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View Full Version : How was Europe disarmed after WWII?


mrpayday
04-12-2009, 06:38 AM
After WWII there must have been a lot of guns floating around, automatic weapons and explosives, in the hands of some people with extreme political views. How were all these weapons removed from circulation? Was it a voluntary surrender by irregular forces fighting the Nazis, a draconian crackdown or some sort of payment to remove weapons from society. I know that Eastern Europe was under Soviet control so I could believe draconian measures there but what about France, Belgium or Holland? I also know that Greece had a civil war in 1946.

So what laws were passed to try and get WWII weapons off the streets of postwar Europe?

glee
04-12-2009, 07:13 AM
You don't say where you're from, but most posters here are from the US.
As many debates on gun control have shown, there is a clear cultural difference between the US and most of Europe (certainly with the UK).

Here in England, the beat police don't have guns.
Guns are not allowed for home defence.
There are massive restrictions on all guns, including handguns.
All this is very popular and there are no signs of any changes.

So the answer to your question is that when my father came home from the war, he handed his rifle in. Why wouldn't he? No laws were needed.
Apart from being a soldier in war-time, none of my family have ever owned or fired any gun*. The only guns you ever see are anti-terrorist police at major airports.


*I confess that I have:

- fired a shotgun in Canada (I hit a bucket over 20 feet away!)
- fired a .22 rifle at my school's shooting range (only feasible in Private Schools)
- am going clay-pigeon shooting tomorrow (I'm on holiday in Africa)

Alessan
04-12-2009, 07:17 AM
OP: are you talking about weapons held by military service members, or those held by partisans and the like?

ivan astikov
04-12-2009, 07:20 AM
I'd imagine all of them. Who supplied the 'partisans' with their guns in the first place?

AK84
04-12-2009, 07:22 AM
Well there was this little thing called a war, and the armed guys got the pulp beaten out of them until they said uncle.

Disarming a group or a population is easy and has been done many times. Hell in Africa and other places UN peacekeepers have routinely disarmed tribes and groups, often people with a far greater "heritage" of gun use and knowledge about guns, and usually these are assualt rifles anyway. US citizens can be disarmed as well, if at a time there is the political will to do what has to be done.

AK84
04-12-2009, 07:25 AM
I'd imagine all of them. Who supplied the 'partisans' with their guns in the first place?
In W Europe the resistance had been unable to do much against the Germans in anycase, so they were either i) dead, ii) hiding and glad to see the allies. I E Europe, some groups of partisans were a problem for the Soviets until the 50's. In SE Europe and the balkens, saw the most successful partisan activity, they pretty much succeded in driving the GErmans out and the partisans became the government (Tito) or there was a war between the various groups (Grecee).

mrpayday
04-12-2009, 07:29 AM
OP: are you talking about weapons held by military service members, or those held by partisans and the like?

I was talking about partisans.

mrpayday
04-12-2009, 07:43 AM
On further reading, anti-Japanese resistance forces in Malaysia officially turned in their weapons to the British after WWII only to start a guerrilla war against the British in 1948 with weapons kept from the government.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaya_Emergency

AK84
04-12-2009, 08:36 AM
The war is East Asia lasted longer than the surrender. In Indonesia a British division (sent from Europe) suffered 2000 casulaties in November 1945.

ftg
04-12-2009, 08:59 AM
In Poland there were the Cursed Soldiers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursed_soldiers). In the baltic states there were the Forest Brothers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Brothers). In the Ukraine there was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Insurgent_Army).

It was messy in a lot of places for several years.

[Undecided] Adrian
04-12-2009, 09:08 AM
If you want to know about Germany, I don't think there were any tendencies to keep guns for militia uses after the war.
Of course the occupational forces searched houses and so on, and you were in trouble if guns were found, but the main thing was that no-one wanted to fight any more.

People stopped thinking of the occupational troops as the enemy amazingly quickly (to a lesser extend vice versa as well).

abel29a
04-12-2009, 09:40 AM
Here in Norway people are still delivering WWII era weapons (machine pistols like the MP-40 and hand granades among other things) to the police today. I don't think there ever was a concentrated drive to "disarm" the populace after the war, probably because the authoritites figured most people holding on to WWII weapons had been in the resistance or army, and therefore could be trusted with the firearms.

During the mid-90's (if memory serves) - Norwegian authorities started a series of "weapon drives" so to speak - in which people could deliver whatever weapons/explosives they had to the police without fear of retribution. This lead to all sort of newspaper stories about elder women showing up at police stations with live grenades in their purses and such.

Lochdale
04-13-2009, 01:27 AM
US citizens can be disarmed as well, if at a time there is the political will to do what has to be done.

Political will is a polite way of saying ignore the constitution and the will of a significant amount of the population? And I'm not sure it would be as easy as you seem to think.

Chronos
04-13-2009, 02:18 AM
Political will is a polite way of saying ignore the constitution and the will of a significant amount of the population? And I'm not sure it would be as easy as you seem to think.Political will means that a significant amount of the population has changed their minds. If enough of them change their minds, we could even repeal the second amendment.

Chickenwrangler
04-13-2009, 04:08 AM
There must have been thousands of weapons and other military equipment lying around in Europe during the war for just about anyone to pick up.
Rapidly advancing armies and especially hastily retreating armies would leave stuff behind for the locals to come and just pick up, and even if the general population was fed up with fighting there would still have been a significant number of people wanting a souvenir.

Lumpy
04-13-2009, 08:01 AM
I would speculate that if the arms in question could not be kept or used openly then they would be of limited utility. If they stay stashed in the attic forever then effectively they don't exist. If you can't legally buy ammunition for them then you can't practice regularly or have more than a limited reserve of rounds. I imagine that plenty of vets and former partisans kept souvenirs, but other than maybe being able to confront a burglar they ceased to be relevant. I mean, wtf would I do with a grenade launcher if I illicitly possessed one?

Nava
04-13-2009, 08:10 AM
In Spain,

anybody who surrendered to the other side handed their weapons in,
anybody who had joined with his own weapons and didn't surrender got to keep them (either to put them back in the closet and take them only for hunting, or to join the "maquis")
anybody who was still in the army or in a gun-bearing branch of the police at the end of the civil war still needed his army-issued weapons, as they happen to be a tool of the trade.

I imagine it must have been similar for Places Beyond The Mountains, once their own little ruckus was over. Many of the "maquis" had been involved with different sides of WWII and didn't come join the "maquis" until after WWII was over.

Dog80
04-13-2009, 11:59 AM
Since Greece was mentioned, the partisans were disarmed after the Treaty of Varkiza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Varkiza)

AK84
04-13-2009, 01:05 PM
In Spain,

anybody who surrendered to the other side handed their weapons in,
anybody who had joined with his own weapons and didn't surrender got to keep them (either to put them back in the closet and take them only for hunting, or to join the "maquis")
anybody who was still in the army or in a gun-bearing branch of the police at the end of the civil war still needed his army-issued weapons, as they happen to be a tool of the trade.

I imagine it must have been similar for Places Beyond The Mountains, once their own little ruckus was over. Many of the "maquis" had been involved with different sides of WWII and didn't come join the "maquis" until after WWII was over.

Spain had a Division of troops which fought in Russia as well.

Hari Seldon
04-13-2009, 01:15 PM
Political will means that a significant amount of the population has changed their minds. If enough of them change their minds, we could even repeal the second amendment.

Yes, but it wouldn't be necessary since the obvious reading of the second amendment is that only the state militia (i.e. National Guard) have a constitutional right to bear arms. This is not a popular view, of course, but it is a reasonable one and, if the political will changed, I think the courts woulds see it that way too.

HorseloverFat
04-13-2009, 01:19 PM
Well, heavy guns and military machinery were held by uniformed soldiers so any surrender meant that these things were collected and destroyed. That's probably 90% right there. Im guessing you'll always have 10% or so floating around, being sold, kept for militias, kept for souvenirs, etc.

aldiboronti
04-13-2009, 01:19 PM
You don't say where you're from, but most posters here are from the US.
As many debates on gun control have shown, there is a clear cultural difference between the US and most of Europe (certainly with the UK).

Here in England, the beat police don't have guns.
Guns are not allowed for home defence.
There are massive restrictions on all guns, including handguns.
All this is very popular and there are no signs of any changes.

So the answer to your question is that when my father came home from the war, he handed his rifle in. Why wouldn't he? No laws were needed.
Apart from being a soldier in war-time, none of my family have ever owned or fired any gun*. The only guns you ever see are anti-terrorist police at major airports.


*I confess that I have:

- fired a shotgun in Canada (I hit a bucket over 20 feet away!)
- fired a .22 rifle at my school's shooting range (only feasible in Private Schools)
- am going clay-pigeon shooting tomorrow (I'm on holiday in Africa)

Gun laws in the UK were not quite as restrictive as you suggest, at least until the 60s, 70s. Many returning servicemen, including my father, brought home souvenirs such as German Lugers, etc. For a law-abiding citizen it wasn't difficult to get a gun licence in the 50s and many weapons from the war were available on the black market.

Various gun amnesties, when guns could be handed in no questions asked, took care of a lot of the arms floating about. My father gave up the Luger in one such.

Lumpy
04-13-2009, 01:24 PM
Yes, but it wouldn't be necessary since the obvious reading of the second amendment is that only the state militia (i.e. National Guard) have a constitutional right to bear arms. This is not a popular view, of course, but it is a reasonable one and, if the political will changed, I think the courts woulds see it that way too.Let's not divert this thread into another debate about the meaning of the Second Amendment. All I'll say is that it's not as "obvious" as you'd like to be able to presume. I don't expect you to agree, I just would rather you didn't wave a reg-flag issue only tangentially related to the thread. If anyone wants to comment further on this, I suggest we take it to Great Debates or The Pit.

chowder
04-13-2009, 01:26 PM
My dad brought back a couple of German daggers which I still have.

Now, off my lawn, sharpish!

Toxylon
04-14-2009, 04:55 AM
Like Norway, Finland still has loads of WWII weaponry (mostly pistols and rifles) strewn about, in people's attics, closets etc. Occasionally even large weapon stashes, including MPs, hand grenades etc. surface from old country houses the relatives of a deceased Veteran start cleaning up.

Mops
04-14-2009, 06:11 AM
My paternal family (in North Rhine-Westphalia) regaled us with tales of how they hid their rifles (prewar hunting guns, not military service weapons) initially from the occupying troops (which were Belgians at the time). They got a grilling or two at the local police station, but in a civilized way. They hid the guns not because of a perceived need for defence or insurgency, but simply as valuable items. The incentive not to hide guns was mainly prison terms or fines if the occupiers got tipped off.

An example on how arms got to literally lie around: my father was a navy cadet but ended up as infantry in Bavaria in a troop of 16-year-olds led by 19-year-olds like him. At the end their commanding officer quietly said to the 19-year-olds 'boys, the war is lost, let's avoid losses' (couldn't trust the 16-year-olds with that), and they stacked their arms and sat against a wall. An American column approached and ... drove by. Must have been a bit anticlimactic. They then demobbed themselves and left in various directions, leaving all their arms to avoid being shot on sight. (this was different from German-held territory where they'd needed to keep their arms to avoid being hanged on sight). So, an orderly heap of Panzerfausts and rifles left at the roadside...

Mk VII
04-14-2009, 09:39 AM
'Europe' is a very broad brush for the OP to pose this question with.
In France there was something of a tradition that resistants could keep their stuff hidden and nobody would bother too much about it if it wasn't too obvious (and if you were a Communist, as many of them were, you might need it for the Big Day). As that wartime generation dies off no doubt some of this stuff will come to light. When I went to the Somme battlefield region in 1996 the villagers brought us some cheese and wine, and exhibited several obviously illegal firearms which they had retained in defiance of the regulations.

clairobscur
04-14-2009, 02:11 PM
In France, resistance members were integrated into the regular armed forces after the Liberation. I assume they exchanged they weapons for regular rifles, etc.. that they in turn gave back at the end of the war.

However, many were still floating around. When I was a kid during the 70s, in a region where resistance activity was significant during WWII, the "Gendarmerie" was still occasionally seizing ammunition caches and the like. During the early 90s, it was discovered that there was a still existing secret and armed dormant anti-communist network (created in case communists would take over after the liberation) that had never been disbanded, everybody except its members having forgotten about it. The same network existed in Italy and similarly had been forgotten.

Dallas Jones
04-14-2009, 09:16 PM
Political will means that a significant amount of the population has changed their minds. If enough of them change their minds, we could even repeal the second amendment.

Delusional fantasy at it's finest.

telebox
04-14-2009, 10:07 PM
In France, resistance members were integrated into the regular armed forces after the Liberation. I assume they exchanged they weapons for regular rifles, etc.. that they in turn gave back at the end of the war.

However, many were still floating around. When I was a kid during the 70s, in a region where resistance activity was significant during WWII, the "Gendarmerie" was still occasionally seizing ammunition caches and the like. During the early 90s, it was discovered that there was a still existing secret and armed dormant anti-communist network (created in case communists would take over after the liberation) that had never been disbanded, everybody except its members having forgotten about it. The same network existed in Italy and similarly had been forgotten.

Part of Operation Gladio - Google ' US Field Manual 30-31B 18.' Numerous links on so called 'stay behind operations', arguably this continued at least into the 80s and perhaps longer.

Eleusis
04-14-2009, 10:49 PM
Like Norway, Finland still has loads of WWII weaponry (mostly pistols and rifles) strewn about, in people's attics, closets etc. Occasionally even large weapon stashes, including MPs, hand grenades etc. surface from old country houses the relatives of a deceased Veteran start cleaning up.

People in Finland still have Military Police in their attics?

Lumpy
04-14-2009, 11:56 PM
People in Finland still have Military Police in their attics?In case you aren't whooshing, MP in this context would mean Machine Pistol, what in the US is called a submachine gun.

Eleusis
04-15-2009, 02:13 AM
Thanks, was merely making a dumb joke in order to receive that answer.

Toxylon
04-15-2009, 04:41 AM
Had I used the abbreviation 'SMGs', someone would've surely come up with "What? Your Veterans hide Sado-Masochistic Gays in their attics?". Lame?

Nava
04-15-2009, 07:03 AM
Spain had a Division of troops which fought in Russia as well.

But those guys weren't part of the Spanish Army, it was a Division of the German Army formed by Spanish volunteers.

Don't see what they have to do with the question, by the way. Most of them weren't able to come home anyway.

Pushkin
04-15-2009, 07:24 AM
During the early 90s, it was discovered that there was a still existing secret and armed dormant anti-communist network (created in case communists would take over after the liberation) that had never been disbanded, everybody except its members having forgotten about it. The same network existed in Italy and similarly had been forgotten.

Wikilink to the above mentioned Operation Gladio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Gladio).

Hypno-Toad
04-15-2009, 08:09 AM
My dad brought back a couple of German daggers which I still have.

Now, off my lawn, sharpish!

Thanks to the neo-nazis, it can be...tricky... to display WWII souveniers. Something like your daggers probably wouldn't be an issue even if they have swastikas on them. But one certainly couldn't put a captured nazi flag up on display. But I don't know if it's different over there in Britain.

AK84
04-15-2009, 08:14 AM
But those guys weren't part of the Spanish Army, it was a Division of the German Army formed by Spanish volunteers.

Don't see what they have to do with the question, by the way. Most of them weren't able to come home anyway.
IIRC most of the Spanish Army officer till the end of the Franco era had served in the Blue Division, including most of the plotters of the Feb 23 Coup.

What I meant was, that since the division was brought home pretty suddely, its possible that they kept their weapons as souviniers.

Hypno-Toad
04-17-2009, 09:29 AM
Here's (http://cgsc.leavenworth.army.mil/carl/download/csipubs/gott_mobility.pdf) a military paper related to the topic. It's about the law-enforcement role of the US military in post war Germany

Gorsnak
04-17-2009, 10:58 AM
What? Your Veterans hide Sado-Masochistic Gays in their attics?
Doesn't everyone? :confused:

chowder
04-17-2009, 11:06 AM
Thanks to the neo-nazis, it can be...tricky... to display WWII souveniers. Something like your daggers probably wouldn't be an issue even if they have swastikas on them. But one certainly couldn't put a captured nazi flag up on display. But I don't know if it's different over there in Britain.

They aren't on display, just stuck in a box in the junkroom.

I fished them out and they have the following on the blade.

Meine Ehre Heist* Treue

*At least that's what I think this word is, it's all in Gothic Black lettering.

There's a couple of scabbards with them but they are decidedly battered and worn

PoorYorick
04-17-2009, 11:25 AM
Here's (http://cgsc.leavenworth.army.mil/carl/download/csipubs/gott_mobility.pdf) a military paper related to the topic. It's about the law-enforcement role of the US military in post war Germany

I just read the linked document, and I just have to ask (rhetorically), "Did anyone read this before the Iraqi invasion? Apparently not.

Sheesh.