The “Werwolf” branch of Hitler’s forces were particularly frightening for a variety of reasons; even today they have an almost mythological fascination. Though Hitler refused to label them as a contingency force of guerrilla soldiers, most experts agree that ‘der Werwolf’ was an elite squad trained for the most covert military tactics. The soldiers in this group were selected from the Hitler Youth, –a training camp of sorts, for young German Hitler enthusiasts, –or basically a place for enthusiastic Nazis or their supporters to put their children.
The choice to recruit from the Hitler Youth was strategic brilliance; younger minds being easier to mold, as well as their physical attributes, and basic philosophies, being not fully formed. In essence, Hitler chose the most easily manipulated from his ranks, some as young as ten years old, and trained them to be monsters. Furthermore, the very young soldiers would be harder to detect among the ranks of the enemy. The man responsible for initiating Operation Werwolf, or Unternehmen Werwolf was Heinrich Himmler. He studied guerrilla tactics of the Soviet partisans, and planned to create a clandestine force to operate behind enemy lines.
The young Werwolves were trained in creating innocuous-looking explosives, assassination, sabotage, arson, sniping. One particular lesson included in their curriculum was how to creep into a guard tower and strangle the sentry with a short length of string, in just a few moments, without detection. A number of Werwolf actions are listed to their credit, though all unproven, the signature behavior is hard to dismiss. Members of the group were still being seized in 1946 with stores of ammunition, and artillery as heavy as anti-tank rockets, –keeping in mind most of these soldiers are children is possibly the most disturbing element in Operation Werwolf.
This last bit is pure speculation; in the early 90’s, almost 80% of Russian citizens believed in werewolves, and the Russian army has reportedly sent troops into the forest telling them to shoot and kill any werewolves they see. Considering Germany and Russia’s history and proximity, it’s possible that some of Russia’s werewolf folklore was modified if not exacerbated by Hitler’s Werwolf propaganda. The Werwolf propaganda could have easily reached younger generations of Russians, leading to the high populace of believers. As for the orders for troops to shoot any “werewolves” they came across, perhaps the orders were to shoot “werwolves” instead.