posted on Aug, 21 2005 @ 06:11 AM
Horten my friend, I have always had a sneaking admiration for the Waffen-SS. This admiration has led me to be labelled a 'right-wing-fascist',
whilst I served in the Royal Air Force - I used to have a picture of the Britisches Freikorps on my wall in my room, with the question, "Traitors or
Realists?" below it. The CO was not impressed and ordered me to take it down!
Bravery awards for the Waffen-SS were almost unobtainable. For instance, if you were put forward for the EKI, it was rumoured that you had to have had
been wounded at least twice, carried out acts of outstanding bravery whilst under fire - more than once and it was also rumoured that you had to have
been turn down for the award on more than one occasion. Once you were awarded the EKI, it was apparent that your social standing rose above those
around you. You were considered an elite within the elite.
For me, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was the premier fighting force within the Waffen-SS. Apart from (allegedly) receiving the best arms and
equipment, it took part in many campaigns as the 'spearhead' unit and suffered the consequences.
For pure tenacity and bloody single-mindedness, bravery or heroism (call it what you will) in the face of certain death and destruction, the French
Charlemagne division stands out above all the units defending the Reichstag in Berlin at the end of the war.
12th Waffen-SS Panzergrenadier Division 'HitlerJugend'
For me, perhaps, the 12th Waffen-SS Panzer Division, the Hitler-Jugend personifies the elan of the Waffen-SS. This division was staffed by 16, 17 & 18
yeard old boys from the Hitler Jugend youth movement, hurried into uniform and rushed off to the basic training at WEL Camps.
By the 1st July '43, 8000 boy/men had passed out with another 8000 just about to start training and by September, the HJ Division stood at 16000 full
strength. Added to these boy/men, were a cadre of Leibstandarte, Das Reich, Totenkopf and Wehrmacht officers and Snco's. Their first CO, was Fritz
Witt, a former HJ officer cadet. The division deployed to Hasselt in Belgium, where it was held a mobile reserve. When the Allies invaded France on
6th June, the HJ was rushed the area around Caen, where they were to reinforce 'Panzer Lehr'.
No sooner had they entered the area, than they were subjected to an almost continuous arial and artillery bombardment. Nonetheless they took their
place in the front line facing the veteren forces of the Canadian armour and infantry.
In their first engagement with the Canadians, the HJ destroyed 28 tanks for (only) 6 HJ soldiers died. Whilst the HJ fought with a determination
belying their age and experience, they were to suffer 60% casualties - 20% dead, 40% wounded or missing. This happened, mainly in the Falaise Pocket
where they were tasked to hold the 'back door' open for the encircled units to escape. That they did this is beyond question, but what is not
generally known is that after a particularly harsh battle, even the ex-LSSAH men were stunned to see their young 'veterens' pick up their brass and
hand it in to their quartermaster stores.
Unfortunately, their commander Fritz Witt was killed when the Canadians
'DF'd' the Regimental CP and called naval gunfire in support. He was replaced by the legendary 33 year old Kurt 'Panzer' Meyer. By the end of
September 1944, the HJ was reduced to just 1500 - 3000 troops, many of which were wounded. They had lost all their heavy and support weapons and only
one Mk IV tank survived.
Although the Hitler Jugend was formed from a youth movement, hurriedly trained and rushed off to battle with a seasoning of combat veterens, their
outstanding bravery in the face of hopeless odds was recognised by the fact that they were awarded no less than 15 Knight's Cross.
The Brandenburg Regiment
It was almost doomed to faillure from the outset because, like the idea of Stirling's to raise a body of men to operate behind the enemy lines using
hit and run tactics (like the much vaunted TE Lawrence), the crusty old Prussian Generals were appalled by the very idea.
The 'Brandenburg' Regiment was actually the 'Lehr und Bau Kompagnie z.b.V 800'. It was raised by Theodor von Hipple, under the command of Admiral
Canaris' Abwehr and inherited it's unofficial title because of the nearby town.
Their exact order of battle and actions will never be fully known because, even now, next to nothing is known about them.
One of their most daring raids however, was the capture of Maikop. After the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, it was soon recognised that the German
forces would need oil and very quickly!
A very small detachment of Brandenburg men (about 75 Slavs and Germans) led by Baron Adrian von Folkersam, penetrated deep behind Russian lines.
Disguised as Political and NKVD Officers, they even persuaded a group of Red Army deserters to join them and when within site of their target, they
threw grenades to simulate an artillery bombardment. Rushing forward, von Folkersam and his men managed to pursuade the local Red Army unit to
retreat, thus enabling he and his men to capture the Maikop oilfields without a shot being fired.
This must surely go down in history as one of the most successful
'commando' raid of all times, by any armed forces throughout the Second World War.