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Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:17 pm
Another view for the Totenkopfring enthusiasts. This ring shows considerable wear.
Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:22 pm
Eugen Schlotter was a key advisor to my research project on the signal officers of the Waffen-SS. Schlotter was an older officer, born in 1909, who had graduated from the University of Freiburg in 1932 where he later taught math while acquiring officer rank in the Allgemeine-SS. Schlotter was primarily an educator in the Waffen-SS during the early years having established 15 vocational schools before spending time as a successful battalion commander in two different divisions on the eastern front and receiving his Iron Cross I in December 1944. Schlotter returned to education after the end of the war and retired as the director of a secondary school in 1974. He had a wide range of contacts among former Waffen-SS members and urged them to support my research. I will later show a circular letter of his from 1992 where he said, “Wir haben keine Geheimnisse mehr.” which translates that we no longer have any secrets. He provided me with advice and encouragement over the phone and via fax for several years with us communicating in a mixture of German and English. He reviewed my work in progress and never raised any objections to negative information that I had written about several officers. Below is a photo of Eugen Sclotter at Metz, France in late 1943 where he was running the officer course at the signal school in between signal battalion commander assignments to the “Florian Geyer” and “Nordland” divisions.
Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:02 pm
He reviewed my work in progress and never raised any objections to negative information that I had written about several officers.
It's this sort of objectivity that is really important to point out, especially in light of some of the comments from the fringes of the historical research community as of late. Objectivity is critical in producing historical reference works if they are to stand the test of time. The fact that first person participants like Schlotter provided feedback on critical aspects of your work/book and did so in an equaly objective manner provide us with a strong basis for considering it as nothing short of a classic.
Thanks for sharing so much of your behind the scenes work John.
Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:31 pm
Thanks Jason. In this letter of October 1992 from Eugen Schlotter to a number of Armee, Korps and Division signal regiment and battalion commanders and other veterans my research activity is made known. First is an extract from “Leitheft” number 58 where the former SS-Obersturmführer from the “Hohenstaufen” writes favorably about a recent letter that he had received from me. Knabe believed that regular publishers exploited authors and operated his own publishing company. Schlotter goes on to explain how an earlier draft Foreword by Sturmbannführer Herbert Schmeisser for my planned book needed improvement and requested cooperation from the others in coming up with something better. The work that this group put into a complete rewrite of the Foreword is a story of its own that I will explain further in this thread. Note also that later comment where Schlotter says, “Wir haben keine Geheimnisse mehr.” which translates into we no longer have any secrets. During all of my interactions with these people and other correspondence between them I found no evidence that I was being mislead or provided with anything but factual information, most of which I could independently verify from official period documents obtained from the Berlin Document Center and other archives.
Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:35 am
I have everything that John has produced and heartily recommend his works to anyone who has an interest in researching Waffen SS officers.
Without getting too slushy in my praise, John represents all that is great about the hobby and his selfless approach to others in the giving of his free time and expertise is an inspiration for others to follow.
Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:56 pm
Thanks Raymond. I’m glad to finally see you here on Feldgrau.
A month later Eugen Schlotter sent out the letter below to the same group advising of progress on the Foreword rewrite. He begins by mentioning the importance of the OKH message from October 1944 affirming that the Waffen-SS was part of the German Wehrmacht in contrast to press reports giving the impression that the Waffen-SS was separate from the Wehrmacht. Schlotter encloses the draft Foreword written by Sturmbannführer Rüdiger Weitzdörfer and describes Weitzdörfer’s background which included his studies at the University of Heidelberg and Master of Education degree from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1933, followed by his graduation in 1934 as the third best graduate from Bad Tölz. Weitzdörfer was originally an infantry officer in the LSSAH and the Finnish Freiwilligen Battalion of “Wiking” prior to commanding the signal battalion of the “Nordland” and corps signal battalion of the III.SS-Panzer Korps. Following the death of the division commander Fritz von Scholz, Weitzdörder took over the Ia position in “Nordland”. After the war Weitzdörfer was managing sports director in Köln and Essen. Schlötter rates Weitzdöfer’s Foreword as outstanding, invites critical comments and suggests a couple of changes, one of which was changing the combat role of the Waffen-SS from reaching a “military” objective to a “political” objective. “Military” was changed to “political” in the final version. Schlotter closes by recommending a recently published book of poetry written by Obersturmbannführer Erwin Schumacher, former commander of the Totenkopf division signal battalion and later SS-Führungs Nachrichten Regiment 503.
Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:13 pm
Here is the final version of the text of the Foreword written by Rüdiger Weitzdörfer. I'm not sure that any other Foreword ever had the involvement of so many people.
"The Waffen-SS was a branch of the German armed forces. The image that the general public has of the Waffen-SS is often characterized by an unawareness of the facts, sometimes deliberately circulated, as to its relationship with different SS organizations and actual position in the framework of the German political structure. They all had completely different functions and interests apart from the Waffen-SS, who fought exclusively under the command of the German army.
Many volunteers served in the Waffen-SS. German citizens and ethnic Germans from among the population of the Balkans and the Siebenbürger Saxons, Dutch, Flemish, Walloons, French, Danes, Norwegians, Latvians, Estonians, Finns and others. In the opinion of the American professor George H. Stein, the Waffen-SS was the largest multinational army ever to fight under one flag. The soldiers of the Waffen-SS felt united in the fight against the eastern Bolshevism and the expansion of World-Communism.
As evidenced by the history of the Second World War, the Waffen-SS was an organization, which through its performance in combat, was often a decisive factor in the outcome of major battles. This was only possible through very good troop leadership, unity of forces, the devotion and bravery of its soldiers and through the thorough responsible technical command and control of the combat arms, all to reach their political objective.
The signals organizations, both large and small, with their excellent technical training held an important place within the Waffen-SS. They provided the best possible communications that enabled unit commanders to exercise strict command and control from higher to lower and between units through dependable communications networks. They were a foundation for the success of the Waffen-SS.
The author took the initiative to describe this as his theme. Without a doubt he has taken much time and effort by using the necessary sources and visiting many of the personalities featured in this book.
For that we give him our thanks.
Essen, Winter 1993
Rüdiger E. Weitzdörfer"
Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:25 pm
I've always liked books with the insight of vets who were there and are part of the book. Not only there ability to add facts, but their postwar lives and opinions of the events looking back. The signals officers and commanders who contributed to John's huge book added depth that can only be obtained first hand. Many of their careers covered a variety of influential positions aside from communication field positions and he found a number of confirmed German Cross holders (my interest) that I was unaware of.
Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:49 pm
Thanks Mark. I imagine that most people would not think of Waffen-SS signal officers as being a particularly interesting or heroic group of people. In my book I showed how they were actually quite an extraordinary and interesting group. By war’s end they had acquired 2 Knights Crosses (Hanke and Stadler while commanding infantry units) and at least 16 German Crosses in Gold or Silver (Bermau, Bünning, Elfering, Guse, Haberstroh, Hanke, Hüppe, Keilhaus, Kepp, Landfried, Maiweg, Günter Neumann, Scheufele, Schmeisser, Werner Schumacher, Solleder and possibly Krätschmer). Back in 1998 during the annual reunion of the SS-Panzer Rgt. “Wiking” I was having breakfast alone with the former Ostuf. Fritz Hahl, an infantry officer and DKiG holder from Rgt. “Westland” and former Hstuf. Günter Jahnke, an artillery officer and DKiG holder from the “Wiking” artillerie regiment back in our hotel in Ingelfingen. I asked them why signal officers later did so well in other combat specialties. After some reflection, Günter Jahnke replied that he believed that signal officers were generally more intelligent and easier to adapt to change along with indirectly acquiring knowledge of the armor, artillery or infantry specialty while serving as a battalion or regimental signal officer in those units. Often it was the former signal officers who played a key role in establishing the post-war divisional veterans groups and formal written histories. However, I'm not sure some of the former armor and artillery officers who are Feldgrau members will necessarily agree
Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:01 pm
That's a fantastic insight John, thank you for sharing it with us.
Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 8:32 pm
In 1990 Günter Bernau self-published a large format book of around 200 pages of text and photos about the history of the SS-Artillery Regiment “Wiking”. In addition to a Foreword he also included about a dozen introductions from artillery commanders from other divisions as well as representatives from other “Wiking” regiments and separate battalions. I decided to try something similar so that others would have an opportunity to make some introductory remarks in addition to those who had a hand in developing the Foreword. Below is the Introduction that Günter Bernau wrote for my book.
I will gladly write an introduction for the book of Mister J.P. Moore as I myself began my military career as a signaler.
In 1940 I was a radio officer in the regimental signal platoon of the first artillery regiment of the Waffen-SS. After the orderly officer was wounded I had to take over his position, later was an Abteilung adjutant and after further training at the Army Artillery School became an artilleryman. I took part in the battles in Russia from 1941 to 1945 as a battery commander and after 1943 as a battalion commander.
I have read with much interest parts of this book by Mister Moore. Like a detective he directly sought out these former signal officers and traced their military careers. From that emerges an almost complete portrayal of the military activity and accomplishments of this troop.
He was not content to just settle for tales or other recollections, but went to the source for his information. Whether it was the Berlin Document Center, the Military History Archive in Prague, the Wehrmacht Information Center in Berlin or wherever else, he obtained for himself the official records.
These signal officers became leaders in almost all of the military arms because very early on they developed versatility through the larger overview and capabilities that they gained through staff assignments.
John P. Moore has produced with his book an outstanding, unique documentation of the signal troop of the former Waffen-SS and its soldiers that will receive much attention and praise from those interested in military history. This is not another war book in the general sense, but an unbelievable profusion of individual lives that forms a complete picture narrated with unemotional and clear facts and figures.
Signal communications is the most primary means of command and control in the attack and defense and the signal troop is of corresponding importance. This portrayal is outstanding.
I wish the book a widespread readership and thank Mister Moore for his major commitment and hard work.
im August 1993.
Ehem. Sturmbannführer der Waffen-SS
und Kommandeur I./SS-Pz.Art.Rgt. 5
Below is a photo of Bernau from 1945
Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:20 pm
Should anyone with John's CDs come upon eventual fate information for any of the officers he lists, by newspaper or other documented sources, that he has not included, please drop him a PM with the info. Like all of us, his research is ongoing.
Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:46 am
Mark - Thanks for mentioning that. These CDs are constantly being updated as a result of receiving new information from a variety of sources.
Here is a photo of Günter Bernau and me during a visit to his home near Munich in 1995. He was a very gracious man who was married to a former nurse who treated his wounds in 1945.
Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:57 pm
The former SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Stieglitz wrote the introduction below. Steiglitz was commanding the SS-Panzer Nachrichten Abteilung 1 “LSSAH” when he was wounded in Hungary in 1945. During 1941-43 Steiglitz was regimental signal officer and later company commander of the motorcycle reconnaissance company in SS-Totenkopf Infantrie Regiment 3 of the SS-Totenkopf Division. After the war Stieglitz was a manager at Philips, the Dutch electronics company. Karl Stieglitz died a year after he wrote that introduction and after his wife received her copy of the book she wrote back to me how good it made their son feel, who is retarded, to see photos of his father and read positive things about him in a book.
"J.P. Moore, who himself was a signal officer of the US Army, has made detailed investigations in writing his book to illustrate the soldiers of the signal troop of the admired, but also treated with hostility, Waffen-SS, who did their duty as any other soldiers would.
It is pleasing to know that their actions are even appreciated by their former opponents and that meanwhile friendly relations could arise. May this book be a contribution to alter the negative sweeping statements about the Waffen-SS and its men."
im April 1993
Stieglitz in 1944
Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:13 pm
Another introduction was written by the former SS-Obersturmführer Gerd Knabe, who had been an adjutant and company commander in the signal battalion of the “Hohenstaufen” Division. In July 1941 Knabe was a member of Infantry Regiment 7 of the "Nord" Division and took part in the ill-fated attack on the fortified Soviet positions at Salla. After the war Knabe led a well-known cabaret troop known as “Die Zeitberichter” which also regularly performed at vet reunions. Knabe also owns his own publishing company, Winkelberg Verlag, and has published a number of books and audio cassettes.
“About our army, the now already legendary Waffen-SS, there are countless books. This literature concerned itself exclusively with the Waffen-SS in the war.
But you wanted to know more (and write): From where did the leaders of this elite army come from? What kind of people were they? What about their civilian lives after the war? In a sentence: You wanted their lifetimes “from the cradle to the grave.”
Thus you began, besides a continuous search of original records, a detailed letter writing exchange with us. Each of your correspondents provided you with more addresses, and so you have systematically written yourself into the Waffen-SS. And so today you have in the USA one of the best understandings of our former army.
Moreover, you came several times to Germany to get to know personally those persons to whom you had been writing. That out of this acquaintance - not only just for me - a friendship resulted that for all parties was the nicest additional effect of your ten-year’s work.
Dear John, I wish for you and your publisher a wide circulation and a good reception by your readers and press for your unparalleled work about the Waffen-SS and give this book a powerful sendoff - as we stage-people here say - “toi, toi, toi”.
on behalf of the signal troop in the former 9.SS-Panzer Division “Hohenstaufen”