Paul Hausser

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Paul Hausser
Hausser.jpg
Paul Hausser (here as SS-Gruppenfuehrer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS)
Nickname(s) Papa
Born (1880-10-07)7 October 1880
Brandenburg an der Havel, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 21 December 1972(1972-12-21) (aged 92)
Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Buried at Munich Waldfriedhof
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1892–1932
1934–45
Rank SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer collar.svg SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS
Commands held

2nd SS Division Das Reich
II SS Panzer Corps

Seventh Army
Awards Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern

Paul Hausser (7 October 1880 – 21 December 1972) was an officer in the German Army, achieving the rank of lieutenant-general in the inter-war Reichswehr. After retirement from the regular Army he became a leading commander in the Waffen-SS. A popular commanding officer, he led Waffen-SS troops both on the Eastern and Western Fronts of World War II. After the war he became a founding member and the first spokesperson of HIAG, an organisation of former Waffen-SS members, which sought to rehabilitate the reputation and legal status of the Waffen-SS.

Early life and career[edit]

Hausser was born in Brandenburg an der Havel to a Prussian military family; his father Kurt Hausser was a major in the Imperial German Army. Hausser entered the army in 1892. In 1899, he graduated from the cadet academy Berlin-Lichterfelde and was commissioned as a lieutenant. Hausser graduated from the Prussian Military Academy in Berlin in 1911. He served in staff roles during the First World War and in the postwar German army (Reichswehr), reaching the rank of colonel.

1930s[edit]

He was promoted to Major General on 1 February 1931. He retired from the Reichswehr on 31 January 1932 with the rank of lieutenant-general. Hausser joined the right-wing World War I veterans' organization Stahlhelm, becoming the head of its Brandenburg-Berlin chapter in 1933. Soon, Stahlhelm was incorporated into the SA, and, with the SA's demise, into the SS. In November 1934 he was transferred to the SS-Verfügungstruppe and assigned to SS-Führerschule Braunschweig. In 1935 he became Inspector of SS-Junkerschule and was promoted to Brigadeführer in 1936.

World War II[edit]

Paul Hausser (far right, in overcoat) walking up the Stairs of Death at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, on tour with SS officers and Heinrich Himmler, June 1941.

Hausser served in the Polish Campaign of 1939 as an observer with the mixed Wehrmacht/SS Panzer Division Kempf. In October 1939 SS-VT was formed as a motorized infantry division with Hausser in command. He led the division, later renamed 2nd SS Division Das Reich, through the French campaign of 1940 and in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa. For his service in the Soviet Union, Hausser was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in 1941 and the Oak Leaves in 1943 (he was to get the Swords for his services in Normandy) and was severely wounded, losing an eye.

After recovering, he commanded the newly formed SS-Panzer Corps (renamed II SS Panzer Corps in June 1943) and against Hitler's explicit orders withdrew his troops from Kharkov to avoid encirclement. He led the 1st, 2nd and 3rd SS divisions during the Battle of Kursk.

After Kursk, his Corps was reformed (substituting the 1st, 2nd and 3rd SS Panzer Divisions with the 9th and 10th SS divisions) and sent to Italy, then to France where he commanded them in the early stages of the Normandy Campaign.

After the death of Friedrich Dollmann, commander of the Seventh Army, Hausser was promoted to its command. During the Falaise encirclement, Hausser was seriously wounded (shot through the jaw). Hausser was promoted to Oberst-Gruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS in August 1944 and subsequently commanded Army Group G from 28 January to 3 April 1945. On the day he was relieved, Joseph Goebbels wrote, "He has definitely not stood the test." He ended the war on Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring's staff. At the Nuremberg Trials he claimed that the Waffen-SS only had a military role and denied that it was involved in war crimes and atrocities.

Post-war[edit]

Following the war, Hausser participated in the work of the U.S. Army Historical Division, whereas, under the guidance of Franz Halder, German generals wrote World War II operational studies for the U.S. Army, first as POWs and then as employees. In the late 1940s, Hausser authored an operational study on the Seventh Army response to the Allied Normandy breakout. (The study, together with contributions from Rudolf Christoph von Gersdorff, Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, Wilhelm Fahrmbacher and Heinrich Eberbach, was published in 2004 as Fighting the Breakout: The German Army in Normandy from COBRA to the Falaise Gap.)[1]

Activities within HIAG[edit]

From 1950, Hausser was active in HIAG, a revisionist organization of former Waffen-SS members. HIAG began in the late 1950 as a loose association of local "support" groups; by October 1951, however, it claimed to embrace 376 local branches across the entire Federal Republic. In December 1951, Hausser became its first spokesperson.[2]

As part of its lobbying efforts, HIAG attempted to "manipulate historical record or simply to ignore it."[3] HIAG rewriting of history included significant multi-prong propaganda efforts, including tendentious periodicals, books and public speeches,[4] along with a publishing house – Munin Verlag – to serve as a platform for its publicity aims. The express aim of Munin Verlag was to publish the 'war narratives' of former Waffen-SS members, in cooperation with HIAG.[5]

Book cover of 1953 Waffen-SS in Action (Waffen-SS im Einsatz) by Paul Hausser

Paul Hausser's 1953 book Waffen-SS in Action (Waffen-SS im Einsatz) was the first major work to come from among the HIAG leaders. It had an unmistakable connection to the Nazi origins of the Waffen-SS: the SS runes on the cover art and the SS motto ('my honor is my loyalty') embossed on the cloth cover. A foreword from the former Wehrmacht general Hans Guderian provided a glowing endorsement for the Waffen-SS troops and praised them as "the first realization of the European idea".[6]

Hausser followed up by describing the growth of Waffen-SS into a so-called multinational force where foreign volunteers fought and died heroically as a "militant example of the great European idea".[6]

Waffen-SS in Action was included in the index of objectionable war books maintained by the Federal Control Office for Literature Detrimental to Youth. The index was created in the early 1960s to limit the sale of such works to minors due to their chauvinism and glorification of violence.[7]

Hausser's books, along with those by other key HIAG members and former Waffen-SS generals Felix Steiner and Kurt Meyer, have been characterised by historian Charles Sydnor as the "most important works of [Waffen-SS] apologist literature." These works demanded rehabilitation of the military branch of the Nazi Party and presented Waffen-SS members as both victims and misunderstood heroes.[8]

Thanks to HIAG's efforts, the positive image of the Waffen-SS as an organisation indeed took root, and not only in Germany itself. In the era of the Cold War, senior Waffen-SS personnel were "not shy about the fact that they had once organized a NATO-like army, and an elite one at that", notes military historian S. P. MacKenzie (emphasis in the original).[9]

Historian James M. Diehl describes HIAG's claims of the Waffen-SS being the so-called fourth branch of the Wehrmacht as "false", and HIAG's insistence that the force was a precursor to NATO as "even more outrageous".[10]

Personal life[edit]

Hausser married Elisabeth Gérard (born 1891) on 9 August 1908 and had one daughter named Frieda (born 1909), who migrated to Australia in 1954, after marrying Gustav Adolf Wiemann (born 1906).[11]

Grave of Paul Hausser

Summary of his military career[edit]

Dates of rank[edit]

Notable decorations[edit]

Works[edit]

Hausser authored two books offering apologetic account of the Waffen SS and his role in it:

  • Waffen-SS im Einsatz (Waffen SS in Action), Plesse Verlag: Göttingen (1953)
  • Soldaten wie andere auch (Soldiers Like Any Other), Munin Verlag: Osnabrück (1966)

Hausser's operational study on the 7th Army is included in the following volume:

  • Fighting the Breakout: The German Army in Normandy from COBRA to the Falaise Gap (contributor) (2004). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-1-85367-584-3

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to Von Seement as commander of 2. SS-Panzer-Division "Reich".[17]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Kienle 2005.
  2. ^ Large 1987.
  3. ^ Large 1987, p. 81.
  4. ^ MacKenzie 1997, p. 138.
  5. ^ Wilke 2011, p. 399.
  6. ^ a b MacKenzie 1997, pp. 137–138.
  7. ^ Tauber 1967, p. 539.
  8. ^ Sydnor 1990, p. 319.
  9. ^ MacKenzie 1997, p. 137.
  10. ^ Diehl 1993, p. 225.
  11. ^ Migration, citizenship & travel http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/migration/index.aspx.
  12. ^ Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres, p. 109.
  13. ^ a b c d e Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres, p. 140.
  14. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 256.
  15. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 371.
  16. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 216, 492.
  17. ^ a b Von Seemen 1976, p. 36.
  18. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 70.
  19. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 44.
  20. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 17.

Bibliography[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
19 October 1939 – 14 October 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich
Preceded by
none
Commander of II. SS-Panzer Corps
14 September 1942 – 28 June 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich
Preceded by
Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann
Commander of 7. Armee
28 June 1944 – 20 August 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Eberbach
Preceded by
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler
Commander of Heeresgruppe Oberrhein
23 January 1945 – 24 January 1945
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz
Commander of Heeresgruppe G
29 January 1945 – 2 April 1945
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich Schulz

External links[edit]