The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together

Originally posted on War History Online.

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Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945. Germany’s war to advance its empire across Europe and beyond was coming to an end. A unique story, however, has emerged just days after Hitler committed suicide in a book by Stephen Harding called ‘The Last Battle’.

As most of Germany and German-occupied territory became overrun with Allied or Red Army troops advancing to Berlin, three US tanks from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the  US 12th Armored Division were making their way through Austria towards Schloss Itter.  The castle was, and still is, a medieval castle built in the 1200s and sits high on a hilltop near the small village of Itter in Austria’s North Tyrol region.

The Nazis had been holding many important French prisoners at Castle Itter, and the Allies had planned the operation to liberate the castle and its prisoners. Among them were ex-French prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Eduard Daladier and former French commanders-in-chief Generals Maxime Weygand and Paul Gamelin, the dailybeast.com reports.

The very model of a Wehrmacht officer… In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In addition, Jean Borotra, a former tennis champion, and Francois de La Rocque, both of whom were part of the Vichy France government, and notoriously pro-Nazi, had been imprisoned at the castle. Harding explains the complicated politics of the time, and that while they had been part of the pro-Nazi government, they had also supported the Allies via the French resistance, which explains why…

via The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together.

The Brits Who Fought For Hitler.

Crimescribe

Insignia of the ‘British Free Corps’, former prisoners-of-war who enlisted in the infamous Waffen SS.

The SS motto – ‘My honour is loyalty.’

As a freelance scribbler and long-time student of military history I love finding the more overlooked or forgotten aspects of the subject. For instance, the popular narrative of the Second World War holds that the British people pulled together, fighting as one for a common cause.

Erm, not exactly.

While British troops and the vast majority of the British public did rally round, a tiny handful didn’t. Some turned traitor for money. The notorious ‘£18 traitor’ Duncan Scott-Ford (not one of Plymouth’s favourite sons), was hanged at Wandsworth Prison in November, 1942 for selling convoy information to German Intelligence at a bargain discount. For others the shift was ideological. They were in it for the cause, such as Wiliam Joyce (AKA ‘Lord HAW Haw’ and star of…

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