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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
    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
    Thanks for that!

    I recently got Foryck's Kuban 1943. this is a very good primer for the battles there and the eventual evacuation of the bridgehead.
    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 reading unit histories (August-Oct 1943) G.D., 3.Pz, 23.Pz, 5.SS, 3.SS, and Forcyck's Dnepr it seems that "Das Reich" had an unusual fighting experience that caused it to register such a high number of kills. The other unit histories have some minor tactical successes but they are few and far in between. This period was a time of retreat and weakening for their formations. Das Reich seemed to have retreated in better order than most.

      German operational tank numbers in 1943 bottomed to around 700 on Sept 1943 (not counting assault guns) before rising as new reinforcements came in. Das Reich had an impressive 210+ tanks and a AG battalion on top of that in Sept 1943. Operational numbers put it at over 10% of german tank (not including AGs/TDs) strength on the Eastern Front for that period.
      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 looking at "Faces of Courage" I found some interesting facts:

        - The first 5 SS Panzer divisions won 55% of the Knight's Crosses of the SS- basically they were really handling them out. I do get the hunch that Himmler was really trying to pump them up. Stradler was chosen by Himmler to command "Der Fuhrer" in 1943.

        -According to the author's research, 98 men won both the KC and the Close combat clasp in gold. About 1/3rd were from the SS and 2/3rds from the Army (with a handful from the luftwaffe). It is notable that this is disproportionate when you look at the size of the SS vs. the Army. Also, the SS ones were mostly from 1.SS, 2.SS, 3.SS and 5.SS.

        -Das Reich soldiers featured most heavily out of any division in his book. 14 soldiers had the CCG and many of these also had the KC. The "Der Fuhrer" regiment most of all.

        -Two Das Reich soldiers- Stradler and Bittrich- (From Der Fuhrer and DT respectively) were eventually given command of 9.SS and 10.SS. They were originally rather junior officers. Stradler had the CCG.
        Last edited by Cult Icon; 25 Mar 18, 21:48.
        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 thing about the CCC in Gold, is that it was awarded for recorded combat days. However, the days had to be recorded by the commander. In a lot of units this wasn't done, at least not on a regular basis because they had more important things to do. So many soldiers who definitely had a lot of close combat never received Close Combat Clasps, or at least not the higher versions. However, certain units, battalions, companies, regiments, and divisions, and also certain commanders where more inclined to make sure to record these days. "Elite" units like DR or LSSAH definitely made sure to record these days. It doesn't mean that they were somehow "fibbing" about who fought on what particular day, they were just more likely to write it down, while any other division might not have cared less...

          Comment


          • ^
            You bring up a good point. In "Obedient until Death", the author records when he got his combat days- the SSLAH was carefully recording them. In 1941, the CCC did not exist so they received a small, token number for every month of combat.
            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 it depended on the commander of the unit and how much he actually cared about the CCC. For example, even within LSSAH it varied. Kurt Meyer, when he was in charge of the Aufklarungsabteilung until 1943 never seemed to make much of an effort to record these days himself. Under his command which ended in 1943, with the CCC being created at the end of 1942, not many if any CCC's, even bronze ones, I believe were awarded. However, after Knittel took over that changed and more were awarded. Knittel himself receiving the Gold. Whereas Peiper in the SPW Battalion definitely seemed more inclined to record days as he received the Silver, and others under his command also received CCC's. In the army an example would be Swords winner, and the highest decorated battalion commander Erich Barenfanger. He never received any level of the CCC, despite being wounded multiple times, winning the Wound Badge in Gold. Finally the most obvious example is that of Theodor Tolsdorff. He started the war as an Oberleutnant and company commander, fighting mostly in the East, eventually rising to the rank of Generalleutant with a Corps command! He ended up winning the Diamonds and was wounded eleven times. All of this by the age of 35. Yet despite this he never received any grade of the CCC! Tolsdorff served mostly with the 1. Infanterie Division, which was considered one of the better Infantry divisions in the Wehrmacht. Yet, the division itself, despite being awarded about 46 Knight's Crosses, awarded 9 CCC's in Gold. None, however, were awarded to Tolsdorff's unit Fusilier Regiment 22, until after he left that command.

              Comment


              • According to "Obedient to Death" he says that the 1.SSLAH awarded 14 CCGs- the same as 2.SSDR.
                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
                  Thanks for that!

                  I recently got Foryck's Kuban 1943. this is a very good primer for the battles there and the eventual evacuation of the bridgehead.
                  Thanks for the recommendation.
                  If you get the 2 volume SST let me know your first impression.

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

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
                    ...also it depended on the commander of the unit and how much he actually cared about the CCC. For example, even within LSSAH it varied. Kurt Meyer, when he was in charge of the Aufklarungsabteilung until 1943 never seemed to make much of an effort to record these days himself. Under his command which ended in 1943, with the CCC being created at the end of 1942, not many if any CCC's, even bronze ones, I believe were awarded. However, after Knittel took over that changed and more were awarded. Knittel himself receiving the Gold. Whereas Peiper in the SPW Battalion definitely seemed more inclined to record days as he received the Silver, and others under his command also received CCC's. In the army an example would be Swords winner, and the highest decorated battalion commander Erich Barenfanger. He never received any level of the CCC, despite being wounded multiple times, winning the Wound Badge in Gold. Finally the most obvious example is that of Theodor Tolsdorff. He started the war as an Oberleutnant and company commander, fighting mostly in the East, eventually rising to the rank of Generalleutant with a Corps command! He ended up winning the Diamonds and was wounded eleven times. All of this by the age of 35. Yet despite this he never received any grade of the CCC! Tolsdorff served mostly with the 1. Infanterie Division, which was considered one of the better Infantry divisions in the Wehrmacht. Yet, the division itself, despite being awarded about 46 Knight's Crosses, awarded 9 CCC's in Gold. None, however, were awarded to Tolsdorff's unit Fusilier Regiment 22, until after he left that command.
                    IIRC there was mention of Tolsdorff in "Hell's Gate." I may be wrong.

                    Barenfanger is mentioned in "Where Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea". I think this is where he got most of his awards. In the battle of berlin, IIRC he was given command of a division and rode a King Tiger tank. In the last days, he committed suicide with his wife.
                    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 Kurt Knispel View Post
                      Thanks for the recommendation.
                      If you get the 2 volume SST let me know your first impression.

                      Regards,Kurt
                      Not yet- I have read Das Reich IV August -Dec 1943. It seems like a full sized, multiple volume divisional history would fit well with the bios.

                      My review of Das Reich IV's last 100 pages is that it's decent but definitely dated in a few ways and there's a slight positive spin. It's much more readable than the other PzD histories that cover August -Dec 1943 but the lack of maps is a detractor. In some ways it's more detailed and some ways, less.

                      Weidinger sources Carell at times, and the drama/death of 2.SSPR commander due to sex crimes is omitted. Weidinger could have put more data in his history (especially about unit strengths- which I had to supplement elsewhere).
                      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 DR IV and 'last victory in Russia' it is written that Herbert-Ernst Vahl was the father of SS-PR2. He was originally in the Panzertruppe (12.Panzer division, CO of its panzer regiment) and was recruited by the SS. He exchanged his army uniform for a SS one (and a SS rank) and joined Das reich's training grounds on June 1942 and used his expertise to set up the panzer regiment. He then commanded the 2.SS in Manstein's counteroffensive.

                        https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=27401

                        On March 1943 he was shot and severely injured while leading his unit. A year later, he was given command of 4.SS PzG and died on route.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert-Ernst_Vahl

                        It is interesting to see how transferring to the SS lead to higher rank and responsibilities for this individual.
                        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've been reading DR IV and re-reading GD II, and on Feb 18th, Das Reich was down to 50% of its infantry and 50% of its armor was already written off in the defensive combat that moved 3TA, 69.A, and 6.CC to culmination point.

                          In both units the combat morale was described as very high prior to the counteroffensive. G.D. had been on the defensive for months and DR for 3 weeks. Weidinger writes that the some of the wounded did not want to go the rear and 'miss out' on the actions.

                          Hitler sent a teletype to DR demanding maximum speed and effort. On the next day, he sent a general letter emphasizing the critical nature of the attack for the war and send praise for DR.
                          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 had 13 confirmed, 1 disputed

                            Close combat clasps in gold and Knight's Cross:

                            1.SS:iii

                            2.SS:iiiiiiiiiiiii

                            3.SS:iiii

                            5.SS:iiiii

                            According to the author, 20 out of 98 died in the war and 16 had post-war military careers.

                            So that's 25 out of 98 to the oldest mobile divisions of the SS & about half to Das reich alone. The SS cavalry units also had a couple.
                            Last edited by Cult Icon; 25 Apr 18, 08:48.
                            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 just got the memoir "Panzer Ace" (Rosen, Tiger 503). It looks very good and very detailed for a memoir.

                              The author initially volunteered (passed days of tests) and was trained from Oct 1940- May 1941, and fought with the 4.Panzer division under Eberbach's regiment.
                              Last edited by Cult Icon; 30 Apr 18, 11:43.
                              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


                              • About 35% of the text is about June-August 1941. It's a very descriptive account and perhaps the best one from a tanker that I've ever read. Much of it is driving, and then lots of looting & taking in the scenery. A lot of coverage of the hard physical conditions and small details of sights and sounds. A good photo gallery, taken by the author.

                                Initially , 4.Pz was competing with Model's 3.Pz but it ended up trailing that division.

                                His panzer III company fought in the encirclement battles and took heavy losses to anti-tank gun groups and didn't have too much success with them. Rosen was the gunner and fired at muzzle flashes with uncertain effect on several occasions. His platoon was knocked out in July and the survivors were cut off behind enemy lines for days. In early August 1941, his Pz III collapses a bridge and von Rosen gets a severe hand injury.

                                On Oct 1942 Rosen is sent to training, and returns to the Soviet Union on Jan 1943 with the Tiger tanks.
                                Last edited by Cult Icon; 01 May 18, 06:53.
                                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

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