Carell, the Waffen SS and the Holocaust subject logo: MILGAM
Posted by: badanov

We are a WWII history buff, of military history if you will, mostly with a focus on WWII, specifically the war on the eastern front between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. One of the seminal books on that era, and one text that clearly had an impact on many fans on WWII in the east was "Sorched Earth: The Russo-german War 1943-1944" by German historian Paul Carell.

This book, the final in a series of three about the German Amry in WWII, details in finely granuled detail the German experience of WWII in the most brutal theater of war ever fought in history. To read Carell's text was to be placed there in the staff discussions of senior German and Soviet military commanders as operations and counter-operations were executed. Carell detailed conversions amongst senior commanders as well as enlisted men who were there and who fought hard against each other's enemy. Carell's writing was so good, he could place a reader as though he was there. Such is the mark of a great writer. We also consider Carell one of the most readable of WWII chroniclers.

The book's jacket, long ago lost, as we recall, described Carell's methodology as to include interviews and answers to surveys sent to surviving solders at the time, commanders and enlisted men equally. That Carell was able to find such men in a war where total permenant losses for both sides came close to 20 million men, seemed to be a testament to his personal abilities as a military researcher.

Carell's work is such that even game scenario designers for wargames set in that period entitled their scenarios after chapters by Carell written in "Scorched Earth" and other previous works. His works are so finely detailed some scenario designers, this writer included, can still put gogether any number of games to reflect tactical conditions


The distinction among the German Army, the German SS and the Waffen SS is one of the most difficult to detail about WWII history given the absolute viciousness of the crimes committed by the Hitlerian governemnt in WWII gives rise to the strongest passions. It was after all the German SS personnel which were drawn to provide security for the hundreds of camps operated by the Germans as they pursued their pogroms against their ethnic opponents, primarily Jews.

The confusion between the German SS which provided security for the Holocaust and the Waffen SS which was the military wing of the SS which actually engaged in combat has been enhanced so much by our disgraceful media in films and television over the many decades since the end of WWII in 1945. We must admit that until we took to studying about the war in the east, we held the view that there was no difference between the German SS, the German Waffen SS and the German Army; they were all German and they were all war criminals, much like the operating principle that fostered the Holocaust to begin with.

And to this day, the media which does have the right to publish whatever it wants, has never owned up to its responsibility to get the historical record right in these instances. It is a shameful record of obsfucastion, irresponsibility and political agenda. The media still does to this day distort the record of WWII. It is so bad, we won't even go see a first run film on the era unless it has been fully vetted as to its accuracy and fairness. And that doesn't happen very often.

We call it reinforced ignorance, except nowadays with the presence of so much information which which disputes these distortions, such ignorance can only be patholoigical and that pathology is reflected by the irrationality liberals have about Germany and it involvement in WWII, and that includes any association regardless of how remote or tenuous such associations may be.

So, just imagine our surprise after looking at the Wikipedia.Org entry about Paul Carell that Mr. Carell was just the pen name for a former intermediate grade SS officer, Paul Schmidt, who worked in von Ribbentrop's Foreign Ministry in the propaganda department. From the vantage point of Schmidt working as what we consider to be a senior level position, it is easy to see how Carell would have excellent contact with the German military community after the war. We found that Carell provided the Nazis with help in the deportation and extermination of Hungarian Jews towards the end of WWII. Despite this written evidence Carell declaimed his involvment in the Holocaust to the end of his life.

To borrow a phrase, Carell knew where all the bodies are buried and who buried them. He even helped buried them.

This new information, new to us that is, does indeed color the narrative Carell wrote with regard to WWII given the war crimes and the Holocaust. At this point we do not know and we may well never know if Carell's relationship with the Nazi regime and it's threads within the German military community had created an inaccurate picture of the German Army in WWII. We don't doubt that whatever he wrote about operations and their outcomes were indeed quite accurate, as Soviet sources also attest, but we have to wonder about the backdrop, as it were, and of the murder of civilians by the Nazis under the Holocaust. In this context an awful lot of information was omitted in "Scorched Earth."

We want to draw what some may consider to be a too fine distinction on the eastern front. For one thing, despite specific rules governing such behavior, prisoners of war were routinely executed. For both sides it was a matter of resources of feeding and housing prisoners. Commanders on both sides didn't want to hear excuses about prisoners slowing an advance. The Soviets kept Axis intermediate and senior grade officers alive and barely fed, but the rest were essentially starved or executed. In fact most of the roughly three million Soviet prisoners captured in that terrible Summer and Fall of 1941, less than five percent returned home alive.

The war in the east was total war in its depth and scope and no one escaped its effect. We recall reading somewhere that by the end of the war in 1945, some 80 percent of all permenant structures in European Russia had suffered some kind of war damage.

Then you have to add to this carnage the Holocaust, a program of extermination to murder as many Jews as possible using SS and para-SS units. From what we know the only full Waffen SS units which was involved in the actual slaughter using military weapons and units was the German SS 3rd Panzer Division "Totenkopf", the 12th SS Panzer Division "HitlerJugend" and one other division, the 36th SS. Units of the German SS 3rd Panzer Division often comprised extermination and concentration camp guards and personnel.

We know that the German Army never provided logistical help for the SS in its pogroms. Commanders from army group rank on down were aware of the carnage, but did nothing to stop it.

The Waffen SS arguably were not involved in pogroms as their political SS counterparts, who were essentially stay behind parties who administered the pogroms.

While the Waffen SS as a group was in 1947 declared a criminal organization, probably as a gift to the Soviets, the group was not responsible for the Holocaust. Waffen SS personnel were men who mostly performed their combat duties with honor and distinction. The broad brush of a criminal organization was unfair in our opinion.

As we recall in the two texts we own that Carell never mentioned German Army reprisals for the obvious reason that some of them were in fact legal under the laws of war. We knew they took place and often when the German Army and Waffen SS units suffered a reverse, so would Russian collaborators. It could be argued that since the Waffen SS did kill Russian civilians it would be to protect operational security, also permissible under the laws of war. But it is also entirely plausible that Carell left out these instances because frankly he may well have implicated a number of otherwise honorable men in what would under law of war be permissible action.

Today revelations that the regime ordered perfectly capable and outfitted military units to waste time and ammunition on killing civilians when they could have been killing an armed enemy on the attack would have been a scandal, even if the activity could be justified under the laws of war. Towards the end, in 1943-1944, especially post Kursk, the German Army didn't have the manpower to take care of the Nazi political agenda as well as their own skins.

Facts are facts and no one in any language has ever described the total war in the east better than Carell. It is diffucult for many people to draw the fine distinctions among Waffen SS, SS and German activity on the eastern front and Carell knew it well if only at the time vicariously.

We are indebted to the man for his work but we must also condemn him for his involvment in the Holocaust.

We may write more on this issue as there will be surely much more that can be said.

If you have something to add, Fire Away!

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