By Richard Landwehr


The SS Guard Battalion 1 was formed as the SS Guard Detachment Berlin

from the VII. Battalion/“Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler” on 15 January 1942.


In December 1942 the greater part of the battalion was transferred

to the SS Brigade “Schuldt” was heavily engaged until March 1943.


The portion of the battalion that was not a part of this brigade was reformed into an

SS Guard Company for Berlin. Orders for this were dated retroactively to 1 December 1942,

although most of the battalion did not jointed Brigade “Schuldt” until 21 December 1942.


On 1 December 1943, the SS guard formation in Berlin was upgraded again and received

its final designation: SS Guard Battalion 1, Berlin. The battalion undertook emergency

duties during the coup attempt of 20 July 1944, and part of it later served with Kampfgruppe

“Spaeth” in Kustrin in April 1945. The rest of the battalion served with

the Regiment “Brandenburg” during the battle for Berlin in April-May 1945.


SS Guard Battalion 2

Formed in April 1941 as SS Guard Battalion Prague and redesignated

SS Guard Battalion 2 on 1 December 1943. Duty station: Prague.


SS Guard Battalion 3 (Btl. “Nordwest”) 

This unit was formed initially as part of the staff company of the Higher SS and Police

Leader in Holland on 12 April 1941, and was expanded to SS Guard Battalion “Nordwest”

on the orders of Reichsführer-SS Himmler, effective 1 January 1942. The battalion

was designed to carry out security duties in Holland under the orders of the

Higher SS and Police Leader “Nordwest.”


While some sources indicate that some of the overage person- nel from the defunct

6th SS Regiment “Nordwest” might have been used in this battalion, there seems to

have been no other connection between the two units. SS Guard Btl. 3 “Nordwest” was

composed of Dutch volunteers who wore a right collar- patch that bore a silver “Wolf Hook”

rune on a black field. For the most part the battalion’s soldiers guarded internment camps for

captured terrorists and subversives.


From 1942 on the battalion headquarters was based in The Hague. On 20 October 1942,

the SS Main Leadership Office authorized the formation of a 4th Guard Company for Btl.

“Nordwest.” On the orders of the Reichsführer-SS Himmler dated 2 November 1944,

SS Guard Btl. 3 was incorporated into the newly forming SS Volunteer Brigade “Landstorm

Nederland.” 1st and 2nd Companies/Btl. “Nordwest” became the 1st and 2nd Anti-tank

Companies of the Brigade “LN’s” SS Antitank Detachment 60. Some elements of Btl.

“Nordwest” were added to the Staff Company/HSSuPF “Nordwest” in

The Hague, during a reformation of that unit that took in November 1944.


SS Guard Battalion 4

This unit was formed during the course of November 1943 at the SS Troop Training Grounds

“Kurmark” near Jamlitz on the Baltic coast. It consisted of a staff and four companies all

of which used the Field Post number 01 496. In late 1944 the battalion was

dissolved and the personnel were sent to other Waffen-SS combat units.


SS Guard Battalion 5

 This battalion was formed in late 1943/early 1944 at the SS Troop Training Grounds

“West Prussia” in the Konitz district of West Prussia. By 1945, its troops had been dispatched

to other frontline SS elements.


 SS Guard Battalion 6

This battalion was activated effective 1 December 1942 in Oslo, Norway, to serve under

the Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSuPF) for Norway. Initially known as the SS Guard

Battalion “Oslo” and also SS Guard Battalion “Nord,” it officially became SS Guard Battalion

6 on 1 December 1943. In early 1944 the battalion was dissolved. The unit consisted of a

staff, bearing the Field Post number 03 063 and four companies that had the FP number 47 260.


SS Guard Battalion “Bohemia-Moravia”

This unit was established on 30 July 1940 as a special guard battalion for Bohemia and

Moravia. It consisted of one staff group and two rifle companies deployed as follows:

Battalion Staff in Prague

1st Company in Thresienstadt

2nd Company in Bruenn


SS Battalion SS Troop Training Grounds “Debica”

On 18 August 1941, the SS Main Leadership Office ordered the formation of an independent

security guard battalion at the SS Training Grounds “Debica” in Poland to commence on

1 September 1941. The battalion was assembled from parts of the following elements:

Staff Company/“Debica” SS Training Grounds SS Construction Battalion “Debica”

Signals Platoon/Command Staff “Debica”

SS Guard Battalion “Oranienburg” (Totenkopfwachsturmbanne)


SS Guard Battalion “Nord”

Formed in the course of October 1942 in Norway with a staff and four companies

using the FP number 03 063. Redesignated SS Guard Btl. 6 on 1 December

1942 and subordinated to the Higher SS and Police Leader for Norway.


SS Guard Battalion “Obersalzberg” 

This unit was formed from the SS Guard Company 9, which had the job of guarding Hitler’s

country residence in the area. It consisted of a staff, one engineer and three infantry

companies. On 9 November 1944 it was upgraded to the 3rd SS Gebirgsjaeger (Mountain)

Battalion “Obersalzberg.” In April 1945 the battalion relinquished its guard duties to the

local Volkssturm/ Home Guard and was sent to the Western Front. It saw heavy action

around Reichenhall as part of an Army battle-group. The battalion surrendered to the

Americans on 8 May 1945.


SS Guard Battalion “Oranienburg”

This battalion was formed in January 1941 and most of it was sent to the SS Btl.

SS Training Grounds “Debica” in September 1941. The battalion’s 5th Company

was formed from the SS Guard Company at the Reich Main Security Office.


SS Guard Company 7

This company was garrisoned in Munich.


SS Guard Company 8

This was the SS Guard Company for Vienna that was established effective 20 December 1941.

It was subordinated to the Waffen-SS garrison commander in Vienna.


SS Guard Company 9

Formed for security duties around the Berghof in Obersalzberg.

Incorporated into the SS Guard Btl. “Obersalzberg.”


SS Guard Company 10

This company was stationed in Budapest and came under the Waffen-SS commander for

Hungary. It was destroyed in the bitter fighting for the city of Budapest in late 1944/early 1945.


SS Guard Company “Bohemia”

This was an independent guard company under the control of

the commandant of the SS Troop Training Grounds “Bohemia.”


SS Guard Company “Hegewald”

Formed on the orders of the W-SS high command on 9 November 1942 for security

duties in White Russia. This company was subordinated to the Waffen-SS supply depot

commandant in Bobruisk. In the autumn of 1944, with the loss of the territory, Company

“Hegewald” was dissolved. Actually this unit was the equivalent of one-half of a battalion

in size and consisted of a staff and two companies with the FP number 48 688.





In May 1945, as the barbaric hordes of Bolshevism crushed the last pockets

of German resistance in central Berlin, French soldiers fought back.


They were the last surviving members of SS Charlemagne, the Waffen SS division made

up of French volunteers. They were among the final defenders of the city and of the Führerbunker.


Their extraordinary story gives a compelling insight into the Battle for Berlin and into the

conflicts of loyalty faced by the French in the Second World War. The performance of these

soldiers as they confronted the Soviet onslaught was unwavering, and their fate after the

German defeat was grim. Once captured, they were shot out of hand by their

French compatriots or imprisoned.


SS-Major-General Krukenberg’s account:


At about 2000 hours I returned to the Corps command post to get my instructions for our

future employment. There the chief of staff gave me the orders to engage the Nordland

next day in the central Defence Sector ‘Z’, whose commander was a

Luftwaffe-Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert with his command post in the Air Ministry.


I immediately went to the Air Ministry, where I was received by Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert

in the presence of his liaison officer, who constituted his whole staff! Straight away he told

me that he had no need of my regimental commanders, or their staffs, because the effectives

of their respective units did not amount to more than a single battalion. I retorted that more

grenadiers were rejoining every day, that they were Scandinavian volunteers confident in

their normal superiors and that it would be dangerous to separate them in the present

situation. Moreover, Sector ‘Z’ would become the core of the defence. The more one

deployed experienced officers the greater would be the strength of the resistance.


Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert refuted my argument and told me that in his sector everything

had been prepared in such a way that we would not need any support. He showed me

a map on which were featured command posts, machine-gun nests and other combat

positions. When I finally asked him if he would like to have one or two of those accompanying

me to reinforce his command post, he refused in an arrogant manner. He would not change

his mind, even when in order to overcome his prejudice, I told him that I had only been

with Waffen-SS for a year and that during the First World War I had served in Army

Headquarters. He dodged my question about what had already been done in this sector,

saying that everything was being organised.


I returned to my command post in the Opera most annoyed. After a short rest, I informed

the commanders of the Regiments Danmark and Norge about the orders from Corps

and the attitude of Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert, asking them to use the next morning to

reassemble their units and put them into order.


It should be noted here that, although Seifert had been appointed Defence Sector commander

of this central sector that included the Reichs Chancellery, SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke

was responsible for the defence of the Reichs Chancellery and regarded all SS troops

in the immediate area as subordinate to him, a situation that only added to the general

confusion at this stage of the battle.


27 April

Krukenberg continued:


The night of the 26th–27th April passed without disturbance. Next morning was passed in

reorganising and re-supplying the troops. Towards midday the commanders of the Norge

and Danmark reported that each of the two regiments disposed anew of an effective strength

of between 6–700 men. I gave orders that not more than a third were to be placed at the

disposition of Sector Headquarters and to continue to prepare the remainder for battle.

At the same time I ordered that even if Sector Headquarters did not want to speak to them,

the commanders remained responsible for their troops and that during the afternoon they

should make themselves familiar in advance with the conditions in which their troops would

have to fight.


Towards 1900 hours, the commanders signalled that they had found no one behind

our grenadiers and that nowhere had they been able to discover the command posts or

machine-gun nests that I had indicated as ready. With that I had the impression that all the

defensive plans of Sector ‘Z’ existed only on paper and began to realise why my offers of

assistance had been refused.


I decided not to defer any longer presenting myself to the Waffen-SS liaison officer to the

Führer, SS-General Fegelein, and to go myself. Describing to him what had happened,

I begged him to support me in my efforts to prevent the dissipation of the only SS division

in the Berlin Defence Area. Defence Sector ‘Z’, where it was to be engaged, would

become in time of capital importance. So far its preparations existed only on paper! There

would be serious consequences if the regimental commanders of the Nordland were to

be removed, having already removed their divisional commander, SS-Major-General Ziegler,

whom they fully trusted. It would then be easy to blame the Waffen-SS for any setback in the

defence of Sector ‘Z’.


I repeated all my objections to General Weidling, who entered the room at that moment,

begging him, to his obvious annoyance, to engage the only experienced formation in the

city centre under the command of its own officers. In any case, he wanted to leave

Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert only the sector immediately leading to the Chancellery.


Eventually he aquiesced in subordinating the whole of Sector ‘Z’ to SS-General Mohnke,

commander of the Chancellery, and in forming two sub-sectors: that on the right with its

command post in the Air Ministry reserved for Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert. Outside the boundary

formed by the centre of Wilhelmstrasse the Nordland would be engaged under its own officers,

its sector being limited on the east side by Döhnhoffplatz–Kommandantenstrasse– Alexandrinenstrasse.


Stadtmitte U-Bahn Station was nominated as the city centre command post. The Nordland

units already engaged in Seifert’s sector would stay there until relieved by others and then

return to my control. General Weidling then left and I never saw him again nor received any

further orders from him.


It was already 0100 hours on the morning of the 27th April when I returned to the Opera.


Meanwhile, the majority of the French volunteers of the Storm Battalion were sat, half-asleep

in the entrance of a block of flats on Belle-Alliance-Platz. These troops were the remnants

of only three of the companies. The 2nd Company was effectively reduced to the strength

of a section, its Company Commander, Lieutenant Pierre Michel, having been gravely

wounded the previous evening. The 3rd Company was down to Sergeant-Major Pierre

Rostaing with twenty-five men, all the section leaders and many of the men having been

either killed or wounded in Neukölln. The 4th Company was temporarily commanded by

Officer-Cadet Serge Protopopoff in the absence of Staff-Sergeant Jean Ollivier,

and had had one section completely wiped out the previous day.


Detached from the battalion, the 1st Company, commanded by Second-Lieutenant

Jean Labourdette, had been engaged the previous day further the west, to the north of

Tempelhof Airport. One of its platoons had been engaged defending the Landwehr

Canal near the Hallesche Tor while attached to a unit commanded by the signals officer

of the 2nd Battalion, SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 24 Danmark, SS-Second-Lieutenant

Bachmann, facing attacks from Soviet armour, shelling and mortar fire.


Meanwhile, the SS-Lieutenant Weber’s Combat School

had gone off in the direction of the Reichs Chancellery.


At 0500 hours the 1st Company rejoined the remains of the battalion to the relief of

Captain Henri Fenet, who now had to negotiate with Lieutenant-Colonel Seifert, who

wanted these men to reinforce his poorly manned sector. A section was sent off to

the north, but was almost immediately eliminated by a shell-burst,

which killed two men and badly wounded the other three.


The battalion adjutant, SS-Lieutenant Joachim von Wallenrodt, found accommodation

for the battalion in the Thomas Keller pub opposite the Anhalter railway station, several

hundred metres to the northwest, where the men were able to stretch

themselves out on the tables and benches for several hours of sleep.


Meanwhile, Captain Fenet was accompanied and supported by his liaision officer,

Officer-Cadet Alfred Douroux, for Fenet had been wounded in the foot by a machine-gun

bullet. The pain was such that they stopped at the Regiment Danmar’s first-aid post in

the cellars of the Reichsbank, where Fenet rested for several hours in a state of semi-consciousness.

At daybreak an elderly Wehrmacht officer helped him on to the Nordland’s headquarters,

which had been installed in the cellars of the Opera House since the 25th, and where

SS-Major-General Krukenberg was holding a command conference. He told Fenet that

he was very pleased with the work of the French battalion and that they would have the

whole of the day off before reorganising into eight-man tank-destroying

sections in support of the armour and assault guns based on Leipziger Strasse.


Krukenberg continued:

During the morning I returned to the Chancellery once more to introduce myself to the

new sector commander, SS-General Mohnke, but met General Krebs, who told me that

the advance guard of General Wenck’s army had just reached Werder, west of Potsdam.

He knew nothing new about the state of negotiations with the West, but the Americans

were certainly in a position to cover the 90 kilometres between the

Elbe and Berlin in very little time and restore the situation in the city.


During my visit, SS-General Mohnke promised to give me all the support possible in my

difficult task and told me that he would place at my disposal a company of sailors that

had flown in during the night and were in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs garden.

Moreover, the Nordland’s SS 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion, which still had eight tanks

and self-propelled guns, would remain under my command.

These two trumps reinforced our defensive capability.


On the 27th April the situation was calm within the formation and only a few individual

Russian soldiers tried to advance cautiously along Blücherstrasse towards the

canal at the Hallesche Tor.


Captain Henri Fenet continued his account:

All morning the shells continued to crash down on the Opera House, Schloss Berlin and

the surrounding area with such violence that the headquarters moved to a less unpleasant

place as soon as there was a gap in the shelling. This was at the Schauspielhaus (now Konzerthaus)

and then in Stadtmitte U-Bahn Station. On the way, the medical officer said that we were

on Französische Strasse (French Street). Two and a half centuries ago our Hugenot

ancestors had installed themselves in the area we were about to defend.


Shortly afterwards von Wallenrodt collected the battalion and the general proceeded

to award Iron Crosses won the previous day in his underground command post. We were

very happy to be together again and this break of several hours had been most welcome

for us all. The men gathered around me bustled around, filling my pockets with sweets,

chocolates and cigarettes that they had just been given. They sang happily in the underground

carriages, but the party was incomplete, for No. 1 Company was

still missing. What the hell had happened to Labourdette?


It was only towards the end of the afternoon that de Lacaze, an Officer-Cadet in the

1st Company, arrived with the bulk of the effectives. Labourdette was not among them.

He had left with several of his men for an outer position in the U-Bahn tunnels while

giving de Lacaze orders not to worry about him but to gather up the rest of the company

at the stipulated time should he not have returned, in which case he should go straight

to the command post. He had not been seen since. At the last contact, he had not been

at the location where he had set himself up in a primitive fashion, and it had not been

possible to trace him. We were not particularly worried for the moment, for in these battle

conditions several hours of delay were nothing extraordinary, but it was not much later

that we learned of Labourdette’s death. He had fallen in the tunnels, riddled with bullets

while returning from a reconnaissance and protecting the withdrawal of his men with an

assault rifle. He was 22 years old and immensely proud of having been enlisted as

No. 3 in the French SS.


Krukenberg continued:

Meanwhile, the 1st Company under Second-Lieutenant Labourdette was engaged in a

sector better prepared with dug-in tanks and solid barricades. de Lacaze’s platoon was

engaged in defending one of these, whilst Croisile’s platoon, reduced to 20 men, deployed

in the U-Bahn to counter eventual underground probes. When they came up again,

de Lacaze’s platoon had disappeared. During a bombardment that followed, the platoon

gathered in a small group under Officer-Cadet Robelin. There were a few casualties.


Towards midday, the company was taken over by a Wehrmacht major near Yorckstrasse

S-Bahn Station. T-34 tanks were swarming about to the east. The S-Bahn bridges

(over Yorckstrasse) were blown and dropped into the street. There they encountered a

young French civilian whose only concern was to know how he

could get back to the little factory in the area where he worked!


The company took shelter under a porch while awaiting a counterattack. Robelin left with

his platoon to rejoin the Fenet Battalion, but they were never seen again. Croisile’s platoon

was down to 14 men, plus a Wehrmacht soldier, one airman and one Volkssturm man.

Only one machine gun in firing condition remained, but they had assault rifles.


At about 1400 hours a small counterattack to enable the major to evacuate his wounded

succeeded. Seven tanks arrived via Yorckstrasse and the Russians came from every–where,

but hesitated tackling a group so strong. Five or six disguised as civilians and pulling a cart

were fired on and fled. An old gentlemen politely asked Labourdette to remove boxes of

ammunition stacked in his apartment on the 5th floor. When they were opened, they were

found to contain Panzerfausts. What a windfall! The first T-34 to approach was missed by

Croisile, but hit by the Wehrmacht soldier. However, news was

scarce and uncertain, and couriers often failed to return.


Meanwhile the Sub-Sector Stadtmitte was occupied without incident and lookouts were

posted along the Landwehr Canal. On the wings, the Regiments Danmark and Norge had

a third of their effectives in lines in the rubble south of Hollmannstrasse. In the event of

an attack in force, they were to withdraw slowly to the principal line of resistance on the

level of Besselstrasse and Ritterstrasse, where prepared nests of

anti-tank and machine guns would offer them the necessary support.


At their command post level, the battalions and regiments held a third of their grenadiers

formed into shock troops ready to move forward quickly by passages

pierced through the buildings to reject any enemy that penetrated our lines.


A last third, held in relative rest in Leipziger Strasse, was to stay there. This street, just

about suitable for traffic, served as a deployment route for our tanks, which were supported

by groups of tank-hunting detachments of French volunteers. The remainder of the latter

and the Engineer Company of the Nordland remained in the cellars of the

Opera or the Allianz building, from where they could easily join them.


The integral occupation of Sub-Sector Stadtmitte failed primarily because at the beginning

Lieutenant Colonel Seifert only released those elements that had been placed at his disposal slowly.


Apart from this, various groups of reinforcements continued to join us, particularly SS

volunteers so that soon the whole of Europe was represented. (Among these reinforcements

was a company of naval radar trainees that had been flown in and were armed with Italian

rifles but had received no infantry training.) These elements remained behind

the Sector wings to prevent any surprise attacks from neighbouring sectors.


As for artillery, this was assembled out of sight of aerial view in the Tiergarten under the

orders of Colonel Wöhlermann, artillery chief of the LVIth Panzer Corps, because no

plans had been made for its deployment in the defence. I had the guns deployed behind

our Sector at the entrance of streets leading on to the Unter den Linden, so that they could

at least check any tanks surging in from the north, from the Reichstag or Schlossplatz

because, despite repeated enquiries, the situation remained obscure for us.


That afternoon I went to the command post assigned to me by General Weidling, an

abandoned U-Bahn wagon with broken windows, no electricity or telephone, in Stadtmitte

U-Bahn station. Such was the command post of the Stadtmitte Sector in the Berlin fortress!


The vault of the station was soon pierced by a medium shell that caused us 15 wounded

evacuated to the first aid post organised by the Nordland’s senior medical officer,

Colonel Dr Zimmermann, in the air raid shelter of the Hotel Adlon on Pariser Platz.


Captain Fenet was in the command post when this occurred:

News was received of the outside. The Wenck Army, which was trying to reach the capital,

had reached the outskirts of Potsdam. On the other hand, the Reds had launched their

big offensive across the Oder that we had been expecting for weeks and had already

reached Prenzlau, which, until recently, had been the seat of the OKH. Those of our

comrades that had remained in Neustrelitz while waiting to join us in Berlin would now be

engaged in battle. In any case, even if the Wenck Army succeeded in

getting through to us, our comrades would not be able to rejoin us.


The day was over, and as the Division feared night infiltrations by the Reds, the battalion

was tasked with setting up sentry posts. That night two anti-tank commandos set off for

Belle-Alliance-Platz (now Mehringplatz). The first was led by von Wallenrodt, the second

by Staff-Sergeant Hennecart. Hennecart was the man who would walk through a hail of shells

and bullets with his hands in his pockets and, whenever cautioned, would answer: ‘I am

already too old to make a corpse.’ At 38 years old he was in our eyes an old man, almost

ancestral, and the men venerated him. He should have received the epaulets of a second-lieutenant

a long time ago, having earned them a hundred times, and should have figured

on the 20th April (Hitler’s birthday) promotions list. But where was it?


Time passed, but no one came back. The Division was still asking for reinforcements for

its sector and, if this went on, all the battalion would soon be engaged. Douroux led me

hobbling over the rubble and I do not know what ruined monument to Stadtmitte U-Bahn

Station, where the general briefed me in detail on the situation. The whole battalion was

to be engaged together at Belle-Alliance-Platz to prevent access by the Red tanks and

infantry to the Reichs Chancellery via Wilhelmstrasse and Friedrichstrasse. I got up to go.

‘Where are you going?’ asked the general. ‘To get the rest of the battalion going.

We should be gone in ten minutes.’


‘Don’t leave here, you can’t even stand! Issue your

orders and remain at rest here in the command post.’


‘General, it is impossible for me to remain

here when all my men are in action!’


‘I find it above all impossible that you should not

obey my orders,’ replied the general. ‘Don’t insist!’


Time passed slowly in this wretched underground. The Reds did not forget us, for a shell

landed on the access staircase killing or wounding fifteen men. The battle

continued to rage all day long and one no longer paid attention to it.


The focal point of the Nordland’s defence was Belle-Alliance-Platz, which was defended

by a combat team of the Danmark under SS-Second-Lieutenant Bachmann, whose sappers

attempted to demolish the Hallesche Tor Bridge, but failed to so effectively, leaving sufficient

space for tanks to cross. The first Soviet tank did so at 1430 hours, and was promptly

destroyed, but others followed.


That evening Combat Team Dircksen of the Danmark was driven back on Friedrichstrasse

to 200m south of Kochstrasse U-Bahn station, using the tunnel to withdraw as the Soviets

advanced on the surface. Six Soviet tanks reached as far as Wilhlemplatz

outside the Reichs Chancellery before they were destroyed.


28 April

The remains of the Nordland held positions with the Norge Regiment from the Spittelmark

on the left flank to Kochstrasse with the Danmark Regiment on the right. The armour

of SS-Panzer-Regiment 11 and about five Tiger IIs of SS-Panzer-Battalion 503

were deployed between the Tiergarten, Unter den Linden and Leipziger Strasse.


The Charlemagne troops had spent the night either in the Schauspielhaus cellars or

near Stadtmitte U-Bahn station, where Eric Lefèvre later described the situation:


The HQ is now roughly organised. The telephone works. Blankets and sheets separate

the different offices and services of the headquarters. One works on tables and chairs

taken from here and there, and the boxes. But the lighting is dependent upon candles.

There is an intimate, partly unreal atmosphere. Sounds of the battle taking place on the

surface are clearly audible. Water from broken pipes oozes down the walls and covers

the platform. During the final hours of the night reports from the Combat Team Dircksen

and from Sector Z Headquarters say that Soviet tanks are still crossing the canal bridge

and massing on Belle-Alliance-Platz, indicating powerful new attacks and in depth.

General Krukenberg even expects a penetration as far as his own command post.

A patrol commanded by SS-Lieutenant von Wallenrodt is despatched towards Wilhelmstrasse

to get a precise picture of the situation. Without waiting for his return, the divisional

commander sends off two French anti-tank detachments led by SS-Lieutenant Weber

and Staff-Sergeant Lucien Hennecart. The first takes men from the

Combat School, the second elements of the battalion’s liaison team.


At dawn Friedrichstrasse was blocked at the level of Hedemannstrasse by a combat

team under SS-Lieutenant Christensen with a nucleus of grenadiers from the Danmark

Regiment expanded by elements from the Navy, Volkssturm and Labour Service. Obstructed

by rubble, pierced by craters and holes in the roof of the U-Bahn tunnel, the street was

impassable to tanks, the latter forming a threat only along Wilhelmstrasse upon which it

deployed today and on which the French anti-tank detachments concentrated. The leading

detachment, commanded by Sergeant Eugène Vaulot, reached as far as the canal west

of Belle-Alliance-Platz, but was obliged to pull back under fire from mortars and

automatic weapons after having seen the mass of tanks assembled on the square.


Involved here were the 28th and 29th Guards Rifle Corps of General Chuikov’s 8th Guards

Army at Potsdammerstrasse and along the line of Wilhelmstrasse from Belle-Alliance-Platz

respectively, together with General Badanian’s 11th Tank Corps and the 50th Guards

Tank Regiment, a total of 230 tanks in all. In addition, the 1st Guards Tank Army provided

support with the 11th Guards Tank Corps, together with the 11th

Independent Guards Tank Regiment equipped with Josef Stalin 2 tanks.


Eric Lefèvre continued:

A little later, the detachments of SS-Lieutenant Weber and Staff-Sergeant Hennecart took

up positions on Wilhelmstrasse adjacent to SS-Lieutenant Christensen’s combat team

on Hedemannstrasse. Most of the men were concealed behind the ground floor or cellar

windows, or inside the entrances to the buildings. Look-outs were deployed behind the

heaps of rubble covering the pavements. Suddenly came the throbbing of engines, the

characteristic clanking and creaking. A lone tank rolled along Wilhlemstrasse checking the

terrain. Sergeant Vaulot raised the grilled sight on his Panzerfaust and thumbed forward

the safety catch. He calmly aimed the tube on his shoulder with the foresight on the explosive

head in line with the lower notch on the grill. He aimed and pressed the trigger. The

detonation released a jet of flame to the rear, fatal to anyone in line behind for three metres,

and there was a cloud of white smoke. The projectile, stabilised by four flanges, pierced the

air at 45 metres per second. Then came the shock of the explosion, the jet of focused gas

penetrating the armour with a diameter of ten centimetres, thanks to the hollow charge.

A rain of metal fragments projected within the crew space, provoking the ignition of exploding

shells and a series of detonations that seemed to shake the heavy machine. Then came

the final explosion in a cloud of dust and smoke that dislodged the turret, spreading

innumerable bits of debris around. The experienced firer then took care to

take cover by crouching against the wall or throwing himself to the ground.


For ‘Gégène’ – the name given to him by his comrades – it was all in the day’s work, but

a good job nevertheless. This plumber from Pantin was of a retiring nature, at least with

regard to his superiors. In the course of the two years that he had spent in the ranks of the

LVF nothing had been said of him, save as an example of discipline and application to the

service. As a combatant, he had advanced slowly, no doubt with the encouragement of

SS-Lieutenant Weber in the Company of Honour then in the combat school. On the 26th

February, during the fighting at Elsenau in Pomerania, he had destroyed a heavy Josef Stalin

tank, and on the 26th April he had added two more tanks to his score in Neukölln,

so this was his fourth.


A change in Soviet tactics then took place that was to be repeated during the fighting.

The first phase was the ‘cleansing’ of the route by 120 mm mortars, the effectiveness

of their bombs being at its maximum in a street. Then guns of the tanks, the 85 mm

of the T 34s, or the 122 mm of the Josef Stalins, and the 57 mm anti-tank guns fired their

explosive shells directly at the facades of buildings where they had located firers. Under

cover of this bombardment, other tanks tried to tow back the wrecks blocking the route.

They were to find this more successful under cover of darkness but, for the moment,

it was broad daylight. The mounting curls of smoke and the dust suspended in the atmosphere

practically blocked out the spring sky. Sticking to the men, it rendered less and less

discernible the brown and green flecks on their combat uniforms in which they were nearly

all clad. A tenacious smell of burning rubber and decomposing bodies filtered through

everywhere. The sounds of battle and the persistent rumblings became

less and less perceptible to the ears over accustomed to hearing them.


Fenet resumed:

‘Next morning the general seemed better disposed towards me and the report on the

battalion’s activities clearly pleased him. I took advantage of this to say that I was feeling

much better, which was true, although I was still in a bit of a stupor,

but fit enough to leave with Finck and his ammunition party.’


Krukenberg continued:

Early on the morning of the 28th April, the Soviets succeeded in crossing the canal in the

vicinity of the Hallesches Tor with the aid of numerous auxiliary bridges. From

then on the fighting developed building by building and in the heaps of rubble.


Casualties increased on either side. They resulted not only as the result of enemy arms,

but also by the collapsing of buildings on which the enemy increasingly concentrated

their artillery. Despite this, on that day and the following the grenadiers of the Nordland

succeeded in holding their set positions against the Soviets with the exception of some

local penetrations and breaches. The fighting against their accompanying tanks by self-propelled

guns, but above all by the French anti-tank troops, played an important role in the resistance.


Thus Sergeant Eugène Vaulot, having already destroyed two enemy tanks with Panzerfausts

within 24 hours in Neukölln, went on to destroy another six Russian tanks in the same manner.

On my recommendation, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, which I

presented to him by candlelight on the morning of the 29th in my command post

in the S-Bahn station in the presence of my staff and his French comrades.


In my short address in French, I said that the personal conduct of this young volunteer

was in accordance with what French soldiers were renowned for

historically for their bravery on all the world’s fields of battle.


In all, the number of enemy tanks definitely knocked out in our sector mounted to 108,

of which at least a half was attributable to the French volunteers. This demonstrates well

the severity of the fighting and explains why the Soviets were unable to penetrate the front in our sector.


At the divisional command post it was decided to reinforce the forward positions.

SS-Major-General Krukenberg decided to keep Captain Fenet with him at this command post.


The majority of the Storm Battalion’s men remained in reserve in the cellars of the Schauspielhaus,

where some of them amused them-selves by donning stage costumes. Some were

wounded while collecting rations, for the Soviet artillery and ground-attack aircraft were

a constant menace to all movement. Staff-Sergeant Jean Ollivier from the 4th Company

had two MG 44s installed in an anti-aircraft role at the entrance to the shelter situated

alongside the little public garden next to the French cathedral, and this was how

Officer-Cadet Protopopoff, a ‘White Russian’, succeeded in bringing down one of two

aircraft flying over the Gendarmenmarkt.


Captain Fenet resumed:

We all left together after visiting Staff-Sergeant Hennecart, who had been wounded and

just been brought in. We found him sitting pensively in one of the carriages serving as a

first aid post. He had been hit in the leg and knee during a bombardment and was

unable to stand upright.


Finck took me along the tunnels as far as Kochstrasse. Access to the firing position was

not at all easy. One had to pass through blocks of buildings and climb down a ladder into

a yard to finally arrive at the firing line. SS-Lieutenant Weber, the young combat school

commander, a man who needs at least one tank for breakfast every morning, took me

into a low room from which one had an excellent view of Wilhelmstrasse . He took

me by the arm while putting a finger to his lips and led me to the loophole. ‘Look!’


There was a stationary T-34 only three metres away. Its turret bore the mortal wound of a

Panzerfaust. Short flames were emerging from the transmission and were gently licking

the carcass. ‘Isn’t that a beauty!’ said Weber in a low voice. It surely was, and he was

the one responsible for this fine bit of work; yet another one. He then gave me a detailed

account of the day’s work; five or six tanks destroyed with Panzerfausts, and numerous

infantry attacks repulsed with severe losses for the Reds. However, we were reduced

entirely to our own resources; not a tank, gun, mortar, not a single rifle grenade. All we had

left were the Panzerfausts, assault rifles and several MG-42 machine guns, not much.

On the other hand, the Reds in front of us had tanks in plenty. The more we destroyed,

the more they replaced them. They still had anti-tank guns, and a pack of 120mm mortars,

an infantryman’s worst enemy in the open. Their infantry, which had been quite timid until

then, now appeared to be quite numerous. But what did that matter, we ‘held the Cup’ and

our men were fighting mad.


At the battalion command post I was received by yells of joy from the runners, who hastened

to relate their latest exploits. Really, their tally was quite considerable, and there was no

stopping them. Roger and his acolytes located a big building that the Russians had occupied

in strength. They had infiltrated the cellars and set light to them, then left to cover the

exits and waited patiently. When the fire reached dangerous proportions, the Reds evacuated

precipitately without taking any precautions, only to be met by a fusillade from assault rifle

grenades that caused carnage. Those who tried to get into the street or courtyards were

immediately cut down by the assault rifles, and those who tried to take

shelter in the rooms still intact were tackled with hand-grenades.


They were all killed, one after another. When it was over, they had counted about fifty

bodies scattered around the building or in the entrance. The operation had taken

place at night in the light of the flames. ‘It was better than the cinema,’ declared Roger.


Krukenberg resumed:

On the morning of the 28th April, the patrols sent towards Belle-Alliance-Platz (especially

that led by SS-Lieutenant von Wallenrodt, the battalion adjutant and German liaison officer)

failed to return, for the whole battalion was soon engaged on Belle-Alliance-Platz as

an anti-tank commando to prevent the Russians access to Wilhelmstrasse and

Friedrichstrasse. The Soviets were again checked there with heavy losses.


The main action was near Kochstrasse U-Bahn Station, where five or six tanks were destroyed

by the French during the day, who had neither armour, artillery, anti-tank guns, nor mortars,

but only several MG-42s, assault rifles and Panzerfausts to oppose

the Soviet T-34 tanks, anti-tank guns and 120mm mortars.


A building occupied by the enemy was set on fire by the French, while others covered the

windows with assault rifles to prevent the Russians fleeing the flames. Some fifty bodies

were counted at this place. The fighting was ferocious, from door to door, window to window.


29 April

Krukenberg continued:

At daybreak a fresh attack by Russian tanks was stalled, but the enemy began a terrible

bombardment of all the buildings held by the French. The battle had

reached a pitch that was to be maintained to the end. It was hell.


The competitive spirit was such that men took the remaining Panzerfausts

to claim ‘their’ tank. Sergeant Roger Albert already had three to his credit.


The enemy fire directed at the French increased, forcing them to withdraw about 50

metres. A new surprise attack was repulsed. Two more tanks were destroyed

and one damaged, with the support of our 120mm mortars and nests of resistance.


The battalion sector was almost surrounded once more. A little counterattack by the

Main Security Office Germans at the cost of heavy losses permitted the re-alignment

of our positions before the next massive tank attack. This failed in its turn, because

the first two tanks, having been knocked out, blocked the way for the others.

The pounding continued.


Sergeant-Major Rostaing, commanding the 3rd Company (ex 6th Company of Regiment 58),

which was uniquely composed of former members of the LVF, received the Iron Cross First

Class for his brave conduct and Second-Lieutenant Albert the same for his fourth tank.


The battalion was occupying an advance post of the local defence several hundred

metres from the Chancellery. The attacks by Russian tanks soon gave up and

Russian infantry infiltrated a little everywhere using flamethrowers or grenades.


The battalion fought on, the lightly wounded returning to their posts as soon as they had

been bandaged. Staff-Sergeant Ollivier, commanding the 4th Company, was three times

wounded and three times evacuated, but returned three times to his post. Many of the

young officer-cadets from Neweklau fell in action: Le Maignan, Billot, and Protopopoff were killed.


The bombardment raged and the city was in flames all night of the 29th–30th April,

but all the French SS were resolved to hold out until their ammunition ran out.


Once more we were sustained by high hopes for the arrival of Wenck’s army, but we

started becoming sceptical about this subject. We learned nothing about

it either from the commander of the city’s defence or from the Chancellery.


During a relatively quiet interlude, SS-Lieutenant Weber visited Captain Fenet with

Sergeant Vaulot, who had destroyed four tanks in Wilhelmstrasse the previous day,

and Sergeant Roger Albert, who had destroyed three. But before the dust had even

settled, there was another tank attack with the tanks well spaced out and the leading

two were stopped with Panzerfausts. The tanks behind withdrew after firing at the

buildings. According to Fenet, there was a dramatic situation at his command post:


The floors collapsed and the rooms of our semi-basement were filled with a dust

so thick that we had great difficulty in breathing and were unable to see more than

50 centimetres. The ceiling fell in pieces and several of the men were injured by falling

masonry. In an angle of the wall where we had made a loophole,

there was now a gaping hole in the angle of fire from the tanks.


Moreover, the Soviet infantry were in the process of surrounding the building containing

the command post. A little more to the east, in Friedrichstrasse, which was impractical

for the tanks, the Chnstensen Combat Team had been in action since dawn. The fighting

line was now 150–200m beyond Kochstrasse U-Bahn station and Puttkammerstrasse.

Also Soviet infantry were installed in the upper storeys of the neighbouring buildings

and firing on anything that moved. But they were not occupying the lower storeys and

the French set these buildings on fire with large stocks of paper that they had found

in the cellars and could thus use the cover of the fire to effect a withdrawal,

despite the protestations of SS-Lieutenant Weber, who wanted to hold on at all costs.


Fenet continued:

The new front line was based on the Puttkamerstrasse crossroads, 140 to 150 metres

further back from the previous one. The internal courtyards here provided relatively

safe passage. The new forward command post was installed in a building that was still

standing, where it was necessary to block the large entrances, apart from the large gaps

made by the bombardment in its façade. The cellars and ground floor, where the men

installed themselves, were full of works of art. Two women were still living there and at

first refused to leave.


While the new positions were being arranged, the Soviet 120-mm mortars, which had

not been heard since the day before, proceeded to reduce

to dust those of their infantry that had not broken contact!


No doubt it was at this instant that Officer-Cadet Protopopoff of the 4th Company was

killed. He was talking to Sergeant-Major Rostaing in one of the courtyards situated

behind the command post building and had been directed towards

a porch when a shell exploded in the yard, riddling him with shrapnel.


A catastrophic counterattack was launched by the old officers and NCOs from the Main

Security Office, who suffered frightful losses in trying to establish forward look-outs.

Then the infantry pressure combined with a fresh tank attack, the third that day. The

machines advanced in tight groups of seven or eight, a tactic with the aim of swamping

the Panzerfaust firers, but the latter were not overawed by this. The two leading tanks

were stopped and blocked the route. The five or six others withdrew, then came forward

again to tow away the dead ones. Numerous shots with Panzerfausts forced them back

a second time. The volunteers of the French battalion knew that they had to immediately

take cover. However, not all!


When the Soviet tank guns and anti-tank guns concentrated their fire on the basement

windows, Sergeant-Major Rostaing remained in his observation post on the second

floor of a building offering a good view of Wilhelmstrasse. He had rejoined the battalion

that day with the 20 to 25 remaining men of the 3rd Company. Rostaing was in a

stairwell with a French grenadier. The two men were flat against the wall on one side

and an opening whose glass and frame had long since disappeared. They remembered

seeing a vast tank firing, no doubt a Josef Stalin. The shell hit the ceiling above two lookouts,

covering them with debris and tearing away a main beam that fell on them. Other men

witnessed the event. They went up to the storey, called out, but did not see anyone and

went down again. The NCO did not recover consciousness for a considerable time later,

and got out without difficulty. He staggered to the command post, covered with dust.


It was from Captain Fenet that Sergeant-Major Rostaing learnt that he and Sergeant Albert,

who had just destroyed his fourth tank, had been awarded the Iron Cross First Class.

The awards were made in the one of the building’s interior courtyards. No doubt it was

then that SS-Lieutenant von Wallenrodt received his Iron Cross Second Class. Captain

Fenet had hardly shaken the hands of the recipients when fresh shells hit the building,

raising enormous clouds of dust. ‘We stayed there blind, suffocated, without being

able to move a step, and it was a while before we regained the use of our senses,’

wrote Captain Fenet later.


SS-Lieutenant Christensen had quit his command post on the left at Kochstrasse U-Bahn

station to conform with the French, passing round several bottles of wine with which to

refresh their throats.


On the other hand, Captain Fenet seemed to have only a hazy picture of the Müncheberg

Tank Division’s sub-sector on the right. Reports coming from there that day

indicate otherwise than all communications had been severed with the Nordland:


Soviet spearheads have reached the Anhalter Railway Station some 200–300 metres

from the French positions. However, a Tiger II of SS-Panzer-Regiment Hermann von

Salza, the ‘314’ of SS-Sergeant Diers – one of the two still at the disposal of the

Division – is stationed on Potsdammer Platz and is keeping Saarlandstrasse under

fire with its formidable 88mm gun, which has hit several

tanks trying to come up the road towards the north-west.


That evening, after several more tank attacks supported by infantry, the problem of

effectives became of concern to Captain Fenet, who had seen the number of losses

increase, even with the lightly wounded remaining at their posts. He now only had one

officer, one officer-cadet and a sergeant-major left, SS-Lieutenant von Wallenrodt,

Officer-Cadet Douroux and Sergeant Major Rostaing. Officer-Cadets Protopopoff,

Billot, Le Maignan and Karanga had been killed, Officer-Cadet de Lacaze and Staff-Sergeant

Ollivier wounded and evacuated. Second-Lieutenant Aimé Berthaud had been evacuated

after having been found unconscious under the ruins of a balcony. Officer-Cadets Boulmier

and Jacques Frantz had also been evacuated, the latter in a tent-half, after being

hit by mortar fire.


Sergeant Eugène Vaulot had also left the front line for the divisional command post

after receiving the Knight’s Cross that evening in candlelight from SS-Major-General Krukenberg

on the station platform, being the first of the French volunteers to receive this decoration.

Three other members of the Charlemagne were awarded the Knight’s Cross that day,

making this the record number for any contingent in the battle for the city and demonstrating

the importance of their anti-tank role. The destruction of sixty-two tanks, a tenth of the

numbers engaged against this sector, was attributed to the Charlemagne alone.


During a visit to the Reichs Chancellery first-aid post after having been wounded in the

shoulder after destroying his thir-teenth Soviet tank, SS-Lieutenant Wilhelm Weber,

reported to SS-Major-General Mohnke, who, greatly impressed, had then recommended

Knight’s Cross awards for Weber, Captain Fenet and Staff-Sergeant Appolot (six tanks)

to General Wilhelm Burgdorf, head of the Army personnel branch.


30 April

Krukenberg continued:

On the morning of the 30th April, as I learnt later, General Weidling had held a commanders’

conference at the Bendlerblock, in which one could speak freely about the situation.

But, despite the central importance of his sector, SS-General Mohnke was not invited

anymore than myself as commander of the Nordland Division, which constituted the

main fighting force of the LVIth Panzer Corps, and whose command I had taken

over at his request.


The volume of fire on the city centre had increased and our positions subjected to the

fire of ‘Stalin-Organs’. The battle seemed to be reaching its climax, but the enemy had

hardly penetrated our sector and we prepared for more assaults from him. Ammunition

and Panzerfausts were deposited along our main line of resistance and on Leipziger Strasse.

Unfortunately, four of our tanks, whose guns were still capable of firing, had been

immobilised by direct hits.


The usual evening conference at the Sector ‘Z’ commander was called off without

explanation. To our surprise, enemy artillery fire in our sector lessened towards

midnight and almost completely ceased.


Captain Fenet resumed his account:

Now we receive a big reinforcement. A good hundred men from the Main Security Office,

armed with rifles and flanked by three or four SS-majors, two SS-Captains and five or six

other officers. All are full of good will and courage, but have long become unaccustomed

to handling weapons and lack combat training. Most are between 50 and 60 years old.

Nevertheless, their arrival enables a considerable strengthening of the battalion and besides

they mix in with plenty of spirit. However, they soon realise that they are in no way prepared

for such a pitiless battle. There losses are serious, because the Reds, like ourselves, even

more than us, have their elite snipers hidden everywhere and

take aim at any silhouette appearing at a window or in a yard.


De Lacaze, who since the beginning of the battle has led his men with astonishing confidence

for a debutant, neutralises every attempt by the Red infantry, but he too falls to an enemy

sniper and has to be evacuated. Here is Roger again with his usual accomplice, Bicou, at

18 the youngest NCO in the battalion. They are both excited and explain

that they have just dislodged several Red snipers from the rooftops.


There are some more there, but we have run out of grenades. While speaking, they are

stuffing their pockets with egg grenades, attaching others to the buttons

of their jackets, and sticking stick grenades into their belts. They rush off.


Sometime later Bicou returns with his head bowed.

‘We got them, captain, but Roger was wounded.’


Roger comes in paler than usual, a trickle of blood running from his right eye. At the last

moment a piece of grenade caught him above the eyelid. We sit him down in the only

armchair in the building, where he soon dozes off. A little later Bicou takes

him to the medical aid post with a group of wounded, then comes back alone.


‘Poor Roger, the fighting is over for him. The doctor says that the eye is

lost and he still does not know whether he can save the other one.’


Bicou himself is lucky. During the day he had taken shelter behind a pile of debris that

was hit by an anti-tank shell. He didn’t even get a scratch, but was knocked unconscious.

An hour later he was on his feet again. Now he takes over the section with a sombre air,

vowing that Roger’s eye will cost dear.


It is quite calm as night draws to an end. There is nothing in the street but the T-34 burning

alongside us, long flames dancing around the steel carcass, projecting their violent light

against the dark night which the rose-coloured halo of fires above the roofs is unable to

disperse. One hears the crackling of the flames mixing with the distant, confused sounds

of fighting in the capital. But sometimes we are startled by heartbreaking cries, cries that

are no longer human, the voices of women not far from us howling in their

distress, despair and anguish as the men from the steppes assert their bestiality.


With daybreak the Red tanks set off again and we are alerted by the sound of their engines

starting up. Several well directed Panzerfausts and the first wave is easily stopped, because

the tanks are following each other well spaced out, which gives us plenty of

time to see them coming and to give each one the greeting it deserves.


Of course, having checked this first attempt, we are subjected to the usual bombardment.

The tanks and anti-tank guns fire full out at the buildings where they detect our presence.

The walls tremble dangerously, plaster falls on our heads, and sometimes a well aimed

shot into a window opening or loophole showers us with earth and stones and plunges us

into a spell of powdery obscurity. Already yesterday and nightfall were hard enough, but

now the battle is about to reach a climax and maintain it to the end. Up to this point we

have been living in an infernal din, pounded ceaselessly by mortars, anti-tank guns and

tanks, harassed by the infantry, repelling several tank attacks an hour. Weber, whose

tally is already quite considerable, brings a young NCO from his combat school, Sergeant

Eugène Vaulot, a tall, blond chap who has already bagged four tanks since yesterday,

another sergeant, Roger Albert, who has his third and is claiming a fourth. As there are

not enough Panzerfausts for everyone, they all want the chance to bag at least one tank.


The more our resistance hardens, the more the enemy fires at us. In the command post

building, which has become the main point of resistance, we expect the walls to collapse

over our heads at any moment. The façade is already completely cracked and one can

feel the building sway with every blow. Sooner or later we will have to evacuate or be

wiped out or buried, but I delay the departure as long as possible, for the configuration

of the area is such that if we evacuate this building, our whole front will have to pull back

at least 50 metres if we are want to find another suitable location, and 50 metres

now is not that easy. We are only several hundred metres from the Reichs Chancellery.


No doubt believing us hors de combat, the Reds launch another tank attack, but this

time without an artillery preparation, but we are not dead yet. The result is two tanks destroyed

and a third damaged. The attacking wave turns round. Now they are going to make us

pay for this disappointment. Once the tanks are out of range of our Panzerfausts, they

aim their guns at us again and every barrel they have fires at us. The upper storeys collapse,

the rooms of our semi-basement are filled with such thick dust that we can hardly breathe

and we can only see 50 centimetres in front of us. The ceiling falls in pieces and several

men are injured by falling masonry. The loophole that we had made in the angle of

the wall has become a gaping hole right in line with the tanks’ line of fire. The next bombardment

will bring a general collapse. Moreover, the Russians are working dangerously on our left

wing and are making their way across the ruins to encircle our whole block of buildings,

and all our exits are now under fire. Nevertheless, we have to leave; in ten minutes it

will be too late. Our troops are engaged in neutralising the Red snipers stationed in a big

building opposite from the neighbouring houses. Their building has vast cellars, which the

Ivans have neglected to occupy that are full of enormous quantities of paper. We set them

on fire and, while Ivan plays fireman, we get out. Saluted on our way by several burst of

fire and some grenades, we manage to get through without losses and cross the field of

ruins that separates us from our new positions without difficulty. Only one building in

three is still standing in this area.


According to Krukenberg, this move took place at 1800 hours.


The new front will be easier to defend, for a system of interior courtyards provides

excellent communications protected from the enemy, a small compensation for the

50 metres we have just lost. There is only one dangerous corner, alongside Friedrichstrasse,

where a ruined building, very difficult to keep an eye on,

offers our opponents magnificent possibilities for infiltration.


We quickly set up our sentries, for the Reds are not going to waste any time. Our old

east front enemies, the 120mm mortars, take us on and keep lashing us right until the

very end, harassing us with the diabolical precision to which they are accustomed.

The infantry too engage strongly. We have to mount a little attack in order to set up

new forward positions to obtain a little peace, relatively speaking. This is done by the

men from the Main Security Office, who carry out the operation with remarkable spirit.

Unfortunately, for lack of support from heavy weapons, our losses are very heavy.


While the infantry are fighting it out furiously, another tank attack begins. This time the

Reds have taken into account the errors they have been making until now. Instead of

arriving one by one to serve as ideal targets for our Panzerfausts, seven or eight set off

together and remain bunched together, only a few metres apart from each other. They

want to make us concentrate to maintain the effectiveness of our fire. Fortunately, our

men are up to this change of tactics. The two leading tanks block the middle of the street,

barring the way for the others, who are obliged to turn around. Shortly afterwards there

is another alarm, this time the Reds are trying to tow away their wrecks

to clear the street for their next attack, so again there a fine scrap.


We have hardly time to draw breath before the next shelling begins. Sergeant-Major Rostaing,

commanding No. 3 Company, is buried under the debris of his observation post on the second

floor. They call him and someone climbs up to the second floor with difficulty, but nothing

moves, where is he under all this debris? An hour later he reappears, somewhat haggard,

saying that he had been knocked unconscious by the fall of the ceiling, and had only

just regained consciousness.


I award him the Iron Cross First Class in a little courtyard nearby, and also Roger Albert,

who has just bagged his fourth tank. While we are shaking hands, another tornado falls

on us, raising clouds of dust so thick that we remain blinded, suffocated, unable to move

a foot, no longer knowing where we are, and it takes a moment or two before we

regain the use of our senses.


We begin to get bad headaches. Outrageously smothered with dust, our eyes shining,

deep in their sockets, our cheeks lined, we hardly look human. Water is scarce and we

often don’t even have enough to drink. Occasionally a few rations arrive from Division.

One eats what one can find, when one can find it, otherwise, in the feverish state we

are in, it is not a problem that concerns us much. After the days we have just been

through, we are now only acting on our reflexes, and everything we do seems as natural

as everyday life. We seem to have been living this infernal life for ever, the problem

of the future does not even arise, and we see ahead of us more days like this,

knocking out tanks, firing at the Reds, throwing grenades, alarms, bombardments,

fires, ruins, holding on, not allowing the enemy to pass. All our strength,

all our energy is only for this, it is simultaneously our reason for living and for dying.


I get visitors from time to time, particularly from an officer of the Nordland commanding

a neighbouring company. He comes, he says, to refresh himself with us, although he

does not seem to need it. He does not hesitate to express his admiration for his French

comrades. Every time he comes he repeats: ‘While you are there, we are content that

all is well and certain that the sector will hold.’ He only knows how to show his sympathy,

and thanks to him, we can pass around several bottles of wine,

from which everyone drinks a symbolic mouthful with pleasure.


In one place or another, our frontline positions are shrivelling up, and we are now in front

of the lines, an advance defence post in front of the Reichs Chancellery. Also, more and

more the Reds hound us. We no longer keep count of the tank attacks, the infantry are

more and more aggressive, and abandoning frontal assaults, now attempt to penetrate

a little everywhere to dislodge us with grenades or flame-throwers. If the Red’s losses

are high, our effectives are also diminishing, even though only the severely wounded are

evacuated; the others make do with a summary bandaging and carry on fighting, or

take a few hours’ rest in the first aid post before returning to their positions. Staff-Sergeant Ollivier,

commanding No. 4 Company, beats all records in this field. Hit three times, three times

evacuated, he has calmly returned to his post three times. Our young officers,

second-lieutenants and officer-cadets, have already paid a high price: Labourdette,

Le Maignan, Billot, Protopopoff, killed, de Lacaze, Bert, François, Ulmier, seriously wounded.

Weber, who since the beginning has shown an extraordinary ardour, and has put all

his energy into it, has been evacuated in his turn with a serious injury. In all the unit only

Douroux and von Wallenrodt remain uninjured among the officers. Douroux is very proud

of the fact that an officer of the Nordland removed his own Iron Cross to award him with

it after an engagement in which he had performed marvellously. As for von Wallenrodt,

he remains very calm and very much at ease in all this din, a former war correspondent,

he is at once both spectator and actor, acquitting himself remarkably

in his new role as adjutant. He also receives a well earned Iron Cross.


The command post is in a large library that has some magnificent works of art. One of

us has pulled out an album of coloured pictures of Spain, which becomes a distraction

for men taking a break. We flip through it in search of sunny country scenery as an

antidote to our vision of hell. Passing the rows of bookshelves, I am angered by the

thought that they will become victims to the flames, or worse,

will be torn up and trampled underfoot by bands of drunken Mongols.


We are living in scenes from another world: the days are the colour of the dust that

overcomes and devours us. We no longer see the blue sky, being absorbed in a gritty

fog that only dissipates at rare moments until a new torrent of missiles plunge us back

into yellowish opaqueness. Buildings are burning everywhere, ruins collapse with a

great noise, thickening the atmosphere with soot, dust and smoke, which we breathe

with difficulty. The silence that follows a bombardment is only the prelude to a roaring

of engines, the clanking of tracks, announcing another wave of tanks. Crouched in the

doorways or behind windows with Panzerfausts in our hands, we await our turn to

release the storm. A long tongue of flame behind the firer, a violent explosion, shortly

followed by another marking the arrival of a mortal blow, almost always firing at point

blank range, which is more certain. The explosions follow each other within several

seconds: one, two, sometimes three tanks are immobilised in the middle of the street.

The others retire and several minutes later they return to tow back the dead carcasses

under cover of clouds of dust raised by the bombardment that always follows an aborted attack.


The battle continues to rage throughout the night. How can one describe the night?

Darkness, chased away by this enormous brazier that the city has become, has vanished

and only the colour of the light varies by the hour. The burning buildings and tanks are

our torches, and Berlin is illuminated by the fire devouring it. A sinister clarity hangs over

the city, now suffused with a reddish glow on which the flames rising around us shed

their violent light. Beneath this tragic display the ruins

cutting the incandescent sky take on unreal, incredible shapes,


The rumbling upheaval of the battle has now submerged all the city, which fiercely struggles

and fights on not to let itself be engulfed by defeat, prolonging its hopeless agony to the

extreme limit. In this duel to death, as the hours pass and the enemy accumulates

against us more tanks, more men, more shells, our determination only grows, our resolution

hardens more. Hold on, the words always returns to our lips, invades our spirit as an

obsession. Hold on, as if tomorrow will be like today, like yesterday. Until when? The

question no longer arises: as long as we have bullets, grenades, Panzerfausts. The Red

infantry continue to bite the dust, the tanks, despite their furious assaults, are checked

in front of or inside our lines, where they burn in agony. We can see the flames emerging

between the tracks, then climbing progressively up to the turret, while the ammunition

explodes in an uninterrupted series of detonations that shake the steel carcass belted

with fire until a formidable explosion shakes the whole area, sending enormous chunks

of steel flying until nothing remains of the tank but a mass of twisted, blackened scrap.


On the evening of the 30th April a Russian is brought to the command post who had

allowed himself to be captured without difficulty. He is a Ukrainian NCO, a big, well

fed lad. He brings with him several loaves of bread, which the men share between

them with pleasure, for they haven’t seen anything like that for several days. In exchange

the prisoner is given cigarettes, which seems to please him. Very talkative, he

explains to the interpreter that he is Ukrainian and not Russian. Compulsorily mobilised,

and a ferocious adversary of bolshevism, so much so that we could not have a better

friend than himself in the Red Army. Of course we are under no illusions about the

sincerity of his good will, but we pretend to listen with interest. Confident, he chats with

the interpreter, replying at length to the questions negligently put to him during the

course of the conversation. A communiqué has been distributed in the Red lines today

announcing imminent victory; there is only one square kilometre left in Berlin to be taken,

and this last bastion must be taken by tomorrow in honour of the 1st May. A burst of

laughter greets the translation of these last words: ‘We will still be here tomorrow,

old chap, and your pals will get the same as usual if they try and pass!’


He recognises that we are giving them a hard time and that morale in the area leaves much

to be desired, but we don’t believe our ears when he adds that the tank crews will only

board at pistol point. The interpreter asks good humouredly if he is kidding us.

‘Niet! Those getting into the leading tanks know that they will not be coming back!’


SS-Major-General Krukenberg resumed his account:

During the night and morning of the 1st May the battle continued with extreme violence.

The Russians were glued to the ground with the fire from our assault rifles. That afternoon

the enemy resorted to using flamethrowers to reduce isolated points of

resistance, an effective tactic, for there was no water to extinguish the flames.


Tuesday, the 1st May, at about 0700 hours in the morning, I was summoned by telephone

by SS-General Mohnke, who told me that during the night General Krebs (a former military

attaché in Moscow), Colonel von Dufing and Lieutenant Colonel Seifert had crossed the

lines in the latter’s sector to conduct negotiations with the Soviets. He could not give me

the exact details about this mission, but he gave the impression that one could no

longer count upon being relieved by Wenck’s army, which had been forced to

withdraw by superior enemy forces.


Contrary to expectations, General Krebs and his companions, for whom those opposite

had guaranteed free access, had still not returned or reported their news, despite an

existing radio link. He suggested a possibility of betrayal and said that now the

Soviets knew the weakness of our defences we could now expect a sudden attack.


We had been able to establish that the Potsdammer Platz S-and U-Bahn stations were

not barricaded, thus offering an opportunity for an enemy shock troop to approach the

Chancellery via Voss-Strasse. I should do the necessary in this respect, but before all else,

go to the Air Ministry and take charge of the Seifert sub-sector from its commander.

It seemed to him that there were things going on there that I should suppress by all means.


I crossed Wilhelmplatz under enemy fire accompanied by a Franco-German escort and

advanced along Wilhelmstrasse as far as the Air Ministry, on which there were no security

guards, although the Russian mortars and anti-tank guns were only several hundred yards away.


There was an old Luftwaffe general asleep in the cellars of the Air Ministry with a hundred

airmen. Then I came across a young army captain, who was the staff watch keeper for

the sub-sector, who told me that Lieutenant Colonel Seifert, having told him he had no

need of anyone, had shut himself in his office with his liaison officer to apparently destroy

documents. I immediately went with him to the sector command post in which he was the

only member of Lieutenant Colonel Seifert’s staff. We entered into a lively discussion,

during which, having explained my mission, he refused to tell me what had happened the

day before, nor where his commander was, when the latter entered the room

escorted by two NCOs from my escort, having found him in another part of the building.


Soon afterwards a message arrived from Mohnke’s command post explaining what had

happened was due to a misunderstanding and that the order given that morning

was now nul and void.


I returned to my sector at about 1000 hours, not before begging Lieutenant Colonel Seifert

to finally return the men of the Nordland and the Frenchmen that were still in his sector.


Towards noon I received an order to immediately place the last ‘Tiger’ tank of our tank

battalion at SS-General Mohnke’s disposition. No indication of what was happening

at higher level filtered through to us.


At 1900 hours I was summoned by SS-General Mohnke and took my operations officer

(Ia) and adjutant with me. SS-Major-General Ziegler approached me in the antechamber

to the command post, saying: ‘It has just been announced that Hitler committed suicide

yesterday after-noon. Apparently he married Fegelein’s sister-in-law. The latter tried to

flee from the Chancellery in civilian clothes and has been shot. Goebbels

and his family are also dead!’


Then SS-General Ziegler added that for several days now no one had expected Wenck’s

army to succeed, and that the negotiations with the west, entered into with too great an

optimism, had failed. We had been deceived from above on all these points for several

days now. All the sacrifices made by the troops had been in vain. We had been abused

in the worst possible way. How was I going to tell those under my

command when I could reproach myself most for my good faith?


SS-General Mohnke appeared after a long wait accompanied by Reich Youth Leader Axmann

and in short sentences told me what I already knew from SS-General Ziegler. Then he

recalled the nocturnal attempt by General Krebs to obtain an immediate stop to the fighting

in Berlin to prevent any further shedding of blood. General Chuikov

facing us refused and demanded an unconditional surrender.


This was unacceptable. Thus, basing himself on a very old order, SS-General Mohnke

asked me if I, being the most senior officer in my rank, would continue to assure the

defence of the city, in which case all troops still available would

be placed under my command. I rejected this stupid idea.


Then, he said, there is nothing else to do than follow the order already given by

General Weidling for the remainder of the Berlin garrison to attempt to pierce the Soviet

encirclement in small groups. In answer to my question, he said that the rest was

up to every one of us; the general direction was Neuruppin and then on in a north-westerly direction.


Everything was now on the move. It was impossible to obtain information about the situation

in other parts of the city. Each of the groups assembling with a view

to breaking out had to make its own necessary reconnaissance.


Finally, in order to avoid chaos, the news of the death of Hitler and the other events we

had been told about were not to be divulged until 2100 hours that evening. According to

General Weidling’s orders issued to all sectors, the defence would cease everywhere at 2300 hours.


All the rest, including the choice of routes, was left to the individual sectors. No rear guard

was anticipated. SS-General Ziegler said that he would rejoin the Nordland for the

breakout. In leaving the Chancellery, I saw no disorder in the rooms or corridors.


The commanders had carte blanche for the careful with-drawal of their troops from

2300 hours onwards, the little posts remaining behind until midnight would mask the total

evacuation of our positions from the enemy. At midnight, Regiments Norge and Danmark

left Leipziger Strasse, heading north via Charlottenstrasse and Friedrichstrasse. The

U-Bahn tunnel could only be used under the most disciplined conditions and with intervals

between groups. It was nevertheless necessary to leave it at Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn

Station, for the tunnel was blocked by a solid grille preventing passage under the Spree.


In fact this ‘grille’ was a waterproof steel bulkhead, normally closed at night for security

reasons, and had a guard of two transport-authority watchmen,

who refused to open it as to do so would be against regulations!


We took a pause to regroup and decide north of the Spree near the Grand Opera.

I myself was in Albrechtstrasse attempting to explore the possibilities with some

officers who knew the area well.


Having abandoned my command post a little after midnight and taken the convenient route

with my staff and the accompanying French detachment, I sent my liaison officer,

SS-Second Lieutenant Patzak to the Air Ministry to collect the men of the Nordland and

the French still in that sector. According to a report by Captain Fenet, the latter were engaged

in the vicinity of Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. It is not known whether this officer reached

there or whether he was killed on the way. Captain Fenet never received my orders.


1 May

Captain Fenet continued his account:

That Ukrainian hadn’t lied. All night and all morning of the 1st May the storm of the Red

assaults beats against us with desperate violence, but we are determined to respond

with defiance. The Red infantry has been reinforced and launches waves of attack

simultaneously with the setting off of the tanks. We let the T-34s approach to fire at

point blank range, while pinning down the infantry with our assault rifles.

The latter try to advance again, but they don’t get far and soon they don’t get up again.


The Russian concentrate their tanks barely 300 metres away, and the infantry move round

behind that steel barrier. We know the buildings they are using, from where the deluge of

fire fails to crush us, and of which we easily have the advantage. We have to wait until

they are quite close at the end of a rifle or Panzerfaust, so close that several missed

shots could open up the way and cause the front to collapse. The fate of the battle depends

on the outcome of every attack. The Reichs Chancellery is being fiercely defended.

One moment of weakness, one inattention on our part, and we would have the catastrophe

that threatens, always more precisely to the extent that it consumes

our strength and our effectives go on in this battle of hell.


During a particularly violent attack, a T-34 succeeds in passing and is only knocked out

30 metres behind our first position. For several moments a terrible anxiety seizes us,

as if an abyss has opened beneath our feet. But no, it cannot be said that a Red tank

has succeeded in penetrating our lines with impunity. There is a second explosion and

the intruder is immobilised.


The situation worsens during the afternoon. Our building, practically intact when we

occupied it, has now fallen into ruins, and if the ground floor is still holding, long strips of

parquet are hanging down to the street, a perfect target for the Red flame-throwers, who,

taking advantage of the scarcity of out troops, infiltrate through the ruins. We try to get

these awkward bits of wood to fall into the street, but without tools in the middle of

tottering walls and under enemy fire, our men can only establish the uselessness of their

efforts. After several fruitless attempts, the Reds succeed in setting fire to this hanging

pyre. We haven’t got a drop of water. Georges, the signaller, a placid, smiling, young

Norman with plump cheeks, does his best in his quality as a former Parisian fireman, but

soon he has to report that we must abandon all hope. If all goes well, we should be able to

remain another hour, not more!


The Main Security Office had been decided upon as our next centre of resistance,

several dozen metres away. While waiting, we continue the battle with the flames

over our heads, while Georges and several others try desperately to slow down the fire’s

advance at the risk of being burnt alive. After alternatives of hope and anxiety, Georges,

black as a charcoal burner, returns to report that there is not much time left; the ground

floor will be engulfed in its turn and the hundreds of books ranged along the shelves will

provide the flames magnificent nourishment. The ground floor fills with smoke and flames

come from the ceiling. It is now impossible to reach Wilhemstrasse.

Regretfully, we must leave. It is now 1800 hours.


The Main Security Office is in ruins, but its cellars opening unto the street still provide

useful shelter. Our sentries take up their positions without any reaction from the Reds.

In fact our move was conducted as discreetly as possible. Soon a violent infantry fight

starts up on our right, a furious fusillade opening up and nourished by both sides.

The Reds advance and are repulsed, advance again and are again repulsed. Finally

they manage to gain a little ground in the neighbouring sector, but our front remains unaltered.


In a cellar serving as a shelter and rest place, and by the light of a candle, I award Iron

Crosses to a certain number of our comrades. To be decorated at the front in the course

of an impressive parade is everyone’s dream, but tonight the pathos of this so simple

ceremony with a few gathered round in this dark and narrow cellar during the last hours

of a super-human battle is worth all the parades in the world. By the trembling light of this

symbolic candle, whose flame celebrates the victory of light over the shadows and hope

over death, the blackened, dull, emaciated faces, creased with fatigue and hunger, the faces

tense or shining, with feverish, ardent eyes, take on an extraordinary aspect.

‘In the name of the Führer ...’


The last night is relatively calm. A neighbouring company leaves on a mission on behalf

of the Reichs Chancellery and we take over their sector. The Nordland’s command post

has moved out of Stadtmitte U-Bahn Station and is now in the Reichs Chancellery itself.

Dufour, sent there, reports that all is well. This evening they are celebrating the award

of the Knight’s Cross to Vaulot, who destroyed his seventh tank today, and our few comrades

there – the commander kept back several at his disposal – are singing and drinking with

their German comrades of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. We haven’t been forgotten,

and Dufour and his group have brought us some chocolate and several bottles. The 1st

May, a fateful day, has passed much more successfully than the Ukrainian predicted

the other evening.


2 May

Captain Fenet concluded his account:

Towards daybreak, our sentries report that we are again alone ahead of the lines. I check,

it is true; there is no one to left or right of us. A little later a patrol reports that the front line

is now back to the Air Ministry. We withdraw there during the course of the morning and

make contact with the Luftwaffe troops occupying the building. We take up our new positions

without any loss of time, but we have hardly done so when we see vehicles bearing white

flags coming from the enemy lines. In them are German officers and Russians. There is

talk of capitulation. Soon unarmed Russian soldiers come forward offering cigarettes,

and some of the Luftwaffe soldiers start fraternising. Other Red

soldiers arrive in detachments, but they come from within our lines.


The Luftwaffe commander tells me of his intention of surrendering when the Reds invite

him to. ‘Its over,’ he adds, ‘the capitulation has been signed.’ But he is unable to provide

me with any details. No, we cannot believe that it is all over, that’s impossible! In any

case, we cannot remain here to be taken stupidly! What’s happening at the Reichs Chancellery?

There at least we should learn something, and if there is a last square to be formed, we will

be the ones to form it!


We quickly leave the ministry without responding to the Reds, men and women, that

cordially invite us to hand over our arms. Avoiding the streets, we filter through the ruins

as far as the U-Bahn and climb down through a ventilation shaft. There is no living

soul at Stadtmitte Station, only two or three empty bags. We then come to the Kaiserhof

Station, just behind the Reichs Chancellery. A ladder goes up to a ventilation grid at street

level. I am the first to go up and look, my ears attuned to sounds of combat, but there is

only the noise of klaxons and moving trucks. More bars, but at last I can see, with my

hands clasping the ladder, my eyes take in the spectacle that my body rejects. As far as

I can see are Russians, vehicle with the red star going in all directions, not a single

shot, the Reichs Chancellery walls are dumb, there is no one around, it is all over!


I go back down again without saying a word. The men gather round me with wide eyes.

‘Nobody! The Russians are there, everywhere. The Führer is certainly dead.’

They lower their heads in silence.


‘Now, we have to get out of here. In my opinion the only solution is to try to get through

to the west. We will use the U-Bahn tunnels as long as possible. Let’s

go! We will get out of this situation this time too! Does everyone agree?’


With our ears pricked we continue on our way. The ceiling has collapsed in several places,

in other places rubble blocks the way and we clear a path through with our hands and

bayonets. But at Potsdammer Platz a cruel discovery awaits us; from here on the U-Bahn

lines are in the open.


It would be best to remain hidden underground and wait for nightfall. One of the tunnels

opens under a railway bridge and is blocked with debris, offering a wonderful hiding place.

We quickly split up into small groups and vanish one after another. However, some Volkssturm

arrive at the same time with the same intention as ourselves. These poor old chaps are

slow and noisy, attracting the attention of a Red patrol that enters several seconds later.

‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’ the first Volkssturm calls out in an anxious voice as they grab

hold of him. The Reds carefully search the whole area and flush out our group one after

another. We hold our breath as the Russians go past. Several times they stop right in

front of us. Our hearts beat to breaking point. Pressed one against the other, we

wait and cling stubbornly to our last hopes.


The end comes suddenly. Our protecting wall collapses under angry booting, the Russians

surround us and comb through our pockets. The first things they take are our watches,

and then our weapons. We are dragged outside, where we see drunken groups of the victors

staggering around. A swaying Russian approaches us with angrily blinking eyes and

threatening mouth. He grabs Roger Albert marching next to me and pushes him against

a wall. A guard intervenes and pulls his prisoner back into the column. ‘I thought I had

had it!’ whispers Roger Albert to me. At this moment the drunken Russian returns,

seizing his victim again: ‘SS! SS!’ he cries, pulling out his pistol. A shot rings out and

Roger Albert falls at my feet without a sound. Seeing that we are about

to stop, our guards push us on shouting, and we continue on our way.


We come to the Reichs Chancellery, which is being ransacked, while hundreds and

hundreds of tanks parade through the Tiergarten towards the Brandenburg

Gate, which still raises its mutilated profile like a last hope, a last act of defiance.


Rostaing and sixteen other French survivors were sleeping exhausted in the ruins of

Potsdammer railway station at around midnight when they were

awakened by a call to surrender or the station would be blown up.


General Krukenberg concluded his account:

Having crossed the Spree, I sent the two officers that lived locally off on reconnaissance,

but neither of them returned, so towards 0300 hours on the morning of the 2nd May I

made a reconnaissance myself accompanied by my French detachment. An attempt

to go through the Charité Hospital failed because Professor Sauerbruch (the hospital director),

in agreement with the Russian command, had declared it a neutral zone, so I tried

to go via Chausseestrasse. I encountered elements of the Nordland with SS-General Ziegler,

who had joined us with his companions. There were four or five holders of the

Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in our group, including the Frenchman Vaulot.


Meanwhile day was dawning and the Soviets, seeing our column, brought it under violent fire.

We turned around with the hope of leaving via Gesundbrunnen towards Pankow and from

there on to Wittenau.


Following Brunnenstrasse we were suddenly hit by well directed mortar fire at the level

of Lortzingstrasse, apparently coming from the railway ring. We sought shelter in the

courtyard of a building on the corner, where SS-General Ziegler was mortally wounded

near me by explosions that wounded other members of our group. Soviet infantrymen

that had infiltrated the quarter took us under fire in turn, obliging us to turn back towards the city.


At the level of Ziegelstrasse we saw the ‘Tiger’ tank I had placed at the disposal of the

Chancellery the day before, burnt out and abandoned, with no trace of its crew. All the area,

including the Weidendammer Bridge, was still clear of the enemy at 0900 hours that morning.


By 1500 hours all resistance had definitely ceased in Berlin.

That evening the German armies in Italy and Austria also capitulated.


Having succeeded in hiding myself away with some friends in Dahlem for several days,

I eventually surrendered to the Soviet authorities in Berlin-Steglitz.








Epic: The Story of the Waffen SS

By Leon Degrelle






Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Leon Degrelle was already known as the

leader of the anti-Establishment Rexist party in Belgium, and as Europe’s youngest and

most dynamic political figure. During the war he became known across the continent for

his charismatic leadership and courage in combat on the Eastern Front. Of him

Hitler reportedly said: “If I were to have a son, I would want him to be like Degrelle.”


His life began in 1906 in Bouillon, a small town in the Belgian Ardennes. As a student

at the University of Louvain, he earned a doctorate in law. His keen interests were

wide-ranging, and included political science, art, archeology and Thomistic philosophy.

In his student days he traveled in Latin America, the United States and Canada.

He visited North Africa, the Middle East and, of course, much of Europe.


His natural gifts as a leader were apparent early on. Imbued with a strong Christian ethos,

he sought to win support for his vision of a more just and noble social-political order

dedicated to the best long-term interests of the people. While still in his twenties, he was

reaching out to people in many articles and several books he wrote, through a weekly newspaper

he ran, and in numerous speeches. Mussolini invited him to Rome,Churchill met with him

in London, and Hitler received him in Berlin.


Although often provocative and controversial, people read what he wrote and listened

to what he had to say because he expressed himself with clarity, passion and obvious

sincerity, and because he dealt with real concerns and issues. In a few short years he

won a large measure of popular backing. On May 24, 1936, his Rex movement scored

a remarkable electoral breakthrough. In a startling rebuke of the Establishment

parties, it won 11.5 percent of the national vote.


As tensions mounted in 1939, Degrelle sought to counter the drift into another cataclysmic

conflict. In September Britain and France declared war on Germany. Events were to quickly

prove that the leaders in London and Paris had badly miscalculated. Within a year the

swastika flag flew from the North Pole to the shores of Greece and the border with Spain.

As war continued between Britain and Germany, the Soviet leaders prepared to seize the

opportunity and strike westwards. But Hitler beat them to it. On June 22, 1941, German

and allied forces struck against the Soviet Union. It was soon clear to everyone

that the titanic struggle could end only in victory for either Hitler or Stalin.


With an awareness that this great clash would determine the long-term future of their native

countries and of the West, thousands of young men across Europe pledged their lives for

a better future in a united Europe, and volunteered for combat against the Soviets.


They joined the ranks of the Waffen SS – the military and ideological shock troops of the

new Europe. This first-ever truly European armed force would grow to nearly a million men.

About 400,000, a minority of the total, were Germans from the Reich. Most of those who

will fill the scores of Waffen SS divisions -- including Degrelle and the other Légion Wallonie

volunteers from Belgium’s French-speaking region -- were Europeans from outside of Germany.


These hundreds of thousands of volunteers, and their leaders, understood that after the

war this pan-European brotherhood in arms would be the social and political foundation

of a new continental order that would transcend the petty national rivalries of the past.

All SS men fought the same struggle. All became comrades in arms. And all shared

the same vision of the future.


For understandable reasons, the military and political achievements of

Waffen SS are not well known today, and even less properly appreciated.


Leon Degrelle is one of its most famous soldiers. After joining as a private he quickly rose

in rank due to his exceptional courage and proven leadership at the front. He engaged in

dozens of hand-to-hand combat actions. He was wounded on numerous occasions.

His many decorations for outstanding service and valor included the highest honors: the

Knight’s Cross (Ritterkreuz) of the Iron Cross, the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, and

the Gold German Cross in Gold. He was among the last to fight on the Eastern Front.

At the end of the war he escaped surrender and certain death in Allied captivity with a

daring and perilous flight of some 1500 miles from Norway to Spain. He was critically wounded

when his plane crash-landed on a Spanish beach. But once again, he survived. In the new

life he built in Spanish exile, he dedicated his efforts, above all, to keeping faith with his

wartime comrades, both living and dead, and in passing on to future generations the

story of their epic struggle and vision.


-- The Publisher


I am asked to talk to you about the great unknown of World War Two: the Waffen SS.

It is somewhat amazing that this organization, which was both political and military, and

which united a million fighting volunteers during the war, should still be largely ignored.


Why? Why is it that the official record still distorts or virtually ignores this extraordinary

army of volunteers? An army that was at the vortex of the most gigantic struggle, affecting

the entire world. The answer may well be found in the fact that the most striking feature

of the Waffen SS was that it was composed of volunteers from some thirty different countries.


What cause brought them together, and why did they volunteer their lives?


Was it a German phenomenon? At the beginning, yes. Initially, the Waffen SS amounted

to fewer than two hundred members. It grew steadily until 1940 when it evolved into a

second phase, the Germanic Waffen SS. In addition to men from the German Reich,

northwestern Europeans and ethnic Germans from across Europe enlisted.


Then, in 1941 -- during the great clash with the Soviet Union -- arose the European Waffen SS.

Young men from the most distant countries fought together on the Eastern Front. Few knew

anything about the Waffen SS during the years preceding the war. The Germans

themselves took some time to recognize its distinctive character.


Hitler rose to power democratically, winning at the ballot box. He ran electoral campaigns

like any other politician. He addressed meetings and advertised on billboards, and his speeches

attracted capacity audiences. More and more people liked what he had to say, and ever

larger numbers elected members of his party to parliament. Hitler did not come to power

by force, but was duly elected by the people and duly installed as Chancellor by the

President of Germany, Field Marshal von Hindenburg. His government was legitimate

and democratic. In fact, only two of his followers were included in his first Cabinet.


During these election campaigns Hitler faced formidable enemies. Those who held power

had no qualms about tampering with the electoral process. He had to face the Weimar-regime

Establishment and its well-financed left-wing and liberal parties, as well as the highly organized

bloc of six million Communist Party members. Only through the most fearless and relentless

struggle to convince people to vote for him, was Hitler able to obtain a democratic majority.


In those days the Waffen SS was not even a factor. There was, of course, the SA “Stormtroopers,”

with some three million men. They were rank and file members of the National Socialist Party,

but certainly not an army. Their main function was to protect party candidates from Communist

violence. And the violence was murderous indeed. More than five hundred National Socialists

were murdered by the Communists, and thousands were grievously injured. The SA was a

volunteer, non-governmental organization, and as soon as Hitler rose to power he could

no longer avail himself of its help.


Hitler had to work within the system through which he had come to office. He came to

power with major disadvantages. He had to contend with an entrenched bureaucracy

appointed by the old regime. In fact, when the war broke out in 1939, 70 percent of the

German bureaucrats in place had been appointed by the old regime, and did not belong

to Hitler’s party. He could not count on the support of the Church hierarchy. Both big

business and the Communist Party were totally hostile to his program. On top of all this,

extreme poverty existed, and six million workers were unemployed.

Never before had so many people in a European country been out of work.


The three million SA party members are not in the government. They voted and helped win

elections, but they could not supplant the entrenched bureaucracy in the government.

The SA also was unable to exert influence on the army,

because the top brass, fearful of competition, was hostile to it.


This hostility reached such a point that Hitler was faced with a wrenching dilemma.

What to do with the millions of followers who helped him to power? He could not abandon them.


The army was a highly organized power structure. Although only numbering 100,000,

as dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, it exerted great influence in the affairs of state.

The President of Germany was Field Marshal von Hindenburg. The army was

a privileged caste. Almost all the officers belonged to the upper classes of society.


It was impossible for Hitler to take on the powerful army frontally. Hitler had been elected

democratically, and he could not do what Stalin did: to have firing squads execute the

entire military establishment. Stalin killed thirty thousand high ranking officers. That was

Stalin’s way to make room for his own trusted commissars. Such drastic methods could

not happen in Germany, and unlike Stalin, Hitler was surrounded by international enemies.


His election had provoked international rage. He had gone to the voters directly without

the intermediary of the Establishment parties. His party platform included an appeal for

racial integrity in Germany, as well as a return of power to the people. Such

tenets so infuriated world Jewry that in 1933 it officially declared war on Germany.


Contrary to what one is told, Hitler had limited power and was quite alone. How this man

ever survived these early years defies comprehension. Only the fact that he was an

exceptional genius explains his survival against all odds. Abroad and at

home Hitler had to bend over backwards just to demonstrate his good will.


But despite all his efforts Hitler was gradually being driven into a corner. The feud between

the SA and the army was coming to a head. His old comrade, Ernst Röhm, Chief of the

SA, wanted to follow Stalin’s example and physically eliminate the army brass. The showdown

resulted in the death of Röhm, either by suicide or summary killing, and of many of his

assistants, with the army picking up the pieces and putting the SA back in its place.


At this time the only SS men in Germany were in Chancellor Hitler’s personal guard:

one hundred eighty in all. They were young men of exceptional qualities, but without any

political role. Their duties consisted of guarding the Chancellery and presenting arms to

visiting dignitaries.


It was from this miniscule group that a few years later would spring an army of a million soldiers.

An army of unprecedented valor extending its call throughout Europe.


After Hitler was compelled to acknowledge the superiority of the army, he realized

that the brass would never support his revolutionary social programs. It was an army of aristocrats.


Hitler was a man of the people, a man who succeeded in wiping out unemployment,

a feat unsurpassed to this day. Within two years he gave work to six million Germans

and got rid of rampant poverty. In five years the German worker doubled his income

without inflation. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful homes were built for workers at

minimal cost. Each home had a garden to grow flowers and vegetables. All the factories

were provided with sport fields, swimming pools, and decent and attractive work areas.


For the first time, German workers had paid vacations. The Communists and capitalists

had never offered paid vacations; this was Hitler's creation. He organized the famous

“Strength Through Joy” programs, which meant that workers could, at

affordable prices, board passenger ships and visit scenic foreign lands.


All these social improvements did not please the establishment. Big business tycoons

and international bankers were worried. But Hitler stood up to them. Business could

make profits, but only if people were paid decently and allowed to live and work in

dignity. People, not profits, came first.


This was only one of Hitler’s reforms. He initiated hundreds of others. He literally rebuilt

Germany. In a few years more than five thousand miles of freeways were built. For the

worker the affordable Volkswagen was created. Any worker could get this car for payment

over time of five marks a week. It was unprecedented. Thanks to the freeways, workers

for the first time could visit any part of Germany whenever they liked.

The same programs applied to the farmers and the middle class.


Hitler realized that if his social reforms were to go forward and take

root, he needed a powerful lever, one that commanded respect.


Hitler still did not confront the army, but skillfully started to build up the SS. He needed the

SS because above all Hitler was a political man; to him war was the last resort. His aim

was to convince people, to obtain their loyalty, particularly the younger generation.

He knew that the Establishment-minded brass would oppose him at every turn.


In order not to alert the army, Hitler enlarged the SS into a force responsible for law and

order. There was of course a German police force, but in that case as well Hitler was unsure

of their loyalty. The 150,000 policemen had been appointed by the Weimar regime. Hitler

needed the SS not only to detect and quash plots, but mostly to protect his reforms. As

his initial Leibstandarte unit of 180 grew, other regiments were organized, such as the

Deutschland and the Germania.


The army brass did everything to prevent SS recruitment. Hitler bypassed the obstacles

by having the interior ministry and not the war ministry handle the recruiting. The army

countered by discouraging recruitment. Privates were required to serve four years,

non-commissioned officers twelve, and officers twenty-five years. Such restrictions,

it was thought, would greatly discourage SS recruitment. In spite of the lengthy service

requirements, thousands of young men, in fact, rushed to apply -- more than could be accepted.


The young felt the SS was the only armed force that represented their own ideas. The

new SS formations captivated public imagination. Clad in smart black uniforms, the SS

attracted more and more young men. It took two years -- 1933 to 1935 --

and a constant battle of wits with the army to raise a force of 8,000 SS men.


At the time they were called just SS. It was not until 1940, after the French campaign,

that it would officially be named “Waffen SS.” And 8,000 SS men did not go far in a

country of 80 million people. Hitler had to devise yet another way to get around the army.

He created the Totenkopf guard corps. They were really SS in disguise, but their official

function was to guard the concentration camps.


What were these concentration camps? They were just work centers where intractable

Communists were put to work. They were well treated because it was thought that sooner

or later they would be converted to patriotism. There were two concentration camps

with a total of three thousand inmates. Three thousand out of a total of six million

card-carrying members of the Communist Party. That represents one per

two thousand. Right until the war there were fewer than ten thousand inmates.


The young men who joined the SS were trained like no other army in the world. Military

and academic instruction was intensive, but it was the physical training that was the most

rigorous. They practiced sports with excellence. Each of them would have performed with

distinction at the Olympic Games. The extraordinary physical endurance of the SS

on the Russian front, which so amazed the world, was due to this intensive training.


There was also rigorous ideological training. They were taught to understand why they

were fighting, and what kind of Germany was being resurrected. They were shown how

Germany was being morally united through class reconciliation, and physically united

through the return of the lost German homelands. They were made aware of their kinship

with all the other Germans living in foreign lands -- in Poland, Russia, and, and other

parts of Europe. They were taught that all Germans represented an ethnic unity.


Young SS were educated in two military academies, one in Bad Tölz the other in Braunschweig.

These academies were totally different than the grim barracks of the past. Combining aesthetics

with the latest technology, they were located in the middle of hundreds of acres of beautiful countryside.


Hitler was opposed to any war, particularly in western Europe. He did not even conceive

that the SS could participate in such a war. Above all the SS was a political force. Hitler

regarded Western countries as individual cultures that could be federated but certainly

not conquered. He felt that a conflict within the West would be a no-win civil war.


Hitler’s conception of Europe was thus far ahead of the views held by those neighboring

countries. The mentality of 1914-1918, when small countries fought other small countries

over bits of real estate, still prevailed in the Europe of 1939. Not so in the case of the Soviet

Union, where internationalism replaced nationalism. The Communists never aimed at

serving the interests of Russia. Communism does not limit itself to

acquire chunks of territories, but aims at total world domination.


This was a dramatically new factor. Alone among the world’s leaders,

Hitler saw Soviet Communism as a threat to all nations.


Hitler recalled vividly the havoc the Communists unleashed in Germany at the end of World

War One. Particularly in Berlin and Bavaria the Communists, acting on foreign orders,

organized a state within a state and almost took over. For Hitler, everything pointed east.

The threat was Communism. Apart from his lack of interest in subjugating western Europe,

Hitler was well aware he could not successfully wage war on two fronts.


Instead of letting Hitler fight Communism, the Allies at this point made the fateful decision

to attack Hitler. The so-called Western Democracies also allied themselves with

the Soviet Union for the purpose of encircling and destroying the new Germany.


The Treaty of Versailles had already amputated Germany on all sides. The imposed

Treaty was also designed to keep the country in a state of permanent economic backwardness

and military impotence. Adding to the pressure from all sides, the Allies ratified a string

of treaties with Belgium, the newly created Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Rumania.


In the summer of 1939 the governments of Britain and France were secretly negotiating

a full military alliance with the Soviet Union. The talks were held in Moscow,

and the discussion minutes were signed by Marshal Zhukov.


I have these minutes in my possession. They are stupefying. In one report, the Soviets pledge

to join with Britain and France in war against Germany. Upon ratification, the Soviet Union

was to immediately provide Anglo-French forces with the support of 5500 combat planes,

with a promise of back up support of the entire Soviet air force. Between 9,000 to 10,000

Soviet tanks would also be made available. In return, the Soviet Union demanded the

Baltic States and free access to Poland. The plan called for an early joint attack.


At this stage Germany was still only minimally armed. The French negotiators realized that

the 10,000 Soviet tanks would quickly destroy the 2,000 German tanks, but they did not

foresee that the Soviets would be unlikely to stop at the French border. Likewise

the British government was not prepared to halt a Soviet takeover of Europe.


Facing total encirclement Hitler decided once more to make his own peace with one

or the other side of the Soviet-British partnership. He turned to the British and French

governments and requested formal peace talks. His quest for peace was answered

by an outpouring of insults and denunciations. The international press went on an

unprecedented orgy of hate against Hitler. It is mind-boggling to re-read these

newspapers today.


When Hitler made similar peace overtures to Moscow he was surprised to find the Soviets

eager to sign a treaty with Germany. In fact, Stalin did not sign such a treaty for the purpose

of peace. He signed to let Europe destroy itself in a war of attrition,

while giving him the time he needed to build up his military strength.


Stalin’s real intent is revealed in the minutes of the Soviet High Command, also in my

possession. Stalin states his intention to enter the war the moment Hitler and the Western

powers have annihilated each other. Stalin had a great interest in marking time and

letting others fight first. I have read his military plans, and I have seen how they were

achieved. By 1941 Stalin’s ten thousand tanks had increased to 17,999, and the next

year they would have been 32,000, ten times more than Germany’s.

The Soviet air force would likewise have been ten to one in Stalin’s favor.


The very week Stalin signed the peace treaty with Hitler, he gave orders to build 96 air

fields on the Western Soviet border, with 180 planned for the following year. His strategy

was consistent: “The more the Western powers fight it out the weaker they will be. The

longer I wait the stronger I get.” It was under these appalling circumstances that

World War Two started – a war which was offered to the Soviets on a silver platter.


Aware of Stalin’s preparations, Hitler knew he would have to face Communism sooner

rather than later. And to fight Communism he had to rely on totally loyal men, men who

would fight for an ideology against another ideology. It had always been Hitler’s

policy to oppose the ideology of class war with an ideology of class cooperation.


Hitler had observed that Marxist class war had not brought prosperity to the Russian

people. Russian workers were poorly clothed, badly housed, and poorly fed. Goods are

always in short supply, and even in Moscow housing was nightmarish. For Hitler the failure

of class war clearly made class cooperation the only just alternative. To make

it work Hitler saw to it that one class would not be allowed to abuse the other.


It is a fact that the newly rich classes emerging from the industrial revolution had enormously

abused their privileges, and it was for this reason that the National Socialists were socialists.


National Socialism was a popular movement in the truest sense. The great majority of

National Socialists were blue collar workers. Seventy percent of the Hitler Youth were

children of blue collar workers. Hitler won elections because the great mass of workers

was solidly behind him. Many wondered why the six million Communists who had voted

against Hitler turned their back on Communism after he came to power in 1933. There

is only one reason: they witnessed and experienced the benefits of class cooperation.

Some say they were forced to change; it is not true. Like other loyal Germans they

fought four years on the Russian front with distinction.


The workers never abandoned Hitler, but the upper classes did. Hitler spelled out

his formula of class cooperation as the answer to Communism with these words:

“Class cooperation means that capitalists will never again treat the workers as mere

economic components. Money is but one part of our economic life. The workers are not

just machines to whom one throws a pay packet every week. The real wealth of Germany is its workers.”


Hitler replaced gold with work as the foundation of the economy. National Socialism was

the exact opposite of Communism. Extraordinary achievements followed Hitler’s election.


We always hear about Hitler and the camps, Hitler and the Jews, but we never hear

about his immense social work. It was in large measure because of that social work

that the international bankers and their servile press generated so much hatred against

Hitler. It was obvious that a genuinely popular movement like National Socialism would

collide with the selfish interests of high finance. Hitler made clear that the control of

money did not convey the right of rapacious exploitation of an entire country, because

there are also people living in the country, millions of them, and these people have

the right to live with dignity and without want. What Hitler said and practiced won

over the German youth. It was this social revolution that the SS felt compelled

to secure throughout Germany, and, if need be, to defend with their lives.


The 1939 war in Western Europe defied all reason. It was a civil war

among those who should have been united. It was a monstrous stupidity.


The young SS were trained to lead the new National Socialist revolution. In five or ten

years they were to replace all those who had been put in office by the former regime.


But at the beginning of the war it was not possible for these young men to stay home.

Along with other young fellow countrymen, they felt called to defend their country,

and even to defend it better than others.


The war turned the SS from a home political force to a national

army fighting abroad, and then to a supra-national army.


We are now at the beginning of the 1939 war in Poland, with its far reaching

consequences. Could the war have been avoided? Emphatically yes!


The Danzig conflict was inconsequential. The Treaty of Versailles had separated the

German city of Danzig from Germany and gave it to Poland against the wish of its citizens.

This action was so outrageous that it had been condemned all over the world. A large

section of Germany was sliced through the middle. To go from western Prussia to East

Prussia one had to travel in a sealed train through Polish territory. The citizens of

Danzig had voted 99 percent to have their city returned to Germany.

Their right of self-determination had been consistently ignored.


However, the war in Poland started for reasons

other than Danzig’s self-determination or even Poland’s.


Just a few months earlier, Poland had attacked Czechoslovakia at the same time Hitler

had returned the Sudetenland to Germany. The Poles were ready to work with Hitler.

Poland turned against Germany only because the British government

did everything in its power to poison German-Polish relations.


Why? Much has to do with a longstanding inferiority complex British rulers have felt towards

Europe. This complex has manifested itself in the British Establishment’s

obsession in keeping Europe weak through wars and dissension.


At the time the British Empire controlled 500 million human beings outside of Europe,

but somehow it was more preoccupied with its traditional hobby: sowing dissension in Europe.

This policy of never allowing the emergence of a strong European country

has been the British Establishment’s modus operandi for centuries.


Whether it was Charles the Fifth of Spain, Louis the Fourteenth or Napoleon of France,

or William the Second of Germany, the British Establishment never tolerated any unifying

power in Europe. Germany never wanted to meddle in British affairs. However, the British

Establishment always made it a point to meddle in European affairs, particularly in

Central Europe and the Balkans.


Hitler’s entry into Prague brought the British running to the fray. Prague and Bohemia had

been part of Germany for centuries, and had always been within the German

sphere of influence. British meddling in this area was totally unjustified.


For Germany the Prague regime represented a grave threat. Czech president Benes,

Stalin’s servile satrap, had been ordered by his Kremlin masters to open his borders to

the Communist armies at a moment's notice. Prague was to be the Soviet springboard to Germany.


For Hitler, Prague was a watchtower to central Europe and an advance post to delay a

Soviet invasion. There were also Prague’s historic economic ties with Germany. Germany

has always had economic links with Central Europe. Rumania, the Balkans, Bulgaria,

Hungary and Yugoslavia [Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia] have had long-standing, mutually

complimentary economic relations with Germany, which have continued to this day.


Hitler’s European economic policy was based on common sense and realism. And it was his

emerging central European common market, rather than concern for Czech freedom, that the

British Establishment could not tolerate.


All the same, English people felt great admiration for Hitler. I remember when [former

British prime minister] Lloyd George addressed the German press outside Hitler’s home,

where he had just been a guest. He stated: “You can thank God you have such a wonderful

man as your leader.” Lloyd George, the enemy of Germany during World War One, said that!


King Edward the Eighth of England, who had just abdicated and was now the Duke of Windsor,

also came to visit Hitler at his Berchtesgaden home, accompanied by his wife. When they

returned home, the Duke sent a wire to Hitler. It read: “What a wonderful day we have

spent with your Excellency. Unforgettable!” And reflecting what many English people had

already learned, the Duke remarked on how well off German workers were. The Duke was

telling the truth. The German worker earned twice as much, without inflation,

as he did before Hitler, and consequently his standard of living was high.


Even Churchill, the most fanatic German-hater of them all, had in 1938, a year before the war,

wrote in the London Times: “I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war

I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations.”


Friend or foe, all acknowledged that Hitler was a man of exceptional genius. His

achievements were the envy of the world. In five short years he rebuilt a bankrupt nation

burdened with millions of unemployed into the strongest economic power in Europe.

It was so strong that for six years his geographically small country was able to

withstand a war against world powers.


Churchill acknowledged that no one in the world could match such a feat. Just before the

outbreak of war he stated that no doubt a peace formula could be worked out with Hitler.

But Churchill received other instructions. The Establishment, fearful that Hitler’s successes

in Germany could spread to other countries, was determined to destroy him. It created

hatred against Germany across Europe by stirring old grievances.

It also exploited the envy some Europeans felt toward Germany.


The Germans’ high birth rate had made Germany the most populous country in western Europe.

In science and technology Germany was ahead of both France and Britain. Hitler had built

Germany into an economic powerhouse. That was Hitler’s crime, and the

British Establishment opted to destroy Hitler and Germany by any means.


The British manipulated the Polish government against Germany. The Poles themselves

were more than willing to live in peace with the Germans. Instead, the unfortunate Poles

were railroaded into war by the British. One must not forget that one and a half million

[ethnic] Germans lived in Poland at the time, at great benefit to the Polish economy.


In January 1939 Hitler had proposed to Beck, the Polish foreign minister, a compromise to

solve the Danzig issue: The Danzigers’ wish to return to Germany would be honored, and

Poland would continue to have free port access and facilities, guaranteed by treaty.


The prevailing notion of the day that every country must have a sea port really does not

make sense. Switzerland, Hungary and other countries with no sea ports manage quite well.

Hitler’s proposals were based on the principles of self-determination and reciprocity.

Even Churchill admitted that such a solution could dispose of the Danzig problem.

This admission, however, did not prevent Britain from sending an ultimatum to Germany:

withdrawal from Poland, or war. (The world has seen what happened when Israel invaded

Lebanon [in 1982]. Heavily populated cities like Tyre and Sidon were destroyed, and so

was West Beirut. Everybody called for Israel’s withdrawal, but no one declared war

on Israel when it refused to budge.)


With a little patience a peaceful solution regarding Danzig could certainly have been arranged.

Instead, the international press unleashed a massive campaign of outright lies and distortions

against Hitler. His proposals were willfully misrepresented by a relentless press onslaught.


Of all the crimes of World War Two, one never hears about the wholesale massacres that

occurred in Poland just before the war. I have detailed reports in my files documenting the

mass slaughter of defenseless Germans in Poland. Thousands of German men, women

and children were massacred in the most horrendous fashion by media-enraged mobs.

The photographs of these massacres are too sickening to look at. Hitler decided to halt

the slaughter, and he rushed to the rescue.


The Polish campaign revealed another startling characteristic of this man: his rare military

genius. All the successful military campaigns of the Third Reich were thought out and

directed by Hitler personally, not the General Staff. He also inspired a number

of generals who became his most able executives in later campaigns.


In regard to the Polish campaign the General Staff had planned an offensive along the

Baltic coastline to take Danzig, a plan that would been doomed to failure. Instead, Hitler

invented the Blitzkrieg or “lightning war” technique, and in no time captured Warsaw. SS

soldiers appeared for the first time on the Polish front, and their performance amazed the world.


The brief campaign saw three SS regiments in action: The Leibstandarte, the Deutschland

and the Germania. There was also an SS motorbike battalion, a corps of engineers, and

a transmission unit. In all it was a comprehensive but small force of about 25,000 men.

After bolting out of Silesia, Sepp Dietrich and his Leibstandarte alone split Poland in half

within days. With fewer than 3,000 men he defeated a Polish force of 15,000,

and took 10,000 prisoners. Such victories were not achieved without loss.


The second campaign in France was also swift. The British-French forces had rushed

to Holland and Belgium to check the German advance, but they were

outwitted and outflanked in Sedan. It was basically all over in a matter of days.


The story goes that Hitler had nothing to do with this operation; that it was all the work of

General von Manstein. That is entirely false. Von Manstein had indeed conceived the

idea, but when he submitted it to the General Staff, he was reprimanded, demoted and

retired to Dresden. The general staff had not brought this particular incident to Hitler’s

attention. On his own, Hitler organized a campaign along the same lines, and routed the

British-French forces. It was not until March 1940 that von Manstein came into contact with Hitler.


Hitler also planned the Balkan and Russian campaigns. On the rare occasions where

Hitler allowed the General Staff to have their way, such as in Kursk, the battle was lost.


In the 1939 Polish campaign Hitler did not rely on military textbook theories devised 50

years earlier, as advocated by the general staff, but on his own plan of swift, pincer-like

encirclement. In eight days the Polish war was won, in spite of the fact that Poland is as large as France.


It is hard to imagine, but out of a total of some one million SS men, 352,000 were killed in

action, with 50,000 more missing. It is a grim figure! Four hundred thousand of the

finest young men in Europe! Without hesitation they sacrificed themselves for their

beliefs. They knew they had to set an example. They were the

first on the front line in defending their country and their ideals.


In victory or defeat the Waffen SS always sought to be the best representatives of their

people. The SS was a democratic expression of power: people joining together of their

own free will. The ballot box is not the only expression of such consent; there is also

consent of the heart and the mind through action. The men of the Waffen SS made a

plebiscite of deeds. And the German people, proud of them, gave them their respect

and their love. Such high motivation made the volunteers of the Waffen SS the best

fighters in the world.


The SS proved themselves in action. They were not empty talking politicians, but men

who pledged their lives, and, in an extraordinary expression of comradeship, were the

first to fight. This comradeship was one of the most distinctive

characteristics of the SS: the SS leader was the comrade of the others.


It was on the front lines that the results of the SS physical training were really apparent.

SS officers had the same rigorous training as the regular soldiers. Officers and privates

competed in the same sports events, and only the best man won, regardless of rank.

This created a real brotherhood that energized the entire Waffen SS. Only the teamwork

of free men, bonded by a higher ideal, could unite Europe. Look at the Common Market

of today [and its successor, the European Union]. It is a failure. There is no unifying ideal.

Everything is based on haggling over the price of tomatoes, steel, coal or booze. Fruitful

unions are based on something higher than that.


A relationship of equality and mutual respect between soldiers and officers was always

in place. Half of all division commanders were killed in action. Half! There is not another

army in the world where that happened. The SS officer always led his troops to battle.

I was engaged in 75 hand-to-hand combat operations, because as an SS officer I had to

be the first to meet the enemy. SS soldiers were not sent to the slaughter by

behind-the-line commanders; they followed their officers with passionate loyalty. Every SS

commander knew and taught all his men, and often received unexpected answers.


After breaking out of the Cherkassy siege, I talked with all my soldiers one-by-one; there

were thousands at the time. For two weeks, every day from dawn to dusk, I asked them

questions, and heard their replies. Sometimes it happens that soldiers who brag a little

receive medals, while heroic men who keep quiet miss out. I talked to all of them because

I wanted to know first-hand what had happened, and what they had done. To be just, I

had to know the truth.


It was on that occasion that two of my soldiers suddenly pulled out their identity cards

of the Belgian resistance movement. They told me that they had been sent to kill me.

At the front line, it is very simple to shoot someone in the back. But the extraordinary

SS team spirit had won them over. By setting an example, SS officers could expect

the loyalty of their men.


The life expectancy of an SS officer at the front was three months. On one Monday while

in Estonia I received ten new young officers from the Bad Tölz

academy; by Thursday only one was still alive, and he was wounded.


In conventional armies, officers talked at the men as a superior to an inferior,

and seldom as brothers in combat or as brothers in ideology.


By 1939 the SS had earned general admiration and respect. This gave Hitler the opportunity

to call for an increase in their numbers. Instead of regiments, there would be three divisions.


Again, the army brass laid down draconian recruiting conditions: young men could join the

SS only for a minimum of four years of combat duty. The brass felt that no one would take

such a risk. Again, they guessed wrong. In the month of February 1940 alone, 49,000 joined

the SS. From 25,000 in September 1939, there would be 150,000 in May 1940. Thus,

from 180 to 8,000 to 25,000 to 150,000, and eventually nearly one million men -- all this

against all odds.


Hitler had no interest whatsoever in getting involved in a

conflict with France. It was a war that was forced on him.


The 150,000 SS had to serve under the Army, and they were given the most dangerous

and difficult missions, despite the fact that they were supplied with inferior weapons and

equipment. In 1940 the Leibstandarte was only provided with a few scouting tanks.

The SS were given wheels, and that’s all. But with trucks, motorbikes,

and various other means they were able to perform amazing feats.


The Leibstandarte and Der Führer regiments were sent to Holland under the leadership

of Sepp Dietrich. They had to cross Dutch waterways. The Luftwaffe had dropped paratroopers

to hold the bridges 120 miles deep in Dutch territory, and it was vital for the SS to reach

these bridges with the greatest speed. The Leibstandarte achieved an unprecedented feat:

advancing 75 kilometers in a single day, and advancing 215 kilometers in just four days.

It was unheard of at the time, and the world was staggered. In one day the SS crossed all

the Dutch canals on flimsy rubber rafts. Here again, SS losses were heavy. But thanks

to their heroism and speed, the German forces reached Rotterdam in three days. The

paratroopers risked being wiped out if the SS had not accomplished their lightning-thrust.


In Belgium, the SS regiment Der Führer faced the French army head on, which after

falling in the Sedan trap, had rushed toward Breda, Holland. There, one would see for

the first time a small motivated military force route a large national army. It took one SS

regiment and a number of German troops to throw the whole French Army off

balance and drive it back from Breda to Antwerp, Belgium, and northern France.


The Leibstandarte and Der Führer regiments jointly advanced on the large Zeeland islands,

between the Scheldt and Rhine rivers. In a few days they were brought under control.


In no time the Leibstandarte then crossed Belgium and northern France. The second

major combat engagement of SS regiments was in concert with the regular army tank division.

These units were under the command of General Rommel and General Guderian. They

spearhead a thrust toward the North Sea.


Sepp Dietrich and his troops then crossed the French canals, but were pinned down by

the enemy in a mud field, just managing to avoid extermination. But despite the loss of

many soldiers, officers and one battalion commander, all killed in action, the Germans reached Dunkirk.


Hitler was very proud of them.


The following week, Hitler deployed them along the Somme river, from where they poured

out across France. Here again, the SS would prove itself to be the best fighting force in the

world. Sepp Dietrich and the Second Division of the SS, Totenkopf, advanced so far so

fast that for three days they lost contact with the rest of the army. They found themselves

in Lyon, a French city they were later obliged to vacate after the signing of the French-German

armistice. Sepp Dietrich and a handful of SS men on trucks had achieved the impossible.


The SS regiment Der Führer spearheaded the Maginot Line breakthrough. Everyone had

said that the Line was impenetrable. The war in France was over. Hitler had the three SS

divisions march through Paris. Berlin also honored these heroes. But the regular Army

was so jealous that it would not cite a single SS man for valor or bravery. It was Hitler

himself who, in addressing the German Reichstag, solemnly paid tribute to the heroism

of the SS. It was on this occasion that he officially recognized the Waffen SS name.


This was more than a mere change of name. The Waffen SS became “Germanic,” as

volunteers were accepted from all Germanic countries. This was based on an awareness

that the peoples of northwestern Europe were closely related to them, and that the Norwegians,

the Danes, the Dutch, and the Flemish all belonged to the same Germanic family. These

Germanic people were themselves very much impressed by the SS, and so, by the way, were the French.


The people of western Europe had marveled at this extraordinary German force with a

style unlike any other: if two SS scouts reached a town on motorbike ahead of everybody

else, they would -- before presenting themselves to the local authorities – first clean

themselves up so they would be of impeccable appearance. People could not help but be impressed.


The admiration felt by young Europeans of Germanic stock for the SS was very natural.

Thousands of young men from Norway, Denmark, Flanders, and Holland were awed

with admiration. They felt irresistibly drawn to the SS. It was not Europe, but solidarity

with their own Germanic race that so deeply stirred their souls. They identified with

the victorious Germans. To them, Hitler was the most exceptional man ever seen.

Hitler understood them, and had the remarkable idea to open the doors of the SS

to them. It was quite risky. No one had ever thought of this before. Prior to Hitler,

German imperialism consisted only of peddling goods to other countries, without

any thought of creating a “community” ideology – a common ideal with its neighbors.


Suddenly, instead of peddling and haggling, here was a man who offered a glorious ideal:

an enthralling social justice, for which they all had yearned for years. A broad New Order,

instead of the formless cosmopolitanism of the pre-war so-called “democracies.” The

response to Hitler’s appeal was overwhelming. Legions from Norway, Denmark, Holland,

and Flanders were formed. Thousands of young men now wore the SS uniform. For

them Hitler specifically created the famous Viking division, one that

was destined to become one of the most formidable of the Waffen SS.


The regular army was still doing everything it could to discourage men in Germany from

joining the SS. It acted as though the SS did not exist. Against this background of obstructionism

at home, it was all the more understandable that the SS would welcome men from outside Germany.


The ethnic Germans living abroad provided a rich source of volunteers. There were millions

of these Germans in Hungary, Rumania and across Europe. The victories of the Third Reich

made them proud of belonging to the German family. Hitler welcomed them home. He

saw them as a source of elite SS men as well as important factor in unifying all Germans ideologically.


Here again, the enthusiastic response was amazing. From across Europe some 300,000

volunteers of German ancestry would join, including 54,000 from Rumania alone. In the

context of that era, those were remarkable figures. There were numerous problems to

overcome. For instance, most Germanic volunteers did not speak German. Their ancestors

had settled in foreign lands many years earlier, so many of these

men spoke different languages, and had different manners and needs.


How to find officers who could speak all these languages? How to coordinate such

a disparate lot? Mastering these problems was a miracle of the Waffen SS assimilation

program. This homecoming of the separated “tribes” was regarded by the Waffen SS

as a foundation for real European unity. The 300,000 Germanic volunteers were welcomed

by the SS as brothers, and they reciprocated by being as dedicated, loyal and heroic as

the Reich German SS men.


Within the year, everything had changed for the Waffen SS. The barracks were full, the

academies were full. The strictest admission standards and requirements equally

applied for the Germanic volunteers as well. They had to be the best in every

way, both physically and mentally. They had to be the best of the Germanic race.


Third Reich racialism has been deliberately distorted. It was never an anti-“other” racialism.

It was a pro-German racialism. It was concerned with making the German race strong and

healthy in every way. Hitler was not interested in having millions of degenerates. Today

one finds rampant alcohol and drug addiction everywhere. Hitler cared that German

families be healthy, and cared that they raise healthy children for the renewal of a healthy

nation. German racialism meant re-discovering the creative values of their own race,

re-discovering their culture. It was a striving for excellence, a noble idea. National Socialist

racialism was not against other races, it was for its own race. It aimed at defending and

improving its own race, and wished that all other races would do the same for themselves.


That was demonstrated when the Waffen SS enlarged its ranks to include 60,000 Muslims.

The Waffen SS respected their way of life, their customs, and their religious beliefs. Each

Muslim SS battalion had an imam, and each company had a mullah. It was our common

wish that their qualities found their highest expression. That was our racialism. I was

present when each of my Muslim comrades received a New Year’s gift from Hitler.

It was a pendant with a small Koran. Hitler was honoring them with this small symbolic

gift, one that honored an important aspect of their lives and traditions. National

Socialist racialism was loyal to the German race and totally respected all other races.


At this point, one hears: “What about the anti-Jewish racism?”

One can answer: “What about Jewish anti-Gentilism?”


It has been the misfortune of the Jewish race that it could never get along with any other

race. It is an unusual historical fact and phenomenon. I say this without passion: When

one studies the history of the Jewish people and their behavior across the centuries, one

observes that always -- at all times, and at all places -- they have been hated. They were

hated in ancient Egypt. They were hated in ancient Greece. They were hated in Roman

times to such a degree that 3,000 of them were deported to Sardinia. (That was the first

forced deportation of Jews.) They were hated in Spain, in France, in England (where they

were banned for centuries), and in Germany. The conscientious Jewish author Bernard

Lazare wrote a very interesting book on Anti-Semitism, in which he wrote: “We Jews should

ask ourselves a question: Why are we always hated everywhere? It is not because of our

persecutors, all of different times and places. It is because there is something within us that

is very unlikeable.” What is unlikeable is that the Jews have always wanted to live as

a privileged class, divinely-chosen and beyond scrutiny. This attitude has made them

unlikeable everywhere.


The Jewish race is therefore a unique case. Hitler had no intention of destroying it. He

wanted the Jews to find their own identity in their own environment, but not to the

detriment of others. The fight -- if we can call it that – of National Socialism against the

Jews was purely limited to one objective: that the Jews leave Germany in peace. It

was planned to give them a country of their own, outside Germany. Madagascar was

contemplated, but the plans were dropped when the United States entered the war. In

the meanwhile, Hitler thought of letting the Jews live in their own traditional ghettos.

They would have their own administration, they would run their own affairs, and would

live as they wanted. They had their own police, their own tramways, their own flag, and

their own businesses. With regard to other races, they were all

welcome in Germany as guests, but not as privileged occupants.


In one year the Waffen SS had gathered a large number of Germanic men from northern

Europe, and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans or Volksdeutsche from outside Germany,

to make the Germanic SS. It was then that the conflict between Communism and National

Socialism burst into the open. The conflict had always existed. In Mein Kampf, Hitler

had clearly laid out his objective: “to eliminate the world threat of

Communism,” and, incidentally, to claim some land in Eastern Europe.


This eastward expansionism created much outrage: How could the Germans claim

land in Russia? To this one can answer: How could the Americans claim native Indian

lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific? How could France claim southern Flanders, and

Roussillon from Spain? And what of Britain? And what of so many other countries that

have claimed, conquered and settled in other territories? Somehow it was all right for

all those countries to settle foreign lands, but not for Germany. Personally, I have

always vigorously defended the Russians, and I finally did succeed in convincing

Hitler that Germans had to live with Russians as partners, and not as conquerors.

Before achieving this partnership, there was first the matter of wiping out Communism.

During the [21 months of the] Soviet-German non-aggression treaty, Hitler was trying

to gain time, but the Soviets were intensifying their acts of aggression from Estonia to Bukovina.


In this regard, extracts from Soviet documents are most revealing. Marshal Voroshilov

himself said: “We now have the time to prepare ourselves to be the executioner of the

capitalist world while it is agonizing. We must, however, be cautious. The Germans must

not have any inkling that we are preparing to stab them in the back while they are busy

fighting the French. Otherwise, they could change their general plan, and attack us.”


In the same record, Marshal Shaposhnikov [?] wrote: “The coexistence between Hitler's

Germany and the Soviet Union is only temporary. We will not make it last very long.”

Marshal Timoshenko, for his part, did not want to be so hasty: “Let us not forget that

our war material from our Siberian factories will not be delivered until the fall.” This

was written at the beginning of 1941, and the material was only to be delivered in the

fall. A Soviet war industry Commissariat report stated: We will not be in full production

until 1942. Marshal Zhukov made this extraordinary admission:

“Hitler is in a hurry to invade us; he has good reasons for it.”


Indeed, Hitler had good reason to quickly attack Russia -- he realized that he would be

wiped out if he did not. Zhukov added: “We need a few more months to rectify many of

our defects before the end of 1941. We need 18 months to complete the modernization of our forces.”


The orders are quite precise. At the fourth session of the Supreme Soviet in 1939, it

was decreed that Army officers would serve three years, regular soldiers would serve

four years, and Navy personnel, five years. All these decisions were made less

than a month after the Soviets signed the non-aggression treaty with Germany.


Thus the Soviets, pledged to peace, were frantically preparing for war. More than 2,500

new concrete fortifications were built between 1939 and 1940; 160 divisions were made

combat-ready; 60 tank divisions were on full alert. The Germans only had ten panzer tank

divisions. In 1941, the Soviets had 17,000 tanks, and by 1942 they had 32,000. They had

92,578 artillery pieces. And their 17,545 combat planes in 1940 greatly outnumbered the

German air force.


With such war preparations underway, it is easy to understand that Hitler was

left with only one option: invade the Soviet Union immediately, or face annihilation.


Hitler’s Russian campaign was the “last chance” campaign. Hitler did not go into Russia

with any great optimism. He later told me: “When I entered Russia, I was like a man facing

a shut door. I knew I had to crash through it, but without knowing what was behind it.”

Hitler was right. He knew the Soviets were strong, but above all he knew they were going

to be a lot stronger. The only time Hitler had a respite was in 1941. The British had not yet

succeeded in expanding the war. Hitler, who never wanted war with Britain, still tried

for peace. He invited me to spend a week at his home. He wanted to discuss the whole

situation and hear what I had to say about it. He spoke very simply and clearly. The atmosphere

was informal and relaxed. He made you feel at home, because he really enjoyed being

hospitable. He buttered pieces of toast in a leisurely fashion, and passed them around,

and although he did not drink, after each meal he went to get a bottle of champagne because

he knew that I enjoyed finishing with a glass of it. All without fuss and with genuine friendliness.

It was part of his genius that he was also a man of simple ways, without the slightest affection,

and a man of great humility. We talked about England. I asked him bluntly: “Why on earth

didn’t you finish off the British at Dunkirk? Everyone knew you could have wiped them out.”

He answered: “Yes, I withheld my troops and let the British escape back to England.

The humiliation of such a defeat would have made it difficult to try for peace with them afterwards.”


At the same time, Hitler told me he did not want to dispel the Soviet belief that he was

going to invade England. He mentioned that he even had small Anglo-German dictionaries

distributed to his troops in Poland. The Soviet spies there duly reported to the Kremlin

that Germany’s presence in Poland was a bluff, and that the soldiers were about

to be sent for action against Britain.


On June 22, 1941, it was Russia and not England that Germany invaded. The initial

victories were swift but costly. I lived the epic struggle of the Russian front. It was a tragic

epic; it was also martyrdom. The endless thousands of miles of the Russian steppes

were overwhelming. We had to reach the Caucasus by foot, always under extreme

conditions. In the summer we often walked knee-deep in mud, and in winter there were

freezing below-zero temperatures. But for a matter of a few days, Hitler would have won

the war in Russia in 1941. Before the Battle of Moscow, he had largely succeeded

in defeating the Soviet Army, and had taken enormous numbers of prisoners.


General Guderian’s panzer group, which had encircled nearly a million Soviet troops near

Kiev, had reached Moscow right up to the city’s tramway lines. It was then that suddenly

an unbelievable freeze struck: 40, 42, 50 degrees Celsius below zero! This meant not

only that men were freezing, but also that equipment froze on the spot. No tanks could

move. Yesterday’s mud had frozen to a solid block of ice, half a meter high, icing up the tank treads.


In 24 hours all of our tactical options had been reversed. It was then that masses of

Siberian troops brought back from the Russian Far East were thrown against the Germans.

Those few fateful days of ice, which made the difference between victory and defeat,

were due to the delay caused by the Italian campaign in Greece in the fall of 1940.


Mussolini was envious of Hitler’s successes. It was a deep and silent jealousy. I was a friend

of Mussolini. I knew him well. He was a remarkable man, but Europe was not of great concern

to him. He did not like to be a spectator, watching Hitler winning everywhere. He felt

compelled to do something himself, and quickly. Impulsively, he launched a senseless

offensive against Greece.


His troops were immediately halted. But it gave the British an excuse to invade Greece,

which until then had not been involved in the war. From Greece the British could bomb

the Rumanian oil wells, which were vital to Germany’s war effort. Greece could also be

used to cut off German troops on their way to Russia. Hitler was forced to quash the

threat preemptively. He had to waste five weeks in the Balkans. His victories there were

an incredible logistical achievement, but they delayed the start of the Russian campaign

by five critical weeks.


If Hitler had been able to start the campaign on time, as planned, he would have entered

Moscow five weeks earlier, in the fall when the ground was still dry. The war would have

been over, and the Soviet Union would have been a thing of the past. The combination

of the sudden freeze and the arrival of fresh Siberian troops spread panic among some

of the old army generals. They wanted to retreat 200 miles back from Moscow. It is hard

to imagine such an insane plan! The freeze affected Russia equally, from West to East,

and to retreat 200 miles in the open steppe would only have made things worse. At the

time I was commanding my troops in the Ukraine, where it was 42 degrees Celsius below zero.


Such a retreat would have meant abandoning all the heavy artillery, as well as assault

guns and tanks, which were stuck in the ice. It would also have meant exposing half a

million men to heavy Soviet sniping. In fact, it would have meant condemning them to

certain death. One need only recall Napoleon’s retreat in October 1812. He reached the

Berezina River in November, and by mid-December all the French troops

had left Russia. It was cold enough, but it was not a winter campaign.


Can one imagine in 1941 half a million Germans fighting howling snowstorms, cut off

from supplies, attacked from all sides by tens of thousands of Cossacks? I have faced

charging Cossacks, and I know that only the utmost, superior firepower will stop them.

In order to counter such an insane retreat, Hitler had to fire more than 30 generals

within a few days.


It was then that he called on the Waffen SS to fill in the gap and boost morale. Immediately

the SS held fast on the Moscow front. Right through the war the Waffen SS never retreated.

They would rather die than retreat. One cannot forget the figures. During the 1941 winter,

the Waffen SS lost 43,000 men in front of Moscow. The regiment Der Führer fought almost

literally to the last man. Only 35 men survived out of the entire regiment. The Der Führer

men stood fast, and no Soviet troops got through. They tried to bypass the SS in the snow.

(That is how the famous Russian General Vlasov was captured by the Totenkopf SS division.)

Without their heroism, Germany would have been annihilated by December 1941.


Hitler would never forget it: he gauged the willpower that the Waffen SS had displayed

in front of Moscow. They had shown character and guts. And that is what Hitler admired

most of all: guts. For him, it was not enough to have intelligent or clever associates.

Such people can often fall to pieces, as happened with General Paulus during the

following winter at the battle of Stalingrad.


Hitler knew that only sheer energy and guts, the refusal to surrender,

and the will to hang tough against all odds would win the war.


The blizzards of the Russian steppes had shown how the best army in the world, the German

army, with thousands of highly trained officers and millions of highly disciplined men, was

just not enough. Hitler realized that they could be beaten, that something else was needed,

and that only unshakable faith in a high ideal could overcome the situation.

The Waffen SS had this ideal, and from then on Hitler used them at full capacity.


From all parts of Europe volunteers rushed to help their German brothers. It was then that

the third great Waffen SS was born. First there was the German, then the Germanic, and

finally the European Waffen SS. To defend Western culture and civilization, hundreds of

thousands of young men would volunteer. They joined with full knowledge that the SS

incurred the highest death tolls. More than 250,000 out of one million would die in action.

For them, the Waffen SS was, despite all the individual deaths, the birth of a new Europe.


The young European volunteers observed two things: first, that Hitler was the only leader

who was capable of building Europe, and secondly that Hitler,

and Hitler alone, could defeat the world threat of Communism.


For the men of this SS, the Europe of petty jealousies, jingoism, border disputes, and

economic rivalries was of no interest. It was petty and demeaning. That Europe was no

longer valid for them. At the same time, the men of the European SS, as much as they

admired Hitler and the German people, did not want to become Germans. They were

men of their own people, and Europe was the gathering of the various peoples of the

continent. European unity was to be achieved through harmony, not domination of one over the others.


I discussed these issues at length with both Hitler and Himmler. Like all men of genius,

Hitler had grown beyond the national stage. Napoleon was first a Corsican, then a Frenchman,

then a European, and then a singularly universal man. Likewise Hitler had been an Austrian,

then a German, then a greater German, then Germanic, and then

he had seen and grasped the magnitude of building Europe.


The Waffen SS had a solemn duty, after the defeat of Communism,

to focus all their efforts and strength to build a united Europe.


Before being joined to the Waffen SS, our Wallonian unit had known very difficult ordeals.

We had gone to the Eastern front first as adjunct units to the German army, but during the

Battle of Stalingrad we had seen that Europe was critically endangered. Great common

effort was imperative. One night I had an eight-hour-long debate with Hitler and

Himmler on the status of non-German Europeans within the new Europe.


We now expected to be treated as equals fighting for a common cause. Hitler understood fully,

and from then on we [of the Légion Wallonie] had our own flag, our own officers,

our own language, and our own religion. We had a totally equal status.


I was the first one to have Catholic chaplains in the Waffen SS. Later chaplains of all

denominations were available to all those who wanted them. The Muslim SS division had

its own mullahs, and the French even had a bishop. We were confident that, with Hitler,

Europeans would be federated as equals. We felt that, in this critical hour, the best way to

be deserving of our place as equals was to defend Europe just as well as our German comrades.


For Hitler what mattered above all was courage. He created a new chivalry. Those who

earned the order of the Knight’s Cross, the Ritterkreuz, were indeed the new knights.

They earned this nobility of courage. And after the end of the war, each of our units

returning home would be the force that would protect the people’s rights in our respective

countries. All the SS understood that European unity meant the whole of Europe, even Russia.


There had been a great lack of knowledge among many Germans regarding the Russians.

Many believed that the Russians were all Communists, while in fact Russian representation

in the Communist hierarchy was unimportant. They also believed that the Russians were

diametrically different than the Europeans. Yet, they have similar familial structures, an

ancient civilization, deep religious faith, and traditions which are not unlike those

of other European countries.


The SS saw the new Europe formed of three great components: central Europe as the

power house of Europe, western Europe as the cultural heart of Europe, and eastern Europe

as the potential of Europe. Thus the Europe envisioned by the SS was alive and real. Its

six hundred million inhabitants would live from the North Sea to Vladivostok. It was in this

span of 8,000 miles that Europe could achieve its destiny. It would be a space for young

people to start new lives. This Europe would be the beacon of the world. It would be a remarkable

racial ensemble. An ancient civilization, a spiritual force, and the most advanced

technological and scientific complex. The SS prepared for the high destiny of Europe.


Compare these aims, these ideals, with those of the “Allies.” The Roosevelts and the Churchills

sold Europe out at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. They cravenly capitulated to the Soviets.

They delivered half of the European continent to Communist slavery. They let the rest of

Europe disintegrate morally, without any ideal to sustain it. The SS knew

what they wanted: the Europe of ideals would be the salvation for all.


This faith in higher ideals inspired four hundred thousand German SS men, three hundred

thousand Volksdeutsche or Germanic SS, and three hundred thousand

other European SS. Volunteers all, one million builders of Europe.


The ranks of the SS grew proportionately with the expansion of the war in Russia.

The nearer Germany was to defeat the more volunteers arrived at the front. This was

phenomenal; eight days before the final defeat I saw hundreds of young men join the SS

on the front. Right to the end they knew they had to do the impossible to stop the enemy.


So from the 180-strong Leibstandarte in 1933 to the SS regiments before 1939, to the

three regiments in Poland, to the three divisions in France, to the six divisions at the beginning

of the Russian war, to the 38 divisions in 1944, the Waffen SS reached 50 divisions in 1945.

The more SS men fell, the more others rushed to replace them. They had faith and stood

firm to the extreme limit. The exact opposite happened in January 1943 at Stalingrad.

The defeat there was decided by a man without courage. He was not capable of facing

danger with determination, of saying unequivocally: I will not surrender;

I will stand fast until I win. He was morally and physically gutless, and he lost.


A year later the SS Viking and Wallonia divisions were encircled in the same way at

Cherkassy. With the disaster of Stalingrad fresh in the minds of our soldiers, they could

easily have been prone to demoralization. On top of it, I was down with a deep side

wound and a 102 degree F temperature. As commander of the SS Wallonia forces,

I knew that all this was not conducive to high morale. I got up, and for 17 days I led charge

after charge to break the blockade, engaged in numerous hand-to-hand combats, and was

wounded four times – but I never stopped fighting. All my men did just as much, and more.

The siege was broken by sheer SS guts and spirit.


After Stalingrad, when many thought that all was lost, and when the Soviet forces poured

across the Ukraine, the Waffen SS stopped them dead in their tracks. They re-took Kharkov

and inflicted a severe defeat on the Soviet army. This was a pattern:

again and again the SS would turn reverses into victories.


The same fearless energy was also present in Normandy. General Patton called them

“the proud SS divisions.” The SS was the backbone of resistance in Normandy.

As Eisenhower observed, “the SS fought as usual to the last man.”


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. The Waffen SS heroism

stopped the Soviet juggernaut at Moscow, Kharkov, Cherkassy, and Tarnopol. The Soviets

lost more than twelve months. Without SS resistance the Soviets would have been in

Normandy before Eisenhower. The people showed deep gratitude to the young men who

sacrificed their lives. Not since the great religious orders of the Middle Ages had there been

such selfless idealism and heroism. In this century of materialism,

the SS stands out as a shining beacon of spirituality.


I have no doubt whatsoever that the sacrifices and incredible feats of the Waffen SS will

one day have their own epic poets like Schiller. Greatness in adversity is the distinction of the SS.


After the war a curtain of silence fell on the Waffen SS. But now more and more young

people somehow know of its existence and of its achievements. The fame is growing,

and the young demand to know more. In one hundred years almost everything will be

forgotten, but the greatness and the heroism of the Waffen SS will be remembered.

It is the reward of an epic.




 From The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1982-83 (Vol. 3, No. 4).

This essay by Leon Degrelle (1906-1994) was first presented at the Fourth IHR Conference

in Chicago (Sept. 1982). In October 2015 the introduction text was revised,

and the main text was edited for clarity and to eliminate typos and errors.





This 1981 interview is with SS-Obergruppenführer

and General of the Waffen-SS, Karl Wolff.



I understand you don’t do any interviews, so I wish to thank you for speaking to me.

I only wanted to ask you a few questions regarding the war, and your experiences.


Wolff: You are correct, we live in a time now where I don’t speak to anyone but comrades

regarding the time of the war. My words get twisted, hostile historians come as wolves

in sheep’s clothing, so I have learned to be very careful with whom I speak with, lest I

am charged with crimes.


You lived through the whole war, what was your experience?


Wolff: I was a desk General for the first part of the war. I was tasked with the smooth

running of the general SS and worked for Reichsführer-SS Himmler as a personal

liaison to the Führer. I met and worked with many of the important leaders of the Reich,

working to insure we would see victory.


Germany is accused of starting the war, by invading Poland

who was not a threat to Germany. Can you comment?


Wolff: You must always ask the question “why”, why did we attack Poland, why were people

killed, why were there camps, and why did we come up against such resistance. We

attacked Poland because Poland put us in a position that we had to protect our people

who were left in Poland after Versailles, they were being persecuted and Poland refused

to take action. They were a weak-minded state that was being pressured by England to

fight us; all we wanted was a land bridge to East Prussia, and freedom for our people

living in Poland. The Führer said he regarded Poland as a friendly state until England

got involved, telling Poland to not work out anything with Germany as we cannot be trusted.


Those in our government who had ties to Poland tried everything to get the leaders to

listen to us, and give us concessions, as we were offering Poland concessions. These

requests were met with contempt and bravado. Attacks on our frontier by bands of

criminals were not investigated by Poland, and brushed off. Even to the point of claiming

we were making this up. We could have allowed this to go on, and waited Poland out until

they came to their senses, however the plight of Germans in Poland could not wait, as

horror stories started coming from refugees seeking the protection of the Reich. There

was hardly a crime in attacking Poland; any nation faced with the same scenario would

have acted as we did.


Of course, the Allies use this as the excuse for their war, but other forces were driving

them, and Poland was the excuse they needed. I want to add we treated Poland

very well after the surrender, we sent in the RAD and Red Cross to help them rebuild.

Something not acknowledged today, we only wanted vindication, not conquest.

The fact that millions of Poles volunteered to serve in the armed forces, including the SS,

came to Germany to work for good pay, and worked with us in every way shows we

were not out to destroy the Polish people. The uprisings were more a result of allied

agents encouraging the Poles with false promises more than Polish resentment of us.

I should also like to say that England declared war on us, solely under the reasoning

that we invaded a country they were protecting, however when Russia invaded, they

were silent and did nothing. It proves to me that the Führer was right in that England

and France wanted a war with Germany, and only Germany, in spite of the numerous

treaties they claimed to honor. If people would only have been able to listen and judge

for themselves who was the aggressor, without all the propaganda the Allies were

using against us, then there never would have been a war.


Was the Lebensborn and Ahnenerbe sinister? I am taught in school Lebensborn

was a stud farm for officers, and Ahnenerbe was the study of dark magic

to bring evil to the earth.


Wolff: Ha, the victors and their Jewish film directors have had the last 35 years to turn good,

necessary organizations into something that looks evil and sinister. Where to begin with this.

I gave money to the Lebensborn, as all SS officers were encouraged to do. To understand

a little of why it was created, you must understand our history. In the first war almost a

whole generation was wiped out, many young Germans did not have both parents,

some had none. A million died after the war due largely to the British blockade,

and the sickness that followed. The Weimar era was nothing but anything goes filth,

morals were forgotten and many babies were born out of wedlock and with diseases.


In 1933 things changed, a new morality was born, one of biblical proportions in which

our people accepted a complete change. As more and more men were called to the flag,

their wives and girlfriends were left alone. The Lebensborn homes were conceived to

give these women a place were they could stay for free when they were with child.

Married or unmarried, we vowed not to penalize or shame a woman like in times past

for choosing to bear a child. Most of the women were married who just had no support

back home, as their husbands were away. Our women were never turned away. Those

who were unwed were welcomed, and LB staff counseled her, and the SS Rasse u Siedlings

HA the father to insure the child was born into a good supportive family. If this was an

unwanted child, it was placed with a German couple who could not bear any.

This rarely happened, but LB was always looking out for the welfare of all involved.


I personally inspected the homes and was quite impressed with what I saw. During the war,

mothers to be from other nations who married SS men were welcomed, as were

mothers from bombed out areas of the Reich. The LB homes provided good medical care,

instruction, healthy food, exercise, and a safe place for mothers to be to give birth.

They could stay as long as they needed to and were also given help with securing a

home and food. The intent was to encourage the SS to be the vanguard of the re-population

of our nation and gene pool due to the losses from the first war, and also the current one.

Healthy, intelligent children are what every nation requires for its existence, and its cultural

advancement. All our national policies were turned to focus on that goal, and the LB

homes were to be the beginning of a strong support system for the German mother.


The Ahnenerbe was nothing more than an organization that was like a museum.

Those involved were dedicated to the study of Germanic history, and the history of our

people in relation to our origins. Those scholars in the Ahnenerbe had the whole world

to study, every idea and theory was looked into. Race was a main focus, investigating

our early ancestors and where they have been. There are parts of the world where

great cities and structures were built, but the peoples seem to lack the intelligence for

such endeavors. Every study that was done seemed to suggest the same outcome,

a higher race of people settled in areas of the world but did not last,

and building lasting testaments to their culture that outlived them.


I should like to add that one topic that has always fascinated me is the notion that these

people who call themselves Jews today, have no true achievements. They are a people

of the East, who have cunningly learned to manipulate peoples and take their wealth and

morals. Our Christian churches, long ago, started teaching that these people are the

people of our bible, that in effect we owe our faith and culture to Jews. This is nonsense,

and something Marin Luther and others us warned about. The Ahnenerbe was in a

roundabout way showing the area of Palestine, Persia, India, and parts of North Africa

were concentrations of our people. Our ancestors colonized wherever they settled,

building great things, only one race on earth has demonstrated the ability to do these

things. So it would only make sense that if God created a special people to be a light to

the world, it would be a people who had the ability to explore, heal, invent, and build.

No other peoples has shown all of these traits, except for one, and on such a grand stage.

I firmly believe the areas of the world now populated by darker skinned Arabs

were in fact, home to our people before many moved north into today’s Europe.


Did Hitler believe this too?


Wolff: In a way, Yes. In Europe as a general rule it has always been held that the bible

was our book, and only our book. It did not belong to any other people; the Creator gave

each race a way to honor him. Our peoples became too complacent regarding this and

started sharing our faith and beliefs with others, believing this was what the Bible wanted.

The Führer was Catholic, and took it as a fact God’s people were European, and no other.

The Jew being an imposter who was stealing our identity and making it his own. The Führer

was religious, that is why he did not drink or smoke, and believed he was sent by the

Creator to heal Germany and raise up our people. Was there anyone in the government

that you didn’t care for? Wolff: This is the type of question that is irrelevant, and one

that journalists like to play with to make us look like disorganized fools. I choose not

to answer that, the reason being in every society there are always those who you

will never get along with, NS Germany was no exception. There were those I liked

and those I did not, but it had no bearing on our mission. We agreed to not agree,

put our differences aside and work towards final victory. Of course when the war was

over, this did not hold anymore as everyone was just trying to save their lives from

vindictive enemies and many times stretched the truth regarding those they didn’t agree

with. I hear I am even accused of providing information to the Allies to prosecute war

criminals, I am afraid that is grossly over exaggerated. I did provide a lot of information

to the Americans, as they demanded, but it was regarding who was in charge of what

and who ran what office.


Can I ask you what your thoughts on the Holocaust are?


Wolff: I would never answer this question if I didn’t know your aunt, it’s a falsehood

unparalleled in history. In the Federal Republic, I would be prosecuted under the laws

the victors established at the end of the war, for stating my experiences. I personally

saw our interaction with the Jews. I witnessed terrorists being executed, the labor camps,

and ghettos. In short, Germany did to the Jew what America did to the Japanese,

we put an alien people who declared war on us, in camps. The only difference is that

America was not being ruthlessly bombed so their inmates escaped the war unharmed.

The Allies, killing hundreds of prisoners, for example, bombed Buchenwald;

we believed the camps would be left alone since these were prison camps.

The goal our government put into practice was to remove most Jews out of our sphere

of influence and move them east where they came from. There were small nuances,

as some were left alone due to service to the Reich, some of mixed marriage were

allowed to stay and even helped us fight. Most Jews though, even if it was in small

ways, worked against us, and even aided the Allies when they could. The SD uncovered

lots of cells in Ghettos were illegal activity was happening. These Jews were moved

to areas where they could be watched, or sent east to camps to be resettled after the war.


The problem for us, is that due to the filth that many of these Jews brought with them,

many became sick in the camps. There were several outbreaks that happened where

we had to quickly dispose of the dead, ovens were built for this purpose. The allied

propagandist had a golden ticket with the photos of these ovens. Towards the end of

the war, many camps were left to the enemy, however many prisoners requested to

go with German troops, as they were hearing of the treatment of prisoners under the

Russians. It was decided to allow inmates to move to the Reich so we could keep

using them for labor, they were crammed into camps that were way over capacity.

The Allies had knocked out and destroyed our infrastructure so that no food, medicine,

or necessities could get to anyone. Our own population was suffering greatly in some

areas where basic sanitation no longer existed. The already weakened inmates fell

victim now to typhus and other curable diseases, the Allies unknowingly caused the

deaths of tens of thousands of these people who we had no intention of harming.


What about all the shootings and hangings we see

in books, this seems to prove the Allies’ claims?


Wolff: They say a picture speaks volumes, but in this case there is more to the

picture than what is told. You are referring no doubt to the terrorists we had to deal with.

I would not be surprised, someday, if our enemies hinge the whole holocaust solely on

our fight with partisans, as there are many cases where we had to fight fire with fire.

On every front, we were met with people who for political or racial reasons attacked our

people. In Italy for example, the communists were quite strong in the northern areas

and fought a vicious war. They gave no mercy to their victims, killing anyone who

crossed them, or refused to help them. Old, women, and even children could be their

victims if it served a purpose. I was furious more than once at having to deal with these

creatures and their savagery. The only thing we could do when fighting them was to

crush them and eradicate them off the earth. Because we also did not want to hurt the

innocents, it made this task very hard, as they would hide among civilians making it

hard to tell friend from foe.


The photos you see showing executions don’t show the whole story. For example, in

Italy a communist terror cell was caught because they attacked and killed a mayor

and his family thinking that the Allies were near. They killed the mayor, his wife, and

3 young children. They then attacked a RSI convalescent home killing wounded soldiers.

When they were turned in, they fought our soldiers, killing 2, then surrendered. They

expected us to treat them as soldiers even though they were in civilian clothes and

not part of the military. I gave the order that all terrorists were to be hung, as it is the

European tradition to do to criminals. The investigation showed that their families aided

them in every way so they were also hung. This is a hard thing for a soldier to do

and see, but it was necessary to do in order to try to stop these attacks. This example

played out all across our zones of occupation; those who chose to attack us as civilians

were treated as nothing more than common criminals as their acts were cowardly and

barbarous. It is a shame that the world has been taught to see these people as heroes

today. The real heroes are their victims who fell without having a chance to fight fairly.


What do you remember about the kampfzeit [time of struggle-ed.]?


Wolff: I was a very early supporter of the NSDAP, although not always in their ranks at

the beginning. Germany was in a state of chaos starting in 1919, the reds and others

were fighting to gain control. The Friekorps were fighting Poles, reds, and anarchists

all at the same time in parts of the Reich. When the Führer started speaking, these

enemies who claimed they stood for freedom of speech and equality, attacked anyone

attending these speeches. Many early supporters were hurt in these battles, which at

the time was quite one sided as the crowds coming to hear the Führer were very small.


As more influential people heard him, and joined the cause, things changed. The SA

was formed to protect people at these meetings. The SS was formed to protect the

speakers. The reds proved to be the worst at trying to stop these meetings, they would

throw glass bottles, bags of trash and human waste, even bricks and wood with nails.

In one instance they threw Molotov cocktails severely burning people. As these attacks

grew, the SA grew and started to take the fight to the reds, as they tried to silence the

meetings they in turn were beaten back and shewed away. The German police, even

though the vast majority approved of the NSDAP, were powerless to do anything, as

their leadership was forced to adhere to Weimar decrees, or in the

case of Weiss were Jews who openly advocated violence against us.


As the NSDAP grew, more ex-soldiers filled the ranks and the reds were at times

given a bad taste of their own medicine. There were strict orders to not harm or kill

our enemies as the press would have a heyday against us, as an example of our

restraint, I remember one Mayday meeting being disrupted with rats and dachshund’s

that was very entertaining without violence. The reds were very cruel to anyone not

agreeing with them, they attacked and even killed young boys who supported us, we

were powerless to do anything about it. After we achieved victory, those who did

not flee to Moscow or London were finally brought to justice for these hideous crimes.


What was your impression of Karl Maria Wiligut?


Wolff: He was quite an interesting fellow to say the least. He had a very deep seeded

interest in ancient Germanic religious history, but was in no way sinister as portrayed

today. From a very early age he studied runes and their meanings to our ancestors,

and that they applied to us today. I can tell you he was Catholic, but rejected the corrupt

form the church took in our modern age. To him, there was a creator who made us

in his image, but it was not the Jewish god of the bible. Many Germans belonged to

societies that studied our past, some looked for other reasons for our existence

than what the church taught.


He believed that the earth was inhabited long ago by a special race of people who

brought wisdom to the ancients that gave them an edge over other peoples. They were

transported all over the earth, and built great civilizations, but wars killed them off.

It is interesting to me that now some scholars believe this could have happened;

Von Daniken with the help of a former party comrade wrote a book that is a best seller

regarding visits to this earth by powers far greater than what we know. Karl would

have been very interested in this.


Karl influenced Reichsführer-SS Himmler to use ancient symbols for the SS, the idea

was to use the SS as a way to turn our people back to their roots, and break the false

teachings of the modern church.


Can I ask why you think Germany lost the war?


Wolff: Oh, that is a tough one. My thoughts are that we were never ready for war,

and always outnumbered. So we lost due to sheer numbers, it is so very simple. I was

present during a briefing at the FHQ regarding Russia. Our generals and Abwehr gave

the Führer false numbers for Russia that made us commit fewer forces in the

opening than we should have. We were led to believe that Stalin had every intention

of attacking the Reich, and Europe, so we mobilized forces to counter this, and it was

decided we would attack first to beat them to the punch, hopefully knocking them out quickly.


We were briefed that Stalin had purged his army, and his forces were weak and disorganized,

the sheer numbers, 65 million vs 170 million, though bothered the Führer. He was assured

that German equipment and tactics would win the day. When the invasion started, we

were astonished at the vast amount of material that was being captured in Poland and

the Baltic regions. It tended to prove our fears that Stalin was planning an attack on us.

The vast Russian armies were able to escape and keep retreating east, and since we

gained air superiority, we could defeat the masses as they indeed were disorganized

when they did choose to stand and fight.


This didn’t last long, as by Dec 41 they hit us back and drove our thin forces into

retreat. We had been outnumbered on every front we fought, it was sheer luck and

determination that we defeated France We really didn’t have a chance to win, and lacked

the generals with conviction to try. We did have some very good ones like Rommel and

Dietrich, some generals wanted the good life, but did not want to fight to achieve it, so

they didn’t even try to win. As Stauffenburg showed, some were even hostile to the

Führer and had no interest in being part of the struggle, choosing to believe the propaganda

the Allies spewed our way daily. We had many traitors among us, which I still can’t understand.


The NS state was born to give a great life to it’s citizens, the Führer summed it up by

saying “I want it to be said that it’s better to be a street sweeper in this Reich, than a

King in a foreign land.” We somehow managed to create many enemies by defending

ourselves against the Jew and reversing the evils of Versailles. These enemies were

powerful, and forced us into a war they knew we could not win. I knew we would lose

when the US was pulled in to help England, to the point of breaking the very laws they

wanted to hold others too; they gave aid to our enemies. The declaration in

Dec. 41 was nothing but a formality which finally allowed us to shoot back.


Our brave men and women put up one hell of a fight, and certainly gave our enemies

a scare a time or two. In the end we lost due to the numbers, we could never hope to

equal the output of even just the US alone. Our brave soldiers were very motivated in

this struggle; they understood what they were fighting for, and why they had to fight.

After the war, the Allies broke these soldiers of any pride or anger, where today when

some speak they speak like broken men, glad that they were “liberated” by the noble

Allies. A spell has been cast on our people, making them believe they lived in a very

secretive, evil, and ungodly nation that oppressed everyone and put fear in every soul.


Thank you General. Can I ask one more question regarding

what you think the world will be like in the new millennium?


Wolff: Well, you are a young man, and wish it to be well for you, but for mankind I am

not so sure. We National Socialists showed every race on earth a new way of thinking,

and living. The problem is and has always been the Jew. The Jew has a predisposition

to burrow into a people and then weaken them to the point of their destruction. I already

see Jewish names being predominate again with bankers, head of large companies,

lawyers, politicians, and so forth. With this trend they will acquire great wealth and

power over the Western world. Morals and Christianity will be attacked; women will be

the primary targets as they are the vessels of reproduction of their peoples. They will

bring in the darker races in an effort to pollute Europe, all while holding

weak politicians in the hands who will support such endeavors.


If Europe can’t arise to recognize this and fight it, then who knows. It will mean admitting

the evil Germans were right all along, and Europe must stand together in a Pan European

bulwark. We had no right to plunder the other races, and they will not let us forget that,

if they are allowed to rise up. They will look upon all European peoples as their enemies;

they will not distinguish between English and German for example. England and France

have the most to lose, as the Jews and their natural greed made them many enemies

abroad. If communism is not checked, it will use its power to also weaken Europe.

Good signs are coming from the East Block, as I see cracks forming

in the curtain and nationalism is starting to reveal itself again.


I believe we were a light in the darkness, a cure for the illnesses of the world, a preview

of God’s will and kingdom that will come. Life in NS Germany was so special, and holy,

that we fought as a united people, until we could fight no more. Once broken the enemy

had their way with us, and many cowards stepped into the void to try to show a different

view, but in the end, truth will always find a way to reveal itself. Therefore, I would like to

believe that National Socialism showed the world that living by nature’s natural laws

is the only way to a truly happy and healthy society where everyone looks out for everyone

else, and the state is the vessel of the peoples true will. There was a painting which

hung in the House of German Art, which sums up my views. It depicts a holy mountain

wrapped in glorious light with the hakenkreuz at its peak as a symbol of our creator,

millions of men are streaming towards the mountain, some helping wounded and broken

comrades along, , so that they may be judged and receive their destiny. The mountain

stands victorious over the earth on this holy day and all enemies have been removed so

that the righteous now take dominion over this creation and live forever in

peace and happiness. That is my belief, which will someday come to pass.



by Gerhard Lauck (NSDAP/AO)


Joachim Peiper was born on January 30th, 1915 as the son of an officer’s family in Berlin.


He belonged to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. In 1938, he became the adjutant of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler. But as the war started, he wanted to serve at the front line. He commanded the 10th SS Leibstandarte A.H. company in Poland, Holland, Belgium and in France.


In 1941 he fought in Russia with the 3rd Panzergrenadier battalion of the SS Panzergrenadier regiment 2. He replaces the 320th infantry division of General Postel, encircled in Kharkov.


On March 19th 1943 he takes Bielgorod. In September 1943 he is in Italy. In November of the same year he fights for the Reich in Jitomir and with the 1st army breaks through the encirclement at Kamenets Podolsk.


Until October 1944 he fought at the West Front. On December 16th 1944 – under the command of Sepp Dietrich’s 6th Panzer army – he is at the spearhead of the offensive in the Ardennes with his 1st SS Panzer division L.A.H.


He advanced to La Gleize near Stavelot. Cut off from the rest of the army, he was encircled. But he could escape with his men, on foot and in icy cold, leaving back all the war material. Always fighting under Sepp Dietrich’s command, he battled the Soviets until the end, at the west of the Danube near Vienna. The same way in the alps at St. Pollen and Krems where he and his men finally surrendered to the Americans. He made it to SS-Obersturmbannführer and bearer of the Knight’s Cross with Swords.


After Germany’s capitulation this flawless, noble-minded and incredibly brave soldier was imprisoned, beaten and humiliated. He was accused of having ordered the execution of American POWs at Baugnez near Malmedy during the offensive in the Ardennes: Caught by the Kampfgruppe J.P., the captured U.S. soldiers were taken to a meadow to wait there for their transport to the front line. Peiper left back some of his men as guards. He himself drove at the head of his tanks far in front of the following troops to Ligneuville. As most of the Kampfgruppe troops arrived in Baugnez, the troops remained there chatted with their comrades left behind. A Spähwagen had a breakdown and was repaired. Suddenly a soldier sitting on a tank startled and noticed that some of the American prisoners had made use of their inattentiveness and wanted to flee. But a shot fired from his handgun caused panic among the prisoners who were running away in all directions. Submachine guns were used and 21 Americans shot while fleeing.


After the capitulation the men of the 1st SS Panzer division were tracked down and taken to the camp Zuffenhausen. 400 were transferred to the prison of Schwäbisch Hall near Stuttgart. Peiper’s troops consisted of mostly very young soldiers. One was 16, two were 17, eleven were 18 and eight were 19 years old. 22 of the 72 convicts were thereby below the age of 20; all of them were tortured in order to force any confessions. Peiper was an example for his crew, and under his command the team made well. There was never any betrayal among his units. The men were taken to the KZ Dachau where 72 of the 74 accused were convicted at a show trial. One commited suicide, one was Alsatian and was handed over to a French court. 43 – among them Peiper, who was called to account for his men’s actions – were sentenced to death by hanging, 22 to life imprisonment, eight to 20, eleven to ten years of prison. The trial was later newly heard and the sentence to death was replaced by life imprisonment. After eleven years of custody, J. Peiper was released as the last of his comrades in December 1956.


In January 1957 he started to work for Porsche in Frankfurt. Syndicates demanded his dismissal. Afterwards he worked for VW in Stuttgart, but there he was dismissed as well because of leftist agitation. With this he realized that he could not remain any longer in Germany and moved with his family to France. During the offensive in 1940 he had become acquainted with the region around the Langres Plateau and already at that time he loved it as a beautiful and quiet place. He then helped a French POW, a German-friendly nationalist, who had to work in Reutlingen for some relatives of Peiper like a forced labor convict in a garage. But there was a regulation between France and Germany, enabling the release of two French POWs for every voluntary worker willing to work in Germany. On Peiper’s recommendation that man, Gauthier, was allowed to return to his family. He had not forgotten Peiper and as he had to leave Germany in 1957, it was Gauthier who helped him and sold him the watermill of Traves. That building was in bad condition and Peiper did not have the necessary financial means to restore the mill. SS-Obersturmbannführer Erwin Ketelhut has afterwards taken over the water mill and in 1960 Peiper made build a house in Spannplate, high up on the bank of the Saone, hidden by bushes, not to see from the streets and like a military fortification. He had lived there – despite threats and anonymous phone calls – quite peacefully for over sixteen years.


On July 11th 1976 he bought some wire for a kennel in a shop in Vesoul, the capitol of that department. The salesman was an Alsatian: Paul Cacheux, member of the communist party, recognized through his accent that he was German and asked him whether he had been in France during the war. Peiper paid with a check with his name and address on it. Paul Cacheux looked up Peiper’s name in the "brown list" where all wanted Germans were registered. He passed his data over to the Resistance. On June 22nd 1976 the French communist newspaper "L’Humanité" wrote: „What does this Nazi do in France?". It was demanded to force Peiper to leave France. Flyers showing Peiper as a war criminal and Nazi were distributed to people in Traves. "Peiper, we’ll deliver you a 14 July!" was smeared on walls. July 14th is of course the French national holiday.


The morning of July 13th Peiper sent his wife, suffering from cancer, back to Germany. He himself did not want to leave his house because he expected it to be burned down. His neighbor Ketelhut had suggested to pass the night in the water mill but Peiper rejected that offer. He did not want Ketelhut staying with him either, since he would have shot any attackers. "No", he said, "It’s been already killed enough." Joachim Peiper waited on the veranda of his house from where he could observe the Saone river. Erwin Ketelhut had lent him his rifle. At 10:30 pm he heard a noise in the bushes and saw a dozen men climbing up the river bank. He shot in the air to intimidate the drunk intruders. She called him to come outside. He did that and opened the door in order to talk to them.


What happened afterwards can only be told by the culprits. Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper’s body was found charred and only one meter in size, he had no hands and feet. He died at about 1:00 am. The house was burned down, the ceiling broken in. What happened between 11:30 pm and 1:00 am? Was the Obersturmbannführer alive when he was mutilated? Was he still alive when he was burned? The culprits had poured gas on the floor, lit with a mixture of petrol and motor oil. Peiper lay in his bedroom, on the left side with his back to the wall, one arm bowed before his chest. Nothing had fallen upon him. He died by the immense heat. The body was not cremated but shrunken.


Erwin Ketelhut and the French having known and liked him shared the opinion that this knightly man, having defied so many dangers, should not have died this way. The murderers had driven with their car over a meadow to the river bank where two barges lay ready. With them they had crossed the Saone and afterwards had to climb up the steep bank through bushes. After the murder they ran the other way back over the meadows, in front of the house, to the street. The firemen searched the river for missing body parts. The French police’s investigation work took six months. The communists from Vesoul and the Resistance members were questioned. Nobody knew anything! Then the case was shelved. Nobody was ever arrested or punished! The area of Traves is not densely populated, there are only about ten inhabitants per square kilometer. Everybody knows everyone there and the people know everything about each other.


The culprits are known to the inhabitants, but the people say nothing. In the night from 13th to 14th July we have a protest vigil for Obersturmbannführer and bearer of the Knight’s Cross Joachim Peiper. The injustice made to him will not remain unpunished! With this cruel death Joachim Peiper has paid his last respects to his people and his homeland.