||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2009)|
Paul Hausser (here as SS-Gruppenfuehrer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS)
7 October 1880|
Brandenburg an der Havel, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
|Died||21 December 1972
Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
|Buried at||Munich Waldfriedhof|
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1892–1932
|Rank||SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS|
|Commands held||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
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.
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
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.
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.)
Activities within HIAG
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.
As part of its lobbying efforts, HIAG attempted to "manipulate historical record or simply to ignore it." HIAG rewriting of history included significant multi-prong propaganda efforts, including tendentious periodicals, books and public speeches, 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.
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".
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".
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.
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.
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).
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".
Summary of his military career
|This section does not cite any sources. (February 2009)|
Dates of rank
- Kadett: 1892
- Leutnant: 20 March 1899
- Oberleutnant: 19 August 1909
- Hauptmann i.G.: 1 March 1914 (Patent from 1 October 1913)
- Major: 22 March 1918
- Oberstleutnant: 1 April 1923 (Patent from 15 November 1922)
- Oberst: 1 November 1927 (RDA from 1 July 1927)
- Generalmajor: 1 February 1931
- Charakter als Generalleutnant: 31 January 1932
- SA-Standartenführer SAR: 1 March 1934
- SS-Standartenführer: 15 November 1934 (RDA from 1 November 1934)
- SS-Oberführer: 1 July 1935
- SS-Brigadeführer: 22 May 1936
- SS-Gruppenführer: 1 June 1939
- Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS: 19 November 1939
- SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS: 1 October 1941
- SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS: 1 August 1944
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (1934)
- Wound Badge in Silver (1942)
- Iron Cross (1914) 2nd and 1st Class
- Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th Class with Swords
- Albert Order 1st Class with Swords
- Friedrich Order 1st Class with Swords
- Austrian Order of the Iron Crown 3rd Class with war decoration (11 July 1918)
- House Order of Hohenzollern
- SS-Honour Ring (?)
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
- Golden Party Badge (1943)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 8 August 1941 as SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS and commander of SS-Division "Reich"[Note 1]
- 261st Oak Leaves on 28 July 1943 as SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS and commanding general of the SS-Panzerkorps
- 90th Swords on 26 August 1944 as SS-Oberstgruppenführer and Generaloberst of the Waffen-SS and commander-in-chief of the 7. Armee
- Waffen-SS Long Service Award (?)
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
- According to Von Seement as commander of 2. SS-Panzer-Division "Reich".
- Kienle 2005.
- Large 1987.
- Large 1987, p. 81.
- MacKenzie 1997, p. 138.
- Wilke 2011, p. 399.
- MacKenzie 1997, pp. 137–138.
- Tauber 1967, p. 539.
- Sydnor 1990, p. 319.
- MacKenzie 1997, p. 137.
- Diehl 1993, p. 225.
- Migration, citizenship & travel http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/migration/index.aspx.
- Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres, p. 109.
- Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres, p. 140.
- Thomas 1997, p. 256.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 371.
- Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 216, 492.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 36.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 70.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 44.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 17.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Diehl, James M. (1993). Thanks of the Fatherland: German Veterans After the Second World War. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807820773.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Kienle, Polly (2005). "Still Fighting for the Myth: German Wehrmacht Officers' Reports for the U.S. Historical Division". H-net.com. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016.
- Krätschmer, Ernst-Günther (1999). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Waffen-SS [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Waffen-SS]. Coburg, Germany: Nation Europa Verlag. ISBN 978-3-920677-43-9.
- Large, David Clay (1987). "Reckoning without the Past: The HIAG of the Waffen-SS and the Politics of Rehabilitation in the Bonn Republic, 1950–1961". The Journal of Modern History (University of Chicago Press) 59 (1): 79–113.
- MacKenzie, S.P. (1997). Revolutionary Armies in the Modern Era: A Revisionist Approach. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-09690-4.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Smelser, Ronald; Davis II, Edward J. (2008). The myth of the Eastern Front: the Nazi-Soviet war in American popular culture. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83365-3.
- Sydnor, Charles W. (1990) . Soldiers of destruction: the SS Death's Head Division, 1933–1945. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00853-0.
- Tauber, Kurt (1967). Beyond Eagle and Swastika: German Nationalism Since 1945. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
- Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4.
- Wilke, Karsten (2011). Die "Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit" (HIAG) 1950–1990: Veteranen der Waffen-SS in der Bundesrepublik (in German). Schoeningh Ferdinand GmbH. ISBN 978-3-506-77235-0.
- Yerger, Mark C. Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, Corps and Divisional Leaders of a Legend: Augsberger to Kreutz - Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing (October 1997). ISBN 0-7643-0356-2, ISBN 978-0-7643-0356-2.
- Williamson, Gordon. The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror: The Full Story From Street Fighters to the Waffen-SS (Motorbooks International, (March 1994), ISBN 0-87938-905-2, ISBN 978-0-87938-905-5).
- Williamson, Gordon. The Waffen-SS (2): 6. to 10. Divisions (Men-at-Arms) (Osprey Publishing (March 25, 2004), ISBN 1-84176-590-2, ISBN 978-1-84176-590-7).
- Reichswehrministerium, ed. (1930). Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres (in German). Berlin, Germany: Mittler & Sohn Verlag. OCLC 10573418.
|Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
19 October 1939 – 14 October 1941
SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich
|Commander of II. SS-Panzer Corps
14 September 1942 – 28 June 1944
SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich
Generaloberst Friedrich Dollmann
|Commander of 7. Armee
28 June 1944 – 20 August 1944
General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Eberbach
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler
|Commander of Heeresgruppe Oberrhein
23 January 1945 – 24 January 1945
Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz
|Commander of Heeresgruppe G
29 January 1945 – 2 April 1945
General der Infanterie Friedrich Schulz
- Von Höhne, Heinz (1967). "Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf—Die Geschichte der SS" [The Order under the Death Head—The History of the SS]. Der Spiegel (in German) 11. ISSN 0038-7452. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
- "Geflohen - Hingerichtet - Überlebt—Das Schicksal prominenter SS-Führer" [Fled - Executed - Survived—The Fate of prominent SS Leaders]. Der Spiegel (in German) 11. 1967. ISSN 0038-7452. Retrieved 29 January 2016.