Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Vol. 7, No. 6, Number 42,
January – March 1987
There were 52 Waffen-SS Brigadeführer, the oldest of whom was Friedrich Tscharmann (an SS HQ staff officer), who was born in 1871 in Saxony, while the youngest was Wilhelm Mohnke (commander of the 1st SS Division „LAH“ in late 1944, early 1945), who was born in Lübeck in 1911. Twenty-three of the Brigfhr. were born in the decade from 1890 to 1900, while another 20 were born in the years from 1901 to 1911. Thirty, including two born in Alsace-Lorraine, were of Prussian descent, while six came from Bavaria, four from Saxony, three from old Austro-Hungary, three from Hamburg, two each from Hesse and Baden, and one from Wuerttemburg along with one Dane.
Eighteen of the 52 Brigfhr. retained their religious affiliations, of whom 13 were Evangelical Lutherans. One of the Brigfhr. came from the upper class (Gustav Lombard, whose father was a nobleman), while another 12 were derived from the upper middle class, and 19 others had middle class backgrounds. Thirteen Brigfhr. had lower middle class origins, while the remaining SS Major Generals came from farming, laboring or lower class families. Among the latter were Theodor Wisch (1st SS), Kurt Mayer (12th SS), and Sylvester Stadler (9th SS). The upper middle class Brigfhr. included Peter Hansen (29th SS), Gottfried Klingemann (2nd SS Bde.), Gustav Krukenberg (33rd and 11th SS), Heinz Lammerding (2nd and 38th SS), Ritter von Oberkamp (7th SS), Juergen Wagner (23rd SS) and Joachim Ziegler (11th SS).
Twelve of the SS-Brigfhr. had higher academic learning, while another 21 had some degree of higher education. Thirteen others had graduated from cadet or trade schools. Only five of the Brigfhr. were considered poorly educated. Four of the SS Major Generals (von Dufais, Kryssing, Vahl, and Ziegler) had been career Army officers all of their adult lives. Five others (Freitag, Kraemer, Neblich, Schmedes and Voss), were career Army officers who went into the German Police when the Reichswehr was curtailed in size by the notorious Treaty of Versailles. Gustav Krukenberg started off as a career Army officer and became a government functionary.
Eleven SS-Brigfhr. were career Army officers up to the 1918-20 era, when Army cutbacks began. They subsequently followed business or agricultural pursuits, mostly with good success. Seven of the Brigfhr. became medical doctors, while another eight of them were salesmen. Two (Augsberger and Lammerding), were architects; one (Otto Kumm), was a typesetter, and one (Sylvester Stadler), was an electrician. Another Brigfhr. (Lombard), had worked for an American automobile firm, both in the U.S. and abroad, while another (Gaertner), was a low-level government bureaucrat. Five of the SS-Brigfhr. had begun their careers as NCOs: Helmuth Becker, Wilhelm Keilhaus, Kurt Meyer (Police), August Schmidhuber and August Zehender. One Brigfhr., Joachim Rumohr, was a farmer before becoming an SS officer.
Rumohr also held the lowest SS number in the group, this being Nr. 1 280, while the highest SS number went to Joachim Ziegler at Nr. 491 403. Fifteen of the SS- Brigfhr. had SS numbers below 100 000; ten were in the 100-200 000 range and 26 were above 200 000. The numbers, of course, indicated seniority or lack of it in the SS organization. Brigfhr. Kryssing, a Danish citizen, had no SS number. The lowest N. S. Party number belonged to Gaertner at 35 359, with the highest going to von Dufais, who held 5,276,395. Twenty SS-Brigfhr. had party numbers in excess of 1 000 000, while eight (Hampel, Harmel, Kryssing, Stadler, Tscharmann, Vahl, Zehender and Ziegler), were not party members at all.
Five SS-Brigfhr., Heinz Harmel (10th SS), Otto Kumm (7th and 1st SS), Kurt Meyer (12th SS), Sylvester Stadler (9th SS), and Theodor Wisch (1st SS), were decorated with the Knight’s Cross, Swords and Oakleaves during the war. Another five, Joachim Rumohr (8th SS), Juergen Wagner (23rd SS), Fritz Witt (12th SS), August Zehender (22nd SS), and Joachim Ziegler (11th SS), received the KC with Oakleaves. Eight others were decorated only with the KC (no mean feat in itself!): Franz Ausberger (20th SS), Helmuth Becker (3rd SS), Fritz Freitag (14th SS), Desiderius Hampel (13th SS), Frtiz Kraemer (l.SS Pz.Corps), Heinz Lammerding (2nd SS), Gustav Lombard (31st SS) and Herbert Ernst Vahl (4th SS).
Four of the Brigfhr. took their own lives: Freitag, Neblich, Schwedler and Rumohr; the latter only after having been badly wounded during the Budapest Breakout attempt, and even then he was not fully successful, since he did not die until a day later. Five Brigfhr. were killed- in-action: Augsberger, Ernst Fick (in the Battle of Berlin), Witt, Zehender and Ziegler. Two more were executed/ murdered in enemy captivity: Becker in the Soviet Union and Bernhard Voss (commander of the SS Troop Training Grounds at Beneschau near Prague), in Czechoslovakia. Three others, all exceptionally fine soldiers and human beings, were sent to Tito’s executioners by the Americans and British. They were then tortured and murdered, all without the slightest „legal“ justification. They were: Juergen Wagner („Nederland“ Div.), Ritter von Oberkamp (7th SS „Prinz Eugen“ Div.) and August Schmidhuber (7th SS Div. and 21st Albanian SS Div. „Skanderbeg“). Their blood remains a permanent stain on the hands of the so-called „Allies“!