Diplomatic and Military Chronology of the Third Reich 1934 – 1942

By Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler

January 26, 1934

German-Polish treaty concluded on Adolf Hitler’s and Pilsudski’s initiative.

September 13, 1934

Announcement of the execution of the minority system by Poland.

June 18, 1935

German-English fleet treaty.

November 5, 1937

Declaration of agreement by the German and Polish government over the protection of minorities by both sides.

March 12, 1938

Austria’s unification with the German Reich.

September 29, 1938

Munich Agreement about the integration of the Sudeten-German regions into the German Reich.

October 24, 1938

First conference of Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop with the Polish Ambassador Lipski in Berchtesgaden about the German proposal for an amiable solution to the Danzig and corridor question.

January 5, 1939

Conference of the Führer with the Polish Foreign Minister Beck in Berchtesgaden about the German proposal for a peaceful solution of the Danzig and corridor question.

March 15, 1939

Creation of the autonomous Reich protectorate Bohemia and Moravia inside the German Reich.

March 22, 1939

Return of the Memel region to the German Reich.

March 23, 1939

Partial mobilization in Poland.

March 31, 1939

English guarantee declaration for Poland.

April 6, 1939

Publication of England’s and Poland’s reciprocal guarantee agreements.

April 28, 1939

The Führer’s Reichstag speech, nullification of the German-Polish declarations of

January 26, 1934 and of the German-English fleet treaty.

May 7, 1939

Conclusion of the German-Italian military alliance.

May 5, 1939

Turkish-British guarantee treaty.

May 14, 1939

Polish attack against the German population in Tomaschow.

May 21, 1939

Shooting to death of a Danzig state citizen on Danzig soil from Polish diplomat’s vehicle.

May 22, 1939

Signing of the German-Italian military alliance in Berlin.

June 23, 1939

Turkish-French aid pact.

August 11-13, 1939

Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano in Salzberg/Berchtesgaden.

August 11, 1939

Arrival of an English-French military mission in Moscow.

August 14, 1939

Mass arrests of Germans in Upper Silesia.

August 19, 1939

Conclusion of a German – Soviet Russian trade and credit treaty.

August 23, 1939

Signing of the German-Russian Consultation and Non-Aggression Pact.

August 23, 19439

First case of the bombardment of a German commercial aircraft by Polish anti-aircraft guns.

August 25, 1939

German commercial aircraft with State Secretary Stuckardt as passenger fired upon by Poles.

August 25, 1939

Departure of the English-French military mission from Moscow without results.

August 25, 1939

Personal messenger from the Führer to Daladier.

August 26, 1939

Daladier’s personal letter to the Führer.

August 27, 1939

A patrol of the German customs station Flammber i. O. is fired upon by a Polish border patrol.

August 27, 1939

The Führer’s reply to French Minister-President Daladier.

August 28, 1939

Polish troops cross the Ratibor and Reich border in Rosenberg county; firefight with German soldiers.

August 28, 1939

British proposal to mediate direct German-Polish negotiations.

August 29, 1939

Polish firing upon the German customs house Sonnenwalde (Pomerania) and upon a German border watch company at Beuthen.

August 30, 1939

General mobilization in Poland instead of dispatch of an emissary.

August 30, 1939

Formation of the Ministerial Council for Reich Defense under General Field Marshall Göring.

August 30 and 31, 1939

Various Polish attacks against German Reich territory.

September 1, 1939

In the first morning hours, Polish artillery bombards the open German city Beuthen.

September 1,1939

The Führer’s Reichstag speech.

September 1, 1939

The Führer’s Appeal to the Wehrmacht.

September 1, 1939

Danzig’s reunification with the Reich.

September 1, 1939

Beginning of the German counter-thrust.

September 2, 1939

Mussolini’s mediation proposal and its rejection by England and Poland.

September 3, 1939

England’s ultimatum to Germany and its rejection; England and France declare war against the German Reich.

September 3,1939

The Führer’s appeal to the German folk, the NSDAP and to the West and East Army.

September 10-12, 1939

Battle of annihilation at Radom, 60,000 Poles captured.

September 17, 1939

Soviet-Russian troops cross the Polish border.

September 18, 1939

English aircraft carrier “Courageous” sunk.

September 10-19, 1939

Battle in the Vistula Bend, over 170,000 prisoners.

September 19,1939

The Führer’s speech in liberated Danzig.

September 22, 1939

Setting of the German – Soviet Russian demarcation line.

September 27, 1939

Warsaw capitulates.

September 28, 1939

German – Soviet Russian border and friendship treaty and German-Russian step for peace.

October 3, 1939

Chamberlain’s declaration before the House of Commons means rejection of the German-Russian peace initiative.

October 5, 1939

The Führer in Warsaw.

October 5,1939

The Führer’s order of the day to the Wehrmacht.

October 6,1939

The Führer’s settling of accounts before the Reichstag.

October 8, 1939

New Order in the East, creation of the Reich Provinces Danzig – West Prussia and Posen.

October 10, 1939

The Führer’s appeal for the First Winter Aid Work.

October 12, 1939

Chamberlain once again rejects the Führer’s hand of peace in his House of Commons declaration

October 14, 1939

Lieutenant Prien’s U-boat sinks the British battleship “Royal Oak: and torpedoes the battleship “Repulse”.

October 15, 1939

German-Estonian resettlement treaty.

October 16, 1939

Successful German air attack against English ships in the Firth of Forth.

October 16, 1939

French troops evacuate the German region in the foreground of the West Wall.

October 17, 1939

First German air attack against the British fleet at Scapa Flow.

October 20, 1939

Turks-French-British aid treaty.

October 30, 1939

German-Latvian resettlement treaty.

November 8, 1939

The Führer’s speech in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller.

November 8, 1939

Failed bomb assassination attempt against the Führer.

November 9, 1939

Arrest of the chief of the British Secret Service for Western Europe on the German-Dutch border.

November 12, 1939

Rejection of the Dutch-Belgian mediation proposal by England and France.

November 16, 1939

German – Soviet Russian resettlement treaty.

November 23, 1939

Torpedoing of the British cruiser “Belfast” in the Firth of Forth.

November 27, 1939

British enactment of the blockade of German exports in violation of international law.

November 27, 1939

British auxiliary cruiser “Ravalpidy” sunk in the sea battle at Iceland.

November 28, 1939

Lieutenant Priem sinks British cruiser of the London class.

November 30, 1939

Outbreak of the Finnish-Russian conflict.

December 4, 1939

British blockade in violation of international law begins.

December 8, 1939

Consecration of the Adolf Hitler Canal and first dig with a spade of the Oder-Danube canal.

December 12, 1939

Lloyd steamer “Bremen” returns to the homeland after breakthrough through the British blockade.

December 13, 1939

Successful sea battle of the armored ship “Admiral Graf Spree” at the mouth of the La Plata.

December 14, 1939

Ten British bombers shot down over the Northern Frisian islands.

December 17, 1939

Armored ship “Admiral Graf Spree” sunk on the Führer’s orders.

December 18, 1939

36 British warplanes shot down in the Day of Germany.

December 17-19, 1939

23 British sentry ships sunk.

December 21, 1939

German-Italian resettlement treaty for the Germans in Oberetsch.

December 23-25, 1939

The Führer on the western front.

December 29, 1939

British cruiiser of the Queen Elizabeth class torpedoed.

January 1, 1940

The Führer’s appeal to the party and Wehrmacht at New Year.

January 5, 1940

Scene change in the British cabinet, Hore Belisha’s and MacMillan’s resignation.

January 10, 1940

Over 185,00 ethnic Germans from Oberetsch opt for the German Reich.

January 16, 1940

Destruction of two British U-boats in the Bay of Germany.

January 30,1940

The Führer’s Sportpalast speech.

February 7, 1940

Alsace-Lorraine autonomy leader Dr. Roos shot dead in Nancy, two Irish republicans executed in Birmingham.

February 10, 1940

The Foreign Office releases the previous total figure for the number of dead in the German ethnic group in Posen of 58,000.

November 2, 1940

German – Soviet-Russian economic treaty.

February 2, 1940

Assignment to Dr. Ley for the working out of comprehension elderly care for the German folk.

February 16, 1940

Cowardly attack by British naval forces against the German steamer “Altmark” in Norwegian sovereign waters.

November 17, 1940

Lame protest declaration by the Norwegian government against the British violation of neutrality.

February 24,1940

Führer speech in the Munich Hofbräuhaus.

March 2, 1940

Proud survey by the High Command of the Wehrmacht of the events of the first half year of war.

March 3, 1940

Opening of the Leipzig war trade show.

March 10,1940

The Führer’s heroes remembrance speech.

March 18, 1940

The Führer meets with Il Duce at the Brenner Pass.

March 20, 1940

The Daladier government in France resigns. Paul Reynaud takes over formation of the government.

March 29, 1940

New German White book on the hand of official Polish original documents: Evidence of the war guilt of the western powers.

April 3, 1940

English Prime Minister announces the sharpening of the economic war, in which the Nordic states as well are supposed to be subjugated to English measures of compulsion.

April 8, 1940

The western powers inform Norway that they contaminate Norwegian territorial waters with mines for the prevention of ore shipments to Germany.

April 9, 1940

German protective measures or Denmark and Norway.

Memorandum from the Reich government to Denmark aid Norway. Systemic execution of the occupation of Denmark and the Norwegian coast.

April 10, 1940

English attempts to penetrate via Narvik into Norway repelled.

April 13, 1940

German naval forces repel a large-scale attack by an English squadron in front of Narvik.

April 17, 1940

The Führer’s proclamation for the War Aid Work for the German Red Cross.

April 20, 1940

The German folk celebrates the Führer’s 51st birthday.

April 21, 1940

Land connection from Oslo via Krisitiansand to Stavanger established, Gjoevik and Lillehammer taken.

April 21, 1940

England opens the air war against undefended towns with the bombing of non-military targets on the island of Sylt.

April 27,1940

Ribbentrop’s declaration on the political situation. White Book No. 4.

April 30, 1940

German troops in daring advance establish the land connection Oslo-Drontheim.

The Führer’s order of the day to the soldiers of the Norwegian theater.

May 2, 1940

After a panicked retreat, the English give up Andalsnes, board ships and leave the Norwegians in the lurch.

May 3, 1940

Destruction of a British battleship by aerial bombs.

May 6, 1940

The High Command of the Wehrmacht declares the pacification action in central and southern Norway ended.

May 9, 1940

Release of the Norwegian prisoners by the Führer’s decree.

Memorandum to Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.

May 10, 1940

The German Wehrmacht crosses the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg borders along the broadest front.

The Führer’s Order of the Day to the soldiers of the western front.

British Prime Minister Chamberlain resigns. Churchill takes his place.

May 11, 1940

In Holland, the province Groningen occupied, the Jissel position and the Grebbe Line broken through.

In Belgium, the crossing over the Albert Canal forced. Luxembourg in German hands. The strongest fort of Fortress Lüttich, Eben Emael, taken.

May 13, 1940

The war flag on the citadel of Lüttich.

May 14, 1940

Capitulation of the Dutch troops after the fall of Rotterdam.

May 14, 1940

The Führer’s gratitude to the soldiers employed in Holland.

May 15, 1940

Northeast of Namur, a French tank attack is successfully repelled.

May 16, 1940

The Maginot Line south of Maubeuge broken through on a breadth of over 100 kilometers. French tank forces beaten west of Dinant.

May 17, 1940

Mecheln and Löwen taken after heavy fighting. Brussels surrenders without a fight.

May 18, 1940

Capture of Antwerpen.

Reich Minister Dr. Seyss-Inquart made Reich Commissar for the occupied Dutch regions.

May 20, 1940

The supreme commander of the French army, General Gamelin, relieved. Weyand takes his place.

May 25, 1940

Calais taken.

May 27, 1940

Capitulation of the Belgian army.

May 29, 1940

German troops assault Ypern and Kemmel.

May 30, 1940

The remnants of the English expeditionary force flee on ships abandoning all war material.

June 1, 1940

Destruction of the expeditionary force boarding in Dunkirk.

The Dutch prisoners freed by the Führer’s decree.

April 4, 1940

Fortress Dunkirk taken after heavy fighting.

June 5, 1940

The Führer’s proclamation to the German folk. The Führer’s order of the day to the soldiers of the western front.

June 6, 1940

French Foreign Minister Daladier resigns.

June 7, 1940

The Weygand Line broken through along the whole front.

June 9, 1940

The enemy’s attempt to stop the German attack at any price thwarted after four-day long battle in the Somme-Oise region.

June 10, 1940

Withdrawal of the English troops from Narvik. – Narvik permanently in German hands. – Cessation of hostilities in Norway.

King Haakon of Norway flees to England.

June 11, 1940

The French government flees from Paris.

June 13, 1940

Final report about the actions in the Norway.

June 13, 1940

The Führer’s order of the day to the Norway fighters.

June 14, 1940

German troops

March into Paris.

Resistance of the French northern front broken.

June 15, 1940

Verdun taken. – The Reich war flags flies over the castle of Versailles.

June 17, 1940

The Reynaud cabinet resigns. Marshal Petain takes over the government.

June 18, 1940

The Führer and Il Duce meet in Munich for a consultation.

June 19, 1940

Greater Germany’s flag flies over the Strasbourg cathedral.

June 20, 1940

France asks Italy for an armistice.

June 21, 1940

Presentation of the German armistice terms to the French authorities in the forest of Compiegne.

The Führer’s order about the historical site of Compiegne.

June 22, 1940

France signs the armistice treaty. – Capitulation of the encircled French armies in Alsace-Lorraine.

June 24, 1940

The Führer’s proclamation on the end of the war in the west.

Churchill does not recognize the Petain government and urges France to continued resistance.

June 26,1940

The USA recognizes the Petain government.

June 27, 1940

German troops reach the Spanish border.

The Turkish Minister-President declares: Turkey is not entering the war.

June 28, 1940

New German White Book (No. 5): Additional documents about the western powers’ war expansion policy.

July 1, 1940

The Romanian ministerial board decides the change of its foreign pol-icy and renounces the guarantee given it an April 13, 1939 by England and France.

July 2, 1940

Final report by the High Command of the Wehrmacht on the campaign in the west.

The British Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey are taken in a surprise attack.

July 3, 1940

White Book No. 6, summarization of the captured Polish secret files of the French general staff.

July 6, 1940

The Führer’s triumphant return to the Reich capital.

July 8, 1940

France breaks diplomatic relations with England after the attack against Oran.

July 18, 1940

Germany troops landed on the channel island d’Quessant.

July 19, 1940

The Führer speaks to the German folk and to the world.

July 21, 1940

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia declare their states’ entry into the USSR.

July 26,1940

German-Turkish trade agreement signed.

July 29, 1940

Romania blocks the mouth of the Danube as security measure against English infringements.

August 2, 1940

Foreign policy speech by Russian Peoples Commissar Molotow: “The friendly and neighborly relations between the Soviet Union and Germany will remain totally preserved.”

August 7, 1940

The Führer names as chief of the civilian administration in Lorraine Josef Bürkel, as chief of the civilian administration in Alsace Robert Wagner, as chief of the civilian administration in Luxemburg Gustav Simon, as provincial leader and Reich Regent of Vienna Baldur von Schirach.

August 15, 1940

143 English airplanes and 21 blocking balloons destroyed. Auxiliary cruiser sunk.

August 17, 1940

Germany hangs total blockade over England.

The General-Government is declared part of the Greater German Reich.

August 18, 1940

138 enemy airplanes destroyed.

August 19, 1940

147 British airplanes and 33 blocking balloons destroyed.

August 30, 1940

New border between Hungary and Romania according to the arbitration of the Axis Powers.

August 31, 1940

133 British planes and 44 blocking balloons shot down.

September 4, 1940

The Führer opens the 2nd War Aid Work.

September 6, 1940

King Carol renounces the Romanian thrown. Crown Price Michael his successor. General Antonescu obtains extraordinary powers.

September 7, 1940

Beginning of the retaliatory attacks against London under the leadership of Reich Marshal Goering.

September 16, 1940

Abolition of the customs border between protectorate and Reich territory.

September 19, 1940

Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop in Rome.

September 26, 1940

Reich Commissar Terboven over the new order in Norway.

September 27, 1940

Signing of the Axis Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan.

September 27, 1940

Attacks against London, Bristol and Liverpool.

101 British airplanes shot down.

September 28, 1940

Italy’s Foreign Minister, Count Ciano, arrives for conferences with the Reich government.

September 30, 1940

Moscow brings to expression its friendly stance toward the Axis Pact. New German-Russian railroad agreement.

October 5, 1940

The Führer and Il Duce meet at the Brenner Pass.

October 15, 1940

A delegation of front peasants with the Führer on the occasion of the Harvest Gratitude Day. Führer’s speech.

October 19, 1940

Devastating blow by German U-boats against a British convoy. 26 steamers with 150,000 gross registered tons sunk in one night.

October 20, 1940

U-boat arm sinks 110,000 gross registered tons in one night.

October 23, 1940

Meeting of the Führer with Generalissimo Franco.

October 24, 1940

The Führer receives French Chief of State Petain in occupied French territory.

London experiences the 250th air alarm.

October 26, 1940

The Reich Marshal proclaims on behalf of the Führer the 2nd Four Year Plan.

October 28, 1940

The Führer’s meeting with Il Duce in Florence. Note of the Italian government to Greece.

October 29, 1940

Italian troops cross the Albanian-Greek border.

November 4, 1940

Dr. Ley announces mighty social plans after the war.

November 6, 1940

Roosevelt re-elected President of the USA.

Since the beginning of the war, 7 million gross registered tons of enemy shipping sunk.

November 8, 1940

The Führer’s speech before the Old Guard in Munich

Total annihilation of a British convoy on the North Atlantic route, in the process 86,000 gross registered tons sunk.

November 11-14, 1940

Visit of Soviet-Russian Foreign Minister Molotow in Berlin.

November 14, 1940

The Führer’s address before armaments and front workers.

November 15, 1940

The Führer decrees a generous residence construction program for the time after the war and orders immediate preparations for it.

November 16, 1940

Antonescu’s declaration: Romania Marches with the Axis to the end.

November 20, 1940

Hungary joins the Axis Pact.

November 23, 1940

Romania joins the Axis Pact.

November 24, 1940

Slovakia joins the Axis Pact.

English Ambassador in the USA, Lord Lothian, asks the USA for extensive support.

December 3, 1940

German U-boats sink 15 ships from a convoy with more then 100,000 gross registered tons and an auxiliary cruiser of 17,000 gross registered tons.

December 4, 1940

Romanian Ten-Year Plan in cooperation with Germany.

December 8, 1940

The Führer orders the re-naming of the province Saarpfalz into Westmark.

December 10, 1940

The Führer speaks at a large rally in a Berlin armaments plant.

December 24, 1940

Christmas celebration of the old fighters in the presence of the Führer.

January 1, 1941

The Führer’s New Years proclamation to the NSDAP. New Year’s greeting to the three arms of service.

January 2, 1941

High Command of the Wehrmacht report on the second half of war year 1940.

January 3, 1941

Detachments of the German Luftwaffe travel to Italy in order to participate in the fighting in the Mediterranean.

January 10, 1941

German-Russian border treaty; economic exchange broadened; German-Russian resettlement agreement.

Roosevelt brings the England Aid Law before Congress.

January 18, 1941

Individual attacks by German warplanes against the Suez Canal.

January 20, 1941

The Führer’s meeting with II Duce.

January 27, 1941

Province of Silesia divided into the provinces Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia.

January 30, 1941

The Führer’s speech on the anniversary of the rise to power.

February 3, 1941

First riots in Johannesburg. Clashes between Boor populace and South African military.

February 7, 1941

Province Coblenz-Trier renamed Moselland.

February 13, 1941

The German navy sinks in the Atlantic 14 ships from a British convoy (about 90,000 gross registered tons.).

February 14, 1941

Reception of Yugoslavian Minister-President Zwetkowitsch and Foreign Minister Cincar Markowitsch by the Führer.

February 17, 1941

Bulgarian-Turkish friendship and peace declaration.

February 24, 1941

A strongly protected convoy wiped out by German U-boats. In two days 217,000 gross registered tons sunk by the navy.

The Führer speaks at the Party Founding Meeting in the Münchener Hofbräuhaus.

February 26, 1941

Economic agreement Germany-Italy.

March 1, 1941

Bulgaria joins the Axis Pact.

March 2, 1941

For the defense against British measures in southeastern Europe, German troops enter Bulgaria.

March 5, 1941

Ambassador von Papen hands the President of the Turkish Republic the Führer’s personal greeting.

March 6, 1941

London experiences the 500th air alarm.

March 7, 1941

Revelations by a Hungarian periodical: Roosevelt tried to push an aid promise on Yugoslavia on February 2, 1941.

March 10, 1941

Generous securing of the future of war orphans and of the children of the severely war-wounded.

March 11, 1941

Roosevelt England Aid Law finally adopted in the USA.

Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka’s trip to Berlin and Rome. Japan’s mediation proposal accepted by France and Thailand.

March 12, 1941

The Führer speaks on the 3rd anniversary of Austria’s return in Linz.

March 15, 1941

The USA decides the delivery of 99 warships to England.

March 16, 1941

Adolf Hitler speaks in the Berliner armory on Heroes Remembrance Day.

March 20, 1941

Presentation of the Turkish State President’s autograph-letter to the Führer by the Turkish ambassador.

Eden’s new meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Saracoglu.

March 21, 1941

Reception of Hungarian Foreign Minister Bardossy by the Führer.

March 23, 1941

Discussion of Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka with the Soviet government in Moscow on his trip to Berlin.

March 25, 1941

Yugoslavia’s joining of the Three Powers Pact.

Iceland’s inclusion into the German operations area.

Turkish-Soviet communique.

March 26, 1941

Ceremonious reception of the Japanese Foreign Minister in the Reich capital.

March 27, 1941

In the course of General Simowitsch’s coup d’état, underage Peter II. assumes royal powers in Yugoslavia.

March 28, 1941

Flight of the previous Yugoslavian Zwetkowitsch government.

March 29, 1941

Continued trip of the Japanese Foreign Minister to Italy.

Anti-German demonstrations in Belgrade increase in scope.

Repeated aid promise from the USA to Yugoslavia.

March 31, 1941

Call to colors in Yugoslavia.

April 1, 1941

Leaders of the German ethnic group taken as hostages by the Serbs.

April 3, 1941

German and Italian formations conquer Agedabia.

April 4, 1941

New reception of the Japanese Foreign Minister by the Führer on his return trip from Rome.

Formation of a new government in Hungary by former Foreign Minister Bardossy.

Pro-English government in Iraq eliminated through coup d’état.

April 5, 1941

In March, 718,000 gross registered tons of enemy shipping sunk.

Since April 15th, the Yugoslavian armed forced had been put on extreme alert.

April 6, 1941

Entry of German troops into Serbia and Greece.

The Führer’s proclamation and order of the day to the German folk and to the soldiers of the southern front.

Memorandums from the German government to the governments of Yugoslavia and Greece.

April 7, 1941

Signing of a Soviet-Yugoslavian non-aggression and friendship pact. White Book No. 7: documents on Yugoslavia’s and Greece’s neutrality-contrary bearing.

April 8, 1941

Air attacks against Belgrade and Ueskiib.

Serbian air attacks against Hungary.

Severance of England’s diplomatic relations with Hungary.

Flight of the new Yugoslavian government.

April 9, 1941

After the capture of Ueskiib and Veles and after the crossing of the Wardar, the cities Tetovo and Prilep taken by German troops.

After breakthrough through the Metaxas Line, capture of Xanti and reaching the Aegean Sea.

Capture of Saloniki by German panzer formations.

Capitulation of the Greek troops in Thrace.

Capture of Nisch.

Occupation of Marburg on the Drau.

Capture of El Mechili in Cyrenaika, capture of 6 generals.

Matsuoka’s second visit in Moscow on his return trip to Japan.

April 11, 1941

Serbian resistance in Croatia collapsed.

Entry of Hungarian troops into Yugoslavia.

Linkup of German and Italian formations at Lake Ochrida.

Laibach’s occupation by Italian troops.

In North Africa, capture of Derna.

April 12, 1941

Capture of Agram.

Declaration of a free independent Croatia. Assumption of military leadership by General Kvaternik; Chief of State: Dr. Pavelitsch. Declaration of Iraq’s independence.

April 13, 1941

Entry of German panzer troops into Belgrade.

Capture of Capuzzo and Solium in North Africa.

Neutrality pact between Japan and the Soviet Union.

April 14, 1941

Flight of the British troops from Greece.

Capture of Bardia in North Africa.

April 15, 1941

Encirclement of the remnants of the Serbian army, capture of the supreme commander of the southern army.

In the regions previously belonging to Syria and Carthinia, the responsible governors establish the new civilian administration.

Recognition of Croatia’s independence by the Führer and Il Duce.

April 16, 1941

Surrender of the second Serbian army, occupation of Serajewo.

April 17, 1941

Unconditional capitulation of the Yugoslavian armed forces.

April 18, 1941

The Führer’s appeal for the second War Winter Aid Work for the Ger-man Red Cross.

April 19, 1941

Expansion of the blockade against Serbia by England.

Retreat by British and Greek armed forces on the northern front in Greece.

France’s resignation from the Geneva League.

April 21, 1941

Landing of English troops in Iraq.

Capture of Larissa by German troops.

Reception of Count Ciano by the Führer in Vienna.

April 23, 1941

Unconditional capitulation of the Greek Epirus and Macedonian army.

April 24, 1941

Reception of the Hungarian Reich Regent Admiral von Horthy by the Führer.

April 25, 1941

Capture of the pass of Thermopylae.

April 26, 1941

Occupation of the islands Lemnos, Thasos and Samotraki.

Crossing of Euböas.

England transfers the defense of Hong Kong and Singapore to the USA’s East Asian fleet.

April 27, 1941

Occupation of Athens.

Capture of Patras by the Adolf Hitler Body Guard Regiment

Installation of Bulgarian administration in Uesküb.

Italian civilian commissar for Montenegro.

Resignation of the supreme commander of the Greek armed forces, General Papagos.

April 30, 1941

German troops reach the southern coast of the Peloponnesus.

May 1, 1941

Expansion of the blockade of Greece with the exception of Crete by England.

May 2, 1941

Iraq’s uprising against England.

Formation of new government in Greece under General Tsolakoglu.

Demobilization of the Greek army.

May 4, 1941

The Führer’s speech before the German Reichstag.

Providence of Laibach declared Italian sovereign territory.

May 6, 1941

Trade treaty Japan-Indochina.

May 7, 1941

Stalin chairman of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars.

Declaration of the “Greek state”.

Removal from office of King George II. of Greece.

May 8, 1941

Matsuoka’s warning to America: Given acts of war by the USA against Germany, Japan will fulfill its alliance obligations.

May 10, 1941

Repeated appeal by Iraq’s government to the Arab folks for the war of liberation against England.

May 11, 1941

Visit by Admiral Darlan with the Führer.

May 12, 1941

Proclamation of holy war by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Occupation of the Thracian coast by Bulgarian troops.

May 17, 1941

Declaration by Irish Minister-President de Valera: Ireland will defend its right on every side.

Appeal by French Chief of State Marshal Petain to the French folk to follow him on the path of honor and of the national interests.

May 19, 1941

Surrender of Amba Aladschi by the Italians after heroic defensive fighting. Capture of the Duke of Aosta, Vice-King of Ethiopia, along with his troops.

May 20, 1941

Landing of German glider troops and paratroops on Crete.

May 21, 1941

Iceland’s declaration of independence.

May 24, 1941

Destruction of the world’s largest battleship “Hood” by the German battleship “Bismarck”.

May 26, 1941

The enemy’s losses in the fight for Crete: 11 cruisers, 8 destroyers, 6 speedboats.

May 27, 1941

Destruction of the battleship “Bismarck” under the effect of superior enemy force.

Capture of Kanae, Crete’s capital.

May 28th

Bombardment of the French harbor Sfax in Tunis by the British air-force.

Landing of Italian troops in the eastern part of Crete.

May 29, 1941

Argentina’s declaration of neutrality.

May 30th:

Fight of English troops toward Crete’s southern coast.

Declaration by the Japanese Foreign Minister: Japan will fulfill all obligations of the Triple Pact.

The French government’s protest in London because of the bombardment of the Tunisian harbor Sfax.

May 31, 1941

New British attack against the French harbor Sfax in Tunis.

Fighting for Baghdad between English and Iraqi troops.

June 1, 1941

Syria and Lebanon included in the British blockade.

June 2, 1941

The Führer’s and Il Duce’s meeting at the Brenner Pass.

Crete totally in German and Italian hands.

Baghdad given up by the Iraqi troops.

June 6, 1941

Reception of Croatian state leader Pavelitsch by the Führer.

Training of English fliers in the USA announced.

June 8, 1941

Invasion by English troops, supported by General De Gaulle’s formations, into Syria.

USA takes French West Indian islands Martinique and Guadeloupe.

June 9, 1941

French government’s protest to the English government because of the invasion into Syria.

June 11, 1941

Overall losses of the enemy since the beginning of the year in shipping: 2,235,000 gross registered tons.

June 12, 1941

Reception of Romanian state leader General Antonescu by the Führer.

June 15, 1941

Croatia’s joining of the Three Powers Pact.

June 17, 1941

Japanese ambassador’s departure from London.

Deportation of the German consulate officials as well as other German employees from the USA.

Heavy fighting for Solium in North Africa.

June 18, 1941

German-Turkish friendship pact.

June 19, 1941

An autograph-letter from the Turkish State-President handed to the Führer by the Turkish ambassador.

Closing of the American consulates and travel offices in the Reich and in the lands occupied by German troops.

Closing of the American consulates in Italy.

The British attack against Solium repulsed.

June 20, 1941

Fight for Damascus in Syria.

June 21, 1941

Closing of the Italian consulates by the USA’s government.

The Japanese Foreign Minister’s declaration: Japan’s foreign policy remains unchanged.

Evacuation of the Syrian capital Damascus by the French troops.

June 22, 1841

German troops cross the German-Soviet interest sphere border.

The Führer’s proclamation to the German folk and to the soldiers of the eastern front.

State of war between Italy and the Soviet Union.

General Antonescu’s appeal to the Romanian folk to fight.

Fighting by Finnish and German troops on Karela’s border.

Severing of the Slovakian government’s relations with Soviet Russia. Achievement of air domination in the eastern region on the 1st day of the war.

June 23, 1941

Turkey’s neutrality declaration in view of Germany’s war with the Soviet Union.

Fortress Grodno fallen.

Reception of the Italian Minister for Culture Pavolini by the Führer.

June 24, 1941

Systematic course of the military operations in the east.

Slovakia’s entry into the war against the Soviet Union.

Severing of Hungary’s relations with Soviet-Russia.

Capture of Brest-Litowsk, Vilna and Kowno.

June 25, 1941

Danish emissary’s recall from Moscow.

Sweden grants the German-Finnish request to transport troops from Norway to Finland on the Swedish railroad.

An English military delegation’s trip to Moscow.

June 26, 1941

Finland’s official entry onto the war against the Soviet Union. Brazilian State-President Vargas’ repeated declaration of neutrality. Hungary’s entry into the war against the Soviet Union.

Formation of a voluntary Falange corps in Spain for the fight against the Soviet Union.

Norwegian volunteers brought together in the Regiment Nordland, Dutch, Flemish, Walloon volunteers in the Regiment Westland.

June 28, 1941

The High Command of the Wehrmacht’s first reports about the course of the war in the east.

Successful conclusion of the two-day panzer battle at Kowno.

East of Bialystok, two Soviet armies encircled.

Advance of German panzer divisions north of Lemberg to Luck.

July 1, 1941

Capture of Riga.

Recognition of the Nanking government by the Axis powers.

July 2, 1941

Panzer battles at Zloczow and Dubnow. Previously 100,000 prisoners, 400 tanks and 300 guns in the Bialystok pocket.

Advance of German and Finnish formation in central and northern Finland across the Soviet border.

Advance of Hungarian formations across the Carpathian region toward Galicia.

Emperor conference in Tokyo.

Appointment of General Wavell as supreme commander in India.

July 3, 1941

Crossing of the Pruth by German and Romanian formations. England’s trade shipping losses in

June: 768,950 gross registered tons. The Danish government closes the USA’s consulates.

July 5, 1941

Reaching of the Dnjepr east of Minsk.

Capture of Kolomea and Stanislaw by Hungarian troops.

July 6, 1941

Reaching the Dnjestr by Hungarian troops.

Plan of a pan-American export control on the side of the USA.

July 7, 1941

Capture of Czernowitz.

July 8, 1941

Sending of U.S. troops to Iceland.

Liberation of Bukowina.

German-Italian treaty about a new common border in the region of former Yugoslavia.

July 9, 1941

Founding of the volunteer formations Flandern and Wallonien against Bolshevism.

July 10, 1941

Dual battle of Bialystok and Minsk concluded: Over 400,000 prisoners, furthermore 7,615 tanks, 4,423 guns, 6,233 airplanes captured or destroyed.

Capture of Salla on the Finnish front.

July 11, 1941

Witebsk taken.

July 12, 1941

Breakthrough of the Stalin Line.

Throwing back of the Bolsheviks across the Dnjestr.

Montenegro’s declaration as independent state.

Rejection of the English armistice conditions for the French troops in Syria by the French government.

July 14, 1941

English-Russian aid pact.

July 15, 1941

Roosevelt’s “shoot order” to the American fleet at German warships. Dispatch of Portuguese troop contingents to the Azores.

Trip of Italian divisions to the eastern front.

July 16, 1941

Capture of Smolensk.

Reintroduction of political commissars in the Bolshevik army.

Neutrality declaration of the Iraqi emissary in London.

July 17, 1941

Embargo of all property of South American firms with relations to the Axis powers in the USA.

July 19, 1941

Advance of Finnish formations to the northern shore of Lake Ladoga.

July 20, 1941

Stalin’s appointment as defense commissar.

July 22, 1941

First large air attack against Moscow.

Deportation of the German emissary by the Bolivian government under U.S. pressure.

The Reich government’s sharpest protest.

Deportation of the Bolivian agent in Berlin.

July 23, 1941

The Portuguese State-President’s trip to the Azores.

July 26, 1941

Reconquest of the old Romanian border.

Crossing the old Finnish borders.

July 27, 1941

Treaty between France and Japan over Indochina’s joint defense. Calling to colors of the armed forces on the Philippines by the USA.

July 28, 1941

Embargo of English, Canadian and North American property by the Japanese government as retaliatory measure.

July 29, 1941

Reaching the mouth region of the Dnepr by Romanian troops.

August 2, 1941

Bolshevik relief offensive in the central sector beaten back.

Battle of annihilation south of Kiev.

August 3, 1941

The English government demands from the Iraqi government the deportation of all Germans.

August 5, 1941

Conclusion of the battle of encirclement at Smolensk: 310,000 prisoners, furthermore 3,205 tanks, 3,120 guns captured or destroyed.

August 6, 1941

Awarding of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross to General Antonescu by the Führer.

August 9, 1941

Conclusion of the battle of encirclement at Uman (Ukraine): Over 103,000 prisoners, furthermore 317 tanks, 1,110 guns, 5,250 trucks, 12 trains captured or destroyed.

Battle of encirclement at Roslawl concluded: 38,000 prisoners, furthermore 250 tanks, 359 guns captured or destroyed.

Capture of the rail junction Korosten south of the Pripet swamps.

August 10, 1941

Overall losses of the Soviet airforce since the beginning of the eastern campaign: 10,000 airplanes.

Japanese government’s declaration to England: Behind Thailand stands Japan.

August 12, 1941

Civilian administration of the Lemberg region taken over by the General Governor.

Appointment of Admiral Darlan as French National Defense Minister.

August 13, 1941

Thailand rejects military support on the side of the USA.

Marshal Petain’s declaration on France’s readiness for European co-operation.

August 14, 1941

Ore region of Kriwoi Rog in German hands.

Reaching the coast of the Black Sea between Odessa and mouth of the Bug by German and Romanian troops. Odessa’s encirclement.

Meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill and issuance of a joint declaration.

50 billion dollars North American state debt.

Portugal’s additional troop dispatches to the Azores.

August 16, 1941

Annihilation of encircled Soviet troops in the southern Ukraine.

Promotion of the reciprocal missions to embassies by the Japanese and Thai government.

August 17, 1941

Capture of the military harbor Nikolajew on the Black Sea: 1 battleship, 1 cruiser, 4 destroyers and 1 U-boat captured at the stocks. Capture of Sortavalla by Finnish troops in the north.

August 19, 1941

Conclusion of the battle at Gomel: 84,000 prisoners, furthermore 144 tanks, 848 guns, 2 armored trains captured or destroyed.

August 21, 1941

Capture of Cherson in the southern Ukraine, of Nowgorod, Kingisep and Narwa between Lake Ulmen and Lake Peipus.

August 22, 1941

Overall booty after two months eastern war: 1 ½ million prisoners, furthermore 14,000 tanks, 15,000 guns, 11,259 airplanes destroyed or captured.

Threats by the English government against Iran and Turkey.

August 23, 1941

Annihilation of three Soviet divisions at Lake Lagado.

Declaration by the Iranian government’s emissary in the USA: Iran’s resistance against any attack.

August 24, 1941

Destruction of 1,044 British airplanes since the beginning of the eastern campaign in two months.

Capture of the Tscherkassy bridgehead on the Dnjepr.

The Romanian head of state and leader of the Romanian troops deployed in the east appointed Marshal of Romania.

August 25, 1941

England’s and the USSR’s joint invasion into Iran.

August 26, 1941

Capture of Dnepropetrovsk.

Imposition of the blockade over Iran by England.

August 27, 1941

Battle of annihilation east of Welikij Luki concluded. Enemy losses: 40,000 dead, furthermore 30,000 prisoners, 400 guns captured or destroyed.

Resignation of the Iranian cabinet.

August 28, 1941

Meeting of the Führer and Il Duce in the Führer headquarters.

Annihilation of two Soviet divisions in the Salla area.

Cessation of all operations by the Iranian army.

Conveyance of a personal letter from Japanese Minister-President Konoye to Roosevelt by the Japanese ambassador in Washington.

August 30, 1941

Formation of a Serbian government under General Nedtsch.

September 1, 1941

Reich Law on the outward marking of the Jews: They must wear a yellow star on their clothing.

Capture of the harbor city Hapsal in Estonia.

September 4, 1941

Reaching the old state borders by Finnish troops north of Leningrad.

September 8, 1941

Capture of Schlüsselburg on Lake Ladoga.

Closing the ring around Leningrad.

Reaching the Swir by Finnish troops.

September 9, 1941

Resolution of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union on the resettlement of the Volga-Germans to Siberia.

Landing of Canadian and fled Norwegian armed forces at Spitzbergen.

September 11, 1941

Hungarian Reich Regent Admiral von Horthy’s visit to the Führer in his headquarters (from the 8th to the 10th).

September 12, 1941

The Führer’s proclamation on the War Winter Aid Work 1941/42.

September 13, 1941

Announcement of a decision of the U.S. government by Roosevelt: All ships of the Axis powers in the so-called “defensive waters” are to be attacked.

September 15, 1941

Crossing the Dnepr in southern portions of the eastern front at several points.

September 16, 1941

Abdication of the Shah of Iran.

September 18,1941

Capture of Poltawa.

Joint occupation of Teheran by Soviet and British troops.

September 19,1941

Enemy losses in the east since the beginning of the campaign: 1.8 million prisoners and at least as many dead. Previous German losses: 85,896 dead, 296,670 wounded, 20,299 missing.

September 21, 1941

Reaching the Sea of Azov by German troops.

September 22, 1941

Annihilation of a million gross registered tons of British commercial shipping by German U-boats within three months.

September 23, 1941

Sinking of a cruiser, two destroyers and an anti-aircraft ship as well as nine trade ships by the German Luftwaffe.

September 27, 1941

Conclusion of the battle of encirclement at Kiev, annihilation of 50 Soviet divisions: 665,000 prisoners, furthermore 884 tanks, 3,178 guns destroyed or captured.

September 29, 1941

Sinking of two heavy cruisers and a light cruiser by the Italian airforce.

October 1, 1941:

Victorious panzer battle east of Dnjepropetrowsk.

Capture of East Karelia’s capital Petrosko by Finnish troops.

October 2, 1941

The Führer’s order of the day to the soldiers of the eastern front.

Sinking figures for English trade shipping in September: 684,000 gross registered tons. English losses since the beginning of the war: 13.9 million gross registered tons.

Establishment of the War Medal of the German Cross by the Führer.

October 3, 1941

The Führer’s speech on the opening of the War Winter Ai Work 1941/42.

October 5, 1941

Smashing of a Soviet landing attempt at Leningrad.

October 7, 1941

Battle north of the Sea of Azov, pursuit of the beaten enemy, capture of the staff of a Soviet army.

Rejecting reply from the Finnish government to an English note of threat.

October 9, 1941

Economic treaty Germany-Turkey.

October 11, 1941

Coup d’état in Panama on the suggestion of the USA.

October 16, 1941

Capture of Odessa by Romanian and German troops.

Resignation of the Konoye Japanese cabinet.

October 18, 1941

Conclusion of the dual battle of Brjansk and Wjasma: 663,000 prisoners, furthermore 1,242 tanks and 5,452 guns captured or destroyed.

October 19, 1941

Capture of Taganrog on the Sea of Azov by German troops.

October 21, 1941

Capture and mopping up of the Dagö Island. The Baltic region is thereby totally in German hands: 300,000 prisoners, furthermore 1,581 tanks and 4,063 guns captured or destroyed.

Occupation of Stalino in the Donez basin.

Reception of Slovakian State-President Dr. Tiso and of Slovakian Minister-President Dr. Tuka by the Führer.

Transfer of the seat of the Soviet government to Kuibischew.

October 24, 1941

Capture of the railway junction Belgorod.

Visit by Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano to the Führer in his headquarters.

Capture of Charkow by Germany troops.

Annihilation of 260 Soviet divisions since the beginning of the eastern campaign.

October 27, 1941

Conquest of Kramatorskaja in the Donez basin.

Arrival of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in Rome on his flight.

October 30, 1941

Upper course of the Donez reached on broad front.

November 1, 1941

Denial by the Reich government in a note to all neutrals of the lies of the American State-President Roosevelt of German attack plans against Central and South America as well as the planned elimination of all religions.

November 2, 1941

Sinking figure of British commercial shipping in the month of October 441,330 gross registered tons.

Capture of Simferopol on the Crimean Peninsula.

November 3, 1941

Capture of Kursk.

November 4, 1941

Capture of the harbor city Feodosia on the Black Sea.

Threatening note from the U.S. government to Finland with the demand to cease operations against the Soviet Union.

Capture of the Koivisto islands by Finnish troops.

November 5, 1941

Sinking of 112 British destroyers by the German navy and Luftwaffe since the beginning of the war.

November 6, 1941

Appointment of Litwinow-Finkelstein as Soviet ambassador to the U. S. government.

November 7, 1941

Conclusion of a treaty between Germany and Italy on the resettlement of German citizens and ethnic Germans from the Italian province Laibach.

November 8, 1941

The Führer’s speech before the old guard in Munich.

November 9, 1941

Capture of Yalta in Crimea.

November 10, 1941

Overall number of Soviet prisoners brought in since the beginning of the eastern campaign: 3,632,000.

November 15, 1941

Sinking of the infamous destroyer “Cossack”.

November 16, 1941

Number of Soviet airplanes destroyed in October: 2,147.

Repulsion of a breakout attempt out of Leningrad.

The Brazilian government rejects the cession of strong points to the USA.

November 17, 1941

Capture of city and harbor of Kertsch.

Sinking of altogether 235,000 gross registered tons by the Luftwaffe in the fighting in Crimea.

Visit by Japanese special emissary Kurusu with Roosevelt and Hull.

November 22, 1941

Capture of Rostow.

November 23-25, 1941

Battle in Marmarica: Annihilation of the 22nd English tank brigade, 260 tanks and over 200 armored vehicles destroyed or captured.

During breakout attempts out of Tobruk, 50 tanks destroyed.

November 25, 1941

Extension of the Anti-Communist Pact until 1946. Joining by seven additional states.

Resolution by the North American government to send troops to Dutch-Guyana for the alleged protection of the Bauxit works.

November 26, 1941

Sinking of the British battleship Barham by German U-boats.

November 27, 1941

Reception of the statesmen sent to Berlin from the folks united in the anti-Bolshevik front by the Führer.

November 28, 1941

Deportation of Germans from Afghanistan.

Surrender of Gondar by the Italian troops after honorable defense.

November 30, 1941

Declaration by the Finnish government: Karelia’s reintegration. The land’s security must be guaranteed through the operations.

Japan’s, China’s and Mandschukou’s joint declaration: Decision by the three powers not to tolerate the USA’s or Great Britain’s intervention into East Asia’s development.

December 1, 1941

Conference between Reich Marshal Goering and the French chief of state Marshal Petain.

December 2, 1941

Repulsion of Soviet breakout attempts out of Leningrad.

In the fighting in North Africa, previously 9,000 prisoners, among them three generals, furthermore 814 tanks captured or destroyed, 121 airplanes shot down.

December 3, 1941

Evacuation of Hangö by the Bolsheviks.

Sinking of the Australian cruiser “Sidney” by the German auxiliary cruiser “Cormoran”.

Destruction or capture of a New Zealand division in North Africa.

December 5, 1941

British losses in North Africa: 317 airplanes.

Subordination of the British warships in the South Atlantic under the supreme command of the USA.

Overall debt of the USA: 150 billion dollars.

December 6, 1941

Nullification declaration of the Moscow dictate peace of

March 3, 1940 by Finnish State-President Ryti.

Declaration of war by the English government against Finland, Hungary and Romania.

December 7, 1941

Declaration of war by the Japanese government against England and America.

December 8, 1941

Under the compulsion of climatic effects, still only local combat actions on the eastern front.

Sinking of five U.S. warships by the Japanese airforce at Hawaii. Damage to three more battleships as well as four cruisers. Destruction of 90 U.S. airplanes over the Philippines.

Mandschukuo’s declaration of war against England and the USA.

December 9, 1941

Reception of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the Führer.

Landing of Japanese troops on the Philippines, the Malaysian peninsula and Thailand. Entry into the Thai capital Bangkok.

Allowance of free transit for the Japanese army through sovereign Thai territory.

Sinking of the U.S. carrier “Langley” by the Japanese airforce.

Occupation of the U.S. strong points Wake and Guam by Japanese troops.

December 10, 1941

Sinking of the English battleships “Prince of Wales” and “Repulse” by the Japanese airforce at Singapore. Conference of Italian Foreign Minister Ciano with Admiral Daran in Turin.

December 11, 1941

Sessions of the German Reichstag. The Führer’s speech. Germany’s and Italy’s declaration of war against the United States of North America.

Defensive and offensive alliance between Japan and Thailand.

December 12, 1941

Military alliance between Japan and French Indochina.

December 13, 1941

Bardia and Solium under the opponent’s growing pressure.

December 14, 1941

Declaration of war against the USA from the side of Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.

December 15, 1941

Special session in Berlin of the states united in the Three Powers Pact. Ireland’s repeated declarations of neutrality.

December 17, 1941

State of siege in Argentina.

December 19, 1941

Assumption of the supreme command of the army by the Führer. The Führer’s proclamation.

Capture of Hong Kong and Penang by Japanese troops.

Illegal occupation of Portuguese Timor by British troops.

Sinking of a British cruiser at Alexandria.

Message of the Japanese government to the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru: Declaration of further friendly relations with the states of Hispanic-America.

December 20, 1941

Landing of Japanese troops on the Philippine island Mindanao.

December 21, 1941

The Führer’s proclamation on the winter clothing collection.

December 22, 1941

Sinking of the English seaplane carrier “Unicorn” by a German U-boat in the Atlantic.

Japanese offensive against Chinese troops.

December 23-25, 1941

Conferences between English Minister-President Churchill and the President of the United States of North America Roosevelt in Washington.

December 26, 1941

Capitulation of the British troops in Hong Kong: 22,000 prisoners.

Decision of the Australian government: Withdrawal of the expeditionary corps from the Near East.

Evacuation of Bengasi by the troops of the Axis powers.

December 27, 1941

Landing attempt by British naval forces at two points on the northern Norwegian coast thwarted.

December 29, 1941

Conquest of the tin center Ipoh on the Malaysian peninsula by Japanese troops.

Landing of Soviet troops on the Kertsch peninsula.

Heavy fighting in the area around Agedabia, destruction of 58 British tanks in the counteroffensive.

Capture of Liki in Central China by Japanese troops.

Costa Rica under North American rule.

December 31, 1941

The Führer’s proclamation and order of the day on New Year.

January 1, 1942

New landing of Soviet troops on the Kertsch peninsula.

January 2, 1942

Entry of the Japanese into Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Subordination of strong points and railroads under the USA through senate and government in Mexico.

Heavy fighting at Bardia in North Africa.

Rejection of the alliance treaty with Great Britain and the Soviet Union by the Iranian parliament.

January 6, 1942

Subordination of Australia under the USA’s power of command.

January 9, 1942

Ongoing heavy defensive fighting in the central and northern sector of the eastern front.

January 13, 1942

Heavy fighting in the region of Solium.

January 15, 1942

Result of the wool collection: 67 million articles of winter clothing. Destruction of two Soviet regiments on Lake Onega.

January 16, 1942

Capture of Malakko by Japanese troops.

Visit by Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano to the Hungairan government in Budapest.

January 19, 1942

Signing of a military convention between Germany, Italy and Japan in Berlin.

The Führer’s order of the day on the death of General Field Marshal von Reichenau on January 17, 1942.

Solium in North Africa given up by German troops.

January 20, 1942

Awarding of the Oak Leaves with Swords to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross to General Rommel.

Reconquest of Feodosia in the Crimea.

January 21-25, 1942

Battle at Agedabia in North Africa. Standstill of the British Libya offensive. Conquest or destruction of 283 tanks, 127 gun and 583 trucks.

January 23, 1942

Landing of Japanese troops on New Guinea, Rabaul and the Salomon islands.

Founding of an anti-British volunteer corps in Burma.

January 24, 1941

Successes of German U-boats in North American and Canadian waters.

Landing of Japanese troops on the Bismarck Archipelago.

January 25, 1942

Declaration of war by the Thai government against Great Britain and the United States of North America.

January 27, 1942

Sinking of a British cruiser by Italian torpedo planes.

January 28, 1942

Annihilation of the Soviet forces landed in Crimea.

January 29, 1942

Reconquest of Bengasi by German and Italian troops over the course of the counteroffensive of the Axis powers. Rommel’s promotion to Senior General.

January 30, 1942

The Führer’s speech on the assumption of power by National Socialism.

January 31, 1942

Sinking previously 302,000 gross registered tons by German U-boats on North America’s coast.

Beating back of Soviet forces that had broken in at Kursk.

February 1, 1942

The leader of the Norwegian Nasjonal Samling named Norway’s Minister-President.

Landing of Japanese troops on the island Amboina, Molukken.

February 2, 1942

Repeated discussions of Reich Marshal Goering with the Italian government in Rome.

Occupation of Barce and El Abiar in the Cyrenaika by German and Italian formations.

Sinking of a British destroyer on the Canadian coast.

Capture of Mulmein by Japanese troops.

February 3, 1942

Sinking of altogether 400,600 gross registered tons of enemy commercial shipping by the German navy and Luftwaffe in December. Losses of the British navy: 1 cruiser, 4 destroyers, 1 U-boat, 1 speedboat.

Breaking off of diplomatic relations to Germany, Italy and Japan by the governments of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru under the pressure of the North American government.

February 5, 1942

Pursuit of the British troops in North Africa beyond Derna. In January, altogether 3,500 prisoners, furthermore 370 tanks, 192 guns and 1,220 trucks captured or destroyed.

February 6, 1942

See battle at the latitude of Java. Sinking of two cruisers of the Dutch-Indian fleet.

February 7, 1942

Smashing of two Soviet divisions in the central sector of the eastern front.

February 9, 1942

Reelection of State-President Carmona of Portugal.

February 12, 1942

The Führer’s address on the occasion of the state ceremony in the Reich Chancellery for Reich Minster Dr. Todt deceased on February 8, 1942.

Occupation of the Dutch islands Curasao and Aruba by North American troops.

February 13, 1942

Reception of Marshal Antonescu and Minister-President Quisling by the Führer.

Battle between German and English naval forces in the British Channel: sinking of an English destroyer and of 2 speedboats; 49 airplanes shot down.

Agreement of a close contact between the Spanish and Portuguese government.

February 15, 1942

Unconditional capitulation of the British forces in Singapore. 90,000 prisoners in Japanese hands.

Landing of Japanese paratrooper on Sumatra.

Address by Generalissimo Franco on the struggle against Bolshevism.

February 17, 1942

Uninterrupted heavy defensive fighting on all portions of the eastern front. Significant enemy loses, especially in dead.

Sinking of two enemy destroyers by the Japanese marine airforce at Batavia.

Capture of Bilin and occupation of the islands Batomi and Sambö by Japanese troops.

February 20, 1942

Landing of Japanese troops on Timor. Assurance of the territorial integrity of Portuguese-Timor by the Japanese government.

February 21, 1942

Encirclement and annihilation of a Soviet army in the central sector of the eastern front. The opponent’s losses: 27,000 dead, 5,000 prisoners, furthermore 187 tanks, 615 guns, 1,150 mortars and machineguns captured or destroyed.

Sinking of two enemy destroyers by Japanese naval forces at Bali.

February 22, 1942

Since the beginning of the year on the eastern front, the bringing in of 56,806 prisoners; capture of 960 tanks and 1,789 guns, destruction of 8,170 vehicles, 59 locomotives, 43 trains and furthermore 1,981 airplanes.

February 23, 1942

Landing of Japanese troops on the island Bali.

Modification of the English cabinet. Continued leadership by Minister-President Churchill.

Breaking off of diplomatic relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia.

February 24, 1942

Reading aloud of a message from the Führer by Provincial Governor Adolf Wagner at the party founding celebration in Munich.

Special session of the permanent council of the Three Powers Pact under the chairmanship of Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs von Ribbentrop.

February 25, 1942

Assassination attempt against German Ambassador von Papen in Ankara.

February 26, 1942

Overall sinking figure of enemy trade shipping since the beginning of the war: 15.2 million gross registered tons.

February 27, 1942

Elimination of the collective constitution in the occupied Soviet regions.

Sinking of two North American and two Dutch destroyers at Bali by Japanese naval forces.

February 28, 1942

Sinking of 1 cruiser and 3 destroyers in the Pacific by Japanese fleet and air units.

Landing attempt by British paratroopers on Northern France’s coast.

Freedom proclamation of Indian leader Bose to the Indian folk.

March 1, 1942

Ongoing heavy fighting on the Kertsch peninsula.

March 2, 1942

Landing of Japanese troops on Java.

Sinking of a cruiser and two destroyers by Japanese marine forces.

March 4, 1942

Attack by the British airforce on Paris: 600 dead in the French civilian population.

March 6, 1942

Capture of the capital of the Dutch-Indies Batavia by Japanese troops.

March 8, 1942

Ongoing heavy defensive fighting on the eastern front.

March 9, 1942

Unconditional capitulation of the Dutch armed forces on Java. Capture of Rangoon by Japanese troops.

March 14, 1942

Sinking of 1,029,000 gross registered tons commercial shipping in the Atlantic and in the Caribbean Sea by German U-boats, this includes 58 tankers with 442,000 gross registered tons.

Heavy defensive fighting on the Kertsch peninsula.

March 15, 1942

Withdrawal of British troops from Iran, surrender to the Soviet Union. The Führer’s speech on Heroes Remembrance Day in the Berlin armory.

1st Battery SS Assault Gun Det. 4 With the „Wallonien” Brigade

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 7, Number 6, Whole Number 42, January – March 1987

The Assault Gun Detachment (armored, motorized artillery) of the 4th SS Police Div. was formed in the autumn of 1943 at the SS Training Grounds in Debica, Poland. The unit commander was Stubaf. Etthoefer and the CO of 1st Battery was Hstuf. Planitzer. Hstuf. Planitzer had served with the Police Div. since its inception in 1939, initially being with the 14th Anti-tank Co. of SS Police Rifle Rgt. 3. Most of his officers and NCOs as well hailed from the anti-tank and artillery elements of the Police Division.

In November 1943, 1st Battery/SS Assault Gun Det. 4 was temporarily assigned to the 5th SS Sturmbrigade „Wallonien,“ which although well-trained and equipped, was somewhat undermanned (2,000 troops) and lacking in firepower. „Wallonien“ had been subordinated to the 5th SS Pz. Div. „Wiking“ on the southern part of the Eastern Front. After a long train ride from Debica, 1st Battery joined the Belgian volunteer brigade in the Cherkassy area on 23 November 1943. The assault gun troops first saw action in the vicinity of Bol. Starosselje; in the wild lands to the east and southeast of the Irdyn Swamp. Here the enemy was well represented by fanatic partisan units and dispersed Red Army remnants. The Walloons were involved in fairly heavy skirmishing in this sector and the 1st Assault Gun Battery provided some heavy weapons support, losing one of its armored vehicles to an enemy mine in the process.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 1st Battery was sent to the town of Olschana, about 35 km to the southwest. This town had been an important supply base for the „Wiking“ Div. but now half of it was in the hands of the enemy. On the 2nd of January, the Walloons, supported by the SS-Police assault guns, stormed the Russian occupied part of the town. Another assault gun was knocked out by anti-tank rifles but two T-34 tanks were damaged and captured. Ustuf. Jaeger, in charge of 1st Platoon was wounded.

The Soviet forces from Olschana were pushed back into a ravine where they took heavy losses. The 2nd Platoon of 1st Battery, led by Oscha. Gutmann, continued on in pursuit of the foe for a distance of about 3 km past Olschana. Here the platoon was suddenly confronted by about 300 mounted communist troops who were promptly sent reeling with high casualties. Then orders arrived stating that Olschana must be held under all circumstances. It then became the defensive sector for 1st Battery up until 8 February 1944.

Proposed „Wallonien“ collar patch.

During the large scale enemy offensive that began on 28 January, the so-called „Cherkassy Pocket“ was formed around the 50,000 or so German and European troops in the vicinity. The town of Olschana was cut off and left stranded about 7 km outside of the main pocket, which posed additional problems for its defenders, who consisted of 1st Assault Gun Battery and around 200 Walloon volunteers. They were forced to carry out a relief attack to try and rejoin the main pocket. Coming under fire from some 70 enemy anti-tank guns, the SS- Police assault guns led the main effort until they were ambushed by a group of Soviet 17.2 cm cal. assault guns at close quarters (only 10 m separated the combatants!).

Unknown Walloon volunteer (note armshield).

Walloon SS volunteers near Cherkassy.

Three of the German armored vehicles were knocked out but most of the crews and battery members were able to escape back to Olschana. Despite being outnumbered in terms of armored vehicles by 20 to 1, the men of 1st Battery were able to knock out a further eight enemy tanks in the days ahead.

On 8 February Olschana was finally evacuated and the defenders successfully fought their way back to the „big pocket.“ Less than a week later the members of 1st Battery (now without any assault guns) joined their comrades from the „Wallonien,“ „Wiking“ and assorted Heer divisions in a largely successful breakout from the Bolshevik envelopment.

SS Inf. Rgt. 4 on the Eastern Front in the Winter of 1941-42

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 6, Number 1, Whole Number 31, July-September 1983

Emergency Airlift to the 4th Army

After having spent more than two months in action on the Eastern Front, the SS Inf. Rgt. 4 was pulled out of the lines in November 1941 for a leisurely program of refitting. In March 1942 it was supposed to join the SS Div. “Das Reich,” which had lost most of its SS Inf. Rgt. 11 in heavy fighting on the road to Moscow. SS IR 4 was replaced as a component of the 2nd SS Inf. Bde. by the newly formed SS Volunteer Legion “Flandern,” composed of Flemish volunteers.

On 26 November 1941, the regiment began its relocation to Poland. The three regimental battalions would leave the Leningrad sector in march columns staggered a day apart on 26, 27 and 28 November respectively. In great cold and biting winds, the truck convoys made their way through a bleak, snow-covered land. The soldiers had thickly insulated their troop trucks with straw to provide some protection against the cold. The three regimental march groups passed through Pleskau, Riga, Mitau, Bischofsburg, Zichenaw and Warsaw and reached their destination at Krakow on 5, 6 and 7 December.

I. and III. Battalions were quartered in the Polish Army barracks in the “Old Town” while II. Btl. was sent to the SS- “Totenkopf” guard barracks in Krakow. The regiment was now supposed to be rebuilt into a motorized “schnell” rifle regiment, so it could be added to the “Das Reich” Division. After a short rest period, the unit’s vehicles, equipment and weapons were overhauled. Maintenance work went on at a feverish pace, and the so-called “refreshing” the regiment was supposed to be enjoying became one in name only.

SS-IR 4, which had gone into action near Leningrad armed with Czech weapons, was now resupplied with German machine guns (MG34s) and rifles. Some new replacements also arrived and a weapons training program soon got underway. The “old warriors” from the Leningrad fighting taught the new young soldiers all the tricks and shortcuts they had picked up in action. By working closely together, the old and new members of the regiment rapidly gained a firm sense of community and comradeship.

With Christmas fast approaching, half of the “veterans” with the regiment were slated to go on home leave, but developments in the “East” looked ominous. The Soviets had launched a dangerous counteroffensive before Moscow and the German lines were threatened up and down the front. The men of SS-IR 4 soon got the bad news: “All leaves are cancelled!” To say the least, this put a quick damper on the Christmas spirit. As an added precaution the whole regiment was put on readiness alert. This meant that the unit could be sent back to the front at any moment, and those orders were not long in coming:

Members of the Regiment prepare to board a Ju 52 in Krakow.

“The SS-IR 4 is to be flown to the area of Army Group Center. Infantry weapons will accompany. Heavy weapons will follow in an overland truck convoy. Each man will take only his personal weapons and equipment and only the most essential items in his clothing bag.”

The companies immediately sprang to life; officers and NCOs shouted out commands and directions. In very short order weapons were distributed, clothing bags packed and last letters to home were written. On the next day they would move out. Men that had just started out on leave returned and the last replacements came in. Each man in the regiment was issued with a new winter overcoat. By 16 December 1941, SS-IR 4 was ready to go.

The regimental units were scheduled in sequence for the transport flights. I. Btl. was to be the first to leave. On 18 December, its companies were trucked to the Krakow airfield where Ju 52 transport planes were waiting for them. But the weather proved to be too unsettled to permit a takeoff and the men of I. Btl. had to be hauled back to their barracks. The next day calm weather prevailed and they were loaded into the aircraft.

On 19 December, 1st Co./SS-IR 4 under Hstuf. von Rautenfeld was the first element of the regiment to begin its flight to the east. The pilots carefully supervised the loading of the men and their equipment since too much weight aboard created additional hazards. Each Ju 52 could hold only 20 soldiers and their accessories; therefore, it took 10 planes to carry a full strength 200-man company. Because of their weaponry, the machine gun companies took up fully 15 airplanes each.

Sturmbannführer Vitzthum, the battalion CO, along with the rest of his staff, left Krakow by air on the morning of 20 December. It would still take two more days to get the rest of the battalion in flight. The planes had to fly at particularly high altitudes to avoid contact with any enemy fighters. Far below stretched what seemed to be an endless panorama of frozen white earth.

1st Co./SS-IR 4 was the first to disembark at the Malojaroslavice airfield near the Juchnov-Moscow road, but it was not until the evening of 22 December that it could be reassembled with the other battalion companies along with 12./III. Btl. (machine guns). The 4th Co. was the last battalion unit to arrive at Malojaroslavice during the late afternoon of 22 December. It was just in time to come under mortar fire from nearby Soviet advance spearheads. Parts of 2nd and 4th Companies were sent off slogging through the snow to engage the enemy.

Machine guns were immediately put into position in the woods next to the airfield and an enemy attack group was driven off. It was quite a warm welcome for the newly arrived SS troops! The entire battalion was now readied for action. It was apparent that the Reds had broken through along both sides of the main Juchnov road. Stubaf. Vitzthum split his command into three segments, each of which was to join with Army units to help stem the enemy advance.

After dropping the troops off, the Ju 52s immediately refueled and left the threatened airfield. The soldiers were able to get a quick meal from a field kitchen and then they were rushed off to their new assignments. 1st Company drew the first mission; it was to be sent to reinforce part of the 260th Inf. Div. in the front lines. Hstuf. Rautenfeld and his platoon leaders supervised the loading of the SS men and equipment into a truck convoy which quickly left for the front.

SS IR 4 troops before the counterattack on Kolodkino, north of Juchnov.

Because of the enemy ground fire nearby, the Malojaroslavice airfield had to cease operating during the evening of 22 December. The rest of SS-IR 4 now had to be sent to other destinations. III. Battalion and the regimental staff were rerouted to Kaluga, and the various units arrived there between 22 and 24 December. The regimental CO, Ostubaf. Hinrich Schuldt and his adjutant, Hstuf. Molderings, established a command post in a small building on the edge of the city and they immediately began laying out situation maps to try and figure out where the various companies of I. Btl. had been sent. The first incoming news received at the HQ was a report that Hstuf. Heinz Herdt, the commander of 3rd Co., had already been killed in action.

II./SS-IR 4, which had been scheduled to leave Krakow on 24 December, received a two-day delay due to foul weather conditions, and did not get underway until 26 December. 5th, 6th and 7th Companies along with the battalion staff and parts of 13th, 14th and 16th Cos. landed at the Juchnov airfield, south of Orscha, on 27 and 28 December. During those two days the military situation around Juchnov deteriorated rapidly. Soviet assault troops had broken through to the south of Kaluga and to the north of Suchnitschi. In the process they managed to reach the Juchnov-Roslavl road and penetrated deeply into the interior sectors of 4th Army.

II./SS-IR 4, under the command of Hstuf. Walter Harzer, was given the difficult mission of securing and defending the area around Naro-Fominsk to the south of Juchnov, while at the same time preserving the vital supply road running to 19th Pz. Div., which was fighting for its existence against strong communist forces. The 13th, 14th and 16th Cos., which were part of the heavy weapons elements of the regiment, were ordered to proceed to the front with II. Battalion. Surprisingly, the light antitank and infantry guns assigned to these companies were also airlifted in instead of being shipped up in a transport column as previously planned. This additional firepower made II. Btl. a very welcome reinforcement to 19th Pz. Division.

During the time period from 19 December to 28 December 1941, the Special Air Transport Sqn. 600 under Maj. Zeidler did a masterful job of flying the 2,200 soldiers of SS-IR 4 with their weapons, supplies and equipment to hard-pressed Army Group Center. But noe the real epic struggle of the regiment was about to begin!

I. Battalion/SS-lR 4 at Serpuchov-Djetschino

By the early morning hours of 23 December 1941, all of the troops of I./SS-IR 4 were enroute to destinations in the area held by XIII. Corps. At 0300, with the thunder of heavy artillery fire resounding in their ears, the half-frozen men of 1st disembarked from their trucks at a small village near the frontlines. Clothing bags were tossed out and stored together in designated houses. At 0400 the troops formed up for a foot march to the front.

The platoons had to make their way down a lonely forest road in hip-deep snow. After some ground had been covered an enemy patrol caught sight of the Waffen-SS troops and promptly opened fire. The men of 1st Co. quickly threw up improvised snow wall fortifications and spent the entire day there pinned down by the enemy forces. During the night of 23 December, having suffered numerous cases of frostbite and with only frozen rations for sustenance, 1st Co. slipped back to the village where they had originally arrived. Here it was made a rear-guard company of a battalion of the 260th Inf. Division.

At about noon on 24 December, 1st Company’s “village” was surrounded by the Soviets. At 1300 the enemy began to attack and the SS troops fought back with small arms and hand grenades. The resistance was too much for the Reds and they pulled back for parts unknown. But 1st Co. was still in a bind; the wounded could not be evacuated and the soldiers in the vicinity from 260th Div. proved to be apathetic and fully demoralized.

Christmas night was a subdued one; a pine bough on the wall of the company command post served in place of a Christmas tree. Radio contact was luckily made with battalion HQ (260th Div.), and permission was granted for the trapped garrison to attempt a breakout at 2200 hours. Fortunately, scouts had already ascertained that there was a big hole in the enemy ring to the west, so a withdrawal in that direction began on schedule in a falling snow. The empty village was set ablaze as the SS men left prompting one soldier to snarl: “Now that damned place is pretty good and warm!”

In small groups, the SS men slipped through a close-by Russian-held village without firing a shot. They were given an assist by “General Vodka” as all of the Red Army troops were in a drunken stupor! By Christmas morning, 1st Co. had safely reached its reception point with 260th Inf. Division. Hstuf. von Rautenfeld reported in to the battalion commander saying; “Luck was with us. We’re very glad the Russians had enough schnapps!”

After the soldiers of 2nd and 4th Cos./SS-IR 4 finished driving off the Soviets around the Malojaroslavice airfield, they were quickly loaded into a waiting truck convoy for a trip to the “real” front. The combined company battle group came under the command of Hstuf. Ullman. Following a freezing night journey, the men of Kampfgruppe “Ullman” took up readiness positions around Vysokinitischi with orders to prepare for an attack along the road to Serpuchov.

Assisted by two assault guns, the two companies rapidly cleaned out an enemy infested woods and advanced down the road to a designated defensive line, where they halted to await further developments.

On 21 December 1941, 3./I./SS-IR 4 and 12./III./SS-IR 4 (machine guns) had landed at the Malojaroslavice airfield. The two companies were lumped together and during that night were sent to the vicinity of Vysokinitschi, traveling through Obnins- koje and Belusova on the way. This sector was held by parts of the 260th and 52nd Inf. Divs., but the front-line situation was now unclear. Siberian ski battalions had broken through the German security lines at many points.

SS IR 4 machine gun position on the Oka River near Kaluga.

SS-Hstuf. Maitre, CO of 8./SS IR 4 and later l./SS IR 4.

On 22 December, the commander of 3rd Co., Hstuf. Herdt, who was also in charge of the 3rd/12th Company battlegroup, joined his command with that of a task force from the 260th Inf. Div. in a small village near an arterial road. The Soviets began pressing in on them from three sides. In the early morning hours, 12th Co., under Ostuf. Graun, began to set up firing positions for its machine gun teams in the beleagured town. But Hstuf. Herdt was not about to yield the initiative to the Soviets; in the pre-dawn darkness he led 3rd Co. on a night march behind the enemy lines. At daybreak, the company was able to attack the Red forces from the flanks and rear and achieved a total surprise. The Russians began a hurried retreat to a small hill, but they were caught in a cross-fire by the weapons of 3rd Company. Unable to make much progress through the deep snow, the Soviets were simply slaughtered and in a short time the entire enemy battalion had been destroyed.

Flushed with success, Hstuf. Herdt now made a tragic mistake. He regrouped his company and led it over the open battlefield, which was covered with dead Russians, but otherwise barren. While moving back towards the village, 3rd Co. left itself totally exposed. As a result, it was caught between the pincers of some Red Army units coming to relieve the now nonexistent Soviet battalion. Just as their adversaries had done before, the SS men began floundering through the deep snow in their haste to escape from this new trap. A devastating enemy fire ripped apart the company, and during the attempt to reach safety fully 90 SS men fell killed or wounded. Among the dead was the CO, Hstuf. Herdt.

Pained by the stunning losses absorbed by 3rd Co., I. Battalion’s commander, Stubaf. Vitzthum, requested that its survivors be removed from the front sector. Little did he know that they would only be taken out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire! The 3rd Company’s remnants were sent farther south to join the hard-pressed 52nd Inf. Div. which was valiantly resisting the onslaught of the 49th Soviet Army. In the week of 16- 22 December, the division had lost 11 battalion commanders killed or wounded—giving some idea of what the fighting was like in its sector! On 22 December alone, I./181st Inf. Rgt./52nd Inf. Div. which was defending Strongpoint Dvoriki, lost 30 men killed and 159 wounded, and its CO was also wounded.

On 23 December, 3/SS-IR 4, now led by Ostuf. Friedrichs, along with Ostuf. Graun’s 12./SS-IR 4, were sent to help the Dvoriki defenders. The strength of 3rd Co. now stood at two officers/11 NCOs/55 men, while 12th Co. had 4/20/128. Both companies hauled along their equipment on hand-pulled sleds. Clothing bags and personal effects had been lost in a fire in the first deployment area. On 24 December the commander of Strongpoint Dvoriki, Hauptmann Werner, gave up his position and fell back with his command (which now included the two SS companies) on Roschtscha, to protect the withdrawal of 52nd Division’s heavy weapons. This proved to be a prudent defensive move. Late in the evening a radio message reached the battle- group from Lt.Gen. Rendulic: “For your heroic actions at Roschtscha, my full appreciation. Christmas greetings! Signed: Rendulic.”

On 27 December, the reinforced Kampfgruppe “Werner” with its two SS companies attacked enemy positions that were threatening the villages of Panovo and Sugurovo. This enabled the bulk of the 52nd Div. to safely retreat from the woods and fall back on Njedelnoye. While the attack proved successful, it immediately provoked enemy counterattacks which continued around the two villages until 29 December. In the evening of that day, Kampfgruppe “Werner” began pulling out towards unoccupied territory in the west. Unfortunately, the movement of the troops attracted a strong enemy attack column, and panic suddenly set in among the Kampfgruppe soldiers.

Hauptmann Werner and Ostuf. Graun desperately strove to keep the retreat orderly, and by and large they were successful. No disaster occurred and later during the night of 29/30 December, the Kampfgruppe marched out of danger and reached the village of Gontscharovka where Stubaf. Vitzthum and part of his I. Btl. had built-up a reception point. Soon afterwards, Soviet forces launched a vigorous attack against the town, but were driven off. The SS and Wehrmacht soldiers conducted a rapid counterattack that scattered the enemy troops and succeeded in reopening the Malojaroslavice-Kaluga road to heavy weapons and supply transport.

On 31 December, KGr. “Werner” traveled south via Djetshino to Mysgi, where it entered the main defensive lines for what would be a protracted stay. However, the Waffen-SS contingents were soon given other assignments. The 3rd Co. left the Kampfgruppe on 4 January 1942 and was followed a short while later by 12th Company. The 3./SS-IR 4 had gone into battle on 22 December with a strength of 150 men; after ten days of violent fighting it only had 15 men from its original complement left! The company was reformed using regular Army replacements from 52nd Inf. Div. and by mid-January it again held 3 officers/19 NCOs/67 men. The 12th Co. had likewise suffered from some attrition; it had gone into battle with 152 troops and had been reduced to 93 soldiers. However, it was able to absorb the survivors from the badly depleted 4th Co./ 181st Inf. Rgt. (Army), which brought 12th Company’s strength back up to 4 officers/23 NCOs/114 men.

The Defense of Kaluga

In December 1941 the key city of Kaluga was defended by Col. Gen. Heinrici’s XXXXIII. Corps consisting of the 31st, 131st and 137th Inf. Divisions. In the course of the month the Corps was reinforced by III./SS-IR 4, the 32nd Motorized Polizei Btl. and the Polizei Rgt. “Center.” The component parts of III./SS- IR 4 landed at the West Kaluga airfield from 22 to 24 December. Hstuf. Vogdt, the battalion CO, arrived with his staff at 1445 hours on 22 December. The following day the regimental staff with the SS-IR 4 commander, Ostubaf. “Kap’tan” Schuldt, landed. The first III. Btl. unit to be deployed was 8th Co., which was sent off on Christmas Day to take over 12th Company’s old positions.

Back in Kaluga, the regimental HQ was soon functioning near the airfield and Ostubaf. Schuldt had his first conference with the Corps’ commander, Col.Gen. Heinrici at 1100 hours on 23 December. Schuldt was ordered to deploy part of his regiment in the defense of the threatened towns that lay to the south of Kaluga, running along the Vorotynsk-Sztolpovo-Pletenjevka railroad lines. On 23 December 1941, the war diary of XXXXIII. Corps carried the following extract:

“SS-IR 4 requested artillery to oppose the enemy artillery in the Oka [River] Bend, but none was available. The motorized Polizei Btl. 32 joined in the request. Colonel Gen. Heinrici told their commanders: ‘You can only hope for a gift from the heavens.’ [Editor’s Note: i.e., snow.] At 1200 hours SS-IR 4 reported that their assigned attack south of Annenka was being carried out. The course of the attack ran as follows: 1300 hours, the regiment has broken through to Annenka and freed the supply lines to 31st Division. The attack force from SS-IR 4 was resupplied from the air. In the night hours the enemy attacked towards the west. III./SS-IR 4 stopped all of the enemy efforts in the Oka Bend, even though they were supported by all calibers of artillery.”

Early in the morning of 23 December, part of III. Btl. left the general security lines east of the Kaluga airfield to go north to help free the Kaluga-Medyn supply road. After achieving its objectives, this deployment group (apparently the same one discussed in the Corps’ war diary), returned back on the night of 24 December.

The regimental anti-tank platoon from 14th Co., led by Ustuf. Buettner, landed at Kaluga on 23 December along with its disassembled 3.7 cm PAK guns; these had to be carefully unloaded and put together. A staff officer from XXXXIII Corps met the platoon at the airfields and gave it its orders. It was being sent to Sztolpovo, about 20 km to the south. The journey to this village took about an hour to complete in a motorized convoy and the SS men found that they were the first German troops to occupy the town. A tributary of the Oka River, bordered by towering pine trees, ran next to Sztolpovo. There was a broken bridge across the river at a point about 8 km to the south.

The AT Platoon from 14th Co. was soon joined by 11th Co. under Ostuf. Rehburger, and together they formed a small battlegroup. As the day progressed, the Kampfgruppe came under increasing enemy pressure. The front to the south was wide open and Soviet formations were flowing to the west towards the Juchnov-Roslavl road.

During the night, Rehburger’s command occupied Hill 201, which was considered the key point in the Oka Bend sector, but for a time this seemed like a useless gesture. The enemy was quite content to go around the SS positions at Sztolpovo rather than do battle. In addition, Soviet artillery batteries to the south of Hill 201 began to raise havoc on 25 December when they found the range of the West Kaluga airfield. XXXXIII. Corps war diary for this day describes what happened:

”1100 hours: Since the early morning hours, the Kaluga airfield has been under enemy artillery fire. The transport planes carrying 8./SS-IR 4 were forced to land under fire. There were no losses.”

Christmas Day also saw the Soviets crossing the Oka River to the north of Kaluga and beginning to drive on the western part of the city. Enemy spearheads soon reached the Kaluga-Medyn road at Annenskaja. On 26 and 27 December, the Polizei Btl. 32 and 31st Inf. Division’s regimental reserves vigorously counterattacked this incursion and drove the Soviets back over the Oka.

Hill 201 and the Kaluga airfield were the scene of heavy enemy attacks on 25 December. The airfield perimeter was stubbornly defended by 98./SS-IR 4, which except for 8th Co., was the last regimental unit to land there. The 8th Co. (machine guns), after arriving in Kaluga, was ordered to proceed to Hill 201 and provide fire support for Kampfgruppe “Rehburger.” Hstuf. Maitre, 8th Coompany’s CO, was given instructions that said: “Hill 201 is to be held to the last man!” Fifty sleds, some with horse teams, were put at the company’s disposal. Russian farmers had already volunteered to drive them, and in many cases had put their own equipment at the disposal of the German Army! The sleds were divided up between 8th Company’s four platoons, and after being loaded with weapons and equipment, the march to Hill 201 got underway at 1400 hours in sub-zero temperatures.

Upon reaching the hill, Hstuf. Maitre reported in to Hstuf. Vogdt, III. Battalion’s commander who had taken personal charge of the area’s defense. The 8th Co. was quickly put into position. One MG platoon was placed behind 10th Co. on the left (south) side of the hill while a mortar squad was placed behind 11th Co. on the right (north) side of the hill. Other MG and mortar groups were put into reserve positions in the village of Shelybina on the east side of the hill. Still other platoons were inserted into the frontline along the Oka to the southeast and northeast of the village. The Company’s 2 cm Flak guns were deployed in the southeastern sector.

The military situation in general had become so dangerous that XXXXIII. Corps staff in Kaluga was preparing to implement a large-scale withdrawal. These plans did not sit too well with Adolf Hitler, however, and at 2030 on 25 December his personal directive arrived at Corps’ HQ: “Kaluga is to be held at all costs!” Any and all orders to the contrary were to be considered invalid. There would be no evacuation of the city; word of this arrived just as the supply troops were feverishly preparing to pull out!

With the Russians closing in from three sides and Hitler’s orders in hand, preparations for a last-ditch defense of Kaluga were rushed into action. The front lines around Kaluga were firmed up as much as possible and by the morning of 26 December contained the following elements, running from south to north: II1./SS-IR 4, 31st Inf. Div., 32nd Polizei Btl., Polizei Rgt. “Center,” 131st Inf. Div., 137th Inf. Division. After sustaining heavy losses in the course of earlier withdrawal actions, most of the companies from the infantry divisions numbered only about 35 men each.

SS-Ustuf. Metzger, CO of 10./SS IR 4 with his NCOs. He was killed on 8 July 1943 at Bjelgorod.

Regimental medical officer, Hstuf. Dr. Treutler, third from left and Ostuf. Dr. Lipok, III./SS IR 4 medical officer, second from left.

On 26 and 27 December, the defenders of Kaluga turned back all enemy attacks. The Soviets then regrouped to await the arrival of new forces. Hill 201, held by the Waffen-SS men, became a focal point of Soviet attention. At the time the Red Army Lt.Gen. Boldin declared: “The hill must first be taken, then Kaluga will also be ours.”

December 28 saw the Soviets turn the full force of their artillery fire upon Hill 201 (or Mount Olivet as it was referred to by the defenders). At 1000 hours the first wave of Red Army infantry started up the foot of the hill. It was driven back only to be immediately replaced by a new wave. Again, and again enemy mass assaults were attempted and driven off. But each time the attackers got a little bit closer to their goal. Grisly stacks of Russian corpses were soon piled up in front of the snow walls that marked the German positions. The hill defenders called for some support from 8th Company’s mortars, but only a few of these worked as the firing pins on most had frozen.

In the late afternoon a strong enemy assault troop broke through the lines of Ostuf. Metzger’s 10th Company. A reserve platoon under Ustuf. Bode quickly launched a counterattack and in rapid, violent fighting, the Soviet penetration force was wiped out to a man. In the course of the melee, Ustuf. Bode caught a mortar fragment in his lower left thigh and was removed from the action.

The Soviets next brought up some tanks. The 3.7 cm PAK guns from 14th Co./SS-IR 4 were quickly switched from the south to the north side of the hill to try and counter them. But they proved ineffective against the new Russian tank models, which proved impervious to even direct hits!

The fighting on 28 December ended with the onset of darkness, but before things had quieted down, two machine gun posts from 1st Platoon/8th Co. had been overrun by the Red tanks. But the men of 14th Co. also managed to knock out two of the tanks and capture their crews. Under the cover of darkness the wounded had to be evacuated to the field dressing station of III./SS-IR 4 which had been set up in a group of houses at Orjeshkova near the Kaluga airfield. The battalion medical officer, Ostuf. Dr. Lipok, worked throughout the night without pause to save the lives of his wounded comrades.

The next enemy attack came at 0100 on 29 December, when a communist force overran a machine gun post in the northwest part of Shelybina. In the course of the next hour the Soviets broke into the west portion of the town and simultaneously began moving up from the east side. Hstuf. Maitre was in Shelybina with his supply section when word of the breakthrough reached him. By chance, Ostuf. Haase, the wounded CO of 9th Co., was also there and the two SS officers moved to take charge of the situation. They assembled all of the battle-worthy troops that they could find and began a counterattack with Ostuf. Haase leading his group down the right side of the main street and Hstuf. Maitre and his men advancing down the left side of the street.

For the next three hours the two small groups of SS men held off the threatening Soviets. At daybreak the reserve machine gunners and mortar groups were able to join in and this spelled the end for the enemy. The Reds were forced back down the snow-covered hill and they became pinned down in a snow bank by the mortar crews. German medics tried to use this opportunity to assist some of the wounded Russians on the battlefield, but they had to give up the effort when some of the wounded they sought to help began shooting at them! The machine gun group that had earlier been overrun, now emerged unscathed from a field cellar where they had taken cover.

In the morning hours, more than 100 Soviet soldiers were flushed out of the buildings and cellars in Shelybina and taken prisoner. Another 95 enemy dead were counted on the ground. The total German losses stood at two dead and six wounded. Unfortunately, the village was on fire at both ends as a result of the stiff night fighting. In the fortified snow wall positions all around the town on Hill 201, the companies of III./SS-IR 4 anxiously awaited a new Soviet assault. It would not be long in coming, in fact the enemy artillery had begun its softening up barrage not long after daybreak.

December 29 would be the decisive day—one way or another—for the defense of Hill 201. Once again, the enemy tanks were back, leading the attack wave; they virtually rolled over the almost powerless 3.7 cm PAK guns from the southeast and broke into the positions of Ostuf. Rehberger’s 11th Company. The German defensive effort was made even more difficult by poorly coordinated artillery support. With the enemy rambling forward at will and the lines seeming on the verge of collapse, the battalion commander called for an emergency Stuka dive bomber strike.

With howling sirens, 27 Stukas soon bore down on the Soviet troop concentrations. Under persistent strafing and bombing, the communist attack broke down and the survivors fled in a panic for their original lines. What was left before the Waffen- SS positions was a jumbled field of death and carnage, marked by scores of twisted corpses. But the defenders had not gotten off easily either; they had about reached the end of their strength. The 8th Machine Gun Co. reported to the battalion command post that it had lost 35 dead and 40 wounded or more than half its strength. It had to be reassembled as a small “rifle” company. The first priority was to get first aid for the wounded. They were then loaded on sleds and hauled over the ice-bound Oka River to Szpasskoje where they had to wait for a motorized med-evac convoy to come get them and take them to the west. “Mt. Olivet” fast became known as the “Hill of Sorrows”!

In the meantime, the situation at Kaluga had deteriorated to the critical point. XXXXIII. Corps now decided to pull out of the city, Hitler’s orders or not. At noon on 29 December, Corps HQ passed on the following orders to Hstuf. Vogdt’s III./SS-IR 4:

“III./SS-IR 4 is to remove itself from Hill 201 by 30 December. It will withdraw in a body during the night hours to the Kosmatschoi-Lossva line. It will then retire into reserve. The enemy must be kept back until the morning hours of 30 December 1941.”

In the course of 29 December, Ostuf. Dr. Lipok found that he had treated some 200 wounded from the battalion and it had proved possible to evacuate only some of these for more intensive treatment. In the savage fighting for Hill 201, 180 SS men from III. Btl. had been killed, and they had to be hurriedly buried on “Mt. Olivet” in unmarked graves.

Late on the 29th, III. Btl. moved off Hill 201 towards the north (the only direction still open), where the Corps’ divisions were also relocating. By the morning of 30 December, the battalion was in temporary positions behind Hill 201, and in the early afternoon the Waffen-SS troops watched the Soviets occupy the ground they had fought so hard over. With the communists now moving towards Kaluga, III. Btl. received another assignment. The earlier, optimistic bit about “retiring into reserve” was now forgotten. The new orders read as follows:

“On 31 December 1941, III./SS-IR 4 will take over positions to the south of Kolyschevo to strengthen 434th Rgt./131st Inf. Div. and to block any enemy encroachment from the south.”

Hstuf. Vogdt’s companies just did reach their new deployment areas before the spearheads of the Soviet attack force got there. The SS men spread out along a 3 km front that ran through Kolyschevo and dug in for the fighting sure to come.

The Defense of Subovo

A look at the “big picture” gives a good indication of the desperate situation the Germans now found themselves in around Kaluga. The Red Army had torn a 45 km gap in the frontlines between Kaluga and Belev and was moving rapidly to the west. The Juchnov-Roslavl highway had been reached and captured and the communist advance forces were driving on Smolensk. The 4th German Army was teetering precariously on the brink of total disaster. The only things still propping up the front were a few strongpoints which had to be held on to at all costs. One of these key “breakwaters” was the town of Subovo to the east of Juchnov. Its defense was entrusted to II./SS-IR 4, and in a very real sense the fate of Army Group “Center” rested to an extent on the shoulders of the battalion’s soldiers!

On 27 and 28 December 1941, II./SS-IR 4 and parts of 13th, 14th, 16th Companies and the Platoon “Matzke” from 11th Co., left Krakau for the South Juchnov airfield near the town of Ogi- balovo. At this point in time, XXXXIII. Corps was engaged in heavy fighting for Kaluga. The Soviets had already cut the Juchnov-Kaluga road and once II. Btl, landed it found it could not make its way through to Kaluga as ordered. This being the case, the unit was sent to Subovo, via Gladkoje and Tschel- kanovo. Subovo was a critical crossroad town where the Kaluga- Juchnov highway intersected with the Medyn-Mosalsk road. II. Btl. was given the job of blocking any further enemy movement down the Kaluga road while at the same time keeping open a withdrawal route for XXXXIII. Corps.

The battalion was deployed in a half-circle around Subovo; the battle-tested 5th, 6th and 7th Cos. were inserted in the front lines and were joined later by Ustuf. Matzke’s platoon from 11th Co. which had been delayed at Krakau by bad weather. The regimental support units, anti-tank and artillery sections were also sent to Subovo. II./SS-IR 4’s commander, Hstuf. Walter Harzer knew what was expected of him; the town had to be held no matter what if the enemy floodtide was to be checked. He had confidence that his troops could do whatever was required of them.

While II. Btl. was going into position, Kaluga was being evacuated and XXXXIII. Corps was trying to establish a new defensive front to the north of the city. In relation to Kaluga, Subovo was about 50 km due west of it while Juchnov was closer to 75 km to the northwest of it. The thin front between Subovo and Juchnov was being held by portions of Gen. von Knobelsdorfs 19th Pz. Div., with the divisional command post at Matschalovo. To the southwest, holding blocking positions on the road to Juchnov, was the 10th Inf. Division. Both of these divisions were part of the newly brought up XXXX. Corps.

II. Btl. had hardly gotten into place before the enemy began to attack with infantry and tanks. A battle of unmitigated viciousness took shape with the Reds attacking Subovo again and again only to be thrown back each time by the SS defenders. Continuous fighting raged through the last days of December, but II. Battalion’s soldiers, led by the company commanders Loose, Zische, and Hoehmann and the platoon leader Matzke, never wavered. Without pausing to rest, they fought back like cornered tigers. In addition the PAK guns of 14th Co. and the field howitzers of 13th Co. provided superlative support for the front line grenadiers; no Russians could get through.

Ostubaf. Schuldt, Regimental CO, outside his HQ, Spring 1942.

With their progress blocked at Subovo, the Reds began to attack towards the west on either side of the town. Their efforts here were more successful and a weird configuration in the German lines began to take shape. II./SS-IR 4 found itself sitting in Subovo at the apex of a 15 km long, narrow finger that now extended into the enemy lines! The northwestern portion of the “finger” was defended by emergency battlegroups composed of supply and support troops from the 19th Pz. Div.; if they ever had to give way, Subovo would become totally isolated.

But fortunately, all positions were holding and some assault guns were brought into the “finger” to assist the defenders of Subovo. With the aid of these, special “storm” troops from II. Battalion’s companies began to launch counterattacks against the Soviet incursions on either side of them. This caught the enemy off balance and substantially improved the defensive situation. But there were set backs, the commander of the 3rd Anti-tank Platoon, Ustuf. Suhrau, was killed in an enemy mortar barrage while directing close support for a counterattack.

Back at the Führer’s Headquarters the story of the struggle for Subovo had caught Hitler’s attention. While leaning over his map table he pointed to the spot marking Subovo and turned to his Waffen-SS adjutant, Hstuf. Max Wuensche, saying: “I want the men leading the defense down there to get the Knight’s Cross!” But the Führer’s wishes never seemed to filter down through the military bureaucracy; it would be two and half years before Walter Harzer won the Knight’s Cross for his role in the battle of Arnhem.

On 9 January 1942, 19th Pz. Div. reported to XXXXIII. Corps that: “The situation in Subovo at this time is unchanged. A strong enemy threat from the southeast on 10 January is anticipated.”

On the basis of this report, much of XXXXIII. Corps began withdrawing northwards (the only direction it could go), leaving a line of infantry regiments (12th, 82nd and 432nd) behind to hold open the road to Subovo. For the next ten straight days, II./SS-IR 4 fought off the enemy on a near continuous basis. At times, Stukas had to be called for to help deal with the communist tanks. But the end was now in sight.

On 19 January 1942, the German divisions between Kaluga and Medyn began a general retreat down the Juchnov-Medyn highway. The Subovo defenders were to be the last to pull out. On this same day, II. Btl. reported the sighting of 3 enemy “Spitfire” planes with British markings and the approach of large-scale enemy reconnaissance troops. The SS unit also received orders to carry out its own withdrawal from Subovo in two stages from 19 to 21 January, a mission that was accomplished without any particular difficulty.

Hstuf. Walter Harzer, CO of II./SS IR 4.

On 21 January II. Btl. was reunited with the regimental headquarters at a spot north of Juchnov. Only Ustuf. Matzke’s platoon from 11th Co. remained in the lines, staying with the 82nd Rgt. of the 31st Inf. Division. It later took part in very bitter fighting at Kosstina with the 17th Inf. Rgt. and the platoon took heavy casualties. The survivors did not rejoin SS-IR 4 until 28 January.

In the meantime, some high level command changings had been taking place. Colonel Gen. Kuebler was replaced by Col. Gen. Heinrici as commander of 4th Army on 21 January and the CO of 31st Inf. Div., Maj.Gen. Berthold took over XXXXIII. Corps. He was in turn replaced at the helm of 31st Div. by Oberst Hossbach.

The Struggle for Juchnov

At the beginning of January 1942, 4th Army held a general defensive line that ran from Malojaroslawice through Djetschino and Mysgi to Kolyshevo before turning west to Sobova and from there to a point about 10 miles south of Juchnov. In the Malojaroslawice sector were parts of the 98th, 34th, 260th, 52nd, 131st, 31st and 137th Inf. Divs. plus I. Btl./SS-IR 4.

In the night of 1 January 1942, a strong Soviet spearhead reached Malojaroslawice itself and a fierce battle for the town began. On the following night Malojaroslawice had to be evacuated and the Germans fell back towards Burakova, reaching it on 4 January. Under intense enemy pressure the retreat continued and a new makeshift defensive line was soon strung out from Mallossovo to Iljinskoje.

With elements of the 33rd Soviet Army flooding through the Borowsk area to the west, with the aim of assaulting Juchnov from the south, the defenders of Kaluga were hard put to keep pace. I./SS-IR 4 was attached to the 260th Inf. Div. which was engaged in a fighting withdrawal through Balanina, Frolova and Mussina. From 31 December 1941 until 2 January 1942, III. /SS-IR 4 fought in support of the 31st and 131st Inf. Divs. at the corner of the front lines near Kolyschevo. Particularly bloody fighting was waged here in sub-zero temperatures. On 11 January, III. Btl. began to retreat towards the Ugra sector west of Tavarkovo; its retrograde movements were covered by segments of the 32nd Polizei Battalion.

From 14 to 18 January, III./SS-IR 4 was attached to the 137th Inf. Div. and again fought in the main defensive lines, taking heavy losses. Late on 17 January, the unit again began marching westwards, this time being driven out of its positions in Malaja/Bolshaja Rudnja by heavy enemy artillery, mortar and rocket fire that had set the town ablaze. For four straight days the battalion was on the move. The Waffen-SS grenadiers had to cross the deep snow fields on foot and averaged less than two hours worth of rest per day. By 22 January, III. Btl. had only 100 of its original 500 man complement left; the rest were dead, wounded, missing, frost-bitten or prisoners.

Through the first part of January, I./SS-IR 4 continued to fight alongside 260th Div. in the middle of the Tavarkovo-Medyn defensive line. When the 260th finally pulled out, I. Btl. covered its retreat. On 10 January, I./SS-IR 4 took up positions around Kolyschevo in a half-circle facing northeast, east and southeast. The battalion remained here until 20 January, serving as the main defensive buttress for the 260th Div. in the Kondrovo sector. On 19 January, part of the SS unit helped the division block an enemy penetration at Kondrovo, but on the 20th, the battalion began a fighting retreat that took it through Panovka, Bogdanovo, Beljeikovo and other points on the Juchnov-Medyn road.

At the same time, III. Btl. also reached the Juchnov road, where it tangled with the enemy again at Krykovo. This little engagement rated a big entry in a Soviet propaganda newspaper published for the benefit of the German Army, titled “The Truth.” In an article entitled “The Offensive of the Soviet Forces,” it was stated that III./SS-IR 4 had been “wiped out” at Krykovo, leaving 200 officers and men dead on the battlefield with the rest fleeing. The veracity of the story couldn’t quite hold water, since the battalion had only 100 soldiers to begin with during this battle!

On 21 January 1942, 4th Army issued new orders to SS-IR 4 that read:

“SS-IR 4 will be attached to the LVII. Corps (motorized). With all the strength that it can muster it is to join with the Group Meindl (paratroopers) on the Juchnov-Oschansk road facing north. It is then to outflank the enemy on the easternmost sector and commence a counterattack that will alleviate the enemy pressure on Juchnov. II./SS-IR 4 is in the Kuuschinov- kaarea to the south of Juchnov. It will be made free as soon as possible to rejoin the regiment.”

From late January to early February, the Soviets attacked towards Juchnov with everything from airborne troops to horse cavalry. On 20 January, the supply troops from II./SS-IR 4 under Ostuf. Dennstaedt struggled to keep open the main road some 15-20 km southwest of Juchnov. With a superhuman effort these men flung back Soviet airborne and cavalry forces and kept the road free for the withdrawal of German combat troops. For his courageous leadership, Ostuf. Dennstaedt would receive the Iron Cross, 1st Class.

After a month of debilitating combat, the scattered units of SS-IR 4, together with parts of various “broken” Army divisions, finally began to regroup at the North Juchnov airfield on 20/21 January 1942. After being attached to LVII. Corps, SS-IR 4 received the following orders from that command on 21 January: “Together with the reinforced elements of the Group Meindl, SS-IR 4 is to be employed in an advanced line along the Juchnov- Gschatsk road to the north to outflank and prevent further enemy movement [in that area).”

SS-IR 4 now became a subordinate element of the Group Meindl, led by Generalmajor Eugen Meindl, the 50 year old hero of the Crete campaign. The staff and I. Btl. of Meindl’s paratroop regiment had been flown into Juchnov on 15 January 1942. The other two battalions from Meindl’s regiment were fighting at different parts of the Eastern Front; one was at Schlusselberg and the other was on the Mius River.

On 22 January 1942, I. and III. Btls./SS-IR 4 were sent to join Kampfgruppe “Meindl” at Fedjukovo, 30 km north of Juchnov. At this time, II. Btl. was still in the process of disengaging from the Subova strongpoint. Kampfgruppe “Meindl” now consisted of the following elements:

I. and III./SS-IR 4
One Fallschirmjäger regimental staff and staff company
One Fallschirmjäger battalion
One Luftwaffe construction battalion
One Flak detachment
One strong, detached infantry battalion

On the evening of 22 January, I. and III./SS-IR 4 reached Fedjukova and the regimental CO, Ostubaf. Schuldt reported in at Kampfgruppe HQ to see what the situation was. III. Btl. Was immediately sent out on a mission to drive back a Soviet spearhead. Hstuf. Vogdt led the battalion in a night attack along both sides of the Fedjukovo-Kolodkino road. In a violent clash, the communist forces that were trying to seize Kolodkino were dispersed by the Waffen-SS troops.

At the same time, I. Btl. under Stubaf. Vitzthum was sent to Telejujto. to occupy that town before the Russians got there. Ostubaf. Schuldt then ordered Ostuf. Metzger and his company to launch an attack on the regimental north flank towards Nono- Derevnja. This town was taken in a dashing and daring night assault that surprised the Soviet defenders, who fled wildly to the east. While this was going on, Hstuf. Harzer’s valiant II. Btl. finally reached Fedjukovo and reported in to the regimental HQ.

On 23 January 1942, III. Btl. moved into jumping-off positions in the woods IV2 miles east of Kolodkino for an attack on Kolodesi, which was to be supported by the “88” Flak gun battery from KGr. “Meindl.” High snow drifts and temperatures hovering at -25 F precluded any quick gain of ground. Stukas had been called upon first to soften up the enemy defenses. Once they had done their job, Hstuf. Vogdt’s men went over on the attack. Slowly but surely the SS attack built up a head of steam and despite the horrible conditions, good progress was soon made. Moving forward at a quick pace, only stopping every now and then to fire their weapons, the grenadiers stormed into Kolodesi, crossed a stream, and kept on going to the village of Agaryschi. The Soviet defenders began running away to the east towards Belizy and the battle came to its conclusion.

III. Btl. regrouped in the east part of Agaryschi and counted its spoils. One hundred Russians had surrendered and another 205 were counted dead on the battlefield. Twelve artillery pieces, 20 machine guns, five anti-tank guns and large quantities of carbines were captured. III. Battalion’s losses totaled 2 dead and 26 wounded.

Kampfgruppe “Meindl” now ordered III. Btl. to attack Belizy from the west on 24 January while 98th Inf. Div. moved on it from the east. But the planned assault never materialized; the enemy defensive fire directed towards III./SS-IR 4 was too great to permit the battalion to advance on Belizy, so the unit remained in place holding Kolodesi-Agaryschi, which were actually twin villages divided by a stream. On 25 January the battalion was reinforced by Hstuf. Hoehmann’s 7th Co. from II. /SS-IR 4.

Telejuju and Novo-Derevnja were now held by I./SS-IR 4 with 10th Co. under Ostuf. Metzger defending the key point in the lines at Novo-Derevnja. II. Btl. was made responsible for defending the towns of Fedjukovo and Kolodkino and at this point in time the entire SS-IR 4 was fully committed to battle for the first time under one command.

But the enemy was now preparing to strike back. With all of the main units of KGr. “Meindl” in the front lines, the major supply route to Prisselje was left unprotected. A Soviet ski troop task force promptly broke through the thinly guarded front at Ssemenowskoje and was able to sever the Kolodkino-Kolodesi road in the sector of III./SS-IR 4 and then advance to take the town of Prisselje. This created a huge logistics mess for the Kampfgruppe, which would have to be dealt with in the near future. But for the moment, the battlegroup’s units were engaged again in a struggle for survival.

On 26 January 1942, 12th, 13th and 14th Cos./SS-IR 4, reached Fedjukovo and were quickly deployed in different supporting positions. 13th and 14th Companies along with some other regimental troops and an engineer platoon from 16th Co. had finally left Krakow for Juchnov in a motorized convoy in mid-January. The heavy artillery and anti-tank guns attached to these companies had to be transferred to horse-drawn sleds in order to reach their designated positions. The severe cold took a heavy toll on the trucks, whose motors often froze solid overnight. In the morning, fires often had to be started under the engine, which was a procedure that sometimes didn’t work.

Hstuf. Harzer presents the 180 survivors (out of 2,500) to Ostubaf. Schuldt, April 1942.

The Soviet command next directed its attention to the exposed positions of III. Btl. and on 28 and 29 January this unit was hit by strong attacks from both the east and south. The “88” gun battery stationed 12 km away at Fedjukovo was called upon to assist the battalion, although firing ranges had to be transmitted via radio. The most violent fighting raged from Chmylovka to Agaryschi where one enemy company after another was shot to pieces. At nightfall on 29 January the frustrated Soviets pounded the area with artillery fire, setting the SS held villages on fire. The German soldiers were forced to hug the ground in their snow-covered bunkers and foxholes while the temperature plummeted to more than — 30 F below zero!

On 29 January 1942, Gen. Meindl made the following report on the condition of SS-IR 4 to XII. Corps HQ:

“1. The combat strength of SS-IR 4 is only about 700 men. For the last three days, shortages in munitions and supplies have developed.

“2. [Regimental] attacks must have the support of heavy weapons, otherwise there will be an unnecessary loss of blood with no possibility of success.”

At 1930 hours a radio message from SS-IR 4 HQ reached Meindl:

“742 men are holding 10 villages. We do not have enough ammunition for our heavy weapons to preclude the possibility of a breakthrough by a mass attack.”

The early morning hours of 30 January were unnaturally tranquil in III. Battalion’s sector; but this only caused Hstuf. Vogdt’s men to prepare for the worst. Fortunately supplies were dropped to the regimental elements by air, thus helping to alleviate some of the severe shortages. But the Soviet pressure would continue to threaten the lifeline of the regiment until the town of Prisselje was retaken, so a 100 man battlegroup to be led by Ustyf. Matzke was formed to do just that.

Scouting parties observed that there was substantial enemy east-west troop movement through Prisselje, so Kampfgruppe “Matzke” had to be careful not to prematurely stumble into any Red Army troops before reaching the attack zone. At one point an enemy ski platoon passed right by the flank of KGr. “Matzke,” but failed to recognize the German soldiers for what they were!

Somewhat after 1100 hours on 30 January, Ustuf. Matzke’s troops attacked Prisselje. In bitter house-to-house fighting the enemy was pushed out and a Soviet supply column consisting of pony wagons and sleds filled with weapons and equipment was destroyed. Parts of II. Btl. and 16th Co. (engineers) rushed ahead to seize the nearby village of Novo-Uspenskaja. At 1300 hours, Gen.Maj. Meindl was able to send the following message to Corps’ HQ:

“Prisselje is in our hands; munitions for SS-IR 4 can go through!”

In the evening of 30 January it proved possible for the first time in days to transport the badly wounded SS men in Fedjukovo to the field hospital at Juchnov. But from Juchnov the railroad line to Roslavl was cut at many points by the enemy, so the most severe casualties had to be flown out in Ju 52 transport planes (70 separate flights in two days), although two large groups of the less badly wounded were sent out to the west in columns of horse pulled sleds.

SS IR 4’s surviving 20 officers (out of 300), April 1942.

Desperate Battles

On the morning of 31 January 1942, the Soviets began a massive tank-supported assault on Kolodesi-Agaryschi. One enemy contingent swiftly broke through the lines and overran the SS-IR 4 supply route about 2 km east of Kolodkino. The principal objective of the attack was the destruction of III./SS-IR 4, and within a short time this became a very likely possibility. At 1145, SS-IR 4 HQ radioed the command post of 268 Inf. Div. reporting enemy tanks advancing on Agaryschi and requesting artillery fire on Belizy. The division was unable to help with the request so Stukas were called upon. This assistance also failed to materialize and at 1155, SS-IR 4 again radioed 268th Div.: “Enemy troops with tanks entering Agaryschi.” At 1200, artillery gunners from the 98th Inf. Div. were instructed to fire upon Belizy and Loschevo, while some of the division’s infantry prepared to launch a relief attack. But it was almost too late for III. Btl.; the Reds had reached the unit’s “snow wall” defenses with a batch of new T-34 tanks.

Within minutes, III./SS-IR 4 was fighting for its life. In the eastern part of Agaryschi, 7th, 9th and 11th Companies were overrun and the survivors scattered for new cover. Ostuf. Reh- burger, commanding 11th Co. and Hstuf. Kohn, the leader of the 14th Anti-tank Co. were both killed. The Russian tanks kept moving forward and four of them advanced on three 3.7 cm antitank guns from 14th Company. The SS gunners bravely stayed in place and scored one direct hit after another on the T-34’s but with no effect! The tanks kept coming and simply plowed into the anti-tank guns, crushing them into mangled metal.

The 8th Company’s machine gun and mortar crews suffered a similar fate; the tanks simply rolled over their positions and the crewmen fled for their lives. Ustuf. Unterrainer, the battalion ordnance officer, regrouped a platoon of survivors and led them in a courageous counterattack; he was immediately killed and his men dispersed. Agaryschi had to be abandoned. The remnants of 8th, 9th, 11th and 14th Companies fell back on Kolodesi. The battalion adjutant, Ustuf. Balz, was killed in the retreat and many wounded and dead were left behind. All of the members of 8th Company’s mortar group, save one, were killed. Only Rottenführer Fregin remained alive and he was forced to lay still in the snow all day feigning death. At night he slipped through the Russian sentry posts and rejoined his unit.

At Kolodesi, which was defended by Hstuf. Hoehmann’s 7th Co., the battalion’s survivors reassembled. A steep banked, snow-filled stream bed that separated Kolodesi from Agaryschi effectively stopped the Russian tanks. An old, rotten wooden bridge was the only easy way across the gorge and this could not support the weight of the tanks. But the Red Army infantrymen were not deterred; they streamed across the stream bed and continued the attack.

The 3rd Platoon/7th Co., under Oscha. Seeger, counterattacked through the ruins of the village and flung the communist foot soldiers back across the stream. But they reassembled, and supported by the direct fire of their tanks, resumed their assault. Hstuf. Hoehmann led the defensive effort at the head of his company and as a result, was killed in action. In the west part of Kolodesi, the light artillery section from 13th Co. ran out of ammunition. The crews then spiked their guns and joined the infantry.

By 1600 hours, all of the heavy weapons belonging to III. Btl. had been silenced and the SS riflemen were down to only 5-10 cartridges apiece. They were also totally exhausted, but fortunately, so were the Reds. But a close eye had to be kept on the Soviet tanks in the west part of Agaryschi; they kept opening fire on any careless German troops. At this critical juncture, Hstuf. Vogdt, the battalion CO, radioed regimental HQ in Fedju- kovo for further instructions. He was particularly concerned over the lack of ammunition.

For the regimental commander, Ostubaf. Schuldt, there was only one solution. He sent the following directives back to III. Btl.:

“HI./SS-IR 4 will break out to the west. In the east part of the forest eastwards of Kolodino it will be joined by II. Battalion!”

Hstuf. Vogdt hurriedly prepared III. Btl. for the break out. Leading off the march would be Hstuf. Maitre with parts of 7th and 8th Companies. He was to follow the supply road to the west. Moving through deep snow in a widely spread-out group, Maitre’s column soon drew enemy fire from the nearby forests. Suddenly some white-clad Soviet advance troops came charging towards the SS force, shouting “hurrah, hurrah.” With cool deliberation, Hstuf. Maitre’s men used up the last of their ammunition as they succeeded in driving off their Russian assailants towards the south.

Behind Maitre’s group came pony drawn sleds hauling the battalion’s artillery pieces. It was slow going and the engineers from 16th Co. had to help out at times. Along the break out route, three overturned horse sleds with dead drivers were found. They had been part of a regimental supply convoy that was wiped out on 25 January. However, some artillery rounds were salvaged from the wrecked sleds. The field pieces were then set up in firing positions and fed the new-found ammunition. The Waffen-SS gunners then shelled Agaryschi until the onset of darkness, giving the Russians an unpleasant surprise and providing cover for the withdrawing battalion.

During the night, the last part of III. Btl., personally led by Hstuf. Vogdt, successfully reached II. Battalion’s positions at Kolodino. The battalion had brought out 82 wounded but had also left behind many dead and unaccounted for. On 1 February, III./SS-IR 4 was redeployed in Novo-Derewnya, except for its 10th Co., which had been attached to a battalion from the 268th Inf. Div. further to the north. A 5 cm PAK gun was sent to III. Btl. to replace its lost anti-tank cannons.

At this time, the other battalions of SS-IR 4 were situated as follows: II. Btl. in Kolodino and I. Btl. in Jeshovo. The defensive front was critically short of supplies and was being threatened all over. During a manpower check it was discovered that all of SS-IR 4’s battalions were down to company strength.

By 3 February, little had changed in the lines. I./SS-IR 4 under Stubaf. Vitzthum was still in Jeshovo, facing east. To its southeast was a 5 km gap in the lines to the positions held by III. Battalion. To the north a tenuous link-up was maintained to the 17th Inf. Div. which was located to the north of Krapivka. II./SS-IR 4 in Kolodino with the regimental HQ, was worried about the tanks that had overrun III. Battalion. No unit in the regiment had weapons that were adequate to deal with the new T-34’s, and tensions were growing as enemy assault parties kept up hit-and-run raids through gaps in the regimental positions.

Finally, on the night of 4/5 February, the loud rumbling, rattling sound of tanks on the move could be heard emanating from the woods to the east of Kolodino. Hstuf. Harzer immediately put his entire battalion on alert. At daybreak, the Red tanks and accompanying infantry began to move on Kolodino. This time fate played a kind hand: the lead tank detonated a “T”-mine and exploded and the following tanks got bogged down in deep snow. Without even firing a shot, the SS defenders watched in amazement as the enemy attack force floundered in confusion.

Then somebody gave the orders to open fire. The German field howitzers began shelling the tanks, and they stopped struggling to move forward long enough to return the fire. But once again the shells merely bounced off of the thick armor of the T-34’s. There was only one sure way to get them: by hand! Death- defying SS troopers, loaded down with Teller mines, sprang from their positions and ran towards the tanks. It was a risky business; some men were shot down but others got their pay- loads through to the tanks. But even these explosive charges were not effective enough to cripple the Soviet armored monsters. Still the explosives shook up the tank crews and got the message across that they would be better off by withdrawing from the immediate vicinity.

Whoever was running the Red Army attack was less than impressed by the cautious approach taken by the tank crews and within a few minutes they were on their way back towards the German lines. SS-IR 4’s feeble 3.7 cm anti-tank guns began blazing away but were quickly overwhelmed by the tanks; their crews headed for safer ground. The T-34’s opened up on the wooden buildings in Kolodkino and had most of them ablaze in short order. Then the Red infantry tried to move forward. From out of their foxholes in the frozen, snow-covered ground the SS men fought back furiously with their small arms, and the Soviet soldiers were soon heading back in full retreat.

But the general situation looked hopeless; the men of II. Btl. were in their last defensive positions, they had no further place to run to. In addition, the battalion had sustained high losses and the infernal tanks were still there, blazing away, seemingly unstoppable. The only thing that kept them back momentarily were the hand grenades the SS men pelted them with. At this juncture, Hstuf. Harzer radioed regimental HQ for further instructions. After hearing about the battalion’s predicament, Ostubaf. Schuldt ordered it to fall back on Fedjukovo.

All available parts of the regiment would now be used to build a blocking line between Fedjukovo and Kolodino. But in the meantime, the fighting in Kolodino continued. II. Battalion’s dressing station was repeatedly shelled by the enemy tanks (despite its visible Red Cross insignia), and almost all of the medics were killed. The battalion doctor, Ostuf. Reiner was Finally, Hstuf. Harzer issued these orders to his company commanders: “[Commence] fighting withdrawal to Fedjukovo.’’

The retreat was not an easy one. Hstuf. Buhmueller and his engineers from part of 16th Co. tried to provide cover fire for the rest of the battalion, but Buhmueller was soon severely wounded and hovered between life and death. The remnants of the escaping unit were shredded by the tank fire and all too many fatalities occurred as a result. In the evening of 5 February, II. Battalion’s 150 survivors reached the newly designated interception line, but there would still be no respite.

Regimental HQ sent a small reserve group and two new field howitzers to II. Btl. to help the unit face the enemy follow-up attack that was sure to follow on the next day. If II. Btl. could not hold now, Fedjukovo would fall to the enemy. During the night, 15 tanks and assault guns providentally turned up in Fedjukovo to support the regiment. Some of them were detached and sent to join Hstuf. Harzer’s battalion. At the same time a recce patrol reported in to the II. Btl. command post after observing the enemy elements in Kolodkino. It seems that after their great victory the Russians had stopped to celebrate and were now mostly all quite drunk.

Hstuf. Harzer digested the information and came up with one thought: counterattack! An assault troop was quickly formed and the tank commanders were given the job of supporting it. A little bit after midnight on 6 February, the bold task force started off on its mission.

In the bright moonlight of a bitterly cold night, the German tanks led the battalion back into Kolodkino. The town was quiet; its Red Army occupants were oblivious to the world, mostly dead drunk. The fatigued soldiers of II. Btl. had to shake themselves awake. Then the frightful memories of the previous day’s fighting subsided and the old battle spirit came back to them. Alongside the tanks they stormed into Kolodkino.

The tank cannons barked, the machine guns clattered and the soldiers yelled. Within minutes six enemy T-34’s went up in flames. The Soviet infantry woke up in horror, and those that could began running madly towards the east. All the while the SS men dashed into the few standing houses and began mopping up. They met little or no resistance. As the dawn broke, the whole town and the old defensive lines were back in German hands. A defeat had been turned into a success in the span of only a few hours! With the arrival of daylight, a particularly horrifying tragedy was revealed: 40 officers and men from 16th Co. (Engineers) who had been cut off and captured were found bound and shot in the head. On top of this the wounded that had been left behind were also found—they had been shot in the nape of the neck. No words were necessary; the bestiality of the communists had once again been revealed. No one had to ask themselves “What are we fighting for?”.

Situation Map of the German 4th Army December 1941 to April 1942.

In the afternoon, Oberst Greiner, CO of the 268th Inf. Div., visited Kolodkino to get an overview of the situation from Hstuf. Harzer. In the days to come, SS-IR 4 would fight alongside 268th Div. in the struggle to free the sectors to the north.

The other units of SS-IR 4 had not been left out of the action. I. Btl. (a designation in name only!) had a net strength of one officer, eight NCOs and 45 men. These 54 soldiers were still divided into two rifle and one machine gun “companies,” that were positioned around Jeshovo under the overall command of Hstuf. Maitre. To the battalion’s east were a string of three small outposts that connected it to III. Btl., while to the west a fragile contact was maintained with the 55th Inf. Regiment. The defenses were so weak that nerves were always at the breaking point. On 15 February, a Russian assault troop attacked Jeshovo; it was driven off but Hstuf. Maitre was wounded, thus leaving the battalion with no officers of its own. It now had to borrow one from the 55th Inf. Regiment.

Maitre radioed in a report of his losses to Ostubaf. Schuldt and a “Hiwi” (Russian volunteer helper) was assigned to evacuate the battalion wounded in a horse drawn sled packed with straw. The destination was the dressing station in Feldjukovo. En route the sled was ambushed by a Russian scouting party that had infiltrated into the adjacent woods. With bullets flying by his face the “Hiwi” driver vigorously applied his whip to the horse and the sled raced madly away, out of reach of the Soviets. It later pulled into Feldjukovo with the horse steaming and foaming, but the cargo intact.

III. Btl./SS-IR 4 was lucky in that it still had five officers left, though two of them were medical doctors. They were, all told: Ostuf. Dr. Lipok, Ustuf. Dr. Hampel, Hstuf. Vogdt (the CO), and the company commanders Ustuf. Matzke and Ustuf. Metzger. The battalion strength was about equal to that of one strong company. On 18 February 1942 the German attack to re-establish links to the north began. After a good “softening up” barrage from the artillery, 17th Inf. Div. led the drive towards Sacha- rovo; on its right flank was II./SS-IR 4 (Harzer) and a company from III./SS-IR 4 (metzger).

II. Btl. had the twin objectives of resecuring Jeshovo (which I. Btl. had been forced to abandon) and then attack towards Mjakota. Supported by Stukas, Hstuf. Harzer’s men attained their goals with the loss of three killed and several wounded. The enemy had been severely weakened by hunger and unbelievably heavy losses, so by the end of the month it proved possible to establish a new, and reasonably formidible, defensive line along the Ugra River. Of course SS-IR 4 had not fared too well either; in two months of non-stop action it had lost 80% of its troops but remained in the front lines!

The Ugra River Line

In early March 1942, the depleted elements of SS-IR 4 found themselves in defensive positions along the course of the Ugra River. On 6 March, in a small schoolhouse that was being utilized as the command post of III. Btl., Hstuf. Vogdt and his adjutant, Ustuf. Mathoi, both received the Iron Cross 1st Class for valor. Then a Soviet artillery shell came through the window and Vogdt was instantly killed. It was certainly the supreme irony of war, as Vogdt had survived countless hand-to-hand clashes over the previous several weeks! The loss of this formidable officer was felt throughout the whole regiment. Ostuf. Mueller now assumed command of what was left of III. Battalion.

To the south of SS-IR 4’s positions the 98th Inf. Div. held down a 12 km front with its entire troop strength of 900 men—all of the German units on this sector of the front had taken devastating losses. What ensued now was a war of attrition as the exhausted Germans and Russians pummeled each other with artillery fire across the Ugra. In the middle of March, SS-IR 4 received its first replacements of the winter: a group of young and eager Swiss volunteers. This was perhaps the only batch of volunteers from this neutral country which would be sent to a Waffen-SS unit in a “national cluster.” Within a month many of these brave “sons of Europe” would also become casualties.

On 14 April 1942, the nightmare of the Eastern Front during the winter of 1941/42 was over for SS-IR 4 when the remnants of the regiment were sent back to Germany for a well-deserved rest. After two weeks of home leave, the regiment’s soldiers reassembled in Krakow to begin the process of rebuilding the unit. Many recovered wounded and new replacements were now added. For the valiant performance of his regiment, SS- Obersturmbannführer “Kapt’n” Schuldt was awarded the Knight’s Cross.

Perhaps the ultimate compliment for the unit came from the Führer himself. On his birthday, 20 April, Hitler bestowed the name “Langemarck” on the SS-IR 4. Langemarck was the town in Flanders where in World War I, endless ranks of student volunteers had hurled themselves again and again against impregnable British machine gun positions, singing the national anthem. Before the day was done even disarmed and wounded soldiers had joined in, in an example of total dedication and sacrifice. In this manner an entire division of 18 to 20-year olds was annihilated at Langemarck, but their example stirred the entire German Army. The comparison with SS-IR 4 was obvious; from December 1941 to April 1942 the regiment’s strength went from 2500 combatants to 180! This was a casualty rate of 93%! The title of “Langemarck” had certainly been earned in blood by the men of the regiment.

Late in May, the reformed unit joined the SS Panzer Grenadier Div. “Das Reich,” which was also reforming after a hard winter’s combat at the Fallingbostel training camp. SS-IR 4 was now reorganized as a motorized “fast” rifle regiment, consisting of two rifle battalions of five companies each and a motorcycle detachment. In the course of the summer of 1942, the infantry companies of I. Btl. were broken up and used as replacements for the rest of the “Das Reich” Division. II. Btl. became the II. Abteilung of the newly authorized SS Pz. Rgt. 2 “Das Reich,” while only the motorcycle detachment remained intact. For several months it was carried on the divisional roster as the SS Kradschuetzen Btl. “Langemarck.” In 1943 this unit was dissolved and the title “Langemarck” was transferred to the 6th SS Sturmbrigade, composed of Flemish volunteers. In much difficult fighting in 1944 and 1945, they continued to maintain the honor of the name “Langemarck.”

In the winter of 1942/1943, “Kapt’n” Schuldt commanded a SS/Police battlegroup with success on the southern part of the Eastern Front. Later in 1943 he took command of the 2nd Latvian SS Volunteer Brigade which would be transformed into the 19th Latvian SS Division. Schuldt led this unit brilliantly; being further decorated with the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross and promoted to the rank of Oberführer. In March 1944 he was killed-in-action leading his command and was honored by the posthumous decoration of the Swords to the Oakleaves of the Knight’s Cross and a promotion to Brigadeführer. A funeral sevice was held for him in Riga, Latvia and it was well attended by both Germans and Latvians alike. Hinrich Schuldt was an irreplaceable Waffen-SS officer.

In its brief but violent existence, SS-IR 4 “Langemarck” fully proved itself as a superior military unit. The dedication and sacrifices of its soldiers speak for themselves. It was a remarkable, but in many ways typical, representative of the elite multi-national army that was the Waffen-SS.

SS Brigade „Schuldt” and the Stalingrad Relief Effort

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 8, Number 2, Whole Number 44, 1987

On 19 November 1942, a massive Red Army armored offensive shattered the Don River Front to the north of Stalingrad, splintering the Italian, Romanian and Hungarian defensive forces into panic-stricken fragments. These German allies had the manpower but lacked the will and the leadership to stand up to the resurgent Red Army. In addition, their own armored forces and their anti-tank capabilities were antiquated and nearly useless. One reforming German panzer division was in reserve behind the crumbling Axis armies, but it alone was unable to stop the Soviet offensive. Even then it has been stated that one more fully equipped German armored regiment might have prevented the encirclement of the 6th Army in Stalingrad that took place on this day. But such was not the case.

With an enormous gaping hole in the southern part of the Eastern Front to fill and the large German forces in the Caucasus region being threatened, something had to be done fast. Improvisation was the order of the day, and any battle-worthy contingent that could be spared for action was given consideration for use. The Waffen-SS was not left out; it was requested to dig into its „reserve“ pool to make a contribution. Unfortunately, its three major divisions (1st, 2nd and 3rd SS Panzergrenadier), were being refurbished in France and had been tied down there longer than anticipated due to the „Allied“ invasion of North Africa and the resultant complications from that action. So they were not immediately available. And nearly every other segment of the Waffen-SS was fully engaged elsewhere on the Eastern Front. That meant that the training camps and homeland garrisons had to be combed out for experienced troops.

In early December a couple of Waffen-SS contingents had been zeroed in on. One was the „Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler“ Guard Battalion in Berlin, which was nominally listed as VII. Battalion/l.SS Pz.Gr.Div. „LSSAH“; its troops were all front veterans. Another unit that was available was I./SS-Polizei Infanterie Rgt.l from the 4.SS-Polizei Grenadier Div. that had been refitting in East Prussia. It was a veteran element as well and nearly ready for action. The idea was to combine these battalions into a regimental or brigade strength battlegroup along with troops from assorted Waffen-SS specialty training schools.

On 4 December 1942, authorization was granted to form this ad hoc „brigade,“ under the command of SS- Standartenführer Hinrich „Kapt’n“ Schuldt (a former Navy Captain). Schuldt was a natural selection for this role, as during the previous winter he had directed a number of mixed emergency groups (based on his SS Inf.Rgt.4), during a very critical situation in the central part of the Eastern Front. His success at handling makeshift forces had clearly made him the top candidate for his new position.

SS Brigade „Schuldt,“ as it was called from the start, quickly assembled a staff and staff company from reserve pools and replacement units. The VII./“LSSAH,“ with a staff, staff company and three rifle companies, became the first brigade unit, though it was not at full strength. It had to leave the equivalent of a full company behind in Berlin to continue the tradition of a „Leibstandarte“ guard troop in the German capital. The l./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l was added on paper to the brigade and it was commonly designated SS-Kampfgruppe „Dietrich“ after its commander, Sturmbannführer Dietrich. This battalion would make its way separately to the brigade assembly area in Russia.

On 6 December 1942, all of the brigade elements, including a new heavy weapons company under Ostuf. Drescher which was assigned to VII./“LSSAH,“ were to begin making their way by rail to the Eastern Front. The structure and command roster for SS Brigade „Schuldt“ initially looked like this:

Commander: Staf. Schuldt

Adjutant: Hstuf. Molt

Ordnance Officer: Ostuf. Vogel

Staff Company containing the following elements:

Motorcycle Messenger Platoon from the SS Motorcycle Replacement Bn. in Ellwangen

Anti-tank Platoon from the staff troops of the Waffen-SS Commander-in-Chief for the Netherlands Combat Engineer Platoon from the SS Engineer

Replacement Bn. in Dresden Signals Platoon from the Field Command Staff of the Reichsführer-SS (Himmler)

VII. Bn./“LSSAH“:

Permanent commander in Berlin: Stubaf. Ernst Mayer, who had been rendered unfit for frontline service due to his severe battle wounds. He took over the guard company left behind.

Commander during transport: Hstuf. Beutler

Commander after arrival in Russia: Hstuf. Ott

Commander as of 31 December 1942: Hstuf. Lantscher

1st Rifle Company: Hstuf. Ott, later Ostuf. Horvath

2nd Rifle Company: Ostuf. Leiteritz; wounded during disembarkation in Russia and replaced by Ostuf. Knoesel

3rd Rifle Company: Ostuf. Blunck

4th Heavy Weapons Company: Ostuf. Drescher; this company was assembled as follows: infantry gun platoon from the staff troops W-SS C-in-C „Netherlands,“ anti-tank platoon from the same place and combat engineer platoon from the SS Engineer Replacement Bn. in Dresden.

I./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l (SS-KGr. „Dietrich“)

Commander: Stubaf. Wilhelm Dietrich

Staff Company: Ustuf. Kersten, then Oberjunker Schroeter

1st Company (portion of it only): Ostuf. Tigge

2nd Company (intact): Ostuf. Waldmann, then Ostuf. Drieske

3rd Company (portion only): Ostuf. Schneider 4th Company (portion only): Hstuf. Schwarting

The first elements of SS-Bde. „Schuldt,“ consisting of the staff, staff company, 1./VII./“LSSAH“ and part of 4./VII./“LSSAH,“ arrived in the threatened city of Millerovo on 16 December 1942. The formation was assigned to Army Detachment „Fretter-Pico“ and was given orders to assemble at Meschkoff and then dig-in in the hills surrounding the town to block off a Soviet advance.

Just before midnight on 17 December, the bulk of VII./“LSSAH“ reached the railroad station in the southern part of Meschkoff. Due to the close proximity of the front the unloading of men, vehicles and equipment had to proceed with utmost haste, and this procedure was further hampered by the bitterly cold weather. To top it off, a Soviet fighter-bomber attack interrupted the „Leibstandarte“ disembarkation and caused significant damage to the train station as well as casualties to the troops. Both Ostuf. Leiteritz (CO of 2nd Co.) and Hstuf. Beutler (Bn. CO) were wounded, and early on the next day, Hstuf. Ott took charge of the unit.

SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ (Polizei Div.) had a more chaotic journey to the brigade assembly area. It had been sent by rail to Tschertkovo from where a truck convoy was to take it to Meshkoff. However, before it had even arrived at Tschertkovo, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ had had some of its troops siphoned off for other emergency duties. The bulk of the 1st and 4th Companies along with a portion of the battalion staff had been re-routed to Zschertkovo to help stop an enemy armored breakthrough in the sector of 19th Panzer Division. This contingent led by Hstuf. Schwarting, would in fact never join the brigade but would instead link up with the 1st SS Pz.Gr.Div. „Leibstandarte“ in early February 1943 near Kharkov. Thus from SS-KGr. „Dietrich,“ SS-Bde. „Schuldt“ only received the major portions of the battalion staff and 2nd Co. along with small contingents from the 1st and 3rd Companies. Promised Flak and anti-tank troops were not initially available.

During the evening hours of 18 December, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ reached the brigade and was sent to Nasaroff, about 6 km to the west of Meschkoff. In the meantime, V11./“LSSAH“ had already gone into action in the hills about 3 km to the northwest of Meschkoff. This was a relief attack designed to save elements of the 8th Italian Army which were in full retreat. After fighting a delaying action, the battalion disengaged and fell back on the northern part of Meschkoff at around midnight on the 18th. On the next, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ was inserted in the main defensive lines around Meschkoff.

At noon on 19 December, a Russian armored force approached SS Brigade „Schuldt“ from the west, driving towards Nasaroff. A violent battle developed in which the SS troops were able to destroy four enemy tanks. This caused the Reds to break off the attack, but recce troops observed a massing of Soviet infantry, transported in captured Italian trucks, to the southwest. In the night of 19/20 December the situation at Meschkoff grew more serious. A pair of Russian tanks broke through the lines of Brigade „Schuldt“ and raised havoc in the rear area, destroying three trucks filled with German wounded in the process. Enemy forces were also reported in virtually all directions. Aware of the dangerous predicament facing the brigade, Army Detachment „Fretter-Pico“ gave it the go ahead to withdraw from Meschkoff.

Staf. Schuldt and Stubaf. Dietrich discuss the battlefield situation.

At midnight, Brigade „Schuldt“ pulled out of Meschkoff and began withdrawing towards Millerovo. But not far down the road a Soviet tank force put in a surprise appearance and effectively split-up much of the SS task force. Part of VII./“LSSAH,“ consisting of 1st Co., the bulk of 2nd Co. and part of 4th Co., fought its way to Millerovo under Ostuf. Dahl (ex-Polizei Division). These troops were then attached to the 3rd Mountain Div. and reorganized into two combat companies which were designated Kampfgruppe „Dahl.“ This force was then caught up in the Soviet encirclement of Millerovo along with 4,000 German and 12,000 Italian troops. The SS men were generally held in reserve for use in counterattacking enemy penetrations. The siege of Millerovo lasted until 15 January 1943 when a successful breakout was made. By 20 January, KGr. „Dahl“ had rejoined SS Bde. „Schuldt.“

While Ostuf. Dahl and his men made their way to Millerovo, the other components of Brigade „Schuldt“ began to regroup at Donskoj at 0400 on 20 December 1943. All that now remained of VII./“LSSAH“ was the battalion staff, a part of 2nd Co., 3rd Co., and engineer and heavy mortar platoons from 4th Company. After it had reassembled the brigade continued on in a southeasterly direction, passing through the Jablonovaja and Bolschoja sectors to Ssmolin on the Metschettka Creek. Ssmolin was reached at 1430 on 20 December after some 70 km had been covered in a motorized „march.“ Here the SS men were able to rest for the first time since their frontline deployment.

On 21 December, most of the brigade, except for the supply troops, was sent west to fortify the nearby village of Kijevsky. In the night of 21/22 December positions on the west/southwest part of Kijevsky were fully occupied and extended even further westward. At the same time the survivors from various dispersed Army artillery and anti-tank units were incorporated into the brigade and used to strengthen SS-KGr. „Dietrich.“ An entire emergency „march“ battalion was also latched on to.

In the early afternoon of the 22nd, an enemy armored attack was brought to a screeching halt through the destruction of four of the advancing tanks. But a neighboring Italian unit was unnerved by the incident and began an unauthorized withdrawal. As a result, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ was ordered to extend its lines to cover the gap left by the Italians. Only 80 men were available for this task which really required the services of a full battalion!

On 23 December, Army Detachment „Fretter-Pico“ ordered SS Brigade „Schuldt“ to sever the enemy supply route near Roshek, 10 kms to the south. To do this job properly the town itself would have to be taken. In preparation for this attempt, the brigade relocated to Metschettka, 7 kms to the south. SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ was deployed due north of Ssnetschinikovo, a village about 1 km west of Roshek, while VI1./“LSSAH“ was placed to the north and east of Roshek. Staf. Schuldt personally led the assault on the town on 24 December. In a swift, decisive action, the SS troops seized Roshek, while knocking out two T-34 tanks in the process. One T-34 was captured intact along with a number of prisoners.

Following this success, Staf. Schuldt took stock of the troops still left under his command and began reorganizing the brigade units „downward“ to reflect the depletion of personnel. SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ became the new 1st Co., with the remnants of V1I./“LSSAH“ becoming 2nd Co. and the Army March Bn. 179 being used to constitute a 3rd Company. The remaining troops and heavy weapons elements were simply attached directly to the „brigade“ staff. Now only battalion size at best, Bde. „Schuldt“ was rechristened a „Group“ for operational purposes.

On Christmas Day, Group „Schuldt“ found itself attached to the XXIX. Army Corps Staff under Gen. Geier in Krassnojarovka, about 5 kms southeast of Roshek. At midnight on the 25th, a powerful Soviet armored force attacked the town. The foremost tanks were knocked out but the following ones broke into Krassnojarovka and began rambling about at will. One T-34 smashed right through a house wall and drove on into the building that housed the supply troop from what had been 3./SS- Pol.Rgt.l (KGr. „Dietrich“), interrupting the preparations for a Christmas feast. This action enraged Stubaf. Dietrich who was in the building at the time. Without hesitation he clambered up on top of the tank, flung open the turret hatch and shot all of the individual crew members with his pistol! That was one way to capture a tank intact, but it probably would never have happened if he had given it any forethought!

Fortunately, the Red infantry failed to follow-up on the armored breakthrough and when the tanks were forced to withdraw, the Germans still held the town. But Krassnojarovka was now completely surrounded and orders soon arrived for the trapped troops to break out and evacuate the town during the night of 25/26 December. There would be no more waiting around for another Stalingrad to occur!

After throwing back further Red armored onslaughts in the early morning hours of 26 December and destroying two more tanks, SS Group „Schuldt“ left Krassnojarovka and began moving to the southeast; KGr. „Dietrich“ was still motorized but the „LSSAH“ troops had to march on foot. The withdrawal route led southeast through Vodjany to Romanovsky, where the task force regrouped before marching south to Pritschensky. Due to the deep enemy inroads all over the place, resupply had to be carried out via air drops when possible. In order to secure supplies, units had to set up agreed upon recognition signs (usually Swastika flags) that were visible from the air.

SS Group „Schuldt“ reached Pritschensky at around dusk on 26 December and found it filled with milling Romanian and Italian troops from units that had largely collapsed and evaporated. XXIX. Army Corps and Group „Schuldt“ was now told to continue advancing towards the Skassyrrskaja bridgehead in the southwest where a link-up with the neighboring Army Detachment „Hollidt“ needed to be made. SS Group „Schuldt“ spent the entire morning of the 27th fighting off enemy attacks and when things calmed down in the afternoon, Staf. Schuldt again regrouped his dwindling command.

At 0300 on the 28th the march towards Skassyrskaja continued. During a rest break a pair of armored recce cars suddenly appeared, sending the surprised SS troops scurrying for cover. But the vehicles were revealed to be „friendlies“ from a German Army unit, and the alarm was soon over. Staf. Schuldt appropriated them for his use and they would later prove helpful in escaping through enemy envelopments. By now the „brigade“ had only a few functional motor vehicles and these were relegated to transporting the badly wounded and needed supplies; the soldiers were left to make their way through the deep snow on foot.

When SS Group „Schuldt“ reached Skassyrskaja on 29 December, Staf. Schuldt reported that his „brigade“ was no longer battleworthy and he left for parts unknown. It is thought that he visited the Führer HQ for new instructions, but his exact whereabouts for the next several days were not recorded. In any event, command of the „brigade“ now passed entirely over to Stubaf. Dietrich.

The brigade was outfitted with ten new field kitchens and informed that it was to proceed to a refitting area on the next day. On 30 December an advance commando arrived at the designated refitting area at Alexejev with the objective of lining up some more motor vehicles for the battle-group. The rest of the SS troops arrived at dusk after a difficult 20 km foot march. They reported that they had heard heavy gunfire emanating from the direction of Skassyrskaja behind them.

After a day of rest, the SS battle-group was attached to the 6th Panzer Div. under Gen.Lt. Raus, which was part of XVll.Army Corps/Army Det. „Hollidt,“ on 1 January 1943. SS-Brigade „Schuldt“ was considered temporarily out of commission and the entire task force adopted the interim title of SS-Kampfgruppe „Dietrich.“ To confuse things even further, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ would remain functioning even after Brigade „Schuldt“ was reformed!

In any event, Bde. „Schuldt“/KGr. „Dietrich“ was next ordered to relocate to Kamensk and for this purpose it was given a 17 vehicle truck convoy to transport the troops. But once Kamensk was reached on 3 January, the trucks were recalled to XVII. Corps. On the 3rd, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ reached its new reassembly area and was quickly deployed in blocking positions in the sector that ran from Makjev to Alexejev and thence to Kovylkin and Bakova. I./Pz.Gr.Rgt.l 14 was now temporarily subordinated to the battle-group. In terms of other individual units, SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ also contained the following:

Staff l./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l

2nd Co./I./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l

3rd Co./I./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l

Mixed Improvised Rifle Co./VII./“LSSAH“

Engineer Platoon/4.Co./VlI./“LSSAH“

Infantry Gun Platoon/4.Co./VIl./“LSSAH“

Staff Co. (portion only)/VII./“LSSAH“ (Hstuf. Lantcher)

Anti-tank Detachment 518 (Oberleutnant Wilde)

In the course of 3 January 1943, the battle-group’s sick and wounded were evacuated and the resupply process was completed. The 6th Panzer Div. had been given a two-pronged mission: 1. To restore a gap in the front north of Tazinskaja left by fleeing Italian troops, the success of which operation would cut off the line of retreat of the XXIV. Red „Guards“ Tank Corps under Gen. Badanov. 2. Hold down the frontlines between Morosovskaja and Tazinskaja. The first assignment was to be carried out by an armored task force based on the armored recce detachment, while SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ and the remainder of the division took care of the latter task. In conjunction with the above, 11th Pz.Div. was to bag and destroy Soviet breakthrough forces near Tazinskaja. All operations were to be carried out with „dash and precision.“

In the meantime the portion of SS Bde. „Schuldt“ that had gotten separated from the main force during the retreat from Meschkoff in the night of 19/20 December 1942 (i.e., KGr. „Dahl“), was having its own problems in the besieged town of Millerovo. This contingent, two companies in strength, drawn from parts of VII./“LSSAH“ and l./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt.l, came under the control of Group „Kreysing“ of 3rd Mountain Div. in Millerovo.

At 0600 on 27 December 1942, the Soviets attacked the town from all sides with substantial armored support. Numerous tanks broke through the lines, but each was eliminated in close combat. Continuous fighting raged until 0800 on the 28th when it was finally broken off. At dusk on the 29th, the Reds again assaulted Millerovo from the north, west and east, with extensive artillery backing. SS-KGr. „Dahl“ was kept busy all night long battling off enemy attack waves. It was now known that Millerovo was severed from the main German lines by three Soviet Army Corps (note: a Soviet „Corps“ was equivalent to a German division). The raging battle continued on through 30 December and an attempted relief attack by 19th Pz.Div. from the north, was thwarted by a counterattack launched by 3) Soviet divisions. On the 31st the fighting eased off but Millerovo still remained surrounded.

On 1 January 1943, the remnant of SS-Brigade „Schuldt“ which was not attached to SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ or encircled in Millerovo, reported in to the Army Brigade „Nagel“ in Donskoj. This consisted of the brigade staff company, part of 4th Co./VIl./“LSSAH,“ with two light infantry guns and six anti-tank guns, and a portion of the Polizei Mortar Bn. 15, which had 12 heavy mortars and four anti-tank guns. This was to be the nucleus for an entirely new Bde. „Schuldt,“ which was authorized to begin forming on 5 January 1943, at about the same time that Staf. Schuldt returned to the front.

„Kapt’n“ Schuldt had received a new assignment, perfectly suited to his improvisational command skills: at 0000 on 7 January 1943 he was to take command of all detached mobile combat groups attached to Army Group „Fretter-Pico“ and the strongpoint at Donskoy Krassnovka. The „new“ SS-Brigade „Schuldt“ (which to add to the confusion was also referred to as „Detachment Schuldt“!), was to be headquartered at Tarassovo and take its orders directly from the Army Det. HQ, except when it became necessary to assign it to the 304th Infantry Division.

SS Brigade „Schuldt’s“ neighbor was to be the improvised Army Brigade „Nagel“ and the boundary line between the two formations ran through the following towns:

Boundary terminating in the Donez River, then proceeding through Jelan (occupied by Bde. „Nagel“), Prognoy (Bde. „Nagel“), and Blagoschveschtschenka (Bde. „Schuldt“) to Rognalik Creek. SS Brigade „Schuldt,“ as reconstituted, now contained the following elements:

Staff, Staff Company and Signals Platoon with communications assistance provided through the Corps’ Signals officers. Attached to the staff was a Luftwaffe Observation/Signals Troop under Lt. Schreiber.

Luftwaffe Feld Bn. 100 (composed of mixed units)

4./Vll./“LSSAH“

One company from Polizei Mortar Bn. 15

6th Battery/Flak Det.43 („88“ guns)

4th Battery/Flak Det. 100 (2 cm guns)

One improvised heavy field howitzer battery

One infantry battalion comprised of soldiers dispersed from their original units

Mobile Kampfgruppe (composed of mixed units)

One infantry battalion from 304th Inf.Div. with improvised motor transport

Panzer Det. 138

Staff and 3rd Battery/Luftwaffe Flak Det.100

The „Führer“ Flak Detachment (whenever it arrived and reassembled)

In addition to the above, other units would be added as the situation dictated.

On 9 January 1943, Army Det. „Fretter-Pico“ launched a relief attack towards Millerovo along the main road from Tarasovo. SS Bde. „Schuldt“ spearheaded part of the effort and drove the enemy out of his positions at the road curve about 2 km to the west of Turoveroff, which was in turn 6 km to the south of Millerovo. Heavy casualties were inflicted upon the foe. On 11 January, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was ordered to secure and defend Matvejevka and then reconnoiter the area to the southeast to see if a further advance was possible. Afterwards the route of advance for a 360 man replacement battalion for 3rd Mnt.Div. had to be scouted out and protected. On the next day, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was able to report that all objectives had been secured and that the key Hill 201.3 had also been occupied.

With this accomplished the brigade was ordered back to Tarassovo to carry out recce duties around that town and from Donskoy to Kossnovka to make sure that no enemy reinforcements got through. The fighting on 11 and 12 January 1943 had not been easy and the list of casualties for SS Bde. „Schuldt“ reflected the severity of the combat. Forty-two men had been killed including the following four officers: Ostuf. Hemsiecke, 7./V11./ „LSSAH,“ Ustuf. Friedrichs, l./VII./“LSSAH“ and Obit’s Vorgel and Finster from ll./lnf.Rgt.575/304th Inf. Division. In addition, 118 soldiers including four officers (one from the „LSSAH“), had been wounded and 16 NCOs and men were listed as missing.

SS Brigade „Schuldt“ was given several new missions on the extreme south flank of the Army Detachment for 13 January. Its most important assignment was to secure and keep open the river crossing at Oreschkin and occupy a string of villages running from Djadin to Demischoff. Reconnaissance was to be conducted to the south, east and northeast of those towns. At the same time contact was to be maintained with the extreme right wing of 304th Inf.Div. near Ostaschkin. The brigade’s supply and maintenance troops were to relocate to Kamensk and the strongpoint of Donskoy was to be turned over to Bde. „Nagel“ at midnight on the 13th.

SS Brigade „Schuldt“ spent the entire day moving its forces to the assigned area. A sharp, violent clash with the Reds took place at Oreschkin, which ended with the enemy forces being thoroughly routed. Thirty Soviet dead were left on the battlefield while two prisoners and anti-tank gun were captured. Staf. Schuldt subsequently moved his HQ up to Oreschkin and by 2030 hrs. had been able to report the successful accomplishment of all the day’s assignments.

About 40 km to the south was the brigade’s old component part, SS-KGr. „Dietrich,“ which was holding down the extreme left wing of Army Detachment „Hollidt,“ but it would be more than another month before the two forces linked up again. On 14 January, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was ordered to hold and defend Kalitvenskaja and Novy Jerochin in the Kalitvinez sector, as strong enemy attacks were expected there. At this time the brigade lost the services of Polizei Mortar Co. 15 which was detached from the formation and sent to help defend the Donskoy strongpoint. To the north a deep enemy penetration was made near Kamensk and some of the supply troops from SS Bde. „Schuldt“ were sent there to reinforce KGr. „Baer,“ effective 15 January.

January 15, 1943 also saw a successful breakout made from the Millerovo Pocket. Ostuf. Dahl’s two SS companies helped to spearhead this effort along with troops from 3rd Mnt. Div. along with several broken Italian units. Despite the very cold weather and savage fighting the Millerovo garrison was able to effect a link-up with the main German lines. SS-KGr. „Dahl“ then took up new defensive positions around Petrova (effective 21 January 1943), before rejoining SS Brigade „Schuldt“ on 23 January.

In the meantime, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ had been placed in Army Detachment reserve and saw little action for several days. On 23 January it was located in the south part of the city of Vorosschilograd, where it received the following reinforcements:

Anti-tank Det.138

Führer Flak Det. with one heavy, one medium and one light Flak batteries

I./SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt.4 „Der Führer“; stiffened by two batteries from SS Art.Rgt.2 „Das Reich,“ a platoon from 16./“DF“ (engineers), 14./“DF“ and 3rd Battery/SS Flak Det.2, all under the command of Hstuf. Hans Opificius

SS-KGr. „Dahl“ under Ostuf. Dahl

The newly refurbished SS Brigade „Schuldt“ was given an offensive assignment for 24 January: It was to advance to the northwest of Podgornoje and destroy any enemy forces that had crossed the Donez in that direction and were moving southwards. In addition the area around the towns of Sslavjanosserbsk, Ssmelyj-Novo-Grigorjevka and the terrain towards Sheltoja and Dolgoje was to be captured from weak enemy forces and held. Following all of this, combat strength recce troops were to scout the line to locate good crossing points over the Donez for motorized and armored forces.

The attack by SS Bde. „Schuldt,“ which ran due north of Hill 168.1 to the northwest of Podgornoje, met with only weak resistance. The foremost elements, I./“DF“ and Pz.Det.138, were able to achieve their objectives rapidly despite encountering strong enemy artillery fire. Enemy flank attacks from Sheltoje and Dolgoje were easily repulsed. By the end of the day, around 100 Soviets had been killed and six of their heavy field pieces had been eliminated. Brigade losses totaled one killed and six wounded. During the night of 24/25 January, brigade HQ was established in Alexandrovka, and the attached units, including I./“DF,“ were positioned in the nearby hills and villages.

Members of an entrapped SS-Polizei-Div. battle-group that fought their way free.

This night proved to be one of the coldest of the winter with strong, gusty winds and temperatures dipping to -28° C. To make matters worse, most of the soldiers had left their heavy winter clothing behind before the day’s action in a motor vehicle park. The results were disastrous. What the communists had not accomplished on the battlefield, „General Winter“ did. By morning fully 50% of the troops belonging to l./“DF“ reported on sick call with frostbite!

Be that as it may, the war went on and on the 25th, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was ordered to relinquish its positions and attack Soviet penetrations across the Don near Skeltoje and Dolgoje. The llI./Gr.Rgt.682 was to be attached to the brigade for this operation only. Afterwards, Bde. „Schuldt“ was supposed to regroup in the southern part of Voroschilovgrad to remain again at the disposal of the Army Detachment.

Actions on this day fell somewhat short of the mark. SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was unable to regain much territory and had to spend much of the day trying to retake the high ground southeast of Sheltoje which had been seized by the Reds. For most of 26 and 27 January, the brigade simply dug in where it stood and fought off a number of Soviet attacks, which were mostly in company strength. On the 27th a significant defensive success was achieved and the brigade was able to report that another 80 enemy soldiers had been captured and more than 100 others had been killed. Numerous Soviet heavy weapons, including ten anti-tank guns, were also destroyed. The brigade was supplemented on this day by I./Art.Rgt.335 and reported that it had 15 operational armored vehicles.

Staf. Schuldt now sought to have all the parts of his brigade reunited (he was thinking in particular of the still absent SS-KGr. „Dietrich“), but was informed by Army Det. staff that the battlefield situation was still much too fluid to enable that to take place. About 300 kms to the northeast of Bde. „Schuldt’s“ positions, the first contingents of the „Leibstandarte“ and „Das Reich“ Divisions had begun to arrive from France.

On 28 January 1943, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was relieved by Grenadier Rgt. 684 and relocated to Alexandrovka and Rodakovo to prepare for further operations. In addition, 111./Gr.Rgt.682 and l./AR 335 were removed from the brigade’s jurisdiction, while Pz.Det.138 and two Flak platoons from the Führer Flak Det. were subordinated directly to the Army Detachment. So instead of gaining strength as Staf. Schuldt had hoped, the brigade was instead further truncated. SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was ordered to relocate to Voroschiloff on the 29th and make contact with 304th Inf.Div. in preparation for an attack on Bolschoj Ssuchodol, where the enemy had constructed a small bridgehead across the Donez. After arriving in Voroschillof on 30 January, I./“DF“ was reinforced by the replacement battalion of the 304th Inf.Div., less its staff and supply section.

The planned attack on the bridgehead never developed due to an enemy breakthrough and advance on Petrovka to the northwest. SS Brigade „Schuldt“ was ordered to intercept this communist force near Shiroki while at the same time maintaining the defense of Voroschiloff.

The latter town was to be held by 3rd Co./“DF“ under Hstuf. Lex along with the engineer platoon from 16./“DF,“ under Oberscharführer von Eberstein and SS-KGr. „Dahl“ from VII./“LSSAH.“

On 1 February, the bulk of l./“Der Führer“ under Hstuf. Opficius made a desperate attempt to block off the Soviets at Shiroki, but in the end the town had to be abandoned. The focus of the fighting then shifted to Petrovka which was stoutly defended by 1st Co./“DF,“ a platoon from 14./“DF“ and part of 3rd Bttry./SS Flak Det. 2. All enemy attacks here were repulsed, and SS- Rottenführer Heider was decorated with the Iron Cross, 1st Class on the spot for destroying five Soviet tanks with his anti-tank gun. But due to another enemy penetration farther to the north, the „Der Führer“ Battalion had to be withdrawn to Vodjanoj.

On the following day, 2 February, both the 304th Inf.Div. and SS Bde. „Schuldt“ were transferred to the XXXXV1II. Pz.Corps of the neighboring Army Detachment „Hollidt,“ and on the 3rd, the brigade was attached to 6th Pz.Div. and immediately saw some heavy fighting. A full-scale enemy assault was launched against the German positions, and I./“DF“ found itself fighting for its life. Hand-to-hand combat raged in the Waffen-SS foxholes, trenches and in the nearby buildings. Only the intervention of Stuka bombers and tanks from 6th Pz.Div. managed to save the day and turn the tide. But severe losses had been sustained and a direct artillery hit on the battalion HQ had killed the commander of 4./“DF,“ Hstuf. Hocke.

SS Brigade „Schuldt,“ along with Panzergrenadiers from 6th Pz.Div., advanced to Popovka on 4 February and proceeded on to Voroschilloff on the following day. Popovka was evacuated on 6/7 February, and a new security line, manned by part of the brigade until 12 February was set up in the hills north of the town. The 12th saw a renewed Soviet offensive due south of Voroschilovgrad, and the brigade, which was in the course of needed regrouping, had to be rushed to 304th Inf.Div. of XXI.Army Corps for emergency deployment. This caused the reunion of the brigade with SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ to be postponed again.

SS Brigade „Schuldt“ reassembled in Krassnoskij on 14 February, where it was at the disposal of XXI.Army Corps. On the 15th it was sent towards Uspenka to provide support for 22nd Pz. Division. Upon arriving in its new area, Bde. „Schuldt“ was deployed in the hills 2 km to the northwest of Lutogino, and for the next few days defended this sector in fierce fighting. During this struggle, individual positions frequently changed hands several times over. The area was evacuated on 18 February and by the next day, Bde. „Schuldt“ was back under the control of Army Det. „Fretter-Pico“ in the vicinity of Adrianopol. Here the brigade was finally rejoined by SS-KGr. „Dietrich“ and a major restructuring got underway using soldiers from the 1st, 2nd and 4th SS Divisions. The brigade structure that resulted looked like this:

Comma the previously attached Army and Flak troops remained with the brigade.

Regrouping continued until 22 February when the brigade was put on alert. An enemy force in battalion strength, with heavy weapons support, had secured and fortified a ravine to the north of Utkino and the brigade was ordered to eliminate this penetration. Preparations for this undertaking got underway by Bn. „Dietrich“ but they were brought to a halt when a new emergency arose. A stronger enemy force had gotten a foothold in the Vassjukova Gorge near Baschtewitsch, and Bn. „Dietrich“ was needed to dislodge it.

The march to the new locale was a different one, hampered by heavy snow drifts and clashes with dispersed enemy troops. However, on 23 February, Bn. „Dietrich“ began its attack towards an enemy-held destroyed village at the far end of the gorge between Jelisavetovka and Schterovka. The SS troops were supported on both flanks by Army units, and had good heavy weapons backing. In a brief but violent clash the Reds were pushed out of the town and into the wild and rocky ravine. In this type of terrain the fighting was particularly difficult and both sides took high losses. Stubaf. Dietrich was wounded during the afternoon but he stayed with his men until Staf. Schuldt ordered him to leave for medical treatment that evening. Dietrich’s replacement was Hstuf. Lex from the „Der Führer“ Rgt., who had commanded the 1st Co. in Bn. „Dietrich.“

By now, Stalingrad had gone under and the Soviets were able to concentrate on driving westwards, so each day the pressure increased on the mixed and scattered German forces that opposed them. On 24 February, Bn. „Dietrich“ reported observing strong enemy units advancing towards Vodino through the Olchovka Valley. The brigade ordered the battalion to take up defensive positions to the east of Baschtevitxch to block off this advance. In the course of 24/25 February the SS troops of Bn. „Dietrich“ fought off a number of tank supported enemy probing attacks with the backing of Stuka dive bombers. The battalion was able to report the destruction of two of the three enemy tanks involved in the fight.

On 25 February, SS Bde. „Schuldt“ was reinforced by a full regiment from the 62nd Inf.Div. along with the assault gun detachment from the 19th Pz. Division. The brigade was then given a major mission to carry out using these new components. It was to seal off a gap in the lines near Jelisavetovka, with the aim of securing the hills to the east of the town. The attack was to be carried out in conjunction with an offensive operation by the now fully arrived SS Panzer Corps.

The carefully planned brigade assault began at 0700 on 26 February with a Stuka bombardment of the enemy positions. Staf. Schuldt directed the operation from the foremost element and as a result was lightly wounded at about 0900 and was forced to return to his HQ in Nitovka. At 1015 he was visited by Gen. Fretter-Pico, the commander of XXX.Army Corps, who gave him his best wishes and congratulated him on the successful development of the attack. By noon all objectives had been attained and the pursuit of fleeing Red soldiers had begun. But any serious follow-up action had to be put aside, since the regiment from 62nd Inf.Div. was now immediately withdrawn from SS Bde. „Schuldt.“

In the following days, the brigade relocated to the Debalzevo sector where it was engaged until 7 March in maintaining the link-ups between XXX.Army Corps (facing east) and III.Pz. Corps (facing north). Many small engagements were fought during this time. On 7 March the „Das Reich“ and „Der Führer“ troops that remained with the brigade were ordered to immediately return to the 2nd SS Pz.Div. „Das Reich“ (which was in the vicinity of Kharkov), via Pavlograd. This effectively reduced SS Bde. „Schuldt“ to a hollow shell, but it remained in existence until 15 March 1943, when the survivors of V1I./“LSSAH“ and I./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt. 1 were sent by train back to the Debica SS training camp in Poland for rest and refitting.

It had been a supremely trying time and the members of the improvised SS Brigade „Schuldt“ had done all that was required of them, despite the terrible weather and the chaotic battlefield conditions. Losses were so high that all of the original intact units that comprised the brigade, ceased to exist as such and had to be rebuilt as rapidly as possible. But the heroic sacrifices and achievements of SS Brigade „Schuldt“ deserve an honorable mention in the pages of the history of the Waffen-SS.

Grenadiers from the 4. SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier Division.

Deployment area of SS-Krg. “Schuld” and SS-Kgr. „Dietrich”
December 1942 – February 1943

The History of the SS-Standarte “Der Führer”

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 6, Number 1, Whole Number 31, July – September 1983

Titles:

SS-Standarte 3/VT
SS-Regiment 3 “Der Führer”
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 4 “Der Führer”

Abbreviation: SS-“DF”
Stationed: Vienna

A few days after the return of Obersturmbannführer Keppler’s I. Btl./SS “Deutschland” to Munich from Austria at the end of March 1938, Keppler was given the assignment of forming the third regiment of the SS-Verfugüngstruppe using a large dose of new Austrian volunteers. The new regimental unit garrison were established as follows:

Regimental Staff and I.Btl.: Vienna

II. Btl.: Graz

III. Btl.: Klangenfurt

Austrian recruits were quickly sent to each of the above locations. Over the course of the next year, each city would build new barracks facilities for their assigned portions of SS-“Der Führer.” I./“DF” was formed using personnel from II./ “Deutschland,” and its first commander was that battalion’s old commander, Sturmbannführer Wilhelm Bittrich. II./“DF” received some personnel from the “LSSAH” and its commander was Stubaf. Fritz von Scholz, who had formerly been in charge of the 8th Machine Gun Co. of II./SS-“D.” III./“DF” was formed around a nucleus of veterans from the “Germania” Rgt., and its commander was Ostubaf. Wäckerle, who had previously commanded I./SS “G.”

Both II. and III./“DF” were largely filled out with Austrian recruits. Regimental formation got underway in earnest in early May 1938, when the now Oberführer Georg Keppler assembled his cadre personnel in Klangenfurt. In a very short time a sense of inseparable comradeship developed between the SS men from the old Reich and the young volunteers from Tyrol, Steiermark, Kärnten, Vienna, Salzburg, Upper Austria and the Burgenland.

There were so many volunteers for the new SS regiment that a very rigid selection process had to be implemented. Only the absolute best of those who presented themselves could be taken in. All over Austria the SS soldiers were greeted with open arms by the civilians, who (contrary to “Allied” propaganda), were deliriously happy to be part of the Greater German Reich.

After the basics of training, the regimental commander placed great emphasis on military drilling, so the men of SS-“DF” saw no shortages of such activities. For Oberführer Keppler, the great psychological bonding between the German and Austrian soldiers took place at the Nuremberg Party Day celebrations in September 1938. At these festivities, the regiment formally became part of the SS. It received the title “Der Führer” and the regimental and battalion colors were presented. Afterwards, the Austrian SS regiment marched through the streets of Nuremberg to the strains of the “Prinz Eugen” March and the cheers of large throngs of spectators.

After returning to their garrisons, the men of “DF” undertook an accelerated program of strenuous day and night training. Late in September, the Army commander in Vienna, Gen. Kienitz, alerted the “DF” Rgt. to stand by for possible service during the forthcoming Sudetenland occupation. Since the regiment still was not fully operational, a special combat battalion composed of three reinforced companies was formed, drawing its manpower from all of the “DF” units. This battalion was assigned to serve as part of an ad hoc regiment with Gen. Schubert’s “Vienna” Div., which was supposed to occupy the Sudeten territory around Znaim.

The “Vienna” Div. began its march into Czechoslovakia on 1 October 1938, and the resulting occupation went off smoothly. The men of SS-Kampfgruppe “DF” found themselves warmly greeted by the local inhabitants. Following this diversion, the battalion returned to the main regiment and its men went back to their old units.

During the winter of 1938/1939, training for the “Der Fuehrer” Rgt. continued at a rapid pace, and the unit was transformed from a horse-drawn formation to a fully motorized one. By early March 1935, “DF” was considered to be operationally fit, except for a lack of experience in the utilization of motor vehicles. At this time, the regiment was placed in the Army’s mobilization plans for the total occupation of Bohemia and Moravia. “DF” was given the mission of occupying Pressburg (Bratislava) in southern Slovakia. Actually no long-term occupation of Slovakia was planned; the idea was to liberate this territory from Czech influence and then allow the long-suffering Slovak patriots to take over.

Collar patch

Sleeve title

Regimental shield

Georg Keppler, first “DF” commander.

Stubaf. Bittrich, first CO of I./”DF.”

Early members of the “Der Führer” Regiment.

Ostubaf. Wäckerle, first CO of III./“DF.”

First NCO training class for the Regiment in Vienna.

On the night of 14/15 March 1939, SS Rgt. “DF” assembled for its task near the bridge over the Leitha River on the Czech frontier. The forward elements were quickly placed into combat readiness positions. Back in Vienna, reports were received that “strong resistance” from the Czech Army could be expected in the “DF” sector, and this caused Gen. Kienitz to issue orders postponing the “DF” advance into Slovakia. But he was too late; the “DF” Rgt. went into motion just before dawn on 15 March, before the new orders were received.

To the east of Gänserndorf (northeast of Vienna), the regiment the Czech frontier and marched through the Little Carpathians to Boesing (Peczinok), without the slightest opposition from the “other side.” From there, “DF” prepared to secure the Waag Valley from Pressburg in the south to Jablionca in the north. A battalion was detached to link-up with an Army division to the north.

The bridge to the east of Gänserndorf was set aside for use by the regiment’s “heavy vehicle” convoy. Just as this column was getting underway, snow began to fall, and this combined with ice build effectively shut down the roads leading into the Little Carpathians. As a result, the entire heavy vehicle column had to be sent back to Gänserndorf to await improved weather conditions. In the meantime, I./”DF” managed to make contact with an Army division to the north and Oberführer Keppler established his command post in Bösing. During the course of the morning, Keppler learned that the bulk of the regimental vehicles probably would not be coming through to join the rest of the unit; news which caused more than a little consternation at the command post.

However, at about mid-day the snow stopped and the commander of the “DF” heavy vehicle convoy decided to proceed. What followed for the young, inexperienced truck drivers was a hair-raising journey along winding ice- and snow-covered mountain roads, but by evening they had caught up with the rest of the regiment without incident. By day’s end, SS Rgt. “Der Fuehrer” had fulfilled its original mission.

On 17 March, the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Generaloberst von Brauchitsch radioed the “DF” command post that he wished to visit the regiment. Oberführer Keppler informed him that the route through the Little Carpathians was a difficult and dangerous one, but this did not discourage von Brauchitsch. After arriving in Bösing the Generaloberst personally inspected the regimental units and spoke with individual soldiers. He praised the regiment for its successful actions and then proceeded on to the positions of I./“DF” farther to the north. For the men of SS Rgt. “DF” the occupation-march proved to be a valuable training exercise.

In May 1939, the regiment traveled in a motorized convoy to the Grossborn Training Grounds in Pomerania. It was quite an experience for many of the “DF” troopers who had never been out of their native Alpine valleys. At Grossborn, SS-“DF” underwent its most extensive military training to date, both as an entire unit and in detached elements. Emphasis was placed on marksmanship and sharpshooting along with coordinated heavy weapons supported exercises. It has been said that the Grossborn experience was the building block for Rgt. “DF’s” later successes during the war.

In June 1939, “Der Fuehrer” was named the “Guard Regiment” of Reichsprotektor von Neurath in Bohemia-Moravia, and was sent on to Prague for garrison duty. The outbreak of WWII on 1 September 1939, found “DF” still in place in the Czech capital. When France and Britain declared war on Germany, the decision was made to send SS-“DF” to the “West Wall” fortifications facing the French border. At the same time, the senior SS regiments were going into action in Poland.

By mid-September 1939, “Der Fuehrer” had reached Waldkirch, Schwarzwald, after a long march from the “Protectorate.” It was then made the motorized reserve for Gen. Dollman’s Army in the south Schwarzwald. In early October 1939, SS Rgt. “DF” was sent to the old Czech military training camp at Brdy- Wald, east of Pilsen, were it was combined with the other units of the SS-VT (except the LSSAH) to be formed into the new SS-“V”-Division under SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hausser.

Historical Boundaries of the German Reich

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Vol. V, No. 4, Whole Number 28, January 1982

By Michael Redmond

According to the popular mythology, World War II was precipitated by the attempt of the Germans under the Third Reich to invade and conquer the territory of their European neighbors, with world conquest as their ultimate goal. The reality is that after World War I, the Germans were deprived of substantial territories they had occupied for centuries, and the announced goal of the Third Reich was the recovery of those portions of the lost territories which were still occupied by German speaking populations.

Historically, Germans have contributed much to the vitality of the nations of Europe, and German boundaries once extended far beyond even the 1914 limits. Never fixed, they have oscillated backwards and forwards throughout generations. If we wish to understand rightly the historical distribution of the German political, settlement, and culture areas, we must go back to the very beginning of European history.

The earliest forefathers of the Germans were the Norsemen of the early stone age (2500-1800 B.C.). After the ice, which originally covered a large part of Europe, had worked its way back on to the mountains, the Norsemen descended into the western regions along the East Sea. For many thousands of years, they dwelt in southern Sweden, in Denmark, and northern Germany.

The Norsemen developed a high agrarian culture. They practiced husbandry, cattle raising and seafaring, setting up permanent monuments to their dead which still survive as the giant tombs of the Luneburg heath or the Oldenburg land. These early Norsemen dwelt in high gabled, wooden houses which are very similar to those of North German farmers today. The household furnishings consisted of beds, cupboards, benches, and other articles. Beautifully formed vessels and tools carved out of wood were in use. The Norsemen made their clothing out of linen materials and twill. They knew how to tan the finest leather out of animal hides. Their artistic sense was highly developed. It showed itself very clearly in their beautiful stone weapons, the dagger and the battle ax.

The Norsemen of the early stone age were energetic, well developed men of the Nordic race. They multiplied very rapidly so that a time finally came when their arable land was no longer sufficient for all. The youth, the pith of the folk, had to go forth in order to acquire new land. The Norsemen wandered away along many routes following every direction under the sun. They settled in neighboring and far distant regions inhabited by foreign races. In only a few cases was it possible for them to preserve their racial character. Frequently they mixed with the natives and formed new peoples such as the Celts, Illyrians, etc. In some cases, however, they acquired, almost unmixed, new territories and created there – as Indo-Iranians, Greeks, and Romans – the highly developed cultures of antiquity. The cultural values and the racial traits of the Norsemen were spread throughout Europe in the course of these wanderings. The unity of former times is still evident today in the languages of most European peoples. Science has grouped these people together under the name of Indo-Germans.

The culture of Europe and particularly that of antiquity, as well as all that is today based thereon, does not come therefore out of the east. Its origin lies in the north, to a considerable extent on German soil.

At the conclusion of the Indo-Germanic wanderings the Norsemen of the early stone age united to form in their homeland a people unified internally and externally, the Germans.

The bronze age (1800-800 B.C.) brought German culture to a flourishing state and also the first acquisition of land by the Germans on the continent.

The heritage of their forefathers was developed still further and to an unprecedented degree by the Germans. Land cultivation, animal husbandry, and seafaring experienced a great upward swing. Objects of use, clothing, and weapons were refined. Weapons which are objects of wonder even today were created out of gold, amber and bronze, the first metal. Fighting and sports were encouraged on all sides. Music and art also flourished to a high degree. All in all the bronze age presented such a magnificent picture of the cultural development of the Germans that it gave rise to the expression “golden age of the Germans.”

Natural catastrophes, apparently spring floods along the coast of the North Sea, suddenly produced a great need for land among the Germans. The rapidly growing people was forced to decamp and take up new land. Constantly struggling with their neighbors, they spread out unceasingly. They pushed across the Weser and Oder. By the end of the bronze age they had reached the lower Rhine in the west, the mouth of the Vistula in the east, and mountain ranges of central Germany in the south.

The iron age (800-50 B.C.) followed the golden age. It did not derive its name solely from the new material, iron, which now came into use. But the name also signified that now a real iron age had emerged fully of fighting and tussling for new land.

Nevertheless, German culture showed further progress even during this hard time. The handicrafts and especially the art of forging blossomed forth, to which the new weapons, swords, daggers and spears bear witness. The raising of horses and the building of wagons attained a high degree of perfection, thereby giving for the first time the possibility of great advances in farming.

Once again youth was forced to stride out after new land. A climatic disturbance in the western part of the East Sea region reduced the productive capacity of the greatly overpopulated land. Food for man and beast no longer sufficed. In long trains the heavy wagons of the peasants once again rolled out of the homeland. In great battles and continual fighting the young peasants were obliged to force their way into new lands. This time they spread out over an enormous area. The greatest expansion took place toward the east. From the coast of the German East Sea branches of Germans pressed across East Prussia, the interior of Poland, and southward along the rivers as far as the Black Sea. Their numbers were so weakened, however, in the course of numerous battles that they were unable to establish themselves in south Russia and were absorbed by foreign peoples. Groups of Germans from Denmark and south Sweden wandered into the region vacated along the East Sea. They spread or rather worked their way forward as far as the Sudeten. The western Germans went forth after new land too. They advanced across the lower Rhine to south Holland and Belgium and pressed on along the Rhine as far as the Rhine-Danube- Winkel. The iron age had, in this way, brought about a tremendous enlargement of the German territory. It was now bounded on the continent by the line Flanders, south Holland, the upper Rhine, Danube, Carpathians, Bug and Memel. In consequence of this great expansion the German people, up to this time unified and compact, assumed the form of numerous branches which we classify as north Germans in Scandinavia, east Germans east of the Elbe, and west Germans to the west.

The age of the Romans (50 B.C.-375 A.D.) which succeeded the iron age is replete with countless struggles of Germans with the Roman Empire which was powerful at that time. The splitting up of the German people into branches now proved to be especially disadvantageous. For all the successes of the Romans, even though they were only temporary, are traceable back to the disunited, defensive struggles of the Germanic branches. Nevertheless the Romans were unable to conquer the core of the German territory, the Germany of today. In the great and decisive battle in the Teutoburg Forest (9 A.D.) the west Germans under the leadership of Armin were victorious over a powerful Roman army. This army was completely destroyed and Germany was preserved for all time from Romanization. The frontiers of the German territory in the west and southwest remained almost unchanged. In the east, however, a powerful expansion took place once more. East Germans, Goths and Gepidae pushed out from the region between the Vistula and the Memel across Poland towards south Russia to the Black Sea and the lower Danube. Here they separated into eastern and western groups. The east Goths spread out from southern Russia to the east and north. They founded a powerful empire which, under King Hermanarich, “united all the land between the Ural Mountains, the East Sea and the Black Sea.” West Goths and Gepidae moved up the Danube and in a similar manner created a great empire between the Danube and the Carpathians which was able to withstand the onslaughts of the Romans. The Marcomanni forced their way into the territory of the Sudetens and likewise established an empire which gave the Romans a great deal of trouble. By the end of the Roman period, therefore, the Germans had taken possession of all the land between the Urals, the Black Sea, the Danube, and the Rhine.

The period of Germanic migrations (375-1000 A.D.) is the heroic age of the Germans. The invasion of Mongolian hordes from the far distant steppes of the east set the east Germans in movement. Giving way before this pressure they abandoned their old homeland and turned westward. After tough assaults they overflowed the boundary walls and streamed into the Roman Empire which fell to pieces under this onslaught. Some of the Germanic branches succeeded in winning new land out of the territory of the old Roman Empire and in building up great kingdoms beneath the southern sun. The Vandals erected an empire in north Africa, the west Goths in Spain, the east Goths and Lombards in Italy, and the Burgundians on the soil of southern France. These kingdoms could not last long however, for the Germans constituted only a thin layer of leaders above the older peoples and were gradually extirpated in the course of constant strife.

Once again, some centuries later another stream of Germanic peoples poured out over Europe. This time it was the north Germans branch, known as Normans, Vikings and Varangians. The Normans, aboard bold dragonships, pushed as far as the Mediterranean and settled down on its shores. They established states in southern Italy and in Antioch, as well as in northwestern France and southern England. While the Vikings and Normans wandered about over western Europe the Varangians pushed across the East Sea onto the continent, proceeded with their ships downstream to the Black Sea and even appeared before Byzantium, the capital of the eastern Roman Empire. In that part of present-day Russia, to which they gave their name, they established a powerful Varangian Empire. The Varangians, therefore, overran Europe from the east.

The Germanic territory had, during the period of the migrations, spread out over all Europe. The political significance of this lies, not only in the fact that for once the peoples of Europe were refreshed with Nordic-German blood and the common basis of western culture was strengthened, but also in the fact that through Germans Europe achieved unity for the first time. Whereas the Roman Empire had not pushed beyond the limits of the Rhine and Danube and did not include all of central and eastern Europe, the Germans flooded Europe from the Urals to Gibraltar, from the North Cape to Constantinople. Europe, as a cultural and spiritual unity, is therefore the work of the Germans.

The west German branches had not participated in the great migrations. They remained in their old homesteads, spreading out westward, however, over the Ardennes and the Vosges. One of the west German branches, the French, founded an empire in western and central Europe, which, after long continued struggles, also included the remaining Germanic branches on the continent. About the year 900 this empire of the French split into an eastern and western empire. From the eastern empire emerged the German Reich. Its eastern boundaries coincided with the frontiers of the territory thickly populated by Germans and extended along the line of the Elbe – Saale – Bohemian Forest – Enns. Its western limits, after fluctuating back and forth, finally followed the line separating Germans and Romans. Small territories belonging to the Romans were added to the Reich, while the northwest tip of the Germanic region remained with France.

During the succeeding centuries the branches of the Eastern Empire – Frisians, Saxons, Frankonians, Thuringians, Swabians and Bavarians – merged to form the German people, a people that blossomed forth mightily and governed the course of history throughout the middle ages. The greatest accomplishment of the German people was the winning back, during the middle ages, of the eastern territory between the Elbe and the Vistula.

After the migration of the east Germans, Slavic tribes pushed their way into this territory. They shared the land with the hardy remnants of Germanic settlers who had remained on the land.

The colonization movement was first taken hold of by the Bavarians. In the course of tough struggles with mountains and forests they spread out along the Danube to the southeast under the bold leadership of the Babenbergers. Slowly they forced their way high up into the valleys of the Alps and the Bohemian primeval forest. These regions were for the most part uninhabited so that here the acquisition of land could proceed peacefully. And, in this way, the Germans won the central and eastern Alps, the Danube region as far as Pressburg, and the southern interior of the Bohemian basin. To be sure the Bavarians in their thrust towards the south and southeast found exceptional support from the German Kaiser, since the territory acquired cleared the way to Italy. Thus the oldest settlements of the Reich came into being, the Austrian, Styrian, Carinthian and Krain districts. They have remained for all times the southern outposts of the Germans. After the dying out of the Babenbergers (in 1156) the new districts were separated from the Bavarian motherland as independent duchies. The propelling forces of the homeland were thereby cut off and the southeastern movement came to a standstill.

In the northeast, along the Elbe and Saale, special districts were set up to protect the German frontiers and to give the Reich military security. Hermann Billung administered the northern district, Count Gero the central one, and feudal counts of the King administered the one in the south, the Sorbische mark. Since there was still enough land for pasturage and cultivation within the German Reich, these special districts remained purely military areas partially populated by Slavs. So long as the German Kaiser, who was of Saxon parentage, focussed his attention primarily on the internal building up of the Reich and, therefore, on the security of the frontiers, peace and order reigned in these districts and the neighboring territories of the Slavs. When, however, Emperor Otto II suffered a defeat in Italy and, in consequence of incessant fighting in Italy, the Reich became weak, the Slavic tribes revolted in the year 982 in order to shake off the German overlordship. The German towns and settlements along the frontiers of these districts were destroyed and the Germans massacred. Only with the greatest difficulty was it possible to bring the onslaught of the Slavs along the Elbe to a halt.

After this crucial insurrection the Elbe remained the frontier toward the east for almost 200 years. However, during this period the German population increased considerably. The German soil could no longer provide for this increase. In this emergency the broad, thinly settled regions east of the Reich were remembered. The procession of the German peoples toward the east began. To be sure the German Emperors fostered the new eastward movement only in exceptional cases. They had taken a fancy to the south and now pursued the dream of Roman world domination. The Princes of the German frontier lands, on the contrary, realized the great possibilities which the east offered them. They put themselves at the head of the movement and thereby assured the success of German colonization on that side of the Elbe. The protection of German Princes was all the more necessary in as much as the Slavs interposed bitter opposition at first to the onward march of the Germans. The sword had to clear the way for the settlers at first.

Along the coast of the East Sea Henry the Lion, the Guelf Duke of Braunschweig, with the aid of his friend, Adolf of Schauenburg, won the territories of Holstein, Lübeck and Mecklenburg. For the first time the German Reich extended as far as the East Sea. Trade with lands along the East Sea was developed. Henry the Lion devoted himself to this task with particular zeal. The founding of Lübeck, later head of the German Hansa, was one of the farseeing acts of this great colonizer. After the unfortunate rift between the Lion and Kaiser Frederick Barbarossa the former’s work was destroyed because of the southern policies of the Reich. Nevertheless the regions had been so thickly settled with German peasants and urban dwellers already that, in spite of later seizures by the Danes, they henceforth retained their German character.

At the same time Albert the Bear, leader of the German Askanians, originating in the old frontier district of Geros, secured control over the lands along the Havel, Spree and Priegnitz. By negotiation and seizure, he gradually extended his territory to the limits of the district of Brandenburg, he was the first who could properly call himself Margrave of Brandenburg. His successors were inspired by the same spirit. They extended the Askanian lands across the Oder and so shaped the point of departure for the later state of Brandenburg.

South of the district Brandenburg the Wettinian Princes strove to win land back again. They built up the old Sorben district and recovered the territory of the present state of Saxony for the Germans. Besides peasants there are primarily miners and lumbermen here, people who settled the mountain ranges and the interior of the Bohemian foreland.

About this time the Sudeten territory, in which the German Marcomanni had formerly resided, also seemed to defy complete Germanization. The Dukes of Przemysl, who were friendly to Germany, called German settlers onto the land in order to further its development. Likewise, Ottokar II, King of Bohemia, a whole-hearted German, continued the Germanization of the Bohemian region. However, when he, with shrewd, political insight, undertook to build a solid front from Bohemia toward the east he was driven out of his lands by the vile, power politics of the Hapsburgs. Once again a wave of Germans moved into the Bohemian lands when, during the middle of the 14th century, Charles IV of the House of Luxemburg attempted to make the Bohemian lands the center of the German Reich. He died, however, before he could complete his work. The settlements of the Czechs had already been pushed back to little remnants of land. The Germanization of all Bohemia seemed to be assured. Then, just before the outbreak of the Reformation, the Hussite war flared up and completely destroyed the whole of German life in Bohemia. Since that time the Germans in this region were forced into a defensive position. Although Bohemia belonged to the German Reich up to World War I, that is to say to Austria, it was never possible to bring about complete Germanization. And so, a deep wedge was driven between the northern and southern regions of the German population area hindering the development of a unified German front on the east.

Whereas the land between the Elbe, Saale and Oder had in the main been acquired by warfare, the winning of Silesia and Pomerania followed a more peaceful course. The Slavic Dukes of these countries called German peasants and settlers onto the land. The German settlers came at first from cities established by Germans. The penetration of the lowlands proceeded slowly on account of the ideological opposition of those living under Polish influence. In spite of that, however, by the 13th century both of these lands were added to the German Reich, and attached to the German population area.

With the incorporation of Pomerania and Silesia the area about the Oder was completely Germanized. In the territory about the Vistula, on the contrary, the task of German colonization succeeded only in the northern parts. The opening up of the eastern territory for the Germans was accompanied by the conversion of the pagans residing there. The Poles settled along the Vistula, had already, after the first meeting with the Germans, laid aside their paganism. So long as these Polish regions were subject to the archbishopric of Magdeburg there existed no obstacle to colonization. For the first time, in the year 1000, when the religious enthusiast Kaiser Otto III founded the Polish archbishopric Gnesen, the Poles received their own Polish national church. They also became independent politically and culturally thereby. So, a second bulwark against the Germans came into being. Further penetration of the Germans on the north was checked. They were forced to follow the shores of the East Sea and leave behind them the national territory of the Poles as a standing threat on their flank.

The recovery of the East Sea region lying east of the Vistula was the work of the German Order of Knights. Conrad Massovia, a Polish Duke, called upon the German Orders for protection against the still pagan East Baltic, Prussians and Lithuanians. During the course of yearlong struggles they took possession of the whole region from Danzig to Riga. Moorlands, islands and numerous estuaries of the lower Vistula, and impenetrable wildernesses opposed them. Nevertheless, after 50 years of bloody fighting the Order overcame the Balts. The German Order of Knights that ruled over the region which is East Prussia drew German peasants and manual workers into the country, gave them land and soil and protected them from attacks. About the year 1300 the power of the Order reached its high point. Emigrants to this eastern land from all parts of the Reich built up new settlements everywhere.

The colonization of the Baltic lands situated to the north of East Prussia, in which the Order of the Brothers of the Sword took part, was more difficult. On account of the long sea journey a sufficient number of German peasants and manual workers could not be induced to go. Consequently, the Germans in these districts were confined principally to the cities, which were strengthened by Hansa merchants from Bremen, Luebeck and Lueneburg.

In the course of time, since the Order of German Knights had been weakened by internal conflicts, Poles and Lithuanians united against the Germans. As a result of this alliance the Germans were defeated in battle at Tannenberg in 1410. The Order of the Brothers of the Sword was completely driven out of the Baltic provinces and only the land around Marienburg was left for the Knightly Order of the Cross. But East Prussia was now German and remained German although for some decades it became a Polish fief under the overlordship of the Polish crown.

During the period of the decline of the German Orders the power of the German Kaiser had also sunk to a mere shadow of what it was once. The driving force of the German people was spent, the march toward the east came to a halt. Much of that which the Germans had built up in the east by blood and toil was now exposed to the onrushing flood of Slavs. Only after Brandenburg-Prussia rose out of the ruins of the Thirty Years’ War did a new power appear which devoted itself consciously and with determination to the eastern frontiers of the Germans. The Great Elector rescued East Prussia from the feudal domination of the Poles and attached it firmly to Brandenburg. The soldier king, Frederick I, devoted his whole energy to building it up economically. Frederick the Great, with the acquisition of Silesia, offered for the first time a strong united German front in the northeast. He was able also to win back the bridge to East Prussia. As a result of the first partition of Poland in 1772 he obtained West Prussia and by the third partition of Poland in 1792 Posen together with Thorn and Danzig fell into his hands. In that way the compact German population area was again united under German rule.

For more than 500 years, therefore, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, East and West Prussia, Silesia and Sudeten Germany and German Austria were to be listed as part of the German population area. In the course of a truly historical accomplishment all branches of the German people won back these territories which comprise almost one-half of the 1914 German population area. This reconquering was primarily a colonizing process and a cultivation of waste and unproductive districts by German peasants and townsmen under the leadership of its Princes and Nobles. In no case were foreign peoples deprived of culture areas. German work and German achievements alone transformed these districts into cultural areas. Out of this fact arose the claim of the German people to these regions.

The SS Medical Academy in Graz

Published in „Siegrunen“ Magazine – Volume 6, Number 1, Whole Number 31, July – September 1983

The SS Medical Academy was founded in 1937 in Berlin to train active duty medical officers for the armed units of the SS and Police. It was first established in a rented house on the Friederichsstrasse. At the beginning it had 20 SS medical officer candidates who did most of their studying at the University of Berlin. The first commander of the Academy (from 1937 to 1939) was SS-Stubaf. Dr. Jencio.

Library of the SS Medical Academy at Graz.

Ski training class from the academy.

In the fall of 1940, the institute was relocated to Graz, Austria and took over the former state institution for the deaf and dumb at Rosenbergguertel 12. A number of candidates at the academy came from the regular army, the navy and the air force. Upon graduating they would be transferred into the SS-VT, the SS- TV and the German Police. Waffen-SS candidates first had to graduate from a SS Junkerschule with the rank of Untersturmführer before they could attend the SS Medical Academy. In the early years there weren’t too many of these since the Waffen- SS officer’s corps was still in its infancy and the newly formed field units needed every available officer.

All members of the academy (including staff) were issued the cuff-title “SS-Artzliche Akademie,” to be worn while they were at the institute. Guest medical lecturers (from the University of Graz), frequented the academy, though they appeared in civilian dress. After completing an initial physician’s training course, the students moved on to a second clinical training course. After this a state medical exam was administered the those who passed were promoted to Obersturmführer and permitted to go on to other universities to study the specialty of their choice.

Lectures and discussions at the academy were held on medical subjects as well as on politics, art and related topics. Freedom of speech was permitted and encouraged. Some of the wide-ranging evening discussion groups were personally led by the head of the Waffen-SS Medical Services, Dr. Genske or by the commander of the academy.

The outbreak of war drastically affected the SS Medical Academy, and changed part of its mission to one of transforming civilian doctors into military doctors. At different times in 1940 and 1941, the first academy graduates who were continuing their training at different universities were called up to serve as combat platoon leaders in frontline Waffen-SS units. As a result, fully 12% of the academy graduates were killed in action during the war.

The academy training courses were designed to run as follows:

  • 5 semesters in preliminary training.
  • 21/2 years in clinical training.

Once these classes were completed and the medical exam was passed, and various university studies were finished, the academy graduate was expected to practice for one year at a SS hospital. It was estimated that it would take 8 to 81/2 years to turn out a properly trained Waffen-SS military physician. Of course, the academy itself never lasted that long!

During pre-clinical training there was time set aside for ambulance/truck driving instruction and sports practice. Horsemanship was also taught. For the first two semesters a fencing master was on hand to teach the rudiments of that sport. Since medical officers would be required to treat enemy and “allied” wounded, courses in the French, English, Italian and Russian languages were taught by military interpreters.

In the clinical training period, courses were held in medical techniques, troop hygiene, new medical developments and medical officer duties. During this phase the majority of trainees remained active in sports and military proficiency programs.

The academy contained the following personnel positions:

1) Commander and adjutant.

2) Two administrative officers (paymasters).

3) Two training class leaders/instructors.

4) Thirty staff employees who served as clerks, drivers, ordnance personnel and horse handlers.

5) One hundred medical officer candidates, although in general there were only about 80 on hand at any given time.

Since the number of Waffen-SS medical officers was never sufficient during the war, civilian doctors had to be called up. They received special military-medical training through a SS Medical Reserve Officer course that was held at the academy. This was perhaps the most valuable mission that the academy performed, since once finishing their course the civilian doctors were quickly placed into the Waffen-SS medical services.

The SS Medical Academy remained in Graz until almost the end of the war. It was dissolved shortly before the “Allied” occupation of the city. In recent years, half of the old academy building has once again been used as a treatment center for the deaf and dumb, while the other half has serviced the III. Surgical Detachment of the State Hospital in Graz.

Commanding Officers of the SS Medical Academy:

Commanders:

Dr. H. Jencio, 1937-1939 in Berlin
Dr. K.P. Mueller, 1939 to April 1942.
Dr. Kaether (medical lecturer)
Dr. Edmund Schlink to the end of the war.

Temporary Commander Between the Tenures of the Regular Commanders: Dr. Mittelberger, missing in Budapest, 1945.

Adjutants:

Dr. Siegfried Libau in Berlin
Dr. Ding
Dr. von Lycken
Dr. Werner Kleinknecht
Dr. Egon Skalka, himself a member of a training course at the school. Later chief medical officer of the 10th SS Panzer Div. “Hohenstaufen.”
Dr. Gottlieb Zrubecki

Training Course Instructors:

Dr. Hans Himmler
Dr. Hans Foerster
Dr. Gottlieb (lecturer)
Dr. Walter Poeschel
Dr. Philipp Reich

Administrative Officers: (All at Graz)

(Ustuf.?) Gehringer
Hstuf. Rienisch
Ostuf. Lackner