Werwolf in West

That there were many serious attacks by Werewolf all over Germany cannot be denied, but it must also be stated that, despite the enthusiasm and ability of the 5,000 members who passed through the training camps, the partisan force achieved little. Here and there the diligent researcher will find clues leading to happenings which occurred in the last days of the Reich and which, it can be deduced, were due to the actions of the National Socialist partisans. Conversely, there were ambushes, deaths and woundings which, in the hysteria of the time, were blamed by the Americans upon Werewolf but which can be seen, judged by today’s objective view, to have been tragic, unfortunate accidents totally without sinister involvement.

The activities of Werewolf in the areas of the British Army in Germany were limited to isolated incidents, but one of these killed Major John Poston, who had been with Field Marshal Montgomery in the desert, in Sicily and in northwest Europe. As one of the Field Marshal’s Liaison Officers, it was Poston’s practice to drive about collecting for the British Commander those small items of military Intelligence upon which the leader planned his battles.

In the last weeks of the war, Poston, driving along a quiet country road back to Montgomery’s headquarters from a liaison mission, was attacked by a group of Hitler Youth Werewolves. Their bursts of bullets struck his jeep, which then skidded off the road. Although wounded in the first volleys, the British Officer returned fire with his pistol until he was hit again by a long burst of machine pistol bullets and was killed.

There were many clashes between the young partisans and men of British armoured divisions.

The other western ally, the United States, met more opposition from the Werewolf bands. On 24th March, 1945, the Lord Mayor of Aachen was assassinated by Werewolf agents. He was not the only US appointed official to die at the hands of the partisans, but he was the most important, and the broadcast announcing his death on 1st April gave Reich Minister Goebbels the opportunity to gloat that the arm of the National Socialist Party was long and that its agents, the Werewolf, were vigilant, ruthless killers.

Werewolf was a secret no longer. Goebbels had officially announced that a German partisan movement existed, and he then went on to proclaim a general uprising of the whole German Folk against the invading Allied troops. This he also called Werewolf. The Deutschland Transmitter Radio Station broadcast a call to arms claiming itself to be the organisation of National Socialist Freedom Fighters. The call to action was taken up by another radio station, and very soon a whole program of propaganda for Werewolf was being transmitted. Once again, as in the days before the National Socialists seized power, the old, emotional slogans were heard. Slogans which had helped to defeat the Reds were heard once again on German radio, and each station broadcast the same proclamation — the Charter of the Werewolf organisation, which was:

The terror raids have destroyed our cities in the west. Our starving women and children along the Rhine River have taught us how to hate. The blood and the tears of our brutally beaten men, our despoiled wives, and our murdered children in those areas occupied by the Reds cry out for revenge. Those who are in Werewolf declare in this proclamation their firm, resolute decision, sealed with their oath, never to bow to the enemy, even though we suffer the most terrible conditions and have only limited resources. But to meet the foe with resistance, to defy him, despising bourgeois comfort, and shall face possible death with pride, and we shall revenge any misdeed which he commits against our race by killing him. Every means is justified if it helps to damage the enemy.

The Werewolf has its own courts of justice which decide the life or death of our enemy as well as of those traitors among our Folk. Our Movement rises out of our Folk’s desire for freedom, and is bound up with the honour of the German Nation whose guardians we consider ourselves to be. If the enemy feels that we are easy game and that the German Folk can be driven like slaves, as he has driven the Romanian, Bulgarian and Finnish Folk to deportation, to hard labour in the tundras of Russia or the coalmines of Britain or France, then let him know that in those areas of Germany from which the German Army has been forced back, there will arise an adversary with which he had not reckoned, but who will be more dangerous to him, who will fight without regard to so called, old fashioned, concepts and bourgeois methods of war, which our enemies adopt only when these are of advantage to them, but which they cynically reject if these bring no such advantage. Hate is our prayer. Revenge is our battle cry.

Fear of Werewolf was then blended in with another kite which Goebbels had been flying; the idea of the Alpine Redoubt. The Americans were convinced that in the mountainous areas of southern Germany and of Austria, the National Socialists would make a last ditch stand. Senior Officers of the American Army firmly believed that thousands of well trained German soldiers, aircraft production plants, tank factories — a whole armaments industry indeed — was there in the Alps ready to defend The Leader in his Alpine Redoubt. Following on from this belief came the conviction that, as the Allied armies drove towards the mountain fastness, the German High Command would fling across the Allied lines of communication thousands of Werewolf agents to interdict and to destroy. Any Allied advance upon the Alpine Redoubt, so it was believed, would be met at every possible place by the German masses in arms, backed by an aggressive partisan organisation.

British Intelligence Officers tried to persuade the Americans that both the Alpine Redoubt and the levee en masse called Werewolf were elaborate bluffs, and sought to keep the main thrust of the western Allies aimed at Berlin. American fears that partisan activity might involve them in years of war in the hostile mountains coloured their judgement. The American Supreme Commander, Eisenhower, accepted the assessments of his Lieutenants, regrouped his armies, and drove south — away from Berlin and into the mountains. He was more concerned with phantoms conjured up by his nervous subordinates than with the political fate of Europe.

That the Americans were apprehensive about a long drawn out war is understandable. They had a war in the Pacific to finish and had no wish to be tied down in Europe battling for one German mountain peak after another. In view of the pressing need to conclude quickly the war in the European Theatre Of Operations, the American armies drove swiftly and impatiently into southern Germany.

Opposition, where it was encountered, was beaten down ruthlessly. The assassination of Aachen’s Lord Mayor and the Goebbels broadcast had illustrated the dangers that the American forces believed they faced, and they used maximum fire power against minor targets. Then, on 8th April, they suffered another blow. The Commander of 3rd Armoured Division, General Maurice Rose, was assassinated by brave Werewolf agents in Padeborn. German broadcasters laughed about the assassination of the Jew General. Henceforth any fire aimed at the Americans by civilians was considered to be Werewolf activity and was suppressed with savage ferocity. Boys as young as 12 years of age were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment by American Courts Martial. Two members of the Hitler Youth, one aged 16 and the other aged 17, were sentenced to death at the end of March, 1945, and were murdered on 5th June. The report in the American Forces’ newspaper, Stars And Stripes, claimed that they had been snipers in Aachen. The American fury was not confined to proven members of the Werewolf. At Budeburg near Wesel on 8th April, and in Spitze only six days later, men of 116th Panzer Division were murdered without trial by soldiers of the American Army. The discovery of Werewolf leaflets in their zone of occupation sharpened American resolve. The partisan pamphlets detailed how acts of sabotage were to be committed, and summarised the reason for such operations in the following words. The enemy will then have to take troops from the front line to protect his supply routes. The enemy in the battle line will be weakened. Anything of the enemy’s that we can destroy forces him to replace it. Anything which damages the enemy helps our troops. The Americans found, in their advances, that Werewolf cells existed even among soldiers who were convalescing. Badly wounded Officers and even nursing sisters were discovered to be inciting the lightly wounded to commit acts of sabotage and to maintain resistance to the American authorities. The Americans were convinced that they could see evidence of partisan activity everywhere, and in their drive southwards towards the Alpine Redoubt they destroyed all opposition, great or small, actual or imagined, exactly in the manner of the barbarous Siberian hordes. The Americans were impatient to end the war in Europe.

This entry was posted in History.

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