What did the German soldiers of WWII think of British, US, Canadian, and Soviet soldiers?

14-04-2018

For instance, as far as the Russians go the Germans thought that they were barbaric and backward opponents who were as cruel if not more so than the nazis pretended not to be.  However, the Germans still had some degree of respect for their Russian opponents. The Russians were exceedingly tough both in their abilities to fight and their skill in fighting the climatic extremes of the Russian interior. For this the Germans saw their opponents as extremely courageous and even somewhat superhuman despite what their propaganda told them about their opponents.

As for the western allies, the Germans had a great respect for them. To the Germans, the western powers were culturally and ethnically the same. They were seen as honorable opponents and potential allies. It was every German’s hope that the west would recognize the danger posed by the Soviets and would join them in protecting Europe from them. When this didn’t happen, the hope was that the west would advance quickly to prevent the Soviets from advancing too far into Europe.

A German veteran and  survivor of the 276th Volksgrenadier Division says of  what his comrades thought of various adversaries and allies.  To limit it to the above:

Russians:  Propaganda depicted them as subhuman’s, not worthy of any degree of respect.  Experience showed them as capable soldiers.  He did note that because of the cruelty inflicted on the Russian people by large portions of the German military (in particular, the SS) the Russians were returning the favour as they entered Europe.  When I asked if they were feared, all he would respond with is that he was glad he was able to surrender to the Americans instead.

English:   Competent, professional, but a bit slow.  British forces tended to only attack with absolutely overwhelming force, and while he respected their individual skill, he held British commanders as overly cautious.

Americans:   “Enthusiastic amateurs with a disposition to aggression I’d never seen in any other nation’s sons.”  If there was something he noticed different between Americans and the other European Allies, it was how they reacted to an attack. The other allies would immediately return fire and edge their way to a more favorable position. Americans would immediately return fire, bring a punishing rain of artillery or air power on top of whatever they were fighting, and move to counterattack as soon as the rain of death ended.  While he did not believe that an American infantryman or tanker was particularly skilled compared to British or German counterparts, they more than compensated for it with sheer, unadulterated, unapologetic combat aggression.

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