There are still many who think that the Nazi atrocities were only carried out by the SS, SS-Totenkopfverbände, Einsatzgruppen and Waffen-SS but not by the regular German Wehrmacht soldiers or Luftwaffe. However in recent years evidence has emerged that especially the Wehrmacht were also responsible for atrocities and some even worse then the SS.
Below are some accounts from Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe soldiers given during interviews some of these were used in the book “Soldaten”
Eye witness account of Willy Peter Reese ,a young Wehrmacht soldier.
Willy Peter Reese, an infantryman who fought on the Russian front and died in 1944 aged 23, kept a diary of how German soldiers killed scores of prisoners of war, committed rape, threw pregnant women and children out of their homes and stole food..
”We were without feeling for the suffering of others,We bragged about what we had conquered and about the effect a pistol could have on a defenseless woman.”
”We danced in the railway carriages and fired into the air, made a captured Russian woman dance naked for us and smeared her breasts with boot polish, we made her as drunk as we were,”
Major General Walter Bruns
In April 1945, Major General Walter Bruns described what happened during a typical “Jew operation” he witnessed.
Bruns: “The trenches were 24 meters long and about 3 meters wide. They had to lie down like sardines in a can, with their heads toward the middle. At the top, there were six marksmen with submachine guns who then shot them in the back of the neck. It was already full when I arrived, so the ones who were still alive had to lie on top, and then they got shot. They had to lie there in neat layers so that it wouldn’t take up too much space. Before this happened, they had to turn in their valuables at another station.
The edge of the forest was here, and in here there were the three trenches on that Sunday, and here there was a line that stretched for one-and-a-half kilometers, and it was moving very slowly. They were standing in line to be killed. When they got closer, they could see what was going on inside. Roughly at this spot, they had to hand over their jewelry and their suitcases. A little farther along, they had to take off their clothes, all except their shirts and underpants. It was just women and little children, like two-year-olds.”
The Vinkt massacre
Was a war crime which occurred in the Belgian villages of Vinkt and Meighem, near Ghent, between 26–28 May 1940 during the Battle of the Lys. During the massacre, between 86 and 140 civilians were deliberately killed by German Wehrmacht troops from the 337th Infantry Regiment, apparently as retaliation for the Belgian army’s resistance in the village.
Arriving near the bridge on May 25, the German 225th Division, consisting mostly of badly trained soldiers from Itzehoe in the North of the Hamburg area, found it impossible to cross. They then took 140 civilians hostage and used them as human shields.
The story Lance Corporal Sommer tells about a lieutenant whom he served under on the Italian front shows how common it was to terrorize the civilian population:after the collapse of the Mussolini government
Bender: “What criteria did he use to select them? Did he just pull them out at random?”
Sommer: “Yeah, 20 men, just like that. ‘Come here,’ he’d say. Then he’d line them up on the market square, pick up three MGs — rat-a-tat-tat — and there they were, dead. That was how it happened. Then he would say: ‘Great! Pigs!’ He hated the Italians so much, you wouldn’t believe it.”
In another case, a senior German army officer voiced his disgust at a junior lieutenant’s giggling account of how he and his men raped a so-called woman “spy” in Russia and then threw hand grenades at her. “She didn’t half scream when they exploded near her,” the lieutenant jeered.
Even the German navy was involved.
In March 1943, Solm, a seaman on a submarine, tells a cellmate how he “knocked off a children’s transport” in which more than 50 children drowned. The transport he mentions was most likely the British passenger ship City of Benares, which was sunk in the north Atlantic on Sept. 17, 1940.
“Did they all drown?’
“Yes, they’re all dead.”
“How big was it?”
“How did you know that?”
“Via the radio.