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Old November 14th, 2014, 06:50 PM   #1
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Were the SS and Wehrmacht capable of committing a mass atrocity similar to Nanking?


Let's say that after capturing a sizable Soviet city (100,000 or more inhabitants) the German Waffen SS/Heer were ordered by Hitler for whatever reason to destroy the city and kill the entire population. No deporting them to camps where gas chambers and starvation do the job, no Einsatzgruppen to spare them the trauma of killing men, women, and children. They have to kill most, if not all of the city's citizens with their own men, using rifles, machine guns, flamethrowers, grenades, and any other means available to them. The question is is this situation plausible? Are the Wehrmacht up to the job?

(Nanking Massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Japanese Army managed to kill up to 300,000 people in a 6 week period in the Chinese city of Nanking. Mass rapes went on, thousands lined up and shot into ditches, pregnant women raped and disembowled, mutilation, torture, people burned alive, children bayoneted, all done with complete psychopathic glee and abandon, without being ordered to.

The Germans killed hundreds of thousands, even millions of Soviet citizens and destroyed thousands of villages through various anti "partisan" operations and as punishment for the death of German soldiers, other times for simple extermination of Slavic peoples they considered subhuman and life unworthy of life. Once 10,000 people were shot after being detained by a Wehrmacht division in November 1941.

If Wehrmacht units could kill thousands of people at a time piecemeal in a matter of days constantly throughout the entire eastern front, often doing it spontaneously, then why would killing a hundred thousand or more in a relatively short period of time be any more difficult or strenuous? Are they going to look in their commander's eyes and say "Whoa now! I know you had us burn those villages last week and slaughter all of the people within, even the children, but this is where we draw the line?"
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Old November 14th, 2014, 07:40 PM   #2

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Not could have... DID.

Babi Yar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old November 15th, 2014, 12:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
Here's a quote from the article about Babi Yar:

"The implementation of the order was entrusted to Sonderkommando 4a, commanded by Blobel, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln. This unit consisted of SD and Sipo, the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion, and a platoon of the 9th Police Battalion. Police Battalion 45, commanded by Major Besser, conducted the massacre, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion."

So these men weren't typical average Wehrmacht regulars, they were only a small amount of men whose sole purpose was to kill Jews in that fashion. I'm talking about what if a few Wehrmacht divisions (50,000 or more soldiers) were assigned the task and ordered to kill the population of a Soviet city, without the help of any Einsatzgruppen or special police battalions to do the job for them. I don't doubt that if pushed to do so the Wehrmacht would be able to fulfill their murderous task in short time without much hesistance or moral outrage. Sure a few might object initially but in the time span of a few weeks or less, that city is getting slaughtered and destroyed without mercy. I just want other opinions on this from people who may be more knowledgeable than I on this topic.

Something interesting I found is that in October of 1941 Romanian troops killed over 50,000 Jews and other civilians in about a week's time.([ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941_Odessa_massacre"]1941 Odessa massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame])

Last edited by Cmyers1980; November 15th, 2014 at 12:54 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 04:17 AM   #4

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The German Wehrmacht engaged in pretty extensive massacres during World War II, both on its own and in support of Einsatzgruppen.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 06:08 AM   #5
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So you think they were capable of committing a Nanking level massacre?
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Old November 15th, 2014, 07:10 AM   #6
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This is a joyous little dance is it not?

OP asks in essence could the Heer, in general, and specifically in concert with the Waffen SS, have perpetrated "a Nanking"?

Well, they certainly had the personnel assets, the weapons, the ammunition, the logistical wherewithal and, to a degree, the motivation . . . remember, "I was just following orders." And, please, no dodging, we all know that Heer units were involved in organized mass murder, though almost entirely on a "small" and localized basis.

So, the answer to the question is an emphatic: YES, of course they could have, don't be silly.

Editorially, were I feeling more cynical than usual, I might suspect there is here a form of advanced white-washing motivation to the question, which one might use it to say, for example, "Well, they certainly could have, but to their credit they did not." This a borderline fan-boy ploy, in my opinion, and certainly, however, is not the case. The point to be made would be: no one told them to do so, so they did not. Not to mention, they, the troops, and especially their commanders, who would have issued such an order, were generally a little busy with other duties, like trying to either win a war or merely survive it.

I have always suspected the the SS preferred that the Heer stay out of it as they had no desire to spread the "credit," if you will. In my humble opinion, the Nazi run establishment were naught but a bunch glorified gangsters in uniform, hence the constant rivalries and jockeying for position and, most importantly, swag. Part of their downfall, thank goodness, too many big shots going off in too many directions for their own aggrandizement or profit, or kowtowing to the flavor of the month, to make the whole effective. The SS, as one of these pulling forces, and indeed, a major player, wanted the credit for the elimination of "undesirables" and thus did not play well with others when it came to sharing.

Of course, this is just the modest opinion of one who tend to dwell on matters of an naval and Pacific Ocean venue and is only vaguely aware that there was a war in Europe, eastern or western front, and has little to no interest except in passing.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 09:08 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cmyers1980 View Post
So you think they were capable of committing a Nanking level massacre?
Yes. And there's plenty of proof.
Why do you ask?
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Old November 15th, 2014, 09:22 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cmyers1980 View Post
Let's say that after capturing a sizable Soviet city (100,000 or more inhabitants) the German Waffen SS/Heer were ordered by Hitler for whatever reason to destroy the city and kill the entire population.
In the 1944 Warsaw uprising around 150,000 to 200,000 Polish civilians were killed, mainly in mass executions, by the German forces, so the answer is clearly yes.
[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Uprising]Warsaw Uprising - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
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Old November 15th, 2014, 10:06 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cmyers1980 View Post
Here's a quote from the article about Babi Yar:

"The implementation of the order was entrusted to Sonderkommando 4a, commanded by Blobel, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln. This unit consisted of SD and Sipo, the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion, and a platoon of the 9th Police Battalion. Police Battalion 45, commanded by Major Besser, conducted the massacre, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion."

So these men weren't typical average Wehrmacht regulars, they were only a small amount of men whose sole purpose was to kill Jews in that fashion. I'm talking about what if a few Wehrmacht divisions (50,000 or more soldiers) were assigned the task and ordered to kill the population of a Soviet city, without the help of any Einsatzgruppen or special police battalions to do the job for them. I don't doubt that if pushed to do so the Wehrmacht would be able to fulfill their murderous task in short time without much hesistance or moral outrage. Sure a few might object initially but in the time span of a few weeks or less, that city is getting slaughtered and destroyed without mercy. I just want other opinions on this from people who may be more knowledgeable than I on this topic.

Something interesting I found is that in October of 1941 Romanian troops killed over 50,000 Jews and other civilians in about a week's time.(1941 Odessa massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The Einzatsgruppen were specialized units yes, but many of them were made of up of regular German army units. The fact that they were tasked to perform a specific task apart from the war is irrelevant to whether or not the Army or Waffen SS could commit such murders. Being organized to commit murder is not an excuse. The German army DID commit murders on the scale of Nanking, and as shown through the Einzatsgruppen was organized to do so.
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Old November 15th, 2014, 03:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
In the 1944 Warsaw uprising around 150,000 to 200,000 Polish civilians were killed, mainly in mass executions, by the German forces, so the answer is clearly yes.
Warsaw Uprising - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wasn't a large amount of the killing done by the Dirlewanger and Kaminski units? Units composed of criminals, Soviet recruits, and other rabble? Here's a quote from Wikipedia about the Warsaw massacres:

Most of these atrocities were committed by troops under the command of SS-Oberführer Oskar Dirlewanger and SS-Brigadeführer Bronislav Kaminski. Research historian Martin Gilbert, from the University of Oxford, wrote:

"More than fifteen thousand Polish civilians had been murdered by German troops in Warsaw. At 5:30 that evening [August 5], General Erich von dem Bach gave the order for the execution of women and children to stop. But the killing continued of all Polish men who were captured, without anyone bothering to find out whether they were insurgents or not. Nor did either the Cossacks or the criminals in the Kaminsky and Dirlewanger brigades pay any attention to von dem Bach Zelewski's order: by rape, murder, torture and fire, they made their way through the suburbs of Wola and Ochota, killing in three days of slaughter a further thirty thousand civilians, including hundreds of patients in each of the hospitals in their path."

I'm not doubting that the Wehrmacht could wipe out an entire city's population if they wanted to but in the case of Warsaw the large majority of killing was done by the degenerates under Kaminski and Dirlewanger's command, men who were unskilled and whose only use was to kill, mutilate, torture, rape, burn, and loot, which they were extremely good at as written above. These weren't your average German soldiers is what I'm getting at so you have to be careful to say that their behavior could be easily mimicked by actual Wehrmacht forces. I mean they raped and killed children and cancer patients for god's sake!

Last edited by Cmyers1980; November 15th, 2014 at 03:08 PM.
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