Men of Wehrmacht: German soldiers during WW2: Part 2


The War was lost for Germany once it became a War of attrition with the Soviet Union and America--a war with which Germany with its more limited resources could not win. It was the spirit and ability of the German soldier that enabled Germany to continue the War. German veterans complain that in American movies that the Germans are commonly portrayed as stupid. The German soldiers were never stupid. They were highly competent and professional. The Germans were outnumbered and over powered, not defeated through superior battlefield tactics. The strategic decisions that brought defeat were imposed by the political leadership--the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler. The German soldier continued fighting even against staggering odds. One reason was that after 1942 they were fighting to protect Germany. Many believed in the NAZI cause. Many also realized what Germany had done in the occupied countries and fully expected the Allies to do the same when they reached the borders of the Reich. Another factor was the bond developed in the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine among individual soldiers, airmen, and sailors. Given the odds, the German servicemen knew that their only chance of surviving was to depend on their comrades. There was a community esprit de corps that was more typical of elite formations in the Allied armies. This was a spirit that had been inculcated in the Hitler Youth. Most German soldiers under 28 had been Hitler Youth boys. German soldiers were convince they had a duty to Germany and each other. This in itself ws not unique, but the strength of the bond was the a key factor in the ability of Hitler and the Nazis to continue a dogged resistance in 1944 and early 1945. They fought more for each other than their Fuhrer.

Street fighting on the streets of Nemiroff, Ukraine


In simple terms the difference between ordinary soldiers and Nazi's was that Nazi's were party members, people who were often fanatically loyal to Hitler. Ordinary soldiers who belonged to the German army during the Second World War may have been loyal to their officers and the Fuhrer, but not all of them were members of the Nazi party. This led to some rather interesting situations towards the end of the war. As the regime crumbled under the weight of defending itself on two fronts, control of the defense of the nation was wrestled between Hitler and those generals who were loyal to him, which included members of the SS and Gestapo, and Generals who simply wanted to avoid mass casualties in a tactically difficult position.


These German para-troopers have landed into a soup, as they are cornered. Russian front.


Many of the German officers in charge of the Army were from the German aristocracy and forged a different path to military service compared to the politically aligned SS. Resentment often arose between the groups due to the nature of the SS's unwillingness to surrender and desire to fight to the death regardless of circumstance. Antony Beever's work Berlin, which examines the fall of the German regime, highlights several incidents in which fanatical SS officers would shoot deserters from their own ranks and most definitely ordinary soldiers who retreated from the invading Russians.

Russia. A German soldier walks over to inspect a destroyed Soviet tank

Rudolf Vittsig - the legend of the German Airborne. Hero of the storming of the Belgian fort Eben-Emal, considered impregnable. Fort garrison with 1200 people and numerous artillery was suddenly attacked by 10 May 1940. The Germans landed into the fort by hang-gliders and took it over. German losses - 6 dead and 15 wounded out of the 85 soldiers and officers involved in the operation.

Wehrmacht men prepare dinner in Russia

The Germans are in a tight corner as Russian shelling makes life difficult for them

A gripping image of the war. Location: Somewhere in Russia. Russian soldiers wait as German soldiers and tanks approach them.

This is what remained of the German army after the battle for Moscow failed

The first day of Operation Barbarossa. German soldiers enter the Polish town of Przemysl, which was occupied then by the Russians. The city was occupied by German troops on June 22, but the next morning was liberated by the Red Army and border guards and held until 27 June.
German soldiers in winter clothing in Russia in 1942. They were better clothed in the second year of the war in Russia.

This Soviet POW seems eager to tell all that he knows.


Men of the Wehrmacht: German soldiers during WW2: Part 1
Wehramcht: Part 3 
Wehrmacht: Part 4

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Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
Read More


Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians