Do keep in mind that many of these images are from the 1944 moment in which the regime turned to the Volkssturm strategy, a process described in the Yelton book,
and, ergo, these images are not really pictures of these people in subsequent combat. The latter was mostly an exceptional slaughter, although in some instances, these troops, such as they were, fought well. The Volkssturm was Bormann's bureaucratic attempt to save the regime through a strategy of attrition so that the allies would deviate from unconditional surrender and the Nazi assumption that, at some point, the US/UK etc would part ways with the USSR. The reality, of course, did not jibe with Bormann's fantasies,any more than the preceding ones did with Himmler's and so forth. The Volkssturm embodied old ideas (Volksbewaffnung) about a militia versus a regular military force, in which ideological zeal would triumph over the science of strategy and tactics in the narrow sense. In the event, where the Volkssturm had tactical success, it was because of sound leadership by those with tangible military experience, not out of berserk Nazi zeal of chicken hawks and such. Read the Yelton book. It is an extraordinary piece of research in detail. All of this also speaks to the limits of professional strategy and the tendency of war to assume, as Clausewitz wrote, an absolute character. This phenomenon usually ends very badly for all concerned, as the present events in Syria and elsewhere indicate.
Bob makes a very valid and insightful point to bear in mind while looking at images intended for the last ditch of total war.
Last edited by Friedrich-Berthold; 09-15-2016 at 12:51 AM.
09-14-2016 08:50 PM
The other piece to add here, for those whose interest here goes beyond the stitch fairy level of engagement, rests in the treasure trove of film in youtube that
constitutes raw footage from the US Army Signal Corps and otherwise war correspondents on the end of the war. That is, chunks of film, more or less unedited,
that contain the final phase of fighting in 1945. It is powerful stuff and a corrective to most of these propaganda images.
The dramatic film rendering of all of this is the 1959 film, Die Bruecke, which pays adequate due to Bob's point as to the fundamental butchery of it all.