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Lost Honour, betrayed Loyalty, by Herbert Maeger - Leibstandarte


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A most interesting autobiography of a Belgian born soldier of the Leibstandarte, of which I got a copy of a recent edition at the time, just over ten years ago.

 

Herbert Maeger was born in the post WW1 years in a Belgian part of the Ardennes, which had belonged to Germany before 1914. His father had served in WW1 with the Königin-Elisabeth-Garde-Grenadier-Regiment No.3 in Berlin-Lichterfelde. Shortly after the German occupation of Belgium in 1940, the territory was re-annexed. One day his mother had carelessly made a remark about Hitler, and was reported by somebody from the neibourhood. The family promptly got a visit from the Gestapo, who then offered that atonement could be accepted if the son volunteered for military service, which he did. Herbert Maeger was of a good height and was accepted by the Leibstandarte, and he made his way to Berlin-Lichterfelde, where his father had served years before.

Maeger served mostly on the Eastern Front, and in Yugoslavia. He also saw service at Dieppe in 1942, when the Canadians attempted their landing there. His unit had been sent there shortly before to recover from their spell in Russia. At one critical point during the Allied invasion of Italy, they were rushed to defend, and were issued with Italian tropical uniforms, which they were rather impressed with.

 

In the last days of the war, he passed through the hell of the infamous Halbe Kessel but managed to get through, and proceeded on foot to the West. He made some horrifying discoveries in a wood southwest of Berlin, and described in some detail the carnage that had been inflicted shortly before by Russian troops on about 50-60 female Luftwaffe signals assistants there, many being raped and mutilated. He was later captured, but had wittingly got rid of his uniform and other items just before. He explained that he was a Belgian forced labour worker and was trying to return to Belgium - he spoke fluent French. He later managed to get released, being given a handwritten declaration of his status in Russian. Somehow he managed to get to the West with other German POWs and managed to avoid being sent to Belgium, where reprisals would have been taken on him. He finally managed to end up in Krefeld, and be reconciled with his family, who had left their home in Belgium, and he remained there, taking up a career as Verkehrsdirektor in Krefeld until his retirement, later writing his memoirs, which were then published. After the war (in Belgium) he had been sentenced to death in absence, and never has been able to return to Belgium. This status lasted for many years. It is hard to image that such sentences can prevail in a civilized European Community, where death sentences are long passé. The last publication was by Weltbild in Augsburg around 2005. The orginal title of his book was "Verlorene Ehre, verratene Treue" - which was playing on the motto of the Waffen-SS, "Meine Ehre heißt Treue"

 

The book has also been published in English, as I just noticed - see illustration.

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Herbert Maeger in later years.

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new picture added, 17.11.2016

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