In the years since WWII, the idea has sprung up that the Wehrmacht was an apolitical organisation, one that conducted itself in the same manner as the militaries of the western allies, while the Nazi party was the only organisation in Germany that was pursuing the goals of Nazi ideology.
The myth is most prevalent in the West, due to the fact that the majority of ideologically-fuelled German warcrimes were committed on the eastern front. More importantly, the West had to rebuild the German military in order to contend with the Red Army in the Cold War. To do that, they needed recruits, which would be difficult if the military was seen as part of a shameful past. As a result, the Himmerod Memorandum began a rehabilitation of the Wehrmacht as a whole in both Germany and the western nations.
In reality, though, the Wehrmacht had committed many warcrimes in service to Nazi ideology. Field Marshall Walther Reichenau, commander of the 6th Army and a committed Nazi (as you can see in my previous post), ordered his troops to take part in the Bila Tserkva massacre. After aiding the SS in killing all the adult Jews in the town, the children were left abandoned for several days. Oberst Helmut Groscurth wrote: "The rooms were filled with about 90 children. There was an indescribable amount of filth; Rags, diapers, refuse lay everywhere. Countless flies cover the children, some of whom were naked. Almost all of the children were crying or whimpering. The stench was unbearable. In the above mentioned case, measures were taken against women and children which were no different from atrocities committed by the enemy."
After Groscurth and some chaplains attempted to save the children (the only recorded case of such an effort ever happening - and note that they did nothing to try and save the adults), the order to execute them was issued anyway. An SS observer said: “I went to the woods alone. The Wehrmacht had already dug a grave. The children were brought along in a tractor. I had nothing to do with this technical procedure. The Ukrainians were standing around trembling. The children were taken down from the tractor. They were lined up along the top of the grave and shot so that they fell into it. The Ukrainians did not aim at any particular part of the body. They fell into the grave. The wailing was indescribable. I shall never forget the scene throughout my life. I find it very hard to bear. I particulary [sic] remember a small fair-haired girl who took me by the hand. She too was shot later ... The grave was near some woods. It was not near the rifle-range. The execution must have taken place in the afternoon at about 3:30 or 4:00. It took place the day after the discussions at the Feldkommandanten ... Many children were hit four or five times before they died.”
Many in the Wehrmacht were fully committed to the Nazi war of extermination. One soldier wrote: “The pitiful hordes on the other side are nothing but felons who are driven by alcohol and the threat of pistols at their heads ... They are nothing but a bunch of assholes! ... Having encountered these Bolshevik hordes and having seen how they live has made a lasting impression on me. Everyone, even the last doubter, knows today that the battle against these sub-humans, who've been whipped into a frenzy by the Jews, was not only necessary but came in the nick of time. Our Führer has saved Europe from certain chaos.”
Of course, this isn’t to say that every individual in the Wehrmacht was a Nazi. For example, Hauptmann Wilm Hosenfeld actively saved Jews in Poland. Hans Scholl, Willi Graf, and other young German soldiers and students were executed for forming the anti-Nazi White Rose movement. But the Wehrmacht itself was not an apolitical organisation, and it had many war criminals within its ranks.