Excerpt from an article by Richard Landswehr (IHR)
They called themselves the “assault generation” and they had largely been born in the years during and after World War I. Coming from every nation of Europe, they had risen up against the twin hydra of communism and big capitalism and banded together under one flag for a common cause. Fully a million of them joined the German Army in World War II, nearly half of them with the Waffen-SS. And it was in the Waffen-SS, the elite fighting force of Germany, where the idea of a united, anti-communist Europe became fully developed. [It was over two million combined – ed]
It was also in the Waffen-SS where a new society emerged from among the “front fighters” of thirty different nations. It was a society that had been forged in the sacrifice, sweat and blood of the battlefield and that propagated the concept of “one new race,” the European race, wherein language and national differences counted for little, while the culture of each nation was taken for granted as a common heritage. Many countries sent more volunteers into the Waffen-SS than they could raise for their own national armies, so something truly phenomenal was taking place.
The Waffen-SS itself was something unusually special. It had started out as a small-sized personal bodyguard for Adolf Hitler but had gradually expanded into a full-scale military force under the guidance of a number of disgruntled former army officers who saw the Waffen-SS as a chance to break out from the conservative mold that the German Army had become mired in.
The Waffen-SS was designed from the start to be a highly mobile assault force whose soldiers were well versed in the art of handling modern, close-combat weapons. The training regimen therefore resembled that given to special commandos in other countries, but it pre-dated U.S. and British commando training by nearly a decade.
The soldiers of the Waffen-SS were also the first to utilize the camouflage battle dress that was to later become so common. But in one field, that of internal personnel organization, the Waffen-SS has yet to be imitated much less surpassed.
The Waffen-SS was probably the most “democratic” armed force in modern times. Rigid formality and class structure between officers and other ranks was strictly forbidden. An officer held down his position only because he had proven himself a better soldier than his men, not because of any rank in society, family connections or superior academic education.
In sports – one of the vital cogs in the Waffen-SS training programs – officers and men competed as equals in an atmosphere that sponsored team work and mutual respect and reliance. Non-German volunteers of whatever nationality were not regarded as inferiors; they were judged on their ability and performance as soldiers.
The idea to actively recruit foreign nationals into the Waffen-SS came shortly after the outcome of the Polish Campaign of 1939, when SS units were being formed and enlarged and it was noticed that a great many men (usually of German extraction) from foreign countries were volunteering for service. The fact that Waffen-SS recruitment among Germans was restricted by the Wehrmacht, made these “out country” volunteers all the more desirable.
Since Western Europe contained many sympathizers and admirers of Germany and its National Socialist government, the SS decided to create three new regiments (“Nordland,” “Westland” “Nordwest”) for Dutch, Flemish, Danish and Norwegian volunteers in the spring of 1940. There was at this time, little in the way of a cohesive, Pan-European ideal to follow, but thousands of recruits turned up anyway, primarily out of disgust for the performances of their respective socialist/pacifist governments.
For many there was additional incentive:
In Belgium, Holland and France, scores of populist and right-wing political figures had been arrested, incarcerated and beaten, and shot-out-of-hand. The most famous single incident occurred in Abbeville, France in May 1940, when French police lined up 22 leading Belgian right-wing leaders and executed them in a public park shortly before the arrival of the Germans. It was certainly a “war crime” – one of the first in fact to be committed and documented in World War II — but try to find it in a history text book!
The establishment historians have shied away from any discussion of this event. Following this massacre, many of the followers of the victims flocked to join the new volunteer regiments of the Waffen-SS.
The war with the Soviet Union, commencing in June 1941, brought a new direction to the effort to attract European volunteers in what can be called “The Legionary Movement.”
Continue reading: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v02/v02p-59_Landwehr.html
It was the largest, single multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious fighting force ever assembled!
But what was their fate?
January 2nd, 1953 – 1.25 million German POWs vanished, and this is in addition to those captured / surrendered in the Americans in the west, many of whom fared no better in Eisenhower’s death camps. The article states that 7 Million were taken prisoner, and half of them were German. And the other half? These must have been overwhelmingly foreign members of the Waffen SS !
German P.O.W.s Released
Monday 28 September 1953
BERLIN, Sunday (AAP-Reuter).—The first batch of 598 former German prisoners-of-war to be released under an East German-Soviet agreement reached their homes in East and West Germany yesterday. Many of the former prisoners were too overcome “with emotion to speak when they crossed into East Ger many after 12 years in the Russian camps.
Eighteen women were among the 468 who passed through the frontier barrier from East Germany. A further 130 in the first hatch remained in East Germany. The released men and women wept openly when hundreds of cheering West German villagers met them. Two on stretchers were utterly speechless as they wiped away a stream of tears.
Later, when they could talk coherently, the main theme of their tales was the powerless fury stored up for years at having been forced labourers, most of the time unpaid. Dr. Freidrich Stratman, a, Stuttgart physician, said: “We all had to work hard whether fit or not. None of us got paid unless we fulfilled our standard by 200 per cent.”
The stories varied: some told of harshness, others of good medical treatment. They were unanimous that food parcels from home had saved thousands of lives.
They said that nearly all had been sentenced to death in 1945 for being members of the S.S. The punishment had later been reduced to 25 years.
Documentary: Leon Degrelle – The Epic Story of the Waffen SS