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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • The majority of SS units were not elite. The problem was Himmler kept adding to the force. Goering also added units to his empire, but some people seem to forget the "Field Divisions" the Luftwaffe raised. The Herman Goering Panzer Divsion was elite but not so much the HG Panzergrenadier Division.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • - Das Reich claimed 1,000 kills in 2 months (July-August 1943). It claimed over 650 in (Sept-Nov 1943). Outside of Kharkov, Kursk, and Mius...As far as I can tell from looking at my materials (I don't have Das Reich IV/V), Das Reich mauled 1TA once, 5GTA twice, and 3GTA once. This contributed to such a high claim.

      I have the PR strength returns for all of 1943 (Das Reich) and it's surprisingly consistent- meaning that despite the heavy tank combat, their units did not deplete itself very fast.

      It was usually around 50 tanks operational and perhaps around 20 or less in its AG battalion. By Nov 1943 it was down to 30 panzers and some number of AGs. As the months went by, the Panther was its primary tank.


      -Another source puts Das Reich Ardennes tank kill claims at 224 (Dec 23 1944- Jan 15, 1944)
      Last edited by Cult Icon; 13 Mar 18, 16:39.
      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


      • Cult, as a unit history how is Kindler's book "Obedient Unto Death?" I had been thinking about buying it if it is detailed and tactical enough. Also does it have any maps? Thanks.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
          Cult, as a unit history how is Kindler's book "Obedient Unto Death?" I had been thinking about buying it if it is detailed and tactical enough. Also does it have any maps? Thanks.
          It's surprisingly good but I don't know how much value you would get as you have more books on the SSLAH than I do. It's more a history of the SPW battalion than a memoir of Werner. It doesn't have maps. There are some photos.
          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


          • klaus and kurt-

            I am curious about Das Reich IV and V - about its quality. My main interest is in August 1943-Dec 1943 and Normandy/Ardennes.

            Does it give a better view of the battles that occurred here?

            I am personally a bit disappointed in my copies of 3.SS and 5.SS. It's better than nothing but the coverage is too brief and choppy, and requires other sources to give it more value.

            Comrades to the End (Der Fuhrer) is helpful but has the same issue- too brief and choppy.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 13 Mar 18, 14:17.
            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


            • Das Reich IV and V are very good, and definitely give a lot of detailed information about that time period. They are quite tactical in nature with good maps. If you are interested in Das Reich during this period you HAVE to buy those books. Also thanks for the comment about "Obedient Unto Death." I will definitely buy it now that I know it is a tactical unit history. I don't really have any history that is as tactical as a battalion. So it should be interesting! The lack of maps in this case is alright, since I do own the five volumes of the Leibstandarte history with the map books, so I'll just use those.

              Comment


              • The Wiking book is really disappointing. There still is no good unit history on that division.

                Comment


                • Cult, I have the 5 volume Das Reich set and I think it is a good divisional history reference. I liked all the volumes.

                  Klaus, About the 4th SS Polizei Division, J. J. Fedorowicz Publishing has a 2 volume set on the Division. It seems that they were a front line combat division used exclusively on the east front with AGN. If you have the volumes what are your thoughts on them? JJF has a sale right now both volumes for 100 bucks.



                  In Good Faith: The History of the 4th SS-Polizei-Panzer-Grenadier-Division, Vol. 1: 1939-1943

                  Hard cover, small format (6" x 9"), 436 pages with 40 pages of black and white photographs, 34 mostly full-page maps and 78 pages of appendices.
                  The Polizei-Division (Police Division), as it was originally called, was one of the lesser-known combat formations of the Waffen-SS. It was formed in October 1939 and was composed primarily of police officers, who volunteered to join the division, and it served almost exclusively on the Eastern Front until the end of the war, where it eventually was equipped as a Panzergrenadier-Division (mechanized division). This volume of the two-part history covers the formation of the division in 1939, its employment during the so-called "Phony War" prior to the campaign in France in 1940, its participation in the later stages of that campaign and, finally, its commitment in the East in the northern theater of operations. It was in the East that the division earned its reputation as a tough and able combatant force, where it was especially steadfast in the defense.
                  The division fought its way through the Russian Luga position and all the way to the gates of Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). Its shining hour was in the defense along the Wolchow River, where the Russians attempted to provide relief to the beleaguered city of Leningrad and trap a large portion of Heeresgruppe Nord (Army Group North) in a pocket of their own. The Polizei-Division, later renamed the SS-Polizei-Division during this stage of its history, was the lynch pin in the myriad of operations launched to both eliminate the Russian breakthrough and then trap the cut-off and encircled Russian forces. The volume finishes with the fighting in late 1942 and early 1943 east of Kolpino and along the Narwa River bend.
                  Friedrich Husemann, himself a former member of the divisional artillery, provides an in-depth look at his former division. The account relies heavily on first-hand sources. Besides formation war diaries and period after-action reports, Husemann has gleaned accounts from a number of surviving members of the division. Although many divisional histories are "dry" reading, this one offers the reader not only a view from the foxhole, it also places the role of the division in the larger operational picture.
                  In Good Faith Vol. 2: 1943-1945
                  The second volume of this set on the Polizei-Division takes up the divisional history at the beginning of 1943, and the story of 2 battalions that were sent to the Don Front at the end of 1942. Friedrich Husemann, a former member of the division provides a fascinating description of the many varied battles fought by the 4.SS-Polizei-Panzer-Grenadier-Division. From the merciless forests and swamps of northern Russia, to the partisan-filled mountainous terrain of Greece, through Serbia and Romania to Hungary, in desperate defensive battles in Hungary, Poland and Germany, to the final hopeless battles near Berlin and the bitter surrender, the reader witnesses the life and death of a division. The author weaves information from unit diaries and after-action reports with many first-hand accounts from former soldiers of the division, making the 2-volume set a living history, not just a dry account. The various accounts add more fascinating and crucial detail to some of the better-known battles of WW II. 600 pages, 32 photographs, 40 maps and 24 appendices.
                  Regards,Kurt
                  Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
                    Das Reich IV and V are very good, and definitely give a lot of detailed information about that time period. They are quite tactical in nature with good maps. If you are interested in Das Reich during this period you HAVE to buy those books. Also thanks for the comment about "Obedient Unto Death." I will definitely buy it now that I know it is a tactical unit history. I don't really have any history that is as tactical as a battalion. So it should be interesting! The lack of maps in this case is alright, since I do own the five volumes of the Leibstandarte history with the map books, so I'll just use those.
                    Isn't Agte's Jochen Peiper about the same unit? (SPW)

                    I read Sons of the Reich and Decision in the Ukraine (which sources many things, including Weidinger) which covers 2.SS in the Ardennes. This has kept me from pulling the trigger for DR IV- V all this time.
                    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 Pruitt View Post
                      The majority of SS units were not elite. The problem was Himmler kept adding to the force.
                      https://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewt...3571&start=240

                      This thread has numerous authors commenting- their views are intriguing.


                      I thought of this and my current view is that the 1.SSLAH, 2.SS, 3.SS, 5.SS can be considered elite (mot.) infantry divisions in 41-42 but not an elite at the operational level. They were helping the Panzer divisions. (eg. SS- Reich teamed up with 10.Panzer in Typhoon).

                      By 1943-45, the political situation changed and the W-SS Panzer basically became an elite at the operational level. Of the 7 x PzD, the black sheep was SS-F. They seem to me to have divisional "personalities".

                      In these years, 2.SS DR was the best lead unit- it fought like the best units of the army but with war crimes (it had the most professional leadership cadre). The 2.SS DR Panzer regiment was the best one in the SS. 5.SS W was like a smaller, less equipped 2.SS DR but shared its efficiency.

                      3.SS, despite its origins eventually shared the same leadership pool as DR. It was very tough and well lead outside of its infantry regiments (too many losses in the attack for some reason).

                      1.SSLAH and 12.SS fought like a reckless bull- sometimes this lead to defeat but sometimes it gave them a victory. It is notable that after running into a brick wall in the Ardennes that they succeeded at Gran and made the furthest advance in the failed Spring Awakening. 9.SS and 10.SS did not have much outstanding qualities- like an average Panzer division.
                      Last edited by Cult Icon; 14 Mar 18, 00:12.
                      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


                      • I screened through my sources and the general gist was this:

                        Kharkov was ordered to be evacuated around the 22nd August. Then there was a fighting withdrawal of AGS towards positions east of the Dnepr. By Sept, Das Reich settled with G.D., SS-T, and 5 x I.Ds of 48.PzK. and fought a defensive battle. Unlike many other units, 2.SS withdrew in-tact and was able to put up stiff resistance with solid armor support.

                        In the frontline (August 24 onward) was initially Der Fuhrer regiment supported by the recon battalion, Panther battalion, stug battalion, artillery regiment, nebelwerfer battalion while the rest of the 2.SS was in the rear getting refitted.

                        The Steppe Front's 5 armies put pressure on the front and the Panther battalion was spread out to defend the frontline. The Panther battalion managed to ambush a lot of the attacking armor regiments/brigades.

                        Das Reich's incidents from August 22- Sept 16th

                        Claims:

                        53 kills- ambushed by Panthers
                        7-P
                        20
                        23-P
                        29-Pz IV
                        78 (28-P)
                        72- P

                        So of the panther battalions of the Eastern front, the I./SSPR-2 was used successfully in the defense and retained a significant inventory out of the original 71 units.

                        G.D. was also allocated the 51st PzB and the 11.Pz had the 52nd PzB in Sept 1943.

                        ---

                        Between 17–23 August, von Vormann’s 23.Panzer-Division claimed to have knocked out 302 enemy tanks, but suffered 1,817 casualties (including 482 dead or missing).
                        Last edited by Cult Icon; 14 Mar 18, 23:25.
                        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


                        • Cult, I went on to the Feldgrau link you posted. Both Marc Rikmenspoel and Mark C Yerger posted on that page and both posts were spot on. Charles Trang also posted as did T. Worst. All of these men write exclusively on WSS divisions and have authored many books on the subject. Of course you know Yerger is no longer with us. Charles Trang recently authored a 3 volume set on Viking which combined is almost 1500 pages in large format French text only. I need to study French!

                          Regards,Kurt
                          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                            Cult, I went on to the Feldgrau link you posted. Both Marc Rikmenspoel and Mark C Yerger posted on that page and both posts were spot on. Charles Trang also posted as did T. Worst. All of these men write exclusively on WSS divisions and have authored many books on the subject. Of course you know Yerger is no longer with us. Charles Trang recently authored a 3 volume set on Viking which combined is almost 1500 pages in large format French text only. I need to study French!

                            Regards,Kurt
                            When I was looking for a book on SS-T, I found the Trang books on SS-T. The Trang SS-T books were primarily photos.

                            He has a lot of material (including on Allied units) but it's mostly in french.

                            I just bought a copy of DR-IV

                            In the feldgrau discussion, two of the authors says that the large PZD organization was ideal as it was big enough to absorb losses. I agree in a way, as in 43-45 many army panzer divisions lost strength too fast while the SS usually took longer. (although this was not always the case, such as SS-T in July-August 1943 or 12.SS HJ/1.SSLAH in the Ardennes).

                            Balck had the opposite view- he believed that PZD should be even smaller (IIR like 11,000 men, 60-70 tanks) due to his belief that the average Panzer general did not have the skills to lead large units, like a "Guderian". The excess was wasted and used sub-optimally from a resource conservation POV. It can also be implied that he would prefer if these divisions were reinforced around this level.

                            Which didn't happen, as the Wehrmacht churned more units than they could reinforce and panzer divisions were bled down to extremely low strength before they were withdrawn from the front. Balck also favored high skilled troops- he considered green troops and undertrained troops as being cannon fodder that should be held back from attack operations.

                            The SS in 44-45 were filled with undertrained replacements (many of dubious origin) and had severe officer/nco shortages to boot.
                            Last edited by Cult Icon; 17 Mar 18, 20:27.
                            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


                            • +

                              I have data on Das Reich's Panzer situation for 1943-1944. Basically the 2.SSPR was unusually large. In Sept 1943 it had over 210 tanks and an assault gun battalion- around twice the size it was at Kursk. The average panzer division had about half of that figure.

                              About its record- breaking claims- so from 1939-1942 it claimed around 1,000 tank kills. (My guess, as Yerger says that it was around 4,000 in total) In 1943 it claimed its 2,000th (for the year) at the end of October 1943. The last 1,000 claims or so were made from 1944-1945- fairly evenly split between east and west fronts.
                              Last edited by Cult Icon; 17 Mar 18, 21:19.
                              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
                                When I was looking for a book on SS-T, I found the Trang books on SS-T. The Trang SS-T books were primarily photos.........

                                These 2 books are available now and looking through the chapter contents seem like they cover all of SS-T's campaigns warts (war crimes) and all.

                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/0764354620...v_ov_lig_dp_it

                                Regards,Kurt
                                Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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