Talk:Helmuth von Pannwitz

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The XV Cossack Cavalry Corps (formerly 1st Cossack Division) were up to the last day part of the Wehrmacht although the units were placed in the last month of the war in the organizational structure of the Waffen-SS in terms of replacements and supplies without making the Cossack units a part of the Waffen-SS. Refer to Documents H/22/31 and H/22/41 Imperial War Museum, London and "Cossacks in the German Army by Samuel J. Newland ISBN 0 7146 3351 8, 1991 (pages 143-145. Bargen 19:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)


There is no historic proof or indication that there were any connection between General von Pannwitz and Vlassov nor his Russian Liberation Army. Only Colonel Kononov himself (Commander of the Plastunbrigade within the XV Cossack Cavalry Corps)had left his troops in April 1945 to offer the corps services to the Vlasov army (ref. Cossacks in the German army, Samuel J. Newlands (ISBN 07146 3351 8), page 170. Bargen 19:01, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Oops, secret stuff[edit]

Prince Bernhard, Catalina von Pannwitz & the KLM Nazi flights to Argentine... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:03, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Nikolai Tolstoy[edit]

@Peacemaker67: I'm okay with removing The Minister and the Massacres as well. BTW, your revert seems to be in contradiction with the earlier discussion we had that Further reading should contain works by reputable historians. Why not get rid of Tolstoy instead? Could you clarify? K.e.coffman (talk) 02:35, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

My revert was a bit POINTY, but the point needs to be made. I applaud your cleaning up of the language in these articles, but I haven't seen any discussion of that source on the talk page and why it is unreliable due to its author, publisher and/or context. As you found with Kumm, some authors and publishers that appear unreliable for opinion are fine for basic information about deployments, casualties etc. Removing them means that no-one knows they exist, and they could still be mined for the basic information. For example, I am using a biography of Johann Mickl to expand his article at present, the book is co-written by the man that served as his divisional Ia in the Balkans. One would therefore expect the material to be positive towards Mickl, and generally it is, but I ignore the occasional bit of hero worship and use the deployment information. What you are doing with this is akin to something I've heard tell of on German WP, where every source written by a former Wehrmacht of Waffen-SS officer or soldier gets removed from articles. This isn't de WP, and we don't operate like that here. An overzealous approach to this work will eventually irritate enough people that it may bite you. I'm not the only one watching this work closely. Regards, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 02:46, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure that I agree. The Wikipedia is written for the general audience, not history specialists, so if people see a book "recommended" in Further reading, they are going to assume it's reliable and a valid source. Before I started down the path of the Waffen-SS, I definitely did not know the scope of historical revisionism that has been undertaken.
Why not point people in the direction of books written by reputable historians and not by apologists or conspiracy theorists? Instead of reverting, you could have improved the article by simply removing Tolstoy. Why "mine" his books (or Kern's) for any bits of useful information, when there are books by reputable historians written on the subject? K.e.coffman (talk) 03:00, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
PS - Also, this was in Further reading, and not in References nor used for citations. If I wanted to have a source removed, I would have started the discussion on the Talk page. I treat Further reading similar to WP:EXT - is the information accurate? would it add value for the general reader? It was 0 for 2 in this case. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:14, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
Because sometimes these books are the only, or one of the only, books in English that provide the basic information on the movements and actions of a particular unit or formation. You can place a note on a source to underline its limitations. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 04:20, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I fully agree Peacemaker. We should not run the risk of book burning or any other kind of censorship without a solid explanation (backed by other sources and not an editors personal opinion) to the greater audience why the source is to be excluded. MisterBee1966 (talk) 07:23, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I understand the rationale of using sources for specific citations, where a source would be reliable for a specific situation, even if it's biased in other areas, and I agree with it. I don't think that's at issue here.

We are talking about a book that's in Further reading by an author, who has been characterized by Jonathan Petropoulos as someone who remained an "unrepentant and unreconstructed Nazi" throughout his life. As PM suggesting, I could qualify both as:

  • Kern – this is a book by a neo-Nazi journalist
  • Tolstoy – this books propounds a conspiracy theory

But it would be kind of silly, no? It would look like the editors, in Wikipedia's voice, are recommending these books as sources to learn more on the subject. (BTW, I was of half a mind to remove Tolstoy at the same time, but I hesitated as, irrespective of his conspiracy theories, the Cossacks did get a raw deal with the forced repatriations. In this case, it would make sense to replace it with Secret Betrayal. Please let me know what you think).

Having these books "recommended" by Wikipedia takes away from the quality of the article, IMO. That's what I'm concerned about. Please let me know your thoughts. K.e.coffman (talk) 20:44, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

I disagree. If you have read Stein, one of the most balanced books on the Waffen-SS, you will see that his view on the HIAG and the books that were generated by its "circle" is quite different from the approach you are taking generally. If we can identify a more reliable book that has the same content as one of dubious reliability, then can see an argument for replacing it. However (and this is a big "however"), if no source provides the detail available from a book, I believe it should be retained. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 00:08, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, Stein was one of the first sources I came across when I started looking into HIAG. Here's what he says about it (p. 252):

HIAG ... finances the publication of apologetics by former members of the Waffen SS, runs a library devoted to circulating neo-Nazi tracts, holds annual "help-find-lost comrades conventions" drawing thousands of ex-SS men, and lobbies incessantly for legitimacy for its members.

Stein also uses words apologist and revisionist a number of times in the same chapter to describe positions and activities of HIAG and Waffen-SS veterans in general. So I'm not seeing in his work any difference of approaches that I found in other sources.
However, I only read the chapter directly related to post-war activities ("The Tarnished Shield"), so I may not have seen the material you are referring to. Could you point me to where in Stein this is covered? K.e.coffman (talk) 02:03, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
the conclusion on p. 258, beginning "Despite their tendentiousness..." Cheers, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 02:46, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Ah, I saw that but I got a different meaning, that is, HIAG's circle was trying to prove something already painfully obvious – they were brave fighters, suffered losses,and, as far as the Waffen-SS formations were fighting at the front, they were not running concentration camps. (I saw a bit of irony in his comment here).
Stein then goes on to describe how Waffen-SS formed part of Einsatzgruppen troops, how personnel transitioned between punitive detachments, concentration camp guards and frontline formations, and the units themselves were assigned to the front and then reassigned to "rear area security", etc. He concludes by saying that Waffen-SS apologists are silent on this topic and define the Waffen-SS "in the narrowest of terms", essentially engaging in whitewashing. So I did not get an endorsement of HIAG's body of work and its historical accuracy or usefulness for research. So IMO, Stein is consistent with other sources I've seen. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:27, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Stein clearly considers the works of the HIA circle (alongside the accusers) to be useful, and my take on that is that they are useful for encyclopaedic purposes. If you don't, then clearly we'll have to agree to disagree. I believe MB agrees with my take on it, so you don't have consensus. Feel free to explore alternative DR avenues. It would be best to assume that the consensus here applies more widely to articles that touch upon the Waffen-SS, so I suggest you proceed with care. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 04:15, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for your feedback. I might to an RFC – I've not started one before, so it would be interesting to see what others think. K.e.coffman (talk) 05:19, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

Newlands & Michaelis as sources[edit]

The statements below paint Pannwitz in a rather positive light; I highlighted the questionable areas in bold:

  • At the award ceremony in Berlin ... on January 15, 1943, he told Hitler that the official Nazi policies which caused Slavs to be regarded as subhumans (Untermenschen) were totally wrong.[1]
  • Because of the respect he showed for his troops and his tendency to attend Russian Orthodox services with them, Pannwitz was very popular with his Cossack troops. Before the end of the war, he was elected Feldataman (German rendering of Supreme Ataman, the highest rank in the Cossack hierarchy and one that was traditionally reserved for the Tsar alone.)[2]
  • By the end of the war, the SS took control of all foreign units within the German forces. The Himmler file in the Imperial War Museum contains a record of a conversation which occurred on August 26, 1944, between Himmler, General von Pannwitz, and his Chief of Staff, Colonel H.-J. von Schultz. An agreement was reached that the Cossack divisions, soon to be the Cossack Corps, would only be placed under SS administration in terms of replacements and supplies. However, by February 1, 1945 the corps was transferred to the Waffen-SS. Despite the refusal of General von Pannwitz to enter the SS, the corps was placed under SS administration and all Cossacks became formally part of the Waffen-SS.[3][4]

On Rolf Michaelis, please see De Wikipedia: "His writings on Waffen-SS are characterized by reputable media as ranging from apologetic to right-wing extremist." (full bio)

On Newland, The Myth of the Eastern Front by Smelser & Davies critiques a different book of his (What If), but notes the revisionist tendencies, such as listing Kaminski's Lokot Republic as alternative occupational policy the Germans should have implemented.

For Kaminski's success in pacifying the areas (including having killed more than 2000 partisans and moved out 12,500 civilians), the Germans rewarded him by letting him set up the Lokot Republic under the German administration and organize RONA.

The Germans used this "successful" model in dealing with another ethnic minority, the Cossacks, who also moved West as the Germans retreated. "For Newland, this strategy held great potential for the Germans, who could have combined this benign integrationist approach with their many battlefield victories."

The reality was much different, note Smelser & Davis, as the brutal suppression of the Warsaw uprising demonstrated. Even the Germans were appalled (it should be noted that RONA troops were experienced murderers by that time, having honed their skills in Russia prior to the arrival to Warsaw.)

"To presume that Kaminsky assisted the Germans in pacifying rear areas to create safe and loyal regions ignores the fundamental fact that his men earned an unwholesome reputation for rapine and pillaging," they conclude.

In view of the De Wiki info and the above critique, I would not consider these sources to be reliable for the positive, exculpatory statements above. I'd like to begin by tagging them as "Unreliable source" and see if better sources can be produced. For example, Jozo Tomasevich can be used to back up the transfer to the W-SS, but w/o the narrative of protests and arrangements that Himmler went back on.


  1. ^ Newland 1991, p. 108.
  2. ^ Newland 1991, p. 164.
  3. ^ Newland 1991, p. 145.
  4. ^ Rolf Michaelis: Die Waffen-SS. Mythos und Wirklichkeit. Michaelis-Verlag, Berlin 2001, p. 36

Please let me know if there are any objections. K.e.coffman (talk) 04:23, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

Since it doesn't appear that there are any objections, I will go ahead and tag these sources. K.e.coffman (talk) 05:20, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Newland's book is actually his dissertation for a PhD at University of Kansas. Whatever its shortcomings, it's legit. Michaelis is usually just compiling what others wrote, so he's dispensable. Menges seems to be the preferable option. I tagged KW Schütz for obvious reasons. ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 19:01, 12 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the info and the updates to the article. K.e.coffman (talk) 05:44, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

Draft Kern RfC[edit]

Since this is my first time doing an RfC, I wanted to post a draft first to make sure I correctly captured all of the arguments. Please let me know of any revisions.

<RfC begins>

Subject: Should the Helmuth von Pannwitz article contain a book by Erich Kern in Further reading?

<RfC ends>

Brief statement following the RfC on the Talk page:

Book in question: General von Pannwitz und seine Kosaken by Erich Kern; originally published in 1963 by Plesse-Verlag; republished in 1971 by KW Schütz

The reliability of this book and its usefulness in the article is in dispute, with one side arguing that it is inherently biased and unreliable due to the background of the author and publisher, while the other side believes that there's potentially useful and reliable information to be gleaned.

Revised above. K.e.coffman (talk) 06:02, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

please read the guidance on drafting RfCs. You don't attempt to make ppls arguments for them, and WP isn't used as a source for anything per WP:CIRCULAR. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 06:22, 13 January 2016 (UTC)
Good advice; thank you. Per WP:RFC, I added a brief statement. It's supposed to be neutral, so if it does not look so, please feel free to edit. Or it can be dropped altogether, and I can just list the details of the book and end the RfC material there. K.e.coffman (talk) 06:28, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Krause et. al.[edit]

I moved Krause to the Further Reading section as well as there is no reference in the article. I also changed one of Tolstoy's books to the current English-language edition, and gave the bibliographic information for Kern's book with a link to the German National Library catalogue.

On a general note, I think it's more practical to have these books included under Further Reading, than to have endless discussions as to why they are not reliable sources. It is pretty clear from the full title of the books by Kern and Krause from where they come, and what their intentions are. ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 09:10, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Primary source and it's interpretation[edit]

Hello! There was a discussion on the German Wikipedia [1] about the use of the document scan that was uploaded by User:Bargen and the interpretation of this material. Bargen included the same stuff in the English version. There are several issues connected to this. As a historian dealing with wehrmacht documents for many years I don't have any doubt that the scan is original and no fake. But the document was never published, therefor it's usage here violates Wikipedia's principle “no original research”. I'm fine with a liberal interpretation of this principle, but others are not. The other problem is that Bargen for years now is trying to white-wash Helmuth von Pannwitz on Wikipedia. He never explained his motifs, but interestingly enough he chose his nick according to von Pannwitz: “von Bargen” was his pseudonym during a phase of illegality. And finally, Bargen is neither a historian, nor familiar with the state of the art of writing history and interpreting primary sources. He uses von Pannwitz' order not to rape etc. to “prove” that he was a decent man, not a war-criminal. He does not notice that the quoted document can not prove what Bargen want's to prove.

All his life Pannwitz didn't know anything else than violence. In war, in civil war, in the struggle against leftists, for National-Socialism. He was 16 when he went to war! The extend and duration of this experience of the active use of violence leads us to the conclusion that he had fun being violent. He enjoyed it. Otherwise he would have stopped at some point. But as an “orderly German” he believed that violence should be “orderly”, too. Disciplined, punctual, consequent, obedient (see B. Stangneth: Böses Denken, Reinbek 2016, S. 108). Bargen follows exactly this mentality. Since v. Pannwitz would threaten rapists with the death penalty he couldn't be a bad person. The opposite is true. The general was quite o.k. with murder and the most brutal forms of violence. But even for him the Cossacks' excesses were too much – and not orderly enough. So “Pannwitz was very popular with his Cossack troops“, i.e. with war criminals, murderers and rapists. They certainly knew, why. And, may be, they knew much better than those who look at “Cossacks” only through very romanticizing glasses. I change the interpretation part of that paragraph a bit. --C.G. (talk) 19:23, 5 December 2017 (UTC)


In the text we find these words: "At the award ceremony in Berlin when Pannwitz received the "Oak Leaves" for his Knight's Cross on January 15, 1943, he told Hitler that the official Nazi policies which caused Slavs to be regarded as subhumans (Untermenschen) were totally unhuman and wrong." with a reference to Newland, 1991, p. 108. Who ever wrote this paragraph either is unable to read or wanted to whitewash von Pannwitz. Newland writes about this meeting and that Pannwitz told Hitler that the "official policies [...] were totally wrong", but only for strategical reasons, because with these policies it would be impossible "to destroy Bolshevism". No word about Nazi racism being "unhuman". So, I'll change this.

--C.G. (talk) 15:40, 20 December 2017 (UTC)