The Maginot Line & Fort Schoenenbourg in AlsaceRead More
The Maginot Line & Fort Schoenenbourg in AlsaceRead More
"Advance with the wire cutters" Lieutenant Edward Tidrick's final words Company "A" of the 116th Infantry RegimentRead More
Topics: Normandy, World War 2, Nazi, Third Reich, Operation Overlord, Operation Neptune, Colleville-sur-Mer, Omaha beach, Vierville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy American Cemetery, Atlantic Wall
Built between 1942 and 1944, East of the city of Soissons (France), the Wolf Lair - W2 known as the "Führerhauptquartiere Wolfsschlucht 2" was the biggest Third Reich Headquarters ever built of the Second World War!Read More
“If someone had told us that we were about to die, no one would have believed him, we were so confident, we were like supermen” Jack SibardRead More
Created in 1925 the Schutzstaffel became a huge militia to serve the Nazi party, a real state in the state. Those fighting divisions had the nickname of “fireman of the frontline”. The 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" was one of the 38 Waffen SS Divisions of the 3rd Reich.Read More
“ I left Alsace the 27th of June 1944….I was 17 years old and I believed I would never come back” Marcel Grob 11 October 2009
From June 1942 until the end of the war one hundred thousand Alsatians and thirty thousand people from Lorraine joined the German Army and were enlisted by force in the Wehrmacht. But as of November 1943 the Waffen SS seeing its numbers running low decided to recruit new soldiers. To do so SS Officers uses the “absolute kinship responsibility” Sippenhaft law, implemented by Heinrich Himmler after Operation Valkyrie in July 1944. According to Himmler it was a Germanic law created by their ancestors. Because of that thousands of teenagers all around the Reich were enlisted against their will. They had only one choice, join the Waffen SS or be killed…..
In 1944 all Alsatians born in 1926 were enlisted by force for national service by order of Robert Wagner, Reich prefect in Alsace. He sent half of them in the Waffen SS. Even men born in 1908 and 1910 were enlisted. Marcel Grob was one of them, he joined Waffen the SS against his will or his family would have been killed. He left his village of Kirchberg in Alsace for Stralsund, Germany. There, he and his comrades were trained, many of them didn't know what was going to happen. Some of them were crying, others didn’t say anything for days. As they were about to become SS', a tattoo with their blood group was tattooed on their arm (If a SS soldier needs blood, only another SS can give him his blood, according to Hitler). After two weeks of training Marcel and the rest of the company were woken up in the middle of the night and were gathered in the yard, two had tried to escape, Koenig and Riedweg . On their knees in front of their comrades both of them had their faces full of blood: “They are a shame for their family, they will be deported to a concentration camp for their treason…..” said the officer. He took his pistol and finally shot them in a head…
On September 12th 1944 Marcel was sent with his company in Italy near Emilia-Romagna not to fight against the Allies but precisely against the Italian resistance which had made life harder for the German Army. A few days later in their barracks, the Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf led by Sturmbannführer Walter Redder arrived. Redder attached to the 16th Panzer Grenadier Division decided to go to the village of Marzabotto to clean it out of free fighters.
They arrived there on the 29th of September 1944, all inhabitants were inside the church for the mass, Redder asked to deploy the MG42 machine guns in front of the church’s door. The chaplain came out of the church to ask Redder what it was about. Redder told him “ Where are the communist resistance ? Our Intelligence Service found out that you hide them in your village !”, the chaplain replied “But Herr Sturmbannführer there are no free fighters here..only inhabitants without troubles...believe me” After a few minutes arguing with the chaplain, Redder shot a bullet in his head then yelled “Come on clean out this fucking village of communists, set fire to the houses and burn down the barns..!” All men started to shoot inside the church and threw their grenades through the windows. Watching this, Marcel and some men were petrified by fear, women, children, men everyone were screaming and crying. The church was on fire, and everyone was burning alive. Some people tried to escape through the windows, Redder yelled “ Come on did you hear the order ?” The officer who was in charge of Marcel’s company aimed his rifle Kar98k on a woman who was trying to escape with her baby saying “Come on go, leave, leave”. He shot on the floor. At his surprise he didn't know that Marcel was behind him. He told Marcel “You are a poor Alsatian say one word and you will be executed”. The rest of the men and those of the Totenkopf Division continued to kill and burn the rest of the village with its inhabitants. On their way back Marcel saw one of his comrades not doing well, he said holding his head: “ I'm not here for that, it is inhuman I want to vomit”.
In March 1945 Marcel Grob was recovering and healing at Lake Garda, a campaign hospital after having been wounded. One month later English soldiers arrived. Marcel hoped that the English would not discover that he was a SS thanks to a wound on his tattoo. But the Britannic found his military booklet. When the British officer called for Marcel Grob, he didn’t answer but one man from the Wehrmacht yelled “it’s him Herr Major, he dishonored the German army.”. British soldiers took him in a room to interrogate him “ Are you Marcel Grob of the SS Panzer Division? Marcel replied “Yes it’s me but I'm Alsatian, I’m here “Against my will”.
As Marcel Grob, many other teenagers were enlisted in the Waffen SS against their will, just like Elimar Schneider enlisted by force in the Das Reich Division. Elimar was present with his battalion during the hangings of Tulle in June 1944 but didn’t take part in the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane on the 10th of of June 1944. As it was proven that he saved a man from being hanged, Schneider was not charged during the Tulle trial. Pierre Torquebiau wrote, signed a paper and swore that Elimar saved his life at Tulle. As he wasn’t present at Oradour-sur-Glane during the massacre, he was never judged.
“My honor is fidelity, run away is treason, disobeyed is treason and treason in the Waffen SS means dying….”
Written by Pierre Fallet, trainee of Normandy American Heroes