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American SS Renegades - the George Washington Legion

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College, and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters

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Introduction

There was some propaganda during the war that many Americans had defected from the army and joined the German SS. It was also announced that there was an American Legion called the George Washington Legion which fought on the side of Nazi Germany. This was supposed to be made up of POWs captured by the Germans during World War II.

Is this information factual or a piece of fiction. The answer to this question is that it is mostly fiction and there never was any such George Washington Legion which was just a creation of German propaganda but at the same time there were a few Americans who did join the German SS. We know that the British free legion had 58 members which is not a big number and unlike the French where many hundred joined up with the Nazis. A factor going in favor of the Americans was that the US POWs were only taken around 1944 basically during the battle of the Bulge and before that, there were very few Americans POWs.

As per records available, in 1940 a few Americans did join up with the Germans but their number was only five. Not much has been heard after 1940 about these men. A few Americans who joined were those who were ethnic Germans who had settled in America or those Americans had a connection with the fatherland. Later reports give the names of eight men but except for one documented case there does not appear to be any information about the others.

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A matter of fiction

Before the start of the war, there was a fringe in the American population that had support for Germany. An American Nazi party had been formed. They would hold parades and marches in America, though they didn't have much support, yet all the same, they looked pretty impressive. Later reports indicate that eight Americans did join the SS because of their hatred for communism and also for a sense of loyalty to their German origin but the thought that enough Americans volunteered to change sides and stick to the Germans is simply a matter of fiction.

There were surely cases of Germans who had immigrated to America and then returned to Germany at some point before the war broke out. The issue here is that unless they specifically were sought out by the Allied powers at the end of the War (like the British, who but went to great lengths to find such citizens). Americans carried out no such survey or investigation of any of their citizens have joined the SS. They were right because if there were any, they were probably a minuscule number. So at the end of the war, only those American German citizens who were either involved in some war crime or migrated back to America and had to explain their conduct in the war would come under the radar. The Americans just allowed the matter to die away as not being worthy of any investigation

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The real cases

This is the interesting part. Hardly any cases have come to the fore of Americans have joined the SS. There is only one documented case of a man named Martin James Monti.

Monti was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1944 he was stationed at Karachi on the Indian subcontinent. He had a bizarre sense of logic and went AWOL. He made his way to Cario, Egypt, and then to Italy where he managed to take a reconnaissance P-38 and flew to Milan where he surrendered himself to the Germans. Monti then joined the Waffen-SS and helped assist them with propaganda efforts. His target was American POW's and allied soldiers fighting in Italy, under the alias "Martin Wiethaupt".

Monti was not involved in any physical fighting but as he saw the end of the war approaching he deserted the SS and went South and surrendered to the Americans. He surrendered wearing his SS officers uniform and claimed that it had been given to him by the partisans so that he could escape to the American lines. The Americans were aware that he had escaped with a P 38 and he covered it up with the story that he had taken off to perform a single act of heroism by fighting the Germans all alone.

Monti was however tried by court-martial for desertion and awarded 15 years of hard labor. President Truman pardoned him after he made a plea and appeal and he was told that he had to enlist in the forces again as a precondition.

The story gets a little bizarre because Monty joined the army again in 1946 and rose to the rank of sergeant. In 1948 he was arrested by the FBI after it came to light that he had been "Martin Wiethaupt". He was tried and given 25 years in jail but was paroled in 1960 and died in the year 2000.

There are two other names that have come up Peter Delaney and Fred Konig. Delaney supposedly facilitated Monti's entry into the SS but this is not confirmed news. He was killed during an air raid in 1945. Not much information is available on Konig. There was also a lady named Mildred Gillards who was broadcasting messages to American soldiers in a lilting voice. She was tried after the war and given 10 to 30 years imprisonment and paroled in 1961. Died in 1988.

Comments

Robert Sacchi on October 21, 2020:

You're welcome.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 21, 2020:

Thank you Robert for the information provided

Robert Sacchi on October 20, 2020:

I saw it when it first came out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shs33yjmhu8

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 20, 2020:

Robert, have you seen it? Is it on Youtube?

Robert Sacchi on October 20, 2020:

You're welcome. They made a TV movie in the '70s "The Execution of Private Slovik".

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 20, 2020:

Tom, this is interesting news, thanks for commenting.

tom on October 20, 2020:

soldier executed in ww2 us army private slovik

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 19, 2020:

Thanks, Robert that about sums up the American approach.

Robert Sacchi on October 19, 2020:

The American military has a tradition of being easy on its soldiers. Since the Civil War only 1 soldier was executed for desertion.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 19, 2020:

Thank you Sp Greaney for sparing time and commenting.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on October 19, 2020:

There are always those few that sympathize with the side who we might not view in a good light. He got what he deserved.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 19, 2020:

Thank you, Robert, I have studied in detail many who joined the SS but it's not documented news and the Americans rightly have buried it. It's a tribute to the American system of justice that Monti live toa ripe old age. In any other country, he would have been shot outright.

Robert Sacchi on October 18, 2020:

The story of Monti and the British traitors are interesting ones. Keep in mind "few" is a relative number. A significant number of US Airmen were shot down over German occupied territory before 1944.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

The situation between Stalin and Bose was frosty. One reason was in 1945 the Soviet Union was an ally of the UK and the British government had declared Bose a war criminal. Secondly Stalin hated Nazi's and anybody connected with them and so he considered Bose an enemy. The theory that he escaped to Russia if true would certainly have led to his death. It was naive of Bose to think that Russia would support him. In 1941 things were a bit different. Russia hada peace treaty with Germany and they did facilitate his movement to Germany because he wanted to go there. They could very well have arrested him; after all it was a dictatorship but they also informed von Ribbentrop that Bose was being sent and after his acceptance Bose was facilitated to Berlin by train. Incidentally Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru had promised to hand over Bose as a war criminal if found in India.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

Bose did go to Moscow but there are no records that he met Stalin. Bose always had a plan to go to Germany and at Kabul, he was befriended by a German spy who helped him forward. But historically Bose did enough to justify that the freedom of India in a vicarious manner is entirely his doing. I am writing a new book on the subject and will be in touch with you on this matter.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

Liz, thanks for commenting.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

Yes, a few did join but the French as usual proved poor fighters and at Dien Bien Phu they lost decisively and had to beat a retreat. I have read about this battle at Staff College and the French soldiers were in a pitiable position.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 14, 2020:

Thank you Pamela for commenting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 14, 2020:

I haven't heard about any Amerians that deserted and I am glad to hear it was very few of them. Thanks for the information in this article as it was informative and interesting.

tom on October 14, 2020:

former ss troops joined french foreign legion to fight comunists in vietnam 1945-54

Liz Westwood from UK on October 14, 2020:

In the UK, those that helped the Nazis were dealt with severely. Intil now I had not considered Americans who did similar.

tom on October 13, 2020:

bose went to germany only because stalin in 1941 refused political asylum,so why crticise,allies used german war criminals like klaus barbie,one kcio lt gen wanted to massacre all ina men

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 13, 2020:

Yes, the Germans et up many Legions but most of them were not given any important role like the Arab legion and the Russian free Army. Primarily because of the distrust of Hitler.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 13, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Flourish. The US took the few who defected pretty lightly.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 13, 2020:

Tom, excellent information, true Gen John Shalikashvili who was Jt CS had his origin in Europe and his father serving in the German Legion. There are no morals where interests and politics is concerned.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 13, 2020:

There are always those cowards willing to turn and join forces with the enemy when needed. I’m glad there were not more of them. It’s too bad their conduct wasn’t more pursued.