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Subject: THE DEVIL'S GUARD: Fact or fiction?
Godofgamblers    4/27/2006 10:05:26 PM
South, cruel south, Dreary nights and days, Green, rolling green, Where Death rides on the trails. You're weary? Carry on! Until the bitter end, You are Devil's Guard, The Battalion of the Damned. A LEGION MARCHING SONG The release of the book THE DEVIL'S GUARD caused a major scandal when it was first released in 1971 and tells the story of SS soldier Hans Josef Wagemueller who spent decades in continual combat, in 'unconditional warfare' as he called it. After escaping from allied forces in WWII, he fled abroad where he joined the French Foreign Legion. There he claimed huge numbers of ex-Nazis had been recruited to fight the Vietnamese. The German FFL soldiers formed their own units and had German commanders assigned to them. He related that they found their SS tactics perfectly suited to the jungle war against the communist 'sub-humans'. After the war, he retired to an asian country where he related his memoirs to a writer. Western authorities called the book 'communist propaganda' and the French denied that SS or Gestapo members were used in Indochina. However... reading the book (http://www.xs4all.nl/~brandb/devils_guard.htm) it seems very convincing. Debate still rages on its authenticity. It seems very real to me. What are your opinions? Fact or fiction? (Warning: if you choose to read the text, be warned that it is rather shocking material, and the characters defend and propagate a pro Nazi ideology. Some may find it quite offensive.)
 
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Thomas       11/19/2006 7:30:06 PM
The German element in the foreign legion has always been strong - and it predates WW2 by a considerable margin.
It is one of the reasons the Legion marches in that weird cadance. The french army has since Napoleon had a much faster beat, which they not for the life of them could get the Legionaires to fall into. That's the reason the Legion is always first or last in a French military parade - so the whole lot won't fall out of sync.
 
By the way: Just try and listen to the Marseillaise and "Alte Kammeraden" and even the most tone deaf will notice the difference.
 
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Desertmole       11/20/2006 1:15:54 AM

I'd swear that Fall's account "Hell In A Very Small Place" had a photo of a Legionaire LURP team near Laos that was nearly all German. Could be wrong, and can't recall that S.S. was mentioned. Hell, maybe it was "Street Without Joy", for all I can remember-1972. It was a very good year.

I belive that was Street Without Joy.  I read it back in the early '70s and reread it about 10 years ago.
I first read Devil's Guard in the early '70s as well.  It was an interesting read, but I was unable to match some of his actions (that should have been matchable) to real events.  IIRC he discussed one battle in particular, where his battalion got in trouble, and a brigade of French paras were dropped in to the rescue.  If you have read much about the French Paras in Indochina, you realize that could not have happened.  It took months of planning for any op that size, and it would surely have been described in any of several histories of the Indochina war. 
 
Still, the story may have been "enhanced" the way most sailors enhance "sea stories" (that usually start out with "This is no S***").  A lot of the tactical tricks he talked about (like the use of high powered radios) were something only a vet of that era would have known.  A fellow I went to college with was first generation German-American, whose father and uncles fought with the SS and had friends in the FFL, insisted that most of the Foreign Legion in Indochina were former SS, Alpenjagers and other elites who joined after the war.  He also said that when a Foreign Legion unit at Dien Bien Phu counterattacked to retake one of the forts, they went up the hill singing the Horst Wessel Leid, not the Marseillaise, like Bernard Fall claimed.
 
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jastayme3       11/20/2006 1:01:36 PM

"Much of the narrators account remeinds me of other post 1945 writing by SS & nazi appologists who try very hard to describe the Waffen SS members as 'not such bad guys', and invariably rant on about how horrible the communists were. "

another example of this is "I Flew for the Fuhrer" by Heinz Knoke.

When I first read it (as a 14 yo) I thought it was a ripping good yarn - when I re-read it about 10 years later - and again 30 years later I readily came to the conclusion that he was an apologist - and in the local vernacular, a "wanker".

there were so many cavalier statements and untruths that it was almost unreadable for me.

he definitely hated the russians - and the feeling you were left with was that the russians were the untermensch and that they were really the wests saviours but unappreciated.
That's an old one-Nazi's and Commies each said they were defending the world against each other. The fact is the chief difference was aesthetic. Those that thought envy was a more distasteful sin then anger were nazi's. Those that thought anger was a more distasteful sin then envy were commies.
Both were antibourgeious intellectual rebellions against civillization and both denied morality. Those among both of them that still retained a sort of honor somehow did so because they remembered things they were taught before hand.
Both seized upon a thing good in itself(patriotism or pity) and both exalted it to the neglect of all else.
Both regarded people as being of value only according to the value assigned their arbitrary categories.
And both achieved the oppisite of their goal. The Commies made the poor even more miserable. And the Nazis made Germany into a conquered people.


 
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jastayme3       11/22/2006 1:35:20 AM

"Much of the narrators account remeinds me of other post 1945 writing by SS & nazi appologists who try very hard to describe the Waffen SS members as 'not such bad guys', and invariably rant on about how horrible the communists were. "

another example of this is "I Flew for the Fuhrer" by Heinz Knoke.

When I first read it (as a 14 yo) I thought it was a ripping good yarn - when I re-read it about 10 years later - and again 30 years later I readily came to the conclusion that he was an apologist - and in the local vernacular, a "wanker".

there were so many cavalier statements and untruths that it was almost unreadable for me.

he definitely hated the russians - and the feeling you were left with was that the russians were the untermensch and that they were really the wests saviours but unappreciated.
My impression was that he was a fool rather then a knave.

 
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hongqi    chris    1/18/2009 6:49:44 PM
well reading all your comments i can assure you that 99 percent of what was said is true my farther was their not with wagemuller but he met with the man several times,
he used to tell us kids stories of the explotils of the germans in Indochina. in fact my farther gave me the book to read and toll me about the times he met the man him self.
 
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le_corsaire       1/19/2009 7:53:31 AM
You need to differentiate between Wehrmacht and SS here. What is correct is that the Legion recruited a quite high numbers of German WWII verterans, many of them out of POW camps. However they were very selective and they rather quickly started to sort out former SS/GESTAPO, etc.  people. Although for some of them managed to stay in, in was policy not to deploy SS people.  Basically the book which was cited in the beginning of the post is really not authentic. Years ago I met some Dien Bien Pu veterans in Puyloubier (where the Legion has a verterans home) ... they did not participate in any "mythical battle" - although they have seen real dirty combat situations.
 
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le_corsaire       1/19/2009 11:18:57 AM

well reading all your comments i can assure you that 99 percent of what was said is true my farther was their not with wagemuller but he met with the man several times,

he used to tell us kids stories of the explotils of the germans in Indochina. in fact my farther gave me the book to read and toll me about the times he met the man him self.



BS. The story is pure fiction - based on the fact that there was a high number of German WWII veterans in the Legion - ... making good horror stories for kids - maybe - but thats all.  
 
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tkbroad       3/25/2009 10:53:17 PM
Hello
 
I was reading your post, I am a screenwritier living in Australia doing research about  German soldiers fighting in IndoChina with the Foreign legion, you say your father knew the person in question in relation to the novel: Devils Guard. Did your father serve in Indochina with the French? Any information you could pass my way in terms of research would be greatly appreciated.
 
best regards
 
Tom
 
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tkbroad       3/25/2009 10:57:14 PM
Not really sure where you are getting your information from mate, but I have been researching this subject for tow years now and the evidence of Germans serving in the French Foreign Legion in Indochina is startling and embarrassing for some. A very interesting subject full of stories that should be told.
 
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Godofgamblers       3/27/2009 2:43:17 AM
In my mind the facts are overwhelming that many German veterns served in the FFL in SEAsia. However, the fact that after the publication of the DEVIL'S GUARD the author published a couple sequels to cash in on the popularity of his book somewhat dims the possibility that the original story was a narration of true events. Just a money spinner loosely based on some convincing facts, as one poster stated above.
 
 
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