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> Oskar Dirlewanger and his men, bravery and criminality in the SS
ANDREAS
Posted: March 06, 2012 06:45 pm
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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...)!

This post has been edited by ANDREAS on March 06, 2012 06:46 pm
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MMM
  Posted: March 08, 2012 07:39 am
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QUOTE (Florin @ March 05, 2012 08:30 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.

Why, thank you! I am so honored you believe that! The only problem is that this sign:
:o
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?!
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21 inf
Posted: March 08, 2012 08:26 am
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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.
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Alexei2102
Posted: March 08, 2012 09:29 am
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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.

Al

PS - Dirlewanger had his RK for Warsaw, and I will post also his recommendation.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 09, 2012 12:24 am
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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:
in WW1
- 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";
in WW2
- 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:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=24398
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Florin
Posted: March 09, 2012 01:59 am
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QUOTE (ANDREAS @ March 06, 2012 01:45 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...)!

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...

This post has been edited by Florin on March 09, 2012 02:11 am
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Florin
Posted: March 09, 2012 02:05 am
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QUOTE (MMM @ March 08, 2012 02:39 am)
...............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. .................

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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 10, 2012 10:50 am
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QUOTE
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...

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!
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21 inf
Posted: March 10, 2012 11:06 am
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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...
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 10, 2012 11:41 am
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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!
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Florin
Posted: March 11, 2012 07:12 am
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QUOTE (ANDREAS @ March 10, 2012 05:50 am)
QUOTE
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...

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!
.......................

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.
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