Sometimes, it’s hard to determine whether it’s time to surrender or if you should keep the fight. That goes true for both in life generally and on the battlefield. Especially if you are in a foreign country, surrounded by people who, more likely than not, didn’t want you there in the first place. Perhaps that was the same dilemma of these soldiers who, even when the war that they were fighting for was already over, still didn’t want to come out of their hideout, while others were not aware at all. We are all aware of the tales of Japanese soldiers who held out for years after the war was over, living in the jungles of the islands of the Pacific, but there were other instances where soldiers refused to surrender long after the end of hostilities were announced.
Operation Haudegen, The Forgotten Nazi Weather Station
Operation Haudegen was the codename of the German expedition of the meteorological department of the Kriegsmarine on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway. Composed of only 11 crew, the team journeyed their way to the deeply hidden island to gather data on North Atlantic weather patterns. The weather was harsh, and the threat of polar bear attacks was just around that they always had to go in pairs with their hunting rifles.
German General Alfred Jodl signed Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945, in Reims, France. After the Nazi government’s collapse, the crew was completely forgotten and abandoned. Perhaps one of the reasons was that the operation was super-secret that not even other German officers knew about it. Another reason would be the general collapse of the German government and its bureacracy.
Without any orders to surrender or news that they would be picked up, the crew still worked diligently and stayed there for another four months, battling the extreme weather condition and running out of supplies. Finally, Dr. Wilhelm Dege, leader of Operation Haudegen, thought, “The crew of a weather station can hardly be considered war criminals,” after hearing Allied radio broadcasts about arresting war criminals worried them that they would be treated as prisoners of war. They decided to contact a radio station in Tromsø, which was at that time being operated by the Norwegians who were back in control of their country again. They dispatched a seal-hunting boat to the island on September 3rd 1945. Upon their arrival, the Germans officially surrendered their guns without difficulty. They still became prisoners for a few months until December, before they were sent home to Germany.
Siege of Baler
On June 26, 1898, during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Revolution, the town residents of Baler were seen leaving. On the night of June 30, Teodorico Luna, with around 800 Filipino troops, attacked the garrison of a fifty-man detachment of the 2nd Expeditionary Battalion “Cazadores” of the Philippines under Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossí. The attack made the garrison fall back to the church compound of San Luís de Tolosa. During the first few days of the siege, there were attempts by the Filipinos to get the Spanish to surrender. On July 18, Filipino Commander Colonel Calixto Villacorte took command of the Filipino troops. Villacorta sent a warning letter but was rebuffed.
According to spanamwar.com, the town’s priest was asked to bring a note to the Spaniards saying, “surrender now and you will be treated as gentlemen, and if you do not, I will leave no stone standing in your stronghold.”
To which Las Morenas responded with, “Commence firing any time you like.”
The Spanish held off for the next 337 days, even when they suffered starvation and diseases like beriberi, dysentery, and fever. Las Morenas died of beriberi in November, as well as his second in command. It was Lt. Saturnino Martin Cerezo who was left in command.
The war ended in December 1898 when the Treaty of Paris was signed, and the Philippines was bought for $20 million. The Filipinos tried convincing them that the war was over. They left newspapers on the church steps that showed the Spanish’s plan to leave the Philippines and that the war was over. As far as Cerezo’s concern, it was just a tactic to deceive them. They also brought Spanish civilians and Spanish troops in uniform to talk to them and convince them but the Cerezo, thinking he knew better, saw them as Spanish turncoats who were used as traps.
Cerezo was finally convinced that the war was over when a Spanish officer, whom he initially turned away, left a newspaper from Madrid. He read in the newspaper an article that concerned a close friend and plans which only he knew about. This convinced him that the newspapers were indeed genuine since he thought there was no way the Filipinos would know those particular details. On June 2, Cerezo and the others in the church surrendered and were sent back to Barcelona with only 33 survivors left.
German Colonial Officer of WWI
If there was one person who was so not updated about the war at that time, it was perhaps Hermann Detzner. He was a German colonial officer tasked to map the dense jungle of present-day Papua New Guinea that the Germans partially controlled. His small team of explorers was deep in the forest when the war began. They did not know about it until the Australian army captured German New Guinea. Once they knew, they refused to surrender and survived the jungle with the food and supplies given to them by Lutheran missionaries. For the next four years, they would hide in that jungle until the war was over. In fact, they did not emerge back in the civilization until January 1919, finally surrendering to Australian forces.