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Waffen SS Divisions: Info At A Glance: Part 1

First SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH) 

Formed: 15th July 1942

Surrendered to U.S. Army on 9 May in Linz, Austria (only 1,500 survivors with 16 tanks. Released from U.S. captivity in 1950).

2 motorized infantry regiments (one with rifle armor.), Each with 3 battalions (versus 2 in army divisions)
1 armored regiment (10 companies, 1 heavy company with Tiger I), 1 assault gun section (67), 1 anti-tank company with self-propelled guns (14), 18 self-propelled artillery gunsHummel 322 tanks

Total strength in June 1944:  19.700 men

 Some parts were responsible for the shooting to death of 80 British prisoners of war at Wormhout in May 1940, and 71 U.S. prisoners of war at Malmedy in December 1944. Highest combat performance.

Second SS Panzer Division Das Reich  

Formed October 1939 as SS Division on disposal (used to Panzer Division on November 9, 1942)

 Mass surrender to U.S. Army in Pilsen,Czech Republic on 8 May 1945.

2 motorized infantry regiments (mostly rifle armor), each with 3 battalions.

1 armored regiment with 10 companies (since spring 1944, 4 of them with Panther , mid 1944, with Tiger I), 1 assault gun section (67), 1 anti-tank company with self-propelled guns (14), 1 artillery battery (12 ) on self-propelled guns Hummel. 316 tanks

First and oldest division of the Waffen-SS (originated from SS Division available ).

A company under Dickmann killed 642 men, women and children in the most gruesome manner at Oradour-sur-Glane, June 1944.  

Highest combat performance.

(Suggested reading: SS-Das Reich: The History of the Second SS Division, 1941-1945 by Gregory L Mattson)

Third SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf

Formed November 1939 (for Panzer Division on 23 October 1943)

Surrendered to the U.S. Army in Linz, Austria (man less than 1000 with 6 tanks). In mid-May handed over to the Red Army.

2 motorized infantry regiments (mostly with rifle armor), each with 3 battalions.

1 armored regiment (10 companies, including one with Tiger tanks ), 1 artillery battery (12) with Hummel self-propelled guns, the 1944 three trains Tank hunters with StugIII (42), three assault gun batteries (66). 350 tanks

Total strength 19,000 men

Originally placed as guards from concentration camps. Replacement occurred later but by SS volunteers and conscripts.

 Responsible for the murder of about 100 British prisoners of war at Le Paradis in May 1940 ( in revenge by a hysterical SS officer for inflicted heavy losses by the British on his ill-trained unit  .

Since 1941 high combat performance.

(Further Reading: Totenkopf by Charles Trang )

4th SS Police Panzergrenadier Division

Formed in October 1940 (Became a  Waffen-SS division in February 1942)

Surrendered to the U.S. Army in May 1945.

Three motorized infantry regiments from 1944, a tank battalion71 tanks

Recruits from ordinary civilians and police

5th SS Panzer Division Wiking (W)

Formed in December 1940. Became a Panzer Division in the summer of 1943

Surrendered to the British on 8 May 1945.

2 motorized infantry regiments (each with 3 battalions), since 1944 a battalion of armored rifle.

Until the summer of 1944 also had the Brigade Wallonia.

1 armored battalion since 1942, 3 batteries with Stug III (30) until the summer of 1944, the assault gun battery Wallonia (14 Stug III / IV) - Since 1944, an additional battalion Panther , 1 artillery battery on Hummel self-propelled guns (12) , 1 rocket launcher battery on Sdkfz 251 (12). 137 tanks to the summer of 1944, then 240 tanks.

First Division of the Waffen-SS,which was set up with volunteers of other nationalities (Dutch, Flemings, Scandinavians, Walloons). 

(Suggested Reading: SS-Wiking: The History of the 5th Division 1941-1945  by Rupert Butler)

Highest combat performance.

6th SS Mountain Division Nord

Formed May 1941

Surrendered to the U.S. Army in Bavaria in April 1945.

2 mountain regiments, 1 Panzer Grenadier Battalion (Motorized)
Originally formed with guards from concentration camps and very poorly trained militarily.

7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen
Formed March 1942 (Ready for October 1942)

Surrendered to the Yugoslavs under Tito in Celje, Slovenia.
executed Many members.

2 mountain regiments, and cavalry and armored units.

Armored units with captured French, Italian and Russian tanks

Situated with ethnic Germans from the Balkans, the officers mostly Austrians and Romanians.

Only used against partisans and civilians

Negative record in war crimes.

8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer 

Formed as a division in June 1942.

Destroyed at the fall of Budapest, February 1945.

3 cavalry regiments
Partly in action against partisans, partly at the front.

9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen
Formed March 1943 (ready for use in December 1943)

Surrendered to U.S. Army in Steyr (Austria) on 5 May 1945.

2 motorized infantry regiments (each with 3 battalions). 1 armored battalion, since June 1944, an additional Panther Battalion.Hummel artillery, self-propelled guns (12 +)105 tanks

10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg 
January 1943 (ready for use in March 1944)

Mass surrender to U.S. Army in the Czech Republic in May 1945.

2 motorized infantry regiments (each with 3 battalions). 1 armored battalion, since June 1944 another Panther Battalion93 tanks till June 1944

Recruits: 18 years old German conscripts, who were trained in 1943 in France.

In action near Arnhem as the Allied paratroopers landed.

11th SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nordland

May 1943 (Ready in September 1943)

Fought to the death in the Battle of Berlin, April 1945 .

Initially, 3 (1 Danish, 2 Norwegian), later only 2 motorised infantry regiments (each with 3 battalions).
4 tank-companies (PzKpfw IV , Panther , Tiger tanks), 3 assault gun batteries (StuG IV).  159 tanks.

Total strength 1943: 11,400 men. Included many foreign volunteer organizations (Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Swiss, Dutch) as well as German nationals (mainly from Hungary and Romania). 

Outstanding combat performance.

12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend

July 1943 (first used in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944)

Surrendered to the U.S. Army at Enns, Austria (only 455 survivors).

Two motorised  infantry regiments (each with 3 battalions) 4 tank-companies with PzKpfw IV , 4 companies with Panther , 18 self-propelled artillery guns Hummel. 204 tanks

Total strength 21,300 man. Consisted largely of 17-year-old boys from the Hitler Youth. Lost over 60% of the men in the first 4 weeks in Normandy. 
Highest combat performance.

(Suggested Reading: SS-Hitlerjugend: The History of the 12th SS Division 1943 - 1945 by Rupert Butler)

Suggested Reference

Waffen-SS Handbook, 1933-1945 by Gordon Williamson

Men-at-Arms 401: The Waffen-SS (1) 1. to 5. Divisions

The Waffen-SS (3): 11. to 23. Divisions (Men-at-Arms) By Gordon Williamson


Waffen SS Divisions At A Glance: Part 2

Waffen SS Divisions At A Glance: Part 3

Waffen SS Unit Logos

Waffen SS Training: Personal Narrative Of A Recruit

WAFFEN SS IN ACTION: Rare, Unseen Pictures: Part 1

Suggested Reading

A nice introduction to the SS. The SS (Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler) was a number of things--Hitler's body guard, law enforcement duties, concentration camp controllers, and soldiers (the Waffen-SS). This volume examines the work of the SS from 1939-1945. Early on, there was competition between the SA and the SS (to be devoted to Hitler, whereas the SA had other ambitions). With the demise of the SA, the SS became that much more important.

The SS had two elements--the Waffen-SS, the military arm, and the Allgemeine-SS, a police and security force with tentacles throughout German society. The second chapter lays out the variety of responsibilities of the Allgemeine-SS nicely. In addition to describing the "tentacles," this discussion also considers recruitment and training, symbolism (the death's head--totenkopf), uniforms, flags, and so on.

Then, the Waffen-SS. Appearance, equipment, training, weapons, tactics, and famous commanders, such as Sepp Dietrich. Some of the more legendary divisions in the Waffen-SS: Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, and Totenkopf. Other formations emerged, too, such as Wiking, a division made up of volunteers from Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, etc. The racial exclusivity of the Waffen-SS began to be compromised as needs for soldiers became more pressing as the war continued.

The book discusses the fighting power of the Waffen-SS—and its slow disintegration as it was bled to death in the Soviet Union and in France after the Normandy invasion. There were a few last hurrahs, such as in the Battle of the Bulge, but this element was slowly ground down due to causalities and inferior replacements.

Overall, an accessible and readable portrayal of the SS. .


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