Waffen-SS – Part of a Criminal Organization

Unidentified Panzergrenadier of the Waffen-SS
Unidentified SS-Maiden of the SS-Helferinnenkorps
In their brief but extraordinary existence the Waffen-SS won a unique reputation for daring élan and esprit de corps and unfailing professionalism in combat. Their courage was unquestioned and they achieved worldwide fame and notoriety. Waffen-SS played a conspicuous role in most of the important German triumphs, one far disproportionate to their numbers. Despite repeatedly sustaining horrendous casualties, their discipline remained unbroken, their fighting ardour unimpaired. After WWII, the Allies declared that the whole of the SS, including the Waffen-SS, was a criminal organization. Regardless of the military professionalism and the record of individual combat units, the entire organization was declared criminal. At a stroke, the imprisoned European volunteers were stripped of the protection of the Geneva Convention. All Soldiers of the Waffen-SS were automatically considered war criminals by virtue of being volunteers in the Waffen-SS; and for all their matchless undoubted bravery, the Waffen-SS now bears a reputation which will remain forever stained with infamy. Sir Norman Birkett, British alternate judge at the Nuremberg Tribunal, explained in April 1946 that: the trial is only in form a judicial process and its main importance is political. Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS (Mutual Help Association of Former Waffen-SS Members) was an organization founded in 1951 by former members of the Waffen-SS to provide assistance to the approximately 250.000 former Waffen-SS veterans living in West Germany at the time. The HIAG successfully fought numerous legal battles in West Germany to overturn the Nürnberg ruling and win legal status of the Waffen-SS. Waffen-SS veterans were denied many of the rights afforded to soldiers of the regular Wehrmacht, even pensions were denied to its members as a result of having been condemned as a criminal organization by the victorious Allies. Left image: a perfect shot of the elite esprit de corps so commonly found in Waffen-SS. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Right image: a great portrait of a female volunteer in the SS-Helferinnenkorps. As members of the Waffen-SS they wore the SS runes and sleeve eagle on their uniforms. After the war, its members were mistakenly often regarded as members of the SS-Gefolges, female SS guards, who were not members of the Waffen-SS. Fair use.

24 comments:

  1. Invisible Man4/12/11

    This blog dispels the myths about a unique military villainy that the press (after the war) dishonestly attributed to the Waffen-SS elite fighting forces. Far from being the sort of vicious stereotype "criminals" that the Allies portrayed them to be. Confusion arises when objectivity is removed from its appropriate historical context.

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    1. Anonymous4/8/13

      Wonder who you think massacred the Canadian Pows in Normandy,the American Pows in Belgium,and the civilians at Oradour?

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    2. You Hippocrate7/2/18

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_war_crimes

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    3. Anonymous26/2/19

      It is quite clear that the Waffen-SS should not be associated with Hitler’s infamous General SS in any way. Although guilty of crimes the Waffen-SS had little to do with the black uniformed, skull-and-crossbones toting maniacs, they were more like a highly motivated branch of the Wehrmacht fighting alongside regular army units.

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    4. J. Linzmaier21/12/20

      I think it is safe to say that any of the premier Waffen-SS divisions, are worthy of respect for their battlefield achievments, but slander and misconceptions will forever tarnish the ultimate sacrifice of the men who fought in the Waffen-SS.

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  2. Kurt Kuschel25/4/12

    Ich wollte selbst zur Waffen-SS, da dort alle, Offiziere und Soldaten, Kameraden waren. Man brauchte seine Schranktür nicht zuzuschließen, weil dort niemand klaute. Offiziere und Soldaten waren zusammen, unterhielten sich ohne Befehle. Wenn ich jetzt wählen müsste, dann würde ich mich wieder für die Waffen-SS entscheiden.
    Ich war von 1942 bis 1945 ununterbrochen im Einsatz. Am 18. Mai wurden wir von den Amerikanern gefangen genommen. Ich wurde gefoltert, meine Papiere und Auszeichnungen wurden verbrannt. Sie wollten, dass ich zugebe, ein KZ-Wächter gewesen zu sein. Das war ich aber nicht.

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  3. Anonymous2/6/12

    Вони були солдатами!

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  4. Anonymous4/8/13

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Panzergirl699/8/13

    Allied casualties were generally much higher whenever they were thrown into combat opposite seasoned Waffen SS troops. Consequently the SS were both feared and admired for their military prowess, therefore they determined to thoroughly disband and discredit this able military force before the eyes of not only the world, but of the German people as well.

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    1. Anonymous14/6/14

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. MattJ7028/9/13

    This men fought under extreme conditions, against overwhelming odds. They were true warriors, most likely the finest of the modern era.

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    1. Anonymous23/6/19

      The Waffen-SS inflicted severe defeat on the Soviet army. This was a pattern: again and again the SS turned reverses into victories. If the Waffen-SS had not existed, Europe would have been overrun entirely by the Soviets by 1944. They would have reached Paris long before the Americans.

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    2. Anonymous1/1/20

      God bless these men who put up some of the most vigorous an hopeless sacrifices in order to help a better world.

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  7. Anonymous14/6/14

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Anonymous12/3/15

    Basically, the SS was the German equivalent of the Marine Corps. Like the Marines, they were storm troopers, the elite fighting force, the toughest, the bravest and the first to go into combat, engage the enemy and to clean house before the regular army arrives as an occupying force. Obviously, it'd be disingenuous to say there were no war criminals in their ranks. However, not everyone that served in the SS was a war criminal any more than anyone that served in the USMC was a war criminal.

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    1. danhawkeye26/4/18

      A lot of people don't know the difference between the Allgemeine SS and the Waffen SS. After facing the tenacity of the Waffen SS, the Allied rank and file began to hate them. Woe to the guy who was caught with SS on his uniform. Often he wouldn't make it back to the rear upon capture.

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    2. HOS Bandit19/11/18

      Front Line S.S. troops should not be lumped together with the concentration-camp scum, who for the most part were either front line rejects, ukranians, lits, lats, and even poles. The Front Line S.S. were mostly very professional elite soldiers. My Dad fought these soldiers across Europe from D Day into Germany. I took his perspective....rest in peace Dad.

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    3. Richard von W.29/6/20

      In the precipitated judgment of the IMT, hundreds of thousands of courageous men of the Waffen-SS, with their wives and children, were stigmatized as being criminals; although at that time, it was a well-known fact that the Waffen-SS and the Gestapo had nothing whatever to do with one another. Almost one million men of all nations of Europe served in its ranks, it was not Germans, Swedes, Flemings, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Danes, Norwegians, Finns, Estonians, Latvians, or Ukrainians who were fighting, but Europeans on a status of equality convinced that the development would bring about a union between the European nations. The unbiased historian will verify that the volunteers of the Waffen-SS took no part in Himmler's crimes.

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    4. William May17/1/21

      My father’s only known encounter with SS troops was when he ran into SS Snow Troops, who wore all white outfits. My father was a sargeant in charge of a machine gun company, and while they were making their way through some woods, they walked past the snow troop positions without being aware the Germans were even there. Once they were all ahead of the snow troop formation, the snow troops opened fire. My father and 2 other men were the only survivors. My father was captured on the border of Germany on February 7th, 1945. He fought from Normandy up until that point. He survived the war, but when he was liberated, he was down to 80 lbs. The Germans kept marching them east, as they were losing territory every day. He didn’t have too bad of feelings about the Germans. While a prisoner and on the marches, he said the Germans were starving right along with all the POW’s. Germany was rapidly collapsing.

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  9. Roman Frackiewicz28/1/19

    Many thanks for a great site, which I continue to find a valuable web resource.

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  10. T. Wittmann5/2/19

    Looks like the SS Helferinnen is wearing the Hitler Youth Kreissieger Badge. It was instituted in 1938 in three grades with the colored finish determining the grade of the award as follows, gold finish for the Reichs level award, a silver finish for the Gau level award and a bronze finish for the Kreis level award. Thanks for sharing a great picture.

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  11. Anonymous14/1/20

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. Anonymous2/2/20

    History is written by the victors. As Napoleon once said, 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon? WW2 historians tend to steer clear of subjects that shows the bad deeds of the "good guys". It is interesting how much the world forgets. Some war crimes committed by the United States Army during the conflict in Europe, not to mention the fire bombings of civilians and deliberately starvation of German prisoners of war: Biscari massacre; US troops of the 45th Infantry Division murdered roughly 75 prisoners of war on 14 July 1943, Audouville-la-Hubert massacre; 30 disarmed and wounded Wehrmacht prisoners were murdered by the 101st Airborne Division on 6 June 1944, Chenogne massacre; members of the 11th Armored Division murdered 80 Wehrmacht soldiers on 1 January 1945, Jungholzhausen massacre; the 254th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division murdered between 13 and 30 Waffen SS and Wehrmacht prisoners of war on 15 April 1945, Treseburg massacre: the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division captured and murdered 9 unarmed Hitler Youths on 19 April 1945, Lippach massacre; American soldiers from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division murdered 24 Waffen SS soldiers who had been taken prisoners of war on 22 April 1945. Members of the same unit are also alleged to have raped 20 women in the town of Lippach. No tribunal here.

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  13. Anonymous16/9/21

    Der Sieger wird immer der Richter und der Besiegte stets der Angeklagte sein. Liebe Grüße aus Kopenhagen!

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