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2006-08-12 Europe
Gunter Grass, Nobel Winner, was a Waffen SS volunteer
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Posted by Zhang Fei 2006-08-12 00:00|| E-Mail|| Front Page|| [1023 views since 2007-05-07]  Top

#1 From

The site reminds us that though they are reviled to this day because of their association with the notorious SS, the Waffen SS divisions were purely professional army units without connection to the secret police. Even those of us who have extensively read the history of World War II will be surprised to see just how many SS divisions were raised. A few like the Leibstandarte, Das Reich, Tottenkopf, Wiking, and Hitler Jugend are familiar names, but the rest of the 40 odd are unknown. Many of them were formed from men of countries Hitler overran or allied with. Even the Indian army contributed to the non-German forces: deserters to the Indian National Army who found their way to Fortress Europa formed the 950th Infantry Regiment in 1944, after the unit was released from the regular German Army.
Posted by badanov 2006-08-12 00:40||]">[]  2006-08-12 00:40|| Front Page Top

#2 In my twenties, I thought the Tin Drum was the best novel I ever read.
Posted by phil_b">phil_b  2006-08-12 00:45||]">[]  2006-08-12 00:45|| Front Page Top

#3 Jesus Captain, they're SS!

He was seventeen at the time. The story has no importance beyond bringing up Gunther Grass, a great author.
Posted by Lt Peacock 2006-08-12 01:28||   2006-08-12 01:28|| Front Page Top

#4 Volunteered, or was drafted? Sounds like he was drafted, to me. Journalistic accuracy at its finest, once again.
Posted by gromky 2006-08-12 05:31||   2006-08-12 05:31|| Front Page Top

#5 Waffen SS didnt accept drafting from what remember.
All volunteers.
But dont quote me on that.
Posted by Clerert Uneamp2772 2006-08-12 06:11||   2006-08-12 06:11|| Front Page Top

#6 All volunteers from the little I remember too, it seems the case here ("Grass said he volunteered for military service to get out of the confinement he felt in his parent's house"), though his particular assignement to the waffen ss might have been due to their requirements at that given time and/or his own personal athletical qualities.
Posted by anonymous5089 2006-08-12 06:19||   2006-08-12 06:19|| Front Page Top

#7 Dawg Years was even better Phil, on the 4th rereading.
Posted by 6 2006-08-12 06:44||   2006-08-12 06:44|| Front Page Top

#8 The Tin Drum may or may not be a great book--I've never read it, so I can't say--but Gunter Grass is a barking moonbat anti-globalist and anti-American. In other words, he's not changed much from 1945, has he?
Posted by Mike 2006-08-12 08:14||   2006-08-12 08:14|| Front Page Top

#9 "Inevitably, September 11 came up. [Nadine] Gordimer identified terrorism's root cause as poverty; Grass concurred, portraying 9/11 as a case of the victimized justifiably striking back at the powerful."

--Bruce Bawer, "Civilization and V.S. Naipaul," Hudson Review (Summer 2002).
Posted by Mike 2006-08-12 08:34||   2006-08-12 08:34|| Front Page Top

#10 The site reminds us that though they are reviled to this day because of their association with the notorious SS, the Waffen SS divisions were purely professional army units without connection to the secret police.

When you visit Dachau you'll have an opportunity to see many of the camp documents. There on pubilc display and clearly shown are the markings and headings of the 'Waffen SS'. Not the other Nazi organizations usually blamed, scapegoated, etc for the extermination and killing program. They are Waffen SS.
Posted by Glenter Ulineper8090 2006-08-12 09:57||   2006-08-12 09:57|| Front Page Top

#11 The Waffen SS at Malmedy

On December 17, 1944, near the hamlet of Baugnez on the height half-way between the town of Malmedy and Ligneuville in Belgium, the leading element of Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper, named after its leader SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, encountered the American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion (FAOB). Kampfgruppe (battlegroup) Peiper was the lead unit of the 1st Waffen-SS Panzer Division 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler'. The battlegroup consisted of over 100 tanks and 150 armored halftracks. The 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion was mounted in jeeps and trucks, and had no heavy weapons. They were accompanied by several ambulances. The U.S. unit was moving to a new assignment and was not aware that German troops were in the area, although a U.S. combat engineer officer had warned the unit not to take the route they did.

The jeeps and trucks of the 285th encountered several tanks of Kampfgruppe Peiper. The German tanks fired on the U.S. vehicles, which were quickly abandoned by their occupants. With no anti-tank weapons, the Americans surrendered. About 150 of the prisoners of war were disarmed and sent to stand in a field near the crossroads. Peiper and his leading vehicles then continued their advance, which was behind schedule.

A tank pulled up, and a truck shortly thereafter. Witnesses stated that a single SS soldier pulled out a pistol and shot a medical officer standing in the front row. He then shot the man standing next to the medical officer. Other soldiers joined in with machine guns. It is not known why this happened; there is no record of any order by an SS officer. Throughout the massacre, the vehicles and men of Kampfgruppe Peiper continued to proceed through the crossroads.

However, some survivors testified that they had heard the order given to kill all the prisoners: "Macht alle kaputt.".

The Waffen SS at Oradour -

2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' was ordered to make its way across country to the fighting in Normandy. Along the way it came under constant attack and sabotage from the French Resistance. Allegedly, SS soldiers were further angered by finding atrocities committed by some resistance; in particular, a German ambulance in which all the wounded had been killed and the driver and assistants tied to the cab before the vehicle was set on fire. No record of this alleged incident exists in German records.

Early on the morning of June 10 Sturmbannführer Otto Diekmann reported to Sturmbannführer Otto Weidinger that he had been approached by two French civilians who claimed that a high German official was being held by the French Resistance guerrilla, the maquis, in Oradour. That day he was to be executed and publicly burnt amidst celebrations. The two French civilians also stated that the whole population was working with the maquis and that high ranking leaders were there at the moment. At about the same time the SD in Limoges reported that their local informers had reported a maquis headquarters in Oradour. The high German official was belived to be Sturmbannfuhrer Helmut Kampfe, a personal friend of both Diekmann and Weidinger who had been captured by the maquis the day before. Kampfe was never found and is listed in SS records as "Missing in southern France in action against terrorists".

On June 10 the 1st battalion of the Waffen-SS (Der Führer) regiment, led by Sturmbannführer Otto Dickmann, encircled the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the inhabitants to congregate in a public fairground near the village centre, ostensibly to examine people's papers. All the women and children were taken to the church, while the village was looted. Meanwhile, the men were taken to six barns where machine gun nests were already in place. According to the account of a survivor, the soldiers began shooting at them, aiming for their legs so that they would die more slowly. Once the victims were no longer able to move, the soldiers covered their bodies with kindling and set the barns on fire. Only five men escaped; 197 died there.

Having finished with the men, the soldiers then entered the church and put an incendiary device in place. After it was ignited, the surviving women and children tried to flee from the doors and windows but were met with machine gun fire. Only one woman survived; another 240 women and 205 children died in the mayhem. Another small group of about twenty villagers had fled Oradour as soon as the soldiers appeared. That night the remainder of the village was razed. A few days later the survivors were allowed to bury the dead.
Posted by Glenter Ulineper8090 2006-08-12 10:06||   2006-08-12 10:06|| Front Page Top

#12 I didn't say we should take long windy walks, candlelit suppers and morning backrubs with the SS.

I'm just saying the Waffen SS is a different force than the SS which guarded the camps.

Grass is trying to lump the two together and it ain't that way.
Posted by badanov 2006-08-12 12:04||]">[]  2006-08-12 12:04|| Front Page Top

#13 It sounds to me like he volunteered. The Waffen SS was all volunteer until mid '44 when Himmler got access to the German draft pool. However, Germans were not drafting 17 year olds at that stage of the war.

Regarding the Waffen SS and concentration camps guards: The 2 were separate branches of the SS, but there were constant transfers between them. Several Waffen SS divisions were created from concentration camp guards.
Also the Waffen SS made a habit of not taking prisoners or killing them after capture. This happened so often on the Russian front that it was almost routine.

Posted by Frozen Al 2006-08-12 12:37||   2006-08-12 12:37|| Front Page Top

#14 Sorry you guys can't read. Go back to #10. Go to Dachau. Look at the records. They were Waffen SS not some other 'SS'.
Posted by Glenter Ulineper8090 2006-08-12 12:42||   2006-08-12 12:42|| Front Page Top

#15 "The Tin Drum" was a great book(though a little naughty), and the impression I got from it was that it reflected the publics denial of what was going on around them. (Thus Oskar refused to grow up and remain a child evermore. He would belt out the occasional "scream" when warranted).

I don't know if Grass is a moonbat or anti-American, he may well be. But "The Tin Drum" is an exceptional piece of literature, and is well deserved of any accolades it has received.

/It is heavy reading though. NOT for those who like simple.

//The story takes place in Poland, not Germany.
Posted by Thoth 2006-08-12 14:26||   2006-08-12 14:26|| Front Page Top

#16 P.S.

Banging a woman from under a stack of potatoes still sounds like great fun to me.
Posted by Thoth 2006-08-12 14:27||   2006-08-12 14:27|| Front Page Top

#17 An old review of the book I wrote about 4 years ago:

The Sight and Smell of Depravity
A Review by **************

Darkness follows us all. We may mean well, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Some people think themselves good, but in the end, they have done damage, having left some kind of negative impact on their fellow man without realizing it.

Unfortunately, the twentieth century was filled with war, and war brings out the worst mankind has to offer. The Tin Drum describes perfectly how mankind lost the ability to cry during World War II. Nowhere else was this strange inability more obvious than in Germany and Poland. The Tin Drum is a novel of the events leading from WW1 to WW2 in those two nations, and what followed afterwards. It is the story of a loss of innocence for a whole culture and region.

The Tin Drum was written by Gunther Grass in 1959. Highly European in flavor, it is a well-regarded novel, and helped Mr. Grass win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. It is translated wonderfully into English by Ralph Manheim and must go down as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

Oskar Matzerath is a midget living in an institution. Apparently, he has done something horrible, but we do not know what until near the end. He turns away his visitors, and starts on his own autobiography. What follows is not for the faint-hearted.

Oskar starts by telling the story of his grandmother, Anna. This Kashubian beauty is sitting in a potato field cooking herself a little lunch from her crop. A short man (an arsonist running from the police) begs for cover under the large four skirts she wears. She gives him permission, and he climbs to hide underneath her womanhood. The police come by and they ask the old lady if she's seen a short man, but all she can do is moan and groan in response. The police, seemingly rather slow on the uptake, just figure the potatoes must be good. After they leave, Grandma rises, and our little arsonist buttons up his fly and leaves her...pregnant.

Her brother's wife has a baby about the same time she does. His name is Jan, and is pure Polish. Anna bears a daughter named Agnes, and she is not.

Jan and Anna grow up very close. Too close. Anna marries a man named Alfred Matzerath, who also happens to be a good friend of Jan's. Together the three love playing skat games, and Matzerath doesn't seem to mind that Jan is also playing with his wife, as long as he gets his share of sex too. Between the two men, Anna gets pregnant soon and gives birth.

Oskar Matzerath is born into the world under two bare light bulbs. He is aware of what is going on, and wants badly to go back in the womb. He watches a moth "drum" between the two light bulbs. Agnes says she will buy little Oskar a drum for his third birthday. Oskar pretends to do all the baby things he should do, and looks forward to that drum.

By his third birthday, Oskar's decided doesn't like what he sees of his world. He plans an "accident," to himself— a fall down the stairs. What he has really done is stopped himself from growing, but he needs an excuse for the adults. He plans to remain forever three years old and three feet tall. (A lot of things are in threes in this novel.) At three he also discovers he has the amazing ability to cut glass with his voice.

Oskar then relates the ugly world he sees growing up in the free city of Danzig in the 1930's, through the second World War, and the post-war years. What does he see? Does he stay three foot tall for the rest of his days? Is Jan or Alfred his father? What role does the drum play in all this? If you want to find all this out, read The Tin Drum for yourself.

None of this book is easy to read or analyze without being disturbed by it. This book has more symbolism than most mythology, and if you aren't aware of this, it will leave you confused.

If you are easily disturbed by twisted scenarios, don't pick this up. Oskar is one sick and twisted individual, and so are most of the others. Blasphemy and violence abound, as do certain sexual practices generally considered kinky/obscene.

Lessons to be learned? That humankind is evil, and gets even worse in the face of war and unstable governments. You will see how low people will go when the economy collapses.

Do I recommend The Tin Drum? Yes and no. This is a book that requires a lot of patience, and a strong stomach. At times it will feel like one of the greatest books ever written. The use of symbolism, and way of phrasing and description make the novel appear most beautiful. Then at other points it will just smack of ugliness. Ultimately, I do recommend it; it is, after all, a Nobel Prize winner.

The Tin Drum has a lot of foreign names and terms, but it has a glossary in the back to help. This comes in very handy when politicians and charity organizations are discussed. This is for at least college level readers. Younger or worse readers will just become frustrated, and they probably won't finish it.

There is a lot of evil and ugly in this world. The Tin Drum holds nothing back in exposing it. This is not a book of hope; it is a book of suffering. Try it at your own risk. While great, it is not for everyone.
Posted by Thoth 2006-08-12 14:35||   2006-08-12 14:35|| Front Page Top

#18 The death camps were run by the SS-Totenkopfverbände (the Death's Heads). It was the Einsatzgruppen that went around killing civilians, jews, and gypsies in the east. At Dachau, the Waffen-SS were primarily recovering wounded, many who were summarily executed in the belief they were the guards: DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP - LIBERATION
06:00 Waffen SS-Obersturmführer (Lt.) Heinrich Skodzensky, the new, hastily designated Camp Commandant, holds morning roll call for the garrison now guarding Dachau. His roll call tallied 560 men, many of them in hospital. A mere lieutenant had never before commanded the massive concentration camp, but the real SS Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, had "run off" the day before, along with more than a thousand of the Allgemeine and Death's Head SS guards stationed at the camp prior to the American approach. Skodzensky's orders were to surrender. (Dachau Archive)
Posted by ed 2006-08-12 14:50||   2006-08-12 14:50|| Front Page Top

#19 Let's see, in the SS during World War II, on the Communist side in the Cold War, and on the Islamist side in the war on terror. Are there any other important issues he could get on the wrong side of? He seems to have racked up the halfwit trifecta.
Posted by WhiteCollarRedneck 2006-08-12 15:46||   2006-08-12 15:46|| Front Page Top

#20 "halfwit trifecta"

Perfect, #19 WCR!

Lot of that goin' around, ain't it? :-D
Posted by Barbara Skolaut">Barbara Skolaut  2006-08-12 16:35||]">[]  2006-08-12 16:35|| Front Page Top

#21 Not impressed with the book, not impressed with the man. Read Ken Follet's "Pillars of the Earth" sometime.
Posted by Zenster 2006-08-12 16:55||   2006-08-12 16:55|| Front Page Top

#22 Corks and Bottles Thoth. That's all there is.
Posted by HalfEmpty 2006-08-12 19:23||   2006-08-12 19:23|| Front Page Top

#23 Will do Zenster, will do.
Posted by Thoth 2006-08-12 20:04||]">[]  2006-08-12 20:04|| Front Page Top

#24 "Dog Years" discusses the prewar and war years from the viewpoint of Hitler's dog. The pages oconcerning the July 20 Plot, for example are a mesmerizing read... This is fiction (Hitler's dog moves the bomb-containing briefcase under the table at the last moment) bu the point is well made that Stauffenberg (sic?) should have stayed around and martyred himself instead of exiting the scene.)
Posted by borgboy 2006-08-12 21:19||   2006-08-12 21:19|| Front Page Top

#25 Ain't quite understood halfs comment, but I do know he usually packs a bunch of wisdom behind whatever he says.

Oh, jeebus, another one to sleep on tonight.
Posted by Thoth 2006-08-12 23:40||   2006-08-12 23:40|| Front Page Top

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