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US forces using German uniforms/armor at Aachen?

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by KodiakBeer, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I just finished a small book called "Sitting Ducks" by Steve Anderson. It's a study of Operation Greif, the Skorzeny infiltration of the American lines in the Ardennes by English speaking volunteers in GI uniforms and jeeps. There's some interesting info in the book and it's worth a read, but he attributes the genesis of the plan to Hitler himself, and says he got the idea from a similar American operation in Aachen where Americans used German uniforms and panzers to infiltrate into the city.

    I've never heard of such an American operation. Does anybody know where this story might have originated?
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    This is new to me as well. Hitler had many delusions, could be one of them.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    It's totally foreign to me as well. He quotes Skorzeny as hearing this from Hitler, so it may just be a tall tale from Skorzeny who was somewhat of a poser and publicity hound.
     
  4. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I've heard of this before, but I can't remember where. It also struck me as far-fetched at the time.

    This can likely be attributed to Skorzeny's active 'imagination' -- he made several other outrageous claims.
     
  5. Cas

    Cas Member

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    I haven't heard either about this story, I'll see what I can dig up, will post it on another forum.
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Cas, I'd like to hear anything you (or anybody else) finds on this.

    On a related note, the book mentioned in the OP relates the experiences of a number of those fake Americans who penetrated the lines in Wacht am Rhein. Interestingly, because they were so secretive about recruiting these people they ended up with a collection of slackers who thought they could get out of the lines and have some cushy job in the rear interviewing prisoners. None of them had any idea they were volunteering for an extremely hazardous operation. Most of them could barely speak English and only a one or two spoke it well enough to fool an American. Some of these guys simply simply drove a few miles and then hid in the forest until the German forces caught up, whereupon they reported to the nearest unit. One unit did a 180 and drove, then walked, all the way back to Cologne (after ditching their American uniforms) and reported in there with a lame story about penetrating the American lines.

    They didn't get much accomplished, but just knowing they existed created a lot of confusion behind the American lines.
     
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  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    So true , the myth of a fifth collumn has always been devastating. It did a lot of harm in 1940, it still did in 1944
     
  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    There are many mentions on a google search for Operation Greif. I'd never heard about it either but then again, there's a LOT I haven't heard about :) interesting and more to read now. Thanks (I think?)
    here's one from Chapter 11-THE ARDENNES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE

    Operation Greif During the last days before the great offensive which would send the German armored spearheads plunging west, Hitler belatedly set about replicating the winning combination of rapid and deep armored penetration, paratroop attacks in the enemy rear, and infiltration by disguised ground troops which had functioned so effectively in the western campaign of 1940 and the Greek campaign of 1941. To flesh out this combination, a special operation named Greif (or Condor) was hurriedly organized as an adjunct to the armored operation assigned the 1st SS Panzer Division.[SUP]8[/SUP]
    The plans for the ground phase of Greif consisted of three parts: the seizure intact of at least two bridges across the Meuse by disguised raiding parties, the prompt reinforcement of any such coup de main by an armored commando formation; and an organized attempt to create confusion in the Allied rear areas through sabotage carried out by jeep parties clad in American uniforms. Later it would be rumored that a feature of
    [269]
    [HR][/HR] Operation Greif was the planned assassination of Allied leaders, notably General Eisenhower, but there is no evidence of such plotting in the plan.
     
  9. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    One jeep actually made it to the Meuse at Huy and sat there and watched it all night. What could they do? It was four guys in a jeep against a platoon or so of GI's/MP's guarding the bridge, and many more troops crossing in both directions. Eventually, they turned around and drove back toward the German lines and actually made it, which was quite a feat in itself since the alert for such parties was already out. Perhaps because they were driving towards the front, they were less suspicious?

    I've scanned a number of books and googled the subject of the American fifth column at Aachen, and found nothing beyond related statements by Skorzeny. I don't think it happened, or if it did it was something relatively mundane like some GI's getting aboard a disabled Panzer and firing some shells.
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    You may be closer to the truth of the matter than you know. I recall reading that after the Normandy breakout one US Infantry division 'appropriated' anything with wheels/tracks and a motor to speed thier march. Allegedly to include French motor cars, German vehicles and supposedly at least one fire engine.


     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    belasar,

    Likely it was well after Normandy. Sounds like your talking about the 83rd Infantry Division, that was nicknamed "The Rag Tag Circus", and was "immortalized" in Cornelius Ryan's "The Last Battle." IIRC, it was two fire engines and the division also had a captured Me-109 that they flew.

    So, that would be late March '45, well after Aachen's capture.
     
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  12. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Here's an excerpt from "The Last Battle":

     
  13. Cas

    Cas Member

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  14. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I was just curious about the supposed Americans in German uniforms. The Greif episode is well documented and I've got plenty of material on that.
     
  15. SKYLINEDRIVE

    SKYLINEDRIVE Member

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    I am quoting Eisenhower´s “Bitter Woods”, who quoted from Skorzeny´s “Skorzeny´sSpecial Missions”.
    Hitler (during a conversation with Skorzeny on October 21. 1944 at the Wolfsschanze):
    “….You will have to wear British and American uniforms. The enemy has already done us a great deal of damage by the use of our uniforms in various commando operations. Only a few days ago I received a report that the use of our uniforms by an American force had played no inconsiderable part when they captured Aachen, the first Germantown in their hands. …..”

    This is the only context where I can remember reading about the use of German uniforms by the US Army during the fights for Aachen. So either it was German propaganda, which I doubt, because if so, the story would be much more present in literature, a story made up by Hitler to calm Skorzeny´s worries about using the enemy´s uniform, or, and to me this seems to be the best explanation, an excuse somebody had made up for loosing the Battle for Aachen.
     
  16. Earthican

    Earthican Member

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    Wiki quotes the above and adds this at the bottom.

    Given successes like the one below, I imagine the Germans started to see the SOE in every setback that was difficult to explain.

    Kidnap of General Kreipe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The same thought had occurred to me. Von Schwerin, the original commander in Aachen, attempted to surrender the city and was called back to Berlin to face charges of treason (later commuted). He was replaced with a General Wilck who was ordered to hold Aachen "until the last man" so such an excuse might well have been offered as a reason for losing the city, or for not dying in the ruins defending it...
     
  18. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I just found a reference about two 155mm self propelled howitzers which were used in a direct fire role in the streets of Aachen. I suppose a German seeing these in the middle of all that smoke and rubble might have mistaken them for a Stug. Such a report might well have filtered back to OKW... What do you guys think?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Ruud

    Ruud Member

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    In the Kriegstagesbuch which i am translating i found this on 14th september1944, 19.10 hrs:


    "Der Feind greift teilweise in deutscher Tarnbekleidung an und bedient sich augenscheinlich besonderer Kommandos,
    um Verwirrung in der Truppe zu erzeugen."

    "The enemy attacks in german camouflageoutfits and obviously uses special forces to confuse our troops"
     
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  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Thanks, Ruud! That's very interesting! Can you give me some background on this Kriegstagebuch? Is this the diary of OKW, or of a unit at Aachen?
     

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