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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • "Das Reich", after being bled out in Russia in Dec 1943 was split into 2. One went back to Germany and the other stayed until April 1944 as SS-KG "Das Reich". This unit (a miniature combined arms division of 5,000 men) fought hard in the Zhitomir-Berdichev and other battles until April 1944. 800 men survived Russia and rejoined 2.SS in the West.

    In Normandy it never fought as a single unit (split into 2-3 parts) and reinforced german forces at St. Lo and Caen under extreme circumstances. It also plugged a gap (with Der Fuhrer and 1 battalion from DL). Allied artillery concentrations and bombing inflicted 40% and 60% casualties in the first 5 days! but the unit continued holding out for a long time.

    It also held open the Falaise pocket for many units and advanced the farthest in the Mortain counteroffensive even in its weak condition.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

    Comment


    • Also, from "Comrades to the end"- the 3 battalions of 'Der Fuhrer' prior to the BOB were of this condition:

      1st battalion was untrained and not prepared for combat. It was on bicycles.

      2nd and third battalions were rated as ready for defensive actions but not suitable for offensive actions. They were motorized.

      2.SS's role in the ardennes was largely defensive, as it held the northern shoulder for the center (116.Pz, 9.Pz, 2.Pz, Pz lehr).

      http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/dai...-in-the-bulge/
      Last edited by Cult Icon; 16 Feb 18, 15:27.
      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

      Comment


      • The allied counteroffensive, starting around Jan 3rd vs. Das Reich is pretty interesting- The german northern front was vastly outnumbered/outclassed by multiples, especially against US VII Corps and 2.SS was the strongest unit there, amid 12.VG, 560.VG. 3.AD's unit history has an interesting map of their progress and how Das Reich and the VGs resisting, and then slowly falling back to various villages and hills behind the Manhay-Grandoveil front . Das Reich was ordered out of the region on Jan 12th and sent to the Eastern Front.

        Some books that I have that cover it: Das Reich (Lucas, a summary of the 5-volume Weidinger set), Sons of the Reich II SS PzK, Comrades to the End (Der Fuhrer), Bergstrom, Ardennes, Spearhead to the West (3AD), Hell on Wheels (2AD). Unit History (82.AB). Death Traps (3AD)

        I'm missing Das Reich V (Weidinger), which has about 50 pages about the Ardennes.
        Last edited by Cult Icon; 16 Feb 18, 23:30.
        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

        Comment


        • Also, Freineux and Lamormenill: The Ardennes.

          This is about a class between elements of 3.AD vs 2.SS
          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

          Comment


          • 2.SS tank situation:

            Christmas Day, 1944: 60 tanks operational, AG operational unknown

            By Jan 1st (12 tank write offs, AG write offs unknown)

            26 tanks operational, AG operational unknown

            15,286 men, 80 Panzers and 43 AGs on inventory, 209 SPW and armored cars.

            Lost around 2,000 men, 37 SPW/armored cars, 11 Panthers, and 5 Stugs since the beginning of the BOB.

            7AD: 256 tanks Dec 16, 1944, 203 tanks Jan 5, 1945. 110 tank losses in Dec 1944.

            Jan 3rd, Allied counteroffensive:

            US XVIII Airborne Corps (82.AB, 7AD, 75.ID)

            US VII Corps (2AD, 3AD, 83.ID, 84.ID): 100,000 men, 616 tanks, 400 artillery guns. Tank destroyers unknown.

            12 VG: 8,000 men in the entire division, lost 1,500 so far.

            560 VG: 2,500 frontline combatants (original strength, 11,000 men, lost over 4,000 in BOB so perhaps over 9,000 men )

            2.SS: 28 tanks operational, AG unknown. 6,000 frontline combatants (perhaps 15 K in the whole division?)

            Total losses for 2.SS in the Battle of the Bulge:

            -3,437 casualties

            DR lost 635 KIA; 1,936 WIA and 866 MIA for the period 21 Dec 44 to 16 Jan 45.

            -68 tanks written off , AG losses, unknown.

            ** 3AD lost 163 tanks in the BOB

            **2.SS 'DR' could only deploy the maximum of 2-4 armor companies at once during the battle due to poor supply. Most of their operational armor was hidden in the rear.

            Only 1 of the regimental sized KGs (KG Krag, KG Weidinger, DL) could move at any day. They had 134 tanks and AG in inventory on Dec 13, 1944. Dietrich says that the majority of tanks in his 6.PzA were refurbished 'old tanks'.

            **DL regiment also had 1 battalion on bicycles

            **perhaps 60% or less of Allied casualties in BOB were due to artillery fire/firepower. On the German side, perhaps 80% or more for foot units and less for motorized.

            ** 2.SS's PR was pulled out to 6.PzA reserve in case of an allied breakthrough-perhaps they passed over some of their armor.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 19 Feb 18, 08:11.
            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

            Comment


            • In the BOB, 3AD lost 1,473 casualties and 163 tanks. 6 artillery pieces and 158 'other' vehicles.

              3AD claimed 98 tank kills (31 of them Panthers), 20 SP guns. 76 "other vehicles".

              ** 80 3AD tanks were lost in Jan1-16- perhaps mostly to Das Reich. 9.SS 'H' briefly replaced Das Reich on Jan 14th.

              **200 British Shermans were allocated to rebuild 2.AD and 3.AD prior to the counter- offensive.
              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

              Comment


              • Out of the 4 x SS Panzer divisions of I and II SS PzK, 9th SS did the least fighting in the bulge (despite being 19,000 plus men). It was delayed for 5 days after its initial order and had supply difficulties. It struggled to keep with the 2.SS and found itself fighting much of the 82.AB division.

                It took about 2,000 casualties in the BOB.
                Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                Comment


                • Enduring the Wind has interesting figures on authorized vehicles:

                  1 July 1943:

                  1.SSLAH: Authorized 7,135 Actual: 5,785

                  2.SS 'DR": Authorized 5,076 Actual: 4,837

                  The army Panzer divisions have between 4,000-3,100 vehicles authorized.

                  This is stark contrast to the figures in "Normandy 1944", where PzD had less than 1,000 vehicles for the most part.

                  The infantry divisions in the same table had between 1,200-600 vehicles, which was similar to the PzD in Normandy 1944.
                  Last edited by Cult Icon; 20 Feb 18, 09:47.
                  Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                  Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                  Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                  Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                  Comment


                  • Intriguing list of Das Reich awards

                    https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=4403


                    26/12/44 : SS Ostubaf WISLICENY Günther, Kdr SS Pz Gre Rgt 3 "D" (E - 687);
                    26/12/44 : SS Ostubaf WEIDINGER Otto, Kdr SS Pz Gre Rgt 4 "DF" (E - 688);
                    31/12/44 : SS Hschaf FRAUSCHER Franz, Zugfhr i. d. 4./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                    25/01/45 : SS Ostuf GRESIAK Horst, Kdr 7./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                    14/02/45 : SS Ostuf VEITH Johann (+), Kdr 3./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                    28/02/45 : SS Stubaf KRAG Ernst-August, Kdr SS Pz Aufkl Abt 2 (E - 755);
                    28/02/45 : SS Hstuf SCHMELZER Heinrich, Kdr 1./Pz Pi Btl 2 (E - 756);
                    03/03/45 : SS Hstuf GUSTAVSSON Karl-Heinz, Kdr 3./SS Flak Abt 2 (RK);
                    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                      Intriguing list of Das Reich awards

                      https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=4403
                      Did you notice in that list that 15 Knight's Crosses were awarded on May 6, 1945?
                      Its almost as if you got one for surviving until the end.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                        Did you notice in that list that 15 Knight's Crosses were awarded on May 6, 1945?
                        Its almost as if you got one for surviving until the end.
                        Yes,- I'm about to figure out where these things were awarded. The overwhelming majority were awarded in 1943-1945, and especially in 1943.

                        Das Reich was defending Vienna, and did so for over a week. The Panzer formations there were very weak, and Das Reich was the strongest unit and responsible for holding a critical bridge.

                        The (+) means the person died. Also, the dates are about when the award was given- so it was attributed to actions before.

                        eg. I looked up Johann Veith and he was KIA in the Ardennes, 1/7/1945 but awarded posthumously.
                        Last edited by Cult Icon; 27 Feb 18, 19:37.
                        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                          Intriguing list of Das Reich awards

                          https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=4403


                          26/12/44 : SS Ostubaf WISLICENY Günther, Kdr SS Pz Gre Rgt 3 "D" (E - 687);
                          26/12/44 : SS Ostubaf WEIDINGER Otto, Kdr SS Pz Gre Rgt 4 "DF" (E - 688);
                          31/12/44 : SS Hschaf FRAUSCHER Franz, Zugfhr i. d. 4./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                          25/01/45 : SS Ostuf GRESIAK Horst, Kdr 7./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                          14/02/45 : SS Ostuf VEITH Johann (+), Kdr 3./SS Pz Rgt 2 (RK);
                          28/02/45 : SS Stubaf KRAG Ernst-August, Kdr SS Pz Aufkl Abt 2 (E - 755);
                          28/02/45 : SS Hstuf SCHMELZER Heinrich, Kdr 1./Pz Pi Btl 2 (E - 756);
                          03/03/45 : SS Hstuf GUSTAVSSON Karl-Heinz, Kdr 3./SS Flak Abt 2 (RK);
                          Actually not important. The Nazi's were more about image than substance, especially after 1941. Some of the stuff you post is excellent. This is not. The Nazi's gave medals to bolster morale. This is why the Iron cross is both meaningless and important.
                          How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

                          Comment


                          • This list is interesting as it sheds light on the subject (Das Reich was the most heavily awarded unit in the SS)


                            I would say a mixture of both. Usually there was an actual achievement or series of achievements, but as they were losing the war, the standards dropped- by the end, simply doing an action to help others survive under extreme odds would see a medal conferred.

                            Eg. In the Ardennes, KG commander Krag earned the oakleaves- he had some tactical successes (that probably would not give him an award if it was 1941) but it was his defensive action in early Jan that lead his superiors to reward him.


                            We had 5 given for the battle of France. 7 for the first campaign in the Soviet Union (1941-early 1942) Das Reich was extensively retrained for almost a year to become an elite Panzer division (PzG in name). Then 60 ish for the rest of the war with 1943 with most of the awards. Das Reich was one of the best units on the Eastern Front at that time, and its profile was raised, so more medals were conferred.
                            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                            Comment


                            • The post about the Iron Cross or Knight's Cross not being important, and simply handed out, is not really accurate, and a little demeaning. Towards, the end of the war, as Cult Icon stated, the standards of being awarded decorations such as the German Cross or Knight's Cross primarily for officers did drop, primarily due to the worsening war situation, and yes as a way to boost morale. However, even these late war actions had to be something more than the usual combat or leadership action. By early war standards they most likely would not have received that high of an award. However to imply that they were simply handed out is not accurate. Now a lot of awards were more politically motivated, especially some of those awards to certain Waffen SS personnel and some general officers.

                              The majority of the awards, however, were awarded for actual achievements, the German Cross for five different achievements. Another point is that the "lowly" Iron Cross might have been given for a basic achievement to an officer, but to an NCO or enlisted man, the Iron Cross especially the First Class was NOT just handed out. I have researched and read plenty of German Vorschlags, to realize that many actions by the enlisted men and NCOs that garnered an Iron Cross I, and even the low Iron Cross II, were actions that in many cases could have been awarded a Knight's Cross if the individual already had the Iron Cross I, or was an officer!

                              One major problem is that the German medal system was too all encompassing. An award like the Iron Cross series or German Cross can be awarded for numerous different reasons, from leadership, to bravery, and success. Thus, unless one reads the actual Vorschlag, it becomes difficult to really see why a WSS, Heer, or Luftwaffe ground force soldier received the award. The only way to really guess is looking at rank. If the soldier is an enlisted man or NCO with an Iron Cross I, then that means something. (In some of Jason Mark's books he details awards of the Iron Crosses to enlisted men and NCOs, and what they had to do to get them was quite something!) If the enlisted man or NCO has the Knight's Cross or German Cross then that is extremely impressive! (I have the book "Ritterkreuzträger im Mannschaftsstand 1941-1945" which details the combats and the award recommendations of the 252 Wehrmacht enlisted men who received the Knight's Cross, and those actions were definitely VC or Medal of Honor actions!) If he is a junior officer, it is probably for direct combat battlefield leadership and achievement as well as for bravery. A senior officer at the regimental and divisional level would almost always be for leadership and achievement not usually in direct combat. Finally general officers pretty much always will be for achievement, whether individual or for his unit's success. The more likely politically motivated awards were at this level.

                              Anyways sorry for the long post, but I've researched German WWI and WWII awards and criteria for many years now, and just wanted to share a little information about this complex subject.....Don't ask me about WWI German awards, that subject is insane!!!

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                                Actually not important. The Nazi's were more about image than substance, especially after 1941. Some of the stuff you post is excellent. This is not. The Nazi's gave medals to bolster morale. This is why the Iron cross is both meaningless and important.
                                This is not entirely true. You cannot state with one broad stroke that the Nazi's gave out medals after 1941 for the reason you stated. Perhaps, as krichter stated, towards the end of the war. I would even say the last 3 months. This especially holds true on the eastern front where many German units, both Wehrmacht and WSS, terrified of the reds entering their homeland, exhibited tremendous acts of bravery. Of course their were just as many German soldiers that broke under the pressure and ran but these were not the ones medals were handed to. Just one example would be the battle of Kursk where the German forces fought on bravely, against overwhelming odds of men in entrenched fortifications of 3 levels, with little to no food or sleep for 8 days straight. Yes, the Kursk offensive was a stupid idea, but then again, the German soldiers on the battlefield did not plan this ridiculous over ambitious plan by their Nazi commanders, they just followed orders and in doing so many of them did things in the battle worth more then just a piece of medal to show off after the war because they were killed and left on the field of battle.

                                Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
                                The post about the Iron Cross or Knight's Cross not being important, and simply handed out, is not really accurate, and a little demeaning. Towards, the end of the war, as Cult Icon stated, the standards of being awarded decorations such as the German Cross or Knight's Cross primarily for officers did drop, primarily due to the worsening war situation, and yes as a way to boost morale. However, even these late war actions had to be something more than the usual combat or leadership action. By early war standards they most likely would not have received that high of an award. However to imply that they were simply handed out is not accurate. Now a lot of awards were more politically motivated, especially some of those awards to certain Waffen SS personnel and some general officers.

                                The majority of the awards, however, were awarded for actual achievements, the German Cross for five different achievements. Another point is that the "lowly" Iron Cross might have been given for a basic achievement to an officer, but to an NCO or enlisted man, the Iron Cross especially the First Class was NOT just handed out. I have researched and read plenty of German Vorschlags, to realize that many actions by the enlisted men and NCOs that garnered an Iron Cross I, and even the low Iron Cross II, were actions that in many cases could have been awarded a Knight's Cross if the individual already had the Iron Cross I, or was an officer!

                                One major problem is that the German medal system was too all encompassing. An award like the Iron Cross series or German Cross can be awarded for numerous different reasons, from leadership, to bravery, and success. Thus, unless one reads the actual Vorschlag, it becomes difficult to really see why a WSS, Heer, or Luftwaffe ground force soldier received the award. The only way to really guess is looking at rank. If the soldier is an enlisted man or NCO with an Iron Cross I, then that means something. (In some of Jason Mark's books he details awards of the Iron Crosses to enlisted men and NCOs, and what they had to do to get them was quite something!) If the enlisted man or NCO has the Knight's Cross or German Cross then that is extremely impressive! (I have the book "Ritterkreuzträger im Mannschaftsstand 1941-1945" which details the combats and the award recommendations of the 252 Wehrmacht enlisted men who received the Knight's Cross, and those actions were definitely VC or Medal of Honor actions!) If he is a junior officer, it is probably for direct combat battlefield leadership and achievement as well as for bravery. A senior officer at the regimental and divisional level would almost always be for leadership and achievement not usually in direct combat. Finally general officers pretty much always will be for achievement, whether individual or for his unit's success. The more likely politically motivated awards were at this level.

                                Anyways sorry for the long post, but I've researched German WWI and WWII awards and criteria for many years now, and just wanted to share a little information about this complex subject.....Don't ask me about WWI German awards, that subject is insane!!!
                                Long post but excellent post. I always enjoy your contributions here (although you seldom post), and over at the AHF. plus one!

                                Regards,Kurt
                                Last edited by Kurt Knispel; 28 Feb 18, 05:52.
                                Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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