This document and its reply (shown below) form an insight into the mind of an SS-General and the top hierarchy of the Nazi state. Lammerding was anxious to improve his men's understanding and appreciation of their shared history and culture. Yet within 5 weeks, 99 men were to hang at Tulle and Oradour would lie in ruins with 643 dead. In a modern business this kind of "fellowship camp" activity described by Lammerding would be called, Team Building. One question that does bother me slightly is, why did Lammerding write to Himmler in the first place? He was an SS General and surely he did not need to ask permission to hold a 'fellowship camp'?
Another point to note is that Himmler was sufficiently interested in the scheme to ask for further details of those attending. Just two weeks elapsed between Lammerding writing to Himmler and his reply, which at this time of the war seems amazing. Himmler must have had many really urgent matters to deal with which needed his immediate attention, however this low priority request (about something which was almost a social event) received his personal notice. All this just a few weeks before D-Day, with the Russians steadily pushing the Germans back across Europe.
Comments below are in italics.
To the REICHSFÜHRER-SS (Heinrich Himmler) 3rd May 1944
Reichsführer ! (the exclamation mark was normal in such documents)
The 2nd SS-Panzer division "Das Reich" intends to put together a three day fellowship camp for Germanic volunteers and volunteers from other European countries that are serving in the ranks of the 2nd SS-Panzer division "Das Reich". This meeting is planned to deepen the European fellowship and awareness of their mutual destiny through lectures and talks. It is intended to undertake sightseeing of important cultural monuments, that lie situated equilaterally in the area of the Division, such as Carcassonne, the rock carvings of Aurignac and the fortifications of the old city of Toulouse. (Lammerding specifically uses the term, "Germanic volunteers" and this makes me wonder whether the conscripts within the Division were to be specifically excluded from this event).
This meeting is to be accompanied by ceremonies, musical performances, competitions and film presentations.
The great histories of European Nations, foremost France and their currently low standings, (this means the low standing of their current culture, not their military standing as defeated nations) should be the basis for the Leadership philosophy of the Reich, and for the pressing needs of the European community, and its shared fate (Lammerding meant that the example of the shared history of Europe should be used to used to point out the benefits of National Socialism, i.e. the natural German superiority over all others).
In the division at the moment there are Germans, Teutons and other volunteers from 15 European countries. Each battalion should name two men for it. (the above mentioned fellowship camp).
The meeting will be evaluated by the SS-Standarte "Kurt Eggers" (the SS publicity unit) through word, film, radio broadcasts, and pictures.
The division asks for permission to hold the joint meeting (strange that Lammerding felt that he had to ask permission for this event, or was he just showing Himmler what a true SS-man he was?)
To SS-Brigadeführer Lammerding 18 May 1944
Commander of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division "Das Reich"
Dear comrade Lammerding
The Reichsführer-SS is in agreement with the running of a community-camp as suggested by you for Germanic volunteers and volunteers from the other European countries.
He asks you at the same time for a list of nominations, - divided into the individual European countries from whom the number and ranks of the Germanic and other volunteers are gathered.
Cordial greeting and Heil Hitler !
© Michael Williams: minor revision August 2004