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|WorldWar2.ro Forum > WW2 in General > Oskar Dirlewanger and his men|
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 25, 2012 12:45 pm|
| Probably most of us read at least one of Sven Hassel books, where we can follow the experiences of a group of former common-law convicts serving their sentence on the first line of the front. If both the author and his stories are very controversial (unable to be confirmed as having a real substrate) at least one unit of this kind has earned fame (definitely negative) bearing the mark of his creator, Oskar Dirlewanger.
The story is fascinating (as so many stories of evil characters), the author is both courageous as he is perverse and criminal.
|Posted by: Florin February 25, 2012 09:13 pm|
| In one of the Sven Hassel books, he wrote that Dirlewanger was hanged by legs by few of his own men, and while his head was hanging down, a fire was lit under him.
This way he was slowly burned for few hours, while the Polish partisans had the scene in their binoculars, and let it go.
I think your link is more documented than the book of Sven Hassel, and I would trust that link regarding the real death of Oskar Dirlewanger. Who knows, maybe his death was as described by Sven Hassel, but the authors were as mentioned in your link.
|Posted by: Petre February 26, 2012 08:42 am|
| Some discussions found here :
|Posted by: 21 inf February 26, 2012 09:41 am|
I doubt that a notorious criminal as Dirlewanger was could be courageous. He probably also had mental issues (even if not medically diagnosed and recorded in consequence). Maybe his desperation in some situation or his mental issues were misunderstand as "courage" or needed for propaganda issues. I must tell that I was really surprised when I read for the first time about his "courage", as for me this issue of this character didn't fit in the general description of him. In my opinion, a rat doesn't have courage. A rat is just a rat. I this manner of pointing what is courage or not, the men from Dirlewanger brigade could be classified as "courageous" but my supposition is that they were just desperate - they faced very few options: death in KZ, death on battlefield and a slight chance to survive battle and surrender to americans. A handful of survivors from Dirlewanger's brigade were prosecuted by Poles in late 2000's and asked for extradition. As war progressed in Dirlewanger's brigade were drafted the most notorious and violent criminals german's could find in their prisons or lagers.
|Posted by: Radub February 26, 2012 10:07 am|
| There is a sying: "There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. If you get away with it, you are brave. If you don't, you are stupid."
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 26, 2012 12:11 pm|
|21inf, when I talked about the courage of Oskar Direlewanger, I had in mind a comment that does not appear in the link posted, but in a book written by Rolf Michaelis called Direlwanger, german edition from 2005, which I have read, where the author said that the unit fought in the first line from november 1943 until february 1944 in the region south of Nevel (northern part of Eastern Front) where they performed relatively well. Later they were involved in crushing the Polish insurrection and the Slovak one. About Oskar Dirlewanger personally the book mentioned the direct participation at almost all combat actions of his troops, he was wounded many times in combat and was rewarded with many medals for his unit succeses in combat against partisans from Belarus. It is mentioned his participation at combat actions on the front line in end 1943. This is the the reason I mention the courage, which however does not cover crimes, atrocities and massacres in which he and his men have been involved. The case is similar to what I read about Stalin, which is said to have lived a modest life, similar to a soldier, lacking any trace of luxury or pleasure (as later Khrushchev or Brezhnev), which do not rehabilitate him from the crimes he made or ordered.|
|Posted by: Florin February 26, 2012 05:09 pm|
Why not? It happens. I am aware of at least another example: a French collaborationist (former French officer ousted from the French Army for becoming opium addict in Indochina) who tortured French patriots, and also fought with bravery on the Eastern Front and was decorated there. (That was in French Waffen SS.)
Indeed, usually criminals and those who torment people are cowards, and also get scared by the slightest wound inflicted on them.
Of course he had mental issues - there was no doubt about it even in the days of the Nazi Germany. It put his "career" in jeopardy even in Nazi Germany (from the link offered by ANDREAS). In most (if not all) countries deeming themselves as civilized, having sex with a minor is not only a mental problem, but also a felony punishable with jail time. Roman Polanski, director for the movie Chinatown (1974), is on the run, because in the U.S. would be arrested for having sex with a minor.
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 26, 2012 06:48 pm|
|Petre, thanks for the very interesting link you posted! I found some details that do not appear in the book I've mentioned!|
|Posted by: Florin February 27, 2012 11:54 pm|
| He has page on Wikipedia - while other better people don't have:
|Posted by: ANDREAS February 28, 2012 08:46 pm|
|Florin, as I said and how it can be seen by watching entire press (not just tabloid!), low quality people (I was self restraint for not to use harsh words!) are incomparably more publicized than valuable people, horror and porn movies are more watched than art films, the jerk and villains always make career compared to decent and honest working people! Now as in the near or more distant past!|
|Posted by: MMM March 05, 2012 08:11 am|
Hey, do you compare Polanski with Dirlewanger?!?!
|Posted by: Alexei2102 March 05, 2012 10:22 am|
| Just bought this:
I will get back with some more info soon. Interesting reading about Dr O and his crew.
|Posted by: Florin March 05, 2012 05:30 pm|
You would make a good career as reporter in the American mass media. Those guys have the habit to twist facts and get an unreal meaning for them.
However, as you addressed this matter, it occurs to me that yes, any man trying to or succeeding in raping an underage girl has something in common with Dirlewanger.
I think in the case of Polanski the sex was consensual on behalf of the girl, so he has almost nothing in common with Dirlewanger. From a legal point of view, if a minor has less than 16 years old, it is considered "statutory rape", even if the minor agrees in having sex.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 05, 2012 11:46 pm|
| Alexei2102 the book you have bought looks very interesting! If you find some details regarding both criminal (something different than what is known) and to the military commander activity, please post them! Thank you in advance!
MMM I'm not speaking in Florin's name but as I understand the idea was (and I fully subscribe to it!) that a notorious criminal may be a courageous commander (I refer not necessarily to Dirlewanger, there are many examples in the Waffen SS or NKVD troops if we speak only about WW2)! The fact that Dirlewanger was regarded with some embarrassment even by the SS, do not have to make us see him as a owner of a higher level of criminality than the SS- they were from my perspective just as criminals as he was! In my opinion there is no crime more honorable than other! If Dirlewanger unit was more special than other SS units it's because his men were mostly common criminals compared to the SS recruits who became criminals during the war
|Posted by: Florin March 06, 2012 12:51 am|
I am not arguing with you, I am adding something.
Until 1943 the membership in SS was solely on a voluntary basis.
After 1943, you could be drafted directly into SS, regardless you liked it or not.
Toward 1945, some whole units (including divisions) were switched from Wehrmacht to SS, by the scratch of a pen.
It could happen with a whole army! I am quoting from Wikipedia:
"The 6th Panzer Army (6. Panzer-Armee) was a formation of the Wehrmacht Heer, formed in the Autumn of 1944...................The 6th Panzer Army is best noted for its leading role in the Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945). On 2 April 1945, it was transferred to the Waffen-SS. The 6th Panzer Army then became known as 6th SS Panzer Army (6. SS-Panzerarmee)......"
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 06, 2012 06:45 pm|
|I agree with what you posted Florin, I remember reading the same thing in a book dedicated to Waffen-SS troops! But I maintain my opinion about these troops, they distinguished for instance in the Battle of Ardennes in some criminal actions against Belgian civilians and some American POW (not generalized cases, but some...)!|
|Posted by: MMM March 08, 2012 07:39 am|
Why, thank you! I am so honored you believe that! The only problem is that this sign:
might mean it is NOT the real meaning of the message... Anyway, this forum is quite well-known for the twisting in meaning of some affirmations, as well as "splitting the hair" on some particular subjects.
Returning to Dirlewanger, I fail to see the so-called courage, when the alternative was the firing squad from the German side or some other painful death from the Soviet side. To make it clear, they were to be pardoned from their harsh sentences, provided they will serve as cannon fodder! So where's the bravery?!
|Posted by: 21 inf March 08, 2012 08:26 am|
|I am of same opinion as MMM, Dirlewanger's men (and Kaminsky's) were nothing but criminals of lower species and there were no courage presented by them, but desperation. Kaminsky was so cruel that he was killed by his own masters, who couldtn tolerate him more.|
|Posted by: Alexei2102 March 08, 2012 09:29 am|
| I have read the book in question, and I will post some feedback ASAP. As far as Dr O is concerned, I will post my opinion very soon.
But I must say, in the book there are some account of some SS men, NCOs and officers that showed much bravery in battle against both partisans and the Red Army, and their records wiped clean, and they returned to their old units, after the stage in the Dirlewanger brigade.
What I am trying to say is that not all the brigade members were the common rabble. Some of them were just soldiers, who did their time with the Sonderkommando Dirlewanger in order to clean their records, or just to gain the battlefield tour of duty.
I will post some NARA documents and reports soon.
PS - Dirlewanger had his RK for Warsaw, and I will post also his recommendation.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 09, 2012 12:24 am|
| I'll probably attract vehement reactions from many forum members to what I will post, but I believe that facts speak louder than words! Oskar Dirlewanger was surely a criminal (as as I said -there are many documents and testimonies about it!), but the courage proved by the many medals he received must be recognized!
Let's see the medals he received:
- 5 may 1915 he received "Eisernes Kreuz II Klasse";
- 4 october 1915 was awarded with "Goldene Wuerttenbergische Tapferkeitsmedaille" received normally by soldiers and non-commissioned officers to reward them for bravery in the field;
- 30 april 1918 he received "Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz" for multiple injuries suffered in combat;
- 13 july 1918 he received "Eisernes Kreuz I Klasse" who was the highest military honor that could be given an ordinary soldier in the German Empire in WW1;
- 30 september 1938 he was decorated with "Spanienkreuz in Silber" a 2nd class award for german soldiers who had served in the Spanish Civil War on the side of General Franco's Phalangists in the "Condor Legion";
- 24 may 1942 he received "Spange zum Eisernen Kreuz II. Klasse -1914"
- 16 july 1941 he received "Spange zum Eisernen Kreuz I. Klasse -1914"
- 9 october 1942 he was awarded with "Tapferkeits- und Verdienstauszeichnung für Angehörige der Ostvölker II Klasse in Silber mit Schwertern" (an award for the bravery and merit for members of the eastern (slavic) nations, which were referred to the Nazi racial ideology as unworthy to receive the same awards as the German Wehrmacht soldiers)
- 10 november 1942 he was awarded with "Tapferkeits- und Verdienstauszeichnung für Angehörige der Ostvölker I Klasse in Silber mit Schwertern"
- 6 june 1943 he received "Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen" (a bravery award for the soldiers and NCO of the non-motorised companies of the Wehrmacht who were part in at least three infantry assaults on the front line, with the rifle in his hands, taken part in three days of countinous fighting without pause)
- 9 july 1943 he received "Verwundetenabzeichen in Gold" for multiple injuries suffered in combat;
- 5 december 1943 he received "Deutschen Kreuz in Gold" an award given only for "frequently demonstrated extraordinary bravery services or multiple outstanding achievements in the military leadership";
- 19 march 1944 he received "Nahkampfspange 1 Stufe in Bronze" (see http://www.ww2awards.com/award/99) (given normally for 15 close combat actions)
- 30 september 1944 he received "Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes"
(During the period of National Socialism the ones who were the owner of the Knight's Cross, was seen as a great hero and enjoyed by the Nazi propaganda a generated highest level of prestige and popularity, they often had their own autographs. They visited schools and gave presentations at events of the Hitler Youth, their public appearances have been accompanied by major honors.)
"Winkel für alte Kämpfer" an nazi award for party members of the so-called "Nazi-fighting organizations" (SS, SA, etc.). The best known winners of the honorary SS angle, were the one who also participated actively in most of the mass extermination of European Jewry;
"Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer" an award for those who fought with bravure in WW1 on the first line of the front.
It is useful to read also this:
|Posted by: Florin March 09, 2012 01:59 am|
Those war crimes happened indeed, during the Battle of Ardennes.
Less known is that in the previous months the Americans and the Canadians also executed Germans after they had surrendered, sometimes in execution platoon style, ordered occasionally by fresh West Point officers, to the disgust of the common American soldiers. And those shot after surrender were not members of SS...
|Posted by: Florin March 09, 2012 02:05 am|
In a way, this is a slap over face toward the whole German Army.
It would be the same to say that the Russians did not fight to save the Fatherland, but to avoid the bullets of the commissars standing behind them.
Well, I am not German, so I forget about it.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 10, 2012 10:50 am|
Florin, admit I did not know that! The only clue (I had) that something like this happened was taken from the well-known HBO-miniseries 'Brothers in Arms' (which I considered a realistic film!), without having read or heard anywhere else! It's interesting what you said, I appreciate!
I also agree with you in terms of offense brought to the German or the Soviet armies with the assertion regarding the firing squad, because it applies to any soldier, not only to the SS!
To be more clear, I give an example: for us as Romanians, our soldiers who fought in Crimeea, Kuban or Don Bend are heroes of our nation (at least for me they are!) but I could not contradict a soviet war veteran (be it Russian, Ukrainian and any other nation) if it would look at him (our soldier) as an aggressor or a fascist (which would have fought with him in Crimeea, Ukraine or the Caucasus)! This is because there was no reason for us being there, in my opinion! So that the courage of our soldier is seen (with some reason!) as fanaticism or aggression by the soviet opponent!
So I believe we can not question the courage of Dirlewanger and his men, simply because he was a garbage and a criminal!
|Posted by: 21 inf March 10, 2012 11:06 am|
|Andreas, I think the thing is to diferentiate the "fair soldiers" from criminals in military uniform. That's why exists the term "war crimes". A soldier is not entitled to kill and/or torture inocent civilians, women, childrens and other non-combatants or POWs. Once a man in military uniforms do such things, he is no more a soldier, but a cool blooded criminal. A notorious criminal tossed in a military uniform is still a criminal. To can discern if Dirlewanger was really courageous, it would be necesary to read his medals citations and even in this case the truth might not be revealed. If I rem well, citing from memory, a high ranking german oficer who conducted the operations against Warsaw ghetto uprising was decorated for bravery and a good conduct of his military units (this is what was said in the official papers of his decorations). In reality, in adition to his military operations, he aproved the killing of tens of thousands of non-combatants - women, childrens and other categories - but these facts are not included in the recomandations for decorations. So, at a first glance, this guy was very skilled oficer and courageous, but in fact he was only a criminal. Might be the case of Dirlewanger, also...|
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 10, 2012 11:41 am|
|I agree in large part with what you said! If I still have some reserves, then they all are based on the courage shown by Dirlewanger in the WW1, where war crimes were much more rare, and decorations were received entirely on merit (not for punitive actions)! With respect to World War II, agree with you, each medal received must be analyzed in relation to the action(s) for which it was given!|
|Posted by: Florin March 11, 2012 07:12 am|
In a documentary made by Steven Spielberg about WWII, a real American veteran (now an old guy) related exactly that: how some Germans from Wehrmacht put a bitter resistance somewhere at the border between France and Germany (before the Battle of the Ardennes), but eventually they had surrendered.
They were now prisoners, but the lieutenant just arrived from West Point ordered to his veteran subordinates to form an execution platoon and shoot the prisoners.
The soldiers were upset, but an order was an order.
Some Canadians had the occasional habit to burn with flame thrower the Germans who had surrendered. I learned about this from at least two sources, but unfortunately I remember in this moment only the unreliable source: a book by Sven Hassel dedicated to the war carried in 1944 in France.