Richard Schulze-Kossens

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Richard Schulze-Kossens, the son of a Prussian Army officer, was born in Berlin on 2nd October, 1914. After graduating in 1934 he joined the Hitler’s personal bodyguard regiment – Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler. He later recalled: “Volunteers were specially selected for their height and athletic prowess. It was a select troop of fine men who underwent a particularly hard and thorough training. So obviously one could get them to do things in their training that one couldn’t do with ordinary soldiers.”

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In 1936 Schulze-Kossens graduated from the SS officers’ academy. The following year he served as adjutant to Theodor Eicke. Schulze-Kossens was seconded to the Foreign Office and accompanied Joachim von Ribbentrop to Moscow for the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939.

During the Second World War Schulze-Kossens fought with the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler in Poland in 1939. The following year he was involved in the invasion of France and Belgium. His troops were later accused of war crimes: “Let me say as a soldier I condemn all crimes regardless of who committed them, whether by us or by others, and that includes the crimes committed against captured SS men after the capitulation. But I make no reproaches in that respect. I am not recriminating, I only want to say that in war, amongst the mass of soldiers, there are always elements who develop criminal tendencies, and I can only condemn them. I would not say that the Waffen-SS was typically criminal, but there are well-known incidents. I don’t want to excuse anything, but I must say one thing which is, that it is natural in war, during hot and heavy fighting, for young officers to sometimes lose their nerve. I want to mention one example of this, Tulle in France, where a company found the bodies of sixty German soldiers who had not been killed in action but murdered. There they lie wounded and mutilated, and then in an instant there is a desire for revenge and they lose their nerve.”

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According to Andrew Mollo, the author of To The Death’s Head: The Story of the SS (1982): “In October 1941 with the rank of major, he followed in his late brother’s footsteps and became an orderly officer at Hitler’s headquarters and from October 1942 until December 1944 he was Hitler’s personal adjutant.” In January 1945, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, took command of the Waffen-SS Officers’ Academy at Bad Tolz. When the Red Army entered Nazi Germany, Schulze-Kossens was put in charge of the SS-Grenadierdivision Nibelungen. In April 1945 he took part in the bitter fighting at Vohburg, Landshut, Pastetten and Chiemsee.

Schulze-Kossens surrendered to the United States Army on 8th May 1945. He later recalled: “I was then sent to thirteen different camps where in all honesty I must say the prisoners were badly treated. I was beaten. I was handcuffed, put into a jeep and taken twice to Nuremberg as a defence witness. During our first year of imprisonment the treatment was so bad that it didn’t conform to the Geneva Convention. Bearing in mind that we had been taken prisoner in Germany it was only after five months that we were allowed to write to our families. Half the camp was undernourished and I had to start a hunger strike. I think we were subjected to special treatment, because the Americans thought we were the hard cases, but in 1946-1947 things began to get better.”

Schulze-Kossens was released in 1948 and worked for the next few years as a salesman. Schulze-Kossens was interviewed and appeared in the television documentary, The World at War (1973-74). However, he initially refused to be interviewed for an English documentary on the Waffen-SS: “I am not prepared to give an interview which begins with the events in the concentration camps, which will inevitably stir up feelings against the SS. As an officer in the former Waffen-SS I am not interested in allowing myself to be defamed again in England if our troops are again to be associated with the events in the concentration camps… I want to take this opportunity to say how deeply it would offend me to have our troops portrayed once again as a sort of ‘soldateska’ who committed a string of war crimes.”

Richard Schulze-Kossens died in Düsseldorf on 3rd July, 1988.

 

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Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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