Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Vol. 7, No. 5, Number 42,
January – March 1987
The SS-Postschutz was a formation of distinctly confused character, part of and yet separate from the Allgemeine and Waffen-SS. Its indistinct status can be blamed to a large extent on bureaucratic and political infighting and the strong wills of Dr. Ing. Ohnesorge, the Minister of Posts and SS-Ogruf. Gottlob Berger, head of the SS Main Personnel Office.
In 1933, the new National-Socialist German government appointed Dr. Ohnesorge as Minister of Posts (Reichspostminister). Ohnesorge had served as a communications advisor to Gen. Ludendorff in WWI, and was quite an inventor and innovator, holding no fewer than 42 patents for devices of his own creation. One of his first acts upon assuming office was the creation of a voluntary „Postschutzes“ (Postal Guard), to guarantee the security of the mail along with telegram, telephone and radio communications, all of which came under Ohnesorge’s charge. Previously functions of this nature had been carried out in part by the German Railway Service.
Postal Guard members were recruited from among Army veterans who had joined the Postal Service. To handle the military functions of the Guard, some 15 major „protective districts“ were set up throughout Germany, each jointly run by a postal official and a protective police (Schutzpolizei) Major. Once this arrangement was in place, Ohnesorge used members of the Guard to help him set up a pet project: a special research bureau in Prague. This bureau was effectively a laboratory where Dr. Ohnesorge carried out his own experiments in listening devices, laser-like light beams, and methods for photographing objects through obstructions like clouds.
Commencing in the autumn of 1935, the Postal Guard developed a working relationship with the Wehrmacht (Reichswehr) and as of 13 March 1936, was structured firmly on military lines and regulations. Adolf Hitler was personally unaware of Ohnesorge’s Postal Guard for some time, and when he finally did learn about it he was mildly amused, stating: „Everyone has to have their own uniform, everyone has to have their own Army!“ Actually, to help train and equip his private army, Ohnesorge had quietly secured three obsolete paramilitary training schools that had been abandoned when the 100,000 German Army once again began to expand, and he had managed to covertly build up first-class sources of supplies and equipment for his men.
At the outbreak of WWII, the Army High Command (OKW) banned the wearing of all field-gray uniforms by all „non-combatants “, including the Postal and Railroad Guards. The only way to get around this directive was to subordinate the outfit directly to the Army, which indeed happened with the Railroad Guard. Doctor Ohnesorge, however, did not want this intrusion into his own domain, and he resisted this approach and began looking around for support elsewhere. He quickly found out that various police agencies were most eager to take over the Postal Guard, but this posed an ethical problem, since subordination of the Guard to a police agency would compromise the privacy of mails and communications. For this reason, Ohnesorge opposed the police takeover efforts and he was supported in this by Adolf Hitler, who now owed a special debt to him. With the help of his research facilities and Postal Guard, Ohnesorge had developed a special listening post in Holland which was able to eavesdrop on all of the secret Transatlantic telephone conversations between Churchill and Roosevelt, the texts of which all reached the Fuehrer within 24 hours via a special Postal Guard courier.
In any event, Dr. Ohnesorge was able to keep the Postal Guard functioning as an independent military force. In 1940 he linked the Guard to the Waffen-SS for support and administrative purposes, while maintaining full control over it. This eliminated the threat of Army or Police takeover. But by 1942, with the war in full swing, it was clear that the Postal Guard had become a „combative force“. While protecting mail busses in frontier areas or occupied territories (South Steiermark, Croatia, South East Prussia, Poland), Guardsmen had increasingly come under terrorist attack with resultant high casualties. It was clear that the military role of the Postal Guard had to be expanded, and among other things, Dr. Ohnesorge wanted Guardsmen to arm and train all postal employees, who voluntarily sought such assistance, so that they would not be vulnerable targets.
In order to assume its increased duties, the Guard had to be reorganized and needed to obtain additional armaments and support services. To achieve this, it had to become a part of the SS organization proper, and Dr. Ohnesorge gave increased jurisdiction over it to Ogruf. Berger at the SS Main Office. In return for more control of the Guard, Berger saw to it that new carbines, machine-pistols, automatic weapons and machine guns were distributed to Guard troops as needed. The Guard also adopted Waffen-SS uniforms and its title was officially changed to SS-Postschutz.
For all that, the exact status of the organization remained unclear. Doctor Ohnesorge was still the overall commander, and most of the Guard members never joined any branch of the SS, although quite a few of them were members of the Allgemeine or General SS. To further complicate matters, two sub-units of the Postal Guard were, however, considered official formations of the Waffen-SS on the grounds that they were entirely composed of Postal Guardsmen who had volunteered for duty with the Waffen-SS. These units were:
- „Fronthilfe Deutsche Reichspost“ – SS-Kraftfahrstaffel (SS Motor Vehicle Staff).
- „SS-Sicherungs-Bataillon Deutsches Reichspost“ (a security battalion with four companies).
The „Fronthilfe Deutsche Reichspost“ consisted of Postal Service volunteers who conveyed replacement soldiers and wounded ones to and from the frontlines in postal vehicles, and the Postal Service volunteers who were also members of the Waffen-SS served in their own special unit.
On 14 February 1945, Reichsführer-SS Himmler certified that only members of the above two mentioned sub-units of the Postal Guard came under SS and Police jurisdiction, however, the Postal Guard was considered a „Police Auxiliary for Special Purposes,“ and disciplinary cases could be handled by the SS and Police, although in actuality few, if any, ever were. Towards the end of the war Postal Guard members were simply incorporated into local Volkssturm (Home Guard) units.
It should be noted that on at least one occasion, SS-Ogruf. Berger used his nominal control of the Postal Guard to benefit one of his longtime friends and comrades, Staf. Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger. When Dirlewanger’s SS Penal Rgt. was being reformed in 1944, Berger saw to it that radio communications specialists from the Postal Guard were transferred into it to form a signals unit. Given the poor reputation of Dirlewanger’s Regiment it was probably not an assignment that they relished!
Via NS Europa