The tragic military disasters which overtook Germany during the late summer of 1944 convinced most members of the National Socialist Party that, short of a miracle, nothing could stave off defeat, and that the best that might be hoped for was a stalemate. There was little that could be done. The wonder weapons which would destroy London had failed, and it was admitted that no new wonder weapons could now save Germany. There remained only the Folk. The Leaders of the National Socialist Party knew that all German men and women burned with revolutionary fervour, and that the political mobilisation of the masses could be harnessed to bring victory out of defeat. Inspired by healthy and true National Socialist philosophy, revolutionary ideas and fervour would bring the whole Nation under arms and it would become a Folk’s War. The struggle of the masses would confound the plans of Germany’s enemies. A military stalemate would be achieved which might weary the Allies and lead to conflict between them. The knowledge that, sooner or later, military hostilities would break out between the Russians and the Western Allies, was the conviction that buoyed the German Leaders.
The German Folk had had no experience of total war. This is not to say that there was not in Germany worry, fear and chronic shortages. All these there were and in abundance. Millions of German soldiers had been killed or wounded, and Allied aircraft were bombing the cities of Germany almost at will. But it was still not total war. Even though the people had enthusiastically endorsed Reich Minister Goebbels’s offer of war to the death a year earlier, nothing had really changed during that time to bring the German masses to that level of sacrifice experienced by the women of Britain, of Russia and of the occupied lands of Europe. Then, late in 1944, came the conviction that Germany’s salvation lay in harnessing the masses. At that time of anguish and crisis the solution to Germany’s problems lay, so it was thought, not in conventional forces, but in firing the masses with a do or die spirit. One product of this conviction was Werewolf, an organisation which, had it been organised in time, been more firmly controlled with clear cut, unequivocal policy directives, might well have played an important part in producing that stalemate which was Germany’s only hope. Even badly organised as it was, the Werewolf threat to carry on partisan warfare in the rear of the Allied armies advancing into Germany was sufficient to influence Anglo-American operations in the last weeks of the war.
Research shows that there were three different bodies to which the name Werewolf was given. The first and most important was a Partisan Army which was to operate behind the Allied lines. Knowledge of this special force was revealed by Goebbels in a radio speech which gave details of Werewolf missions. His speech demanded that not just the trained operators alone should be Werewolf, but that the German Folk should rise up in a national resistance that would drown the enemy in a sea of blood. This proposed rising en masse was the second type of Werewolf, and there were many thousands of cases of heroic German civilians taking up arms and fighting as part of that force. The third Werewolf was a German Airforce squadron whose Pilots volunteered to carry out suicidal attacks upon inhuman Allied bomber fleets. We concentrate here upon the first and second types of Werewolf organisation.
Training the Werewolf in 1944: one of the recruits to the German Partisan Army being instructed in the use of the Panzerfaust.
The Werewolf organisation, as originally planned, was to be the German Partisan Organisation. It was inspired and planned by the National Socialist Party, but the administration would be that of the Supreme Command Of The Defence Forces, which would give the movement legality and which would nominate the targets to be attacked and arrange the missions that were to be undertaken.
The theory of Werewolf was that, as the Allies advanced into Germany, the secret agents of the German Partisan Movement would allow themselves to be overrun. They would go to ground, and would later emerge to engage in their clandestine operations. These would take the form of attacking enemy units, destroying the enemy’s supplies, and destroying his communications networks. In addition to fighting a partisan war, the second duty of Werewolf was to ensure that the German Folk remained loyal to Hitler, even though their cities and towns had been occupied by the Allies. To guarantee this loyalty, any Germans who collaborated with the enemy by accepting office in the Allied administration would be assassinated. By flyposting placards, by the distribution of leaflets, and through the painting of slogans on walls, the German civilians in the occupied areas were to be reminded, wherever necessary, where their duty lay, and that it was an obligation to support and encourage Werewolf and to shield its agents from discovery.
The concept of Werewolf as an elite band of partisans was first given formal endorsement in the late spring of 1944, and the task of recruiting, organising, and training was passed to SS Major General Prutzmann. In order to preserve the secrecy of the organisation, the first recruits were obtained not by public announcement but by verbal invitation or by personal recommendation. Once a nucleus of reliable men and women had been assembled and instructed, a wider circle of people could be admitted into the secret. The results of this wider trawl pleased the National Socialist hierarchy, for there followed a flood of the keenest men and women willing to enlist in this secret force. There was never any need for conscription in Germany, as usual. Werewolf began and ended as an all volunteer organisation.
The bitter war in Russia and in occupied Europe had given the German Army a vast amount of experience in antipartisan operations, and it was acknowledged that the SS Hunter Bands were the most efficient in combating the hidden enemy. Because their units had the highest success rates, the best men of the Hunter Bands were seconded to the secret Schools to teach partisan skills to the Werewolf recruits. The first and best of these Schools was at Hulcenrath, a castle in the Rhineland. Other training centres were established at Lubbucke, Waldhofen in Austria, Neustrelitz, and Quenzee, the old Brandenburg School. Hulcenrath was the best School because it was able to give a full and thorough training. It had been set up very soon after the Allies invaded Normandy. By autumn there was less and less time to train recruits in the other Schools, and by the time that the armies of the eastern and western Allies stood on German soil proper, instruction time had been cut so much that the newer Werewolf agents were given little more than basic training.
A special force such as Werewolf — a partisan army — must be flexible in organisation and in structure. It is a ground rule that such a group must not be large in number, so that, in the event of one of the group being taken prisoner and forced to talk, he can betray only a few of his comrades. The Officers of the Hunter Bands decided that Germany’s terrain and population density could not support within any one area a tactical group larger in strength than a Platoon. That formation, numbering about 60 men, would only be grouped for major missions such as an armed raid. Minor operations, such as a road watch, the cutting of telephone wires, or assassination, would need no more than 4 or 5 agents at any one time. Groups would normally operate in minimum strength, but would be brought together to Platoon strength for special missions.
Efficiency of partisan groups depends upon regular supplies of food, weapons, and forged identity documents. To ensure that Werewolf had all these things, Prutzmann ordered the setting up of hideouts all over Germany and Austria. In these secret and well hidden depots were the essentials which partisan groups needed to keep them in the field. A team of SD Officers was made responsible for the initial stocking of the store depots, and also with the on-going task of maintaining the level of supplies in the hideouts.
A second group of SD Officers was charged with procuring false papers, and for producing convincing cover stories for the agents. It was anticipated that the establishment would be on a one to one basis; one SD Officer training one Werewolf agent, but this ambition was never realised. Werewolf training was hard and the instructors unforgiving. One mistake, the recruits were told, and you were dead. It was not your death at the hands of the enemy which was of concern, but the fact that your training had been wasted by a single, stupid error. Mistakes we’re unpardonable; they were evidence of a sloppy, non German outlook. Tiredness and sickness were little excuse for inaction. The ability to cross the thresholds of pain or deprivation were aimed for, and even the youngest recruits were expected to be animated by the task that they had shouldered. Although the Werewolf were all volunteers and could withdraw from the force, extremely few ever made this request, and it usually resulted in release from the tasks which had been assigned to them and assignment of new ones. Most of the Werewolf went the first time.
Trained in weapons skills, explosives, and communications, the agents returned after training to their home areas, there to await the orders that would take them underground and into German partisan operations. They had not long to wait. As early as September, 1944, western Allies had advanced to the German frontier and had captured the town of Aachen after bitter fighting. In the east, the Red Army was driving towards the pre 1939 frontiers of Germany. In those threatened sectors of the fighting line the Werewolf prepared for battle, and, as its fury rolled over them, they disappeared from their villages and met in secret locations to await the orders that would take them into action.
Partisan forces do not operate bureaucratic procedures and cannot afford the luxury of maintaining extensive written records. As most Werewolf operations were launched against local targets, they had to be locally initiated and controlled. In a State which was dying, as Germany was in 1945, War Diaries, the most usual method of recording a unit’s history, were not kept. On the contrary, in those final weeks entire irreplaceable archives were destroyed by the inhuman, relentless, terroristic Allied bombing. Thus there is a whole fascinating area of military history of which no written records exist, and which it is no longer possible to reconstruct; as far as Werewolf is concerned, not even personal accounts survive. Even today, people seldom admit to membership of the German partisan organisation. They still fear retribution — 45 years later!
Two heroic German children found guilty of loving Germany.
In the absence of German official military documents and War Diaries, it is not possible to produce a factual picture of what it was like to have been on active service as a Werewolf in those last final months of Germany’s death agonies. It is possible, however, to paint a general picture built up from interrogation summaries, statements of evidence, and interviews with some Austrian civilians who lived through those difficult months. A synthesis of such interviews has produced the following record of what it must have been like to be a Werewolf on the Eastern Front.
Training took place at Waldhofen on the Ybbs River, in what was then the Ostmark Region, but which is now the province of Lower Austria. I had been in the Hitler Youth since before the union of Austria with Germany in 1938, and my father had been a member of the then illegal National Socialist Party from the early 30s. As we were dedicated National Socialists, we were among the first to learn of the new partisan movement. A friend of my father’s in the Regional Administration told my father about it, and my father told me. I volunteered immediately, as I knew that was what was expected of me! It seemed to me it would be a more exciting life as a partisan fighter than serving as a gun number in an obscure antiaircraft battery, and I felt very proud to have been allowed to enlist into this special and secret Force.
I entered the Waldhofen Camp in February, 1945, and was told that everything I possessed had to be sent home. No family photographs, no personal possessions were allowed. Firstly, they were a traceable link in the event of capture, and secondly, there was to be no reminder of past days, no memories to weaken our resolves. We were told that we were Hitler’s, that we owed total allegiance to him. He was to fill all our waking thoughts, totally and utterly. We were his creatures for him to use as he saw fit. This was the theme of all the political lessons which formed so great a part of the curriculum. We were convinced National Socialists before we entered the camp, and the indoctrination we received turned us into fanatics. That is perhaps the wrong way to describe us. We were highly skilled in partisan warfare, and could kill efficiently, remorselessly, and without emotion. Fanatics are emotional killers and are seldom efficient.
Our fieldcraft lessons were hard, indeed brutal. We would be force marched for many kilometres, and in total winter darkness would have to construct a hide that had, in daylight, to be undetectable to our inspecting Officers.
If they found our foxholes, discovery meant a beating. We had to run a gauntlet of our SS Instructors, and they knew how to inflict great pain! My course lasted five weeks. I thought myself tough when I joined the camp. The SS Instructors proved to me that this was not so, but by the end of the course I could march all night and then dig a foxhole so narrow it fitted me as tight as a glove. And it was almost invisible. I would kill anybody if I had to. There was not a German or a Russian weapon that I could not use, and I was trained in demolition, explosives, radio techniques, and survival. Because we were dedicated to Hitler we could not write home or telephone or communicate in any way with our families. It was made quite clear to us that we were expendable and that death would be our punishment for failure. Death and torture from the Reds. We were told that we would never receive medals, or citations, or honours, but would have to carry out our dangerous tasks without reward or recognition.
Towards the end of March, groups were sent into action. At the start of our training the newspapers had reported with confidence German offensives which would sweep the communists out of Hungary. When I went into action in the first week of April, the Soviets were in Austria. I was part of a 4 man group — a road watch detail — and the area in which we carried out our tasks was northeast of Wien, in what is now Czechoslovakia. It was our task to report on Russian troop movements along the road, specifying types of guns, tanks, and other arms. Two men kept watch; one kept tally on the vehicles passing along the road, and the other protected the watcher. The other two members of the group sent signals, cooked, or rested. It was difficult to live off the land even in an area as rich as Bohemia, and we did not dare approach the civilians who would have betrayed us to the Reds. Cooking fires had to be small, and were constructed in the fashion described in our handbook. What I missed most were hot baths. We had been told not to wash with scented soap. We had to smell of earth; even body odour could be smelt by intelligent and thorough searchers, and there was no doubt that the Reds would search for us. None of our group smoked so that the betraying smell of tobacco could not give us away. We must have stunk, but we were not conscious that we smelt.
Once, and only once, was our group involved in a killing. A small patrol of motorised infantry approached close to where we were hiding. There was a cutting, like a very deep river bed through which the Soviet vehicles would have to pass. Before they reached the cutting we had placed a mine, and up went the first vehicle of the group. A mine was placed behind the last truck and as the driver tried to reverse it, that went up, too. Then we shot up the vehicles and the men inside them. When the action was finished, I was selected to go with the Group Leader to a hidden dump to obtain supplies. I was surprised at the content and the amount of stuff that was hidden there. Food, clothing, blankets, weapons — enough for years, was all there in that skilfully located hide. It was so well hidden that a metre away and it was unrecognisable.
One night, probably about 14th April, we were ordered to move further northwards, and once again we were to report on vehicle movement. Forty years on I know now that the Soviets were swinging up through Bohemia towards Berlin. I did not know it then. All I saw was that armour and trucks, masses of them, were driving day and night past our positions. At night the vehicle columns drove with blazing headlights. There was no sound or sight of any German troops or aircraft. At least, not in our sector. We were watching one day when something happened. What caused it is to me still a mystery. We were dug in on the forward slope of a hill overlooking a road running northwards from Bruck an der Leitha. My three comrades were in foxholes carrying out our road watch procedure. I was sending signals from a position about 400 metres behind them, up the slope. Suddenly a group of Red tanks swerved off the road and came on in line abreast straight for the foxholes. If my comrades had stayed in position the Soviets might just have passed over them and never known that they were there. As it was, one of the 3 panicked, I suppose. He climbed out of his hole and in full view of the enemy ran uphill towards our Field Headquarters where I was still sending out the radio messages. The Reds shot him as he ran and then drove very carefully over the ground until they reached the foxholes where the other two Werewolf men were. They crushed both my brave comrades to death by cowardly spinning the tanks on their tracks over the holes.
Then they came uphill towards me. I had left the radio on, but had stopped sending messages and waited as the enemy armour cautiously approached me. Inside that narrow foxhole I waited to die. It sounds calm and collected now, but I was terrified and I had nothing with which I could fight back, only my machine pistol. The rumble of the vehicles vibrated through the earth and shook me as I crouched inside the hole. One of the T34s was literally within a metre of me. The Red tank men fired their guns and their machineguns. What they were firing at I do not know, perhaps it was an attempt to flush us out. I was the only survivor and stayed put, stuck inside the hole. When the tanks stopped there were footsteps milling about. I could sense them by the vibrations in the earth. The tankmen had probably got out and were searching for the hide. Then it was all quiet again. The tanks drove away, but I still sat quite still and took no chances. It was likely that the Reds had left a small detachment behind to watch and wait for any of us to come out. I sat in the foxhole for hours and hours. Then from my watch dial I could see that it was nighttime. A cautious peep. Then a longer look round. There was nobody there. All the Reds had left. I did not go back to look for my comrades’ bodies. We had been told that sentimentality was a negative emotion.
The Soviets were heading north, so I struck south and eventually joined another Werewolf group. I recognised one of the members of the detachment standing outside a railway station and went through the ritual of recognition. This was to roll a small coin over and over between my fingers. When the comrade approached me, there was an elaborate exchange of signs and countersigns before we trusted each other. We had been taught caution, and for all I knew he might have turned and become a Red agent. So far as he was concerned, so might I have been.
His group was preparing to paint slogans in a nearby village. These served to frighten those who were collaborating with the Reds. Slogans reminded them that the Werewolf was watching, and that Hitler’s orders were still to be obeyed, even under foreign domination. This new group did a lot of slogan writing. We wandered about, sometimes minelaying, sometimes slogan painting for what seemed like weeks on end. The whole area was clear now of Russian troops and the Group Leader decided that we were too far in the rear of the Reds. We should, he said, be immediately behind the battleline, so we marched westwards. Progress was slow. In a village to the east of Linz we were suddenly confronted by a group of drunken Russians. They urged us to drink with them. Hitler was dead, they told us. The war was over. It was a humiliating experience to be told by a drunken enemy that you are a member of a defeated Nation. I cried — not then — but later on. The villagers who suspected what we were wanted us out of the way. All they wanted was to return to prewar days. They were not politically minded. They were sheep really. They did not care who occupied them.
There was no point in Werewolf activities any longer, so we broke up and set off home. When I arrived at our house I found that my father was in prison for his National Socialist beliefs and that our house had been commandeered for an American Officer who treated my mother like a servant. After a few days I left home. The Americans were carrying out one of their infrequent searches for Werewolf members. It was not safe to be at home. It was safer in a large town, so I returned to Linz.
WEREWOLF IN THE EAST
It was to be expected that Werewolf would operate on a larger scale on the Eastern Front than in the west and, towards the end of 1944, groups of volunteers, chiefly Austrian nationals, were formed into two commando groups code named Sigrune and Nibelungen. The principal duties of these two bodies were to relay information on the Red Army’s movements and strengths from hiding places immediately behind the Russian frontlines. A network of detachments was set up in eastern Austria which would receive the agents’ signals and relay them to Passau, the Werewolf Headquarters in Austria. In the last week of March, the Russian Army crossed the frontier of Austria, and there was a sudden increase in Werewolf numbers and activity. Austrian soldiers serving in the German Army were released from their parent units and offered the chance of serving with the partisan organisation. It was expected that soldiers whose home provinces were being overrun by the Soviets would be even more fanatical in their fight against the Slav invaders than the Hitler Youth who formed the bulk of the Werewolf groups. Those Army men, mostly from the Signals Corps, were quickly trained in the radio procedures that would keep them in touch with the local partisan headquarters in Graz and in the Vienna Woods, before being sent out to infiltrate Soviet lines and reach their operational area in the Leitha Mountains to the southeast of the Austrian capital.
When empires die, it is usual for their written records to be consumed by the fury of the war that has destroyed the State. Thus it was in the Third Reich. Lacking documentary evidence it is, therefore, not possible to say how successful were the Werewolf agents in Austria. It is quite obvious, however, that any details of military intelligence which they might have gathered would have been redundant, for they could never have been acted upon by the High Command in those last weeks of dissolution and chaos. With their years of experience, the veteran soldiers must have realised that the Reich was dying and that their radio messages could have neither relevance to, not effect upon, the deteriorating military situation.
Certainly the Nibelungen and Sigrune groups, both of which had been put into besieged Vienna, very promptly vanished.
The Werewolf was in action on all the sectors of the Eastern Front, and the buildup in numbers through the release of local men, such as has been described above in Austria, will certainly have been repeated in the other Regions and Provinces of Germany proper. Little is known for sure. There were partisans active in East Prussia and in the area of Breslau during the time that those places were surrounded and under attack by the Red Army. It is also known that in some parts of the Eastern Front the Russians were forced to withdraw large numbers of men — whole Divisions — in antipartisan operations against the Werewolf. There was one group which fought throughout the battle for Berlin and whose survivors fought their way out of the dying city to resume their activity in the west.
At the height of Werewolf activity, Allied soldiers vanished from their slit trenches, telephone lines were cut, vehicles were damaged, and stores burned. But by this stage of the war not only were the Werewolf under pressure from the Allied armies, but their own Commanders, for the very first time, wanted to see an end to their activity. Not that anyone, even in the highest echelons of Command, had any real idea of how powerful Werewolf was or where it was in action. One thing was very clear to the Leaders of the German State who, following the death of Adolf Hitler, were seeking to arrange a ceasefire. It was crystal clear to those senior Officers that any sort of partisan activity in Occupied Germany would mean harsher surrender terms, and they made every effort to halt Werewolf operations. A letter from General Kinzel to Jodl, dated 5th May, 1945, reported that the German Airforce’s Home Command was planning to go underground and to undertake Werewolf activities. Keitel, the Head Of Supreme Command Of The Defence Forces, replied immediately and in his letter gave orders that: ….. the situation facing the troops in the west has changed, and any such action will seriously affect the national interest. I hereby order that all actions against the Angloamericans are to cease …..
This was not the end of the matter. A signal was received in the Headquarters of Admiral Dönitz, originating from Field Marshal Montgomery, who demanded action against the announcers in the Wilhelmshaven radio station who were denouncing the surrender and were calling for continued resistance against the Allies. The tone of Montgomery’s message was clear, and Supreme Command Of The Defence Forces, realising this, took immediate action. Jodl radioed back to the Field Marshal that although there had not, to his knowledge, been any broadcasts of that nature from Wilhelmshaven radio station, instructions had been given to monitor all German radio and to take the strongest measures against any offenders.
With the end of the war, Werewolf died. That there were isolated incidents and attacks cannot be denied, but the Movement which had, at one time, contained nearly 5,000 agents had grown weaker with every passing day and with each fresh arrest. The French, the Americans and the British carried out checks and raids upon suspects. The French were said to be the most determined in their pursuit of Werewolf agents, and employed Officers of their Secret Service, the Deuxième Bureau, to hunt them down. The British were said to be the most thorough and the best organised. They were, therefore, the most successful. The Americans were the most inconsistent. In one army’s area the Officers of Military Intelligence would spend their time tracking down, trying and sentencing to life imprisonment children who had been convicted of Werewolf activities, while another American Army would employ known National Socialists as the only ones who could keep the civil administration going. In the east there was no hesitation. Werewolf agents if caught were either executed or sentenced to life imprisonment in the camps and mines of Siberia.
The Russians, more than any other nation, were aware of the effect upon an army of occupation of a strong and centrally directed partisan organisation. Their own partisans had forced the Germans in Russia to divert strong units from the battleline to fight the guerrillas in the rear areas. The Russians were determined that there would be no German partisan movement in their zone of occupation. Their antiterrorist organisation, the NKVD, was active and was prepared to wait. It is a matter of record that several years after the end of the war, when Austria was about to be freed from the foreign armies which had been on her territory since 1945, Russian NKVD agents were conducting intensive sweeps through the Soviet Zone of occupation, seeking to determine whether there were any Werewolf agents still at large.
One explanation for the fact that Werewolf died so quickly is that it lacked the essential requirement of successful guerrilla warfare: a base from which it could be supplied with arms and nourished by recruits. With Germany completely occupied by the four Powers there was no base from which nourishment and support could come. Lacking these, the Movement died.
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.