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Minutemen of the Third Reich ("Werewolf" guerilla movement - postwar sabotage & terror not new)
History Today (via ^ | October 2000 | Perry Biddiscombe

Posted on 07/04/2003 1:47:18 AM PDT by Stultis

History Today
Oct, 2000

Minutemen of the Third Reich.(history of the Nazi Werewolf guerilla movement)

Author/s: Perry Biddiscombe

AS WORRIES INCREASE about neo-Nazi and skinhead violence in Germany, it is worth remembering that this type of terrorism is a nasty constant in the history of the German radical-right. A case in point is the Nazi Werewolf guerrilla movement founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1044, which fought the occupying forces of Britain, America and Russia until at least 1047.

The Werewolves were originally organised by the SS and the Hitler Youth as a diversionary operation on the fringes of the Third Reich, which were occupied by the Western Allies and the Soviets in the autumn of 1944. Some 5,000 -- 6,000 recruits were raised by the winter of 1944-45, but numbers rose considerably in the following spring when the Nazi Party and the Propaganda Ministry launched a popular call to arms, beseeching everybody in the occupied areas -- even women and children -- to launch themselves upon the enemy. In typical Nazi fashion, this expansion was not co-ordinated by the relevant bodies, which were instead involved in a bureaucratic war among themselves over control of the project. The result was that the movement functioned on two largely unrelated levels: the first as a real force of specially trained SS, Hitler Youth and Nazi Party guerrillas; the second as an outlet for casual violence by fanatics.

The Werewolves specialised in ambushes and sniping, and took the lives of many Allied and Soviet soldiers and officers -- perhaps even that of the first Soviet commandant of Berlin, General N.E. Berzarin, who was rumoured to have been waylaid in Charlottenburg during an incident in June 1945. Buildings housing Allied and Soviet staffs were favourite targets for Werewolf bombings; an explosion in the Bremen police headquarters, also in June 1945, killed five Americans and thirty-nine Germans. Techniques for harassing the occupiers were given widespread publicity through Werewolf leaflets and radio propaganda, and long after May 1945 the sabotage methods promoted by the Werewolves were still being used against the occupying powers.

Although the Werewolves originally limited themselves to guerrilla warfare with the invading armies, they soon began to undertake scorched-earth measures and vigilante actions against German `collaborators' or `defeatists'. They damaged Germany's economic infrastructure, already battered by Allied bombing and ground fighting, and tried to prevent anything of value from falling into enemy hands. Attempts to blow up factories, power plants or waterworks occasionally provoked melees between Werewolves and desperate German workers trying to save the physical basis of their employment, particularly in the Ruhr and Upper Silesia.

Several sprees of vandalism through stocks of art and antiques, stored by the Berlin Museum in a flak tower at Friedrichshain, caused millions of dollars worth of damage and cultural losses of inestimable value. In addition, vigilante attacks caused the deaths of a number of small-town mayors and, in late March 1945, a Werewolf paratroop squad assassinated the Lord Mayor of Aachen, Dr Franz Oppenhoff, probably the most prominent German statesman to have emerged in the occupied fringes over the winter of 1944-45. This spate of killings, part of a larger Nazi terror campaign that consumed the Third Reich after the failed anti-Hitler putsch of July 20th, 1944, can be interpreted as a psychological retreat back into opposition, even while Nazi leaders were still clinging to their last few months of power.

Although the Werewolves managed to make themselves a nuisance to small Allied and Soviet units, they failed to stop or delay the invasion and occupation of Germany, and did not succeed in rousing the population into widespread opposition to the new order. The SS and Hitler Youth organisations at the core of the Werewolf movement were poorly led, short of supplies and weapons, and crippled by infighting. Their mandate was a conservative one of tactical harassment, at least until the final days of the war, and even when they did begin to envision the possibility of an underground resistance that could survive the Third Reich's collapse, they had to contend with widespread civilian war-weariness and fear of enemy reprisals. In Western Germany, no one wanted to do anything that would diminish the pace of Anglo-American advance and possibly thereby allow the Red Army to push further westward.

Despite its failure, however, the Werewolf project had a huge impact, widening the psychological and spiritual gap between Germans and their occupiers. Werewolf killings and intimidation of `collaborators' scared almost everybody, giving German civilians a clear glimpse into the nihilistic heart of Nazism. It was difficult for people working under threat of such violence to devote themselves unreservedly to the initial tasks of reconstruction. Worse still, the Allies and Soviets reacted to the movement with extremely tough controls, curtailing the right of assembly of German civilians. Challenges of any sort were met by collective reprisals -- especially on the part of the Soviets and the French. In a few cases the occupiers even shot hostages and cleared out towns where instances of sabotage occurred. It was standard practice for the Soviets to destroy whole communities if they faced a single act of resistance. In the eastern fringes of the `Greater Reich', now annexed by the Poles and the Czechoslovaks, Werewolf harassment handed the new authorities an excuse to rush the deportations of millions of ethnic Germans to occupied Germany.

Such policies were understandable, but they created an unbridgeable gulf between the German people and the occupation forces who had pledged to impose essential reforms. It was hard, in such conditions, for the occupiers to encourage reform, and even harder to persuade the Germans that it was necessary.

By the time that this rough opposition to the occupation had started to soften, the Cold War was under way and reform became equally difficult to implement. As a result, both German states created in 1949 were not so dissimilar to their predecessor as might have been hoped, and changes in attitudes and institutions developed only slowly. Thanks partly to the Werewolves there was no German revolution in 1945, either imposed from above or generated from below.

The Last Nazis by Perry Biddiscombe, is published this month by Tempus. The book explores the background to the movement, its operations and its wholly negative legacy to the history of reconstruction in postwar Germany.

The Last Nazis is available in bookshops, priced 19.99/$32.50 [pounds sterling], or by calling 01453 883300 (UK) or 001-888-313-2665 (North America).

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: guerrillas; iraq; militaryhistory; nazigermany; nazis; postwar; rebuilding; reconstruction; sabotage; werewolfguerrillas; werewolves; wwii
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To: ellery
A few people compared in potshots here are here are trivial compared to the current death toll of Americans. Making comparisons without evidence is irresponsible with all due apologies to Saint Rummy.
21 posted on 07/28/2003 10:39:24 AM PDT by Austin Willard Wright
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To: ellery
that's a few people killed.
22 posted on 07/28/2003 10:40:23 AM PDT by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Austin Willard Wright
Do you know how many allied casualties there were after WWII? If not, then how can you assert it's a "few people killed here and there?" Seems to me you're the one making assertions without evidence.
23 posted on 07/28/2003 10:54:36 AM PDT by ellery
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To: ellery
I don't know....although I do know that the folks at the Center for Military History dimiss the comparison.

It is *you* who is making the claim that the situations are comparable. I am perfectly willing to admit I am wrong....but can't possibly do that if the folks who make this comparison don't even try to present evidence!

24 posted on 07/28/2003 11:27:12 AM PDT by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Austin Willard Wright
This article presents evidence that the situations are comparable: i.e., that in both cases there were/are guerilla movements after major combat operations have ended.

You have stated that the only evidence you will accept is specific casualty statistics. I disagree that this is the only meaningful statistic -- I believe that the more relevant evidence is that occupying powers have confronted and successfully overcome guerilla movements in the past. If we can't agree on what evidence proves our respective cases, then I respectfully submit that there's no point to further discussion of this. Regardless, time will tell...:-)
25 posted on 07/28/2003 11:39:02 AM PDT by ellery
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To: Stultis; Austin Willard Wright
Here's a somewhat different example of a traditional war that turned into a guerilla war (one that we eventually won). It doesn't seem to me to be as comparable a situation, since in the case of the Phillipines we were trying to colonize...but this one does have casualty figures. We had more than 4000 US KIAs b/c of the guerilla war -- but still won in the end.

As early 1899, U.S. and Filipino forces faced off as a tense situation became worse. American forces held the capitol of Manila, while Aguinaldo's army occupied a trench-line surrounding the city. On the evening of February 4, 1899, Private William Grayson of the Nebraska Volunteers fired the first shot in what would turn out to be a very bloody war. Grayson shot at a group of Filipinos approaching his position, provoking an armed response. Shooting soon spread up and down the ten-mile U.S.-Filipino lines, causing hundreds of casualties. Upon the outbreak of hostilities, U.S. troops, supported by shelling from Admiral Dewey's fleet, quickly overwhelmed the Filipino positions while inflicting thousands of casualties. Within days, American forces spread outward from Manila, using superior firepower, mobile artillery and command of the sea to full effect.

By November of 1899, Aguinaldo and his forces had been pushed further and further into central Luzon (the main Philippine island) and he realized he could not fight the Americans with conventional military units. At this point, he ordered his followers to turn to guerilla tactics to combat the American army. From this point on, the war became a savage, no-holds-barred guerilla conflict made up of ambushes, massacres and retribution. Both sides engaged in wanton violence and slaughter. Villages were destroyed, civilians murdered, prisoners tortured and mutilated along with a host of other atrocities. Many American officers and non-coms had served in the Indian Wars, and thus applied the old belief that "the only good Indian was a dead Indian" to their relations with the Filipinos. This attitude of course was reciprocated by the native forces.

Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in March, 1902, and organized opposition from his followers soon faded. Despite the official end to hostilities proclaimed on July 4, 1902, individual tribes in Luzon and the Muslim Moros of the southern islands launched further uprisings for another decade or so.


1. Independence for the Philippines was delayed until 1946.
2. The United States acquired an overseas colony which served as a base for U.S. business and military interests in the Asia/Pacific region.

3. Following the conclusion of major hostilities, the U.S. did it's best to "Americanize" the Philippines. Through successful civilian administration, the Islands were modernized and the nation prepared for eventual independence. The Philippines became an independent nation on July 4, 1946.


U.S.-- 4,234 dead and 2,818 wounded.
Philippines-- 20,000 military dead and 200,000 civilian dead. (approximate numbers). Some historians place the numbers of civilian dead at 500,000 or higher.

26 posted on 07/28/2003 12:14:38 PM PDT by ellery
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To: ellery
The Phillipine insurgency, not a pretty picture at all, is your best comparison. The post-war German "insurgency" is probably a non starter, at least if the folks at the Center for Military History know anything.
27 posted on 07/28/2003 12:33:15 PM PDT by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Stultis; JohnHuang2
In light of recent disinformation and the Presidents speech, it's time for a BTTT.
28 posted on 09/08/2003 9:25:01 AM PDT by visualops (The light of hope and freedom shall blind the traitors and terrorists and cast them into darkness)
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