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Minutemen of the Third Reich: History of the Nazi Werwolf Guerrilla Movement
History Today ^ | October 2000 | Perry Biddiscombe

Posted on 07/24/2003 7:58:27 PM PDT by Angelus Errare

Minutemen of the Third Reich.(history of the Nazi Werewolf guerilla movement) Author/s: Perry Biddiscombe Issue: Oct, 2000

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 1944, which fought the occupying forces of Britain, America and Russia until at least 1947.

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).

COPYRIGHT 2000 History Today Ltd.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Political Humor/Cartoons; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: germany; neonazi; werewolfguerillas; werewolfguerrillas; wwii
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To: SAMWolf
He did. The Ba'ath Party is a neo-Nazi political organization. Saddam was raised by a Nazi sympathizer, as I recall.
21 posted on 07/24/2003 9:18:49 PM PDT by narses ("The do-it-yourself Mass is ended. Go in peace" Francis Carindal Arinze of Nigeria)
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To: EternalVigilance
It is ridiculous and insulting to do what the headline does...tie the blessed memory of the Minutemen to the memory of a bunch of terrorist-thug Nazi losers.

Thank you sir, for forming the words.

22 posted on 07/24/2003 9:19:39 PM PDT by He Rides A White Horse (For or against us.........)
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To: Angelus Errare; Archangelsk; EternalVigilance; Congressman Billybob; FairOpinion; Petronski; ...
In Antony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945 the Werewolf project is described as something that lived only in the mind of Joseph Goebbels along with his National Redoubt. It fooled the Soviets and allies which caused much suffering amongst German civilians after the end of the war. To Stalin's Soviets, who were a paranoid bunch to begin with the Werewolf propaganda was swallowed whole. This meant that any house that had any military related item in it like an old uniform meant that the whole family would be killed. Eisenhower's acceptance of the National Redoubt propaganda made him divert the army to the south rather than driving on to the west to meet up with the Russians.

In fact, Jewish revenge squads killed more Nazis via acts of terror (and an attempted mass poisoning) than the Nazis killed occupation forces after the end of the war during the occupation.

I want to also add that Beevor's book mentions how the German civilians were not troublemakers for the Soviets and to the shock of the Soviet occupiers who found the Germans compliant and submissive.

You can't compare Iraq to Germany or Japan. Both Germany and Japan had golden years of democratic representative govts that were still remembered. In addition they were both homogenous cultures and in Japan there was even an Emperor to focus loyalty.

We are also not the same Americans as we used to be. Our military and nation in that era was well practiced in colonialisim. We had occupied many Latin American nations routinely and we had a good sized colonial presence. Gen. MacArthur and his staff got to the practice they needed to run Japan when they ran the Phillipines. We had diplomats, beaurocrats, NCOs and officers in our military back then that had experiance in ruling foreign peoples in a colonial manner.

As the expeiances of the last 20 years has shown, America and even the UK has lost the tradition and experiances of how to nation build. Every nation building attempt of the last 20 years has been a complete failure.

Please no more comparisons of Iraq with Germany and Japan (why does everyone forget Italy?).

23 posted on 07/24/2003 9:23:58 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Angelus Errare; Sparta
Thanks for posting and pinging this. It will be useful in some discussions with some "Vietnam quagmire" types, who seem to think we should allow a few nutcase committed extremists to thwart our efforts.
24 posted on 07/24/2003 9:28:08 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (this space intentionally blank)
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To: graycamel; Itzlzha; vetvetdoug; SAMWolf; eeman; narses; He Rides A White Horse
See my post #23. The Werewolf resistance of Joseph Goebbels was just propaganda. Joseph Goebbels truely was a master of propaganda if almost 60 years after his death his trickery lives on as fact.
25 posted on 07/24/2003 9:32:55 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Destro
I guess there's more than one version of history. Wow, that's never happened before. (sarcasm). Maybe this can be investigated further? I doubt it, since there'll be bias in the minds of the investigators and they will doctor the results.
26 posted on 07/24/2003 9:39:49 PM PDT by graycamel
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To: graycamel
What investigation need be made that has not been made? The Werewolves were a myth. The Nazis resistance amounted to leaving Germany for South America via the Rat Line and that's about it.

Buy Bevoor's book. It was not as good as his work on the Battle of Stalingrad (Enemy at the Gate) but it was a top notch read and he goes into some detail of the Werewolves myth and how it hurt ordinary German civilians because the Soviet soldiers thought it was true and would kill thousands of civilian survivors based on mere suspicion (like a dead son's uniform in a closet would get the family in the house shot).

When the shooting stop there was no recorded act of these Werewolves in Russian territory. General N.E. Berzarin's death if not an auto accident was probably a hit by Stalin according to Beevor. Beevor gives the reason why Stalin would want Berzarin killed but I don't remember it. In fact he probably did die in an accident without foul play like Patton did. Germany had no traffic system at the time that would regulate traffic and slow down road accidents.

27 posted on 07/24/2003 9:54:04 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: SAMWolf

He seems to have modeled a lot of his government on the Nazi methods.

I've always equated the Iraqi Republican Guard to the Waffen SS.

28 posted on 07/24/2003 10:10:22 PM PDT by Sparta (Check out my new blog,
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To: narses; SAMWolf

He did. The Ba'ath Party is a neo-Nazi political organization. Saddam was raised by a Nazi sympathizer, as I recall.

True. Also, Saddam was an admirer of Stalin as well.

29 posted on 07/24/2003 10:12:34 PM PDT by Sparta (Check out my new blog,
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To: Angelus Errare
Bump for later!
30 posted on 07/24/2003 10:13:55 PM PDT by Bayou City
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To: Angelus Errare
I read something about a unit that was encircled, then bypassed by the Soviets that formed the nucleus of a local resistance to Soviet rule, that wasn't finally completely crushed until the seventies or the eighties.

It was in (IIRC) the Baltics someplace, I think. It wasn't a pure local rebellion, as it was started either by the Germans or by a ethnically-local German auxiliary unit, or something like that. It was very directly a leftover ember of World War 2. Anybody remember anything about this?
31 posted on 07/24/2003 10:33:17 PM PDT by Riley
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To: Riley
Those were ethnic Balts not Germans.
32 posted on 07/24/2003 10:41:42 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Destro
The Werewolves "program" was a failure. While the Nazi's hoped that the people would resisit and cause the Occupation troops a lot of trouble it, for the most part never materialized. There were isolated incidents but it was never the organization the Nazi's wanted it too be.
33 posted on 07/24/2003 11:03:59 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Everytime I lose weight, it finds me again.)
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To: SAMWolf
Even the isolated incidents were mostly hungry German men caught behind Red lines ambushing Russians for food in the last days of the war...
34 posted on 07/24/2003 11:13:48 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Destro
Patton died from foul play? Sounds Kooky to me... but you're probably right. When it comes to books I have a short attention span. They just don't hold my interest more than 1 hour. Same with movies. Must be all that broccoli I eat, just kidding.
35 posted on 07/24/2003 11:14:05 PM PDT by graycamel
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To: graycamel
No!!!!!!!!!! I said he did not doe of foul plat but teh possibility of the Rssian generla was killed by foul play exists....
36 posted on 07/24/2003 11:15:18 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: Destro
I sould not type in the dark
37 posted on 07/24/2003 11:15:55 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting
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To: EternalVigilance
>>>> The Nazis weren't 'radical-right'; they were radical socialists.

This is an over-simplification. Hitler was a master at harnessing latent fears and passions among the populace. The communists were gathering force in Germany, so Hitler embraced some of communism's lingo and extended it for his own benefit. The same is true for anti-semitism. Hitler observed the mayor of Vienna making use of ethnic intolerance as a means for obtaining loyal support from the citizenry, and so he added that to his bag of tricks.

To say that Hitler's hodgepodge of political ideals was socialist is wrong in two ways. First, Hitler had no ideals but power. Second, Hitler made promises that sounded like socialism to the people in order to obtain their trust. He made other promises to businessmen, and still others to the military that had nothing to do with socialism. Hitler followed the rule that you promise whatever it takes to gain the advantage in every political arena. Once you have power, you sieze it to accomplish your other aims. Hitler's core aims were right-wing. For the American right to protest that this weren't the case is probably due to fear of being associated with fascism, but it's unnecessary as long as the American populace is allowed to be armed. Moreover, just because we are on the right (and have a sense of righteousness) today does not mean that a threat to American freedoms will never come from the right in the future.

There is irony in calling Hitler a socialist because Stalin was no more a communist than Hitler was a socialist. Both men used ideologies to harness people's collective will. Both men never cared for the academic theories of the political movements they purported to lead. On the other hand, Hitler was much more eclectic in his selection of ideologies to tout.

Power wants power, and gets it any way it can.

The American dalliance with socialism is fueled by two kinds of politics: socialism for ideals, and socialism for the force it provides to the enemies of freedom. Of course in the end, socialism's promises are usurped by the heartless powerbrokers because of the weapons socialism provides them. However, we should fear the ideologues more than the powerbrokers because they are the ones who break the back of freedom first.

But socialism is only one enemy of freedom. We shouldn't lose track of the others thinking "if only we crush anything that looks like communism we'll be safe." Hitler's special brand of tyranny was something else again besides pure socialism. There was nothing pure about it.
38 posted on 07/24/2003 11:23:03 PM PDT by risk
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To: Destro
No!!!!!!!!!! I said he did not doe of foul plat but teh possibility of the Rssian generla was killed by foul play exists....

Sorry I misunderstood the sentence in your previous post. The double negative confused me. Ps, you spell poorly in the post I refer to above.
39 posted on 07/24/2003 11:54:08 PM PDT by graycamel
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To: risk
My own perferred terminology is statism. And Hitler was pretty clearly statist just as communists and socialists are also statists. And beyond trying to put more and more control in the hands of a central government to me the difference between Royalists, Communists, Socialists, Hitlerites etc is basically window dressing. Call it right or left or whatever, it is trying to amass power as you say but you are wrong to say his core aims were right-wing.

His core aim was the same as any tyrant, power. That is true of tyrants in Africa and the middle East today. It was true of the Soviet Bloc. It was true of Hitler, the Japanese militarists and Franco. Was true of the devine right kings. It has been true in theocracies throughtout history.

And I agree, the headline writer is clearly another lefty showing us how right Ann Coulter is. She could not have published at a better time.
40 posted on 07/24/2003 11:58:21 PM PDT by JLS
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