Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Excerpts from the Memoirs of Werner Mork

Volkssturm (Home Guard) in Prussia


…In addition to these gruesome pictures came the harrowing impressions I got of the Volkssturm Battalions [The Civilian Home Guard]. It was a pitiful conglomeration of very old men and very young men, that is to say, children. They had no uniforms, just an armband identifying them as Volkssturm. They were outfitted with discarded carbines and a small amount of ammunition along with Panzerfäusten [anti-tank weapons]. With these scanty armaments they were supposed to halt the Russian army in its tracks and destroy all the Soviet tanks that stumbled into their tanktraps, which in point of fact were only poor jokes. If their outward appearance wasn't upsetting enough, even worse was the conviction of these old men and boys as to the necessity and importance of the task they were given to do.

The German people were still a long way from being cured of the national delusion. In many people's heads thoughts and opinions were still circulating that actually predated the arrival of the Nazis on the scene. Many were still haunted by ideas that came from the time of the battles against Napoleon that freed the Germanic principalities from his rule. From this line of thought came the idée fixe among many of the members of the Volkssturm that they would be the ones to rescue the Eastern Front, and that the Wehrmacht was no longer up to the task of dealing with the Russians. They did not think that the Wehrmacht was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to face down the enemy and that the Volkssturm were the only ones who could truly protect the homeland. Only the local inhabitants had the will to fight for every centimeter of their home ground as opposed to the Wehrmacht which was made up of men from all over Germany most of whom did not come from the East. The Volkssturm did not feel themselves merely called to duty, but called above all others to duty as the true defenders of their lands which simply could not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Russians. They wanted to save their Homeland from the Soviets and they labored under the fatal misapprehension that their pitiful little weapons and shallow tank traps would suffice. They were heartened by the invocations and proclamations of Goebbels, Himmler and other local party leaders and functionaries…

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