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Hans Post–One Man in His Time…

The following obituary of Hans Eberhard Post (23Jan1926–04Nov2017) incorporates several previous articles I’ve published about Hans on this blog-site.  Why have I written about Hans, who served in the Waffen SS during World War II?  That was precisely my initial question back in 2007 when an editor friend asked me to read Hans’s book, One Man in His Time (2002, Otford Press), and write a review.  We’ve since carried on a correspondence. Knowing Hans is a gift I never anticipated. The world is a poorer place without you, Hans. My condolences to your family.

I was born into a World at War in the Summer of ’42. When I turned 17 in ’59, I volunteered for the 101st Airborne, US Army–the Heroes of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge–w/staggering losses. Many of my non-coms and officers were veterans of those conflicts.

Given my father’s service as well as my mother being a welder at the Narragansett Shipyards on Liberty Ships, the War was always a reality to my consciousness.

My own time in uniform was during the crucible for democracy in the post-war period. I enlisted during the presidency of General Eisenhower, the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, and served during the first year of President John F. Kennedy, a survivor-hero of the War in the Pacific. Neither Ike nor Jack took democracy for granted.

In 2007 when I was introduced to the writings of Hans Post, a former soldier of the famed Colonel Otto Skorzeny’s SS Kommando, my first thought was:  A Nazi?  An SS man?  Are you friggin’ nuts!  But, having the highest regard for Peter Werbe and the Fifth Estate, I read the book.  I was surprised.

Nick Medvecky, 1960

The first third of the book documents his being raised in a Nazi home in the 1920s and ’30s, the second third, his Hitler Youth and military experiences, and the final third the remainder of his life.

“Patriotic” conservatism is the natural default of all national cultures. Social consciousness and responsibility beyond that is learned . . . or not. Hans is an excellent example of how a person–even raised in a fascist culture–can get from there to here. An antidote to those who fail to acknowledge that we all came from “somewhere else.”  We all achieve a measure of socio-moral development . . . or not.

Hans Post was born in January 1926 in Silesia, Germany.  Raised in a Nazi family, Hans became a member of the Hitler Youth, and at 18 (1944) he became active in the SS in the final year of that war.  Hans was a member of the famed Colonel Otto Skorzeny Kommando.  Hans fought on several fronts including the Battle of the Bulge, and later destroyed two Russian tanks on the Eastern Front.  He earned two Iron Crosses–the equivalent to the the US Silver Medal–all while managing to survive as his unit was decimated.

Col. Otto Skorzeny

While the SS has a universally evil reputation (after the war, membership itself was considered a crime), Skorzeny’s Kommando was an exception. They were never found guilty of war crimes. Outside of the normal chain of command, the Kommando enjoyed an independence not known throughout most of the German military.

The allies tried to prosecute Skorzeny after the war (the only crime charged was having his regiment wearing American uniforms and equipment at the Battle of the Bulge).  The charges were dropped after British and American commando officers testified on his behalf and that they had done the same.

(Unlike the depictions of Nazi-Gestapo soldiers executing Americans–such as the notorious massacre of American prisoners at Malmédy, during the Battle of the Bulge, Skorzeny’s Kommando unit was not involved. During the Battle they operated as a regiment and were isolated in a different section of the Front.  It was determined that they alone conducted themselves well within the international rules of war.

(After the war, Skorzeny is said to have become a favorite of American intelligence, using him and his corporate group on a number of operations throughout Europe and North Africa still secret to this day.  Skorzeny died in 1975 in Spain of lung cancer.)

As the war concluded, Hans was captured by the Czech resistance, which was routinely executing all SS prisoners.  Hans escaped to the western lines and ended up in the notorious French prison camp at Thoree-les-Pins.

Fate smiled on Hans again, of the 3,600 SS captured and interred there, only 1300 survived.  Camp staff and local villagers routinely sniped them for revenge and sport; they slept in holes they dug in the compound field–there was no housing–and were rarely fed. In fact, one of Hans’s memories was of black American soldiers passing them food thru the fence.  The survivors were rescued by a group of American Officers and the Red Cross.  Hans survived the remainder of his POW time in an American camp.

If you have an interest in such history, then this is a book for your shelf.  As both journalist and political activist, I’ve always been curious about all sides of an issue. In this case, both German and Nazi history and the war. Hans provides many of these answers. After the conclusion of the Battle of the Bulge (Dec’44), Hans describes the race back to Germany under allied attacks from clearing skies as a blood bath. Few survived.

Hans & Gina, 2007

More than half of the book speaks to the war, the post-war period as a mine worker and union activist. He and his family eventually emigrated to Australia. To fellow Germans after the war, given his union activism, Hans earned the sobriquet as that “Red Post.”  He also progressed thru worker-left politics in Australia to become the godfather of that nation’s antiwar and pacifist movement.

Hans was the last living survivor of the Skorzeny Kommando.  He’s survived by his children and his second wife, Gina Behrens, a Jewess and former resident of Israel.

But don’t let me spoil the surprises… Get the book.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), November 2017…

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2 Responses
  1. […] I am proud to call a friend, Hans Post, is fond of using the famous quote by George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are […]

  2. Kevin says:

    What death camps in Poland?

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