The Heer and the Party

German Heer 1935-1945.

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Christoph K
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The Heer and the Party

Post by Christoph K » Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:36 pm

Hello all,

Just a quick question about the Heer in WWII. I read that it was encouraged that when you joined the army to drop all political affiliations (i.e. the Nazi Party) and remain Neutral. Was this the case? When did Heer members have to swear the oath to Hitler?

Thanks :D !!!

Chris
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Shall fall into it!

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Post by Janek19801119 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:24 am

You read wrong. It was not. Army was another place when young men were influenced by nazi propaganda and nazi view of the world. Check books by Omar Bartov.

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The Heer and the Party.

Post by tigre » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:18 am

Hello Christoph and Janek, greetings from Argentina :D . Just one point of view........................

INFLUENCE OF THE NAZI PARTY

According to Helmet Kleikamp, author of "The Army Personnel Office", with very few exceptions the Nazi party exercised no influence on Army appointments. Army officer promotions and assignments were based on performance and qualifications, not political considerations.39


One facet of party affiliation was the Nazi Party's highest decoration for service, “The Decoration of 9 November 1923" also known as "The Blood Order". Hitler created this decoration in March 1934 to commemorate the failed Putsch {attempted overthrow of Bavarian government} of November 9, 1923 in Munich. Eligibility was initially limited to persons who had participated in the events of November 9th and who were Party members by January 1, 1932. These individuals were affectionally known as "Old Comrades". In 1938, eligibility was expanded to persons who had rendered outstanding services to the Party in the 1920s and had received a Weimar court death sentence and served at least one year in jail for political crimes, or been severely wounded or killed in Party service.40

Awards for this first criterion of eligibility totaled 1500. Of these 810 went to Party members, 500 to Freikorps troopers, and 140 to Reichswehr and Police members. Seven Reichswehr recipients went on to become general officers: Johannes Block, Curt-Ulrich von Gersdorff, Wolfdietrich von Xylander, Eduard Zorn, Robert Macher, Paul Hermann, and Theodor Kretschmer. Only one went on to become a corps conmander.41

Although Party officials may have had no influence on appointments and promotions, indirect pressures existed in the presence of several senior Army officials who sympathized with the Nazis and could affect personnel issues.42 Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, General der Infanterie Rudolf Schmundt, and General der Infanterie Wilhelm Burgdorf were three of these men.

Wilhelm Keitel served as Chief of Staff of the Combined Services (0KW) from 1938 to the end of the war. Richard Brett-Smith, author of Hitler's Generals, states that Keitel did score than anyone to "bring about the domination of the Reichswehr by the Nazis."
Married to Generalfeldmarschall von Blomberg's daughter, he was in addition the brother of the Chief of the Army Personnel Office Bodewin Keitel and undoubtedly had some influence in appointments. His duty assignment can be summarized as funneling Hitler's orders down to the Army and passing up, with a dose of interpretation, their complaints and questions to the Fuehrer.43

Rudolf Schmundt was Chief of the Army Personnel Office from Bodewin Keitel's departure in 1942 to his own death as a result of injuries suffered in the July 20 bombing at Hitler' s • headquarters. Again Brett-Smith categorizes Schmundt as an avowed Nazi who was known throughout the Officer Corps as "John the Disciple". Schmundt influenced a wide range of appointments to include even army group command and probably speeded the rise of several like-minded officers.44

Wilhelm Burgdorf served faithfully as chief Wehrmacht adjutant to Hitler prior to assuming the position of Personnel Chief from Rudolf Schmundt in 1944. He was "hated for his brutality by 99 per cent of the officer corps" stated Manfred Romnel, son of Generalfeldmarschall Rommel. From colonel to general he did not command troops but did show loyalty and discretion toward Hitler and was entrusted with visiting Rommel with the choice of suicide or arrest for involvement in the July 20 Plot.45

The influence of these men on the Army Personnel Office was probably in the line of what they did not do more than what they did. It would have been very difficult to explain that a particular officer was selected for a position because he was a National Socialist. But for officers seeking to return to active duty from retirement or volunteering for frontline service from the Replacement Army bureaucratic delays and refusals were surely in order for chronic complainers against the Nazis.46

Taken from this very forum: http://www.feldgrau.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=25805

Cheers. Happy Sunday Easter. Raúl M 8)
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Post by Hans » Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:51 pm

I have a number of examples gleaned from divisional records. Here is just one: "Schuetze X is an orphan. His uncle makes written application to the Corps commander for his nephew to be given preferred treatment for officer selection on the basis that the father was one of the original "Nazis". The corps commander sends the application to Div. with the notation that 'the Army is not influenced in such matters" however he [corps commander] would raise no objections if X is tested along with other candidates at the time of the next examinations for suitability for officer training. There was no word as to outcome and I certainly did not come across the individual again in any recommendations for promotion to any other rank let alone a recommendation for officer trainng.

German soldiers certainly received indoctrination in politics. However from all my sources I am given to understand that a dim view was taken of soldiers who engaged in politics. On the other hand a certain Unteroffizier of the Reserve when called up for compulsory service in 1938 refused on the grounds that he was involved with preparations for the Reichs Partei Tag in Nurnberg and thus was not available.

Senior officers were certainly required to participate in party indoctrination. for example the 2nd Nationalpolitischerlehrgang der Wehrmacht was conducted from 12.1 to 21.1.1938. Attendees were amongst many others: Generals Ruoff, Hoepner, Bock, Hollidt, Busch, Heinrici, Bergmann, Huebner, Leeb, Stuelpnagel, Sixt von Arnim, Guderian, Paulus. Speakers were, amongs others: Prof. Dr. Clause, "Rasse u. Charakter"; Prof. Dr. Gunther, "Stippenpflege u. Fuhreradle"; Dr. Gross, Leiter, Rassepolitisches Amt; Alfred Rosenberg; Dr. Goebbels; Dr. Ley & Rudolf Hess.

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Post by JEROME Georges » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:17 pm

I saw pics of the following general officers of Heeres wearing the insignia of party on their uniform
Generalfeldmarschall
- von Brauschitsch Chief OKH
- Keitel Chief OKW
- Schörner (Gold) Heeresgruppe Nord then Mitte
Generaloberst :
- Dietl (Gold)
- Jodl deputy of Keitel
- Rendulic 2 Panzerarmee
Generalmajor
- Theodor Kretschmer hold the blood order (17e Pz Div)

Some generals held rank in SA, NSKK or NSFK and SS

therefore they represent a minority in the general corps.

Georges

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Post by Jan-Hendrik » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:05 am

You read wrong. It was not. Army was another place when young men were influenced by nazi propaganda and nazi view of the world.
Bartov is well known for his lousy research, he is rather presenting poor olde Agitprop :shock:

Wehrgesetz von 1935
Politik in der Wehrmacht
§ 26

(1) Die Soldaten dürfen sich politisch nicht betätigen. Die Zugehörigkeit zur NSDAP oder einer ihrer Gliederungen oder zu einem der ihr angeschlossenen Verbände ruht für die Dauer des aktiven Wehrdienstes.
(2) Für die Soldaten ruht das Recht zum Wählen oder zur Teilnahme an Abstimmungen im Reich.
(3) Die Soldaten bedürfen der Erlaubnis ihrer Vorgesetzten zum Erwerb der Mitgliedschaft in Vereinigungen jeder Art sowie zur Bildung von Vereinigungen innerhalb und außerhalb der Wehrmacht.
(4) Der Reichskriegsminister kann Wehrmachtbeamte und im Betrieb der Wehrmacht angestellte Zivilpersonen, wenn militärische Notwendigkeit dies erfordert, den Vorschriften nach Abs. 1 und 2 unterwerfen.
Any further questions :?:

:[]

Jan-Hendrik

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Post by Hans Weber » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:15 pm

Jan Henrik

Do you seriously mean that § 26 Wehrgesetz is an argument against the indoctrination of the Wehrmacht by the National Socialist movement?
:shock:

For a start, we should read what is actually there: suspension in the exertion of political rights (mainly vote and election) and the freedom of association. Both actually pilars in the self-conception of any modern democratic society. Nowhere is written that NS views are banned. If we then combine this with the main purpose of the "Wehrgesetz", the introduction of the general conscription and the duties of the German soldier as in the Erlass dated May 25th 1934, it should be become clear in which context to place it.

Die Pflichten des deutschen Soldaten:
1. Die Wehrmacht ist der Waffenträger des deutschen Volkes. Sie schützt das Deutsche Reich und Vaterland, das im Nationalsozialismus geeinte Volk und seinen Lebensraum. Die Wur­zeln ihrer Kraft liegen in einer ruhmreichen Vergangenheit, in deutschem Volkstum, deut­scher Erde und deutscher Arbeit. Der Dienst in der Wehrmacht ist Ehrendienst am deut­schen Volk.

Full wording here: http://www.wilhelm-radkovsky.de/doku.htm#DOK2

I especially point out the protection of the German Reich and Fatherland
united by National Socialism and Lebensraum (another Nazi theme).

Let's also take into account the oath on Hitler dated 1934 or the precursory oath dated 1933

Neue Eidesformel der Reichswehr vom 2. Dezember 1933:
„Ich schwöre bei Gott diesen heiligen Eid, dass ich meinem Volk und Vaterland allzeit treu und redlich dienen und als tapferer und gehorsamer Soldat bereit sein will, jederzeit für diesen Eid mein Leben einzusetzen.“

Reichswehreid (März/Mai 1935 in Wehrmacht umbenannt) ab 20. August 1934:
„Ich schwöre bei Gott diesen heiligen Eid, dass ich dem Führer des Deutschen Reiches und Volkes, Adolf Hitler, dem Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht, unbedingten Gehorsam leisten und als tapferer Soldat bereit sein will, jederzeit für diesen Eid mein Leben einzusetzen.“

Let's compare it to the old oath

Reichswehreid vom 14. August 1919:
„Ich schwöre Treue der Reichsverfassung und gelobe, dass ich als tapferer Soldat das Deutsche Reich und seine gesetzmäßigen Einrichtungen jederzeit schützen, dem Reichspräsidenten und meinen Vorgesetzten Gehorsam leisten will.“

I especially point out how the binding to the constitution has been conveniently removed already in 1933.

Let's consider the many possibilties to express the right political views (or should we say to endulge in indoctrination) when outside the Wehrmacht (HJ, SA, SS, NSDAP). SPD and KPD were illegal. Every soldier was forbidden any poltical contact to organisations declared "staatsfeindlich" anyway.

Let's not close our eyes to the fact that unitary political education of every officers in the Wehrmacht by 1936 meant that topics as "Volk und Rasse", "Volk und Staat", "Volk und Wirtschaft", "Politische Geschichte" were on the study plans of the Officer's schools. Publications and propagande material of the NSDAP where not banned from the installations of the Reichswehr, later Wehrmacht but encouraged, as was the painting of "Führersprüche" on walls within barracks. The scheme worked so well that only in 1944 under the impression of the deteriorating war situation and the attempt on Hitler's life it was deemed necessary to create the NSFO, the German variant of the Politkommissär.

The sympathetic reader will hopefully understand that the apolitical stance of the Wehrmacht in such an NS environement was just a fig leaf. After the war it was too small to hide the shame. The real irony is that I do belive that a lot of the responsible actors in the Wehrmacht didn't realize how deeply they were entangled in this web and believed in the apolitical nature the institution. But loosing the sense of reality was not uncommon in Germany during this time.

For further reading (old but still essential):

Messerschmidt, Die Wehrmacht im NS Staat. Zeit der Indoktrination. :[]

I don't think that calling this guy a lousy researcher will help furthering any argument. :wink:


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Hans

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Post by Hans » Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:07 pm

I think one needs to seperate "indoctrination" from "engagement".

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Post by Jan-Hendrik » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:32 pm

Do you seriously mean that § 26 Wehrgesetz is an argument against the indoctrination of the Wehrmacht by the National Socialist movement?
..what I said where :?:

I just answered this one:
It was not. Army was another place when young men were influenced by nazi propaganda and nazi view of the world. Check books by Omar Bartov.
Calm down, old friend :wink:

History is normally between easy black and white :idea:

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Post by Hans Weber » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:26 am

Hello

Oh, I'm calm and I think I expressed my concern in an appropriate way.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you answered the statement that the army was a place for indoctrination with a paragraph of the NS state proclaiming the apolitical nature of the army. In the context you placed it I'm still under the impression that you intended to counter the argument. The more so because it was followed by your "any further questions?" which if I take it as the German "Noch Fragen?" usually makes it clear that the speaker intends to express to have said it all and the matter is clear cut. In fact 1§ 26 raises a lot of questions and I totally agree with your later statement on the complexity of history which is at odds with the impression I got from your first one. That's why I'm still a bit perplexed what to make of it. But maybe you can explain what you intended to tell us :?:

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Post by ReinhardH » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:38 am

Wehrgesetz von 1935
Politik in der Wehrmacht
§ 26

(1) Die Soldaten dürfen sich politisch nicht betätigen. Die Zugehörigkeit zur NSDAP oder einer ihrer Gliederungen oder zu einem der ihr angeschlossenen Verbände ruht für die Dauer des aktiven Wehrdienstes.
(2) Für die Soldaten ruht das Recht zum Wählen oder zur Teilnahme an Abstimmungen im Reich.
(3) Die Soldaten bedürfen der Erlaubnis ihrer Vorgesetzten zum Erwerb der Mitgliedschaft in Vereinigungen jeder Art sowie zur Bildung von Vereinigungen innerhalb und außerhalb der Wehrmacht.
(4) Der Reichskriegsminister kann Wehrmachtbeamte und im Betrieb der Wehrmacht angestellte Zivilpersonen, wenn militärische Notwendigkeit dies erfordert, den Vorschriften nach Abs. 1 und 2 unterwerfen.
This was the law at the time, and it was strictly adhered to by everyone I have personally ever known who served in Heer units. No exceptions.

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Re: The Heer and the Party

Post by sid guttridge » Mon May 19, 2008 4:09 am

Hi Guys,

The Army remained beyond direct control of the Nazi Party and few of its senior officers seem to have been party members.

The Army was initially apolitical rather than anti-political in the party-political sense. However, the Nazi regime was nervous of any power centre beyond its control and this led firstly to the expansion of the Waffen-SS as a more politically reliable armed force, and from late 1943 to the introduction of National Socialist Guidance Officers into army units in order to bolster the army's loyalty to the regime.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Heer and the Party

Post by Hans Weber » Mon May 19, 2008 8:43 am

Hello

The Waffen SS was expanded because the Nazi Regime was nervous about the Heer beeing a centre of power it couldn't control?

Is it too much to ask to show some proof (meaning hard facts and not another the world in Sid's eyes)?

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Hans

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Re: The Heer and the Party

Post by Hans » Mon May 19, 2008 3:14 pm

Sid,

Are you somehow saying that the foreigners in the SS were more loyal than the Germans in the Army? :D

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Re: The Heer and the Party

Post by sid guttridge » Tue May 20, 2008 1:56 am

Hi Hans,

A good starting point might be to ask what the Waffen-SS was for.

In Poland in September 1939 the German Army was phenomenally successful. The armed SS did not distinguish itself by comparison, yet it was expanded over the winter and formally baptized the Waffen-SS. One has to ask why?

The Waffen-SS didn’t do anything that the Army hadn’t already pioneered and wasn’t already doing to a high standard. It made no original military contribution (as we have established over the years here on Feldgrau). There was no military justification for establishing a Waffen-SS independent of the Army, from whose resources it drew all its manpower and equipment and from whom it derived its tactics and professional expertise. There was, in short, no “value added” by creating an independent Waffen-SS. So why did it exist?

On 17 August 1938 Hitler outlined the role of the armed SS as follows:

“The SS-Verfugungstruppe is neither a part of the Wehrmacht nor a part of the police. It is a standing armed unit exclusively at my disposal. As such and as a unit of the NSDAP…………… In case of mobilization I myself will make the decision about the time, strength and manner of the incorporation of the SS-Verfugungstruppe into the wartime army; these things will depend on the internal political situation at that time.”

Not only is there no evidence that this internal role was ever withdrawn, but there is evidence that the separation from the Army grew. After the Polish Campaign the Army’s General Blaskowitz, whose troops had occupied both Prague and Warsaw, wanted to bring charges against some SS men for atrocities. The regime’s response? To withdraw the Waffen-SS, from the military justice system and to post Blaskowitz to backwaters for the rest of the war!

The Nazi regime was corporatist and totalitarian. It wanted control of every aspect of German life. The NSDAP had its own union movement, its own business organization, its own agricultural arm, its own youth movement, its own teachers organization, its own women’s branch….. The main organizations that it did not directly control were the Army and the Churches. Hitler dismissed the threat posed by the last with the rhetorical question , “How many divisions has the Pope?”. This left the Army, which had plenty of divisions, as the only possible internal power base that might threaten the NSDAP.

Hitler had reason to be suspicious of the Army. Almost every serious internal threat to him, his party and his policies after 1938 came from within the German Army. Throughout the late 1930s the Army had dragged its feet on almost every adventure that Hitler had embarked upon. More seriously, this had generated conspiracies against him both in late 1938 and late 1939, an assassination attempt in late 1943 and the Bomb Plot in 1944.

By contrast, the Waffen-SS was an ultra loyal, party-political potential counterweight to the Army. It was therefore expanded to capture an increasing share of the country’s military resources, at Army expense, even though it was not initially militarily qualified. It had no experience with artillery in 1939, but was given it in 1940. It had no experience with tanks in the first three years of the war, but was given them for the 1943 campaign. By the time heavy tank battalions were being formed in 1944-45 approaching half went to the Waffen-SS.

The Army recognized the internal enforcement role of the Waffen-SS. The Bomb Plotters drew up plans to isolate Waffen-SS depots in Germany and planned to absorb them into the Army. On the other side Goebbels intended to use the depot of the Leibstandarte Division and Skorzeny’s unit to attack the Bomb Plotters in Reserve Army HQ. The only thing that stopped fighting breaking out was the fear of civil war by both sides.

And in the last months of the war, who manned the flying courts martial designed to brace the resistance of the Army? The Waffen-SS.

So, yes, the expansion of the Waffen-SS was driven by the Nazis’ need for a reliable political counterweight to the suspect Army. There was no military advantage to having a Waffen-SS panzer division as opposed to an Army one, or a Waffen-SS mountain division as opposed to an Army one. But there was a clear political advantage. That is why resources of manpower and weaponry that normally would have gone to the Army were diverted to the Waffen-SS and why at Waffen-SS officer schools political indoctrination was as important in the curriculum as tactics.

Cheers,

Sid.

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