The pre-war German Army rejected Captain Theodore von Hippel’s idea of using small units of highly trained men to penetrate enemy defenses before main actions began. They felt it was beneath the dignity of true soldiers to engage in such renegade conduct and so sent the young Captain packing. Down but not out, he ended up joining the German intelligence agency known as the Abwehr, in whom he found its commander, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, a willing listener.
His ideas, much of which were learned from studying World War 1 guerilla leaders, were approved and forwarded to the German High Command (OKW), who agreed to the formation of a battalion of men trained in the arts of combat and espionage. These troops were tasked with capturing bridges and roadways ahead of advances and holding them until relieved.
This first unit became known as the Ebbinghaus battalion. And when it went to war on September 1st, 1939 in the Polish campaign, it performed as expected, slipping across enemy lines, holding vital roads and crossings, as the columns of panzers rumbled triumphantly past, unaware many of those who waved them on had been wearing Polish army uniforms a short while before.
or Log In
Interesting read Mike, as I was going through it, the movie "Inglourious Basterds" came to mind. Another thought that came to mind are "sleeper cells". Thanks for using history to once again show that things can be learned from it. Failures and Successes.
@Icegator @KlausHergesheimer @Old PH2 @MikePerry2 Ja, spitze!
@MikePerry2 @StormR Mike, the series focused specifically on SS and the planning processes for the camps. What I found appalling was the absolute lack of inhumanity not only in individuals, but in the many countries involved. It was a stark portrayal of what happens when life is valueless, or when life becomes simply a matter of survival - life or death. What will an individual do? Part of the series dealt with the Jewish Brigade who went after SS soliders after the camps were liberated. During an interview with one of them, he expressed exactly the same argument as did an SS officer for why he killed - because the enemy wasn't human. In truth, humanity was stripped away from everyone touched. Guersney Island sent 3 women to the camps in response to a request from Germany; France sent a trainload of Jewish children to be murdered; America refused to bomb the railroad tracks leading to the camps and on and on. The only country that actually did anything was Denmark, who smuggled over 90% of the Jewish population to Sweden. Less than 10% of the guards at Auschwitz were ever taken to trial and most of the 'top talent' in Germany ended up working in US or England. Honest, Mike - I'm sorry I watched this series and learned this. I miss my innocence and it has indeed shaken my core belief in mankind itself. I have used the word 'savages' for those in the ME. But what happened during WWII shows me that in the right circumstances, we are all capable of being savages.
@StormR I don't blame you. Germany had a lot of talent that was used for a cause that wasn't just wrong, but evil.
Once again, a great historical lesson! Unfortunately, I watched a 5 (or 6) part BBC documentary on Auschwitz this weekend. I learned a great deal from it, however, it is going to be quite some while before I can admire anything about Germany and (surprising to me) France.