Article | Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research | Go East, Old Man: The Ritual Spaces of SS Veterans’ Memory Work

Go East, Old Man: The Ritual Spaces of SS Veterans’ Memory Work
Steffen Werther: Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden Madeleine Hurd: Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden
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Theme: Social Movements - Ritual Space and Media Edited by Madeleine Hurd

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This article uses social-movement analysis to understand the rituals, memory-work and spatialties of Waffen-SS veterans and their sympathizers. Most social-movement analysis focuses on left-wing protesters; our concern is with the marginalized counter-narratives, rituals and -spaces produced by the self-proclaimed misunderstood “heroes” of World War Two. This counter-hegemonic self-definition is essential to these former world-war soldiers who, despite an internal mythology of idealistic self-sacrifice, are vilified in West-European master narra-tives. We discuss how, during the 1990s, veterans and their sympathizers sought to replace rituals of memory-work in the newly-opened East. We look at how the Waffen-SS’s ritual memory-work is “replaced” in alternative settings, including – perhaps surprisingly – Russia itself. Here, Waffen-SS veterans use new, official, semi-sacred places to anchor both an alternative identity and an alternative definition of the central meanings of modern European history.

Keywords: Waffen-SS; veterans; memory work; ritual; place; commemoration; European mas-ter narratives; World War Two; Estonia; Ukraine; Russia

Volume 6, Theme: Theme: Social Movements - Ritual Space and Media Edited by Madeleine Hurd

, Article 18, 2014

Steffen Werther, Madeleine Hurd
Go East, Old Man: The Ritual Spaces of SS Veterans’ Memory Work:

Articles and Books (including revisionist histories by veterans)

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Der Freiwillige:
Der Freiwillige 1993/39/2 (February): “Eine Reise nach Uspenskaja”.

Der Freiwillige 1993/39/4 (April): “Ein Brief aus Estland” and “Spendenaufruf”

Der Freiwillige 1993/39/5 (May): “Brief aus Estland”.

Der Freiwillige 1993/39/9 (September): Ehrhard Schmidt, “Das Kreuz von Uspenskaja”.

Der Freiwillige 1993/39/11 (November): “Wiedersehen in Elva/Estland”.

Der Freiwillige 1994/40/10 (October): “Freiheitskämpfer”.

Der Freiwillige 1995/41/7 (July): “50 Jahre danach. Treffen der Europäischen Freiwilligen an der ehemaligen Grosskampfstätte”.

Der Freiwillige 1995/41/8 (August): “Mit Veteranen der Division Wiking nach Uspenskaja”.

Der Freiwillige 1995/41/11 (November): “Mit Flugzeug und Schiff nach Uspenskaja”.

Der Freiwillige 1997/48/5 (May): “Gedenkrede des Bürgermeisters Vello Kärsten”.

Der Freiwillige 1998/44/1 (January): Henri Frenet “Festrede”.

Der Freiwillige 2000/46/2 (February): “Geschichte”

Ein Fähnlein - Zur Erhaltung von Tugend und Tradition, Das neue Magazin für junge und alte Freiwillige:
Fähnlein 2012/1, cover-page; Henrik Ostendorf, “Veteranentreffen der europäischen Freiwilligen in Estland, Ein Reisebericht vom 28. Juli – 2. August 2011”, 6ff.

Fähnlein 2012/1, “SS-Division ‘Charlemagne’ – Gedenken in Bad Reichenhall. Ein Bekenntnis zur Duetsch-Französischen Freundschaft”. 

Fähnlein 2012/3, “Pommern”,, “HIAG section in NRW in Siebengebirge”.

Folk og Land:
Folk og Land 1983/8, “Minnevarde over falne frontkjempere i Bamble”.

Folk og Land 1993/10, “Bamble-Bautaen. Den taler for de tause”.

Folk og Land 1994/9, “Bamble – 3. Sept. 1994”.

Folk og Land 1996/7, “Regiment Norges falne har fått sin minnestein”.

Folk og Land 1996/8, “Minnesteinen i Vaivara, Borgermesterens tale ved avdukningen”.

Folk og Land 1998/7, “Legionærenes minnesten avduket i Krasnoye Selo”.

Folk og Land 2002/3, “Slik treffes tidligere fiender”.

Kriegsgräberstiftung Wenn alle Brüder schweigen”, Mitteilungsblatt
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Wenn alle Brüder 2005:1 (February): “Letter from the editor”.

Wenn alle Brüder 2006:3 (September): “Baltikumbeauftragten”.

Wenn alle Brüder 2006:4 (December): “Denkmal für die Freiwilligen der Sturmbrigade ‘Wallonien’ eingeweiht”.

Wenn alle Brüder 2010:2, “Uspenka – nur noch wenige Meilensteine für ein außergewöhnliches Projekt”.

Neues vom Kameradenwerk Korps Steiner e.V.
Neues Korps Steiner 1996/8/16, “Einladung” and “Unsere diesjährige Estland-Fahrt vom 10. - 22. Juli 1996”.

Neues Korps Steiner 1997/9/18, “Zum Geleit”, “Kameraden” and “Estlandfahrt des Kamaradenwerks Korps Steiner”.

Other Newspapers and Newsjournals cited:
Aftonblad (2013): “SS-veteraner sammaldes i Tallin”, July 11.

The Algemeiner (2012): Per Anders Rutling, “The Waffen-SS as freedom fighters”,January 31.
Junge Welt (2012): “SS-Ehrung per Gesetz?” February 29.

Kultuur ja Elu (2009): “Eesti Leegioni Sõprade Klubi ootab aktiivseid kaasvõitlejaid”, No. 2, p. 68, to be read at

Monitor 1991/1, “Skammens monument”.

taz 2012/11/01, William Totok, “Verzerrte Geschichte in Osteuropa - Auferstehung der braunen Ungeheuer” and Reinhard Wolff, “Ehrung von Alt-Nazis - Die SS als Freiheitskämpfer”.

Telemarkavisen 2012/10/26, “Statspolitiman og frontkjemper”.

Telemark Arbeiderblad  1993/10/27, “Frontkjemper-bauta ribbet” and “Ingen kommentar, sier frontkjemper”.

Websites cited (several extreme right-wing):

“Anniversary Korean War” (2013): “60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, Schedule of Events”: (accessed 3

arch 2014). (1998): (accessed 3 March 2014).

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Latvian-ss-legion (2010): text to photo dated March 15, 2010, “The Problem of the Latvian Legion”, and subsequent commentary, in: (accessed 25 September 2013).

Metapedia (2013): “Esti Relvagrenaderide SS diviisi”, (accessed 3 March 2014).

Union Grove (2013). Union Grove, USA, 15th Veterans Memorial Ceremony: See also: (accessed 3 March 2014). (1999): “SS-veteraner møtt avrasende demonstranter”: (accessed 3 March 2014). Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V (accessed 3 March 2014). (accessed 3 March 2014).

Volume 6, Theme:: Theme: Social Movements - Ritual Space and Media Edited by Madeleine Hurd

, Article 18, 2014

Steffen Werther, Madeleine Hurd
Go East, Old Man: The Ritual Spaces of SS Veterans’ Memory Work:
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