Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Vol. V, No. 4, Whole Number 28, January 1982
By Richard Landwehr
Effective 1 April 1938, the Reichsführer-SS ordered the formation of 4 Totenkopf Standarten (Deathshead Regiments) from the Totenkopf Guard Battalions. One of these regiments was the SS-TK Standarte 4 “Ostmark” that was formed in Steyr, Austria, with a staff element and two battalions (Sturmbann) composed of 4 rifle companies (Sturm) each. The formation of III./SS-TK “Ostmark” began in October 1938 under the leadership of SS-Ostubaf. Goetze. The core personnel for this battalion came from the SS-TK Standarte 1 “Oberbayern” (Upper Bavaria) and the SS-TK Standarte 2 “Brandenburg” as well as from the SS Junkerschule (officer’s school) “Toelz.”
In June 1939 the Senate of the Free City of Danzig voted to create a “Heimwehr Danzig” (Danzig Home Defense) and Reichsführer-SS Himmler volunteered to raise and train this force. He decided to give this assignment to the III. Battalion/ “Ostmark” (also known as SS-Sturmbann “Goetze”). III./“Ostmark” therefore immediately began to relocate to Danzig from its Berlin-Adlerschof barracks, passing through the cities of Leinigsberg and Elbing on the way.
The SS-Totenkopf Standarten Anti-tank Training Company, which was formed on 1 May 1939 in Prettin, also joined III./ Ostmark” and was soon transformed into the Company “Leiner” of the Heimwehr Danzig. In the course of the formation of the Danzig SS unit, 500 volunteers from that city were added to bring it up to the strength of more than a battalion but somewhat less than a regiment. In July 1939, Heimwehr Danzig completed its final transformation with the official incorporation of III./“Ostmark.” At this time the unit contained 42 officers and about 1500 men, two-thirds of whom were “Reich” Germans and the rest “Danzigers.”
On 18 August 1939, the unit formally became a part of the armed SS and was put on dress parade for the first time in field gray uniforms with SS insignia. Also on that day SS-“HD” received its own distinctive flag incorporating the “Danzig crowns” the “SS runes” and the swastika. It was presented to Ostubaf. Goetze by the Gauleiter of Danzig.
The SS Heiniwehr Danzig was heavily engaged throughout the course of the Polish campaign of September 1939. On 1 September the unit had expelled the Polish occupiers from the Danzig post office and the Dirschau railroad station in very violent fighting. For the rest of the campaign, SS-“HD” fought on the “Westerplatte” and in the Oxhoefter Bight. By the time Poland finally capitulated, the Heimwehr Danzig had lost around 50 men killed and quite a few wounded.
SS Heimwehr Danzig Operational Areas:
SS Heimwehr Danzig Staff: 09 723
1st Rifle Company: 24 293
2nd Rifle Company: 31 292
3rd Rifle Company: 31 700
4th Rifle Company: 32 304
Machine-gun Company: 33 094
Infantry Gun Company: 33 475 (artillery)
1st PAK Company: 33 832 (anti-tank)
2nd PAK Company: 34 799 (anti-tank)
Additional staff, signals and engineer elements: 24 611
Commander: Ostubaf. Goetze (later killed near Dunkirk in June 1940 by a British sniper).
Shortly after the Polish campaign, the SS-“HD” was disbanded. The rifle companies were sent to the Dauchau SS training camp where they were used to build II. Battalion and part of III. Battalion/SS Totenkopf Infantry Regiment 3 of the new SS- Totenkopf Division. The two anti-tank PAK companies were used as the nucleus of the anti-tank detachment (Panzerjäger Abteilung) of the SS-T-Infantry Rgt. 3.
Special Insignia of the SS-“HD”:
A silver skull on a black field was worn on the right collarpatch (and in many instances on both collarpatches), and at this time could be either vertical or horizontal in format. The unit was issued a special cuff band which bore the title “SS Heimwehr Danzig” in silver thread on black.
The whole, detailed story of the SS-“HD’”s most famous battle — the struggle for the Danzig post office — will appear in a future issue of “Siegrunen.”