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Werwolf (German for "werewolf", sometimes spelled "Wehrwolf") was the name given to a German plan, developed beginning in 1944,[1] to create a commando force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany itself. Werwolf remained entirely ineffectual as a combat force, however, and in practical terms, its value as propaganda far outweighed its actual achievements. It did cause the Allies to overestimate the threat of a Nazi insurgency, leading to greater hardship and deaths for the German population, which in turn aided the survival of Nazi ideals into the post-war period.



After it became clear, by March 1945, that the remaining German forces had no chance of stopping the Allied advance, Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels seized upon the idea of Werwolf, and began to foster the notion, primarily through Nazi radio broadcasts, that Werwolf was a clandestine guerrilla organization comprising irregular German partisans, similar to the many insurgency groups which the Germans had encountered in the nations they occupied during the war. Despite such propaganda, however, this was never the actual nature of Werwolf, which in reality was always intended to be a commando unit comprising uniformed troops. Another popular myth about Werwolf is that it was intended to continue fighting underground even after the surrender of the Nazi government and the German military. In fact, no effort was ever made by the Nazi leadership to develop an insurgency to continue fighting in the event of defeat, in large measure because Adolf Hitler, as well as other Nazi leaders, refused to believe that a German defeat was possible, and they regarded anyone who even discussed the possibility as defeatists and traitors. As a result, no contingency plans to deal with defeat were ever authorized. However, as a result of Goebbels' efforts, Werwolf had, and in many cases continues to have, a mythological reputation as having been an underground Nazi resistance movement, with some even claiming that Werwolf attacks continued for months, or even years, after the end of the war. Its perceived influence went far beyond its actual operations, especially after the dissolution of the Nazi regime.[2]

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