Military history fan here, and I have some questions about the SS. I already know the basics: they were a special branch of the Nazi Party, originally designed to enforce the genocidal goals of the party in foreign lands, and eventually many units were converted to combat units when the pressure of the war became more intense. Also know they were responsible for a lot of the worst massacres of POW's and civilians. My question here is, how much better trained for combat, or less better trained, than the regular Wermacht were they? I see some accounts calling them "elite troops" and the most intense and die-hard soldiers of the Nazi regime, and others saying historical records indicate their performance in action was less than stellar yet Hitler insisted they continue to fight. I've read that their physical training regime was the most intense in the German military and they were given a spartan like mindset when it came to combat. On the flip-side however, I've also have read they were despised by the Wermacht for being "rabid dogs" and "unofficial soldiers" due to their ways and methods of initiation into the military. Can anyone shed light on this? Post any other small bits of information you may know as well.
>I see some accounts calling them "elite troops" and the most intense and die-hard soldiers of the Nazi regime, and others saying historical records indicate their performance in action was less than stellar
They were the most fanatical believers in the Nazi doctrine, you can say they were part of that ideological elite. They were not however elite combat units, not by any stretch of the imagination. Google 'Brandenburg Divisions' if you want to learn more about German special ops during WW2.
So basically they did have the die-hard attitude and mindset of the combat elite, yet lacked the overall training to fully encompass it? It's pretty funny when you think about it, usually in movies in video games when the SS shows up all the soldiers shit themselves, while now it's clear you'd rather be fighting them than the regular Wermacht.
Some branches (intelligence, special forces etc) had better training and equipment, some of the SS panzer division were the best on the battlefield by far.
That said, the further into the war you come, the harder it is to fill upp the ranks with competent soldiers, in the end they were your average wehrmacht soldier, if even that.
>originally designed to enforce the genocidal goals of the party in foreign lands
No. Originally organised to defend Adolf Hitler's life because he didn't trust the SA.
>and eventually many units were converted to combat units when the pressure of the war became more intense
No. Well before the war the SS as an element of the Nazi Party had organised Waffen-SS units, which were utterly useless in combat due to their creaming of elite troops combined with idiotic tactics, and later, as a result of being formed entirely from mixed bags of anti-communist volunteers from minor nations combined with idiotic tactics.
>they were responsible for a lot of the worst massacres of POW's and civilians
No. That would be the Einsatzgruppen A-D, the Police Battalions of the Sicherheitsdienst and the Wehrmacht on relief. Waffen-SS units participated in the most sickening crimes against civilians to the extent that the Wehrmacht did: as light comic relief from the real war on "Jew" and "Partisan" hunts. Other elements of the SS ran the Aktion Reinhart camps.
>My question here is, how much better trained for combat, or less better trained, than the regular Wermacht were they?
They had a lot of training time spent on largely useless doctrine.
>I've also have read they were despised by the Wermacht for being "rabid dogs" and "unofficial soldiers" due to their ways and methods of initiation into the military.
No. This is largely bureaucratic infighting over the future of the armed forces in the NSDAP state. Wehrmacht troops were exactly as awful as Waffen-SS troops when presented with the opportunity, which they were regularly, and sought out, to demonstrate following the fuhrer in advance. Baba Yar gorge much?
Go read Chris Browning. Ordinary Men.
>Members of the SS could be of any religion except Judaism (Jewish), but atheists were not allowed. "Atheism is the only world-view or religious view that is not tolerated within the SS", Himmler wrote in 1937
From Wikipedia. Interesting.
I like how he says "only religious view not tolerated" yet Judaism is also not tolerated lol. And yeah, I read the Nazi's die have some respect for Muslims due to their dedication to their religion.
Yes. Their expenditure rates through Poland, France and the Soviet Union were well well above Wehrmacht rates for quite often less operational result.
Even the argument that idiotically "elite" units are sometimes necessary (US Marines, case in point), the Germans did not face situations where this was in fact necessary.
From a strategic and comparative view, the Soviet Union's echelonment system of protecting Militia units with Shtrafbat, Rifle units with Militia units, and Guards units with Rifle units in wave grand tactical breakthrough assault was genius. And these units were mostly free to use the variety of tactical evolutions, including actual human wave tactics of repeated point small unit assault.
Waffen-SS units were usually equipped/upgraded with the best equipment and gear. Thus had a better record on average than most units.
an example of an "elite" unit of the Wehrmacht would be the Großdeutschland division.
they weren't elite enough tho :^)
It was mostly an institutional hatred, both factions fighting for influence withing the armed forces. Like someone else said in this thread the Wehrmacht weren't exactly blameless, but it was a large organization and it was more "diverse" in terms of how the troops conducted themselves. The SS had fewer numbers and were all die hard fanatics.
>The SS had fewer numbers and were all die hard fanatics.
I think some of the Waffen-SS units formed from (what were effectively) hiwi weren't die hard fanatics. And I'm pretty sure that some small units were transferred into Waffen-SS as reinforcements/replacements. But yeah, generally, true believers in National Socialism OR true believers in Anti-Communism OR true believers in not-being-executed-when-the-Soviets-win.
Ironically the Waffen SS were the most multikulti units in all of Europe. Croatians, Bosniaks, Albanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Nordics, Latvians and the Belgians all had their own divisions.
Well. I know that most ranking members of the NSDAP belonged to the Thule society. Headed up by a man named Sebbottendorff. Who was also the OG owner of the Volkischer Beobacter....the newspaper Hitler took over to begin the spread of Nazi propaganda. Good book that covers all this is Hammer of the Gods. Doesn't go into ritual and practice but more /his
This. Training-wise, the three main things that distinguished the Waffen-SS troops from regular Heer soldiers were:
1. Physical training. SS in general and Waffen-SS in particular put a lot of effort in keeping their members in excellent shape.
2. Ideological training. The spiritual opposite of the physical training if you will, in which the members were instilled with not only elite mentality, but also your standard nazi propaganda about jews, communism, etc., and the role of the SS in the upcoming "new world order".
3. CO and NCO training. The leadership training recieved by the offiziers and unteroffiziers of the Waffen-SS put a lot of emphasis on leading from the front, and being one of the men, instead of somebody above them. On the plus side, this lead to the Waffen-SS units often being fairly "tight" and comradely, which had a positive effect on their combat performance, while on the minus side, it also led to some suicidal acts of bravery in combat, and a prepetual lack of combat-experienced NCOs and COs (as they kept getting killed and maimed at a very high rate).
When it comes to your standard infantry/small unit tactics, the Waffen-SS really weren't superior to the Heer, in fact they were often decidedly inferior. They never could lure away enough competent combat instructors from the Heer, and later, when the Waffen-SS organization ballooned larger and larger, their high CO and NCO mortality rate only aggrevated the problem. They could compensate for the inadequate combat training with the above-mentioned three aspects of their training, though it usually led to high casulties.
>Waffen-SS units were usually equipped/upgraded with the best equipment and gear. Thus had a better record on average than most units.
that only happened later in the war actually - at the outset they were in fact given second hand equipment, hand me downs, captured equipment etc., as the armed forces proper did not like or rate them
>I've read that their physical training regime was the most intense in the German military and they were given a spartan like mindset when it came to combat.
I remember looking over those requirements, and they were less than the standard IJA grunt was expected to achieve.
it started as the countermeasure of the SA
Hitler raced different institutions againt eachother, ensuring none could grow too strong, and healthy competition is good for performance
then Himmler and his complexes formed the "elite guard" of the reich thats the waffen SS
excellent counter, competition for the Heer
they barely had any considerable equipment at the start but gradually they were prioritized
(problematic generals? the SS was eager to show nothing is impossible)
you need to divide the early years and later years of the war
the early years, when everything was smooth, yes they were the elite, trained and selected
but the later years, the rules loosened up, there were some hidious SS formations
many others formed in '44 and wasnt much else than a joke
then you have the Dirlewanger, made from thiefs
as for their combat abilities
they were commited, were they good? cant tell
they were thrown into the hottest spots of the fronts (speaking of the original, well equiped divisions)
their losses were above avarage, both in personel and equipment
the beef with the Heer came from 2 things
the prussian, old style elite looked at the these SS nazi nobodies as carrierists, and unprofessional hillbillies of hitler
they also hated the fact how they were the first to be reinforced, requiped, and overall, picked first for anything beneficial
it wasnt a spartan mindset
if you were SS, you werent taken POW on eastern front (you were obviously, but thats what they believed)
so option one was die fighting (save a last bullet for yourself) or get killed
some of the SS units earned some fame, some earned fear, some were disgraceful bunch of criminals
one particular thing i remember is the hitlerjugend division, the hitleryouth division and its first fights at normady
no fear, throwing away their lifes
>No. That would be the Einsatzgruppen A-D
The Einsatzgruppen were part of the SS though.
No, most militaries do not have "Marines" in the sense of a 4th force subordinate to the Navy that is in effect a combined arms opposed landing "breaching" strategic formation.
The US army was formed by the US state and is a conventional land operations force. It is large. It is meant to oppose (IIRC) one great power at a time.
The US marines were formed before the United States, one can suggest that the US government is an appendage of the Marine Corps and not be too MOTO. The Marine Corps are an opposed breach bridge head strategic force, capable of making one bridgehead (air, sea) against a single great power.
The Army recruits dumb soldiers. The Marine Corps recruits dumb soldiers smart enough to be dumb.
The US Marine corps is systematically underfunded and makes up for its materiel deficiencies with a "gung ho" approach (a slogan stolen from Mao Zedong during the Yen'an period by a Communist marine).
The US Marines exist for a limited mission: breaching a bridge head. They buy their way into whatever war they can to increase their funding. And it has been said that no successful mutiny in the United States has not involved the marines.
There's a lot of misconceptions about the term "Wehrmacht" going on in this thread. The "Wehrmacht" wasn't the army, it was the Armed forces. The Waffen-SS served under the Wehrmacht. They were attached to it. In this context (discussing their military doctrine), Wehrmacht includes the Waffen-SS.
If you want to talk about the army specifically, say Heer (Army).
You, however. I like you.
I'd like to add to this excellent post a few things;
Re; the CO and NCO core, it should be noted that the Waffen-SS had a much, much higher degree of CO's from the working class, middle class, intelligentsia.. I.e., "From the people". The Heer had almost 80-90% of officers from Prussian borgeous or aristocracy. The typical Prussian "Gentleman". Waffen-SS companies and regiments, as already stated, were generally more tight knit than Heer ones.
However, prior to the invasion of France, many Heer officers were forcefully transferred from the Heer to the Waffen-SS to make up for the lack of trained officers. Thus, there were even some German Waffen-SS officers who "weren't blood thirsty nazis" (generalization).
The quality of the ideological soldiers of the Waffen-SS varied greatly. The reason, as OP asks, why people "shit their pants" when facing the Waffen-SS is because these accounts come from later in the war. In Poland and France, Waffen-SS were viewed by the Heer as idiotic cannonfodder but eventually the Waffen-SS came to receive the Heers respect. Hans von Luck mentions a specific battle in his memoirs when he came to respect the Waffen-SS after reviling them, but I forgot which it was. Might be in Barbossa. To put it this way; In Poland and France, the Waffen-SS were pretty shit. Afterwards, they received better equipment and got better. The americans viewed the Waffen-SS as soldiers who never surrendered, which was true to a greater extent, which is why they made a distinction between SS and regular troops.
>No, most militaries do not have "Marines" in the sense of a 4th force subordinate to the Navy that is in effect a combined arms opposed landing "breaching" strategic formation
Stop thinking you are special snowflakes, Americans. Having marines is completely normal.
If you read books on the western front from the american or english perspective, towards the end of the war, Heer groups of soldiers would surrender by the end of it, whereas the Waffen-SS would not. I remember there's a part in Band of Brothers when they march toward Brechtesgaden almost unopposed, accepting the surrender of various Heer companies along the way until they reach a bridge held by Waffen-SS soldiers and that's where it stops and they have to fight again.
Now is this purely ideologically driven soldiers? Not really. I read a memoir in Norweigan (i'm a Sweden) about a voulenteer Norwegian Waffen-SS soldier (book title: 16 år og Hitlers soldat / 16 Years and Hitler's Soldier) and his journey. He's at the eastern front twice, in the balkans and in Austria towards the end of it. He's a very good soldier but is driven by survival, not ideology. Officers would shoot deserters and he admits himself that the "close knit" Waffen-SS units helped keep many soldiers in line despite not being hardline Nazis. So overall, despite being a purely Nazi organization, they did a lot of things right to instill discipline.
After the war, he ends up in a camp specifically set up for SS soldiers where they are intentionaly starved to the brink of death (and many hundreds/thousands do die) because the americans are still afraid of them and want to weaken them as much as possible before transferring them further. You never hear about this mistreatment because hey, Woe to the vanquished...
There's some things of note regarding their physical conditioning, tho... For instance, on their transfer to Russia, almot to the Caucasus, has them sitting idle in a train for 5 weeks. This is not ideal for keeping yourself in tip top shape. SS soldiers are often described as just ordinary soldiers too, many of them scared. They weren't always the "Elite" described by western accounts.
The Royal Navy's marines are traditional marines. A section of the Navy whose responsibility are ship defence, prevention of mutiny, shore raiding, and "messing about in small boats."
The Royal Marines do not dispose of separate land sea helo and fixed assets. The Royal Marines do not form strategic manoeuvre scale units with independence of action.
While they are a worthy pursuit in soldiering, the Royal Marines are very different from the US Marines. The Royal Marines probably have a higher standard for one.
I'm not a yank, and I'm not moto. They are an unusual force comprised of smart men who have agreed to be fucking stupid by doing opposed frontal assaults over coral reefs into lagoons unit a beachhead is formed.
I would venture to say that the Royal Marines are not that fucking stupid.
>because the americans are still afraid of them
Americans where constantly shitting their pants while deployed in germany.
My grandpa was grounded by 6 americans because they thought he was some kind of Werewolf and his crutches could be some 'special guns' - he lost one leg in france... Eyewitnesses said that he is limping two soldiers on the way, then reinforcement brought in to check it.
In a forest near there was a more than 2 hour firefight in which two US soldiers were injured before they took the opposing position. The position was held by a single soldier who had fallen but already 2 days in advance and was death to his Panzerfaust.
US soldiers had seen him and not even notice that he was already dead. They where running in panic for reinforcement
I don't know where the shit you're getting any of this. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps are all older than the US government with the Army being slightly older than the USN and USMC. All three were established before the signing of the declaration of independence. The organizations were contiguous, they were simply originally under the designation "continental" rather than "United States."
I mean, really. Establishing a Naval Gunnery/Infantry force before you establish an Army or a Navy? Think about that for a moment.
I'm going to tell you a joke: The Kriegsmarine.
The German super heavy fleet did about two days of honest work and wound up with the Tirpitz and the Bismarck at the bottom of the sea. The rest of their navy sat in port with the u-boats doing all of the heavy lifting for all of the good that it did them.
In all fairness, they couldn't compete with the British fleet at high seas and they knew it, so they played the part they knew they could win. I don't think this is that dumb.
They focused on the airforce and submarines instead.
Besides, the Kriegsmarine was underfunded anyway.
Supposedly, Himmler wanted to rule over his own feudal state, something called the SS State of Burgundy. It would be inhabited by the SS elite ruling over the French-speaking commoners and that's where the SS academy would be located. Burgundy would effectively be a state within a state.
i never really understood the german tactics
>send loner, or pair of ships as a "group" to raid commercial lines
>anyone with a brain will figure out, you WILL get caught
>never try to go for a decisive battle
>never go for atleast local superiority
>and sit in port
for what purpose
Local superiority would be fairly useless as they weren't trying to conquer bits of the ocean.
The goal was to try and disrupt trans-Atlantic trade between Britain and the rest of the world, particularly North America.
>disrupting the shortest and most used routes
That is what they were doing with air and submarine attacks.
You can't just sit a massive fleet in the middle of the Atlantic hoping cutting it off.
They had to show proof of pure blood going back to the 18th century (someone correct me if I missed the century). Hitler's bodyguards also had to be of a certain height, if I remember correctly.
No, it's generally a mark of a naval power,
In older times marines were your ship soldiers.
They were imagined as fast assault shock infantry in world war 1 and two, and today they operate a niche role in all branches, mainly being the beachhead of a wider operation.
Because you had a very asymmetric balance in the naval theater.
Britain has an overwhelmingly stronger fleet than Germany does. At it's biggest, the Kriegsmarine boasted 4 battleships (2 of which were undergunned by treaty) and about a dozen cruisers for capital ships.
The Royal Navy, meanwhile, has around (depending on when exactly we're taking this survey) 7 carriers, about 17 battleships and well over 60 cruisers. If you lined it all up and had them blast at each other, the Kriegsmarine isn't going to last ten minutes.
However, they have a fairly big advantage in the form of asymmetric vulnerability. German shipping is confined to the Baltic, where it can be protected by mines and shore guns; the British would never mount any offensive action into the sea during the course of the war.
Britain, on the other hand, has an enormous trade network, which must be kept going indefinitely or Britain will starve and her factories won't have raw material to work with.
So, you want to hit these merchant ships, and if at all possible avoid the fighting ships.
In addition, the Germans had a lot of submarines: While they're nearly worthless for taking on warships, they're small and stealthy and hard to eradicate completely, and insure that merchant vessels need a constant screen of little boats to protect them. This is the opposite strategy you'd want to employ against a capital ship, who can crush the entire convoy and all those corvettes and sloops without trouble: If you want to protect against the surface raiders, splitting up, or traveling in a big guard with battleships is the way to go.
If anything, the Kriegsmarine didn't do enough sitting in port, playing the fleet in being card. Look what happened to PQ 17 on the mere rumor that the Tirpitz was around; they split up, and the subs picked them off. Put the 4 BB and a bunch of cruisers together in say, Bordeaux (out of range of airstrikes from the British until nearly the end of the war, and in your own air umbrella as they sortie out), and the British now have to devote significant forces to make sure they don't go anywhere, and if you shuttle around up and down the French coast, you can use those worries of a mass breakout to support your submarines.
You can't get surface ships into the med past Gibraltar. Too many mines. Besides, the routes around Malta and North Africa were most effectively patrolled by air.
>>My grandpa was grounded by 6 americans
>> he is limping two soldiers on the way
This little village allready surrendered the day before. He walked down the street and crossed the way of 2 US soldiers. These two did not dare to check it without help.
> >already 2 days in advance and was death to his Panzerfaust.
I guess the injured soldiers had a "Heimatschuss".
Both storys are true.
I dont say US soldiers were cowards. they just were poorly trained and had a pretty stupid leadership.
We were well trained enough for your incompetent asses.
Face it. Your country likes to periodically go face down in a pile of cocaine, Tony Montana with an M16 while yelling "COME AT ME BRO"
>implying you have to be trained to fight German soldiers
My grandfather was a shoemaker's apprentice and in 1943, he was already the commander of a small partisan unit that blew up roads and bridges. They fought the war without tanks, airplanes and big cannons, only getting some after Italy had capitulated.
What? I guess that happened when they threw people in the fojbe at the end of the war and after it. I don't know what you mean by that, though.
Pic related: Italians that were retrieved from the fojbe
No. Freaked out over literal werewolves.
Check out War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I, if you can.
If not, be aware that Germans thought Russia was 2spooky4them
Rule the world or die tryin.
It's not that easy. Poland and russia could not be prevented. France were the Erbfeind, england was not the plan and the United States have come only to steal the grapes.
Greece was to help the italiens, just like africa.
You have a very poor grasp of things, it seems.
Had the Wehrmacht won against the odds they were facing, not only had they been the most efficent fighting machine ever, it would also have been a miracle.
I'm not saying the Wehrmacht was the most efficent army in the war, but there can be made a strong case for it.
In even battles, they would more often than not;
Beat the Russians in the Eastern front for various reasons.
Beat the americans in North Africa because the Americans were inexperienced.
Beat the British wherever because the British tank doctrine was fucking bonkers and unsupported by infantry.
Beat the French because the French were French.
Also, the Japanese army was hung up on honor and would fight to a futile death and no survivors were allowed to pass on their experiences.
So I guess that leaves the chinese army, which I don't know much about. If someone wants to make a comparison with the dutch, belgian, norweigan, romanian, greek, italian and hungarian, go right ahead.
They were efficient, just not in the way you think.
He's saying it's pretty stupid to call the German army efficient when they lost the war. Not very efficient then, is it? Don't argue they were outnumbered - maybe they shouldn't have attacked the Soviet Union, then.
In Japan it's not a matter of who starts wars, but rather of who stops them. Should someone mention a potential war, everyone will want to save face and not look cowardly and agree that war is indeed the best course of action. Now everyone is overtly in agreement but secretly everyone knows they are fucked. Nobody wants to take one for the team, do the sensible (but cowardly) thing and speak out and war is started by sheer inertia.
This is the history of Japanese warfare.
I know Hitler knew this. It's another discussion entirely. I was not discussing the manpower for each war, or Hitler's thoughts on the Soviet Unions war machine. I was discussing the effectiveness of the respective armies. I don't know why you're bringing Hitler starting wars into it, but it doesn't apply.
What about the Mukden incident and the subsequent fighting in Manchuria? AFAIK, the plan was organized by a Colonel, and that independently took over a fairly major city, and while it was ratified after the fact by the government, it really was an independent act of insubordination that started the war.
You're right, it was. The Japanese army of the period was considerably less loyal or prone to hierarchy than other armies - often taking it upon themselves to carry out actions they thought were the "right thing" for the nation.
Apparently, the Eastern Front in WWI was some Apocalypse Now shit for Germans. The cultural perception that they were not just fighting a war, but regressing socially and technologically by pushing into Russia fucked with some heads.
Which is why you get shit like German Freikorps in the Baltics dressing like it's the 30 years war.
Main reason SS is considered elite was that they had priority for equipment and new recruits. But they had a lot of issues with senior officers who were by an large appointed for political reasons.
Politicians make poor soldiers. Unless you're Sepp Dietrich.
"If not, be aware that Germans thought Russia was 2spooky4them". Fucking this. The Stalhelm was after all based off medieval designs. Crimea was to be Gothaland, Novgorod to be Holmgard. Bear in mind also that the interior of "Ostland" placed such insanely far distances between SSmen and Germany, which would wreck anyone's sanity. I only took a bus once from Warsaw to Riga bypassing the whole Belaruse meme (which was scheduled to be a giant nature reserve by Rosenberg), those distances through essentially bogs and dark ass woods would spook anyone. The harkening back to older German traditions still available to men right before the cusp of the Great War is fucking incredible.
Und ob ich schon wanderte im finstern Tal, fürchte ich kein Unglück; denn du bist bei mir, dein Stecken und dein Stab trösten mich.