As the Nazi Reich collapsed in May 1945, Hitler’s finest soldiers continued with desperate resistance amidst the ruins of Berlin.Throughout the great sphere of conflict created by the Nazis,there was one band of elite units, known and feared across Europe and beyond. In an existence of only twelve years, they won a unique reputation for immense fighting spirit and unfailing professionalism in combat. Yet, despite their undoubted bravery,they established a culture of fear and loathing. In many of the most signal triumphs of German arms and military strength, they played a role far disproportionate to their small numbers. As the Axis powers retreated in the face of the advancing Allies, despite repeatedly sustaining horrific casualties, their discipline remained unbroken, their fighting ability unimpaired. As the crimes of the regime were unearthed, they were burdened with the blackest crimes of the Nazi regime. For all their undoubted bravery, they bear a reputation which will be forever shrouded in infamy. They were the Waffen SS, and, to me, they were the greatest fighting force of the Second World War, and perhaps even of all military history.
The Waffen-SS were the best equipped units in the Second World War. They were the elite of the elite in Hitler’s Reich. I feel that no Allied or German can touch the lofty position which the Waffen SS occupy in the military history of WWII. Despite their animalistic crimes, the Waffen SS seldom retreated and resisted surrender until the last possible moment of the war. In some of the most famous actions in history, the SS units were always at the front line. The greatest fighting force, in my mind, can only be the unit which, although only in service for six years, served with a gallantry and courage which was near fanatical: the Waffen SS.
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Guido Knopp, sums the Waffen-SS perfectly in his documentary “Waffen SS – Hitler’s Elite Fighting Force”: “Had that marvellous courage and unflinching endurance,the blood so freely shed been devoted to a cause in anyway honourable, the Waffen SS would have assured themselves of eternal. But it was not. They served and were inextricably interlinked with a system unutterably evil in any conception.Nurtured by lies, upheld by corruption, impelled by avarice,ambitions and naked lust for power. And thus, although the ranks of the Waffen SS included many who were blameless, its arms will be forever stained with the darkest hues of infamy.”
What do you think is the truth? That the men of Waffen SS were the best and noblest warriors history has ever seen? Or were they just bigoted fanatics? Or does the truth lie somewhere between?
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