A man has been charged with the killing of 58 Jewish forced labourers near the village of Deutsch Schutzen in 1945. The man is believed to be 90 year old Adolf Storms. He was a former member of the 5th SS Panzer Division ‘Wiking’. He also stands accused of shooting a worker who could no longer keep up with the forced march between Deutsch Schutzen and Hartberg a day later. Storms had managed to hide openly in German society for some 60 years before his arrest. It has taken so long because of post war confusion and a misspelt surname.
Although assumed, what has not been stated is the nationality of Adolf Storms. Storms is not a uniquely German surname. The ‘Wiking’ Division of the Waffen SS was an elite unit recruited mainly from foreign volunteers led by German Officers. The recruits came mostly from Scandinavia, The Netherlands and Belgium. It saw service on the Eastern Front and finally surrendered to the US forces in Austria. The division saw operations in Operation Barbarossa, the Caucasus, the Ukraine, Warsaw and Budapest.
The ‘Wiking’ division were embroiled in other war crimes. Even their bakery unit was involved in rounding up, beating and killing Ukrainian Jews. There are reports of many others but they were not found guilty at the Nuremburg trials.
Of note is that Dr Josef Mengele served with ‘Wiking’ during its early battles. He was even awarded the iron Cross for saving lives. After being wounded Mengele was sent to work in the concentration camps where he made his name. Former comrades have since tried to have his name removed from ‘Wiking’ records.