Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge
QUESTION What is known of the German soldier dubbed 'The Beast of Omaha', said to be responsible for a large number of U.S. casualties during the D-day landings?
THIS was heinz (heinrich) severloh (1923-2006), a machine gunner in the german 352nd infantry Division, stationed on Omaha beach in 1944.
He manned a gun emplacement known as Widerstandsnest ('resistance nest') 62. in 1944, the german army was unable to form a full defensive line along the normandy coast, so a string of loosely connected strongpoints was used.
Wn 62 was a medium-sized emplacement, close to the present site of the normandy American Cemetery and Memorial near Colleville-sur-Mer.
From this vantage point, the Allied media credited severloh with singlehandedly inflicting 1,500 to 2,000 casualties (some said as many as 3,000) and dubbed him The Beast of Omaha.
Severloh was an unlikely warrior. By his own admission he'd evaded the draft until conscription became inevitable.
He worked first as a sleigh driver at the Eastern Front where he was severely punished for dissent, forced to perform physical exertions that left him hospitalised for six months, and was dismayed when he was eventually put on active duty, having studiously tried to avoid it.
On June 6, in Wn 62, …