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Why did the Wehrmacht Soldier keep fighting til 1945? #wehrmacht #ww2


Now an interesting question is: why did the average
Wehrmacht soldier fight till the very end of 1945? Why didn’t they just give up for
instance in 1944, as the Allies assumed? Especially considering that in 1944 or
1945, two thirds of all losses occurred. So, and there were points before when, since
winter 1941-1942 the Red Army counter-offensive, or Stalingrad in winter 1942-1943, or especially
summer 1944 the invasion in Normandy and the destruction of Army Group Centre on the Eastern
Front, that basically showed the war was lost. Or was likely to be lost, I mean 1941-1942
one could say, “OK, we can deal with this”, but later on it gets more and more. So, now I read up a bit on this,
and one author noted four factors. In order: political indoctrination, the military
justice system, training, and comradeship (or brotherhood in arms, whatever you
want to call it, I think you know what I mean). So now the first one, let’s
look at political indoctrination. Of course everyone thinks about Nazi
and Nazi propaganda, but actually from
what I read, this had a limited effect. For instance, the lectures on political
information, the soldiers were basically, “Yah, what should we do with this?”
They couldn’t really relate to this. And also, political officers were only
introduced in late war, and also to a
very limited … numbers and capacities. So not too much happened here. Of course,
if we look at the broader indoctrination, or society values (which would also be similar
to Germany, let’s say in World War One to a
certain degree, or even nowadays) there was of course the whole experience
they faced. If you look at World War One, the German army was defeated and fought four
years on the Western Front and bled itself dry, against France, which was basically
the arch-enemy at this point. And in summer 1940, it just took 6 weeks to
conquer France and defeat it completely. And also conquer Belgium,
Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands. So, to a certain degree this all gave everything
a bit more of another understanding, or feeling, how they would approach this.
So this of course then combined with the Nazi propaganda gave everything a
different spin, or more … substance to it. … And this also got in hand with the Hitler myth. Now what is very interesting is usually that
people distinguished between Hitler and the party. So everything bad was usually blamed on the
party, and the good thing was attached to Hitler. Which has several reasons,
… well, he was the guy at the top, and during peacetime he had quite many successes.
And also some successes which were not caused by him. For instance, the economy revived due to various other
reasons, not just because the Nazis came into power. But, well, from the outside, and
usually it’s attributed to one person. And also people projected their hopes on Hitler
to a certain degree as well. So it’s easier to see one person as the guy bringing the salvation,
than let’s say some abstract like the party. And for instance, there were soldiers,
there were questions and they said, “Well, if it would have [been] clearly lost,
Hitler would have stopped it by now. There must be something.
He must still have a plan or … back then he also managed to do this with
the Sudeten crisis and some other issues, he fixed that, he probably will do it again”. And, of course, hope is sometimes
the last thing you have left. So, now the next point is the military justice system. There is a clear distinction between
World War Two and World War One. … The justice system was restructured, because
to a certain degree the Dolchstosslegende, which was the legend and myth that the German
army was undefeated in World War One, and just that the population and
everything else stabbed them in the back. But … about more this in another video. And they had more stricter laws, higher punishments,
and the time of the trials were shortened. And it was also way more [executions]. For
instance, around 150 … soldiers were tried and found guilty in World War One
which would have led to the execution, but only around 50 of them
were executed in the end. Whereas in World War Two … till the end
of 1944, more than 9,700 were executed. Until the end of the war it’s estimated 15,000 to 20,000.
We only have the certain number till December 1944. As you can see, the number is a staggering
difference. This, of course, was less of a motivation, but more of a negative motivation,
just keep the soldiers in line. Another fact is of course, training. Now training … from civilian to
soldier provides many aspects. And probably one of the most important is not how
to deal with weapons, but how to deal with stress. How to deal with really hard,
exhausting, desperate situations. I experienced boot camp myself, and
I saw quite a lot of very exhausted people and I was exhausted myself in many
ways, for instance on the mental side (and also on the physical side). And
what you learn in boot camp is basically you can still carry on, and you
sometimes you can still do more than you did before you were
in your best shape ever. So … you realise that your mind is sometimes
playing tricks on you, that it tells you, you can’t do this. Whereas, … you’re just at
10% or 20% of your capacity. So you could say basically in boot
camp you learn what you can do, and also develop a certain amount
of grit, and stoic-ness, one could say. And, originally, the Wehrmacht had conscription
in 1935, and it was for one year, and then it was extended to two years of training.
Of course, once the war started training was cut short, but it was still quite substantial. And
you just need a few weeks for boot camp, to experience this, and provide
this certain change in mind. And another aspect is the training usually was
done in the same unit, and … with the same people, then the units were sent to the front.
Which brings us to the fourth point, to the comradeship or brotherhood,
whatever you want to call it (Kameradschaft, Kampfgemeinschaft,
the community of combat). And this was, or many people consider
this as one of the most important aspects. For instance, there was one soldier who lost his
wife and three children on a ship that was sunk, and he said, “Well, I can’t let my
comrades down, I need to go on”. So it’s about not letting the
people you fight with down. And Sebastian Junger, who is a US war correspondent
nowadays, and … he did a talk basically on TED, … why soldiers miss war.
And he noticed, or his observation (not sure if it’s backed up by
science, as far as I know, not), is that the bond that developed, the trust because
you need to rely on each other in the field, is way stronger than everything you
can experience in civilian life usually. So this is the reason why so many
soldiers usually go back into combat. This is his assumption, I think there are other
factors as well there, but this is one of the main … examples, and it also fits in with
the four factors … of this author. Of course, there’s a caveat to this. This requires that a certain amount of time is
there to integrate new replacements into a unit. Or that the loss ratio is not too high, because
else the comradeship can’t really develop. This is to a certain degree also I think brought
up in “Band of Brothers” with the replacements, they have quite a problem with them. And usually
there’s some truth to this, I mean of course I know it’s to a certain degree based on facts,
but you can see it everywhere in this regard. So the comradeship is brought up quite often in
many cases. And I think it was quite important why on a smaller scale the average soldier
didn’t lose fighting spirit or carried on. Now some additional points. First off, the fighting spirit of the Wehrmacht
changed over the course of the war. It went up, and it went down again,
but then it went up again. For instance after Stalingrad, [??] regarded
it was rather low, but then it recovered. And there was again more fierceness in the interviewed
POWs, for instance, or in … their letters back home. And one very interesting aspect I discovered
was that an interrogation report, or I think it was a general report about many
soldiers, from 1943 from the Western Allies, they noted that the German units were really combat
effective and really fierce and tenacious fighters. But they realised that their motivations, their individual
motivations, were basically absolutely catastrophic. Because they didn’t care about the war any more, they
didn’t care about the war, they didn’t care about politics, they just said, “Ok, let’s let it be”. And it was noted
that they took a special pride in just doing their job, even though the war in their minds was lost,
or they didn’t care at all about it anymore. So this was rather interesting to
read, that they liked these historic people who just want to do their job,
or just want to do their duty … And then there’s of course the other factor,
the fear of what will happen after the war. There are two components to this.
First off, the Treaty of Versailles was still in the mind of most people. So Germany
was humiliated and lost a lot of territory, the army was downsized and everything. And what would happen now?
Because the war was clearly more intense, and way stronger, and German cities
were bombed and everything else. What would happen? And especially
the Soviet Union was feared extremely. There was this proverb, “Sieg
oder Sibirien”, “Victory or Siberia”. And we know from the Eastern Front that
the likelihood of Germans surrendering
was way lower than on the Western Front. Because they knew they would face
dire consequences if they surrender there. And there was another aspect of course, that a
large part of the soldiers knew to a certain degree, sometimes in vague terms, sometimes in details,
about the atrocities, war crimes and the Holocaust. So they also knew, OK, what would happen? Because there were certain crimes committed
… in our area we occupied, or something else. So there was also this other proverb,
“Enjoy the war, because the peace will be even worse”. And this was all there, there was quite many
factors. As you can see also this fear … Because I don’t know it, the one
author didn’t notice this factor. But in short, one can say there is no easy
answer, because it’s a quite complex problem. And probably each soldier had individual motives,
and they probably to a certain degree get mixed up, especially if you later on look at their officers.
And there’s a clear distinction between people that had a family and people that
didn’t have a family, in the motivations. So I hope this give you some insights.
As always, sources are in the description. And if you want to know why the Nationalist Chinese
armies had Panzerkampfwagen, check out this video. Or if you want to have a more complicated view on
Erwin Rommel, or the Desert Fox, check out this video. Thank you for watching,
and see you next time.

Tony wyaad

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57 COMMENTS

  1. Mike Armbruster Posted on January 14, 2019 at 8:08 am

    There were groups of flying SS was wandering around executing people they deemed Defeatists,deserteers etc but knowing what they did in Russia they didn't want that to happen to germany

    Reply
  2. Andras Libal Posted on January 14, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    The Allied decision of only accepting unconditional surrender.

    Reply
  3. Kim Jong Il Posted on January 15, 2019 at 6:06 am

    I think the writing was on the wall when the British beat them out of North Africa and Russia drove Germany out of Stalingrad, between Feb and May 43. As a Soldier or General, I'd have to be thinking how we could possibly win against those odds.

    Reply
  4. James Smith Posted on January 16, 2019 at 5:10 am

    If you surrender what happens to your family while your a POW? Surrender in the east would have been unthinkable due to harsh treatment by the Soviets. They were fighting for their home and family by the end

    Reply
  5. Psiberzerker Posted on January 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    "Befehl ist Befehl." ~A. Eichmann.

    Reply
  6. D Bruce Posted on January 16, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Sounds great at 1.25 speed

    Reply
  7. D Bruce Posted on January 16, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Look at the wochenshaus – those men knew they were defending their country from invasion.

    Reply
  8. Rich Merowitz Posted on January 16, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Wouldn't the points you make be more applicable to the Eastern Front? Considering the Allied strategic decision to
    cede Berlin to the Russians, and the westward refuge flood in the final months, it seems logical that near the end, the Wehrmacht units in the west had far less motivation to fight.

    Reply
  9. Fide Nemini Posted on January 17, 2019 at 9:04 am

    The country didn't fall apart till late 1944, ofc they wouldnt have given up. Once Soviet ran over Romania, it's all over. No country can function without oil.

    Reply
  10. Phillip_IV_Planet King Posted on January 18, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I think it was honor.
    They did not want to embarrass anyone back home.

    Reply
  11. Thomas Heffner Posted on January 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    How did surrendering work out for those who did so at Stalingrad?

    Reply
  12. Pat McNamara Posted on January 18, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Methamphetamine And what the Russians would do to them if they caught them?

    Reply
  13. Patrick Lemire Posted on January 19, 2019 at 1:24 am

    To put off being under authority of Russians as long as possible, hope to be able to surrender to Americans.

    Reply
  14. Hcdoitsu Smith Posted on January 19, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    If he soldier knew 3 things: If he ran his family would suffer. If he stayed he might die, and if he ran he would die. And last a goodly part of the army were not Germans, but conscripts from occupied countries.

    Reply
  15. Don Posted on January 21, 2019 at 12:00 am

    I read that the announcement by Roosevelt and Churchill of "unconditional surrender", and a map of Germany divided up into 4 zones with the eastern part given to Poland, was widely disseminated.

    Reply
  16. Andy108953 Posted on January 21, 2019 at 3:16 am

    Easy, they were defending their homeland! Anybody would defend their homeland agianst anybody who is attacking it, not to talk about the comradeship with your buddies who you have been fighting with since the start of the war. It's all about brotherhood and country at this point.

    Reply
  17. MSRLR 07/20/1944 Posted on January 22, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Because they were defending their homeland. Easy. At what point would you surrender if your country was invaded?

    Reply
  18. Teddles Peddles Posted on January 26, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    They new it was hopeless to keep fighting on but not what this guy is thinking, they fought on for two reasons, one the allied air command ordered the bombing campaign on civilian population and this alone more them pissed the Germans off, nearly five million men women and children were murdered and many solders lost entire family's second soldier's knew if they surrendered they would be murdered in the war camps and what they feared feared came true, look what Eisenhower did , between 1945-1949 ten million German prisoners WAS murdered at Rhine Meadows death camps Google Eisenhower's genciode 🦂

    Reply
  19. Hadding Scott Posted on January 29, 2019 at 3:43 am

    Most Germans probably did not hear anything about gas-chambers until after the war, because it was illegal to listen to foreign propaganda. Many who did hear it did not believe it. Even many Americans were skeptical about these stories, John J. McCloy (U.S. Assistant Secretary of War) among them. GUILT was not an important reason why Germans feared to lose the war. There were other, very clear reasons that happen to reflect badly on the Allies rather than the Germans.

    The rapes of women by the Red Army began long before that army even reached the borders of Germany. Many Polish women were raped by the Red Army. (Wikipedia even has an article about this.) Theodore N. Kaufman's widely discussed book Germany Must Perish, which advocated sterilizing all German men, was published in the spring of 1941, before the USA was even in the war. The area-bombing of cities was taken as a demonstration of Anglo-American barbarity. Germans had every reason to believe that losing the war was not an acceptable option.

    There was hope that the Anglo-American Allies would come into conflict with the Soviets. Upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt and the succession of Harry Truman, this was not an entirely unrealistic hope. Unlike Roosevelt, Truman was no admirer of the Soviet Union. The rift between the USA and USSR did happen, just a couple of years too late to prevent Germany's humiliation in 1945.

    Reply
  20. Shinji Ikari Posted on January 30, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Truly they waitet vor Steiners attack the whole time.

    Reply
  21. Amin Rodriguez Posted on February 5, 2019 at 12:53 am

    I find this topic very interesting, I hace bren studying WWII for severa years now (as a hobby), and it allways puzzled me, the difference between the landser and the italiano soldier as far as effectiveness and resisting until the end. There is a factor you barely mentón when you spoke about differentiating Hitler and the party, and it is that whole Prussian militar y ethos built around the central leader, be it the King or the Furhrer, an ethos exprés sed in the oath taken when you entere service, it was to the Furhrer, not to the party or the Gorvernment or the constitution that you swore loyalty, same ethos that made the Germán High command agree to Barbarrossa, even tho, as the Best "war technicians" of their time, they knew the goals were impossible to achieve, the Furhrer had spoken.

    Reply
  22. D Madd11 Posted on February 5, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    The death ride…
    Do or die, rooskies tryin to kick your shit in…

    Reply
  23. Danboy-D Posted on February 17, 2019 at 4:13 am

    I prefer the shaved head, you look devilishly handsome that way.

    Reply
  24. jurisprudens Posted on February 19, 2019 at 3:00 am

    5:29 – Initially, I thought You wanted to say “150 000” rather than 150. But no, You were not mistaken.
    The reason why I thought so is that in the Soviet Red Army, in 1941-1945, 135 000 soldiers were condemned to death.
    This number doesn’t include those executed summarily on spot.

    Just think of this for a minute.

    Reply
  25. Kevin Santos II Posted on February 23, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Could you elaborate on the tangible distinction you mentioned in motivation between soldiers with families and those that didn’t?

    Reply
  26. Ovidiu Secosan Posted on February 25, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    The Germans fought because they were real fighters, not pussies like all the Allies

    Reply
  27. Kotor Posted on February 27, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Indoctrination? Or loyalty? Honour? Whatever could it be?

    Reply
  28. M Martinů Posted on March 1, 2019 at 8:54 am

    About 30% of comments is nazi propaganda. Like WTF?

    Reply
  29. True Cerium Posted on March 7, 2019 at 2:01 am

    I think the discussion needs to be more diversified and take into consideration the front a German Landser was assigned to. Yes, the military commanders still believed on a victory over the Allies in the West, the situation in Q1 1945 was completely different on the Eastern front and such were the motives of the soldiers to fight on there. Being a POW for the UK/US was not a problem but as you pointed out it was a different ballgame with the Russian. But one very important reason why the Wehrmacht fought nails and claws on the Eastern front (with huge casualties numbering into hundreds of thousand per month) was to give civilians the time to flee west as far and fast as possible.

    Reply
  30. I HATE CABBAGE Posted on March 19, 2019 at 12:51 am

    I am glad that the Soviets peasant soldier painted their flag on Berlin capital, cause this convince that the so called professional soldier of Nazi Germany to realized they lost and finally surrender, bastards will never be humbled unless their flag is torn down and someone else flag is raised. Would prefer US flag but the Russian people sacrafice greatly to defeat the fascist beast.

    Reply
  31. macsporan Posted on March 21, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Fear: of the penal battalion, the firing squad, the SS and the inexorable vengeance of the Russians.

    Reply
  32. HDSME Posted on April 25, 2019 at 3:26 am

    How about because they were real soldiers? !!!!

    Reply
  33. Antti Tolamo Posted on April 26, 2019 at 6:56 am

    I think the reasons are same as with russia/Soviets. Both systems were totalitarian and people were forced to defend homeland. System and enviroment directed to same result.

    Reply
  34. joseph Goebbels Posted on May 2, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Yeet great vid

    Reply
  35. Stugbit Fz Posted on May 7, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    What if the Allied did not chose for an inconditional surrender of Germany? Placing conditions instead, like taking the Nazis out of power. Would the war have ended in 42/43?

    Reply
  36. Boris Anisimov Posted on May 25, 2019 at 10:53 pm


    He has hair.

    Reply
  37. Bubi Ruski Posted on May 27, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    An important aspect is missing ! The allies did not hesitate to kill almost a million Germans by their bombing campaign. It appeared as if they were going to wipe the Germans out completely. It was completely unpredictable what they would do after a optional surrender. By this the German soldier had good reason to continue fighting and to fend off these villains from his kids and wife as long as possible.
    At least not to later admit to have lost a slim chance.
    After German surrender events show that such concerns were quite justified.
    Due to this horrific experience I tend to say – the Germans should always remember this and take care not to contribute anywhere.
    No Mali, no Afghanistan, no Kosovo…

    Reply
  38. Uncle Joe Stalin Posted on June 9, 2019 at 2:29 am

    I think it was General Robert E Lee who said words to the effect "Executing a soldier is the worst possible way to use him". I'm also reminded of the story of a soldier being brought before him shivering with fear. Lee said "Don't be afraid son, you'll get justice here". The soldier said "Yes, I know sir, that's why I'm frightened."

    Reply
  39. Uncle Joe Stalin Posted on June 9, 2019 at 3:00 am

    BTW, an excellent video, MHnV, on a subject not that is studied enough. A good companion to this video is Dr Robert Citino's talk "Why Did the German Army Fight to the End?" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI72BLrwqR0&t=2585s

    Reply
  40. arthur lewis Posted on June 12, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    They'd had a decade of "die for Hitler" propaganda.

    Reply
  41. Edward j j Posted on June 22, 2019 at 6:50 am

    Because They was defending Europe and European culture from Bolsheviks

    Reply
  42. SoCalAdvocate Posted on June 23, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    It's really very simple if you know the facts. The problem is that nobody seems to know the facts, just the propaganda.
    Adolf Hitler did something unprecedented and extraordinary. He stopped using imf money and ran off all the bankers. With that out of the way, he was able to build a new system for his people that operated on love and honor instead of fear and hatred, like the system in place now. And if he hadn't, Germany would have been finished long before 1939. There were over 270,000 suicides in the year leading up to Hitler's success at the polls. The german People were losing everything they had. He put a stop to that. And in doing so, the German people were doing better than ever before. The rest of the world was in the grip of the great depression. Germany was actually thriving. He gave them back their reason to live and then some. And they loved him for it.

    Reply
  43. lazybear Posted on June 26, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Isn't it also true that in many battles the Germans managed to kill more than they lost? Think of the tank kill ratios. That means that the German soldiers could be failing, but individual units could feel the satisfaction of "doing well" while everything was going to hell. Combined with the four points you mentioned, especially comaradeship, they might be more hopeful at the local level while failing totally at the strategic level.

    Reply
  44. theklrdude oo Posted on June 27, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    they knew that there was hell to be paid in revenge of their treatment of the russians , they gave up in stalingrad and almost all of them were killed .
    giving up was a death sentence on the east front .

    Reply
  45. Hercules Zues Posted on July 1, 2019 at 12:12 am

    End up in a Soviet gulag or keep fighting…..

    Reply
  46. Hercules Zues Posted on July 1, 2019 at 12:22 am

    What would happen after the war….little did they know it was…raped by Islam

    Reply
  47. Iafiv Iv Posted on July 31, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Here's a better question would the US fight to the bitter end if the situation was reversed?I mean would the US keep fighting even if it became clear defeat was inevitable?

    Reply
  48. Pieter Zwaan Posted on August 6, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    I think1. fear of revenge when the russians would enter Germany,the german soldiers knew what they had done in Russia!2.Also the demand of the alliies of unconditionel surrender>to prevent a second dolch stoss theorie.3.brainwashedwith nazi ideologie young people who believed in the endsieg till may 1945.

    Reply
  49. John Rohde Posted on August 13, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    My uncle and late father both believed during the war that they would be shot if found by their own side (Wehrmacht) without their weapons. In the event, my uncle surrendered and was "rescued" by a Waffen SS unit who's officer let him off. That belief made surrendering a tricky business. Re boot camp officers going to the front with units, my late father believed it was unusual that their drill sergeant went to the front with them – they managed to shoot him on the first night at the front. Re stoic professionalism, that could be a factor: my late father carried the base plate of an 8cm mortar on his back as he and his men fled US tanks, even though they were retreating against orders. His unit was the 80th Grenadier Regiment, that had been reconstituted after Kharkov. He was one of the many volksdeutscher in the unit.

    Reply
  50. Samnitium Posted on August 17, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    "Enjoy the war because the peace will be worse."
    That's some straight hardcore shit. Losing the Second World War would cost the German reich more than the Treaty of Versailles even dreamed of.

    Reply
  51. Patrick Johnson Posted on August 23, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    i would say that the German army knew well the horror they inflicted on the peoples of the East. Not just the SS. So they expected no mercy and knew the suffering the German civilian , especially the women, could expect .
    so basically they could not simply put down their weapons

    Reply
  52. 7osam 4500 Posted on August 31, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    the economy was revived because adolf opened factorys alot of factorys tanks and airplanes We should admit it that He HIMSELF DID THAT

    Reply
  53. M Bormann Posted on September 9, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Why would anyone surrender when most prisoners were killed outright. And out of control raping and pillaging invaders provided more reason to fight to the end for Volk and Honor.

    Reply
  54. Thomas Campbell Posted on September 12, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    One word answer, Bolshevism

    Reply
  55. Ganymede IX Posted on September 28, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    All these Billy Big Bollocks idiots in the comment section talking about "death or dishonour!" like they have clue. Embarrassing.

    Reply
  56. Bubi Ruski Posted on September 29, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    The German soldiers defended their paradise !

    Reply
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