Degrelle A Good European by Constantin von Hoffmeister
The Enigma Of Hitler by Leon Degrelle
Story of the Waffen SS by Leon Degrelle
LEON DEGRELLE – A GOOD
by Constantin von Hoffmeister
In the middle of World War II, Leon Degrelle, born in
1906 in the small Belgian town of Bouillon, joined 600,000 other non-German
volunteers to participate in the battles on the Eastern Front. After enduring
severe hardships and having been wounded several times, Degrelle became the
commander of a Waffen-SS division, the "Legion Wallonie."
In 1941 Hitler approved of national divisions to be raised as antibolshevist
units participating in the struggle against Communism in each country of Western
Europe, as well as among the populations of the Axis countries, such as Croatia,
Spain and Italy. Despite the past efforts of Napoleon, the Waffen-SS represented
the first true pan-European army to ever exist. The monumental struggle of this
army is described in Degrelle's famous epic "Campaign in Russia," which earned
him fame in Europe to such an extent that he has been labeled the "Homer of the
Degrelle himself said about the Waffen-SS:
If the Waffen-SS had not existed, Europe would have been overrun entirely by the
Soviets by 1944. They would have reached Paris long before the Americans. […]
Without SS resistance the Soviets would have been in Normandy before General
Dwight David Eisenhower. The people showed deep gratitude to the young men who
sacrificed their lives. Not since the great religious orders of the Middle Ages
had there been such selfless idealism and heroism. In this century of
materialism, the SS stand out as a shining light of spirituality. I have no
doubt whatever that the sacrifices and incredible feats of the Waffen-SS will
have their own epic poets like Schiller. Greatness in adversity is the
distinction of the SS.
Degrelle did not know at the time that he himself would become the epic
chronicler of the incredible feats of the Waffen-SS.
Degrelle was already 35 years old when he joined the Wehrmacht along with other
Walloon volunteers. After his contingent had been involved in numerous battles
with considerable success, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was persuaded to
incorporate the Walloons into the Waffen-SS. In 1944 Degrelle was highly
decorated (including the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross).
Degrelle was a friend and close associate of Adolf Hitler and a propaganda image
among National Socialists for promoting their cause among foreigners. He became
the most famous foreign volunteer in the entire German army, working his way up
through the ranks from private to general.
Degrelle was able to get to know the most striking personalities of the
Twentieth Century: Mussolini invited Degrelle to Rome, Churchill saw him in
London and Hitler received him in Berlin. He was also a great visionary himself.
At the end of World War One he already had the strong desire to win over his
people and shape their destiny. Less than thirty years old, Degrelle was already
deeply entrenched in the great struggle that would eventually shape the fate of
In 1918 Degrelle became the leader of the Rexists (after Christus Rex), a
political party closely associated with Fascism and National Socialism, but
essentially a movement of Christian renewal. After all, Degrelle was a devout
Catholic. The Rexist reforms were aimed at creating social justice – the pillar
of peace in a nation -, and strength within a system of collectivism. The
argument was that an individual should always strive to work for the benefit of
the whole. Rexism understood itself as being democratic and authoritarian with a
strong social and moral character.
Degrelle realized that the outbreak of World War II could only lead to a
socio-political renewal of Europe, especially since the struggle was directed
against the inhumane system of Communism. It would become a battle of good
versus evil, freedom versus oriental despotism.
After the collapse of National Socialist Germany, Degrelle fled to Norway where
he boarded a plane with which he flew over Allied-occupied Europe, only to crash
land in Spain. After the war, the Belgian government condemned Degrelle to death
in absentia on charges of treason. The Spanish government under General
Francisco Franco refused to extradite him. Leon Degrelle died in Malaga, Spain
on April 1, 1994 at the age of 87.
"We are the true democrats ... Rex is the realm of
total souls, which do not bargain, which march straight ahead, certain of the
road. This is the true Rexist miracle; this faith, this unspoiled, burning
confidence, this complete lack of selfishness and individualism, this tension of
the whole being towards the service -- however ungrateful, no matter where, no
matter how -- of a cause which transcends the individual, demanding all,
promising nothing." – Leon Degrelle
Knight's Cross Holder SS-Sturmbannführer Lèon Degrelle, Commander of the
Wallonie Division, 1943 - 45
Leon Degrelle poses with his wife and four of his seven daughters. At the end of
the war, Degrelle’s children (including his youngest child, his son) were seized
by the Allied victors and separated from one another and given different names.
But through a network of friends and supporters throughout Europe, Degrelle was
able to reunite his family in exile in Spain.
The Enigma of Hitler
"Hitler -- you knew him -- what was he like?" I have been asked that question a
thousand times since 1945, and nothing is more difficult to answer.
[Image: Leon Degrelle -- Belgian Rexist leader, SS officer, decorated combatant
on the Eastern Front. Of the first eight hundred Walloon volunteers who left for
the Axis campaign against the Soviet Union and Stalinist Marxism, only three
survived the war -- one of them Degrelle. He died in 1994, while still in exile
Approximately two hundred thousand books have dealt with the Second World War
and with its central figure, Adolf Hitler. But has the real Hitler been
discovered by any of them? "The enigma of Hitler is beyond all human
comprehension," the left-wing German weekly Die Zeit once put it.
Salvador Dali, art's unique genius, sought to penetrate the mystery in one of
his most intensely dramatic paintings. Towering mountain landscapes all but fill
the canvas, leaving only a few luminous meters of seashore dotted with
delicately miniaturized human figures: the last witness to a dying peace. A huge
telephone receiver dripping tears of blood hangs from the branch of a dead tree;
and here and there hang umbrellas and bats whose portent is visibly the same. As
Dali tells it, "Chamberlain's umbrella appeared in this painting in a sinister
light, made evident by the bat, and it struck me when I painted it as a thing of
He then confided: "I felt this painting to be deeply prophetic. But I confess
that I haven't yet figured out the Hitler enigma either. He attracted me only as
an object of my mad imaginings and because I saw him as a man uniquely capable
of turning things completely upside down."
What a lesson in humility for the braying critics who have rushed into print
since 1945 with their thousands of "definitive" books, most of them scornful,
about this man who so troubled the introspective Dali that forty years later he
still felt anguished and uncertain in the presence of his own hallucinatory
painting. Apart from Dali, who else has ever tried to present an objective
portrayal of this extraordinary man whom Dali labeled the most explosive figure
in human history? [Image: Dali's "Enigma of Hitler"; click painting for
enlargement. Dali was ejected from the Surrealist Movement in 1934 because of
his fascination with Hitler and his fascist sympathies.]
Like Pavlov's Bell
The mountains of Hitler books based on blind hatred and ignorance do little to
describe or explain the most powerful man the world has ever seen. How, I
ponder, do these thousands of disparate portraits of Hitler in any way resemble
the man I knew? The Hitler seated beside me, standing up, talking, listening. It
has become impossible to explain to people fed fantastic tales for decades that
what they have read or heard on television just does not correspond to the
People have come to accept fiction, repeated a thousand times over, as reality.
Yet they have never seen Hitler, never spoken to him, never heard a word from
his mouth. The very name of Hitler immediately conjures up a grimacing devil,
the fount of all of one's negative emotions. Like Pavlov's bell, the mention of
Hitler is meant to dispense with substance and reality. In time, however,
history will demand more than these summary judgements.
Hitler is always present before my eyes: as a man of peace in 1936, as a man of
war in 1944. It is not possible to have been a personal witness to the life of
such an extraordinary man without being marked by it forever. Not a day goes by
but Hitler rises again in my memory, not as a man long dead, but as a real being
who paces his office floor, seats himself in his chair, pokes the burning logs
in the fireplace.
The first thing anyone noticed when he came into view was his small mustache.
Countless times he had been advised to shave it off, but he always refused:
people were used to him the way he was.
He was not tall -- no more than was Napoleon or Alexander the Great.
Hitler had deep blue eyes that many found bewitching, although I did not find
them so. Nor did I detect the electric current his hands were said to give off.
I gripped them quite a few times and was never struck by his lightning.
His face showed emotion or indifference according to the passion or apathy of
the moment. At times he was as though benumbed, saying not a word, while his
jaws moved in the meanwhile as if they were grinding an obstacle to smithereens
in the void. Then he would come suddenly alive and launch into a speech directed
at you alone, as though he were addressing a crowd of hundreds of thousands at
Berlin's Tempelhof airfield. Then he became as if transfigured. Even his
complexion, otherwise dull, lit up as he spoke. And at such times, to be sure,
Hitler was strangely attractive and as if possessed of magic powers.
Anything that might have seemed too solemn in his remarks, he quickly tempered
with a touch of humor. The picturesque world, the biting phrase were at his
command. In a flash he would paint a word-picture that brought a smile, or come
up with an unexpected and disarming comparison. He could be harsh and even
implacable in his judgments and yet almost at the same time be surprisingly
conciliatory, sensitive and warm.
After 1945 Hitler was accused of every cruelty, but it was not in his nature to
be cruel. He loved children. It was an entirely natural thing for him to stop
his car and share his food with young cyclists along the road. Once he gave his
raincoat to a derelict plodding in the rain. At midnight he would interrupt his
work and prepare the food for his dog Blondi.
He could not bear to eat meat, because it meant the death of a living creature.
He refused to have so much as a rabbit or a trout sacrificed to provide his
food. He would allow only eggs on his table, because egg-laying meant that the
hen had been spared rather than killed.
Hitler's eating habits were a constant source of amazement to me. How could
someone on such a rigorous schedule, who had taken part in tens of thousands of
exhausting mass meetings from which he emerged bathed with sweat, often losing
two to four pounds in the process; who slept only three to four hours a night;
and who, from 1940 to 1945, carried the whole world on his shoulders while
ruling over 380 million Europeans: how, I wondered, could he physically survive
on just a boiled egg, a few tomatoes, two or three pancakes, and a plate of
noodles? But he actually gained weight!
He drank only water. He did not smoke and would not tolerate smoking in his
presence. At one or two o'clock in the morning he would still be talking,
untroubled, close to his fireplace, lively, often amusing. He never showed any
sign of weariness. Dead tired his audience might be, but not Hitler.
He was depicted as a tired old man. Nothing was further from the truth. In
September 1944, when he was reported to be fairly doddering, I spent a week with
him. His mental and physical vigor were still exceptional. The attempt made on
his life on July 20th had, if anything, recharged him. He took tea in his
quarters as tranquilly as if we had been in his small private apartment at the
chancellery before the war, or enjoying the view of snow and bright blue sky
through his great bay window at Berchtesgaden.
At the very end of his life, to be sure, his back had become bent, but his mind
remained as clear as a flash of lightening. The testament he dictated with
extraordinary composure on the eve of his death, at three in the morning of
April 29, 1945, provides us a lasting testimony. Napoleon at Fontainebleau was
not without his moments of panic before his abdication. Hitler simply shook
hands with his associates in silence, breakfasted as on any other day, then went
to his death as if he were going on a stroll. When has history ever witnessed so
enormous a tragedy brought to its end with such iron self-control?
Hitler's most notable characteristic was ever his simplicity. The most complex
of problems resolved itself in his mind into a few basic principles. His actions
were geared to ideas and decisions that could be understood by anyone. The
laborer from Essen, the isolated farmer, the Ruhr industrialist, and the
university professor could all easily follow his line of thought. The very
clarity of his reasoning made everything obvious.
His behavior and his lifestyle never changed even when he became the ruler of
Germany. He dressed and lived frugally. During his early days in Munich, he
spent no more than a mark per day for food. At no stage in his life did he spend
anything on himself. Throughout his thirteen years in the chancellery he never
carried a wallet or ever had money of his own.
Hitler was self-taught and made not attempt to hide the fact. The smug conceit
of intellectuals, their shiny ideas packaged like so many flashlight batteries,
irritated him at times. His own knowledge he had acquired through selective and
unremitting study, and he knew far more than thousands of diploma-decorated
I don't think anyone ever read as much as he did. He normally read one book
every day, always first reading the conclusion and the index in order to gauge
the work's interest for him. He had the power to extract the essence of each
book and then store it in his computer-like mind. I have heard him talk about
complicated scientific books with faultless precision, even at the height of the
His intellectual curiosity was limitless. He was readily familiar with the
writings of the most diverse authors, and nothing was too complex for his
comprehension. He had a deep knowledge and understanding of Buddha, Confucius
and Jesus Christ, as well as Luther, Calvin, and Savonarola; of literary giants
such as Dante, Schiller, Shakespeare and Goethe; and of analytical writers such
as Renan and Gobineau, Chamberlain and Sorel.
He had trained himself in philosophy by studying Aristotle and Plato. He could
quote entire paragraphs of Schopenhauer from memory, and for a long time carried
a pocked edition of Schopenhauer with him. Nietzsche taught him much about the
His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable. He spent hundreds of hours studying
the works of Tacitus and Mommsen, military strategists such as Clausewitz, and
empire builders such as Bismarck. Nothing escaped him: world history or the
history of civilizations, the study of the Bible and the Talmud, Thomistic
philosophy and all the master- pieces of Homer, Sophocles, Horace, Ovid, Titus
Livius and Cicero. He knew Julian the Apostate as if he had been his
His knowledge also extended to mechanics. He knew how engines worked; he
understood the ballistics of various weapons; and he astonished the best medical
scientists with his knowledge of medicine and biology.
The universality of Hitler's knowledge may surprise or displease those unaware
of it, but it is nonetheless a historical fact: Hitler was one of the most
cultivated men of this century. Many times more so than Churchill, an
intellectual mediocrity; or than Pierre Laval, with his mere cursory knowledge
of history; or than Roosevelt; or Eisenhower, who never got beyond detective
Artist and Architect
Even during his earliest years, Hitler was different than other children. He had
an inner strength and was guided by his spirit and his instincts.
He could draw skillfully when he was only eleven years old. His sketches made at
that age show a remarkable firmness and liveliness.
His first paintings and watercolors, created at age 15, are full of poetry and
sensitivity. One of his most striking early works, "Fortress Utopia," also shows
him to have been an artist of rare imagination. His artistic orientation took
many forms. He wrote poetry from the time he was a lad. He dictated a complete
play to his sister Paula who was amazed at his presumption. At the age of 16, in
Vienna, he launched into the creation of an opera. He even designed the stage
settings, as well as all the costumes; and, of course, the characters were
Wagnerian heroes. [Image: Hitler's "Fortress Utopia."]
More than just an artist, Hitler was above all an architect. Hundreds of his
works were notable as much for the architecture as for the painting. From memory
alone he could reproduce in every detail the onion dome of a church or the
intricate curves of wrought iron. Indeed, it was to fulfill his dream of
becoming an architect that Hitler went to Vienna at the beginning of the
When one sees the hundreds of paintings, sketches and drawings he created at the
time, which reveal his mastery of three dimensional figures, it is astounding
that his examiners at the Fine Arts Academy failed him in two successive
examinations. German historian Werner Maser, no friend of Hitler, castigated
these examiners: "All of his works revealed extraordinary architectural gifts
and knowledge. The builder of the Third Reich gives the former Fine Arts Academy
of Vienna cause for shame." [Image: Hitler's "Mountain Shrine," c. 1923.]
Impressed by the beauty of the church in a Benedictine monastery where he was
part of the choir and served as an altar boy, Hitler dreamt fleetingly of
becoming a Benedictine monk. And it was at that time, too, interestingly enough,
that whenever he attended mass, he always had to pass beneath the first swastika
he had ever seen: it was graven in the stone escutcheon of the abbey portal.
Hitler's father, a customs officer, hoped the boy would follow in his footsteps
and become a civil servant. His tutor encouraged him to become a monk. Instead
the young Hitler went, or rather he fled, to Vienna. And there, thwarted in his
artistic aspirations by the bureaucratic mediocraties of academia, he turned to
isolation and meditation. Lost in the great capital of Austria-Hungary, he
searched for his destiny.
During the first thirty years of Hitler's life, the date April 20, 1889, meant
nothing to anyone. He was born on that day in Branau, a small town in the Inn
valley. During his exile in Vienna, he often thought of his modest home, and
particularly of his mother. When she fell ill, he returned home from Vienna to
look after her. For weeks he nursed her, did all the household chores, and
supported her as the most loving of sons. When she finally died, on Christmas
eve, his pain was immense. Wracked with grief, he buried his mother in the
little country cemetery: "I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief,"
said his mother's doctor, who happened to be Jewish.
In his room, Hitler always displayed an old photograph of his mother. The memory
of the mother he loved was with him until the day he died. Before leaving this
earth, on April 30, 1945, he placed his mother's photograph in front of him. She
had blue eyes like his and a similar face. Her maternal intuition told her that
her son was different from other children. She acted almost as if she knew her
son's destiny. When she died, she felt anguished by the immense mystery
surrounding her son.
Throughout the years of his youth, Hitler lived the life of a virtual recluse.
He greatest wish was to withdraw from the world. At heart a loner, he wandered
about, ate meager meals, but devoured the books of three public libraries. He
abstained from conversations and had few friends.
It is almost impossible to imagine another such destiny where a man started with
so little and reached such heights. Alexander the Great was the son of a king.
Napoleon, from a well-to-do family, was a general at twenty-four. Fifteen years
after Vienna, Hitler would still be an unknown corporal. Thousands of others had
a thousand times more opportunity to leave their mark on the world.
Hitler was not much concerned with his private life. In Vienna he had lived in
shabby, cramped lodgings. But for all that he rented a piano that took up half
his room, and concentrated on composing his opera. He lived on bread, milk, and
vegetable soup. His poverty was real. He did not even own an over-coat. He
shoveled streets on snowy days. He carried luggage at the railway station. He
spent many weeks in shelters for the homeless. But he never stopped painting or
Despite his dire poverty, Hitler somehow managed to maintain a clean appearance.
Landlords and landladies in Vienna and Munich all remembered him for his
civility and pleasant disposition. His behavior was impeccable. His room was
always spotless, his meager belongings meticulously arranged, and his clothes
neatly hung or folded. He washed and ironed his own clothes, something which in
those days few men did. He needed almost nothing to survive, and money from the
sale of a few paintings was sufficient to provide for all his needs.
Summing Things Up
Hitler had not yet focused on politics, but without his rightly knowing, that
was the career to which he was most strongly called. Politics would ultimately
blend with his passion for art. People, the masses, would be the clay the
sculptor shapes into an immortal form. The human clay would become for him a
beautiful work of art like one of Myron's marble sculptures, a Hans Makart
painting, or Wagner's Ring Trilogy.
His love of music, art and architecture had not removed him from the political
life and social concerns of Vienna. In order to survive, he worked as a common
laborer side by side with other workers. He was a silent spectator, but nothing
escaped him: not the vanity and egoism of the bourgeoisie, not the moral and
material misery of the people, nor yet the hundreds of thousands of workers who
surged down the wide avenues of Vienna with anger in their hearts.
He had also been taken aback by the growing presence in Vienna of bearded Jews
wearing caftans, a sight unknown in Linz. "How can they be Germans?" he asked
himself. He read the statistics: in 1860 there were sixty-nine Jewish families
in Vienna; forty years later there were two hundred thousand. They were
everywhere. He observed their invasion of the universities and the legal and
medical professions, and their takeover of the newspapers.
Hitler was exposed to the passionate reactions of the workers to this influx,
but the workers were not alone in their unhappiness. There were many prominent
persons in Austria and Hungary who did not hide their resentment at what they
believed was an alien invasion of their country. The mayor of Vienna, a
Christian-Democrat and a powerful orator, was eagerly listened to by Hitler.
Hitler was also concerned with the fate of the eight million Austrian Germans
kept apart from Germany, and thus deprived of their rightful German nationhood.
He saw Emperor Franz Josef as a bitter and petty old man unable to cope with the
problems of the day and the aspirations of the future.
Quietly, the young Hitler was summing things up in his mind.
First: Austrians were part of Germany, the common fatherland.
Second: The Jews were aliens within the German community.
Third: Patriotism was only valid if it was shared by all classes. The common
people with whom Hitler had shared grief and humiliation were just as much a
part of the fatherland as the millionaires of high society.
Fourth: Class war would sooner or later condemn both workers and bosses to ruin
in any country. No country could survive class war; only cooperation between
workers and bosses can benefit the country. Workers must be respected and live
with decency and honor. Creativity must never be stifled.
When Hitler later said that he had formed his social and political doctrine in
Vienna, he told the truth. Ten years later his observations made in Vienna would
become the order of the day.
Thus Hitler was to live for several years in the crowded city of Vienna as a
virtual outcast, yet quietly observing everything around him. His strength came
from within. He did not rely on anyone to do his thinking for him. Exceptional
human beings always feel lonely amid the vast human throng. Hitler saw his
solitude as a wonderful opportunity to meditate and not to be submerged in a
mindless sea. In order not to be lost in the wastes of a sterile desert, a
strong soul seeks refuge within himself. Hitler was such a soul.
Lightning and the Word
The lightning in Hitler's life would come from the Word.
All his artistic talent would be channeled into his mastery of communication and
eloquence. Hitler would never conceive of popular conquests without the power of
the Word. He would enchant and be enchanted by it. He would find total
fulfillment when the magic of his words inspired the hearts and minds of the
masses with whom he communed. He would feel reborn each time he conveyed with
mystical beauty the knowledge he had acquired in his lifetime.
Hitler's incantory eloquence will remain, for a very long time, a vast field of
study for the psychoanalyst. The power of Hitler's word is the key. Without it,
there would never have been a Hitler era.
Did Hitler believe in God? He believed deeply in God. He called God the
Almighty, master of all that is known and unknown.
Propagandists portrayed Hitler as an atheist. He was not. He had contempt for
hypocritical and materialistic clerics, but he was not alone in that. He
believed in the necessity of standards and theological dogmas, without which, he
repeatedly said, the great institution of the Christian church would collapse.
These dogmas clashed with his intelligence, but he also recognized that it was
hard for the human mind to encompass all the problems of creation, its limitless
scope and breathtaking beauty. He acknowledged that every human being has
The song of the nightingale, the pattern and color of a flower, continually
brought him back to the great problems of creation. No one in the world has
spoken to me so eloquently about the existence of God. He held this view not
because he was brought up as a Christian, but because his analytical mind bound
him to the concept of God. Hitler's faith transcended formulas and
contingencies. God was for him the basis of everything, the ordainer of all
things, of his destiny and that of all others.
Excerpted from volume two of Degrelle's uncompleted multi-volume series on the
life and legacy of Adolf Hitler. Degelle's Hitler: Born at Versailles can be
purchased from Noontide Press. The examples of Hitler's art have been scanned
from Adolf Hitler: The Unknown Artist
(Houston: Billy F. Price, 1984).
Story of the Waffen SS
(Presented at the IHR's 1982
You are about to
hear Leon Degrelle, who before the Second World War was Europe's youngest
political leader and the founder of the Rexist Party of Belgium. During that
cataclysmic confrontation he was one of the greatest heroes on the Eastern
Front. Of Leon Degrelle Hitler said: "If I should have a son I would like him to
be like Leon."
As a statesman
and a soldier he has known very closely Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Franco,
Laval, Marshal Petain and all the European leaders during the enormous
ideological and military clash that was World War Two. Alone among them, he has
survived, remaining the number one witness of that historical period.
The life of Leon
Degrelle began in 1906 in Bouillon, a small town in the Belgian Ardennes. His
family was of French origin.
He studied at
the University of Louvain, where he acquired a doctorate in law. He was -and is
-also interested in other academic disciplines, such as political science, art,
archeology and Tomistic philosophy.
As a student his
natural gift of leadership became apparent. By the time he reached twenty he had
already published five books and operated his own weekly newspaper. Out of his
deep Christian conviction he joined Belgium's Catholic Action Movement and
became one of its leaders.
But his passion
has always been people.
He wanted to win
the crowds, particularly the Marxist ones. He wanted them to 5hare his ideals of
social and spiritual change for society. He wanted to lift people up; to forge
for them a stable, efficient and responsible state, a state backed by the good
sense of people and for the sole benefit of the people.
more than 2,000 meetings, always controversial. His, books and newspaper were
read everywhere because they always dealt with the real issues. Although not yet
twenty-five, people listened to him avidly.
In a few short
years he had won over a large part of the population. On the twenty-fourth of
May 1936 his Rexist Party won against the established parties a smashing
electoral victory: Thirty-four house and senate seats.
The Europe of
1936 was still split into little countries, jealous of their pasts and closed to
any contact with their neighbors.
saw further. In his student days he had traveled across Latin America, the
United States and Canada. He had visited North Africa, the Middle East and of
course all of the European countries. He felt that Europe had a unique destiny
and must unite.
invited him to Rome. Churchill saw him in London and Hitler received him in
political life on the line, he made desperate efforts to stop the railroading of
Europe into another war. But old rivalries, petty hatreds and suspicion between
the French and the German, were cleverly exploited. The established parties and
the Communist Party worked on the same side: for war. For the Kremlin it was a
unique opportunity to communize Europe after it had been bled white.
started. First in Poland, then in Western Europe in 1940. This was to become the
Second World War in 1941.
Soon the flag of
the Swastika flew from the North Pole to the shores of Greece to the border of
But the European
civil war between England and Germany continued. And the rulers of Communism got
ready to move in and pick up the pieces.
But Hitler beat
them to it and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. For Europe it was to
be heads or tails; Hitlers wins or Stalin wins.
It was then that
from every country in Europe thousands of young men made up their minds that the
destiny of their native country was at stake. They would volunteer their lives
to fight communism and create a united Europe.
In all, they
would grow to be more than 600,000 non-German Europeans fighting on the Eastern
Front. They would bring scores of divisions to the Waffen SS.
The Waffen SS
were ideological and military shock troops of Europe. The Germans, numbering
400,000, were actually in the minority.
million-strong Waffen SS represented the first truly European army to ever
After the war
each unit of this army was to provide their people with a political structure
free of the petty nationalism of the past. All the SS fought the same struggle.
All shared the same world view. All became comrades in arms.
important political and military phenomenon of World War Two is also the least
known: the phenomenon of the Waffen SS.
Leon Degrelle is
one of the most famous Waffen SS soldiers. After joining as a private he earned
all stripes from corporal to general for exceptional bravery in combat. He
engaged in seventy-five hand-to-hand combat actions. He was wounded on numerous
occasions. He was the recipient of the highest honors: The Ritterkreuz, the
Oak-Leaves, the Gold German Cross and numerous other decorations for outstanding
valor under enemy fire. One of the last to fight on the Eastern Front, Leon
Degrelle escaped unconditional surrender by flying some 1500 miles across Europe
toward Spain. He managed to survive constant fire all along the way and crash
landed on the beach of San Sebastian in Spain, critically wounded.
Against all odds
he survived. Slowly he managed to re-build a new life in exile for himself and
philosophy and politics cannot exist without historical knowledge. For him
beauty enhances people and people cannot improve their lives without it.
is reflected in everything he does. In his Spanish home art blends gracefully
The work of Leon
Degrelle has always been epic and poetic. As he walks in the environment of his
home one feels the greatness of Rome with its marbles, its bronzes, its
translucent glass; one feels the elegant Arabian architecture, the gravity of
the Gothic form and the sumptuousness of Renaissance and Baroque art. One feels
the glory of his flags.
atmosphere of beauty and greatness, the last and most important living witness
of World War Two awaits you, Ladies and Gentlemen: General Leon Degrelle.
Socialism was not against other races, it was in favour of its own race.
wanted to defend and put better its race, and it wanted other races to do the
( Léon Degrelle)
The Degrelle Lecture
I am asked to
talk to you about the great unknown of World War Two: the Waffen SS.
It is somewhat
amazing that the organization which was both political and military and which
during World War Two united more than one million fighting volunteers, should
still be officially ignored.
Why is it that
the official record still virtually ignores this extraordinary army of
volunteers? An army which was at the vortex of the most gigantic struggle,
affecting the entire world.
The answer may
well be found in the fact that the most striking feature of the Waffen SS was
that it was composed of volunteers from some thirty different countries.
gathered them and why did they volunteer their lives?
Was it a German
Waffen SS amounted to less than two hundred members. It grew consistently until
1940 when it evolved into a second phase: the Germanic Waffen SS. In addition to
Germans from Germany, northwestern Europeans and descendants of Germans from all
across Europe enlisted.
Then, in 1941
during the great clash with the Soviet Union, rose the European Waffen SS. Young
men from the most distant countries fought together on the Russian front.
No one knew
anything about the Waffen SS for most of the years preceding the war. The
Germans themselves took some time to recognize the distinctiveness of the Waffen
Hitler rose to
the chancellorship democratically, winning at the ballot box. He ran electoral
campaigns like any other politician. He addressed meetings, advertised on
billboards, his message attracted capacity audiences. More and more people liked
what he had to say and more and more people voted members of his party into
congress. Hitler did not come to power by force but was duly elected by the
people and duly installed as Chancellor by the President of Germany, General von
Hindenburg. His government was legitimate and democratic. In fact, only two of
his followers were included in the Cabinet.
succeeded always through the electoral process in increasing his majority. When
some elections gave him up to 90% of the vote, Hitler earned every vote on his
campaigns Hitler faced formidable enemies: the power establishment who had no
qualms whatsoever in tampering with the electoral process. He had to face the
Weimar establishment and its well-financed left-wing and liberal parties and
highly organized bloc of six million Communist Party members. Only the most
fearless and relentless struggle to convince people to vote for him, enabled
Hitler to obtain a democratic majority.
In those days
the Waffen SS was not even a factor. There was, of course, the SA with some
three million men. They were rank and file members of the National Socialist
Workers Party but certainly not an army.
function was to protect party candidates from Communist violence. And the
violence was murderous indeed: more than five hundred National Socialists were
murdered by the communists. Thousands were grievously injured.
The SA was a
volunteer, non-government organization and as soon as Hitler rose to power he
could no longer avail himself of its help.
He had to work
within the system he was elected to serve.
He came in a
state of disadvantage. He had to contend with an entrenched bureaucracy
appointed by the old regime. In fact, when the war started in 1939, 70% of
German bureaucrats had been appointed by the old regime and did not belong to
Hitler's party. Hitler could not count on the support of the Church hierarchy.
Both big business and the Communist Party were totally hostile to his programs.
On top of all this, extreme poverty existed and six million workers were
unemployed. No country in Europe had ever known so many people to be out of
So here is a man
quite isolated. The three million SA party members are not in the government.
They vote and help win the elections but they cannot supplant the entrenched
bureaucracy in the government posts. The SA also was unable to exert influence
on the army, because the top brass, fearful of competition, was hostile to the
reached such a point that Hitler was faced with a wrenching dilemma. What to do
with the millions of followers who helped him to power? He could not abandon
The army was a
highly organized power structure. Although only numbering 100,000 as dictated by
the Treaty of Versailles it exerted great influence in the affairs of state. The
President of Germany was Field Marshal von Hindenburg. The army was a privileged
caste. Almost all the officers belonged to the upper classes of society.
impossible for Hitler to take on the powerful army frontally. Hitler was elected
democratically and he could not do what Stalin did: to have firing squads
execute the entire military establishment. Stalin killed thirty thousand high
ranking officers. That was Stalin's way to make room for his own trusted
methods could not occur in Germany and unlike Stalin, Hitler was surrounded by
His election had
provoked international rage. He had gone to the voters directly without the
intermediary of the establishment parties. His party platform included an appeal
for racial purity in Germany as well as a return of power to the people. Such
tenets so infuriated world Jewry that in 1933 it officially declared war on
Contrary to what
one is told Hitler had limited power and was quite alone. How this man ever
survived these early years defy comprehension. Only the fact that Hitler was an
exceptional genius explains his survival against all odds. Abroad and at home
Hitler had to bend over backwards just to demonstrate his good will.
But despite all
his efforts Hitler was gradually being driven into a corner. The feud between
the SA and the army was coming to a head. His old comrade, Ernst Roehm, Chief of
the SA wanted to follow Stalin's example and physically eliminate the army
brass. The showdown resulted in the death of Roehm, either by suicide or murder,
and many of his assistants, with the army picking up the pieces and putting the
SA back in its place.
At this time the
only SS to be found in Germany were in Chancellor Hitler's personal guard: one
hundred eighty men in all. They were young men of exceptional qualities but
without any political role. Their duties consisted of guarding the Chancellory
and presenting arms to visiting dignitaries.
It was from this
miniscule group of 180 men that a few years later would spring an army of a
million soldiers. An army of unprecedented valor extending its call throughout
After Hitler was
compelled to acknowledge the superiority of the army he realized that the brass
would never support his revolutionary social programs. It was an army of
Hitler was a man
of the people, a man who succeeded in wiping out unemployment, a feat
unsurpassed to this day. Within two years he gave work to six million Germans
and got rid of rampant poverty. In five years the German worker doubled his
income without inflation. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful homes were built
for workers at a minimal cost. Each home had a garden to grow flowers and
vegetables. All the factories were provided with sport fields, swimming pools
and attractive and decent workshops.
For the first
time paid vacations were created. The communists and capitalists had never
offered paid vacations; this was Hitler's creation. He organized the famous
"strength through joy" programs which meant that workers could, at affordable
prices, board passenger ships and visit any part of the world.
All these social
improvements did not please the establishment. Big business tycoons and
international bankers were worried. But Hitler stood up to them. Business can
make profits but only if people are paid decently and are allowed to live and
work in dignity. People, not profits, come first.
This was only
one of Hitler's reforms. He initiated hundreds of others. He literally rebuilt
Germany. In a few years more than five thousand miles of freeways were built.
For the worker the affordable Volkswagen was created. Any worker could get this
car on a payment of five marks a week. It was unprecedented in Europe. Thanks to
the freeways the worker for the first time could visit any part of Germany
whenever they liked. The same programs applied to the farmers and middle class.
that if his social reforms were to proceed free of sabotage he needed a powerful
lever, a lever that commanded respect.
Hitler still did
not confront the army but skillfully started to build up the SS. He desperately
needed the SS because above all Hitler was a political man; to him war was the
last resort. His aim was to convince people, to obtain their loyalty,
particularly the younger generation. He knew that the establishment-minded brass
would oppose him at every turn.
And he was
right. Through the high ranking officers the establishment plotted the overthrow
of the democratically elected Hitler government. Known as the Munich Plot, the
conspirators were detected in time. That was in 1938.
On 20 July 1944,
Hitler almost lost his life when aristocratic officers planted a time bomb
underneath his desk.
In order not to
alert the army Hitler enlarged the SS into a force responsible for law and
order. There was of course a German police force but there again Hitler was
unsure of their loyalty. The 150,000 police were appointed by the Weimar regime.
Hitler needed the SS not only to detect plots but mostly to protect his reforms.
As his initial Leibstandarte unit of 180 grew, other regiments were found
such as the Deutschland and the Germania.
The army brass
did everything to prevent SS recruitment. Hitler bypassed the obstacles by
having the interior minister and not the war ministry do the recruiting.
countered by discouraging the recruitment of men between the ages of 18 and 45.
On the ground of national defense, privates were ordered to serve four years,
non-commissioned officers twelve and officers twenty-five years.
Such orders, it
was thought, would stop SS recruitment dead in its tracks. The reverse happened.
Thousands of young men rushed to apply, despite the lengthy service, more than
could be accepted.
The young felt
the SS was the only armed force which represented their own ideas.
formations of young SS captivated public imagination. Clad in smart black
uniforms the SS attracted more and more young men.
It took two
years from 1933 to 1935 and a constant battle of wits with the army to raise a
force of 8,000 SS.
At the time the
name Waffen SS did not even exist. It was not until 1940, after the French
campaign, that the SS will be officially named "Waffen SS." In 1935 they were
called just SS. However, 8,000 SS did not go far in a country of 80 million
people. And Hitler had yet to devise another way to get around the army. He
created the Totenkopf guard corps. They were really SS in disguise but
their official function was to guard the concentration camps.
What were these
They were just
work camps where intractable communists were put to work. They were well treated
because it was thought they would be converted sooner or later to patriotism.
There were two concentration camps with a total of three thousand men. Three
thousand out of a total of six million card-carrying members of the Communist
Party. That represents one per two thousand. Right until the war there were
fewer than ten thousand inmates.
Totenkopf ploy produced four regiments. At the right moment they will join
the SS. The Totenkopf kept a low profile through an elaborate system of
recruiting reserves in order to keep its strength inconspicuous.
At the beginning
of the war the Totenkopf numbered 40,000 men. They will be sent to 163
separate units. Meanwhile the initial Leibstandarte regiment reached 2800
and a fourth regiment was formed in Vienna at the time of the Anschluss.
The young men
who joined the SS were trained like no other army in the world. Military and
academic instruction were intensive, but it was the physical training that was
the most rigorous. They practice sports with excellence. Each of them would have
performed with distinction at the Olympic games. The extraordinary physical
endurance of the SS on the Russian front, which so amazed the world, was due to
this intensive training.
There was also
the ideological training. They were taught why they were fighting, what kind of
Germany was being resurrected before their very eyes. They were shown how
Germany was being morally united through class reconciliation and physically
united through the return of the lost German homelands. They were made aware of
their kinship with all the other Germans living in foreign lands, in Poland,
Russia, the Sudentenland and other parts of Europe. They were taught that all
Germans represented an ethnic unity.
Young SS were
educated in two military academies, one in Bad Toelz the other in Braunschweig.
These academies were totally different from the grim barracks of the past.
Combining aesthetics with the latest technology they were located in the middle
of hundreds of acres of beautiful country.
opposed to any war, particularly in Western Europe. He did not even conceive
that the SS could participate in such a war. Above all the SS was a political
force. Hitler regarded Western countries as individual cultures which could be
federated but certainly not conquered. He felt a conflict within the West would
be a no-win civil war.
conception of Europe then was far ahead of his neighbors. The mentality of
1914-1918, when small countries fought other small countries over bits of real
estate, still prevailed in the Europe of 1939. Not so in the case of the Soviet
Union where internationalism replaced nationalism. The communists never aimed at
serving the interests of Russia. Communism does not limit itself to acquire
chunks of territories but aims at total world domination.
This is a
dramatically new factor. This policy of world conquest is still being carried
out today whether in Viet Nam, Afganistan, Africa or Poland. At the time it was
an entirely new concept. Alone among all the leaders of the world Hitler saw
this concept as an equal threat to all nations.
vividly the havoc the communists unleashed in Germany at the end of World War
One. Particularly in Berlin and Bavaria the Communists under foreign orders
organized a state within a state and almost took over. For Hitler, everything
pointed East. The threat was Communism.
Apart from his
lack of interest in subjugating Western Europe, Hitler was well aware he could
not wage war on two fronts.
At this point
instead of letting Hitler fight Communism the Allies made the fateful decision
to attack Hitler.
Western Democracies allied themselves with the Soviet Union for the purpose of
encircling and destroying the democratic government of Germany.
The Treaty of
Versailles had already amputated Germany from all sides. It was designed to keep
Germany in a state of permanent economic collapse and military impotence. The
Allies had ratified a string of treaties with Belgium, the newly created
Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Rumania to pressure Germany from all
Now in the
summer of 1939 the governments of Britain and France were secretly negotiating a
full military alliance with the Soviet Union. The talks were held in Moscow and
the minutes were signed by Marshal Zhukov.
I have these
minutes in my possession. They are stupefying. One can read a report
guaranteeing Britain and France of Soviet participation against Germany. Upon
ratification the Soviet Union was to provide the Anglo-French forces with the
Soviet support of 5500 combat planes immediately plus the back up of the entire
Soviet air force. Between 9,000 to 10,000 tanks would also be made available. In
return, the Soviet Union demanded the Baltic states and free access to Poland.
The plan called for an early joint attack.
still minimally armed at that stage. The French negotiators realized that the
10,000 Soviet tanks would soon destroy the 2000 German tanks but did not see
that they would be unlikely. to Stop at the French border. Likewise the British
government was quite prepared to let the Soviets take over Europe.
encirclement Hitler decided once more to make his own peace with one or the
other side of the Soviet-British partnership.
He turned to the
British and French governments and requested formal peace talks. His quest for
peace was answered by an outpouring of insults and denunciations. The
international press went on an orgy of hate against Hitler unprecedented in
history. It is mind-boggling to re-read these newspapers today.
When Hitler made
similar peace overtures to Moscow he was surprised to find the Soviets eager to
sign a peace treaty with Germany. In fact, Stalin did not sign a peace treaty
for the purpose of peace. He signed to let Europe destroy itself in a war of
attrition while giving him the time he needed to build up his military strength.
intent is revealed in the minutes of the Soviet High Command, also in my
possession. Stalin states his intent to come into the war the moment Hitler and
the Western powers have annihilated each other. Stalin had great interest in
marking time and letting others fight first. I have read his military plans and
I have seen how they were achieved. By 1941 Stalin's ten thousand tanks had
increased to 17,999, the next year they would have been 32,000, ten times more
than Germany's. The air force would also have been 10 to 1 in Stalin's favor.
The very week
Stalin signed the peace treaty with Hitler he gave orders to build 96 air fields
on the Western Soviet border, 180 were planned for the following year. His
strategy was constant: "The more the Western powers fight it out the weaker they
will be. The longer I wait the stronger I get." It was under these appalling
circumstances that World War Two started. A war which was offered to the Soviets
on a silver platter.
Stalin's preparations Hitler knew he would have to face communism sooner rather
than later. And to fight communism he had to rely on totally loyal men, men who
would fight for an ideology against another ideology. It had always been
Hitler's policy to oppose the ideology of class war with an ideology of class
observed that Marxist class war had not brought prosperity to the Russian
people. Russian workers were poorly clothed, as they are now, badly housed,
badly fed. Goods are always in short supply and to this day, housing in Moscow
is as nightmarish as it was before the war. For Hitler the failure of class war
made class cooperation the only just alternative. To make it work Hitler saw to
it that one class would not be allowed to abuse the other.
It is a fact
that the newly rich classes emerging from the industrial revolution had
enormously abused their privileges and it was for this reason that the National
Socialists were socialists.
Socialism was a popular movement in the truest sense. The great majority of
National Socialists were blue collars. 70% of the Hitler Youth were children of
blue collar workers. Hitler won the elections because the great mass of workers
were solidly behind him. One often wonders why six million communists who had
voted against Hitler, turned their back on Communism after Hitler had been
elected in 1933. There is only one reason: they witnessed and experienced the
benefits of class cooperation. Some say they were forced to change; it is not
true. Like other loyal Germans they fought four years on the Russian Front with
never abandoned Hitler, but the upper classes did. Hitler spelled out his
formula of class cooperation as the answer to communism with these words: "Class
cooperation means that capitalists will never again treat the workers as mere
economic components. Money is but one part of our economic life, the workers are
more than machines to whom one throws a pay packet every week. The real wealth
of Germany is its workers."
gold with work as the foundation of his economy. National Socialism was the
exact opposite of Communism. Extraordinary achievements, followed Hitler's
We always hear
about Hitler and the camps, Hitler and the Jews, but we never hear about his
immense social work. If so much hatred was generated against Hitler by the
international bankers and the servile press it was because of his social work.
It is obvious that a genuine popular movement like National Socialism was going
to collide with the selfish interest of high finance. Hitler made clear that the
control of money did not convey the right of rapacious exploitation of an entire
country because there are also people living in the country, millions of them,
and these people have the right to live with dignity and without want. What
Hitler said and practiced had won over the German youth. It was this social
revolution that the SS felt compelled to spread throughout Germany and defend
with their lives if need be.
The 1939 war in
Western Europe defied all reason. It was a civil war among those who should have
been united. It was a monstrous stupidity.
The young SS
were trained to lead the new National Socialist revolution. In five or ten years
they were to replace all those who had been put in office by the former regime.
But at the
beginning of the war it was not possible for these young men to stay home. Like
the other young men in the country they had to defend their country and they had
to defend it better than the others.
The war turned
the SS from a home political force to a national army fighting abroad and then
to a supranational army.
We are now at
the beginning of the war in Poland with its far reaching consequences. Could the
war have been avoided? Emphatically yes! Even after it had moved into Poland.
conflict was inconsequential. The Treaty of Versailles had separated the German
city of Danzig from Germany and given it to Poland against the wish of its
This action was
so outrageous that it had been condemned all over the world. A large section of
Germany was sliced through the middle. To go from Western Prussia to Eastern
Prussia one had to travel in a sealed train through Polish territory. The
citizens of Danzig had voted 99% to have their city returned to Germany. Their
right of self-determination had been consistently ignored.
However, the war
in Poland started for reasons other than Danzig's self-determination or even
Poland just a
few months before had attacked Czechoslovakia at the same time Hitler had
returned the Sudetenland to Germany. The Poles were ready to work with Hitler.
If Poland turned against Germany it is because the British government did
everything in its power to poison German-Polish relations.
Much has to do
with a longstanding inferiority complex British rulers have felt towards Europe.
This complex has manifested itself in the British Establishment's obsession in
keeping Europe weak through wars and dissension.
At the time the
British Empire controlled 500 million human beings outside of Europe but somehow
it was more preoccupied with its traditional hobby: sowing dissension in Europe.
This policy of never allowing the emergence of a strong European country has
been the British Establishment's modus operandi for centuries.
Whether it was
Charles the Fifth of Spain, Louis the Fourteenth or Napoleon of France or
William the Second of Germany, the British Establishment never tolerated any
unifying power in Europe. Germany never wanted to meddle in British affairs.
However, the British Establishment always made it a point to meddle in European
affairs, particularly in Central Europe and the Balkans.
into Prague brought the British running to the fray. Prague and Bohemia had been
part of Germany for centuries and always within the German sphere of influence.
British meddling in this area was totally unjustified.
For Germany the
Prague regime represented a grave threat. Benes, Stalin's servile Czech satrap,
had been ordered by his Kremlin masters to open his borders to the Communist
armies at a moment's notice. Prague was to be the Soviet springboard to Germany.
Prague was a watchtower to central Europe and an advance post to delay a Soviet
invasion. There were also Prague's historical economic links with Germany.
Germany has always had economic links with Central Europe. Rumania, the Balkans,
Bulgaria, Hungary and Yugoslavia have had longstanding complimentary economies
with Germany which have functioned to this day.
European economic policy was based on common sense and realism. And it was
Hitler's emerging Central European Common Market rather than concern for Czech
freedom that the British Establishment could not tolerate.
people felt great admiration for Hitler. I remember when Lloyd George addressed
the German press outside Hitler's home, where he had just been a guest. He
stated: "You can thank God you have such a wonderful man as your leader!" Lloyd
George, the enemy of Germany during World War One, said that!
King Edward the
Eighth of England who had just abdicated and was now the Duke of Windsor also
came to see Hitler at his Berchtesgaden home, accompanied by his wife, who
incidentally had been used to force his abdication. Whey they returned the Duke
sent a wire to Hitler. It read: "What a wonderful day we have spent with your
Excellency. Unforgettable!" The Duke reflected what many English people knew,
remarking on: "how well off the German workers were." The Duke was telling the
truth. The German worker earned twice as much, without inflation, as he did
before Hitler and consequently his standard of living was high.
the most fanatic German-hater of them all, had in 1938, a year before the war,
sent a letter to Hitler in which he wrote: "If ever Great Britain was plunged
into a disaster comparable to the one that afflicted Germany in 1918 I would ask
God that He should send us a man with the strength and the character of your
Times reported this extraordinary statement.
Friend or foe,
all acknowledge that Hitler was a man of exceptional genius. His achievements
were the envy of the world. In five short years he rebuilt a bankrupt nation
burdened with millions of unemployed into the strongest economic power in
Europe. It was so strong that the small country that was Germany was able to
withstand a war against the whole world for six years.
acknowledged that no one in the world could match such a feat. He stated just
before the war: "there is no doubt we can work out a peace formula with Hitler."
But Churchill received other instructions. The Establishment, fearful that
Hitler's successes in Germany could spread to other countries, was determined to
destroy him. It created hatred against Germany across Europe by stirring old
grievances. It also exploited the envy some Europeans felt toward Germany.
high birth rate had made Germany the most populous country in Western Europe. In
science and technology Germany was ahead of both France and Britain. Hitler had
built Germany into an economic powerhouse. That was Hitler's crime and the
British Establishment opted to destroy Hitler and Germany by any means.
manipulated the Polish government against Germany. The Poles themselves were
more than willing to live in peace with the Germans. Instead, the unfortunate
Poles were railroaded into war by the British. One must not forget that one and
a half million Germans lived in Poland at the time, at great benefit to the
Polish economy. Apart from economic ties with Germany, the Poles saw a chance
that with Germany's help they would be able to recover their Polish territories
from the Soviet Union, territories they had tried to recover in vain since 1919.
In January 1939
Hitler had proposed to Beck, the Polish leader, a compromise to solve the Danzig
issue: The Danziger's vote to return to Germany would be honored and Poland
would continue to have free port access and facilities, guaranteed by treaty.
notion of the day that every country must have a sea port really does not make
sense. Switzerland, Hungary and other countries with no sea ports manage quite
well. Hitler's proposals were based on the principles of self-determination and
reciprocity. Even Churchill admitted that such a solution could dispose of the
Danzig problem. This admission, however, did not prevent him to sent an
ultimatum to Germany: withdrawal from Poland or war. The world has recently seen
what happened when Israel invaded Lebanon. Heavily populated cities like Tyre
and Sidon were destroyed and so was West Beirut. Everybody called for Israel's
withdrawal but no one declared war on Israel when it refused to budge.
With a little
patience a peaceful solution would have been found for Danzig. Instead, the
international press unleashed a massive campaign of outright lies and
distortions against Hitler. His proposals were willfully misrepresented by a
relentless press onslaught.
Of all the
crimes of World War Two, one never hears about the wholesale massacres that
occurred in Poland just before the war. I have detailed reports in my files
documenting the mass slaughter of defenseless Germans in Poland.
German men, women and children were massacred in the most horrendous fashion by
Press-enraged mobs. The photographs of these massacres are too sickening to look
at! Hitler decided to halt the slaughter and he rushed to the rescue.
campaign showed Hitler to be a military genius. History had already started to
recognize this most startling of Hitler's characteristics: his rare military
genius. All the successful military campaigns of the Third Reich were thought
out and directed by Hitler personally, not the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hitler
inspired a number of generals who became his most able executives in later
In regard to the
Polish campaign the General Staff had planned an offensive along the Baltic
coastline in order to take Danzig, a plan logistically doomed to failure.
Instead, Hitler invented the Blitzkrieg or lightning war and in no time captured
Warsaw. The Waffen SS appeared on the Polish Front and its performance amazed
campaign in France was also swift and humane. The British-French forces had
rushed to Holland and Belgium to check the German advance, but they were
outwitted and outflanked in Sedan. It was all over in a matter of days.
The story goes
that Hitler had nothing to do with this operation; that it was all the work of
General von Manstein. That is entirely false. Marshall von Manstein had indeed
conceived the idea but when he submitted it to the joint Chiefs of Staff he was
reprimanded, demoted and retired to Dresden. The General Staff had not brought
this particular incident to Hitler's attention. On his own, Hitler ran a
campaign along the same lines and routed the British-French forces. It was not
until March 1940 that von Manstein came into contact with Hitler.
planned the Balkan and Russian campaigns. On the rare occasions where Hitler
allowed the General Staff to have their way, such as in Kursk, the battle was
In the 1939
Polish campaign Hitler did not rely on military textbook theories devised fifty
years ago, as advocated by the General Staff, but on his own plan of swift,
pincer-like encirclement. In eight days the Polish war was won and over in spite
of the fact that Poland is as large as France.
The eight day
campaign saw three SS regiments in action: The Leibstandarte, the
Deutschland and the Germania. There was also an SS motorbike
battalion, a corps of engineers and a transmission unit. In all it was a
comprehensive but small force of 25,000 men.
and his Leibstandarte alone had, after bolting out of Silesia, split
Poland in half within days. With less than 3,000 men he had defeated a Polish
force of 15,000 and taken 10,000 prisoners. Such victories were not achieved
It is hard to
imagine that from a total of one million SS, 352,000 were killed in action with
50,000 more missing. It is a grim figure! Four hundred thousand of the finest
young men in Europe! Without hesitation they sacrificed themselves for their
beliefs. They knew they had to give an example. They were the first on the front
line as a way to defend their country and their ideals.
In victory or
defeat the Waffen SS always sought to be the best representatives of their
The SS was a
democratic expression of power: people gathering of their own free will.
The consent of
the ballot box is not only this; there is consent of the heart and the mind of
men. In action, the Waffen SS made a plebiscite: that the German people should
be proud of them, should give them their respect and their love. Such high
motivation made the volunteers of the Waffen SS the best fighters in the world.
The SS had
proved themselves in action. They were not empty talking politicians, but they
gave their lives, the first to go and fight in an extraordinary spurt of
comradeship. This comradeship was one of the most distinctive characteristics of
the SS: the SS leader was the comrade of the others.
It was on the
front lines that the results of the SS physical training could really be
noticed. An SS officer had the same rigorous training as the soldiers. Those
officers and privates competed in the same sports events, and only the best man
won, regardless of rank. This created a real brotherhood which literally
energized the entire Waffen SS. Only the teamwork of free men, bonded by a
higher ideal could unite Europe. Look at the Common Market of today. It is a
failure. There is no unifying ideal. Everything is based on haggling over the
price of tomatoes, steel, coal, or booze. Fruitful unions are based on something
a little higher than that.
of equality and mutual respect between soldiers and officers was always present.
Half of all division commanders were killed in action. Half! There is not an
army in the world where this happened. The SS officer always led his troops to
battle. I was engaged in seventy-five hand-to-hand combats because as an SS
officer I had to be the first to meet the enemy. SS soldiers were not sent to
slaughter by behind-the-line officers, they followed their officers with
passionate loyalty. Every SS commander knew and taught all his men, and often
received unexpected answers.
out of Tcherkassy's siege I talked with all my soldiers one-by-one, there were
thousands at the time. For two weeks every day from dawn to dusk, I asked them
questions, and heard their replies. Sometimes it happens that some soldiers who
brag a little, receive medals, while others - heroes - who keep quiet, miss out.
I talked to all of them because I wanted to know first-hand what happened, and
what they had done. To be just I had to know the truth.
It was on this
occasion that two of my soldiers suddenly pulled their identity cards from the
Belgian Resistance Movement. They had been sent to kill me. At the front line,
it is very simple to shoot someone in the back. But the extraordinary SS team
spirit had won them over. SS officers could expect loyalty of their men by their
expectancy of an SS officer at the front was three months. In Estonia I received
ten new young officers from Bad Toelz academy one Monday; by Thursday, one was
left and he was wounded.
conventional armies, officers talked at the men, from superior to inferior, and
seldom as brothers in combat and brothers in ideology.
Thus, by 1939,
the Waffen SS had earned general admiration and respect. This gave Hitler the
opportunity to call for an increase in their numbers. Instead of regiments,
there would be three divisions.
Again, the Army
brass laid down draconian recruiting conditions: SS could only join for not less
than four years of combat duty. The brass felt no one would take such a risk.
Again, they guessed wrong. In the month of February 1940 alone, 49,000 joined
the SS. From 25,000 in September 1939 there would be 150,000 in May 1940.
Thus, from 180
to 8,000 to 25,000 to 150,000 and eventually one million men, all this against
Hitler had no
interest whatever in getting involved with the war in France, a war forced on
The 150,000 SS
had to serve under the Army, and they were given the most dangerous and
difficult missions. Despite the fact that they were provided with inferior
hand-arms and equipment. They had no tanks. In 1940 the Leibstandarte was
provided with a few scouting tanks. The SS were given wheels and that's all. But
with trucks, motorbikes and varied limited means they were able to perform
Leibstandarte and Der Fuehrer regiments were sent to Holland under
the Leadership of Sepp Dietrich. They had to cross Dutch waterways. The
Luftwaffe had dropped parachutists to hold the bridges 120 miles deep in Dutch
territory, and it was vital for the SS to reach these bridges with the greatest
Leibstandarte would realize an unprecedented feat in ten days: to advance
120 miles in one day. It was unheard of at the time, and the world was
staggered. At that rate German troops would reach Spain in one week. In one day
the SS had crossed all the Dutch canals on. flimsy rubber rafts-. Here again, SS
losses were heavy. But, thanks to their heroism and speed, the German Army
reached Rotterdam in three days. The parachutists all risked being wiped out had
the SS not accomplished their lightning-thrust.
In Belgium, the
SS regiment Der Fuehrer faced head on the French Army, which after
falling in the Sedan trap, had rushed toward Breda, Holland. There, one would
see for the first time a small motivated army route a large national army. It
took one SS regiment and a number of German troops to throw the whole French
Army off balance and drive it back from Breda to Antwerp, Belgium and Northern
Leibstandarte and Der Fuehrer regiments jointly advanced on the large
Zealand Islands, between the Escaut and Rhine rivers. In a few days they would
be under control.
In no time the
Leibstandarte had then crossed Belgium and Northern France. The second
major battle of SS regiments occurs in concert with the Army tank division. The
SS, still with their tanks, are under the command of General Rommel and General
Guderian. They spearhead a thrust toward the North Sea.
and his troops have now crossed the French canals, but are pinned down by the
enemy in a mud field, and just manage to avoid extermination. But despite the
loss of many soldiers, officers and one battalion commander, all killed in
action, the Germans reach Dunkirk.
Hitler is very
proud of them.
week, Hitler deploys them along the Somme River, from which they will pour out
across France. There again, the SS will prove itself to be the best fighting
force in the world. Sepp Dietrich and the 2nd Division of the SS, Totenkopf,
advance so far so fast they they even lose contact with the rest of the Army for
themselves in Lyon, France, a city they had to leave after the French-German
and a handful of SS on trucks had achieved the impossible.
SS division spearheaded the Maginot Line breakthrough. Everyone had said the
Line was impenetrable. The war in France was over. Hitler had the three SS
divisions march through Paris. Berlin honored the heroes also. But the Army was
so jealous that it would not cite a single SS for valor or bravery. It was
Hitler himself who in front of the German congress solemnly paid tribute to the
heroism of the SS. It was on this occasion that Hitler officially recognized the
name of the Waffen SS.
But it was more
than just a name-change. The Waffen SS became Germanic, as volunteers were
accepted from all Germanic countries. The SS had found out by themselves that
the people of Western Europe were closely related to them: the Norwegians, the
Danes, the Dutch, the Flemish - all belonged to the same Germanic family. These
Germanic people were themselves very much impressed by the SS, and so, by the
way, were the French.
The people of
Western Europe had marvelled at this extraordinary German force with a style
unlike any others: if two SS scouts would reach town ahead of everybody else, on
motorbikes, before presenting themselves to the local authorities they would
first clean themselves up so as to be of impeccable appearance. The people could
not help but be impressed.
felt by young Europeans of Germanic stock for the SS was very natural. Thousands
of young men from Norway, Denmark, Flanders, and Holland were awed with surprise
and admiration. They felt irresistably drawn to the SS. It was not Europe, but
their own Germanic race that so deeply stirred their souls. They identified with
the victorious Germans. To them, Hitler was the most exceptional man ever seen.
Hitler understood them, and had the remarkable idea to open the doors of the SS
to them. It was quite risky. No one had ever thought of this before. Prior to
Hitler, German imperialism consisted only of peddling goods to other countries,
without any thought of creating an ideology called "community" - a common ideal
with its neighbors.
instead of peddling and haggling, here was a man who offered a glorious ideal:
an enthralling social justice, for which they all had yearned in vain, for
years. A broad New Order, instead of the formless cosmopolitanism of the pre-war
so-called "democracies." The response to Hitler's offer was overwhelming.
Legions from Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Flanders were formed. Thousands of
young men now wore the SS uniform. Hitler created specifically for them the
famous Viking division. One destined to become one of the most formidable
divisions of the Waffen SS.
The Army was
still doing everything to stop men from joining the SS in Germany, and acted as
though the SS did not exist. Against this background of obstructionism at home,
it was normal and understandable that the SS would welcome men from outside
living abroad provided a rich source of volunteers. As there are millions of
German-Americans, there are millions of Germans in all parts of Europe-in
Hungary, in Rumania, in Russia. There was even a Soviet Republic of the Volga
Germans. These were the descendants of Germans who had emigrated two centuries
before. Other Europeans, like the French Huguenots, who went to Prussia, also
shared this type of emigration with the Germans. So, Europe was dotted with
German settlements. The victories of the Third Reich had made them proud of
belonging to the German family. Hitler welcomed them home. He saw them, first,
as a source of elite SS men, and also as an important factor in unifying all
Here again, the
enthusiastic response was amazing. 300,000 volunteers of German ancestory would
join, from all over Europe. 54,000 from Rumania alone. In the context of that
era, these were remarkable figures. There were numerous problems to overcome.
For instance, most of the Germanic volunteers no longer spoke German. Their
families had settled in foreign lands for 200 years or so. In Spain, for
instance, I can see the children of my legionaries being assimilated with the
Spaniards - and their grandchildren no longer speak French. The Germans follow
the same pattern. When the German volunteers first arrived at the SS, they spoke
many different languages, had different ways and different needs.
How to find
officers who could speak all these languages? How to coordinate such a disparate
lot? The mastery of these problems was the miracle of the Waffen SS assimilation
program. This homecoming of the separated "tribes" was seen by the Waffen SS as
the foundation for real European unity. The 300,000 Germanic volunteers were
welcomed by the SS as brothers, and they reciprocated by being as dedicated,
loyal and heroic as the German SS.
Within the year,
everything had changed for the Waffen SS The barracks were full, the academies
were full. The strictest admission standards and requirements equally applied
for the Germanic volunteers. They had to be the best in every way, both
physically and mentally. They had to be the best of the Germanic race.
has been deliberately distorted. It never was an anti-"other race" racialism. It
was a pro-German racialism. It was concerned with making the German race strong
and healthy in every way. Hitler was not interested in having millions of
degenerates, if it was in his power not to have them. Today one finds rampant
alcohol and drug addiction everywhere. Hitler cared that the German families be
healthy, cared that they raise healthy children for the renewal of a healthy
nation. German racialism meant re-discovering the creative values of their own
race, re-discovering their culture. It was a search for excellence, a noble
idea. National Socialist racialism was not against the other races, it was for
its own race. It aimed at defending and improving its race, and wished that all
other races did the same for themselves.
demonstrated when the Waffen SS enlarged its ranks to include 60,000 Islamic SS.
The Waffen SS respected their way of fife, their customs, and their religious
beliefs. Each Islamic SS battalion had an imam, each company had a mullah. It
was our common wish that their qualities found their highest expression. This
was our racialism. I was present when each of my Islamic comrades received a
personal gift from Hitler during the new year. It was a pendant with a small
Koran. Hitler was honoring them with this small symbolic gift. He was honoring
them with what was the most important aspect of their lives and their history.
National Socialist racialism was loyal to the German race and totally respected
all other races.
At this point,
one hears: "What about the anti-Jewish racism?" One can answer: "What about
It has been the
misfortune of the Jewish race that never could they get on with any other race.
It is an unusual historical fact and phenomenon. When one studies the
history-and I say this without any passion- of the Jewish people, their
evolution across the centuries, one observes that always, at all times, and at
all places, they were hated. They were hated in ancient Egypt, they were hated
in ancient Greece, they were hated in Roman times to such a degree that 3,000 of
them were deported to Sardine. It was the first Jewish deportation. They were
hated in Spain, in France, in England (they were banned from England for
centuries), and in Germany. The conscientious Jewish author Lazare wrote a very
interesting book on Anti-Semitism, where he asked himself: "We Jews should ask
ourselves a question: why are we always hated everywhere? It is not because of
our persecutors, all of different times and places. It is because there is
something within us that is very unlikeable." What is unlikeable is that the
Jews have always wanted to live as a privileged class divinely-chosen and beyond
scrutiny. This attitude has made them unlikeable everywhere. The Jewish race is
therefore a unique case. Hitler had no intention of destroying it. He wanted the
Jews to find their own identity in their own environment, but not to the
detriment of others. The fight-if we can call it that-of National Socialism
against the Jews was purely limited to one objective: that the Jews leave
Germany in peace. It was planned to give them a country of their own, outside
Germany. Madagascar was contemplated, but the plans were dropped when the United
States entered the war. In the meanwhile, Hitler thought of letting the Jews
five in their own traditional ghettos. They would have their own organizations,
they would run their own affairs and live the way they wanted to live. They had
their own police, their own tramways, their own flag, their own factories which,
incidentally, were built by the German government. As far as other races were
concerned, they were all welcomed in Germany as guests, but not as privileged
In one year the
Waffen SS had gathered a large number of Germanic people from Northern Europe
and hundreds of thousands of Germans from outside Germany, the Volksdeutsche, or
Germanic SS. It was then that the conflict between Communism and National
Socialism burst into the open. The conflict had always existed. In Mein Kampf,
Hitler had clearly set out his objective: "to eliminate the world threat of
Communism," and incidentally claim some land in Eastern Europe! This eastward
expansionism created much outrage: How could the Germans claim land in Russia?
To this one can answer: How could the Americans claim Indian land from the
Atlantic to the Pacific? How could France claim Southern Flanders and Rousillon
from Spain? And what of Britain, and what of so many other countries who have
claimed, conquered and settled in other territories? Somehow at the time.it was
all right for all these countries to settle foreign lands but it was not for
Germany. Personally, I have always vigorously defended the Russians, and I
finally did succeed in convincing Hitler that Germans had to live with Russians
as partners not as conquerors. Before achieving this partnership, there was
first the matter of wiping out Communism. During the Soviet-German Pact, Hitler
was trying to gain time but the Soviets were intensifying their acts of
aggression from Estonia to Bukovina. I now read extracts from Soviet documents.
They are most revealing. Let's read from Marshal Voroshilov himself:
We now have the time to prepare ourselves to be the
executioner of the capitalist world while it is agonizing. We must, however,
be cautious. The Germans must not have any inkling that we are preparing to
stab them in the back while they are busy fighting the French. Otherwise, they
could change their general plan, and attack us.
In the same
record, Marshal Choponitov wrote: "The coexistence between Hitler's Germany and
the Soviet Union is only temporary. We will not make it last very long." Marshal
Timoshenko, for his part, did not want to be so hasty: "Let us not forget that
our war material from our Siberian factories will not be delivered until Fall."
This was written at the beginning of 1941, and the material was only to be
delivered in the Fall. The war industry Commisariat Report stated: We will not
be in full production until 1942. Marshal Zhukov made this extraordinary
admission: "Hitler is in a hurry to invade us; he has good reasons for it."
had good reasons to invade Russia in a hurry because he realized he would be
wiped out if he did not. Zhukov added: "We need a few more months to rectify
many of our defects before the end of 1941. We need 18 months to complete the
modernization of our forces."
The orders are
quite precise. At the fourth session of the Supreme Soviet in 1939, it is
decreed that Army officers will serve three years and the soldiers will serve
four years, and the Navy personnel, five years. All these decisions were made
less than a month after the Soviets signed the peace treaty with Germany.
Soviets, pledged to peace, were frantically preparing for war. More than 2,500
new concrete fortifications were built between 1939 and 1940. 160 divisions were
made combat-ready. 60 tank divisions were on full alert. The Germans only had 10
panzer tank divisions. In 1941, the Soviets had 17,000 tanks, and by 1942 they
had 32,000. They had 92,578 pieces of artillery. And their 17,545 combat planes
in 1940 outnumbered the German air force.
It is easy to
understand that with such war preparations going on, Hitler was left with only
one option: Invade the Soviet Union immediately, or face annihilation.
campaign was the "last chance" campaign. Hitler did not go into Russia with any
great optimism. He told me later on: "When I entered Russia, I was like a man
facing a shut door. I knew I had to crash through it, but without knowing what
was behind it." Hitler was right. He knew the Soviets were strong, but above all
he knew they were going to be a lot stronger. 1941 was the only time Hitler had
some respite. The British had not succeeded yet in expanding the war. Hitler,
who never wanted the war with Britain, still tried for peace. He invited me to
spend a week at his home. He wanted to discuss the whole situation and hear what
I had to say about it. He spoke very simply and clearly. The atmosphere was
informal and relaxed. He made you feel at home because he really enjoyed being
hospitable. He buttered pieces of toast in a leisurely fashion, and passed them
around, and although he did not drink he went to get a bottle of champagne after
each meal because he knew I enjoyed a glass at the end of it. All without fuss
and with genuine friendliness. It was part of his genius that he was also a man
of simple ways without the slightest affection and a man of great humility. We
talked about England. I asked him bluntly: "Why on earth didn't you finish the
British off in Dunkirk? Everyone knew you could have wiped them out." He
answered: "Yes, I withheld my troops and let the British escape back to England.
The humiliation of such a defeat would have made it difficult to try for peace
with them afterwards."
At the same
time, Hitler told me he did not want to dispel the Soviet belief that he was
going to invade England. He mentioned that he even had small Anglo-German
dictionaries distributed to his troops in Poland. The Soviet spies there duly
reported to the Kremlin that Germany's presence in Poland was a bluff and that
they were about to leave for the British Isles.
On 22 June 1941,
it was Russia and not England that Germany invaded. The initial victories were
swift but costly. I lived the epic struggle of the Russian Front. It was a
tragic epic; it was also martyrdom. The endless thousands of miles of the
Russian steppes were overwhelming. We had to reach the Caucasus by foot, always
under extreme conditions. In the summer we often walked knee-deep in mud, and in
winter there were below-zero freezing temperatures. But for a matter of a few
days Hitler would have won the war in Russia in 1941. Before the battle of
Moscow, Hitler had succeeded in defeating the Soviet Army, and taking
considerable numbers of prisoners.
Guderian's tank division, which had all by itself encircled more than a million
Soviet troops near Kiev, had reached Moscow right up to the city's tramway
lines. It was then that suddenly an unbelievable freeze happened: 40, 42, 50
degrees celsius below zero! This meant that not only were men freezing, but the
equipment was also freezing, on the spot. No tanks could move. Yesterday's mud
had frozen to a solid block of ice, half a meter high, icing up the tank treads.
In 24 hours all
of our tactical options had been reversed. It was at that time that masses of
Siberian troops brought back from the Russian Far East were thrown against the
Germans. These few fateful days of ice that made the difference between victory
and defeat, Hitler owed to the Italian campaign in Greece during the fall of
envious of Hitler's successes. It was a deep and silent jealousy. I was a friend
of Mussolini, I knew him well. He was a remarkable man, but Europe was not of
great concern to him. He did not like to be a spectator, watching Hitler winning
everywhere. He felt compelled to do something himself, fast. Impulsively, he
launched a senseless offensive against Greece.
His troops were
immediately defeated. But it gave the British the excuse to invade Greece, which
up till now had been uninvolved in the war. From Greece the British could bomb
the Rumanian oil wells, which were vital to Germany's war effort. Greece could
also be used to cut off the German troops on their way to Russia. Hitler was
forced to quash the threat preemptively. He had to waste five weeks in the
Balkans. His victories there were an incredible logistical achievement, but they
delayed the start of the Russian campaign for five critical weeks.
If Hitler had
been able to start the campaign in time, as it was planned, he would have
entered Moscow five weeks before, in the sun of early fall, when the earth was
still dry. The war would have been over, and the Soviet Union would have been a
thing of the past. The combination of the sudden freeze and the arrival of fresh
Siberian troops spread panic among some of the old Army generals. They wanted to
retreat to 200 miles from Moscow. It is hard to imagine such inane strategy! The
freeze affected Russia equally, from West to East, and to retreat 200 miles in
the open steppes would only make things worse. I was commanding my troops in the
Ukraine at the time and it was 42 degrees centigrade below zero.
Such a retreat
meant abandoning all the heavy artillery, including assault tanks and panzers
that were stuck in the ice. It also meant exposing half a million men to heavy
Soviet sniping. In fact, it meant condemning them to certain death. One need
only recall Napoleon's retreat in October. He reached the Berzina River in
November, and by December 6th all the French troops had left Russia. It was cold
enough, but it was not a winter campaign.
Can you just
imagine in 1941 half a million Germans fighting howling snowstorms, cut off from
supplies, attacked from all sides by tens of thousands of Cossaks? I have faced
charging Cossaks, and only the utmost superior firepower will stop them. In
order to counter such an insane retreat, Hitler had to fire more than 30
generals within a few days.
It was then that
he called on the Waffen SS to fill in the gap and boost morale. Immediately the
SS held fast on the Moscow front. Right through the war the Waffen SS never
retreated. They would rather die than retreat. One cannot forget the figures.
During the 1941 winter, the Waffen SS lost 43,000 men in front of Moscow. The
regiment Der Fuehrer fought almost literally to the last man. Only 35 men
survived out of the entire regiment. The Der Fuehrer men stood fast and
no Soviet troops got through. They had to try to bypass the SS in the snow. This
is how famous Russian General Vlasov was captured by the Totenkopf SS
division. Without their heroism, Germany would have been annihilated by December
never forget it: he gauged the willpower that the Waffen SS had displayed in
front of Moscow. They had shown character and guts. And that is what Hitler
admired most of all: guts. For him, it was not enough to have intelligent or
clever associates. These people can often fall to pieces, as we will see during
the following winter at the battle of Stalingrad with General Paulus.
Hitler knew that
only sheer energy and guts, the refusal to surrender, the will to hang tough
against all odds, would win the war.
The blizzards of
the Russian steppes had shown how the best army in the world, the German Army,
with thousands of highly trained officers and millions of highly disciplined
men, was just not enough. Hitler realized they would be beaten, that something
else was needed, and that only the unshakable faith in a high ideal could
overcome the situation. The Waffen SS had this ideal, and Hitler used them from
now on at full capacity.
From all parts
of Europe volunteers rushed to help their German brothers. It was then that was
born the third great Waffen SS. First there was the German, then the Germanic,
and now there was the European Waffen SS. 125,000 would then volunteer to save
Western Culture and Civilization. The volunteers joined with full knowledge that
the SS incurred the highest death tolls. More than 250,000 out of one million
would die in action. For them, the Waffen SS was, despite all the deaths, the
birth of Europe. Napoleon said in St. Helena: "There will be no Europe until a
European volunteers have observed two things: first, that Hitler was the only
leader who was capable of building Europe and secondly that Hitler, and Hitler
alone could defeat the world threat of Communism.
For the European
SS the Europe of petty jealousies, jingoism, border disputes, economic rivalries
was of no interest. it was too petty and demeaning; that Europe was no longer
valid for them. At the same time the European SS, as much as they admired Hitler
and the German people, did not want to become Germans. They were men of their
own people and Europe was the gathering of the various people of Europe.
European unity was to be achieved through harmony, not domination of one over
these issues at length with both Hitler and Himmler. Hitler like all men of
genius had outgrown the national stage. Napoleon was first a Corsican, then a
Frenchman, then a European and then a singularly universal man. Likewise Hitler
had been an Austrian, then a German, then a greater German, then Germanic, then
he had seen and grasped the magnitude of building Europe.
After the defeat
of Communism the Waffen SS had a solemn duty to gather all their efforts and
strength to build a united Europe, and there was no question that non-German
Europe should be dominated by Germany.
the Waffen SS we had known very difficult conflicts. We had gone to the Eastern
front first as adjunct units to the German army but during the battle of
Stalingrad we had seen that Europe was critically endangered. Great common
effort was imperative. One night I had an 8 hour debate with Hitler and Himmler
on the status of non-German Europeans within the new Europe.
For the present
we expected to be treated as equals fighting for a common cause. Hitler
understood fully and from then on we had our own flag, our own officers, our own
language, our own religion. We had total equal status.
I was the first
one to have Catholic padres in the Waffen SS. Later padres of all demoninations
were available to all those who wanted them. The Islamic SS division had their
own mullahs and the French even had a bishop! We were satisfied that with
Hitler, Europeans would be federated as equals. We felt that the best way to
deserve our place as equals was in this critical hour to defend Europe equally
well as our German comrades.
above all for Hitler was courage. He created a new chivalry. Those who earn the
order of the Ritterkreuz, meaning the cross of the knights, were indeed
the new knights. They earned this nobility of courage. Each of our units going
home after the war would be the force that would protect the peoples' rights in
our respective countries. All the SS understood that European unity meant the
whole of Europe, even Russia.
There had been a
great lack of knowledge among many Germans regarding the Russians. Many believed
that the Russians were all Communists while in fact, Russian representation in
the Communist hierarchy was less than insignificant. They also believed that the
Russians were diametrically opposite from the Europeans. Yet they have similar
familial structures, they have an old civilization, deep religious faith and
traditions which are not unlike those of other European countries.
The European SS
saw the new Europe in the form of three great components; central Europe as the
power house of Europe, western Europe as the cultural heart of Europe and
eastern Europe as the potential of Europe. Thus the Europe the SS envisioned was
alive and real. Its six hundred million inhabitants would live from the North
Sea to Vladivostok. It was in this span of 8,000 miles that Europe could achieve
its destiny. A space for young people to start new lives. This Europe would be
the beacon of the world. A remarkable racial ensemble. An ancient civilization,
a spirtitual force and the most advanced technological and scientific complex.
The SS prepared for the high destiny of Europe.
aims, these ideals with the "Allies." The Roosevelts, the Churchills sold Europe
out in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. They cravenly capitulated to the Soviets.
They delivered half of the European continent to Communist slavery. They let the
rest of Europe disintegrate morally, without any ideal to sustain it. The SS
knew what they wanted: the Europe of ideals was salvation for all.
This faith in
higher ideals inspired four hundred thousand German SS, three hundred thousand
Volksdeutsche or Germanic SS and three hundred thousand other European
SS. Volunteers all, one million builders of Europe.
The ranks of the
SS grew proportionately with the growth of the war in Russia. The nearer Germany
was to defeat the more volunteers arrived at the front. This was phenomenal;
eight days before the final defeat I saw hundreds of young men join the SS on
the front. Right to the end they knew they had to do the impossible to stop the
So from the one
hundred and eighty-men strong Leibstandarte in 1933 to the SS regiments
before 1939, to the three regiments in Poland, to the three divisions in France,
to the six divisions at the beginning of the Russian war, to the 38 divisions in
1944, the Waffen SS reached 50 divisions in 1945. The more SS died, the more
others rushed to replace them. They had faith and stood firm to the extreme
limit, The exact reverse happened in January 1943 at Stalingrad. The defeat
there was decided by a man without courage. He was not capable of facing danger
with determination, of saying unequivocally: I will not surrender, I will stand
fast until I win. He was morally and physically gutless and he lost.
A year later the
SS Viking and the SS Wallonia divisions were encircled in the same way at
Cherkassy. With the disaster of Stalingrad fresh in the minds of our soldiers
they could have been subject to demoralization. On top of it I was laid down
with a deep sidewound and 102 degree temperature. As general in command of the
SS Wallonia forces I knew that all this was not conducive to high morale. I got
up and for 17 days I led charge after charge to break the blockade, engaged in
numerous hand-to-hand combats, was wounded four times but never stopped
fighting. All my men did just as much and more. The siege was broken by sheer SS
guts and spirit.
Stalingrad, when many thought that all was lost, when the Soviet forces poured
across the Ukraine, the Waffen SS stopped the Soviets dead in their tracks. They
re-took Charkov and inflicted a severe defeat on the Soviet army. This was a
pattern; the SS would over and over turn reverses into victories.
fearless energy was also present in Normandy. Gen. Patton called them "the proud
The SS was the
backbone of resistance in Normandy. Eisenhower observed "the SS fought as usual
to the last man."
If the Waffen SS
had not existed, Europe would have been overrun entirely by the Soviets by 1944.
They would have reached Paris long before the Americans. The Waffen SS heroism
stopped the Soviet juggernaut at Moscow, Cherkov, Cherkassy, and Tarnopol. The
Soviets lost more than 12 months. Without SS resistance the Soviets would have
been in Normandy before Eisenhower. The people showed deep gratitude to the
young men who sacrificed their lives. Not since the great religious orders of
the middle ages had there been such selfless idealism and heroism. In this
century of materialism, the SS stand out as a shining light of spirituality.
I have no doubt
whatever that the sacrifices and incredible feats of the Waffen SS will have
their own epic poets like Schiller. Greatness in adversity is the distinction of
The curtain of
silence fell on the Waffen SS after the war but now more and more young people
somehow know of its existence, of its achievements. The fame is growing and the
young demand to know more. In one hundred years almost everything will be
forgotten but the greatness and the heroism of the Waffen SS will be remembered.
It is the reward of an epic.
from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 441-468.
Published with permission of and
courtesy to the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).
For the current IHR catalog, with a complete listing of books and audio and
video tapes, send one dollar to:
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Post Office Box 2739
Newport Beach, California 92659
Pictures were added by Gnostic
Liberation Front from:
"Friends of Léon Degrelle" Cultural Association