Does anyone have any idea how many of these may be floating around?? I understand that they are considered rare, but just how rare are they?
As far as the Waffen-SS is concerned, I don't really like the term "elite", as some like to call them. A very large majority of them were sent to the Russian Front, where they gained a lot of experience in combat. Not only their combat experience during Barbarossa, but also the Blitz Krieg gave them an edge over your standard army or luftwaffe unit. (Luft assualt troops) Not because they were "better soldiers", but because they gained the most experience in the beginning. As the war dragged on, the army units began to gain the necessary experience that made the SS such a capable fighting force.
Lets do a brief analysis of the Waffen-SS compared to the Heer (Army). On June 6, 1944, when allied troops landed in Normandy, the first troops that they were to encounter were mostly Heer troops. Many of the soldiers serving on the coast were inexperienced soldiers, having never seen the fighting that had occured when France was invaded. Interestingly, many were not even German. Many of the defenders were Foreign Volunteers from Eastern Europe. Initially, it was not believed that an attack was going to occure at Normandy, so, as they saw it, there was no real need to place their best soldiers at that point in the line. I know that some will disagree with me, but as hard as the landings were, (And they were hard!) the ground fell with relative ease. The fighting would have been hard, certainly. Heavy weapons on fixed positions on high ground. Seaborne infantry negotiating water, unstable sand, obstacles, barbed wire, mines - but this is nothing foreign to a heavily defended position. However, once we established the beach head, that wall collapsed.
The troops farther inland, such as the ones that the Canadians were to fight, were SS men, and when they were encountered, they sang a different song that what was sung at Juno and Omaha. These troops did not give up ground easily, they were experienced, and most infamously, they were BRUTAL. Perhaps this is where the "elite" stereotype comes from. Perhaps some like to cover up the brutal tactics of the SS by just saying that they were elite. Let's face it, even their division titles spoke of their brutality. SS-Totenkopf. (Death's Head) Reinhard Heidrich. (Brutal SS-Obergruppenfuhrer), and the list goes on.
Many of the what-if's of the invasion is what if those SS tanks were sent when they were asked for? What if the Luftwaffe attacked the troops in the channel? What if the SS were moved with haste to the beach? There's little doubt that the invasion would have been a flop. A disaster. It would have been Dunkirque one thousand-fold. However, "what-if's" are only fantasy. It didn't happen. Georring failed the troops at Normandy by offering no air support. Rommel failed the troops at Normandy by not moving in MUCH more armor and experieced troops when reports came of the invasion. Infact, there were reports that an invasion was likely, "somewhere", and he was off at a wedding in Paris!
Provisionally speaking, the SS were not any more equipped that their Heer counterparts. In many cases, they were ill-equipped. The concept of the SS-Grenadier was not indiginous to the SS. Heer outfits also had heavily armed Grenadiers. (The 26th Hungarian Waffen-Grenadier Division comes to mind) For those that are not aware, a Grenadier in terms of the Reich, are outfits that carry a highly explosive punch; more heavy weapons than a basic rifle company. Infact, when we look at SS men on the Russian Front, many are seen carrying Russian arms. Many froze to death because they were not prepared for that terrible Russian winter.
However, one thing must be clearly understood. The Waffen-SS were not to be seen as inferior soldiers, by ANY means. They were to be feared by many, and respected as an adversary, never to be underestimated.
To surrender to the SS would be akin to playing Russian Roullette, with 4 of five chambers loaded.
I hope that you have enjoyed my thesis - LOL
Edited by cpatrick, 02 November 2007 - 09:51 AM.