Hans Schmidt was an energetic and prolific German-American activist who for years steadfastly defended Germany's heritage, forthrightly countering lies and distortions of twentieth-century European history. He was also the author of several books. During World War Two he served as a soldier in the Waffen SS.
He was born and raised in Germany. As an 18-year-old he volunteered in 1944 for service in the famed Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler SS panzer division. During the war's final months he was engaged in the furious winter combat of the “Battle of the Bulge,” in bloody fighting in Hungary, and finally in desperate battles in Austria. He ended the war as a twice-wounded corporal and squad leader.
After surrendering to US troops just two days before the end of fighting in Europe, he was held -- along with many tens of thousands of other German prisoners of war -- under brutal conditions in primitive stockades without shelter. Thanks to the kindness of individual American GIs, he was spared transfer to Soviet imprisonment, or prolonged custody in US internment.
He soon migrated to the United States, where he built a successful life and became a naturalized US citizen.
In 1983 he founded the German-American National Political Action Committee (GANPAC), which was devoted to countering anti-German bias in the media. For years he ran GANPAC, first in southern California and then in Florida. He wrote and published two GANPAC newsletters, one in English ( Ganpac Brief ) and one in German ( USA-Berichte ).
In June 1985 the GANPAC office in Santa Monica, California, was set on fire. According to a report on terrorism issued by the federal Department of Energy, an anonymous caller stated that the Jewish Defense League, a Zionist terror group, had carried out the arson attack, apparently because of Schmidt's skepticism of familiar Holocaust claims.
Schmidt was the author of several books, including SS Panzergrenadier: A True Story Of World War II (published in late 2001), Hitler Boys in America: Re-Education Exposed , and Jailed in Democratic Germany.
In his SS Panzergrenadier memoir he told why he volunteered, as a teenager, for military service during the final, desperate months of the war. Written from an unapologetically German point of view, he provided a frank, “politically incorrect” explanation -- with a keen regard for American sensibilities -- of the appeal of the Third Reich regime, and the realities of the Hitler Youth and the Waffen SS.
In August 1995, the 68-year-old Schmidt was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, during a visit to the land of his birth to meet with his elderly mother. He was charged with “popular incitement” (“Volksverhetzung”) for remarks in his US-based newsletter and in a few private letters to individuals in Germany. State prosecutors cited his references to Jewish control of the media, to “Jew- and Freemason infested" German political parties, to derogatory references to German politicians, and to mention of “Holocaust tales.” After five months in prison, he was released on bail in January 1996. Instead of appearing for trial, he returned immediately to the US.
Hans Schmidt died in early June 2010 in North Carolina, where he had been living for several years with his wife.
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