12 Feb. 2015

 

Greetings to all of our members and visitors:

 

     I hope you are enjoying our site and that you find it informative.  From time to time the question arises as to how and why we chose to re-enact this particular German unit.  The real answer is one that you might not expect.  In 1975 when we first started WWII re-enacting in St. Louis, it became apparent that we needed to establish separate axis and allied units in order to better coordinate and control our events.  It was during this time that an incident occurred which had a great influence on my decision.  I had stopped by my parent's house one evening and walked into their living room.  There in front of the television sat my dad with a very disgusted look on his face.  What's wrong I asked?  He said "did you ever really look at this stupid program?"  (He was watching Hogan's Heroes).  I asked what was wrong with it and he said "this program and most of the movies nowadays make the Germans look stupid, inept, and almost likeable !!  That is not what the German soldiers were like when we fought them in WWII !" (Dad was a WWII veteran of the 81st Tank Bn. of the 5th US Armored Div).  "These men were tough, professional, and for the most part, a ruthless bunch of soldiers, especially, those SS Panzer Troops !  We lost a lot of good men before we finally beat them.  And programs like this just aren't accurate!  When people see them portrayed like a bunch of clowns, it diminishes and demeans our sacrifices !"  With this as an incentive, I chose the 1st SS Panzer Division as our re-enactment unit.  After 40 years of portraying this elite German Division, I truly believe we have done, and will continue to do, our part to remind the public of what a tough enemy our soldiers had to defeat in order to achieve Victory in WWII.

 

     It has been 40 years since I founded this unit and it became a chartered unit of the WWII H.R.S.  Since our first re-enactment at Weldon Springs, MO in 1975, our unit has registered well over a thousand people as dues paying members.  Those who chose not to remain with our unit left for a variety of reasons.  Some left because of the strict authenticity and uniform requirements we demand.  This unit was, and still is, the most expensive unit to belong to.  Some left when it became evident they could not be "field marshals" just because they bought the uniform.  A very few left because the unit has a no tolerance policy for outspoken political ideals.  No Nazi, Communist or Socialist discussions are permitted.  Over 60% of those we recruited into the unit have remained in this hobby.  Some have joined or formed units more in keeping with their needs and expectations.  Others have formed businesses that supply the WWII re-enactment community's needs for uniforms and equipment.  So indirectly our unit has been responsible for a large part of the growth that our hobby has experienced.

 

     Belonging to the LAH is a humbling experience that gives our members a sense of comradeship that can only be found among like-minded individuals; who put the needs of the unit above their own egos.  Our unit has provided a good solid structure of rules and guidelines which are enforced.  It has opportunities for advancement and increased participation.  We have also provided a setting for authentic WWII vehicle owners to utilize their vehicles in a historically accurate manner.  Our unit, the LAH, has stood the test of time.  We have been scrutinized and inspected to the Nth degree.  We have proven that we are everything we claim to be and have provided everything we promised to our unit members.  It has been my distinct pleasure to serve as the LAH unit commander since its founding in 1975.  In April 2010, the command of the LAH was officially transferred to Dale Taylor.  Dale had "unofficially" been in command since 2006, since my personal family responsibilities had drastically reduced my involvement.  During the following years Dale had not only kept the original ideals and traditions alive but had fostered new programs within our unit to give even more avenues for our members to grow and participate.

 

     In October 2013, Dale Taylor turned over the leadership of our unit to David Burch.  David has proven himself a real leader and a loyal unit member since he joined the LAH.  He has already introduced many new and exciting policies as well as smoothing out a few rough spots in our existing rules and guidelines.  David brings a fresh perspective and even more professionalism to the unit commander's position.  I have the utmost confidence that David will lead our unit forward to an even greater level of authenticity and comradeship while still honoring and protecting the foundation our unit was built upon.

 

     As for me and a few other "older" LAH veterans, we have formed a Volksstrurm unit.  In our new "impressions" we will continue to strive to maintain an authentic appearance and attitude.  We were pleased to be invited by the leadership of the LAH to be attached to them.  We hope to continue to be a small "asset" to the unit, providing a pool of knowledge about the unit's history and as Dale put it "comedic relief" when called upon.

 

     Thank you for your time and interest.

 

     Fritz Poddig

 

     LAH Unit Founder

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