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Brandenburgers

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Just picked up what looked like

an interesting book about the

German special forces-style

Brandenburger Regiment (later

a division)authored by someone

who claims to have served with them:

"Assault From Within" by Georg

Von Konrat (Tandem, London, 1970)

Begins with interesting account

of his training and adoption of

a Russian identity, but starts

getting weird when Barbarossa starts...

on July 22nd, 1941!

The July dates are used across

the next 10 pages or so...so it's

not an easily explained typo.

Then they get their Tiger tanks...

in July 1941.

Then they see long columns of

Russian prisoners bound for the rear

to join Gen. Vlasov's Free Russian

Army...in July 1941.

Then he has an encounter with an

imperious officer from the 'Gross

Deutschland Waffen-SS Division...'

The book is represented on it's

dust jacket as a work of non-fiction...

"A valuable contribution to the secret

history of the Second World War"

-Book Exchange

"Fascinating and sinister story"

-Manchester Guardian

etc etc

Can anyone direct me to a better source

on the Brandenburgers?

thanks,

Matt

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Hi there Matt

The Kurowski volumes are, I believe, generally regarded as the standard work on the German special operations forces. (Franz Kurowski, Deutsche Kommandotrupps 1939-45, vol I and II).

"Brandenburger" is popularly used to denote also those units not actually belonging to that particular unit (800), but carying out special forces operations of the type your book above describes. Kurowski covers all of them too. But he does not cover the "Oranienburger" units very closely. I get the impression he does not like them (they were SS), but that's just my personal speculation. There is no solid work on the Oranienburger units that I know of.

The volumes are good but not exhaustive. Very difficult to research the topic scientifically since the Western Allies and Soviets never returned the archives and files concerning the German Foreign Ministry armed branch, nor those on the German military intelligence armed branch. Nor can these be found in US archives today since they mysteriously "disappeared" (but maybe in the recently opened Soviet?). I think Kurowski has what there is to be found in his volumes. He has managed to find an adequate number of survivors to interview as well.

I've got the volumes, so if there was something particular that you were curious about I could look it up for you. I'm not alien to writing longer posts if you're not alien to reading them. Otherwise, the volumes are readily available on the market. Not sure if there is an English translation, but I imagine there must be since there really is no equivalent scientific effort made, and the topic fascinates many people.

Sincerely

Dandelion

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The ghost of your long lost memories whispers that the units eventually developing into "Brandenburger", were responsible for the security of the General Staff and several other institutions in Berlin, who were also guarded by the Wach Bataillon - to become GD.

As a general note to the not so fiercely grog-ish as Michael, the Brandenburg Division, after being converted from Special Forces into Panzergrenadiere in September 1944, belonged to the Großdeutschland Panzer-Korps.

Rittmeister Helmuth Spaeter was originally a cavalry (recon) man, commanding the 2./Pz-Aufkl.Abt "Großdeutschland". He climbed the ladder and became an officer of the general staff, ending up as the Ib of the Brandenburg Division (then as Maj.i.G.). Apparently, he was a very well liked officer in the Division. But he actually served in it only after the conversion from Army Intelligence to line combat unit.

Michael has a nice photo of him on his site too, IIRC. Spaeter I mean. Don't you?

Cheers

Dandelion

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Thanks very much, Dandelion...

I was hoping to mine Von Konrat's book

for scenario ideas, and to be fair to

him, it's full of great stories...it

just needs a good editor...

I'm not at all averse to long posts

and I may take you up on your kind offer

in the future, if that's OK...

Thanks,

Matt

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A sideline:

Before I posted my initial query,

I searched the forum, and there is

a brief thread about "German Marines"...

Von Konrat's unit (he was the CO,

supposedly the youngest captain

in the German Army in 1941)was

called the 115th Prussian Marine...

this seems to have been the usual

camouflage tactic to disguise the

very secret and special nature of

the unit...although they did intens-

ively train him in amphibious ops...

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Also thank you, Mr Dorosh-

For what it's worth, Von Konrat

makes the connection between the

Brandenburgers and the GD clear

from the very beginning...it is to

the GD that the 115th Prussian Marine

are assigned at the beginning of

Barbarossa, in his account...

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Matt,

I think you might have been right in assuming, in your first post, that this book is purely fictional. Because that's a very strange reference he makes there about the Marines.

Can't find any reference to the 115th in the Tessin works (which means it was not a German Army, Navy or Air Force unit).

Nor any such unit or codename in Kurowskis work on the Military Intelligence ("Brandeburger") units. The latter do not form until September 1939, and then only in company strength, some 70 men all from the Abwehr. A second company is added in November, mainly from Slovaks and volunteers from the Artillery, and then follow the other two companies in December. None list any discernable connection to water. Of the specialist platoons there was an arctic one, motorcycle, paratroop ad three ethnically specialised ones - but no marines.

If they belonged to Mil.Int. I can't see why they'd be assigned to army service in 41. There was a desperate shortage of Brandenburgers, and the Frontaufklärungskommandos (Brandenburger type units of other kinds). It was only after the collapse of the Abwehr that Special Forces were converted to army units and did frontline duty.

Furthermore, the term "Marine" did not exist in the German army (or Navy). References to "Marine", spelled as such, should be translated to "Naval" in English, and means sailors serving in an infantry capacity. There was one effective such division in 1945, plus more forming, and throughout the war bands of stranded sailors or coastal artillerymen could form ad hoc units with the title Marine (the German word, not the English). As a cover, it seems peculiar. The Brandenburgers themselves mostly used "construction unit" covers, while some posed as signal troops.

The Navy had Special Forces, such as divers, but no infantry force. Within the Brandenburger, a Küstenjäger battallion appears much later (than Barbarossa), and this unit could be called Marines in the Anglo-Saxon sense. Well, it could perform assault landings anyway, and had assault boats of Allied type (well, most were stolen Allied boats...). It served in the Aegean and Adriatic, primarily. Other than that, the Brandenburger formed a Dreigroschen flotilla for the invasion of Ösel, but that didn't turn out very well at all. And there was a security force patrolling the Danube, which also had boats.

Lastly, national titles ("Prussian") were dropped in 1921, thus not in official use after that in the German army. You can find such references in popular literature - even contemporary newspapers and such - since they were and remain popular. But they were not used in unit names/numbers.

On another note, by Barbarossa, GD was still only a regiment (mot.), formed from the Wach-Rgt Berlin, elements from Wach-Btl 631 boosted by elements from the 92nd Inf Rgt, parts of Inf.-Lehr.Btl.(mot) as well as elements from II. and III Btl of the Inf.-Lehr.Rgt Döberitz. Plus the regimental companies from various sources. Prussians, most of them, but no Marines as part of the unit (GD became a division march-may 1942). I might add that this was not the original GD Regiment. The original regiment was formed in June 1939, consisting entirely of men from the Wach Rgt Berlin, a regular army unit responsible for the security of critical public and military institutions in Berlin. They guarded these, while the Abwehr were responsible for the undercover security of the military institutions as well as anything related to the Foreign ministry (RSHA were responsible for the other half of GDs guard objects, i.e. public institutions).

Cheerio

Dandelion

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Dandelion...

I'm not remotely qualified to discuss

German order of battle during WW2 (or

any other war, for that matter) but

I do enjoy a mystery:

von Konrat, Georg

PASSPORT TO TRUTH, Star 39603/W.H. Allen & Co., 1977, 1st thus. Originally published in hardcover in 1972. "Newly appointed to the Ovamboland hydro- electric station, Georg von Konrat and his eight-year-old daughter were plunged into an area of the world largely shrounded in secrecy--black South Africa. Within hours of his arrival, the everyday atrocities and brutalities forced themselves onto von Konrat's awareness. With no specific political leanings, his job brought him into immediate contact with a political system his conscience could not tolerate. Branded as a 'nigger lover', hunted like an animal, obstructed and intimidated by the police and security forces, von Konrat abruptly found himself living a nightmare in which life and death precariously balanced each other. Then, together with his daughter, he made a daring bid for freedom across a country where mortal danger lurked around every corner." Paperback, 241 pages. G-VG w/moderate general wear.

$7.50

[http://www.gusbooks.com/nonfic5.html]

My copy of "Assault From Within" says

'originally published in South Africa

by Howard Timmins, 1970'

The same Georg Von Konrat?

A Google search on '115th Prussian Marine'

gives us:

"World War 2 Talk > German Special Forces

you also have the 115th prussian marine stormtroopers who were trained to ...

But there is also the 115th prussian marine btn led by Georg von Konrat and ...

www.ww2talk.com/lofiversion/index.php/t653.html - 33k - Cached - Similar pages"

Perhaps their source is...Mr Von Konrat

hmmm...

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Matt,

There is even a Matt von Konrat you know smile.gif In New Zeeland it seems.

Anyway, I can't seem to enter that forum, but you are probably right. Here Konrat is described as a company-, then battallion commander. All Brandenburg commanders down to platoon level, and quite a few squadleaders, are known. Should make our job easier. Though I can't find any Konrat there. There is a Conrad, though in this case that's a first name.

Original language of the book is English. I found these three texts in German, about the book:

---

Georg von Konrat wurde in die Sonthofener Kaderschule und von dort in das Sonderschulungslager für Saboteure in einem entlegenen Teil Ostpreußens einberufen. 'Dem fünfzehnjährigen Jungen wurde mit unmenschlicher Härte das ABC des Saboteur-Spion-Kommandooffiziers eingetrichtert, vorgespielt und eingedroschen, und verbittert nennt er seine Lehrmeister "Mörder meiner Jugend". Seine Truppeneinheit, ein "Sonderkommando der Wehrmacht", untersteht Admiral Canaris und Hitler persönlich.' (OU).

---

Angriff von innen

Genf: Kossodo, 1973 Leinen. Neuwertig/Sehr gut. Erste Ausgabe. 20,9 cm. 398 S.; Vorsatz als Frontkarte gestaltet; Bericht eines deutschen Saboteur-Spions (Rumänische Front);

---

Bis zum Frühling 1938 hatte der junge Junker Georg von Konrat auf dem großelterlichen Gut bei Tilsit ein sorgenfreies und vergnügtes Leben geführt. Da kam plötzlich die Einberufung in die Sonthofener Kaderschule, und von dort in das Sonderschulungslager für Saboteure in einem entlegenen Teil Ostpreußens, nicht weit von der "Wolfsschanze" entfernt. Dem 15jährigen Jungen wurde mit unmenschlciher Häerte das ABC des Saboteur-Spion-Kommandooffiziers eingetrichtert, vorgespielt und engedrochen. Seine Truppeneinheit, ein "Sonderkommande der Wehrmacht", untersteht Admiral Canaris und Hitler persönlich. Sie sind dazu auserlesen, als perfekte Russen in Sowjetarmeeuniformen hinter die russischen Linien geschleust zu werden, um dort mit Sabotageakten den deutschen Vormarsch zu erleichtern.

---

The claim is clear then, as the only units serving directly under Canaris (and he was directly under Hitler all the way to his downfall) were the Brandenburger and thus Konrat is illustrated as a Brandenburger proper. Specifically, a drafted 15 year old boy who then moves on to become a battallion commander. smile.gif

Actually, Sabotage was another detachment within the Abwehr. The Brandenburger were diversionary troops. Spying was, again, yet another detachment. Our kid here seems to have been trained in every aspect of military intelligence, in that secret training camp in remote Eastern Prussia smile.gif

This is a boybook Matt. Biggles type.

But that's no reason to not pick up ideas for scenarios from it, IMHO. A good idea is a good idea.

Sincerely

Dandelion

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So...have I got this right?

(I am afraid I do not speak German

'much well', but I get some of it)

If all Brandenburger commanders are

known, and Von Konrat's name does

not appear, he either

(1) changed his name after the war

(2) adopted a nom-de-plume for his books

(3) wasn't a Brandenburger.

The last seems likely, but one would

think that, given the book represents

itself as non-fiction, that someone

would have challenged this already...

since 1970- if only because of the

glaring errors of fact...and perhaps

they have, before the rise of the

internet...hence no online record...

The publisher, Tandem, seems elusive,

having gone (as publishers do) through

various incarnations, including the

Tandem-Universal Publishing Co.

One would also think that a reputable

publishing house, which Tandem seems to

have been, would do a little basic fact-

checking and editing...even my cat knows

that the invasion of the Soviet Union

took place in June, not July of '41...

And I always thought Biggles was true smile.gif

As you say, Dandelion, a good story is

a good story...

Thank you for your knowledge and time...

Regards,

Matt

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Originally posted by MPK:

So...have I got this right?

(I am afraid I do not speak German

'much well', but I get some of it)

If all Brandenburger commanders are

known, and Von Konrat's name does

not appear, he either

(1) changed his name after the war

(2) adopted a nom-de-plume for his books

(3) wasn't a Brandenburger.

The last seems likely, but one would

think that, given the book represents

itself as non-fiction, that someone

would have challenged this already...

since 1970- if only because of the

glaring errors of fact...and perhaps

they have, before the rise of the

internet...hence no online record...

The publisher, Tandem, seems elusive,

having gone (as publishers do) through

various incarnations, including the

Tandem-Universal Publishing Co.

One would also think that a reputable

publishing house, which Tandem seems to

have been, would do a little basic fact-

checking and editing...even my cat knows

that the invasion of the Soviet Union

took place in June, not July of '41...

And I always thought Biggles was true smile.gif

As you say, Dandelion, a good story is

a good story...

Thank you for your knowledge and time...

Regards,

Matt

Yes Matt, but there is more to it than his name. His story as it is presented by the book vendors does not check out in any place at all smile.gif And that's not just the nonexisting marines and his nonexisting command.

For instance, the Sonthofener school, which he claims to have been drafted into at the age of 15, was not army. It was a Nazi party school, one of their "Ordenburg", or castle of the order. Some really weird things took place there. Nobody was drafted there - promising young party members (but not children) were admitted there to ensure the regrowth of future Nazi leadership. Sonthofen is in Allgäu, in what was then Pommern.

He is supposed to have gone directly from there to a training camp someplace in East Prussia, to become member of a unit under Canaris command. This does not compute. He would have had to have military training first.

Konrat claims to have trained in East Prussia. Training of the Brandenburger primarily took place in the former artillery barracks in Brandenburg/Havel (West Prussia), and though there were several smaller training installations I don't seem to find any in East Prussia.

Also interesting perhaps is that he claims to have trained near the Wolfsschanze. Which in turn was in the Görlitzer FOrst near Rastenburg. Strange part is that the Schanze as such was not built until 1942, even though there was a headquarters there before that. But Hitler wasn't in that HQ before Barbarossa. 'Course, could be just a place reference, but it's just one more of those strange references.

Then again of course, I do not own the book. There could be photo's, datas and maps in it corroborating his story completely. Does it contain any such? Does he state the exact name of his unit? Any names of his commanders or trainers? Any dates when assigned to GD, places or tasks? Any photo's or such?

But you've seen all the Hollywood "Based on a true story" movies right? Gibsons "The Patriot" makes claim to be historical, and so did the "Enigma" movie where US submarines cracks the Enigma code - I mean even Black Hawk Down is referred to a "highly realistic" and close to documentary (this is not an attack against US movies, I am merely assuming we have both seen some of these). So. Some people have a very liberal view on truth.

Konrat really sounds like somebody who threw together some cool stuff on Brandenburgers, Order castles, GD tough guys - you know all the boy-hero stuff - and put himself in it as a teen hero. He couldn't let go of the Prussian junker caste, or even the marines, though, who both actually belong to the war before the WWII. All of it ending with bitter resentment of the Nazis of course - not otherwise a characteristic feat of people who went in NS Führernachwuchs schools. smile.gif

Biggles is a great adventure.

Cheerio

Dandelion

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No photos, no maps, no dates, no names...

except for assorted Fahnrichs and Leutnants

with common names like Muller and Schwartz

and their units not identified...oh, and

Admiral Canaris is constantly dropping in

to check on his boys...and Der Fuhrer sends

them telegrams every so often...

"Konrat really sounds like somebody who threw together some cool stuff on Brandenburgers,

Order castles, GD tough guys - you know all the boy-hero stuff - and put himself in it as a teen hero."

I concur...I wonder if his South African book

is as flexible with the truth...both are in

the non-fiction lists...

"even Black Hawk Down is referred to a 'highly realistic' and close to documentary"

how bizarre...but I know what you mean.

In Von Konrat's case, however, what is being

claimed is not 'close to documentary' but

'this is what happened'....oh well, the

book was only $AUD 2.00 smile.gif

We live and learn...

regards,

Matt

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Originally posted by Dandelion:

Michael has a nice photo of him on his site too, IIRC. Spaeter I mean. Don't you?

One or two. One on the RKT page, certainly, and a signed photo on my page on Guy Sajer. Herr Spaeter did go on record at one time on his opinion of Mr. Sajer's work.

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Hello, my name is Georgina Von Konrat. I am Georg's daughter. He and my mother lived together for 17 years after his boat arrived in Australia. Unfortunately he and my mother separated when I was quite young, but during my early years he married again and had another daughter who he ultimately left Australia with and went to NZ. From New Zealand he did go to South Africa and was imprisoned for acts against apartheid. My half sister is able to attest to this. They did escape via Angola and flew to the UK where they were interned as refugees. They finally settled in the UK and Georg died in Wales some years ago. My half sister reports that our father never slept a day in his life. That in the moments when he did sleep he screamed and shouted his way through his nightmares. He was able to tell her some of his stories and many others too. With the help of my mother he was able to write. What he remembers and whether or not it is entirely correct according to the history books remains his secret. We, my brother Matthew and I continue the search for our other family members lost to that terrible war. Georg came out of the war with injuries both mental and physical. What really happened is probably of little significance - what ever happened  destroyed his life, destroyed him and destroyed our family and the possibility of him ever reaching his full potential.

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