God has given up the
protection of the people . . .
Satan has taken command. -- Joseph Goebbels
- Radio Werewolf broadcast


The Werewolf Organisation

Werewolf was supposedly the brainchild of Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who concieved of it as a number of partisan units operating behind enemy lines in the event of parts of Germany becoming occupied. The Nazi's were of course, well aware by this point of the kind of damage that could be inflicted on an occupying army by a well organised and trained partisan force. In an Autumn 1944 meeting at which HJ-Jugendfuhrer Artur Axmann, SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Hans Adolf-Prutzmann, RSHA chief Ernst Kultenbrunner and Waffen-SS Obstrurmbannfuhrer Otto Skorzeny were present, Himmler oulined his plans for Werewolf. Prutzmann was placed in charge of the organisation and given responsibility for recruiting volounteers and organising their training- which would be carried out by Skorzeny's SS-Jagdverband (Hunting Teams). Once trained, Werewolf units would chiefly be comprised of inexperienced Hitlerjugend (HJ- Hitler Youth) volounteers, with experienced officers- handpicked from the ranks of the German Army and Waffen SS- in charge.

Werewolf staff HQ was set up at Schloss Hulchrath; a castle near the Rhinish town of Erkelenz. The first two hundred trainees arrived there in late November, and Skorzeny's men dealt out intensive lessons in sabotage, demolitions, small arms, survival and radio-communications. Prutzmann was also to set up training centres in the Berlin suburbs and Bavaria. At the same time, special bunkers were prepared for use by behind the lines werewolves- loaded with supplies and munitions, before being left to be overrun by the allies. Werewolves were issued false papers and passes by the Gestapo, so they would be able to mingle with ordinary German civillians during the day;assuming their Werewolf identities only at night. Despite these extensive preperations, however, Werewolf's actual effectiveness was limited, to say the least.

The assasination of the Allied appointed Burgomeister of Auchen, Dr Franz Oppenhoff in March, 1945 was hailed by Goebbels and Bormann- broadcasting on 'Radio Werewolf'- as a sign of a mass uprising by the German people against the allied oppressors- signifying a great wave of resistance that would sweep the occupying forces back. Goebbels was to say;- "We Werewolves consider it our supreme duty to kill, to kill and to kill, employing every cunning and wile in the darkness of the night, crawling and groping through towns and villages, like wolves, noiselessly, mysteriously." In reality however, the Werewolves had been led into action by one Herbert Wenzel, an experienced soldier from the ranks of the SS-Jagdverband. Indeed, it appears that the assasination was more or less orchestrated by the Jagdverband and several other military units, detracting somewhat from the Werewolves' supposed ability to act independently from the military. Werewolf can, however, be considered a highly succesful propoganda excercise; especially when considered against the background of Allied paranoia about the 'Alpine Redoubt' from which the Nazi's would allegedly make their final stand.

Allied unease about the possibility of an 'Alpine Redoubt' in Bavaria had been gradually increasing since late 1944, when OSS reports predicted that as the war neared its end, the Nazi's would transfer key government and military departments to Bavaria- which was where the Nazi party had its origins- where a final stand would be made with Adolf Hitler at the helm (Intelligence reports would continually place Hitler in this region almost right up to the date of his eventual suicide).

OSS reports painted a frightening picture;- An elite, 300,000 strong force of SS troops was said to be in the area; up to five long trains were arriving in the Alpine region every week, and all manner of exotic weaponry had been (allegedly) spotted aboard them. It was believed that the Nazi's maintained an underground factory, capable of producing Messerschmitts, and that a vast underground network of tunnels and railways connected the various fortifications that had been constructed. Given the terrain, assaulting these fortifications would be difficult if not impossible, and the existence of the Werewolf organisation was proof positive that the Nazi's would not be content to sit and stew in their mountain hideaways. The broadcasts of Goebbels and Bormann attributed to the Werewolves both a central command structure and support network they did not in reality actually have. Logically, the Allies reasoned- part accepting the broadcasts- this central command would be located in the Alpine Redoubt.

By March 1945, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) were taking the possibility seriously enough for Eisenhower to downgrade the strategic importance of Berlin, instead focusing on Bavaria. Even those who doubted the validity of the original OSS reports accepted it was wisest to act as if there were an Alpine Redoubt- just in case.

These illusions came to an embarrasing end in late April, when three German soldiers crossed the Elbe near Magdeburg and surrendered to the Allies, one of which was Leiutenant-General Kurt Dittmar. When asked about the Alpine Redoubt at his debriefing, Dittmar laughed and called it "...a romantic dream. It's a myth". Although initially sceptical, SHAEF soon came to accept the truth of his words. Meanwhile, Stalin steamrollered his way towards Berlin.

The Werewolves were largely unsuccesful due to the lack of the central command structure that the Allies and Propagandists attributed to them erroneously. Bormann and Goebbels talked as if they in some way controlled Werewolf's activities; the fact of the matter was, however, that only Prutzmann excercised any kind of central control over the organisation, and the resources he had at his dispoal were insufficient to establish the kind of support network the organisation needed. When Schloss Hulchrath was overran in April, 1945, Prutzmann moved to Mecklenberg, and Werewolf effectively ceased to exist as an organisation. Facing capture and execution at the hands of the advancing Allies, Prutzmann was then to commit suicide in May, 1945.

Sporadic Werewolf attacks would be made on Allied forces and German 'collaberators' for months to come- notably the murder of three American civillians in Passau, 1946- but with little tangible success. Before long, even these died out, as the last remaining Werewolf partisans surrendered, were captured, or killed.

Sources

"The Death of Hitler" - Ada Petrova and Peter Watson
"The Werewolf Organisation" - Russ Folsom
"Werewolf" - Charles Whiting


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