerous crimes commited during the war, arguing that it was a front line organization. Not only those crimes of the concentration camps, but also the events such as those of Malmedy. What happened to the men of the Waffen SS after the war, were they judged and hanged? These guys were the core of the nazi ideology, and they knew what the SS was all about, right? They thought they were of a superior race, right?

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Post by DeBaer » Sun Oct 10, 2004 5:33 am

i've read of several people who joined the Waffen-SS because they didnt want to be put into service by the Wehrmacht and end up as cannonfodder, poorly equipped. you shouldnt forget that in war you rather think about saving your own hide than other people's. thats not an excuse but an explanation. and the Waffen-SS wasnt the core of the nazi ideology. it was an instrument of the nazis. thats a difference.
Maybe in the beginning the Waffen-SS consisted mainly of "true" nazis, but later in war a large part of the people joined, as said, because they didnt want to serve with the Wehrmacht.
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Re: Waffen SS criminal organizations?

Post by Brian67 » Sun Oct 10, 2004 1:42 pm

Javier Sandoval wrote:Stupid question, but was the Waffen SS a criminal organization of killers? or just another branch of the armed forces?
It depends on you point of view. The Allies named the Waffen-SS a criminal organization in Nuremberg and the organization (with Himmler, Eike, etc.) might have been criminal.
But not every soldier who fought with the Waffen-SS must have been a criminal. I think the most of them wanted to fight for their country (and national socialism).
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Post by Jock » Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:52 am

Hi,

IMO, The Waffen-SS was just another armed fighting formation, but one that no doubt atracted more than its fair share of fanatics. Random acts of cruelty in war are usually commited by those most blinded by the cause, or with an unfounded hatred of the enemy.

So, when Hans the Hilter lovin', Ivan hatin' trouble maker joins up, who do you think he will join? 9/10, It would be the Waffen-SS, but some would have gone into other branches of service.

Therfor, "9/10" random acts of brutality were committed by the SS, and the other 1 by the Heer/Luftwaffe/Marine.

Do people see where I'm going with that?

On top of all that, the SS itself would most likely be classified as a criminal organisation, with criminals at its head.

So if a criminal has 100 blind, dumb mutes (Who are dependent on him in every way, and trust him), and orders them to commit crimes for him, are they criminals?

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by sid guttridge » Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:35 am

Hi Guys,

Here we go again.

Nuremberg deemed the Waffen-SS a criminal organisation. However, mere membership of the Waffen-SS was not considered criminal. To be considered criminal a Waffen-SS member had to have committed a specific crime.

The single factor that most clearly condemns the Waffen-SS as a criminal organisation is the better behaviour of the German Army in identical conditions. (For example, although Waffen-SS men probably amounted to less than 5% of all German forces who passed through France over 1940-44, they were accused of three of the four major massacres of French civilians raised at Nuremberg.)

If Waffen-SS members were typical patriotic young Germans, what was it that made them more likely to be involved in such crimes than other typical patriotic young Germans in the German Army? I would suggest that it was the different ethos of the Waffen-SS. Nuremberg judged this ethos to be criminal.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Jock » Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:14 am

Hi Sid,

I would agree with you that the 'ethos' of the SS was criminal, but does this not bring up an argument that they soldiers were only doing what they believed to be right, and helping the war effort?

As crazy as it sounds today, they mabye truely believed that shooting prisoners would help the war effort, ot that raping the enemies women was justified in some way because of all the cruelty, all over.

So does that make them criminals themselves, or merely an accessory to a crime?

My stance at the moment is that they were not criminals, just blind young men with skewed view on life, and a licence to kill those they felt had put them in the position they found themselves.

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Oct 15, 2004 2:12 am

Hi Jock,

Certainly neither the Protestant nor Catholic ethos in which almost all young Germans were raised advocated the killing of prisoners or rape as acceptable, and I doubt even Nazi philosophy, which was trying to supplant Christianity, did either. Neither did German domestic law nor international law. The German Army reportedly even issued a ten point list of commandments that prohibited such activities.

The fly in the ointment seems to have been the institution of the SS. Almost from its inception the wider SS organisation clearly felt unconstrained by German civil law and after the Polish Campaign the Waffen-SS was exempted from submission to German miltary law.

I would suggest that individual Waffen-SS men committing war crimes knew perfectly well that they were wrong under any public code they had ever been exposed to. Some, particularly the instigators, may have believed that necessity somehow justified them nonetheless, while the rest were probably carried along by a combination of indoctrination, discipline and the lessening of moral restraints that prolonged exposure to war and death can induce. However, I doubt that a single one thought that these war crimes were actually right by any public code they had ever been exposed to.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Annelie » Fri Oct 15, 2004 4:19 am

Sid
I would suggest that individual Waffen-SS men committing war crimes knew perfectly well that they were wrong under any public code they had ever been exposed to. Some, particularly the instigators, may have believed that necessity somehow justified them nonetheless, while the rest were probably carried along by a combination of indoctrination, discipline and the lessening of moral restraints that prolonged exposure to war and death can induce. However, I doubt that a single one thought that these war crimes were actually right by any public code they had ever been exposed to.
Give it a rest. However, you do state ( I ) in which this is only your
opinion and not most others and we are all well aware of your thoughts.
Since you will not allow any Veteran their opinion and thoughts without backup documentation maybe you shouldn't give yours?

Annelie

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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:42 am

Hi Annelie,

As far as I am aware, I have only ever exchanged posts with one claimed veteran on Feldgrau, and I have repeatedly stated that, despite the absence of any "back up documentation" to confirm his story, I tend to believe he is what he says he is. Furthermore, I have never at any point attempted to prevent him offering his "opinions and thoughts". Indeed, I have, on occasion, alerted other posters to his existence.

Now, perhaps you would care to explain where my last post was wrong, rather than avoiding the issues raised in it altogether by merely suggesting that I "Give it a rest". Which bits were inaccurate?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Helmut » Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:48 pm

Jock wrote:Hi Sid,

I would agree with you that the 'ethos' of the SS was criminal, but does this not bring up an argument that they soldiers were only doing what they believed to be right, and helping the war effort?

As crazy as it sounds today, they mabye truely believed that shooting prisoners would help the war effort, ot that raping the enemies women was justified in some way because of all the cruelty, all over.

So does that make them criminals themselves, or merely an accessory to a crime?

My stance at the moment is that they were not criminals, just blind young men with skewed view on life, and a licence to kill those they felt had put them in the position they found themselves.

Cheers,
Hi Jock,
While I will not disput your point about war crimes in general and the shooting of POWs in specific, I do have to dispute your example of rape. Except for units like DIRLEWANGER and KAMINSKY, rape was a punishable offense, often a capital offense. I believe that the execution of prisoners was seen as an exigency of war while rape was seen as a breakdown of discipline. If someone can contradict me I would like to hear of examples of rape and see if there was a higher incidece of that crime in the WSS vs the other branches of the Wehrmacht.

Regards,

Helmut

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Post by Jock » Fri Oct 15, 2004 1:32 pm

Hi Helmut,
I believe that the execution of prisoners was seen as an exigency of war while rape was seen as a breakdown of discipline.
I agree with that completely, I was merely 'speculating' and let myself get slightly carried away :D

However, It would be interesting to see some figures on the matter. It's one thing that (understandably) only gets refered to in memoirs if the enemy commited the rape...

Cheers,
Jock

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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Oct 16, 2004 3:46 am

Hi Guys,

I agree that there is a clear difference between rape, for which it is virtually impossible to find any military justification, and the murder of prisoners, for which a military rationale can sometimes exist.

On the latter point I have personal experience in Rhodesia. The Rhodesian Security Forces usually operated in small eight man "sticks". Many of the Tribal Trust Lands were effectively under the control of hundreds of "Terrs" and so extracting prisoners could be highly risky. In these circumstances, there was an unwritten acceptance that the killing of prisoners might be justified out of necessity. Of course, this was totally illegal under any official code pertaining to Rhodesia you care to mention - International Law, Civil Law or Military Law. However, Necessity sometimes seems a more powerful Law than any of them to men whose lives are at immediate risk.

That said, it is difficult to construct that sort of rationale for the massacre of prisoners or civilians behind one's own lines of the sort that the Waffen-SS sometimes stand accused of. There was, for example, no military or self preservatory justification for the annihilation of the entire population of Oradour.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Helmut » Sun Oct 17, 2004 3:53 pm

Servus,
Jock, I agree, I would like to see some statistics on the instances of rape also. If one is to believe the Waffen SS memoirs and unit histories put out by the Munin Verlag, whenever rape is mentioned it is only in the context that it was never tolerated by the chain of command. Whether that is to be believed or not, I leave up to each reader with no comment on my part.
On the other hand, if your read DER FREIWILLIGE, you can often find mention of the shooting of prisoners by American troops and to a lesser extent by British and French troops, especially in the last months ( April-May '45) of the war. They go so far as to tell you where in a given town the atrocity occurred and where the deceased are buried. What could have been the justification for those murders, if in fact they occurred. Again, no comment as to validity of the claims.

Regards,

Helmut

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