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Thread: 1944 americans masquerating as germans?

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    Senior Member Piirka's Avatar
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    Default 1944 americans masquerating as germans?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_forces

    On October 21, 1944 Adolf Hitlerinspired by an American subterfuge which had put three captured German tanks flying German colours to devastating use at Aachen—summoned Skorzeny to Berlin and assigned him to lead a Panzer brigade. As planned by Skorzeny in Operation Greif, about two dozen English speaking German soldiers, most of them in captured American army Jeeps and disguised as American Military Police officers, penetrated American lines in the early hours of the Battle of the Bulge and sowed disorder behind the Allied lines by mis-directing convoys away from the front lines. A handful of his men were captured by the Americans and spread a rumour that Skorzeny was leading a raid on Paris to kill or capture General Dwight Eisenhower. Although this was untrue, Eisenhower was confined to his headquarters for weeks and Skorzeny was labelled "the most dangerous man in Europe".
    That bold part caught my eye in Wikipedia (okay, it's wikipedia...). It seems to have raised questions on other different forums too and on ww2f.com one member quotes a dutch book on Aachen by stating:

    During the fighting of Aachen, a handful of Americans, under command of Lt. Ernest Kaufman (who was from duren, but flew Nazi Germany in 1938 for the US) went to the Wasseramt. That "Water Office" held the plans of the Roer Dams, and the effects when these dams would be blown or breached. The engineers needed thes plans to convince XIX Corps/1st Army to conquer these dams ASAP, before the Germans blew the dams.

    The source for this is Charles Whiting's Skorzeny and "has never been confirmed"
    This quote from [FONT=ELLIS][SIZE=4]XIX CORPS NEWSPAPERS & PUBLICATIONS [/SIZE][/FONT]then confirms Lt. Kaufman's role in that:

    [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]Part of the Prisoner of War Interrogation team at Corps had been attached to the 113th Cavalry near Sittard when we were getting ready to hit for the Roer. The officer with them was on his way to his old home, with a good escort of the American Army: Lt. Ernest Kaufman had grown up just on the other side of the Roer, in a little town just south of Duren. Just before he had been forced to leave Germany in '38 all the countryside had known about the great new dams that were being built in the wooded area up the Roer. He came and talked about it to Colonel Washington Platt, the G-2, who sent him to First Army with the urgent advice to listen to him. The Army Engineer did, and it was news to him. Lt. Kaufman was among the first into Aachen, and made for where he knew the information would be: the offices of Water Administration. He had to blow a safe to get them, but there they were - the complete Wehrmacht plans for the flooding that would follow the destruction of the three great dams, with the delineation of the area to be flooded, the speed of water, the duration of the flooding and all. Now the Army was really interested, and we could see the results in the way the plans were laid.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    Anyone has more info on this? Do you believe americans would have acted against the Hague convention (just prior to Ardennes, where the germans did), and so what if they did?

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    Senior Member commanding's Avatar
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    interesting. never have heard of this...will wait and see if Linedoggie has input on the veracity of the story........could be true I guess. it was after all, full blown declared war, most all the gloves were off, esp by 44 and 45.

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    Senior Member Piirka's Avatar
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    As a sidenote, seems the germans used this tactic in the eastern front too.

    In addition to Skorzeny's panzer brigade 150 in the Ardennes offensive, there was Kommandoverbrand Jaguar, which used soviet uniforms and equipment.

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    Senior Member Chiptox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piirka View Post
    Anyone has more info on this? Do you believe americans would have acted against the Hague convention (just prior to Ardennes, where the germans did), and so what if they did?
    I don't think simply flying false colors is a war crime according to the Hague. It's a legal ruse de guerre. The war crime happens if you open fire while still disguised.

    That's how Skorzeny got out of it.

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    Senior Member nemowork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piirka View Post
    there was Kommandoverbrand Jaguar, which used soviet uniforms and equipment.
    Wait what?

    Is that a silenced MP40 in the second from bottom photo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nemowork View Post
    Wait what?

    Is that a silenced MP40 in the second from bottom photo?
    Caption under the pic "Germans soldiers in soviet uniform from [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Kommandoverband "Jaguar"[/FONT] study MP-40 with silencer near T-34/85 m.44. Hungary, 1945."

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    Senior Member nemowork's Avatar
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    I know, i read the caption its more i was surprised that one existed, i've never seen one before. I've seen assorted silenced British weapons like the MkIIs Sten and DeLisle but i wasnt aware the Germans had used them much.

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    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
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    The American's, from what I understand used 3 German tanks flying German pennants / flags, however I don't see any reference to them dressing in German military uniforms, whereas, Skorzeny and his men not only used Allied equipment but dressed as U.S. soldiers, (M.P.'s) in fact, so not exactly the same as what the American's did at Aachen.

    Connaught Ranger

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    Senior Member LineDoggie's Avatar
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    Skorzeny's Einhiets Stielau dressed in US uniforms but he demanded that his men be able to wear their German uniforms underneath in case of capture. Even in the planning stage he worried about his men being executed as spies if wearing only US uniform. Those unlucky men who were captured were extremely quickly given trials and executed before Christmas. IIRC reading about Aaron Bank there was a picture of a OSS unit dressed as a normal Wehrmacht infantry company for some hare brained plan to capture Hitler. I sort of remember the lower enlisted where all disaffected German POW's led by OSS NCO and Officers.

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    Senior Member wiking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemowork View Post
    I know, i read the caption its more i was surprised that one existed, i've never seen one before. I've seen assorted silenced British weapons like the MkIIs Sten and DeLisle but i wasnt aware the Germans had used them much.
    from what little i've read, it was mostly prototypes, and never really issued. They also worked on suppressors for MG34's, and maybe the 42 as well. Reference Myrvang's books.

    Concidering the amount of MkIIS STENs produced, not to forget all the other fun stuff the British boffins cooked up in the back room, the Germans were well exposed to the concept. And suppressor technology was reasonably well along at the time.

    When it comes to the MG suppressors, there was even mention of noise-polution benefits with regards to sitings of ranges in relation to civilians.

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    Senior Member Kaplanr's Avatar
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    Kaufman's story as recounted by himself. http://www.jwmww2.org/show_item.asp?...039&itemType=0

    Quote Originally Posted by Piirka View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_forces

    That bold part caught my eye in Wikipedia (okay, it's wikipedia...). It seems to have raised questions on other different forums too and on ww2f.com one member quotes a dutch book on Aachen by stating:



    This quote from [FONT=ELLIS][SIZE=4]XIX CORPS NEWSPAPERS & PUBLICATIONS [/SIZE][/FONT]then confirms Lt. Kaufman's role in that:



    Anyone has more info on this? Do you believe americans would have acted against the Hague convention (just prior to Ardennes, where the germans did), and so what if they did?

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    Senior Member GB_FXST's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaplanr View Post
    Kaufman's story as recounted by himself. http://www.jwmww2.org/show_item.asp?...039&itemType=0
    Thanks for posting. I searched for info on him, but my google-fu was poor.

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    Senior Member LineDoggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiking View Post
    from what little i've read, it was mostly prototypes, and never really issued. They also worked on suppressors for MG34's, and maybe the 42 as well. Reference Myrvang's books.

    Concidering the amount of MkIIS STENs produced, not to forget all the other fun stuff the British boffins cooked up in the back room, the Germans were well exposed to the concept. And suppressor technology was reasonably well along at the time.

    When it comes to the MG suppressors, there was even mention of noise-polution benefits with regards to sitings of ranges in relation to civilians.
    Also remember that ANY MP38/40 could easily be fitted with a sound suppressor since all had a muzzle that was already threaded

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    Moderator James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LineDoggie View Post
    Skorzeny's Einhiets Stielau dressed in US uniforms but he demanded that his men be able to wear their German uniforms underneath in case of capture. Even in the planning stage he worried about his men being executed as spies if wearing only US uniform. Those unlucky men who were captured were extremely quickly given trials and executed before Christmas. IIRC reading about Aaron Bank there was a picture of a OSS unit dressed as a normal Wehrmacht infantry company for some hare brained plan to capture Hitler. I sort of remember the lower enlisted where all disaffected German POW's led by OSS NCO and Officers.
    The mission you describe was meant to drop guys into the Aplenfestung. I believe it was cancelled because units on the ground over ran Bavaria and NW Austria.

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    Senior Member Piirka's Avatar
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    Apparently these claims were made originally by Skorzeny in his trial (can't find the transcript of that online).

    This digged up by a member (jumpwings) of ww2incolor-forum:
    Commando Extraordinary" by Charles Foley, where it comes to Skorzeny's trial in which from page 219:
    Skorzeny "I had the emphatic order that my men should not fight in uniform. Disguise should be worn only until they reached their destination."
    The next questions revealed the course Durst meant to take. He would make his way along the stepping stones of precedent -but for Allied precedent, which alone could take the weight of the defense. For it turned out that the victors had gone before them on this route, either the "rules of war" were obsolete or the Allies too were guilty".

    And it goes on...
    "The Germans came accross the notion that Intellegence reports on Allied operations. He recalled that British officers had been captured wearing enemy uniforms in Hungary, and were not shot. In both Italy and Yugoslavia German depots were often raided by partisans to get uniforms which they then wore in battle. The Polish patriot General Bor-Komorrowski used German uniform to start his Warsaw risin in 1944. Russians, to his knowledge, had frequently adopted this ruse. The Japanese had done the same thing. And so had the Americans."
    Looking around the attentive court, Skorzeny repeated what Hitler had told him of Americans in German uniforms at Aachen. There where other such instances, At Saarlautern, for example, Americans bluffed their way in a German tank over the bridge which led to Frankfurt. But it was the Aachen deception that had given Hitler the idea for this very Operation "Greif". And in every instance he had mentioned the men were armed, and where neccesassry, had made use of their arms."

    It then describes the legal side, the lack of papers etc...Then:
    Durst anounces his last witness for the defense of Skorzeny (my italics) "Wing-Commander Forrest Yeo-Thomas
    A short sturdy figure in the faded blue of the RAFwalked to the witness chair, sat down, and looked quizzically about him. Wondering what on earth a British officer might have to say for the defence, Skorzeny noticed that he wore some exceptional decorations, among them the French decorations for gallantry and the George Cross."

    Ok, I won't retype the whole lot, but just to say the book goes into Yeo-Thomas's experiences of jumping into France and with the name of the "white Rabbit" stole German uniforms etc, and he was questioned about the use of German uniforms and in most particular, the use of German insignia, he replied they did indeed use German uniforms and insignia...
    He told the court :
    "that he had never met Skorzeny or any of his compatriots, but he wanted to say that in his opinion there was nothing wrong in the "crimes" they were accused of - wether they had committed them or not. From all he had heard, the prisoners had behaved like gentlemen"...

    He then goes on to tell the court of one instance where they wore German uniforms and insignia, and with the use of forged documents made their way into the prison at Rennes and rescued a collegue..Asked what they would do if caught -"bump off the other guy"...
    As the Wing Commander stepped from the dias, Skorzeny gave a quiet order; the prisoners stood and bowed. Then they sat down again."
    This, found by a member of axishistory (USA_Finn):

    Skortzeny was tried and aquitted of all Bulge related war crimes in 1947. The charge sheet specified that he and nine other defendants had violated the "laws and usages of war” in having been responsible for the Operation Griffin which involved the illegal use of American uniforms and insignia. Another and more serious charge was for the torture and killing of over one hundred U.S. prisoners of war.

    On the matter of the alledged crime "laws and usages of war”, Skortzeny’s American army supplied legal team made good use of the assertion that the U.S. Army employed similar tactics. Otto was not alone. Their argument: The rules governing war had changed. WW2 was a total war for both side. The destruction of the enemy took precedence over most other considerations. This included the immediate making of spies from soldiers using enemy uniforms for deception. The defense used many examples of the Allied use of German uniforms by the OSS (pre CIA), British Commandoes and the Soviets.

    Other testimony included German field commander reports. These reports were accepted by the Tribunal Judges to be factual and relevent evidence. For example, an officer of Das Reich described an incident east of La Roche, France, in which the front held by the division's third company had been approached by figures emerging from a nearby wood and dressed in German uniforms and helmets. "Don't shoot! Own troops!," one had called out in German, but the group had then opened fire, killing three members of the panzer division. SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment "Deutschland's" commander wrote of the use of German attire in combat by American forces in the Eifel Mountains in October 1944. Troops of the regiment's first battalion encountered an American patrol clad in German overcoats and helmets whose members suddenly opened fire and succeeded in taking two prisoners. A sworn statement by Kurt Freiherr von Muehlen, commander of the 559th Volksgrenadier Division, described the capture early in December 1944 of a bridge at Saarlautern by U.S. troops driving German scout cars and wearing German helmets.

    Information source: "Otto Skortzeny and the Laws of War", The Journal of Military History, Volume 55. No. 2 James Weingartner 1991
    I don't have the book or journal, so can't verify the source.

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