Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hitler's Samurai - Waffen-SS in Action

'Rarely has an army had to pay such a high price for defeat as the Waffen-SS.' I quoted this statement by HIAG in the introduction to the first edition of this book, and it remains true. The whole of the Schutzstaffel, from the most richly deserving butchers like Eichmann to the young teenagers of the Hitler Youth who fought with desperation beyond their years in the bloodbath that was Berlin in 1945, was tarred with the same brush: guilty until proven innocent. In this book it has been my intention to give a more balanced view, with particular reference to the SS-VT and Waffen-SS. I have tried to show what sort of people did join the SS, and why; how they were trained, organised, uniformed and equipped; and, through a precis of their campaigns, what their achievements�good and bad�were. To many people, even today, no Waffen-SS accomplishment can be classed as 'good', but this biased emotional reaction denies the Waffen-SS the same military recognition awarded to the elite formations of other nationalities, past or present. It is also a reaction which denies the effect many aspects of Waffen-SS training and uniform have had on all postwar armies, and which are discussed later. Finally, it is a reaction which places the atrocities like Le Paradis and Oradour ahead of the many acts of chivalry performed by SS individuals and units, and which ignores the inconvenient fact that Allied troops�and not just the Russians�were guilty of similar atrocities, including the shooting of prisoners and reprisals on the civilian population of Germany.