The force of Will

The Volkssturm was a national militia established by Nazi Germany during the last months of World War II. It was not set up by the German Army, the ground component of the combined German Wehrmacht armed forces, but by the Nazi Party on the orders of Adolf Hitler, and its existence was only officially announced on 16 October 1944. It was staffed by conscripting males between the ages of 16 and 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit. The Volkssturm comprised one of the final components of the total war promulgated by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, part of a Nazi endeavor to overcome their enemies’ military strength through force of will.

The new Volkssturm drew inspiration from the old Prussian Landsturm of 1813–1815, that fought in the liberation wars against Napoleon, mainly as guerrilla forces. Plans to form a Landsturm national militia in eastern Germany as a last resort to boost fighting strength were first proposed in 1944 by General Heinz Guderian, chief of the General Staff. The Army did not have enough men to resist the Soviet onslaught. So, additional categories of men were called into service, including those in non-essential jobs, those previously deemed unfit, over-age, or under-age, and those recovering from wounds. The Volkssturm had existed, on paper, since around 1925, but it was only after Hitler ordered Martin Bormann to recruit six million men for this militia that the group became a physical reality. The intended strength of “six million” was never attained. (From Wikipedia)

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