Die hier gezeigten Abzeichen sind zu edukativen Zwecken dargestellt, aus diesem Grund sind sie nicht abgedeckt. Weiterhin möchte ich auf den folgenden Discliamer aufmerksam machen:
Disclaimer: Die hier gezeigten Abbildungen aus der Zeit des "Dritten Reiches", u.a. mit dem damals obligatorischen "Hakenkreuz", dienen der Berichterstattung über Vorgänge des Zeitgeschehens, der staatsbürgerlichen Aufklärung sowie Forschung und Lehre (§ 86a, 86 StGB)
An interview between Werner Kinnett and his son-in-law, Bill Medland
Werner Kinnett was born in Duisburg 1927 and died in Kevelaer 1989, I interviewed Werner in 1985 when I worked for a monthly Military Magazine.
As a young man Werner was a keen sportsman and he also loved to ski, in fact his skiing ability was known to the mountain troops selection board. But Werner had his heart set on the Waffen-SS, because he had "Party Conections" within the family and he thought the uniform smart, it would interest the girls in his town.
But first he did his service in the Hitler Youth and the Reichsarbeitsdienst, or Labour Corps (see photo, in fact all of his SS photos were destroyed by his mother at the end of the war, she was afraid of the man next door who was too friendly with the Allies). Werner´s service with the RAD was spent on the island Borkum building U-Boat pens.
The regular forces, or Wehrmacht, had priority over all German born males over the age of 17. Hence the reason why the Waffen-SS had so many foreigners in their units. To get Germans into their formations, the Waffen-SS recruited from Police, Camp Guard or military exempt volunteers. The other way was to recruit teenagers who were not yet of military age. By the time that the Wehrmacht started looking for them they would already be at the front in one of the SS divisions!
Werner joins the 12.HJ Division
In April 1944 Werner gathered in a school hall with other members of the RAD, he like the others was aged 17. Two Waffen-SS soldiers from the 12th Hitler Youth Division entered the hall with a large film projector, after a short wait the projector was up and running and the lights were turned out. They watched a film about fighting on the eastern front, showing various Waffen-SS heroes. This was followed by a recruiting talk, and ended with the officers asking " Raise your hand if you want to join". Being patriotic, they all did. A few said they wanted to join a Wehrmacht unit, but the officer told them that if that was what they wanted they must wait a further year, the Waffen-SS would take them now.
The RAD boys waited in a line to sign their recruiting papers. When it came to Werners turn he asked if he could ask his father first (his father was an important NSDAP party member in Duisburg). But the officer smiled and replied "The Fhürer says it is ok, and if it is alright by the Führer, then it will be alright by your father". Werner got a real telling off when he reported to his father, not because his father was not proud, but because Werner was so young. Werner´s bigger brother was with a Nebelwerfer unit attached to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division.
Werner joined the Waffen-SS Hitler Jugend Division in April 1944, and eight weeks later found himself on his way to the Invasion Front at Caen. This does not seem a long training time, and in another country it would not have been. But in Germany it must be remembered that boys ten years old were already learning about fieldcraft, teamwork and duty. Some even had the basic weapon training as boys! Everyone then went to the Labour Corps where they learned further training and working 12 hours a day with pick and shovel built up their level of fitness.
The other reason why Werner was sent so fast to the front, was the fact that thousands of Grenadiers had been wounded or killed since the start of the offensive. Indeed it should be noted that in the HJ Div. only 1 in 10 returned without a wound! Werner himself was wounded 17th July 1944 at Caen, a shell splinter from an Allied Battleship hit him in the shoulder.
He had been taking shelter in a trench during the bombardment, which had gone on for days. The other three boys in the trench had their heads blown off! Werner thinking he may be captured, fired a pistol round into his arm, removing his blood group tattoo.
Werner did not enjoy his time with the HJ Div., he said that the training was very brutal for young boys, who were forced to do things that their young bodies were not ready for. Also the NCOs and Officers came mostly from the elite Leibstandarte and did not wish to serve in a new unit that had not proved itself in battle, so took it out on the young boys and pushed them too hard. At the front other SS units got beer in their time when in rest areas, but the boys of the HJ Div. were only given milk!
Werner and his friends were always up to something that would land them into trouble, even in Caen during the fighting Werner found himself being reprimanded by Fritz Witt, although I never discovered what he had done.
Werner after being wounded, transfers to the 2. Das Reich Division
After being wounded Werner was very weak, but made a fast recovery when he was sent to an SS hospital at Breslau-Lissa. He felt very down, but was cheered up by the Polish nurses who looked after him. Werner heard a rumour that the HJ Division was to be sent to the eastern front and he was not keen on that idea. (The rumour was unfounded because the unit fought in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944).
So Werner heard that recruiting officers from other units were active in the hospital and he soon had a visit from an officer from 2.Das Reich Division. The doctor said he was not fit to leave the hospital, but Werner left anyway and joined the Reconnaissance Battalion. When the Hitler Jugend Division found out that one of their soldiers had been "poached", it was too late.
The Das Reich Division had been in constant action on the western front for four months, and the turnover in replacement personnel had been tremendous. The unit spent several months building-up at Stadtkyll in the Eifel. It was a wonderful time for Werner, he enjoyed it and made a lot of friends.
Once while on parade Werner was singled out by an Oberscharführer (Sergeant) for special treatment because of a comment he made. He was then ordered to pick up a chair and hold it at arms length whilst bending the knees. A few days later he saw the Sergeant leaving a pub, so Werner and his friend Müller followed him, to hit him in a dark corner. Although the Sergeant knew who did it, he could not prove it.
The following weekend the Sergeant had his revenge when he had to inspect the soldiers before allowing them to go out for the evening. Each soldier had to hold out his hands and show clean finger nails, a handkerchief and a condom. Lastly the Sergeant would inspect the uniform, to see if any buttons were missing. When it came to Werners turn, he was ordered to bend over and touch his toes, this caused the buttons to come off on his braces. Everytime he replaced the buttons and reported back, the Sergeant would repeat the proformance, so as a result SS-Grenadier Kinnett never left camp that weekend.
The Ardennes Offensive, December 1944
Werner and a friend were pulling a handcart through a Belgium village, loaded up with large quantities of cheese and rations for the company, when an inn keeper asked them to come in and have some free beer. Well after they drank the beer and got outside the handcart had been stolen, he never told me if he said the truth to the company commander or if he blamed it on a partisan stick-up? Another time the company captured a large amount of American chocolate which was due to be handed out to the unit veterans.
Captain Krag was furious that the chocolate had been stolen and promised punishment for the ones who had taken it. Too late, Werner and his pals had eaten the evidence!
During the advance through a Belgian village, the streets were narrow and the advance was held up due to a group of people from a lunatic asylum, two of the 16 year old SS-Grenadiers opened fire on them and cleared the way. Werner says that today there is probably a brass sign saying " 8 Belgian civilians were killed on this spot December 1944".
The Ardennes offensive, or Battle of the Bulge, started on 16th December 1944. Werner was a member of the 2nd SS-AA, Das Reich Division, "AA" meaning Aufklärungs Abteilung or Reconnaissance Battalion. The unit went into the line north of St.Vith. But the northern flank made slow progress,unlike the southern area where Von Manteuffel was advancing much faster. Das Reich was split up and the 2.AA was sent south to stiffen the attack against Bastogne.
On the way to Bastogne the column came under artillery fire, and due to heavy snow the driver of the 251/1 Half Track could not see the road through the view slit. So each Grenadier took turns and went up top to guide the vehicle, his fingers in front of the view slit, signalling left or right. Werner shouted to the Sergeant "Can I come down now?" to which the Sergeant replied "No, your half hour is not up yet!".
Werner´s Half Track towed a Russian built 120mm Mortar, infact many of their weapons were captured, Werner was issued for example with a Russian Radom pistol. But the Mortar was looked on with caution due to the fact that it was made of wood and had wire wrapped around it. They were known to explode after so many shots, killing the crew. They wondered how much it had fired before it had been captured on the eastern front some six months before?
The column reached Bastogne and set about digging in the Mortar, and the Battalion Commander, Ernst August Krag, ordered Werner to fetch something from the next field. He climbed over a fence and fell into a blown open body of a dead American, whos arms held him tight! After freeing himself from the body, Werner found himself near a road which had remained hidden from view. He thought he heard an approaching convoy of Americans, so rushed to tell his officer, who then set up an ambush, the date was 22nd December 1944.
Werner captured a Willys Jeep
The ambush set, the Americans got closer and the command was given to open fire! The convoy was destroyed with no losses to the Germans. Werner captured a Willys Jeep, the driver had taken a bullet in his backside and he lost interest in fighting for democracy, and raised his hands. On arriving at the Jeep Werner noticed that the radio was broadcasting a call-sign and was waiting for a reply. Krag arrived and ordered that no one was to touch the radio.
Someone who understood English was found, and listened in to the radio. The Americans were talking in plain English, and as a result many morer ambushes were set up. Werner was disapointed when he felt around in the dashboard and thought he had found a pineapple, only to find a Baseball Glove! Although he was later rewarded with an Iron Cross Second Class for his part in setting up the ambush.
Several Americans had been taken prisoner and turned out to be first generation Americans from eastern europe, and they were glad to be put to work carrying ammo boxes and supplies, and "joined" the SS Battalion strengh. Were they the only Americans to "serve" in the SS? The Americans under siege at Bastogne were not too far away and fired on every German vehicle, as did the Allied Air Forces when they had a chance.
Werners unit were able to get hot food during daylight hours because they used the jeep and the driver wore an American steel helmet whilst driving.Werner is badly wounded 24th December 1944
On Christmas Eve the Americans could be heard singing "Silent Night", Werner listened to them with three of his friends sitting in their trench. An SS-officer came over and said they should send the Americans something for christmas and ordered them to open up with their 120mm mortar. The round was placed in the tube and there was a blinding flash and a loud explosion! Was it an American shell landing in the trench or the Russian built mortar exploding? No one knew, but Werner laid there with his right foot blown off and his friends were all dead.
He laid there for a long time before he was found. The cry went up Sani,Sani! But when the Medic came, he gave Werner the wrong blood and his leg had to be cut off at the knee.
A few days later it was the Germans who found themselves cut off and under siege and the order was given to breakout and head west. Captain Krag ordered the breakout and said that the wounded would be taken out too, using the available transport. Werner was strapped to the bonnet of the Willys Jeep which he had himself captured a week before.
They went under cover of darkness over uneven fields and Werner´s head was crashing up and down on the cold metal of the Jeep. They were seen and the Americans launched an artillery bombardment, Werner´s greatcoat was on fire, as the unit raced to safety.
Werner in hospital at Remagen.
Werner woke up to find himself in a ward for soldiers who had lost limbs, at the military hospital in Remagen-Linz. He thought his life had ended when he saw that his right leg was missing, he was only 18 years old. A Wehrmacht sergeant talked to him and told him it would all be alright and that he could still have a good life ahead of him. The sergeant did much to build Werner´s confidence in himself after the loss of his limb.
Werner was never in a wheelchair and although painfull, learned to walk again using an artificial limb. In fact when I knew him he worked in a metal work factory, and worked standing up all day, he was even able to dance, swim and ride a bicycle!
When he heard that the Americans were advancing to the German boarder in Spring 1945, he volunteered for service with the Kriegsmarine K-Abteilung that used one man torpedoes. Werner was told that with one leg he would not be able to jump clear when it hit the target, he answered he was willing to die for the Fatherland. But events moved too quick and he was not fit enough to start training before the Americans reached Remagen.
At the end of February 1945 Werner was visited by some of his friends and his commanding officer who presented him with the Wound Badge in Gold. His friends then said their farewells before leaving for the Russian Front, he never saw any of them again.
March 1945 and the Americans are fighting near Remagen bridge and the fighting can be heard from the hospital, Werner is moved to the window where he will later see the complete battle for Remagen Bridge!
In the hospital ward was also an American Prisoner of War who had also lost a limb. He was laughing and saying his buddies were only hours away. He said he would make up all sorts of stories about the Waffen-SS patients and that his own buddies would believe him. Remagen bridge fell and the Americans were across the Rhine, Werner told the ones who could not get to the window, what was happening, the American was getting excited about the developements.
A doctor entered the ward and said the Americans would be here in minutes! We have a Red Cross train leaving towards the east, there is still one place on it, who wants to go? They all pointed to the American POW, he was loaded onto the train protesting that he did not wish to go shouting "Let me alone, my buddies are coming!". In the ward they all fell about laughing. Later it was discovered that the Red Cross train was destroyed by low level Allied fighter aircraft, even though it was clearly marked as such. The American was amongst the dead.
A few minutes later Werner could hear American vehicles outside on the road, and Americans shouting in the hospital stairs. Moments later a tall black American entered the room, looked around and saw a picture of Adolf Hitler on the wall, angry, he shouted "Take cover!" and sprayed the room with a full magzine destroying the picture and firing just above the heads of the patients.
Werner as a Prisoner of War
Werner was sent to a POW camp in England, he did not know where, but it was the first time in an aircraft for him. After the war he was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp. In fact the Concentration Camps contained many SS, Waffen-SS and Nazis after the war, some of them died in captivity from war wounds, injuries or beatings from the Allied guards.
Interesting to think that when people today place flowers in the Concentration Camps for "ALL the ones who died here", that actually includes the Nazi prisoners 1945-1949!
Werner found life in Dachau one endless round of Identity Parades where former in-mates looked for their wartime guards. The Prisoners were formed up into three groups, black, grey and white. The "whites" were POWs that were willing to help the Americans in any way that was possible. "greys" were POWs that were considered anti-nazis but fought for their country as best they could and did their duty. The "blacks", who included Waffen-SS, Paratroops and U-Boat crews, were willing to try to escape and fought camp riots. Indeed several hundred of them did manage to breakout and reach home, some even from England, although the war was over, they were still Prisoners of War.
The "whites" were released at the end of 1945 and most of the "blacks" by 1949. Some of the POWs were convicted of warcrimes and were not released until 1955. In the Soviet Union some of the Waffen-SS were never released! Werner stayed at Dachau until 1949 and refused to give more than his name, rank and number, right up until the end! On release Werner was allowed to live in Weeze, but had to report to the Local British Commander once a week until the occupation ended.
SS-Grenadier Werner Kinnett was proud of his Fatherland until the day he died.I shall always remember the sunday mornings at breakfast when he would tell me about his war service.I have been married 20 years to his daughter.
A young Werner Kinnett in RAD uniform, sadly after the war when Werner was still being held in Dachau Concentration Camp, his mother being frightened of communists living next door, burnt all of Werner´s Waffen-SS pictures!
Werner in RAD uniform in 1943, when he was building U-Boat