The German Freedom Front, sometimes called the Werewolves (German: Deutsche Freiheitsfront/Wehrwolf) were a resistance movement in Germany which continued the war against the Allied Forces following the end of World War II. The group adopted a variety of tactics, including roadside bombings, panzershrek attacks, political assassinations, and kamikaze style events to inflict substantial casualties upon the various Allies.
The basic concept of the GFF was developed by SS officer Reinhard Heydrich following the failure of the German siege of Stalingrad in early 1943. (Heydrich had been the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia and survived an assassination attempt the year before.) Although a devout Nazi, Heydrich was canny enough to realize that the tide of the war was turning against Germany, particularly on the Eastern Front. He concluded that now was the time to begin preparing for a possible invasion and occupation of Germany. Taking cues from the various partisan groups that had appeared in the countries Germany had occupied, Heydrich proposed his plans to his immediate superior, Heinrich Himmler. Although a devoted Nazi himself, Himmler was persuaded by Heydrich's arguments, seeing it as more than simple defeatism. Without Adolf Hitler's knowledge, Himmler sanctioned Heydrich's plan.
Over the next two years, Heydrich made use of laborers from concentration camps to build a substantial network of tunnels in the base of the Alps. He also began a stockpile of weapons, including firearms and explosives, and began pulling very specific men (mostly SS) out of the frontlines for the specific purpose of training them as partisans. Heydrich himself quietly relocated to a secret underground bunker in the Alpine Redoubt.
The GFF struck immediately after Germany surrendered, waging an aggressive terrorist resistance against the Allies. While all of the Allies quickly realized that they faced an organized resistance, mutual distrust, particularly between the Anglo-Americans on the one side and the Soviet Union insured that the cooperation that had won the war would not help to win the peace. However, a few months before the Anglo-Americans began to leave Germany, cooperation allowed for the Allies to hunt down Heydrich and kill him.
Ironically, had the Allies acted more vigorously in those first months, the GFF could very well have been stopped. Privately, Johannes Klein, Heydrich's former driver and confidante, noted that morale among the GFF was initially quite low, and that with enough losses, the whole network could have easily disintegrated. However, due to the Allies' slow response, the GFF thrived. When Heydrich was killed in 1947, Allied commanders hoped that the GFF would die. Instead, Joachim Peiper simply took over and continued the organization's activities, adopting the title of Reichsprotektor.
In the meantime, the United States had began to pulling its troops out in 1947, giving the GFF a substantial victory. The war-weary British also were in the process of pulling out, leaving only the vengeful Soviets and equally brutal French holding onto to their respective occupation zones. The evacuating countries also unknowingly left behind GFF sympathisers to govern western Germany, so as to deny giving territory to the USSR.
Known Acts of the German Freedom Front/Werewolves (Deutsche Freheitsfront/Wehrwolf)
- A roadside bomb hidden in an abandoned truck, killing two American soldiers, Lichtenau, Berlin, 8 May, 1945
- The assassination of Soviet Marshal Ivan Koniev, 19 May, 1945
- The first use of a suicide bomb, killing 23 and wounded nearly twice as many Americans and Germans alike, Erlangen, July 1945
- A suicide truck bombing, killing several Soviet soldiers on parade, Berlin, July 1945
- A suicide bombing by a woman, Augsburg, August, 1945
- Failed suicide bombing in Dresden. The bomber, Gustav Fenstermacher, was captured and turned over to the NKVD, September 1945.
- The assassination of US General George Patton, September 1945.
- The death of American soldier Pat McGraw outside Munich, 19 September 1945.
- The assassination of Governor Pietruszka in Wroclaw, Poland, Fall 1945.
- The truck bombing of the Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, Germany, preventing the trials of German war criminals, November 1945.
- A truck bombing in Munich. After realizing his truck was going to be searched the werewolf blew himself up, killing 4, November 1945.
- The kidnapping and filming of American soldier Matthew Cunningham and Soviet Soldier Nikolai Sergeyevich Golovko, December 1945.
- The poisoning and killing of Soviet Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov by wood alcohol, along with dozens of top Red army and NKVD officials, New Year's Eve, 31 December 1945.
- The killing of German Governor Konrad Adenauer during a mortar attack, along with several Americans and Germans, January 1946.
- The kidnapping of several German physicists from British custody, early 1946.
- The sabotaging of a US ammunition supply dump near Regensburg, killing 45 US troops, Spring 1946.
- The theft of radium from a rubbish heap in Hechingen, Spring 1946.
- The death of hundreds of Americans in the Frankfurt residency compound by a radium-bomb and rendering the compound uninhabitable, preventing the trial of German war criminals for a second time, Spring 1946.
- An attack on an American army unit on the road between Nuremberg and Munich, killing 1 and wounding 3 Americans. This attack was a disaster for the GFF men involved, 9 were killed and 2 captured. One of those captured was Rudolf Bauer, June 1946.
- The toppling of the Eiffel Tower, Summer 1946.
- The leveling of St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, December 1946.
- The crashing of a C-47 into a Berlin courthouse, preventing war crimes trials for a third time, Spring 1947.
- The hijacking of three airlines, two American and one Soviet, December 1947.