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Arminius

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→ Spot de derde
 

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De oprichting van de Amerikaanse Unie was de grootste geopolitieke calamiteit aller tijden. Tja, ik ben recalcitrant vandaag.
 

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Eén van de frontervaringen van de bitsige Remi Schrijnen dan maar?

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Context: De Slag om Narva (1944)

The battle was now coming to its climax. Almost three-quarters of the original Flemish Kampfgruppe of less than 500 men were out of action, either dead or badly injured. A lot of those left in the line, like D'Haese and Schrijnen, were wounded and Soviet pressure was unrelenting. With the Flemish perimeter shrinking minute by minute, D'Haese ordered another withdrawal to the west and Laperre ran to the PAK to relay the news to the crew. All of the gun team grabbed their kit with relief, ready to follow Laperre; all that is except Remy Schrijnen. 'I am staying here until I'm finished', those were his words to a shocked Laperre, who repeated his order and threatened Schrijnen with a court-martial if he did not obey. The diminutive gunner just shrugged his shoulders and stayed put. Shells were exploding all around the position and small-arms fire rattled on the protective shield of the gun as Soviet infantry pressed ever closer. There was no time to argue. Laperre gathered the rest of the crew and led them away from the gun. All of them were thinking the same thing as they headed west: 'That's the last time that any of us will see SS-Sturmmann Remy Schrijnen alive'.

The Russians were determined to prove the gun crew right and assembled one last attack that they hoped would at last sweep the stubborn Flemish defenders away. A massive force of 30 T-34s, mounted with the latest 85mm guns, plus the accompanying infantry, were gathered for the final effort of the day. To make sure of success, four of the new super heavy Joseph Stalin tanks were added to the assault force. This tank was the Soviet response to the German Tiger tank and boasted a huge 122mm main gun and immensely thick sloped armour. The Russians were convinced that this time they would succeed and break through, victory was in sight at last.

As the tanks rolled towards his position, Schrijnen calmly sat and followed the lead T-34 through the gun's optic. He fired, the PAK's breech block leapt back with the recoil, and he raced to reload with a second anti tank Panzergranate shell as quickly as possible. The first round slammed into the lead T-34, which burst into flames and ground to a halt. The rest of the advancing tanks swung their turrets towards the danger that they thought had been eliminated and as one they began to converge on the lone gun, intent on knocking it out.

In addition to imminent death, Schrijnen now met with another potential catastrophe. Having fired hundreds of rounds over the last few days the PAK's barrel and firing mechanism were caked with shell residue, gun grease and grime, and this made the spent shell case stick in the breech block. It had to be removed so that the PAK could be reloaded and reloaded fast, if not the Soviet tanks would roll over Schrijnen and his gun and that would be that. Taking the barrel poker, Schrijnen ran out from behind the gun's protective shield to the muzzle, turned his back on the mass of tanks bearing down on him and rammed the poker down the barrel to push out the shell case. He then ran back to the breech and loaded a Panzergranate round. Taking quick aim he fired, loaded, fired, loaded and carried on firing and loading as fast as he could in a desperate attempt to keep the tanks at bay. At that close range, even the mighty Joseph Stalin tanks had no protection against the high velocity rounds streaking towards them and were ripped apart. As the tanks charged forward they fired their main guns and machine-guns at the PAK in a World War II parody of giants duelling; but without the benefit of stabilised guns that allow modern tanks to fire accurately and move at the same time, they were unable to silence the lone Fleming, Amidst the smoke and belching fire, tank after tank was blown to pieces until at the last one of the behemoths came within yards of Schrijnen's gun and both it and the PAK fired at each other simultaneously. The Soviet machine was ripped open like a tin can, while the anti-tank gun took a direct hit and was wrecked. Remy Schrijnen himself was caught in the blast, badly wounded and knocked unconscious, and was thrown some 20 metres from the gun pit by the force of the explosion.

His battle was over but his stand had had an extraordinary impact. No less than seven Russian tanks lay smashed in front of his gun barrel, including three of the immensely powerful Joseph Stalin heavy tanks. The rest of the assault wave swept over the position towards Grenadier Hill but it had lost its momentum and punching power and the attack ran out of steam and faltered. The point of the bayonet of the entire third Baltic Front had been blunted by one man and one gun.


→ Zie The Aftermath als je gelijk wil weten wat het lot van Schrijnen was.​

Late night counter-attack

With the PAK gun destroyed and the Soviet tank attack stalled, both sides seemed to take a step back and draw breath. But the pause did not last long, as the Wehrmacht's preferred method of defence was attack, attack, attack. Under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Siegfried Scheibe from the Nederland, a counter-attack was launched by a mixed force of Norwegians, Danes and Flemings to try to retake Orphanage Hill. D'Haese and his Adjutant, Walter Van Leemputten, led the Flemish contingent and the attack itself was preceded by a short artillery barrage to soften up the Soviets, who were still not firmly emplaced on the scarred slopes of Orphanage Hill. But the assault was not strong enough and the Russians deluged the advancing Waffen-SS grenadiers with fire. The counter-attack was ground into mince meat and the grenadiers tumbled back to their positions on Grenadier Hill. Casualties were heavy, with Scheibe wounded and Van Leemputten hit in the stomach by an exploding bullet. He was dragged back to safety by his men and evacuated but the wound was mortal and the young 29-year-old SS-Untersturmführer, actually born in Putney in London, died in a field hospital a fortnight later, on 15 August. D'Haese was wounded for the second time in the counter-attack but was able to carry on and along with Groevinck and Laperre, he was now one of only three Flemish officers left fighting. The counter-attack had failed to take back Orphanage Hill but had succeeded in throwing the Soviets off balance and winning the few defenders a vital breathing space. There would be no more attacks that night and the dog-tired Flemish were able to grab a couple of hours sleep before dawn broke and brought with it the inevitable Red Army response.

Saturday 29 July 1944: Day 4

Having come so close to victory on the preceding day, Govorov was sure that one final push would see his forces break through the thinning defence and into the rear of Army Group North. Fresh units were pushed over the river and through Narva city into assembly areas short of the three hills. The Red airforce was called into action and multiple sorties were launched against the Waffen-SS positions. Yak fighters strafed everything that moved, whilst squadrons of Stormovik ground-attack aircraft pulverised every discernible feature with rockets and bombs. The ever-superb Red Army artillery then came into play and concentrated the fire of its guns, mortars and Stalin's Organ' Katyusha multiple rocket launchers onto the small sector of front around Grenadier Hill and 69.9 Hill, Grenadier Hill in particular took an extraordinary pounding as the Soviets saw it as the fulcrum of the SS defence and their immediate objective when they began their ground assault. Take Grenadier Hill swiftly, they reasoned, and the attack would gain momentum and sweep over 69.9 Hill. Once that last hill was captured then the defence would be over, with the surviving Waffen-SS men having no chance to halt the Russians on the open ground to the west of the three hills. As fire rained down on the SS grenadiers, endless streams of Soviet infantry filed onto their start lines ready for the order to attack, and more than a hundred tanks from Govorov's independent armoured brigades manoeuvred into position After more than an hour of intense bombardment, the Red Army officers blew their whistles and the Soviet assault began.

Facing the Russians on this, the fourth consecutive day of the battle, the defensive lines were now held by a motley collection of Danes and Norwegians from the Nordland, Estonians from the 20th 95 Division, some hastily scraped together German naval Marines and, of course, D'Haese and his Flemings. The units were hopelessly mixed-up, there was little in the way of coherent command and control, and since the loss of Schrijnen and his PAK, there were no more heavy weapons. There were so few men left now. Those that were still alive hadn't eaten a hot meal in days, they were filthy, unshaven and had only had a few hours sleep. Many of them were wounded but still they refused to give in, still they refused to give way. These survivors were among the cream of Western Europe's contribution to the Waffen-SS during the Second World War and they were not for retreating.


Attack and counter-attack

As the Soviet advance came forward, the wisdom of Steiner's decision to concentrate all of his Corps artillery into one force became evident. With no heavy weapons left in the line, every gun that had a shell was called upon to fire at the mass of armour bearing down on Grenadier Hill. The fire slashed through the ranks of charging infantry and smashed into tanks but still they came on. All the freiwillige had now to stop the tanks were one-shot panzer fäusts with a range of less than a hundred metres, anti-tank Teller mines and stick grenades bundled together. Fighting soon became hand-to-hand, with soldiers using knives, pistols, grenades and entrenching tools.

Somehow, it was the Germans who found the reserves to swing the battle in their favour. From nowhere SS-Obersturmbannführer Paul Albert Kausch appeared with the remnants of the Nordland's SS-Panzer Battalion 11 Hermann von Salza. Named after a famous Grand Master of the crusading Teutonic Knights, whose most important fortress was lying in ruins in Narva, the Nordland panzers and Sturmgeschütze tore into the stalled Russian attack. With the weight of their assault broken up by the German artillery, the Soviet machines lacked the cohesion to beat off the aggression of the Nordland counter-attack and excellent SS gunnery soon began to tell, as T-34 after T-34 brewed up. Within minutes, the tide had been turned and the Soviets were in full retreat back to the woods to the east. Kausch did not let them go easily and drove his men after them, shooting up everything they could see.


The aftermath

As the Soviets ran east, chased by the Nordland armour, the battlefield they left behind was strangely quiet and utterly desolate. Realising the fight was lost, the Soviet troops on Orphanage Hill abandoned their hard won positions and headed after their comrades, but not before shooting any prisoners they had who were were wounded and unable to move.

Kausch's panzer drove by the wreck of Schrijnen's PAK, noting the many destroyed Soviet tanks that lay in front of its muzzle. The crew noticed a movement from a body, stopped the panzer and went outside to investigate. Unbelievably, lying wounded but definitely breathing, was the seemingly indestructible Remy Schrijnen. He was hauled onto the panzer's rear deck and taken back for medical treatment. The twice wounded Georg D'Haese was found, dazed but alive, searching 69.9 Hill for wounded comrades. As for the rest of Kampfgruppe D'Haese, only 37 of the almost 500 original members were left standing, though many of these were lightly wounded. That represents a staggering casualty rate of more than 90% in just four days. The ferocity of the fighting was such that less than 50 Flemings were captured by the Soviets during the entire battle. Of those men, only four would ever make it home, finally being released om Siberian labour camps in May 1962, after 18 years of captivity,

For the Red Army, the battle had been bloody in the extreme. Russian losses totalled 113 tanks lost, plus dozens of anti-tank guns, and thousands of dead. And even more importantly, they had been held and the Ostheer mad been given a breathing space. The so-called 'Battle of the European SS' at Narva had lasted several months and the Flemish had only been involved for the last four days, but it was those days that had witnessed the crescendo of the fight and the men from the Langemarck had played heir full part. With the Soviet failure to take Grenadier Hill, their entire -ffensive effort in the north failed. While Operation Bagration continued rip Army Group Centre to pieces and Army Group North Ukraine (the ld Army Group South) was pushed out of Soviet Russia and into Eastern Europe and the Balkans, in the north the front, temporarily, stabilised.

The Commander of the Wehrmacht's Eighteenth Army and an old friend of the Flemish from the SS-Legion Flandern days outside Leningrad, General Georg Lindemann, described the battle of Narva - and Steiner's eadership in particular - as:


...a defensive success for the whole Eastern Front... holding off eleven divisions and six tank units of the Soviet 2nd Shock and 8th Armies with his weakened two divisions and single brigade.

It was General Georg Lindemann who had made the first ever award of e Iron Cross 1st Class to a Fleming, to Jules Geurts, back in Raglitza.

Names to remember

For Georg D'Haese the battle at Narva was a hard-won triumph. He had risen through the ranks from his days as a young volunteer in the SS-Legion Flandern, being wounded regularly and heaped with awards for bravery. Commanding the Flemish Kampfgruppe after Rehmann's dismissal was the pinnacle of his career during the War. Following the battle, command of the Flemish would revert to Germans for the rest of the conflict, making D'Haese the first and last Flemish field commander. Still recovering from his wounds he led the pathetic remnants of his men to the Corps Headquarters at Toila to rest and act as coastal guards. There, Steiner himself pinned his own German Cross in Gold on the young Flemish officer and handed out medals by the sack load to the survivors. In the end Steiner did not follow through with the award and unaccountably D'Haese was only awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class for his contribution at Narva. There have always been rumours that he was only denied the coveted Knights Cross because of his well-known membership of the VNV and his championing of the cause of Flemish nationalism. I have found no written evidence to substantiate these claims, and suspect that it was more likely to be down to the chaos of the time, but no matter the reason, it was from the German point of view an ignominious omission. Strangely enough, D'Haese himself said after the war that in his opinion the battles in the Ukraine in the winter of 1943-1944 were the toughest he ever fought in and actually harder than Narva. Whatever the relative rigours of the two, the Flemish were now rightly seen as first-rate troops capable of holding their own in the hardest battles in the East. As the front settled down, there were several further Soviet attacks but they were half-hearted and gained no ground. The few Flemings were rotated back into the line over the next couple of weeks and then back out again and in that time Rehmann arrived to take up his former post. How he was viewed by the Narva survivors can only be surmised. Officers have to fight to ear respect in any army, and the Waffen-SS was no different. A man who is viewed as using a dubious wound to leave his men in the lurch is marked forever, there is no going back. Yet Rehmann would continue to serve with the Flemings for the rest of the war as a battalion commander, until being wounded again in the fighting in Pomerania in early 1945.

For Remy Schrijnen, Narva brought glory. On 1 August 1944 he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Wound Badge in Gold, trumped when the Corps Commander, Felix Steiner himself, recommended he be admitted to the prestigious Honour Roll of the Wehrmacht. On submission of his citation, higher SS authorities decided that a Knights Cross was more appropriate, and on confirmation Schrijnen became the only Flemish recipient of Germany's highest award for courage to serve in the Langemarck. Further accolades followed as he was promoted directly from SS-Sturmmann to SS-Unterscharführer, skipping over the SS-Rottenführer rank entirely. He was sent on a tour of Flanders and Flemish gatherings in Germany to drum up support and volunteers to serve at the front. He was even recommended for officer training at the elite Bad Tölz Academy but this he turned down, with Himmler himself unable to change his mind, despite a personal interview in Berlin. In fact, Schrijnen proved a bit of a disappointment for his German 'handlers' following his award, stubbornly refusing to do anything that he disapproved of and speaking his mind. He would not exhort youngsters in Flanders, or Flemings anywhere for that matter, to join up, insisting it was a personal matter, and even going so far as reminding the head of DeVlag, Jef Van De Wiele, that he was a VNV supporter! But heroes can get away with a lot and Schrijnen was now up there among the freiwillige stars along with the Dutchman Gerardus Mooyman, the Estonian Haralt Nugiseks, and the Dane Egon Christophersen. During his tour an old shrapnel injury to his back flared up and had to be treated. Christmas 1944 was spent recuperating and finally Schrijnen rejoined his comrades in the newly-reformed Langemarck in February 1945. His war was not yet over.


Trivia

On 22 June 1941 when the Wehrmacht launched Operation Barbarossa and invaded Soviet Russia Schrijnen's world changed forever. That same day the 19-year-old Fleming marched into his local Watten-SS recruiting office to volunteer. The recruiters took one look at his lack of height and rejected him. Undeterred, Schrijnen made a further six applications over the following year but was rejected each time for the same reason, Finally admitting defeat he volunteered instead for the Gebirgsjäger, Germany's famed mountain troops, whose home base was in Kempten-Allgäu. He was accepted and sent to basic training in July 1942, only to mysteriously receive a transfer straight away, on 1 August 1942, to the Waffen-SS.

Schrijnen himself said of this time:


As a Flemish nationalist, with a great admiration for the Germans, and as an anti-communist, I volunteered to work in Germany in early July 1940, to learn more about the country and its people. On the very day that war with the Soviet Union broke out, I reported to the Waffen-SS to offer myself as a 'Germanic volunteer'. Unfortunately, because I was only 1.64m tall and the minimum height requirement was 1.78m, I was rejected. This didn't put me off though. I continued trying to enlist. In the end, in the summer of 1942, I was accepted into the Flemish Volunteer Legion. I served on the northern sector of the Eastern Front, in the swampy terrain around Leningrad, as a company runner.

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Nog even wat Furor Teutonicus? Uit Soldiers of Destruction van Charles W. Sydnor, Jr.


The major factor contributing to the division's success in the face of such overwhelming odds was undoubtedly the fighting quality of the individual Totenkopf soldier. The years of constant political and racial indoctrination, the long periods of strenuous training and physical conditioning, and the intensive cultivation of elitism had produced an SS fighting man superbly suited for the unique rigors of the Russian war. Inured to hardship, contemptuous of death, and obsessed with a fanatical hatred of the "Jewish-Bolshevik" enemy, these products of Eicke's tutelage fought with a tenacity that earned them the unqualified respect of such first-rate professional soldiers as Manstein and Busch. Good examples of the fighting qualities Eicke's soldiers possessed may be seen in the performance of two SS men (an officer and an enlisted man) during the battle for Lushno.

To counter the possibility of a breakthrough by the new Russian T-34 tanks against which the Totenkopfdivision's antitank guns were ineffective-Eicke created special "tank annihilation squads." These units consisted of two SS officers and ten men armed with bags of satchel charges, mines, grenades, and gasoline bombs. They were ordered to attack on foot individual Russian tanks that penetrated through the defensive line, and to destroy or disable the machines as quickly as possible with their variety of explosives. One such group was led by SS Hauptsturmführer (captain) Max Seela, a company commander in the engineer battalion of the Totenkopfdivision. At Lushno on September 26, Seela's squad destroyed seven Russian T-34s in this fashion. To set an example for his men and demonstrate the proper finesse in hand-to-muzzle combat with armor, Seela destroyed the first Russian tank (which had halted momentarily) by crawling right up to it, placing a double-satchel charge against the turret and detonating the explosives with a grenade. He then personally led his men as they tackled the remaining six tanks in the manner. After disabling or setting the armored monsters ablaze, Seela and his SS squad shot down the Soviet crews as they struggled to escape from their doomed vehicles.


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Voetnoot: Eicke's men had found that their 37 mm antitank guns would not pierce the T-34 armor and that their 50 mm guns were effective only at ranges under 500 yards. Seela's men also discovered that the tank turret could be blown loose from the deck and im mobilized only by using a double-satchel charge (weighing about fifteen pounds). These explosives were detonated either with hand grenades or with a five-second flare fuse. Consequently, in addition to the hazards involved in attacking a tank on foot, the SS men in Eicke's special squads ran the extra risk of being blown up by their own explosives before they could leap to safety.

Good examples of the fighting qualities Eicke's soldiers possessed may be seen in the performance of two SS men (an officer and an enlisted man) during the battle for Lushno.
Dat ging om Fritz Christen. Zijn episode kwam hier al eens voorbij.

SS Sturmmann Fritz Christen, a gunner in the second Company of the SSKT tank-destroyer battalion, provided an even better example of how the individual Totenkopf soldier fought under extreme pressure. Christen's battery was located just north of Lushno on the morning of September 24, and took the full brunt of the first Soviet armored assault. During the initial engagement every SS soldier in the battery except Christen was killed. He stayed with his gun and kept firing feverishly until he had knocked out six Russian tanks and driven off the others. For the next two days Christen remained alone in the emplacement with his 50 mm cannon and repeatedly drove back Russian infantry and tank attacks while exposed to a constant hail of artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Cut off completely from the rest of his unit and the division, without food or water, Christen hung on grimly and refused to abandon his post - a lone breakwater around which the Russian tide surged and receded. During the hours of darkness he carried shells to his gun from the disabled batteries around him and blazed away at enemy tanks and infantry by dawn. When the Totenkopfdivision's counterattack finally drove the Russians out of Lushno on September 27, Christen's astonished SS comrades found him still crouched behind his anti-tank gun. The field in front of the gun emplacement he had held alone for nearly three days was littered with corpses and the blasted wreckage of Russian tanks. In seventy-two hours Fritz Christen by himself knocked out thirteen Soviet tanks and killed nearly 100 enemy soldiers. For this astonishing feat of individual heroism, Eicke awarded Christen the Iron Cross, First Class and recommended him simultaneously for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Christen was subsequently flown to Rastenburg and decorated personally by Hitler as the first enlisted man in the Totenkopfdivision to receive this prestigious, coveted medal.

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Dat hij tien jaar Sovjet gevangenschap overleefde in, ik neem aan de afvoerputjes van, de goelag archipel is merkwaardig.
 

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"Vergib mir für all den tiefen Schmerz, den ich Dir verursachen musste." —Adam von Trott zu Solz (1909–1944)

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Born in Potsdam as the fifth child of the Prussian minister of culture August von Trott zu Solz, Adam von Trott zu Solz grew up in an atmosphere of liberal open-mindedness in Berlin, Kassel and on the family estate of Imshausen in Hesse. He studied law in Munich, Berlin and Göttingen from 1927 on. After receiving his doctorate he went up to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, making many friends in England. He studied "PPE" (politics, philosophy, economics) before returning to Germany in 1933 to continue his training as a lawyer. He took his civil service examination in 1936. At around this time, he was in contact with underground socialists. In 1937/38 he spent a year in China as a Rhodes scholar. His many periods abroad made a strong impression on him. On his return to Germany he made contact to other opponents of the regime, including Helmuth James Graf von Moltke and Hans von Dohnanyi, and attempted to persuade the British government to support them in 1939. After the outbreak of war, he made appeals on behalf of the German resistance in the USA. He joined the Foreign Office information department in 1940 and later become head of the India department, promoted to Second Secretary in 1943. From 1942 to 1944 he made frequent trips to Switzerland and Sweden and sought contacts to the Allies for foreign support for the planned coup. As a central member of the Kreisau Circle, he chaired the discussion on the foundations of Germany’s future foreign policy at the third Kreisau conference over Pentecost of 1943. From the fall of 1943 on, he worked in close cooperation with Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and Julius Leber. He was arrested five days after the failed assassination attempt of July 20, 1944, sentenced to death by the People’s Court on August 15, and murdered in Berlin-Plötzensee on August 26, 1944.

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Cultuur tijdens een barbaarse oorlog.

 

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Elke dag zo'n laarzen dragen is toch ook een gedoe. :o
 

Aniello Dellacroce

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2Doc: Hitlers Kindsoldaten​

Eén van hen is Jan Hendriksen. Hij keert voor de gelegenheid terug naar de plekken waar hij zich op jonge leeftijd in de oorlog begaf. Hoewel hij dit deel van zijn leven, net als vele anderen, lang heeft verzwegen, is het nu tijd om het hele verhaal te vertellen. Hij denkt namelijk nog vaak terug aan de gebeurtenissen die een blijvende stempel hebben gedrukt op zijn leven.

Hitlers Kindsoldaten: NSB-kinderen geronseld door de Waffen SS is maandag 18 april om 20:25 uur te zien op NPO2.
 

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In welke divisie dienden ze dan?
 

Arminius

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Zo, dat was toch één van de zeven elite divisies van de Waffen SS.
  • 1. Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler
  • 2. Das Reich
  • 3. Totenkopf
  • 5. Wiking
  • 9. Hohenstauffen
  • 10. Frundsberg
  • 12. Hitlerjugend
These seven divisions became Hitler's emergency "fire brigade"; with occasional assistance from the half-dozen or so somewhat less elite SS panzergrenadier divisions, they maintained and enhanced the military reputation of the Waffen SS until the final collapse of the Third Reich.
 

Arminius

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Zo, dat was toch één van de zeven elite divisies van de Waffen SS.
Al ging de kwaliteit van menschenmaterial vrij snel achteruit. Eicke klaagde er in 1942 over. Alhoewel, in 1940 veroorzaakte hij al een relletje door erg kritisch te zijn over nieuwe rekruten die de SSTK vervoegden. In hoeverre dat terecht was is me niet duidelijk. Volksdeutsche presteerden doorgaans ondermaats of hadden geen toegevoegde waarde.

1940

To Eicke, it appeared that the men in charge of the SS selecting and recruiting agencies were trying to curb his own power and build up theirs by inundating the armed SS with unqualified men who would destroy the elitist nature of the SS. In an attempt to halt these supposedly pernicious developments, Eicke became embroiled in a continuous series of disputes during the summer and autumn of 1940.

The first of these clashes occurred when Eicke refused to accept many of the SS replacements sent him during the summer of 1940. When the first groups of reservists arrived in SSTK on June 25, Eicke expressed strong dissatisfaction, complaining to Berlin that many of the young men sent him were criminals and obvious racial inferiors incapable of discipline and unworthy of wearing the SS uniform. Overlooking the fact that many of the reservists came directly from SSTK reserve units in Dachau, Breslau, Radolfzell, Arolsen, and Prague, Eicke accused Berger and the officials in RuSHA (the SS Race and Resettlement Office) of conspiring deliberately to send him unqualified replacements. Consequently, he ordered Standartenführer Dr. Fuhrländer, the division's "racial expert," to conduct racial examinations on all incoming recruits and to reject those whose acceptance would damage the racial purity of the Totenkopfdivision. He also directed his individual unit commanders to screen carefully all arriving replacements and to send back to their respective reserve units any who had criminal records.

Finally, Eicke ordered that incoming reservists be segregated for training together in a group, and directed that they not be as signed to regular units until their training officers were sure their presence would not weaken or disrupt discipline.

To protect himself and SSTK even further during this large scale personnel shuffle, Eicke forced the first group of older men released from duty with the Totenkopfdivision to sign an oath swearing themselves to complete secrecy about everything they had seen and done while serving with SSTK. This was intended specifically, it seems, prevent any talk of the Le Paradis atrocity from becoming public gossip. These practices threw the recruiting and replacement system of the Waffen SS into major confusion and touched off such a furor in Berlin that Eicke found himself the target of bitter criticism by several of Himmler's most powerful vassals.

The strongest protest came from Gottlob Berger, who reacted to Eicke's rejection of the recruits by complaining in turn to RUSHA, to SS Brigadeführer Hans Jüttner, the chief of the operations office of the SS (SS Führungshauptamt), and finally to Himmler. It appears, moreover, that Berger's hostility to Eicke and the vigor with which he complained about the latter's high-handed tactics had a direct influence in prompting the Reichsführer SS to crack down on his former concentration camp commander.

Berger's motives were by no means solely the result of jealousy. The gravity of the problems Eicke was creating for Berger may be illustrated by the fact that in mid-September 1940 Eicke had rejected 500 of the 700 replacements he had received since June. The only explanation given Berger was that the men rejected were racial inferiors or "obvious criminal elements." The reserve SS units, which Berger had filled in the meantime with new recruits to replace the men sent to SSTK, consequently found themselves with more men than they could handle. As a result, Berger's office had the problem of trying to keep up with the many SS recruits being shuttled back and forth across the Reich by train from unit to unit as reserve SS commanders at tempted to relocate Eicke's rejects.

The most exasperating stunt Eicke pulled was that of rejecting an entire group of 180 SS recruits sent to him in mid-August 1940. No sooner had the men arrived and Eicke had a look at them, than he sent them all back to the reserve SS Kaserne at Arolson, prompting the bewildered garrison commander to telephone Berlin for instructions as to what to do with the men.


1942

Eicke took advantage of the lull to compile for his superiors a long memorandum outlining in detail the desperate, and critically weakened state of the Totenkopfdivision. On the basis of figures compiled by his medical units, Eicke claimed that since June 24, 1941 the Totenkopfdivision had suffered 8,993 casualties-nearly fifty percent of the division's ration strength at the beginning of the campaign. Moreover, Eicke maintained, less than half of these losses had been replaced, and those reservists the Toten kopfdivision had received were markedly inferior soldiers to those whose places they filled. This was especially true, he continued, in the case of the reserve SS officers. Many of them were killed in their very first exposure to combat or fell prey to the ruthless and cunning Russians while leading their first reconnaissance patrol. This fact, Eicke argued, forced him to fight using untrained men led by untrained officers. The inevitable results were frightful casualties and a corresponding decline in the morale and fighting spirit of the troops. Hence, the replacements he had been sent, according to Eicke, were weakening rather than strengthening the Totenkopfdivision. In addition to the problems caused by inexperienced officers,

In addition to problems caused by inexperienced officers. Eicke complained, the division was weakened further by the inferior physical quality, laziness, and political ignorance of the newly arriving SS replacements. This was most notable, he claimed, among the ethnic German (Volksdeutsche) recruits. They seemed to Eicke weaker physically, more susceptible to illness and prone to cowardice than SS reservists who were true Reich Germans. Self-inflicted wounds, Eicke asserted, were common among the Volksdeutsche recruits, as were incidents of cowardice and sleeping on guard duty. In general, the new SS recruits were not physically tough enough to endure the primitive conditions and severe weather of the Russian war. To remedy the situation, Eicke suggested that Waffen SS training programs include exposure to severe weather for lengthy periods under combat conditions, and that the SS trainees be denied any food or shelter while they were left outside. Only a drastic revision of the Waffen SS training program, Eicke insisted, could prepare the SS man adequately to fight and survive in Russia.

The worst thing about the new SS recruits, in Eicke's estima tion, was their "lack of political training and National Socialist indoctrination." Men sent into the harsh crucible of Russia after only eight weeks of training, he lamented, were politically ignorant and did not arrive at the front as convinced Nazis. Therefore, Eicke claimed, many new SS men lacked the fanatical determination necessary for the struggle against Bolshevism, and did not know the political realities of the Russian front. To correct this as quickly as possible, Eicke urged the SS Führungshauptamt to use more of the training period to indoctrinate the young SS men in the importance of the struggle."

Hitler's Warrior: The Life and Wars of SS Colonel Jochen Peiper is een afrader. Er is nu een vervolg Peiper's War. Lijkt me een stuk interessanter, maar 'k sla hem toch even over.
 

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