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15 October 2014
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Rudolph, Prisoner of War

by historycentre

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Judy Oliver
Location of story: 
Ladywood, Martin Hussingtree
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 October 2004

I am a volunteer working for the BBC's Peoples War project and I am writing this story on behalf of Judy Oliver

In 1944 when I was six 6 years old I spent long periods with my grandparents. They lived oposite "Knoll Farm" up at Ladywood, Martin Hussingtree.
My Aunt and Uncle had a prisoner of war working for them called Rudolph, he would have been about 20 years old. He was an SS Trooper and had been caught in the first week of the war. He was fair and handsome and I loved him dearly. I was a lonely only child. I followed him around the farm like little lamb. I woould sit on the tractor with him and stumble over the fields holding his hand tightly.

He was gentle and loving to a little girl who had no Daddy. He would clean my wellingtons under the outside tap, so that I did'nt go home to my grandmother with smelly boots.

My Aunt and Uncle had a baby and Rudolph made a pair of small bootees out of dried binder string for him. My Uncle still has them.

Apparently Rudolph told my uncle all those years ago that he had grown up hearing "Heil Hitler" said all around him and he thought it was the right thing to do to join the SS as a teenger.

I wish I had tried to find him when I grew up.

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Message 1 - Re: Rudolph, Prisoner of War

Posted on: 06 October 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

I read this story with interest. But, with respect, some of these recollections cannot be right. Rudolph was probably in his mid-20s in 1944, assuming that he was taken prisoner in May 1940, the first time the SS met British forces in France. But even this is unlikely given the retreat to Dunkirk, and it is more likely that he was taken prisoner in North Africa (but if so he wouldn't have been in the SS, since no SS fought in Africa).

He could not possibly have been a PoW in 1939 'in the first week of the war', unless the Poles had captured him. Nor could he have been serving at the front aged 14 or 15 in 1939 (if 20 in 1944). It wasn't until early 1945 that the Germans in desperation sent 15 year olds to the front.

Of the thirty-eight SS Divisions in 1944, there were only four in existence in 1940. These were:

1. Leibstandarte SS 'Adolf Hitler', then a motorised infantry regiment. They fought in Poland in September 1939 then were switched to the Western Front in October 1939 taking part in the advance through Holland, Belgium, and France. They murdered 80 British PoWs in Wormhout on 28 May 1940. If he was in this group, the one that most fits the facts, then he was hand picked by Himmler at the age of 18 or older and highly indoctrinated in Nazi ideology combined with extreme tough military training; from 1933 to 1940 it wasn't possible just to simply volunteer for the SS to get in. Until 1943, Leibstandarte SS 'Adolf Hitler' was commanded by SS-Obst-Gruf 'Sepp' Dietrich, Hitler's old comrade from the beer-hall fighting days.

2. SS-Division 'Deutschland' (later, in 1942 'Das Reich'). This formation was raised in October 1939 and included the 'Deutschland', 'Der Führer' and 'Germania' SS regiments. They were in the West 1940-41. On 22 May 1940 they were near Calais. They themselves took over 30,000 prisoners in the closing stages of the French collapse.

3. SS-Totenkopf (Death Skull) Division, raised in November 1939. In the West, in 1940, their already bad reputation was made worse by their mass execution of French Moroccan Troops, considered racially inferior.

4. Polizei Division, this SS formation was raised in October 1939. In the West it was held in reserve and didn't go into action until June 1940. So he couldn't have been in this formation if he was taken prisoner.

Other SS formations were not raised until December 1940. On balance it seems that it is more likely that Rudolph was in the 'Hitler Jugend' as a teenager before the war and a conscript or volunteer in the regular Wehrmacht early in WW2, probably taken prisoner in North Africa.

Kind regards,


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