Interview with Hans Schmidt, Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler veteran, North Carolina, phone interview, 2009.
[Hans Schmidt was an incredible human being who never stopped fighting for the truth his whole life.]

[Above: Hans Schmidt, November 2, 1944. Seventeen years old.]

Thanks for agreeing to talk with me, I would like to talk about your life in Germany and the Waffen-SS, especially the 'why we fought' factor. What motivated you to volunteer?

Hans: Yes, yes we can talk all about this but if anyone wants to know what life was like in the Waffen-SS they should read my book where all of my motivations are written down. As I mentioned, my motivation was to serve my country, I was a member of the Hitler Youth and much like the boy scouts we were taught to love the land of our ancestors. This was no different, our nation needed us in its time of need, and we answered. The draft would have got me but I went ahead and volunteered for duty in the SS, much like the American GIs who snuck off and lied about their age to join. I will tell you it swelled me with pride to be assigned to the LAH, even at this late stage of the war it was still an elite division that bore the Führer's name. It was truly an honor to be taught by combat veterans who led the many training courses we had to do. I wanted to be in an elite unit that was looked upon as better than the regular army, and who had ties to my beliefs.

What was the average German civilian's view of the SS?

Hans: That is easy; the average German viewed the SS as very elite, and very loyal to the Führer. The best way to put it in perspective is the lineage of bodyguard regiments in German history. The SS was molded on the old life-guard hussars of the German kings. They were used solely for protection of the royal houses, and in time of war did their duty at the front. The SS was the party's bodyguard, but then grew into a large military formation that excelled at the front, earning tremendous battle honors.

In today's books and movies we see the SS portrayed as the dark force controlling Germany, like a Darth Vader and his storm troopers, which is no coincidence. The SS was not at all like this, and was only used for ceremonies, guard duty, and of course, the Waffen-SS was the armed fighting branch. We were seen as just like our army comrades, but with perhaps a little more status.

Reichsführer-SS Himmler had grand dreams for the SS but the war took those dreams away. What was created to be a Germanic tip of the spear for European survival, ended up being a multi-racial, and multi-ethnic army to battle the enemies of this dream. It is ironic that Hollywood teaches that the SS was a twisted form of German superiority, yet it was French SS men that defended the bunker area to the last breath.

How political was the SS, especially when you joined?

Hans: By the time I came to the SS it was a military arm and not political at all. Gone were the days of classroom debates about the worldview of the party. We never spoke about Jews; in fact, Jews were spoken of very little in society. It was world Jewry, not the ordinary Jew, who was the brunt of our anger. Many Jews were left alone during the whole war, only the ones who had been political agitators, or deemed a threat were removed, along with their families so they stayed together.

Germany was nothing like what is portrayed in the movies, they make it seem like we held parades every day, and had flags hanging all over the place. The truth is Germany was much like this country, there were those super patriotic people who flew the flag all the time, and all government offices flew the flag, but it was not hanging from every building. Rarely were there marches, it was only on special occasions. Some homes had pictures hanging of the Führer, some did not.

Life in Germany was more about enjoying life and all it has to offer. Sports, movies, parties, dances, outdoor activities, and vacations were the focus that kept us happy. Unfortunately, many Germans came to regard the war as synonymous with Hitler, which is unfair. I believe Germany was pushed into war and then it just escalated. It is my belief that the Russians were going to attack the west and Hitler beat them.

There was some talk during training about how we ended up in this war, and discussions on how it could not be avoided. We would talk about how we could win, and of course, armchair quarterbacking in regards to lost battles. That was as political as I can remember it being.

What do you think of the many war crimes accusations against the Waffen-SS?

Hans: Something interesting is happening in the world, the internet has brought us forums where people can share their thoughts and ideas. I look through these often and something that is odd is that there are actually people who pour through the wartime archives and look for clues. Now most people just take the already written word for gospel and keep regurgitating the same stories as fact, to them since it is in a history book it has to be true.

I had the honor of serving under and witnessing some of the heroes of the LAH [Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler], I can say they were humane, and would not have tolerated any crimes. Malmedy is a good study; a small force is left to guard a larger American unit, whose men were watching others escape, and a few who escaped picked up weapons and started shooting, thinking they could overpower the Germans. This caused the German force to open fire on all, killing many, but many ran off and survived. A survivor confirmed this to me. This was neither a war crime nor an atrocity; it was an example of reckless leadership on the American part, who allowed surrendered personnel to escape and start fighting again.

If I was in the same situation I would be confused too, and you have no time to decide who has surrendered and who is shooting. I would have fired at any target that was moving. The Americans started running all over the place, so they all were targets. Yet Americans watch the movie and think the Germans backed trucks up with machines guns to mow down the forlorn prisoners. Thanks to the forums, we get a more complete picture of battlefield studies and previously unheard of accounts. Some cling to what has been written, others challenge it.

The partisan war was a bloody affair and the crimes of the partisans, which prompted harsh responses, are overlooked and downplayed. I never heard anyone bring up the issue of war crimes, executions, or mistreatment during the war. If my side was doing these things it would be discussed, you cannot hide guilty feelings among comrades. All I ever heard was remorse for seeing partisans hung, or a home burnt down in reprisal, there was never talk of executed civilians or Jews because these things did not happen.

The victors have had decades to work on putting these atrocity stories together, and like the John Demjanjuk hoax, faked documents, coerced witnesses, and encouraged outright lying to make a case. The Allies used many former German Jews to work at fomenting cases against Germans, if anyone thinks this is a fair process they are delusional. Many of these people left Germany due to their Marxist ideals, or criminal activity. The prison of Schwäbisch Hall had many Jews mentallly torturing SS men.

Therefore, while there are some who get on these forums and thump their chests at the amount of evidence to support the claims against Germany, they are wrong. They use hearsay testimony, inaccurate documents put together by our former enemies, and eyewitnesses that are biased and would say anything to hurt Germans. I do not believe Germany committed war crimes, only legal reprisals.

Jungholzhausen, Dachau, Pregarten, and many more names of real, admitted war crimes by the Americans against SS men. Hemingway brags about it, as do many American veterans, killing SS men was a noble deed. Many were killed outright after the Malmedy lie was broadcast. General Rose was killed in battle, yet propaganda made it a hate crime by the SS. Many SS men in a nearby hospital were dragged out and shot for payback. The Allied armies committed real war crimes against Germans.

[Above: Schmidt in his Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) uniform (left) and ten months after the war.]

What about the Einsatzgruppen and the SS being used to guard the concentration camps?

Hans: It is no lie that many of the SS were former police officers or security men; this made them ideal people to guard prisoners, and hunt criminals. Himmler was in charge of the police also, so they in turn were made SS men. The men who guarded the many camps were mostly not fit for frontline service; the partisan hunters were specially trained at fighting these terrorists. I have seen the Jews now pin the lie of the Holocaust on the Einsatzgruppen, claiming they killed close to two million Jews. I have spoken to a man who was part of one who said it is not true and they only hunted criminals who were preying on the innocent.

I take no stock in any of the stories Spielberg and his tribe force-feed us, the movie Holocaust, and most all modern movies are outright lies and misrepresentations of German soldiers. Even before the war they had a hold on Hollywood and controlled what people learned about Germany and Hitler. Schindler's List is a good example of their uncontrolled hatred translated into historical lies. The people in the camps were very valuable labor, and to abuse them was punishable by death. Koch let his power go to his head and he paid because Jews spilled the beans on him, the SS court had him executed for abuse. If the plan was to be as cruel and evil as possible to the inmates, he would be praised instead.

The martyrs at Dachau who were murdered are a good example of ignorance controlling emotions. The Americans had been taught these camps were death camps, and the sights before their eyes seemed to prove this. Most just could not understand the actions of their war machine caused these deaths. I saw Germans starving at war's end due to Allied bombing; the camps suffered the same conditions even with the Red Cross helping. Add in the sick and diseased from the east and you have a recipe for disaster. This was unplanned and there was not much Germany could do to stop it. This is where the many photos taken in the camps are misused to falsely claim extermination.

What about all the Germans who came out after the war and agreed with the Allies, some German veterans have even written books critical of Hitler and the National Socialist state?

Hans: The Germany under Hitler was not perfect for everyone. You have to remember we had many who sided with the Marxists, and many who wanted a return of the King, which National Socialism would not allow. Some people lived in Germany secretly working to undermine what was created for their own selfish reasons. July 20th showed how deep these traitors went. They refused to partake in a form of government that really distributed power to the people and they wanted that power back. There were opportunists also, they knew the Allies hated National Socialism and Hitler, so they played up their resistance and aided our enemies as much as they could so they would have a place to fit in the post war government.

They were paid to write the vilest of stories rarely telling the truth. They make the Gestapo out to be on every corner spying on every German. I never saw that, and never had any problems. The families of the July traitors were able to vent their anger against innocent victims who only did their duty. The clergy also was pushed into the fray, even though National Socialist Germany was very pro-Christ. Because our laws took away some power from self-important clergy, they decided the whole system was bad and ungodly.

You also have to remember the Allies ruled with an iron fist, and they were able to show any side they wanted. The vast majority of Germans knew Hitler was right and thought of him as a great leader who does not come around very often. Even living through the worst times of their lives in the war did not change this. The majority of the people were smart enough to sniff out the Allied lies, and understood the war was not in Hitler's plans.

The veterans who have written books have publishers and helpers who control what they say. It is called being politically correct today, so they could not tell the truth even if they wanted to. Some have what I call Stockholm Syndrome; they were so traumatized by the war that they have gone into the enemy's camp. Some may have had bad run-ins with the Gestapo, but I doubt it. I think they mentally want to be accepted by everyone so they add in exaggerations and half-truths. All Germans I have met have said only good thing about their comrades and the Führer.

At war's end some soldiers deserted or as I have learned, were sent home on orders from commanders as the war was lost. I saw this personally and would not turn them in, most all people knew by 1945 the war was unwinnable, we only fought to delay the inevitable, and allow people from the east to escape. The tales of mobs going around hanging soldiers is untrue, this happened very little, especially at war's end. There is a story from the Hitler Youth SS division where a boy deserted after the Ardennes Offensive, and Panzer Meyer had a talk with him instead of sending him to a firing squad.

The soldier went on to win the Iron Cross and served well, he only deserted because he lost his best friend in battle. Meyer was a compassionate leader as were many SS officers and NCOs. A boy in my company had lost his parents and had a sister who was left alone. He was given a long leave and money from our officers to take care of her. He was given desk duty to make sure he survived. This is the truth of how the SS was, Hollywood is lying to everyone.

How do you view the actions of the Goebbels killing their children, and themselves?

Hans: You must look at the backdrop of the times. The facts were that the Red Army was raping women and bringing death and despair wherever they went. Mussolini was murdered along with his entourage and dragged through the streets by Marxist partisans. The world that would be left to the children of the leaders would not be friendly, as we have seen. If you were in fear that your children would be raped and tortured, what course would you take? They took the only way they knew would prevent this. This was nothing new, it happened before in history, due to the fear of what could happen they chose a way out. It is a sad episode but very understandable considering enemy conduct.

Do you have any regrets about serving in the SS?

Hans: The only regret is that I could not go in at a more mature age. I saw an officer shoot himself, as he knew the war was over, and did not want to live in a world devoid of National Socialism. I would have talked to him and told him he has to be a voice for what we saw and went through. I would have been a better soldier, not holding back my belief in what we were fighting for. The SS never faltered and remained loyal in certain defeat, very few military formations can say this. I am glad I was counted as a member.

Looking back, the lies the victors told about the Waffen-SS and Germany in general have made us stronger. Those who were there know the truth; many have just been unable to tell it. I have always been unafraid as I was raised to be brave. I read of a grandfather in Köln who was arrested last year because he told his grandson the truth about the camps. There are many stories like this, I fought for these people so they could be free, and I wish we had won. That is my main regret.

What about the religious persecution, which both the Catholic and Protestant faiths say happened to them under Hitler?

Hans: I view this topic as both absurd and shameful. National Socialist Germany was very pro-Christian, in fact, old churches received special funds to remodel and preserve their history. Even in the supposed ungodly SS, most men were religious; very few were pagans or atheists. We attended battlefield services just like other branches. Many priests and religious leaders volunteered to serve their nation; I believe it was close to seventeen thousand who served at the front.

They had nothing to worry about, the party worked closely with the church to ensure lines were not crossed and feet not trampled. Where there were problems, and the true work of the Gestapo came into play, was when a few in the church defied wartime laws. An example was a monastery in Austria that had been hiding partisans and those who opposed the government, thus aiding them. Today this type of fighter is called a terrorist, and those helping them, supporters of terror.

The police and security service uncovered many who had knowingly harbored and then lied about helping wanted criminals. Of course when they were convicted they went to prison camps like Dachau. In this, it shows the humanity of National Socialism, because if this were Russia they would have been executed. It is shameful these people then went on the soapbox after the war and criticized the government for taking action against them. In every nation fighting the war, the same problem existed; even in America and Britain, the churches aided escaped prisoners and those seeking refuge. When caught, there was punishment. I remind any clergy who speak badly of Hitler that they are lucky they did not have to live in Russia where Stalin would have rounded them all up as a precaution and had them all killed. Most historians agree that on the very low end the Bolsheviks killed 30 million Christians throughout Europe.

[Above: A selection of some of Schmidt's superb books: End Time/End Games (©1999), SS Panzergrendier (©2002) and Hitler Boys in America (©2003).]

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