Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

The last ditch: An organizational history of the Nazi Werwolf movement, 1944-45.

Biddiscombe, Perry (1990) The last ditch: An organizational history of the Nazi Werwolf movement, 1944-45. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (13MB) | Preview


Near the end of World War Two, a National Socialist resistance movement briefly flickered to life in Germany and its borderlands. Dedicated to delaying the advance of the victorious Allies and Soviets, this guerrilla movement, the Werwolf, succeeded in scattered acts of sabotage and violence, and also began to assume the character of a vengeful Nazi reaction against the German populace itself; collaborators and "defeatists" were assassinated, and crude posters warned the population that certain death was the penalty for failure to resist the enemy. Participation in "scorched earth" measures gave the movement an almost Luddite character. In the final analysis, however, the Werwolf failed because of two basic weaknesses which undercut the movement. First, it lacked popular appeal, which doomed guerrillas and fanatic resisters to a difficult life on the margins of their own society; such an existence was simply not feasible in a country heavily occupied by enemy military forces. Second, the Werwolf was poorly organized, and showed all the signs of internal confusion that have been identified by the so-called "functionalist" school of German historiography. In fact, confusion and barbarism became worse as the bonds of military success which had united the Reich began to loosen and unravel; the Werwolf can perhaps serve as the ultimate construct in the "functionalist" model of the Third Reich. Although it failed, the Werwolf did have some permanent significance. While it is a classic example of guerrilla warfare gone wrong, the mere fact that it was active also caused a reaction among Germany's enemies. The Western Allies altered their own military and political policies to allow for extermination of the Werwolf threat, and it is likely that immediate security considerations also influenced the direction of Soviet policies in Germany.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, History, European
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics