last update on: 28-okt-2013
wiking time line 1940-1945 - first European freiwilligen unit of the waffen-ss
Select year: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 H.I.A.G. Post-war trials
At the end of May, several weeks after the Dutch had surrendered, the Germans started to recruit for volunteers.
Hitler had meanwhile given permission to form the SS-Standarte "Westland".
The SS-Ergänzungsstelle in Den Haag, under command of SS-Hstuf. Leib was given the orders. It was supervised by the SS-Hauptamt of Gottlob Berger.
As an result of this 2,448 men signed up and after medical checks between a third and half of them were designated as 'Diestuntauglich' (unfit for service) for the Waffen-SS!
The first Dutch group which was drafted belonged to the 'Sport und Spiel-Bewegung', formed by men living in Germany and also members of the NSB of Mussert. Most of them served in the 'Brandenburger' who had played a role during the invasion of Holland in early May. Because of their political beliefs they were immediately sent to München-Freimann, to serve in the SS-Ersatzbatallion 'Deutschland'.
During their training lots of difficulties took place. Dutch volunteers being misguided by the propaganda, differences in believes and goals. Many
of them were surprised that they were 'only' given an military course, based on the hard training of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (VT).
The German officers and NCO's were used to this, due to their membership of the Jungvolk and later the Hitlerjugend.
As a result of this the Dutch were given a choice:
- Return to Holland,
- Sign for 6 months, 2 or 4 years or 'for the duration of the war' and serve in the 'Westland'-regiment.
Formation of a new SS-Division (mot.). largely depended on the 'friendly' countries like Norway, Danmark and The Netherlands.
It happens under supervision of SS-Gruf. Hans Jüttner - Chef SS-Führungshauptamtes -. Btl.Kdr. I./Art.Rgt. VT - SS-Ostubaf. Herbert-Otto Gille - received orders to prepare the activation of a new SS-Artillerie Regiment. The SS-VT division was at the time stationed in the Amersfoort (The Netherlands) area, just after the French campaign for rest and refitment.
After cancelling plans for Operation 'Seelöwe', the invasion of England, large units from the SS-Verfügungsdivision are available.
Regiment Westland collect for 'Winterhilfswerk' (WHW) in München.
The 'Stellenbesetzung' of the SS-Artillerie Regiment 5 (AR 5) is completed by SS-Ostubaf. Gille.
Activation and formation of the new SS-Division.
Main body is formed by the SS-VT regiment GERMANIA. The regiments GERMANIA (Germans) and WESTLAND (Germans mixed with Flamish and Dutch volunteers) stationed in München and NORDLAND (Germans mixed with Norwegian and Danish volunteers) which was stationed in Vienna and Klagenfurt.
Commander was former commander of the SS-Inf.Rgt. (mot.) Deutschland, SS-Brigadeführer Felix Steiner.
Division HQ and Artillery - Between Augsburg and München;
Rest of the division - rest of Germany and Austria.
Division HQ and Artillery - Between Augsburg and München;
SS-Inf.Rgt. Germania; Rgt.Kdr. SS-Standartenführer Reichsritter von Overkamp in Wien;
SS-Inf.Rgt. Westland; Rgt.Kdr. SS-Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle in Klagenfurt;
SS-Inf.Rgt. Nordland; Rgt.Kdr. SS-Standartenführer Fritz von Scholz;
SS-Art. Rgt.5; Rgt.Kdr. SS-Obersturmbannführer Herbert-Otto Gille - Dachau;
SS-Pionier Btl.5 - Dresden;
SS-Nachrichten Abt.5 - Nürnberg;
SS-Aufklärungs Abt.5 - München-Freimann;
SS-Nachschub Abt.5 - Berlin-Lichterfelde
5.SS-Inf.Div.(mot.) GERMANIA renamed into 5.SS-Inf.Div.(mot.) WIKING. (Tgb.Nr. 518 of 29.1.1941)
SS-Brigadeführer Steiner visits Inf.Rgt. Westland
The SS-Oath is adapted to the wishes of foreign volunteers, most of whom refused to receive the German citizenship.
Dutch volunteers were again given the possibility to return to The Netherlands by Himmler.
The regiment 'Westland' takes their oath, finally.
Unterführer Lehrgang in Bad Tölz for the NCO's of the 'schweren Kompanien' - 4th, 8th and 12th.
Other regimental units had field exercise around the Ingolstad area.
Division assembles around TruppenÜbungsplatz (TrÜbPlatz) Heuberg, near Sigmaringen and taken into active service. An 8 weeks trainings course follows.
Every infantry regiment has its 'own' Artillerie Abteilung, with which it cooperated.
I.Abt served with Germania, II.Abt with Westland and III.Abt with Nordland, the regiment's heavy weapons were often divided between the Abteilungen or complete in action on the several hot spots.
The Art.Rgt. 5 was formed by 3 Abteilungen and a 4th schweren Abteilung.
An Abteilung consisted of 3 Batterien with 4 le.FH18 (10,5cm - max. range 9,150m), the 4th heavy Abteilung had 3 Batterien with schw.FH17 (15cm - max. range 13,325m) and at the beginning of 1942 an additional 4th Batterie with the schwere Kanone 18 (10,5cm - max. range 18,990m) was added.
Placed under command of Armygroup C, XXXX-Pz.Korps under General Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg.
Deployed to the Breslau area, between the cities of Oels, Militsch and Wohlau.
Finally taken under command of 1.PanzerArmee of Generaloberst Ewaldt von Kleist, XIV.Panzerkorps of General Gustav von Wietersheim.
SS-Freiwilligen Bataillon 'Nordost' activated.
Btl.Kdr. SS-Hstuf. Hans Collani.
Crossing the German-Polish border near Groβ-Wartenburg and after a 3 days march ending up in the staging area (SA) near the Polish-Russian border south-east of Lublin.
Placed under command of the Panzergruppe 1.
March from SA's near Cholm to southern area of Zamosz, 3./Westland spearheaded the advance of the division.
Wiking arrives at Lemberg...
It finds thousands of civilians murdered by GRU and/or NKVD-troops in prisons and cellars...
Westland encounters strong enemy forces (32nd Guards Division) around Zamosz for the division's first time and remains stationed and encounters numerous battles at the eastern front without a pause until 1945...
SS-Staf. Hilmar Wäckerle , Rgt.Kdr. Inf.Rgt. 'Westland', was the regiment's first soldier who was killed in action in the Lvov area. He is succeeded by SS-Oberführer Artur Phleps on 3rd July.
SS-Freiw. Bataillion Nordost is transfered by train to Stralsund.
I./Westland crosses the river Slucz, III./ and II./ follow.
Chef 5./Westland, SS-Hstuf. Alfred Miklos is killed in action around Husyatin.
After fierce battles, Biala-Zerkow is captured. At the 16th II./Germania almost collapses during heavy russian attacks, until A.A.5 reïnforces them. Heavy fighting continues, at dawn on the 17th russian troops advanced till 500 meter of the Divisional HQ! During the morning 'Westland' arrives and was immediatly sent in the Taraschtscha area where is was joined by 'Nordland' later that afternoon.
Division HQ at Skwira
Inf.Rgt. Westland reaches its final objective, the Kotluga depression at the cost of:
KIA: 10 officers - 12 NCO's - 70 men,
WIA: 8 officers - 52 NCO's - 300 men.
During following actions Westland, meanwhile south of Talnoye/Swerdlikowo, Ukraine - in order to close the Uman pocket - it witnesses one of the first recorded war crimes.
About 25 men of 1st platoon 1.Kompanie, with their platoon leader SS-Untersturmführer Franz Weisswasser were found dead and severely mutilated after their position was overrun by russian forces.
Regiment Westland, together with paratroopers of the 'Hermann Göring' regiment endured heavy fighting around Korsun and Schandorowka. During the early morning hours, Stubaf. Günter Ecke was killed in an ambush. All vehicles were marked with a big white 'K' next to the yellow sun wheel, the tactical sign of Wiking. Later diverted over Kirowograd to Dnjepropeetrowsk.
A small bridgehead was made on the eastern bank of the Dnjepr by 'Nordland'. Fighting lasts till mid September...
SS-Freiw. Battalion Nordost is transferred by to Truppenübungsplatz Gross-Born in Hinterpommern.
Training on platoon, company and battalion size.
SS-Hstuf. Alfred Schade, Kompanie Chef 1./Westland was killed in the Dnjepropetrowsk area.
Kompanie Chef 15./Westland, SS-Hstuf. Kreutzer KIA during the heavy and continuous battles in the Dnjepropetrowsk-Kamenka bridgehead. Break out of the pocket.
During the night, the rest of the division managed to cross the Dnjepr.
After a brief consolidation the division attacks and Inf.Rgt. Germania attacks Kamanka. Over 5,000 POW's were taken after heavy concentrated german artillery-fire landed in the ranks of 3 russian divisions and scattered them.
III./Nordland renamed Finnisches Freiwilligen Batallion der Waffen-SS.
Formation of Wiking's Sturmgeschütz (StuG) or Assault Gun Batterie under command of SS-Ostuf. Hermann Lange
The attack on Pawlograd by Nordland was halted and the regiment was relieved by parts of the 198. Inf.Div.
Wiking advances to Konskije-Rasdony, meanwhile Nordland marched to Stara-Konstantinowka. Russian forces were too late to escape an encirclement...
On the heights next to railway Melitopol-Stalino german troops closed the ring....
The new Legion 'WALLONIEN', formed out of french speaking Belgians under command of SS-Stubaf. Lucien Lippert arrives in Russia.
Re-assigned from III. Panzerkorps to XIV. Armee Korps, advancing to the Melitopol-Stalino railway.
Periods of heavy rain hamper the supply units.
65,000 POW's, 125 tanks and 500 artillery piece were captured by the Germans.
Bad weather, storm and rain with some snow. Roads are turned into mud trails.
Russian officers and political officers have fled or have been shot by own troops. Russian POW's were send to the west, often without guards.
Near Ignatijewka, only 15 km advanced in last days. Wiking stands still due to a lack of fuel.
Still no fuel, division organizes a Kampfgruppe and some Pioniere which has to take Krynka.
Kampfgruppe von Scholz together with the reinforced Nordland-regiment reaches Mokri-Jelantschik. Wiking has reached a collum length of 125km!!!
Weather: fog, rain and mud...
Wiking has finally enough fuel to start an operation into Krynka.
Nordland throws back a Russian cavalry-division and reaches the Mius river, a small bridgehead has established near Golodajew.
Due to sub-zero temperatures, roads become drivable again. I./Nordland reaches the road Uspenskaja to Amrosiewka and takes the town.
Inf.Rgt. Westand crosses the Mius river and advances north-eastwards towards Perwomaisk-Oktjabrisk, in order to reach the road to Astachowo.
For the first time I./Westland was fired upon with a massive fire concentration with the Katucha or 'Stalin Organ'. Substantial losses were reported.
After heavy rain, temperatures dropped far below zero and snowing. Roads are frozen, supply routes are finally getting usuable for transportation. Further attacks on Bischlerowka and Upspenskaja. Target becomes Schachty, north-east of Rostow on the Don.
Russian counterattacks forces Inf.Rgt. Westland to give up the line Popwka-Darjewka-Nowoaksai during night and setting up a defensive position west of Bolsche-Klopinskaja on the Tusloff.
During the night XIV.Korps retreats to the west. Strong Russian forces plunges into the old empty positions. Heavy rear guard fighting by Wiking.
SS-Stubaf. Kurt Albert, Btl.Kdr. Pionier Battalion 5 and several of his officers are KIA in the Barabanow area.
Regiment Commander SS-Oberf. Arthur Phleps reports the losses suffered by the Westland regiment between July 1 and November 30, 1941:
KIA: 29 officers - 65 NCO's - 347 men,
WIA: 21 officers - 138 NCO's - 920 men,
MIA: 29 men.
Totalling 1,549 men - nearly 50% of its original strength within 5 months!
I./Westland relieves II./Germania at Berestowo.
Two batallions of Westland were always in the Mius positions present, while the third was withdrawn into the Amwrosijewka area for some rest and re-fitting.
1./AR 5 under command of 1.Gebirgsdivision until 19.4.42.
The new Freiwilligen Legion 'WALLONIEN' under command of SS-Stubaf. Lucien Lippert, together with a Kampfgruppe under SS-Stubaf. August Dieckmann crashes into a Russian counter-attack near Grischino and halts the offensive.
At the beginning of February Wiking receives winter clothing for the first time. Temperatures drop to -40° C.
A new Finnish battalion, completely motorized, arrives in the Mius positions. It was taken into the ranks of the 'Nordland' regiment under SS-Oberführer Fritz von Scholz.
Establishment of Panzer Abteilung “Reich” at WILDFLECKEN Training Area as the first Panzer Abteilung in the Waffen SS. It’s new commander is SS-Sturmbannführer Johannes Mühlenkamp.
The bulk of officers and NCOs consists of volunteers from Division “Reich”, with recruits from Ersatzbataillone Deutschland (in PRAGUE), Germania (in HAMBURG-LANGENHORN) and from another SS Ersatz unit in APELDOORN, The Netherlands.
At Wildflecken training-area, Germany; 3 staff-units from 3 new Panzer Abteilungen are assembled together with the three commanders.
SS-Stubaf. Mühlenkamp - Pz.Abt.2 for division 'Reich', Stubaf. Albin von Reitzenstein - Pz.Abt. 5 'Wiking' and Stubaf. Georg Schönberger for the LAH. Although designated for 'Das Reich' it will change into 'Wiking'. Redesignated SS-Pz. Abt. 5 “Wiking” since Division “Reich” was being pulled out of the line in Russia and ordered back to France.
Since the Abteilung was needed for upcoming 1942 summer offensive, the SS-Führungshauptamt decided to transfer it to Wiking instead.
Rgt.Kdr. 'Westland', SS-Oberführer Arthur Phleps leaves the regiment to take over 7.SS-Gebirg Div. 'Prinz Eugen'. He is succeeded by at first SS-Ostubaf. Berthold Maack and later on by
SS-Ostubaf. Paul Geiβler.
Legion 'Wallonien' is withdrawn for R&R and recieved new personnel after harsh battles at the Mius.
The first tanks for the Panzerabteilung and Sturmgeschütz (StuG)-Batterie arrive .
I./Pz.Abt. 5 receives its first Panzer III's. Unit was organized into 3 tank companies, with a Stabskompanie and lasted until 27th March, as follows:
1. Kompanie: Pz III; commander: SS-Ostuf. Günther Schnabel
2. Kompanie: Pz III; commander: SS-Ostuf. Theodor von Staden
3. Kompanie: Pz IV; commander: SS-Hstuf. Fritz Darges
Stabskompanie: SS-Ostuf. Gaipel
Aufklärungszug: SS-Ustuf. Josef 'Sepp' Martin (equipped with Pz II)
Kradschützenzug: SS-Ustuf. Willi Hein
Pionierzug: SS-Ustuf. Fritz Schraps
Nachrichtenzug: SS-Ustuf. Hans Köntopp
Abteilung has full complement of tanks, except 3. Kompanie did not receive full complement of Pz IVF2 with L/48 long gun until later. Each company consisted of 17 tanks, with 5 per platoon and 2 in company headquarters section.
The Panzerabteilung 'Reich' is transferred to Wiking for the upcoming summer offensives.
Stabs-Aufklärungszug - (Sd.Kfz.121) Panzer II
1.Kompanie - (Sd.Kfz.141) Panzer III Ausf. J¹ - Equipped with the longer and more powerful 5 cm KwK 39 L/60 gun. 1,067 produced in late 1941 to mid 1942.
2.Kompanie - (Sd.Kfz.141) Panzer III Ausf. J¹
3.Kompanie - (Sd.Kfz.161) Panzer IV 7.5cm short barrel
SS-Pz. Abt. 5 “Wiking”, formally incorporated into Division Wiking, then fighting on the Eastern Front.
However, since it was not yet ready for combat, it continued its training in Germany.
Training complete, except for gunnery and Abteilung-level maneuvers. I./SS-Pz.Abt. 5 moved to STAUMÜHLENLAGER Training Area near PADERBORN.
First large scale training exercise with entire I./SS-Pz.Abt. 5.
Departure to Russia. At first the Stabskompanie and 1. and 2./SS-Pz.Abt. 5 depart, followed by the Panzer IV's (7.5cm KwK 42) of the 3./SS-Pz.Abt. 5 and a light platoon (Pz.Kfw.II).
The Abteilung arrives at Amwrosiewka, 70km norht-west of Taganrog. Main body gathers here, without 2./SS-Pz.Abt. 5, which moves to Wassiljewka.
SS-Pz.Abt. 5 closes at assembly area near the Mius River and links up with Division Wiking for the first time.
First commanders-meeting in the Divisions Gefechtsstand (Div.HQ) in Uspenskaja. Next days are for additional training together with the rest of the division.
Great loss for the 2./SS-Pz.Abt. 5 when its commanding officer, SS-Ostuf. Theodor von Staden dies during one of the exercises.
Division commander, SS-Gruf. Felix Steiner, inspects I./SS-Pz.Abt. 5
Wiking advances to Rostow, Inf.Rgt. Westland and III./Nordland had to give up all of their vehicles to Inf.Rgt. Germania and I./ and II./Nordland to form again several Kampfgruppen.
Inf.Rgt. Westland remains around Mokri-Jelantschik.
Russian lines were broken around Tanganrog, Wiking advances to Rostow.
Wiking formed 3 battle groups, under command of Weitzdorfer, Dieckmann and Stoffers. All three Kampfgruppen (KGr.) will follow the Wehrmacht's 13th Pz.Div. and placed under command of LVII. Pz.Korps, west of Sambek as part of the 17.Armee for the assault on Rostov.
Rostov, with 525.000 inhabitants (at that time) was an important city on the Don river. There crossed the river the only rail road leading toward the Caucasus with its large quantity of oil. Another rail road runs toward Stalingrad, 400 kilometers far to east.
Besides, Rostov was a vital railroad hub; from the west, the line Dniepropetrovsk-Taganrog; from the north the line Voronezh-Vorosilograd, which in the Lichaja region turned east leading towards Stalingrad; from the south came in the lines from Novorossijsk, Armavir and Tuapse; to the southeast, in the Salsk region, came in the line from Stalingrad.
Having started the advance with its northern wing, the 17 German AOK jumped off with its southern wing on the 20 July in order to attack Rostov from the west and northwest and conquest the city in conjunction with the 1.Pz.Armee.
SS-Div Wiking is renamed into 'Gefechtsgruppe Steiner', which consisted out of the Kampfgruppen I./Germania (Dieckmann), II./Nordland (Stoffers) and I./Nordland (Weitzdörfer).
Wiking division could not advance as a whole due to the shortage of vehicles, only one motorized detachment could be organized as follows:
Sturmbannführer Dieckman (Kdr. I./SS-Rgt. Germania)
I./SS Pz Abt 5
III./SS-AR 5 (2 batteries of 105 mm and 1 battery of 155 mm)
10./SS AR 5 (105 mm cannon battery)
1 company of engineers
1 AA platoon (4/6 20 mm guns)
Wiking's main body waits for its vehicles in the Uspenskaja area.
Together with elements of 13.Pz.Div., WIKING crosses the river near Sambek.
At 8 am, SS-Div Wiking captures its first goal, hill 116.9.
K.Gr. “Dieckman” was ordered to advance along the north wing of the Mountain Army Corps, moving as far as possible toward the east in order to facilitate the movement of it.
The column moved on and having advanced 12 kilometers changed the direction heading northeast and passing through the locality of Vodianoie with the following disposition:
Advance guard: Kdr SS-Pz Abteilung 5 with one Pz company and half rifle company
Distance: two kilometers.
Main body: Stubaf Dieckman with the bulk of the troops. One tank platoon with one rifle squad (mounted) in each flank.
Distance: one kilometer.
Rearguard: one tank platoon with one rifle squad (mounted).
Roughly 10 kilometers after passing Vodianoie the vanguard exchanged fire with Russian positions located further to the east. The commander then ordered to pass around it. When the night fell the combat group took up an all-round position at the cross-road located 3 kilometers west of Stojakov. The position was organized in three rings, in the inner ring was placed the artillery, in the midst ring the tanks and the heavy weapons and in the outer ring was deployed the infantry. The perimeter included also a source of fresh water.
This morning I./Pz.Rgt.5 targets hill 101.8 and 96.3 and diverts along the road Krim-Ssultan-Ssaly and have contact with the 3rd defensive line before Rostow. Leniawan.
In the morning, the combat group proceeded its advance. The vanguard just had left the last houses of Stojakov when was fired on by the russian from some hills located to the south. The formation continued its advance up to one kilometer before the position, where the riflemen dismounted in order to attack on foot; but the sight of the tanks roaring forward caused the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
The vanguard proceeded then in deployed formation and shortly after that was fired upon again from enemy positions located two kilometers to the north of Sultan Saly. The infantry attack went over supported by the tanks, which moved ahead by bounds. But this time having reached a point 800 / 1000 meters before the positions, some Russian antitank cannons opened fire striking two tanks (one disabled by hit on one of its track and the other set on fire, nevertheless both crews were rescued). The tanks moved back up to 1.500 meters from the positions in order to avoid the antitank fire. The commander of the combat group, on the spot, stopped the main body in a valley, 4 kilometers to the north of the enemy position and ordered the artillery commander to be ready to support the attack. Dieckman (situated on the top of one tank’s turret could observe the trench’s lines running along the outskirts of the town and scarcely manned so decided attack at once. Taking advantage of the presence of one air liaison officer, Stubaf Dieckman requested air support, which was granted.
About 17:00 hours, 36 Stuka's appeared roaring and dropped its bombs over the enemy trenches and the neighborhood of Sultan Saly, simultaneously the artillery and the infantry heavy weapons shelled and fired on the Russian positions. Making use of the fire suport furnished by the Stuka's, the artillery and the heavy weapons, the tanks with mounted riflemen reached the trenches at great speed and then the infantry dismounted and cleared it. The mopping up operations lasted up to the 22:00 hours and when finished the combat group rested in an all-round position to the south of the town. Div.Kdr. Steiner meets with regimental commanders to order the attack of the following day. HQ set-up north of Sapadnyi. Kampfgruppe Dieckmann advances during the night.
The combat group rested between the 23:00 hours and the 03:00 hours and then proceeded. About 04:00 hours and having reached the vanguard the point 93 (3 kilometers to the south of Sultan Saly) the situation had developed as follows:
West of the line Krim-tschaltir, roughly 10.000 / 15.000 men were holding its defensive positions against the assault of the German infantry.
The combat group, in front of point 93 would be engaged by enemy troops in company strength (200 - 300 men). These troops were in position about 8 kilometers off the Rostov outskirts. An antitank ditch runs in front of it.
At the Trud factory (4 kilometers to the southeast of point 93) the Russian had organized one strong point.
There were movements of Russian troops toward the east, the German security troops there, could not get in contact with the 13 Pz.Division.
When the vanguard reached the point 93 was engaged in a firefight with the Russian troops. The riflemen dismounted and pushed forward; having advanced up to 800 meters of the enemy position, the lead elements checked the presence of one antitank ditch.
At sunrise, the Panzerabteilung with attack the Russian positions. Spearheaded by SS-Hstuf. Schnabels 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5, followed by 2./SS-Pz.Abt.5 (Flügel) and parts of 3./SS-Pz.Abt.5.
The Panzerabteilung secures their positions near Leniawan, 2 company's of I./Germania are halted near Krasnyj Krym.
The tank platoons seeked for a ford but without success. The infantry men supported by the fire of the tanks, 4 heavy machine guns and 2 mortars (81 mm) pressed on and conquisted the point 80, the Russian fled. Later the engineers blew up the walls of the antitank ditch allowing the armor to pass. About 07:00 hours the vanguard surpassed the point 80 and advanced up to leninawa, where was fired on by rifles, heavy weapons, antitank cannons and artillery. The Russian position was heavily defended and the ground up to the enemy line (800 meters) was coverless. When the commander arrived at point 80, he ordered that the artillery be placed in order to fire on the enemy.
III./SS-Art.Rgt.5 positions around Nishne-Gnilowskaja and supports operations with suppressive fires.
Air support requested was denied. Then taking advantage of one recce plane that was overflying that area, the German commander requested the pilot the following:
-Frontage of the position.
-Whether it was totally manned or not.
-passages through the antitank ditch.
About 11:00 AM the the pilot answered that:
-From Leninawa toward the northeast the position was manned.
-Roughly 2 kilometers toward south of the point 80, there is a bridge without security detachment, no troops can be seen nearby.
The commander in taking a daring resolution ordered a raid against the bridge; two rifle companies mounted over the tanks located in the same hollow. The artillery continued firing on the enemy, one of the batteries should follows the riders as soon as possible.
The vanguard continued the exchange of fire with the foe in order to cover the action and avoid any countermeasure.
SS-Stubaf Dieckman climbed up onto the tank battalion commander’s vehicle and pointing toward south ordered via radio: to reach the Tschaltir-Rostov road, from there to the east in order to seize the bridge located 5 kilometers west of Rostov.
The column advanced at great speed along the hollow, past the antitank ditch, reached the road and got through the bridge ( 9 kilometers from the starting point ) in less than 20 minutes. One engineers’ squad was left on the bridge dismounting the explosive charges. Having reached the objective, one rifle company reinforced with tanks attacked along the Russian position from southwest toward northeast cleaning it and allowing the vanguard, deployed near of Leninawa, to join with the bulk of the combat group.
The combat group then took up an all-round position where the road cross the rail road and patrols were detached to reconnoiter the surroundings.
About 14:00 the commander knew the following:
-The main Russian position (defeated shortly before) was cleaned of enemy troops.
-Toward the southeast, along the rail road and the edge of Rostov, the situation was unknown. Russian soldiers with heavy machine guns and infantry cannons had been detected.
-Toward the south, in the Sapadni area, own patrols met several Russian soldiers, who surrendered at once. In the same direction and along the edge of the city, an antitank ditch could be observed (5 meters deep and 6 to 8 meters width) also 40 to 60 riflemen with machine guns could be seen in the area, deployed in the houses.
The commander decided then engaged his troops in the Sapadni direction and organized the combat group as follows:
-Assault group: commanded by the Tank battalion commanding officer (Muhlenkamp), with one tank squadron, one rifle company and 2/3 of the engineers company (with explosive charges). Its mission was to attack in the Rostov’s direction, directly to the southeast of Sapadni. At one occasion SS-Hstuf. Schnabelt, Kompanie Chef 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5 is wounded.
-Support group: composed of the heavy weapon company of the 3rd battalion SS Rgt “Germania” and the artillery group (III / SS AR 5). Its task was to furnish fire support to the assault group. The heavy weapons (machine guns, infantry cannons, antitank guns and mortars) were placed on the eastern edge of Sapadni; the two 105 mm batteries occupied fire positions to the south of the locality, with the mission of furnish direct fire against the houses in the edge of Rostov, located 1.500 meters ahead. The heavy battery (155 mm) and the cannons of 105 mm occupied fire positions to the west of Sapadni in order to furnish indirect fire support on Rostov and, if necessary on the river Don’s bridges.
-Reserve group: composed by one rifle company, one engineers platoon and one tank platoon located west of Sapadni with two tasks, one to reinforced and exploit the attack in the Rostov direction and another, to protect the artillery positions against attacks from the north and the west.
-Security group: composed by one rifle squad and one tank platoon in order to protect the bridge conquest on the road Tschaltir-Rostov and to block the roads leading to Krim and Tschaltir.
When the order was given, the assault group pressed forward up to 100 meters before the antitank ditch where they were fired upon with rifles and machine guns from the houses; the machine guns were shooting especially from the windows. Since there was not antitank fire, the tanks approached up to 50 meters before the edge of the city and shot against the windows; protected by this fire, the riflemen past through the ditch and occupied the first houses. While the engineers were trying to build a passage through the antitank ditch, the reserve company was engaged and break into the city carrying on with they the artillery’s forward observers. This attack reached a hill (point 80) located 2 kilometers to the southwest of the railway station and roughly 1.500 meters before the river Don.
On the spot an all-round position was organized and simultaneously arrived there, the artillery group and the heavy batteries (155 mm howitzers and 105 mm cannons) commanding officers. From this position, toward the south, could be observed the great swampy area and the towns of Koisug and Bataisk.
Towards the east and on a big island formed by the river Don, two bridges where located (one road bridge and one rail road bridge). A big number of Russian troops trying to cross toward the south bank could be seen. To the southwest another men were building wooden rafts, surely there were the troops defeated at Krim-Tschaltir. The heavy batteries took the bridges under fire in order to break off the traffic, which they did. The light batteries were fired upon the Russian troops located toward the southwest.
Meanwhile the engineers allowed the tanks to pass through the antitank ditch and the tank battalion commanding officer with one tank squadron, one rifle company, some heavy weapons and two engineers platoons raced across the city towards the bridges in order to block and break off all the traffic through them. After nightfall this group got in contact with formations of the 13 Pz division, which had break into Rostov from the northeast. Between 16:00 and 18:00 hours, the following dispositive was adopted:
- An all-round position between the rail road bridge and the railway station under orders of the tank battalion commander. Links with the 13 Pz division’s troops (on the road bridge) should be maintained.
- -An all-round position at a point located 2 kilometers to the south of point 80’s hill, in order to check the road along the south Don river bank.
- An all-round position at point 80’s hill with the artillery and the bulk of the combat group.
Defensive positions at Trud and Leniawan are occupied, 2 battalions of Nordland occupy Leniawan.
At 15.00 hrs the first tanks of the Pz.Abt. have reached the western outskirts of Rostow as I./Germania attacks the city suburbs. Around 15.15 a Russian column advances to the city. III./SS-Art.Rgt.5 fires upon them. SS-Stubaf. Mühlenkamp was given the Ritterkreuz on the 3rd Sep. 1942 for the part of his Panzer Abteilung during this attack.
After four days of fighting, Rostow is occupied. Next target: the Krapotin Kuban-bridge!
The Pz.Abt. has 6 Pz.II, 12 Pz.III(k), 22 Pz.III(l), 4 Pz.IV(k) and 6 sSfl (PaK).
The enemy positions at Bataisk were shelled by at least 40 batteries (light and heavy ones), also aerial attacks were carried out with 36 stukas.
19.00 hrs formations established in three groups:
1.Gruppe: I./SS-Pz.Abt.5, Pz.Jgr. Kompanie, I./Germania, SS-Flak Abt.5, Pi.Kompanie, leichte Art.Abt.
2.Gruppe: I./Nordland and mix of Art.Rgt.5
3.Gruppe: II./Nordland and 10./SS-Art.Rgt.5
I. and II./Nordland near the city of Rostow and the airfield. Advance is postponed...
04.00 hrs all units are ready, but not earlier then 15.30 hrs(!), tanks and heavy vehicles could go across the river and the last resistance at Rostov itself was wiped out.
The SS "Wiking" march to the Caucasus.
While resting at Rostov, the division was reinforced and re-organized as follow:
Commander: Staf Gille (SS AR 5).
SS Nordland Regiment (less one battalion)
I./SS Germania Regiment.
I./SS-Pz Abt 5.
1 Engineer company.
SS-AR 5 ( with 3 groups, two of them with 2 batteries of 105 mm and 1 battery of 155 mm; the third with 1 battery of howitzers 105 mm and 1 battery of cannons 105 mm).
FlaK Abt 5 ( with two batteries of 88 mm and one with cannons of 20 mm and 37 mm).
1 Reconnaissance company.
SS-Pz Jager Abt 5.
Support units (communications, maintenance and supply).
The Kampfgruppe was, as well, split in three groups as follow:
1 Infantry battalion.
1 Artillery group.
Antitanks ( half to one company).
1 AA Platoon.
The bulk of the tanks, antitank and AA guns should march with the Advance Guard; the engineers should march either with the Vanguard or the others groups as ruled the situation. Each group could be employed with independence if necessary.
The Reconnaissance company was, in turn, split in two half companies ( one armored car platoon and one motorized platoon each) and should be detached towards both flank to reconnoiter and maintain contact with the neighbor units, the 13 Pz Div to the east and the infantry divisions to the west.
The source is the book "from Caucasus to Leningrad". Tomo I. By Lt Col Marini. Circulo Militar. Buenos Aires.
Wiking is now self-supporting on it's own. Luftwaffe groups are placed under direct command of Wiking, their CO is Oberstleutnant Steinert.
At dawn the hedgehog was surprised by the fire of heavy Russian weapon, the enemy rear guards approached up to 1 kilometer south of the advanced positions and the german soldiers were awoke suddenly with machine guns, mortars and cannons fire. After a few minutes the infantrymen answered the fire, the tanks crew were inside of his vehicles with the engines roaring and the commanders could regain the control.
The hedgehog was dissolved and the infantry companies, together with the tanks and supported by the artillery, were charging against the enemy . The Russian rear guard withdrew step by step towards the main positions (the hill located 8 kilometers to the south) where the resistance stiffened up and the assault stalled.
Standartenfuhrer Gille alarmed the others march groups putting them in motion in order to combine efforts with the advance group; in that way, nine batteries supported the attack carried out by the SS Pz Abt. 5 and the
I./Nordland which moved onwards in broad front trying to find either the enemy flanks or weak points on the defensive position.
Under this new thread, the Russian units withdrew around 08:30 hours establishing new defensive positions roughly 22 kilometers to the south at the north edge of Metchetinskaia, as was known later.
The vanguard pushed southwards without changing its deployment, together with two tanks squadron which advanced forwards with mounted riflemen. Behind, 1 or 2 kilometers, followed a third tank squadron, the bulk of the infantry battalion and the artillery group.
At noon, before reaching the village of Rakitni, the vanguard was fired upon with light weapon and artillery so the morning scheme was adopted again. Immediately one infantry battalion was deployed which was followed by tanks, the artillery took up fire positions and the others battalions were in readiness for joining the assault. One hour later the enemy left the town, but seemingly a few hostile riflemen remained there and opened fire when the first German soldiers arrived.
Standartenfuhrer Gille ordered then that the advance guard surpassed the village and established a hedgehog 3 kilometers to the south close to Mechetinskaia. The others two groups should carry out mopping up operations in the town (Rakitni) and then should proceed towards Mechetinskaia where all-round positions should be established. On this day the Kampfgruppe advanced only 35 kilometers in straight line. The half Reconnaissance company detached to the east got in contact with units of the 1º Pz Army which was crossing the river Manytsch in its southward movement.
The advance march group was relieved by another group and the Kampfgruppe proceeded its march at 05:00 hours. This time the nature and fuel shortage delayed the movements; to the west was advancing slowly the 198 ID and to the east the 1º Pz Army with its yield diminished due to fuel shortage.
This day hostile cavalry cut short the supply line, so on Standarten Fuhrer Gille’s orders the rear group moved back to Jegorlikskaia, in order to reject the Russian toward west and re-open the way to Rostov. During 30 and 31 Jul the Kampfgruppe should stop due to lack of fuel. The vanguard south of Jegorlik, the second march group northwest of that town and the rear group warding the road to Rostov west of Jegorlikskaia.
On August 01, after refueling, the Kampfgruppe advanced forward again. The rear group was attacked suddenly with light weapons, the riflemen dismounted and deployed and after a short fire fight captured more than 100 Russian soldiers, losing one dead and 3 wounded, the Artillery Abteilung commanding officer among them.
At noon, Standartenfuhrer Gille was informed (by recce plane) that Bielaia Glina was occupied by the enemy, seemingly the same russian group that delayed him before so he decided annihilate them this time.
The attack on Bielaia Glina (White Mud).
At 13:00 hours, Gille issued the following order:
The vanguard group, should attack Bielaia Glina from the north supported by one tank squadron, its own artillery abteilung plus the second group’s heavy battery, in order to engage the Russian forces avoiding its withdrawal. Also the enemy should be deceived about the main effort.
The second group with the bulk of the SS-Pz.Abt. 5 and two artillery batteries should carry out a flanking movement and hit the Russian from the flank and rear (south and southwest).
The rear group should reinforce the attack from the north.
The two half recon companies should reconnoiter both flanks of the defensive position at Bielaia Glina toward east - southeast and west - southwest in order to avoid any surprise.
The reconnaissance confirmed that the defense was confined in the town. When the attack coming from the north reached up to 1000 meters from the enemy positions. The second group started its movement. At this very moment arrived the third group so Standartenfuhrer Gille told the commanding officer that should advance immediately toward Bielaia Glina with the infantry battalion as if they were reinforced the frontal attack.
However the enemy could see the flanking movement due to the clouds of dust raised by the tanks moving at great speed and some units began to withdraw. Two tank platoons with some heavy weapons, were detached to protect the group’s rear and were deployed on the roads leading to Novopokrovskaia and Novopavlovskaia. The artillery batteries took up fire position at 1000 meters to the southwest of Bielaia Glina and fired some shells against the houses on the town’s edge, also some vehicles fleing to the south were destroyed. 100 meters before the town’s edge the riflemen dismounted and launched the assault entering the village almost without resistance. Around the half of the infantry (400 to 500 men) and all the artillery were captured. Among the vehicles there were great number of American trucks, some landser wanted to send one telegram of gratitude to Mr Roosevelt; Gille refused the idea because the notice could cut short the Uncle Sam’s trucks to the Wiking through his Russian ally.
The fight lasted almost three hours and around 17:00 hours Bielaia Glina was cleared of Russian troops. The inhabitants offered salt and bread to the commander and his officers, also a group of old Cossacks paid a visit to Standartenfuhrer Gille with uniforms and medals earned in the Tsar period.
During the advance, SS-Stubaf. Karl Schlamelcher, Kdr. III./SS-Art.Rgt. 5 is severely wounded. Frontal attack on Bjelaja Glina by I./Nordland.
At this time, SS-Div Wiking has only 3 infantry elements; Inf.Rgt. Westland, a battalion of Germania and Nordland are left by the Mius river, waiting for their new vehicles.
Around 17.00 hrs Bjelaja Glina is in German hands. 4.Zug 3./Nordland recovers 3 US made Ford trucks! SS-Hstuf. Hans Bühler takes command over III./SS-Art.Rgt.5
The Germans units were roughly 75 / 100 kilometers away to the north of the river trying to speed the advance towards the south.
At 2nd August a Kampfgruppe occupies Nowo Pokrowskoje, 15km south of Bjelaja Glina.
The Kampfgruppe reinforced with the SS Germania Regiment’s Staff, the II./Germania and the bulk of the Engineers, Flak, Antitank and Communications battalions remained at Bielaia Glina due to fuel shortage. The night before one supply column (five trucks) was suddenly attacked in the middle of the dark by soviet raiders south of Jegorlik; when the first vehicle stopped in front of one road obstruction, the crews were fired upon and killed with rifles and submachine guns, then the trucks were stormed and destroyed.
The divisional Commander analyzed two course of action, one sudden attack against Kropotkin including one coup de main in order to seize the rail and road bridges located there. The second, to ford the river somewhere between Kropotkin and Grigoripolnsskaia.
After a detailed study of some aerial photos, the staff could ascertain that in the Grigoripolnsskaia sector the river basin widened and wooded land covered both river banks. Also the bank’s slopes had only a few meters of height. Therefore this sector was chosen for fording the river.
At 3rd August, Wiking with I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 and I./ and II./SS-Art.Rgt.5 turn south and meets several disbanded an fleeing Russian units.
The Division commander arrived and took over the command again; The SS Wiking was re-organized in two Kampfgruppen, one around the Germania and the other around the Nordland. After replenishing (night of 02 / 03 Aug), the Wiking could proceed at dawn. The advance guard, established around the Germania (reinforced), reached Grigoripolnsskaia at 13:00 hours sending out recce patrols to the south and east.
Meanwhile, the Nordland (reinforced) march group reached Dimitrijewskaia at 12:30 hours and halted there in order to take some rest up to 16:00 hours, but around 14:30 hours was attacked by roughly 20 russian planes which straffed and bombed the town knocking only a few vehicles and destroying two Fiessler-Storch planes landed nearby.
Late that very afternoon, the Germania (reinforced) after reaching the western edge of the town (Grigoripolnsskaia) launched one sudden attack trying to ford the river, but the surprise had been lost and the assault was rejected.
That night the divisional commander had on hand three courses of action:
- To resume the attack at Grigoripolnsskaia, strengthening it with the Nordland.
- To ford the river at Worowska.
- To launch the coup the main against the Kropotkin’s bridges.
The last solution was the chosen one.
The divisional commander ordered that the SS Germania (reinforced) should held the ground gained deceiving the enemy meanwhile the SS Nordland (reinforced) should attack Kropotkin at dawn, conquest it and then seize both bridges ASAP avoiding its destruction.
Point: one Recce Platoon.
Vanguard: one tank squadron with one rifle company mounted on it.
Bulk (5 / 6 kilometers behind): SS Pz Abt. (less one squadron), Command staff, I./Nordland (less one company), antitank company, anti aircraft Platoon, artillery group (Abt).
Rear guard (5 kilometers behind): II./Nordland, one anti aircraft Platoon, trains.
Temisbekskaia was surpassed without incidents but at Kavkasskaia the vanguard was engaged by two hostile rifle companies which started its withdrawal towards Kropotkin; the surprise had been lost. After surveying the russian positions, the ground and the built up areas from the southwest corner of Kavkasskaia Standartenfuhrer Fritz Scholz, taking in account the coverless terrain up to the eastern edge of Kropotkin, assessed the situation and issued the following order:
II./Nordland was to attack, supported by 2./Pz Abt., the southeast edge of Kropotkin from Kavkasskaia.
I./Nordland was to attack, supported by 1./Pz Abt., along the rail road leading to Kropotkin, in order to knock the town from the north or northeast.
The artillery abteilung, placed on the west edge of Kavkasskaia, was to furnish fire support mainly to II./ SS Nordland and eventually to I./SS Nordland.
The Recce Platoon was to secure the northern flank of the I./Nordland.
The anti aircraft Platoons were to protect the force against hostile planes from the west of Kavkasskaia and eventually cover the northern flank of the II./Nordland.
The anti tank company was split and attached to both battalions (I. and II./Nordland).
The 3./Pz Abt. 5 was to act as reserve at Kavkasskaia.
The attack was lauched around 08:30 hours and the II./Nordland pressed forward reaching at 10:00 hours up to roughly 500 meters of Kropotkin. Meanwhile the I./Nordland attacking astride the rail road reached some ground located one kilometer due north of Kropotkin. At this very moment, the Recce Platoon informed that one hostile column, around 1000 men, was marching towards the town (Kropotkin) from the northwest.
This was a serious threat on the I./Nordland’s back, therefore Standartenfuher Scholz ordered that the tank commander with the reserve (3./SS Pz Abt 5) should attack going round the right wing of the II./ SS Nordland (taking with them all the riflemen that could climb onto the tanks) and penetrated up to the train station then immediately towards the rail bridge. Then the regimental commander took his liaison vehicle, drove cross country up to the 2./SS Pz Abt and took the squadron’s command. When all the riflemen nearby were onto the tanks he raced towards the bridge at great speed and at 11:00 hours reached the train station; around 11:15 the 2./SS Pz Abt arrived at the north embankment when an awful blast sounded and the bridge was blown, immediately another explosion followed to the west and the road bridge also was destroyed. With both bridges destroyed the struggle diminished. The I./ SS Nordland pressed the enemy column towards the west and the II./Nordland carried out mopping out operations in the town.
The artillery looking for targets could observe 30 trains trying to escape to the south; the three batteries took part in a contest trying to burn the trains down. After half an hour around 300 wagons loaded with guns, ammunition, fuel and equipment were burning.
The tanks targeted some trains loaded with fuel located close to the river south of the embankment. The Kampfgruppe Nordland took up an all-round position east of Kropotkin that night. At dawn the Kampfgruppe marched towards Grigoripolnsskaia in order to join with the bulk of the division.
The river crossing at Grigoripolnsskaia. This very day, the Germania could establish a tiny bridgehead (400 meters x 400 meters) at Grigoripolnsskaia in the difficult lowlands located on the river bank.
When the SS Wiking’s Commander knew about the failed operation at Kropotkin, ordered to enlarge the bridgehead gained at Grigoripolnsskaia and reinforced the assault troops located there with the SS AR 5 (6 batteries of howitzers 105 mm, 2 batteries of howitzers 155 mm and 1 battery of cannons 105 mm) and Corps’s artillery (3 batteries of cannons 105 mm, 3 batteries of howitzers 210 mm and 1 group of rockets launcher with 2 batteries x 8 guns x 6 tubes of 150 mm each and 1 battery x 8 guns x 5 tubes of 280 mm each)
With this support the I./Germania could press forward slowly during the afternoon and night and by Aug 06 at dawn enlarged the bridgehead along the river (1 kilometer x 1,5 kilometers) denying the enemy observed fire over the river bank. After that one Corps’s Engineer battalion started to built up one bridge (24 tons) of about 75 meters over pontoons ; its access were reinforced with planks, logs and stones.
Meanwhile the I./Germania was fighting in the bridgehead and the Engineer battalion was building the pontoon bridge, the balance of the division dug in and then remained in its well concealed positions and fox holes. However, suddenly they were fired upon by Russian guns of 120 mm. It was a surprise since no hostile recce plane was overflying them and the enemy could not observe the crossing point, moreover one artillery group that changed its position twice was shelled every time it was deployed.
Then the Officers surveyed the field carefully in order to detect the enemy OP location. After several patrols were sent, it was finally found in the tower of one old church that become a barn under soviet rule. The russian Forward Observers had destroyed the stairs and had blocked the door with logs and stone. Surrender was out of question so the patrol tossed one hand grenade in the tower, when the spot was reached two braves Russian Officers were found dead so the patrol saluted those valiant's that carried out his tasks to the end.
The 2./Pi.Btl. 5 have managed to built a 24-tons bridge across the Kuban river.
During the night of 6/7 Aug 1942, the II./Germania got across the river and reached the bridgehead established by the I./Germania. On 07 Aug at 04:00 hours one Stuka group appeared and dropped its bombs upon the target and hostile positions in front of the II./Germania; simultaneously the artillery and rockets launchers laid a violent barrage on the Russian defensive position and after that at 04:10 hours, the II./Germania attacked towards south and west and compelled the enemy to withdraw after a short fight. Some of the 120 mm guns previously mentioned were captured by this troop.
At 04:30 hours the balance of the SS Wiking crossed in the following order: as vanguard the SS Pz Abt. 5 with the 5./Nordland mounted on the tanks; then the A.A. 5; followed by Nordland with the AR 5 and at last the Germania. At first their goal is the Armawir-Krapotkin railway. The division advanced towards Kropotkin.
Kampfgruppen 'Nordland' and 'Germania', supported with the 2./ and 3./Pz.Abt. 5 reached crossingpoints Temirgojewskaja and Petropawlowskaja with their Laba bridges!
Weather is sunny with 42 degrees in the shades!
I./Nordland attacks Temirgojewskaja, its Laba bridge the prize for SS- Bluhm's 3./Nordland. After heavy causalities a small bridgehead is open.
Petropawlowskaja is under attack from Gefechts Gruppe Germania, the SS-Pz.Abt. builts a small bridgehead near Tenginskaja. Nordland attaches its infantry...
Advance by Gefechts Gruppe Nordland and I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 towards Bjeloretschenskaja, large junction of roads, railway lines and the oil pipeline to Tuapse at the Black Sea. Panzers in front, followed by 3./Nordland and the rest of I./Nordland. Around 13.00 hrs the Pz.Abt. reaches the Bjelaba river, south of Welikoje.
Wiking's main body advancing from Petropawlowskaja through the Laba delta towards Petropawlowskaja, meanwhile the I./SS-Pz.Abt. turns to the south of Welikoje.
Welikoje is occupied by the Aufkl.Abt.5, which secures the northern flank. During the night, parts of the Pz.Abt. and I./Nordland assemble in the Giaginskaja area.
The Aufkl.Abt.5 is not at full strength, together with Inf.Rgt. Westland and a battalion of Nordland and Germania are waiting for resupply and refitting.
The Divisional Commander in order to assure the operation success had ordered that the SS “Germania” launched an attack at the village of Tenginskaia, located 25 kilometers to the west, and crossed the Laba at this point.
The regiment’s assault suffered the same fate of that of the SS “Nordland”, a bridgehead was established but the bridge itself was blasted. However, the river’s wide was only 50 meters there so the divisional Engineers Battalion could work covered by the bridgehead troops and after nearly 30 hours built up a new one with pontoons finishing on the night of 09/10 Aug.
On Aug 09, a Sunday; both regiments held its positions driving back several counter attacks against the bridgeheads. As the villages inhabitants were cossacks the german soldiers received a warm welcome, also those people gave them milk and eggs as presents. Part of the provisions received were conveyed to the frontline troops and in the afternoon was served a lunch for the officers not needed at the front. After 15 days the troops could take a bath by groups in the stream that ran on the western edge of the village. However the day ended in a bad way for one battery allowed its gunners to take a bath and they swan towards the south bank where one hostile machine gun spotted them and opened fire, killing 6 and wounded 8 men in the water.
As was told before this night, the bridge over the Laba river at Tenginskaia was finished and the SS “Nordland” withdrew its troops from the bridgehead at Temirgojewskaia and moved on Aug 10 at dawn towards the crossing point.
This very day the SS Wiking moved southwards around 35 kilometers reaching the area located north of the village of Beloretchenskaia in the middle of a valley in the foothill of the Caucasus Range.
Due to the 13 Pz Div actions great number of enemy troops were pushed towards Bieloretchenskaia, so all day long, 11 Aug 1942, the Germania reinforced, tried to seize it coming from the north but without success. Meanwhile the Nordland had taken an all-round position 5 kilometers due north of the town; at midnight one soviet truck’s column entered the hedgehog and reached up to 300 meters of the artillery positions, the howitzers opened fire in the dark almost at point blank sweeping out vehicles and men.
Gruppenfuhrer Steiner ordered that the Nordland should go round the town by the west and ford the Bielaia river blocking the valley from the southwest. The movement should be start that very night, so on Aug 12, at 19:00 hours the Regiment began its cross country march. After a while the vehicles were unable to advance across that terrain in the dark, therefore the II./ SS Nordland proceeded its march on foot. The artillery group took fire positions to support the crossing and the I./Nordland covered the column’s rear and flank (artillery, vehicles and supply trains).
The Bielaia river was a Kuban’s tributary, that ran from the ridges located south of Maikop and at that time had scarcely 50 meters wide and 1 meter of depth and roughly 5 kilometers to the northwest of the village it received the Pschecha river as affluent.
The II./Nordland forded the river successfully and one bridgehead was established by 00:30 hours, on 13 Aug; at 01:30 one enemy counter attack was rejected. At 04:00 hours as the sun rose, hostile cavalry was discovered (roughly 500 riders) approaching from the east, (probably from Zerkownyj area). The column was engaged with machine guns and anti tank cannons and nearly wiped out, the remnants fled towards the southeast into the wooded foothill.
Meanwhile, one Sturmbannfuhrer standing near one of the batteries, when turning to give an order could see an infantry column of enemy soldiers marching past as far as 600 meters. The fight in the Bielaia river area attracted the russian attention so they could not detect the german positions located on the first bank. The I./Nordland was alarmed and the guns turned back, then the column was shelled and fired, shortly after that the remnants fled leaving one Lt Col, four captains and 400 men as POWs.
At 06:00 hours the German column (I./Nordland, artillery and vehicles) proceeded to the bridgehead and then advanced towards the southwest.
Wiking takes Kubanskaja and advances with I./Germania to Apscherowskaja, meanwhile II./Germania deflects to Twerskaja where it crushes heavy resistance. At night they are near Twerskaja, Inf.Rgt. Nordland relieves II./Germania, which follows I./Germania to Apscherowskaja.
Finally Inf.Rgt. Westland and III./Nordland join the division. Westland consists of 2 batallions with 5 company's each. Only III./Germania is not present at this moment.
With two attack axes, one in the Pschecha valley, the other in the Pschisch valley concentrating on Chadyschenskaja and Apscherowskaja, Wiking reached the Maikop’s oil fields located between 35 and 60 kilometers far away from that city.
Kriegstagebuch III./Nordland: "07.00 at Komsemolzkaja, heavy artillery and mortar fires. Kp.Chefs Hstuf. Schnabelt and Ostuf. Hilker killed in action.
16.20 Batallion advances to Twerskaja and secures the town with I./Nordland. 46 POW's..."
Inf.Rgt. Nordland advances as western K.Gr. towards Kabardinskaja, point in front of Muk.
I./Germania reaches the area north of Apscherowskaja. II./Germania secures the ridgeline between both K.Gr Wiking. SS-Div Wiking stands on both roads from Maikop to Tuapse.
Now Wiking has to wait for the XXXXIV.Jgr.Korps, which both divisions - 101. and 97.Jg.Div. - are 2 day marches behind.
Parts of II./Nordland are engaging enemy forces around Guriskaja.
Renaming III./Nordland in Finnischen Freiwilligen Bataillon.
Defensive positions with in the Asfaltowaja area Inf.Rgt. Nordland, south of Apscherowskaja Inf.Rgt. Germania and around Ssamurskaja-Dachowskaja Inf.Rgt. Westland.
SS-Div Wiking relieved and assigned to the LII.Armeekorps.
SS-Div Wiking assigned to 1.Pz.Armee.
III./Nordland relieved by Bau Btl.503 and a Kosakken squadron.
I. and II./Nordland relieved in place.
SS-Pz.Gren.Div Wiking motorized march Maikop, Labinskaja, Armawir, Min Wody in the Pawlodolkskij area at the northern bank of the Terek river.
Nordland is placed under command of the 111.Inf.Div near Mosdok (Caucasus)
III./Nordland relieves Gren.Rgt.666 (370.Inf.Div) northeast of Nish. Kurp
II./ and III./SS-Art.Rgt.5 in firing positions, east of Nish. Kurp with the Pz.Abt. in its assembly area..
Last commanders huddle; I./Nordland follows the southern ridgeline towards Malgobek, to the left III./Nordland higher up the ridgeline in order to eliminate enemy fire on I./Nordland. Same orders for II./Nordland which takes the northern ridgeline into Kesskem.
In the evening all units are in their designated areas for their final preparations for the upcoming attack...
As it appears later, Russian forces intended to strike in the morning with 4 battalions. The German positioning of Nordland was unnoticed, German hour of attack was planned at 05.00 hrs, the Russian at 05.30 hrs...
After a short artillery barrage, Nordland advances at 05.00 hrs in the direction of Ssagopschin. Later we will find out that I./Nordland operates in the hotspot, while it runs into the four Russian battalions, which should attack Nish. Kurp. Hstuf. Friedrich Bluhm, Kp.Chef 3./Nordland is killed instantly... and with him within minutes 2 platoon leaders in 3./Nordland!
Within 30 minutes, 3./Nordland has a loss ratio of 40%
Same with 1./Nordland where Kp.Chef Ostuf. Tunner is killed in action immediately. III./Nordland is supported by all its heavy weapons, but at 08.30 hrs the battalion has 9 KIA and 30 WIA.
I./Nordland is stuck with heavy losses, III./Nordland is stuck too. Only II./Nordland, taking the northern route still advances.
Ostuf. Körner of the regiment takes over 3./Nordland, but is wounded on his way to the unit. Ustuf.. Spörle takes over 1./Nordland and finally 3./Nordland is commanded by Ostuf. Thöny, the acting battalion adjutant, which launches a new attack. Finally I./Nordland starts again, which encourages III./Nordland for its next attempt. At 11.30 hrs, 11./Nordland is reinforced by leichtes IG, PaK, sMG and mortars. Around 17.00 hrs III./Nordland lies 20 meters (!) before its objective, unable to carry on. At 17.45 hrs, Btl.Kdr. III./Nordland - Stubaf. Hans Collani - orders its retreat. III./Nordland lost 25 KIA and 54 WIA, most of them from 11./Nordland. II./Nordland makes better progress at the southern route.
Since 07.00 hrs, II./Westland follows I./SS-Pz.Abt.5. Reinforced by 3./SS-Pz.Jgr.Abt.5 and escorted by 3./SS-Pi.Btl.5 the move up to the east of Nish. Kurp.
While Hstuf. Schnabelt (1./SS-Pz.Abt.5) has his birthday, his company has point... At 10.00 hrs, Ustuf. Kollotzschy's tank was hit and blocks the road. After 4 hrs the engineers have found a new route, 2./SS-Pz.Abt.5 recieved artillery fire during this period.
At 16.00 hrs, 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5 with 5 tanks, are half way to Ssagopschin. Ustuf. Max Perthes was killed, Ostuf. Wörmer wounded.
Panzer Abteilungs strength on this day:
5 PzKfw. II
11 PzKfw. III 'Kurz'
23 PzKfw. III 'Lang'
3 PzKfw. IV 'Kurz'
6 PzKfw. IV 'Lang'
A total of 48 tanks... By the evening of 27th September, some 20 Panzers were lost.
Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland arrives at Min Wody. Wiking receives artillery and mortar fire during the whole day from the Ssagopschin/Malgobek area.
K.Gr. Westland, reinforced with the Panzer Abteilung was to launch a break-through through the Knip-valley to Ssagopschin. SS-Stubaf. Harry Polewacz takes over Inf.Rgt. Westland.
SS-Pz.Gren.Div Wiking keeps its position in a large cornfield for most of the day. New attack plans are made, 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5 with main body Inf.Rgt. Westland frontal attack on Ssagopschin; 2./SS-Pz.Abt.5 road Ssagopschin-Nish.Atschaluki, in blocking position and on-call attack on Ssagopschin from behind.
Movement at dawn, Pz.Abt.5 in front, leading a company (Hstuf. Harry Willer) of Westland. On the left II./Westland, on the right I./Westland. When the fog disperses, the attack lies under heavy fire. Stubaf. Mühlenkamp - SS-Pz.Abt.5 - finds his entire unit in the middle of Russian positions between Malgobek I and Ssachopschin. More then 80 T-34's and Mk.III tanks advancing towards Wiking's 40 tanks. A fierce tank battle starts in which Ustuf. Köntopp (Nachrichten Offizier SS-Pz.Abt.5) is killed, Mühlenkamp rode in 3 different tanks that day and was shot three times!
New attack by I./Nordland and II./Westland towards Kesskem starts at 14.30 hrs. II./Westland has many casualties, Btl.Kdr. Stubaf. Steinert is wounded and replaced by Hstuf. Bäuerle. Around 17.00 hrs the Russian defenses have been defeated.
New attacks on the targets from yesterday, with no results at all. Oberführer von Scholz and Gille complain with division about insufficient means for the attack. Division Kdr. Gruf. Felix Steiner agrees and goes to the Korps; without result. III./Nordland replaces II./Westland and a new attack is planned for 1st October.
After heavy and fierce resistance SS-Div Wiking and parts of Gren.Rgt. 70 (Oberst Tronnier) took the strongholds of Ssachopschin/Malgobek. Inf.Rgt. Germania lost on that final day 33 dead and almost 200 wounded!
Division mentioned in Wehrmacht Bulletin of the Day for helping to take important Soviet oil production city of MALGOBEK.
At 02.30 hrs III./Nordland is relieved from their positions around Kesskem by I./Nordland. At 13.00 hrs is III./Nordland ready for a new push to east Malgobek.
As a result of continues work of the Pz.Werkstatt und Ustuf. Erich Weisse, the 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5 can use 10 tanks.
Severe defensive battles, the initiative lays with the Russians! Grenadier Kompanien strenght in average about 30-40 men. Finally III./Germania (Hstuf. Franz Hack) arrives in the West Caucasus.
Hill 701 falls in the hands of III./Nordland. For four consecutive days Russian forces trying to recapture hill 701 without results.
Wiking leaves the Ssagopschin/Malgobek area and takes positions around the Werch. Kurp area.
Inf.Rgt. Westland under command of Stubaf. Polewacz, his I./Nordland gets Stubaf. Lohmann. Oberführer Fritz von Scholz leaves the division and takes command over the Latvian Brigade. New Rgt.Kdr. Nordland becomes Ostubaf. Joerchel and finally, Hstuf. May leads II./Germania.
Renamed to 5.SS-Panzer Grenadier Div. WIKING.
From 1.11.1941 till 2.6.1943 a Finnish battalion of volunteers was attached to the division. It served in the WESTLAND regiment as III./NARWA.
First snow is falling as start of the second winter in Russia...
II./Nordland travels as first unit from the Malgobek area of operations to the 23.Pz.Div where it relieves elements of the well-known 13.Pz.Div.
At 11th November I./ and II./Germania arrive and at 20.00 hrs they are replacing units of the 13.Pz.Div defending around Nish. Ssaniba.
At 15.00 hrs, at the start of darkness a breakthrough towards the surrounded 13.Pz.Div, lead by 7./Nordland and I./Pz.Rgt.4. Mostly wounded and finally the Division Staff escapes the pocket.
At 11 November the 13.Pz.Div breaks out of its pocket and fights it way back to the west. An Luftwaffe Flak.Abt. with 8.8cm is positioned by Stubaf. Mühlenkamp just before Russian tanks appear. These 88's destroy the Russian tanks, 13.Pz.Div retreats via positions of I./ and II./Germania, II./Nordland, Pz.Abt. and parts of Pz.Jgr.Abt. back to the German lines.
The new Haupt Kampf Linie (HKL) runs from bridgehead Dsuarikau-Rasswet-Fiagdon river-east of Ardon and connects with LII.Armeekorps at Elchotowo.
Russian forces penetrated German lines in the vicinity of Rassnet. After a day of artillery duels and scrimmages, the gap is closed.
SS-Pz.Gren.Div Wiking under command of III.Pz.Korps
II./Westland, SS-Pz.Abt.5 and StuG.Brig. 203 reinforce the 13.Pz.Div near Kodgoron and Ardon.
In 14 days of bitter fighting, Russian forces attacked 4 times in Regimental strength, 58 times in Battalion strength, rest with a minimum of two company's!
III./Nordland transfers to Chasnidon/Toldsgun.
Re-deployement in order to relieve the 6th Army trapped in the
During the day of 24th December Wiking hold the 'Cesar' line, followed together with the 13.Pz.Div in the 'Vierow' line, Wiking forms an protective screen for the withdrawl.
Russian tankcolumn attacked by the Pz.Abt., in a few minutes 14 T-34's are destroyed.
Wiking - without III./Nordland - travels by rail to the 4.Pz.Armee
First units arrive with General Kirchners LVII.Pz.Korps. I./Nordland attacks from Remontnaja to the souteast in order to help 23.Pz.Div
More units, also Pz.Abt.5 arrive at Kuberle. At noon the entire Abt. is complete and arrives after a night march, on the 2nd January Simowniki in the morning.
- I./Nordland fights in the Remontnaja area;
- Inf.Rgt. Westland fights in the Simowniki area.
During one of the many counter attacks, 2./SS-Pz.Abt.5 finds 5 new Pz.III 7,5cm Lang with internal heater system, once belonging to the 23.Pz.Div. On order of the new Division Kdr. Oberführer Gille, the 5 Pz.III's are returned to the 23.Pz.Div.
On the 7th January, 2./SS-Pz.Abt.5 counter attacks in the area of operations of the 17.Pz.Div. On the next day LVII.Pz.Korps has found a defensive line, 17.Pz.Div in the north, Wiking in the middle and 23.Pz.Div in the south. Russian forces advance to the town of Olowka, which is held by Inf.Rgt. Westland. North of it around Kammennaja Balka, are parts of Nordland.
Pz.Gren.Div Wiking positioned in the line Kundrjutscheskij-Sundowa.
Heavy fighting around Kundrjutscheskij by Staf. Wagner's Inf.Rgt. Germania.
Wiking's left wing is pushed back, Russian forces reach Shurawleff before they are pushed back.
During the bitter fighting around Orlowka, both Stubaf. Harry Polewacz (Rgt.Kdr. Westland) and Stubaf. Frhr. von Hadeln (Btl.Kdr. I./Westland) are killed in action!
Wiking in the center of battle; Rgt. Nordland in the north, with 17.Pz.Div. II./Nordland in Grakow and I./Nordland in Krasn Snamja. III./Nordland still on route from the Caucasus, at this moment around Proletarskaja. In the middle Rgt. Westland and one of its battalions near Donskoj and one in Renitschanskij. In the south, Rgt. Germania in the Romanow area.
Many snowstorms and freezing temperatures below zero.
In the wake of the 14th, Russian forces find and expand a gap between Wiking and the 23.Pz.Div in the direction of Proletarskaja. Krasnoje Snaja is part taken by the Russians, Wiking prepares for the counter attack...
14.35 hrs: III./Nordland recieves orders to strenghten I./Nordland
15.05 hrs: 11./Nordland marches towards I./Nordland. Krasnoje Snaja is 2/3 taken by 8 tanks and 400 men.
16.15 hrs: 11./Nordland with I./Nordland attack and forces the Russians to give up Krasnoje Snaja. They leave around 200 men behind. 11./Nordland loses 2 KIA and 13 WIA.
For example: Ustuf. Ertel 9./Nordland, reports that his current company strength is down to 35 men...
Pz.Gren.Div Wiking in Proletarskaja bridgehead.
Succesfull counter attacks on Sowchose I, southwest of Proletarskaja, by SS-Pz.Abt.5 and parts of SS-Pi.Btl.5. On the 17th and 18th January large Russian forces overrun Stubaf. Max Schäfer's SS-Pi.Btl.5, at the last moment elements of Wiking's Pz.Abt. prevent the total collapse in and around Stalinsky.
In the Proletarskaja bridgehead, Westand and Germania fight off numerous attacks. The situation by Nordland stays relatively calm around Manytsch...
At 18th January Russian attacks and penetrate the lines of the weakened 17.Pz.Div, by using the frozen Manytsch for its infantry. 17.Pz.Div alarms Wiking, which has Germania and Westland bound in their positions. Only III./Nordland can support counter measures at this moment.
From KtB III./Nordland:
I./Nordland relieves III./Nordland, which marches at 21.30 hrs to Schablijewka. Here 9./Nordland secures village.
06.05 hrs, battalions reaches southwest Jekaterinowka and contacts Pz.Gren.Rgt.40. Enemy strenght about 1,000 men with heavy weapons.
07.40 hrs, left 10./Nordland with 2 tanks and one StuG and 11./Nordland with 2 tanks, one StuG and the VB 12./SS-Art.Rgt.5 ready.
09.00 hrs, attack starts in northern direction.
10.00 hrs, Kp.Chef 10./Nordland Hstuf. Porsch KIA, replaced by Ostuf. Pohjanletho.
10.15 hrs, enemy movement from Kolchose, 2 km to the east.
10.30 hrs, about 600 men counter attack on 10./Nordland, which is neutralized.
11.35 hrs, remaining forces of the Pi.Zuges reinforce 10./Nordland.
12.15 hrs, another enemy attack, consist of around 400 men from the northeastern part of the village.
12.45 hrs, attack neutralized.
13.00 hrs, several attacks follow without results. Russian lost about 300 men and 160 POW's, included a battalion commander. Own losses are 1 Führer, 3 Unterführer and 5 men KIA, 24 WIA's.
07.55 hrs, reinforced with 2 tanks 10./Nordland attacks northern part of village. Russian losses 100 men and 73 POW's.
Again the Finnish volunteers have shown their dedication without a high loss count. Till May 1943, 255 Finnish volunteers are killed in action within Wiking.
Proletarskaja bridgehead is abandoned. Rgt. Westland moves to Ssalsk, Rgt. Germania near the Manytschdam and Manytschstroj. I./ and II./Nordland in Jekaterinowka and Schablijkewka, where III./Nordland remains.
Numerous attack around Ssalsk. Inf.Rgt. Westland is pushed back, Russian forces occupy the airfield. A combined attack with tanks and grenadieren pushes back the Russians.
During the early hours Wiking gets in its new positions, I./Nordland in Gigant, III./Nordland in Zelina, II./Nordland around Petschakowskij, II./Westland in Adronow, I./Westland in Zelina. The Germania regiment falls further back in order to prepare a new defensive line near Nesselyj.
I./Nordland take positions on both side of the main road in Gigant. After a few hours the first scrimmages are ongoing. Till 15.00 hrs the fight rages on, I./Nordland deflects all attacks, but a large force has cut-off I./Nordland's retreat route. Wiking orders the start of Nordland's retreat at sunset. Between 19.45 and 21.30 hrs I./Nordland passes III./Nordland in Werch Chutor and from here they take the main road to Zelina. I./Nordland has only lost 1 PaK. At 22.15 hrs III./Nordland leaves it positions and follows I./Nordland.
After a night march in the bitter cold temperatures, I./ and III./Nordland climb off their vehicles in Zelina. New positions are taken in, all most a routine. Giving up at night, new positions at dawn.
First attacks starting at 12.30 hrs, while its 2nd and 3rd wave are already preparing within sight. All waves are deflected...
19.45 hrs, Zelina is given up, march to Jegorlykskaja where it arrives at 22.30 hrs.
The reconnaissance company under Ostuf. Falke finds a large armoured column with the direction towards Jegorlykskaja. Wiking's defense around the town consists of I./Westland - present during the last 2 days - II./Westland in the south, II./Nordland in the north including the main road. Two company's from SS-Pi.Btl.5 arrive, the last one (Wanhöfer) in blocking positions. I./ and III./Nordland are on their way from Zelina.
02.00 hrs, Russian tanks firing upon village.
02.45 hrs, 6 T-34's in Jegorlykskaja, more advancing towards the village.
Mühlenkamp's Panzer are closing in during the night, at dawn they open fire on their targets. 13 T-34's are destroyed, few are lucky to escape. The six remaining T-34's are still in Jegorlyskskaja which are hit later. Russian forces leave the area, the Pioniere blow up all T-34's which are not completely destroyed yet.
Jegorlyskskaja stays in German hands, but pressure mounts around Komuna and Tischtschenko with Rgt. Germania. III./Nordland receives orders and marches to Metschetinskaja, I./Nordland follows in the evening. During the night, Jegorlykskaja is cleared; II./Nordland and Rgt. Westland are on their way to Oktjabrskoje, I./Westland in Mitrotanow and II./Nordland near Milajarowo/Grechow.
Komuna cleared by Rgt. Germania. Russian forces attacking Metschetinskaja with I./ and III./Nordland. At 27th January at 11.00 hrs, a German armoured attack give Wiking's units some space...
The front stabilizes, villages are occupied several times by Russians and Germans. Wiking must hold this line till the 111.Inf.Div arrives from Terek!
Weather holds with snow and temperatures low as 42C degrees.
LVII.Pz.Korps hold stable defensive line; Wiking's (from north to south) disposition: Nordland - Sernograd, Germania - Meschetkatales and Westland - Rossoschinskij.
Wiking marches into the new line Gawriloff-Nowo Bataisk. At 04.30 hrs Russian attack III./Nordland in Gawrilow, breaktrough at 11./Nordland. At dawn, counter attack by Ostuf. Deck with 20 Finns which destroys 3 Russian PaK's. At 08.00 hrs a new Russian attack with 300 men, supported by 7 T-34's. At 08.30 hrs the SS-Pz.Abt.5's quick reaction force is present, 3 T-34's destroyed and the others retreat, now follow by an attack of III./Nordland. The morning positions are back in German hands as at 13.30 hrs new orders arrive to clear Gawrilow...
Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland advances as part of the division to Stalino. Following the next order, set out on a march with the objective Konstantinowka.
Urgent orders to divert towards Krasno-Ameiskoje. Objective: Containment of Panzer Group Popoff.
Grenadieren from Rgt. Nordland are advancing to Krasno-Armaiskoje and take height 180. Kp.Chef 3./Nordland, Ostuf. Brönner was heavily wounded. During the next days, the division takes Rovny, Grischino and Gubin. Later they arrived in Alexandrowka and than Suschoj-Torek.
The Red Army attacks for several days at places like Barvenkow, Ziglerowka, Bowny, Bagdanowka, Soschoj-Torek and Kamytschewitscha. Wiking reaches the south bank of the Donez river, southwest of Isjum.
Rgt. Westland captures the northern edge of Bogdnowka. II./Westland was overrun by a counter-attack and diverted eastwards. During this battle SS-Stubaf. Erwin Reichel, the regimental commander was killed, he recieves the Ritterkreuz posthumous for his actions. He is replaced by Ostubaf. August Dieckmann.
Commander II./Westland, SS-Hstuf. Walter Schmidt receives for his actions the Ritterkreuz on 4th August 1943.
SS-Stubaf. Hans Köller replaces Rudolf Mühlenkamp as Kdr. I/SS-Pz.Abt.5. Mühlenkamp is ordered to return to Germany to begin forming new Panzer Regiment 5 for the Wiking Division.
Regiment Stabes SS-Pz.Rgt.5 and the new II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 begins forming at the ALTNEUHAUS training area in Germany. SS-Pz.Rgt. 5 renamed as the I. Abteilung SS-Pz.Rgt. 5.
Many experienced officers and NCOs transferred out of I.Abteilung, in order to form cadre for new regiment.
Pz.Gren.Rgt. Nordland was withdrawn off the division in order to establish the cadre of the new 11.SS-Panzergrenadier Freiwilligen Division NORDLAND.
I./SS-Pz.Rgt. 5 engaged in serveral actions near Isyum along the Mius and Donez defensive lines along with rest of division.
All of I./SS-Pz.Rgt.5 remaining tanks are grouped into 1./SS-Pz.Abt.5
Vehicles on hand: 7 Pz.III, 4 Pz.IV F1, and 2 Pz.IV F2. Entire division is part of German defensive effort along the Central Don Front, which lasts until 12 July 1943.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 is withdrawn to the Losowaja-Michaelowka area, for the first time after almost two years of action.
Here's some time for rest and re-fitting, both personnel and equipment. During the next 6 weeks, the I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 receives new vehicles, including Pz.IV Ausf.G for 3.Kompanie. 1. and 2. are still equipped with Pz.III.
Personnel changes with the division; SS-Ostubaf. August Dieckmann took over the Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland, SS-Brigf. Herbert Gille takes command over the division and SS-Gruf. Steiner was appointed and confirmed as Corps commander of III.(Germanisches)Pz.Korps.
Recuperation and rebuilding period ends for I./SS-Pz.Abt.5. Now put in reserve as “Quick Reaction Force” for Wiking Division, which is transferred to north-west of Slawiansk; Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland as army reserve in Slawiansk.
46.Inf.Div. was thrown back from Isjum. I./Westland followed K.Gr. Dorr into Ssrednij.
Russian counter-attacks were unsuccessfully, but two weeks later they succeeded in creating a gap 10km deep and 12km wide.
I. Abteilung Panzer strength as follows:
Pz III: 35 authorized, 24 combat-ready
Pz IV: 14 authorized, 17 combat-ready (over strength)
Total: 49 authorized, 41 combat-ready
(II./SS-Pz.Rgt.5 as of yet has no tanks assigned, still in forming process at in Croatia, where it and Rgt.Stabes were transferred to, coming from ALTNEUHAUS to continue its training process)
I./SS-Pz.Rgt.5 receives its first StuG III to from 4.Kompanie (7 vehicles). Also referred to incorrectly as StuG.Abt.5 Wiking.
5.SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Wiking participates in defensive battles near ISYUM and in the vicinity of KHARKOV, while assigned to the XXXX. and LVII. Panzer-Korps
Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland moved as part of the division into the area north-west of Kharkov.
Russian attacks trying to cut off the city, Rgt. Westland repositions its eastern flank to the edge of the woods south of Olschany. During those weeks the great defensive battle in front of the Dnjepr begins...
I.SS-Pz.Abt.5 strength as follows:
Pz III: 35 authorized, 8 combat-ready
Pz IV: 14 authorized, 8 combat-ready
StuG III: 7 authorized, 5 combat-ready
Total: 56 authorized, 21 combat-ready
(II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 as of yet has no tanks assigned, still in forming process)
Division engaged in defensive battles east of KIEV during retreat to the Dnieper River
Division engaged in defensive battles on the Dnieper River (Fuchsschwanz Insell/Foxtail Island). The Westland regiment crosses the wide river in the Cherkassy area where it had already fought in August 1941. Back then every man believed here would be our winter positions...
Rgt. Westland attacks for 4 day the Russian bridge-head over the Dnjepr, north of Kanew.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 Panzer strength as follows:
Pz III: 35 authorized, 8 combat-ready
Pz IV: 14 authorized, 5 combat-ready
StuG III: 7 authorized, 2 combat-ready
Total: 56 authorized, 15 combat-ready
Another attack at the bridgehead 'Fuchsschwanzinsel', Russian forces were thrown back to the east bank of the river.
Among the many deaths of this once proud regiment was the Rgt.Kdr. SS-Ostubaf. August Dieckmann, Chef 3./Westland SS-Ustuf. Greiner, Chef 5./Westland SS-Ustuf. Arndt.
Others like Chef 6./Westland SS-Ustuf. Fritz Hahl and SS-Hstuf. Horstmann - Chef 7./Westland - were seriously wounded.
II./SS-Pz.Rgt.5 reaches Karlovacz (a.k.a. Karlstadt) where it tasks was mainly to protect the city and area from partisans.
Division engaged in harsh and bitter defensive battles on the Dnieper near Cherkassy.
First two Panther Ausf.D delivered to II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 in Erlangen, Germany.
Additional 3 Panthers issued.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5, strength as follows:
Pz.III: 35 authorized, 13 combat-ready
Pz.IV: 14 authorized, 8 combat-ready
StuG III: 7 authorized, 4 combat-ready
Total: 56 authorized, 25 combat-ready
Also 33 Pz.Kfw.V 'Panther' tanks in Erlangen, Germany.
II./Pz.Rgt. 5 is led by Stubaf. Scheibe;
5.Kompanie Hstuf. Ewald Klapdor
6.Kompanie Ostuf. Dedelow
7.Kompanie Hstuf. Keppels
8.Kompanie Ostuf. Karl Nicolussi-Leck
Ia : Ostuf. Förster
IVa : Ostuf. Paschke
Rgt.Kdr. Ostubaf. Mühlenkamp
IIa : Hstuf. Zimmermann
IVa : Hstuf. Hagen
TFK : Hstuf. Sobota
Hstuf. Ewald Klapdor becomes Kdr. II./SS-Pz.Rgt.5
It became clear that the Wiking division was going to be encircled.
The corps commander, General Wilhelm Stemmermann, commanding general of the XI.Armeekorps receives orders to hold the pocket at all costs.
Division is renamed to 5.SS-Pz.Div. WIKING.
Headquarters SS-Pz.Rgt.5 and II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 conduct gunnery practice and company size maneuvers at Mailly-le-Camp training area.
The encircled XI.Armeekorps was given freedom of operations.
The front was moved to Schanderowka. In an area measuring just 7x8km, some 54,000 men were crowded together and waiting for relief forces from the south or west.
Field Marshall Erich von Manstein gives permission to a break out. Regiment Westland formed up for the break out. Spearheading the break out attempt was I./Germania under command of SS-Stubaf. Hans Dorr. After bitter and fierce fighting the troops had to cross the Gniloi-Tilkitsch, a small stream. No crossing points were available so they had to swim, with temperatures minus 10° C.
Finally they reached the objective: Lissjanka. The attempt had been successful although the division had lost all its armored cars (SPW), vehicles, artillery and panzers.
SS-Stubaf. Köller killed in action.
II./SS-Pz.Rgt.5 transferred to the Cholm area in a rush. Its Rgt.Kdr. and Abt.Kdr arrive at 24th March 16.00 hrs.
During its journey, the FlaK unit managed to shoot down an 4-engined bomber! Transfer of the remnants of division, including survivors of I./SS-Pz.Rgt. 5 to LUBLIN (Poland) where the division is to be brought back up to its former strength.
5.SS-Pz.Div. Wiking is mentioned in Wehrmacht bulletin one day after successful breakout from the Cherkassy pocket for exemplary heroism, daring spirit of attack and self-sacrificing comradeship.
Withdrawn to Dsengolowka, some 35 km southwest of Lissjanka.
42 Panthers issued to II./SS-Pz.Abt.18.104.22.1684
South-west of Kowel:
The stranded Panthers, guarded by 10 men and 16 Jägers
were relieved by III.(gep)/Germania and its SPW's.
1.4.1944 8 Panthers
issued to II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 in Erlangen on 17th April. These were the
last(!) Panthers Wiking received till the end of the war. May 1944
issued to II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 in Erlangen on 17th April. These were the
last(!) Panthers Wiking received till the end of the war.
30.6.1944On 30 June 1944, the formation absorbed the
VII SS Panzer Corps and was reformed as a headquarters for the
3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf and 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking.
31.7.1944 August/September 1944
3./SS-Pz.Abt.5 (with 6 Pz IV and 2 StuG
IV) virtually wiped out in heavy fighting when forced to blow up its
last remaining vehicles on the eastern bank of the Bug River while
fighting in the Slenzany Bridgehead. I. /SS-Pz.Abt.5 loses 8 Pz IV and 4
StuG IV in a single day of fighting. Its commander, SS-Hstuf. Saumenicht,
is mortally wounded. Command of I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 goes to SS-Ostuf. Kurt
Dorr, consisting out SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 9 Germania, A.A. 5 and SS-Pz.Gren.Btl.
23 Norge depart from the Modlin area and headed for Budapest. Totenkopf
for instance was well known with the eastern front, between 22th June
1941 and 31st December 1944 it lost a total of 53,794 men! Wiking
suffered 11,098 losses.
As a part of Operation Konrad I, the 5.SS-Pz.Div. Wiking was committed to action on evening of 1 January 1945, fighting alongside the Totenkopf. Near Táta, the advance columns of Wiking slammed into the Soviet 4th Guards Tank Army. In three days Wiking and Totenkopf's panzer spearheads had driven 45 kilometers over rugged terrain, over half the distance from the jump-off point to Budapest.
Division spearheads first relief attack of BUDAPEST, involved in heavy fighting in BICSKE and PILIS mountains. SS-Ostubaf. Fritz Darges' Pz.Rgt. 5 broke through the lines, immediately followed by Dorr's Germania regiment. The industrial areas of Felsögalla and Alsógalla Wiking had back-up on the southern flank by the 'Gruppe Pape'. Totenkopf and the 96. I.D. did the same in their area, although both SS-Pz.Divisions weren't even on full strength while parts were still dribbling in by train.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz III: 4 authorized, 0 assigned.
Pz IV: 73 authorized, 10 combat-ready
StuG IV: 0 authorized, 4 combat-ready
Total: 77 authorized, 14 combat-ready
II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz V: 75 authorized, 22 combat-ready
Regimental Total: 152 authorized, 36 combat-ready...
Slowly the attack halted and on 5th January it stopped at the road junctions of Zsámbek and Bickse. Secondary attack by the 711. I.D. rushed in from The Netherlands with replacements from the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe still in their blue uniforms were successful enough for a simultaneous attack by Pz.Rgt. 5 and Fritz Vogt's Norge batallion which amounted a second success. The 711. I.D. was comanded by Jesef Reichert and it was more or less by coincidence that it managed to conquer the city of Esztergom.
By destroying a Russian convoy of twelve trucks, six pieces of artillery and a number horse-drawn vehicles Darges has finally earned recognition and thus his Ritterkreuz. In those days, the value of the Ritterkreuz had been greatly inflated.
Within IV.SS-Pz.Corps losses had risen to 525 killed with another 2,605 wounded and 400 men missing.
The second relief attempt, to be known as Operation Konrad II, got underway. The 711. I.D. continued marching on alone to Pillissentlélek. There they had to wait for the Westland regiment.
In atrocious conditions, the Wiking advanced southwards towards Budapest. At 20.10 hours on the 11th Hitler ordered to stop the attack and start the attack to the south (i.e. 'Paula' which was renamed Konrad III). Several hours later, at 23.40, Gille reported that Pillisszentkereszt had been seized by Pz.Gren.Rgt.10 Westland, barely 20 kilometers from Buda. That morning the Panzergrenadiers spotted the church spires and turrets of the distinctive Budapest skyline poking through the morning fog. Radio contact was made with the soldiers of 'Florian Geyer' and 'Maria Theresia'.
At 00.35 hours, Gille contacted the Reichsführer-SS but, as usual the had gone to bed early. SS-Ostubaf. Werner Grothmann, only 29 years old did not dare to disturb Himmler.
This was how Konrad II ended.
Konrad III planned for the cleansing of the entire western bank of the Danube and thus holding on the Budapest. The main objective was to get the IV.SS-Pz.Corps to advance towards Budapest from the north of lake Balaton. After this mission had been successfully completed - i.e. after Hungary had been cleansed from the region to the north of lake Balaton to the Danube - operation 'Süd' would then be initiated, in effect a variation on 'Frühlingserwachen'.
Germania losses its commandant, SS-Ostubaf Hans Dorr, when a Russian grenade hits its regimental HQ. Dorr, already wounded fifteen (15) times before was wounded again but this time the wounds proved to be fatal. he died in an hospital in April 1945.
A third attempt, Operation Konrad III, launched in cooperation with the veteran III.Panzerkorps took place 100 kilometers to the south. This attack resulted in a 15 mile gap being torn in the Soviet lines and the destruction of the 135th Rifle Corps. Only the quick redeployment of more troops by the Russians prevented a German breakthrough.
Division moves into VESZPREM area and takes part in second relief attack of BUDAPEST and advances towards the Danube.
Waffen-SS units (including Wiking) mentioned in Wehrmacht Bulletin of the Day for breaking through the strongly-built Soviet positions east of the Platensee and advancing as far as the Danube.
Between the 18th and 21st January the Red Army had lost 193 tanks, 229 pieces of artillery, 257 PaK and 1,175 POW's!
A massive counter-attack at the village of Pettaend finally put paid to any illusions that mounting attack on Budapest might be fruitful. An estimated 200 tanks of the Russian 23rd Tank Corps rolled towards the thin German lines. The attack was fended of by some combined units, four Königstigers (sPz.Abt.509) a couple of StuG's (Sturmartillerie Brigade 303), units of the 1.Pz.Div. and the 'Norge' battalion.
The IV.SS-Pz.Corps suffered almost 300 men a day. Wiking was left with 14 tanks, Totenkopf with nine! The losses (dead, wounded and missing) had risen 4,350 for Totenkopf and 3,079 for Wiking. Both had lost 51 officers in the Konrad battlefields and 157 officers were wounded. By the end of January 1945, the entire Army Group South had lost a total of 35,000 men.
Through great secrecy, the majority of the elite Waffen-SS divisions were assembled in Hungary. IV.SS-Pz.Corps (Totenkopf and Wiking), remnants of IX.SS-Gebirgs Corps (Florian Geyer and Maria Theresia), I.SS-Pz.Corps (Leibstandarte AH and Hitlerjugend) under SS-Gruf. Herman Priess and II.SS-Pz.Corps (Das Reich and Hohenstaufen) under SS-Ogruf. Wilhelm Bittrich. In addition, there was also, where the 2.Pz.Army was stationed, the 13.Waffen Gebirgsdivision der SS 'Handschar' and the 16.SS-Pz.Gren.Division 'Reichsführer SS'.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz III: 4 authorized, 0 assigned.
Pz IV: 73 authorized, 3 combat-ready
StuG IV: 0 authorized, 0 combat-ready
Total: 77 authorized, 3 combat-ready
II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz V: 75 authorized, 6 combat-ready
Regimental Total: 152 authorized, 9 combat-ready
Just four days after the fall of Budapest, operation 'Südwind' starts, I.SS-Pz.Corps attacking the Gran bridgehead.
Army Group South conquers the cities Bart and Beny which signified the end of the Russian bridgehead. Although German reports claimed that Russian losses were as much as 20,000 men, German losses were also substantial. Leibstandarte statistics mention both divisions in the I.SS-Pz.Corps lost around 1,200 soldiers. The Leibstandarte had gone into batlle with thirty Pz.IV, thirty-five Pz.V Panther and twelve Jagdpanthers in the I./SS-Pz.Rgt.1. After the battle the numbers had been substantially reduced and the division was left with twelve Pz.IV, eleven Pz.V and four Jagdpanthers.
Hitlerjugend had also got a beating, deployed on the right-hand side during the fight. It lost one of its leading officers, SS-Ostubaf. Bernhard Krause who was commandant of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.26 and was killed at Muszla. He was succeeded by SS-Stubaf. Kostenbader.
Both divisions were reliefed as soon as possible, in order to prepare for the 'Frühlingserwachen' offensive. On 25 February, the first units were removed...
After the failure of Operation Konrad III, the corps was moved west to the area around Lake Balaton, where it was responsible for defending the left flank of Operation Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening), near Stuhlweissenberg.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz III: 4 authorized, 0 assigned.
Pz IV: 73 authorized, 3 combat-ready
StuG IV: 0 authorized, 2 combat-ready
Total: 77 authorized, 5 combat-ready
II/SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz V: 75 authorized, 9 combat-ready
Regimental Total: 152 authorized, 14 combat-ready
IV.SS-Pz.Korps consists out of:
Werfer-Abteilung 104 / 504
Schwere SS-Artillerie-Abteilung 504
'Frühlingserwachen' started at 4 a.m. and about everything that could go wrong, went wrong...
After 10 days of fighting Army Group South had lost 14,818 soldiers, 2,451 of whom were killed. Forty-eight tanks had been destroyed and about 1,000 men were missing. According to German sources, the Russian lost 5,100 soldiers killed, 1,300 were taken prisoner, 210 tanks and 407 pieces of artillery had been lost.
Final Battle for the Reichsschutzstellung.
On the 18th March, the northern arc of the Red Army unfurled itsself along the Veszprém - Pápa - Tét - Menföcsanak line. 96. and 711. I.D. came under threat and were driven closer to the Danube. Meanwhile Totenkopf held its own in the Mór region, while Wiking remained in Székesfehérvár. Finally, when other German units were moving back to the Reichsschutzstellung and/or Vienna, the order for Wiking came to break-out with all its equipment and head towards Urhida.
Division conducts fighting retreat to the Reichschutzstellung near HEILIGENKREUZ. On the 22th March it was possible to withdrawl Gille's IV.SS-Pz.Corps and Karl Ullrich's Wiking division back as far as Papkeszi where Silvester Stadler, commandant of 9.SS-Pz.Div. Hohenstaufen and Hermann Breith, commandant of the III.Pz.Corps congratulated them on their escape.
On the 23rd March, Varpalota fell in Russian hands, followed by Veszprém on the 24th March.
For Wiking Papkeszi was just a mid point in this massive exodus. Barely a week later at 30th March at 14.30, Wiking reached the Reichsschutzstellung or Raabstellung which formed the boundary between the German Reich (now Austria) with Hungary.
Division takes part in defensive battles in the Reichschutzstellung and south of Fürstenfeld. At Jennersdorf on Wiking's right flank, the Russian broke through the front lines.
Bulk of SS-Pz.Rgt.5 now fighting as infantry and continues to fight on foot; the Lehr element (app. 150 men) in Germany under Nicolussi-Leck, designated as leader of SS-Panzerabholkommando SENNELAGER, involved in combat with American forces between VERSMOLD and HANNOVER using 7 Jagdpanthers and SPW's which they picked up in a depot.
I./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz III: 4 authorized, 0 assigned.
Pz IV: 73 authorized, 0 combat-ready
StuG IV: 0 authorized, 0 combat-ready
Total: 77 authorized, 0 combat-ready
II./SS-Pz.Abt.5 tank strength as follows:
Pz V: 75 authorized, 2 combat-ready
Regimental Total: 152 authorized, 2 combat-ready and 9 more being repaired (without those of K.Gr. Nicolussi-Leck)
Wiking losses one of its controversial officers, Fritz Vogt who was badly wounded during an air raid on 2nd April. Wiking's commandant Karl Ullrich pinned his Ritterkreuz with Oakleaves on the dying Vogt before removing them again.
On the morning of 8th April, a worker at Hanomag factory in Hannover, informs Nicolussi-Leck that there are several brand new tanks in the factory yard of the M.N.H assembly facility at Hannover-Laatzen.
Waffen-SS units (including the Wiking) mentioned in the Wehrmacht Bulletin of the Day for halting the Soviet advance at the German-Hungarian frontier in the vicinity of GRAZ in a day long defensive battle, which succeeded in closing the gaps in the front.
The K.Gr. Nicolussi-Leck made it to the forest east of Sandlingen on the morning of April 12 with all its armored vehicles and the remaining 100 men, including a growing number of stragglers.
On the morning of April 13 the SS-K.Gr. “Wiking” found itself deep behind enemy lines. With the US 333rd Regiment to the north and US 334th Regiment to the south, they were outnumbered on either side 20:1.
Nicolussi-Leck made his final command decision on the morning of April 16. When by Hauptsturmführer Nicolussi-Leck surrendered in Hohne and told his interrogators who he was and that it was his Kampfgruppe that had been a thorn in Major-General Bolling’s side, they did not want to believe him. They had expected to have been opposed by a tank regiment, or at least by a battalion, their opponent supposed to be a Lt.Colonel, not just a SS Captain. The SS-K.Gr. “Wiking” covered a total distance of 250 kms before ceasing to exist!
Two Batterien of SS-Pz.Art.Rgt.5 giving support-fire to III./Westland under Hstuf. Schlupp near Gleisdorf.
The last Pz IV is blown up. 5.SS-Pz.Division Wiking forced to surrender along with rest of 6.SS-Pz.Armee. The division headquarters surrenders at RADSTADT, Austria.
Survivors of SS-Pz.Rgt.5 make their way in small groups or individually through American lines, where most of them are imprisoned in the POW Camp at RIEGSEE in Bavaria from June to September 1945...
The 5.SS-Panzer Division Wiking - first mixed unit with european volunteers - officially surrenders after almost 4 years of continuous presence at the battlefields at the eastern front, to American forces near Furstenfeld, Austria.
Last unit remnants of SS-Pz.Art.Rgt.5 surrender near Radstadt to American forces.
HIAG (Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit
der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS)
What was the fate of those foreign nationals who had
fought for Hitler? In Western Europe, the process of dealing
with collaborators began as soon as the war ended. In
Holland, special courts were established to enable the many
thousands of collaborators, as well as those who had served
in the German armed forces, to be tried, and the death
penalty was reintroduced for the first time since its
abolition in 1873. In all, 138 death sentences were
pronounced, although only 36 were actually carried out.
Anton Mussert was brought to trial at The Hague in November
1945 on a charge of high treason. On 12 December, he was
unsurprisingly found guilty and sentenced to death. Eighteen
Germans also received death sentences for crimes in Holland
but only five, of whom one was Rauter, were executed.
Between 120,000 and 150,000 persons were arrested in Holland in the immediate post-liberation period but, by October 1945, only 72,321 men and 23,723 women remained in prison. Thirty-five special courts consisting of five judges each were set up to deal with major cases of collaboration, while smaller tribunals comprising one judge and two laymen dealt with less serious offences. Some 60,000 persons were deprived of their Dutch citizenship for entering foreign military service, and also had their property seized by the state.
This was applied to all those who had served in the
German Army, Navy, Air Force, the Waffen-SS, the Landstorm
Nederland, German police or security formations, the guard
companies of the Todt Organization and the German Labour
Service (RAD). However, it did not include service with the
Dutch Germanic SS or the German state railways. On the whole,
the Dutch treated their collaborators with tolerance and
humanity, though perhaps the very magnitude of the problem
prevented harsh judgements.
Following its liberation, Belgium set up special courts consisting of two civilian and three military judges to try collaborators. Some 100,000 persons were arrested but only 87,000 were subsequently brought to trial; of these, around 10,000 were acquitted. Sentences of death were passed on 4170 persons (3193 were for military collaboration), of which only 230 were actually carried out. About 16,000 persons received long prison sentences. Léon Degrelle, the Rexist leader and famed Walloon commander, was sentenced to death in absentia, having escaped to Spain.
Those members of the Flemish Legion still serving in the Waffen-SS retreated from the River Oder and surrendered to the Americans near Schwerin on 2 May 1945. From there they were sent to the former German concentration camp at Neuengamme, which was being used by the British as a holding centre for SS prisoners. In the autumn, the Flemings were handed over to the Belgian Army, which transported them by cattle truck to the Belgian Army camp at Beverloo. This first contingent consisted of 1900 men and four Flemish Red Cross nurses. On arrival at Beverloo station, the prisoners were allegedly kicked and beaten as they made the 4.8km (three-mile) journey to the camp. Once inside the camp, the prisoners were subjected to the same brutality, indignities and lack of medical attention inflicted on inmates of German concentration camps.
Up to 58,000 Cossacks, including XV.SS Cossack Cavalry Corps, surrendered to British forces in southern Austria. They were repatriated by British soldiers using a substantial amount of violence and brutality in which several hundred were killed. As a German, von Pannwitz, their commander, was not obliged to exchange British for Russian captivity, but like a good officer he elected to share the fate of his men. He was hanged along with five senior Cossack leaders in Moscow in July 1947.
Stalin was determined that Vlassov would never live to head an anti-communist army under the patronage of the United States. In his case, he was not so much handed over by the Americans as snatched from them by a Russian armoured column. In July 1946, for "acting as agents of German intelligence and indulging in espionage and diversionary terrorist activity", Vlassov and 11 other leading figures in the POA-KONR movement were executed in Moscow.
Horror at Bleiburg
The fate of those anti-Tito forces and their families who managed to escape from Yugoslavia at the end of the war is particularly tragic. The huge column, numbering perhaps as many as 500,000 soldiers and civilians, including Slovenes, Serbs and even Chetniks, finally came to rest in a small valley near the Austrian village of Bleiburg. One of the first groups to arrive at British headquarters was a contingent of 130 members of the Croatian Government headed by President Nikola Mandic. All were informed that they would be transferred to Italy as soon as possible by British military police. All were then loaded into a train and returned to the partisans for execution. It was the intent of the British to turn over all Croatians, as well as Serbs and Slovenes, to the communists from whom they had fled.
When the Croatian military leaders realized that they had led hundreds of thousands into a trap, many committed suicide on the spot. The British extradited thousands of Croatians. Some were shot at the border, while others joined the infamous "death marches" which took them deeper into the new people's republic for execution. Realizing the importance of the clergy to the Croatian people, most church leaders were arrested. Although Archbishop Stepinac was sentenced to death, he was saved by a massive outcry of world public opinion and died under house arrest in 1960. Two bishops, 300 priests, 29 seminarians and 4 lay brothers were less fortunate and were executed. The number of Moslem religious leaders executed has never been determined, although the figure is thought to be in excess of 600.
Not all Eastern people fell into the hands of Stalin and his henchmen. Before the war, Galicia had been part of Poland. Hitler had handed it over to Stalin at the conclusion of the Polish campaign under the terms of the Russo-German Non-Aggression Treaty. Hitler was aware of how the area had become an Austrian "Crown Land" in 1772, being confirmed with slight frontier adjustments in 1814, thus becoming the largest province in the Austro- Hungarian Empire. After the war's end, the Soviets reaped vengeance on the population for their support of the Germans.
Some Ukrainians escaped Soviet vengeance, such as the men of the 14th SS Waffen-Grenadier Division Galicia under Pavlo Shandruk. He was a former staff officer of the Polish Army and before that a soldier in the Ukrainian Republic of 1919-21. He was the overall Ukrainian leader and head of the Ukrainian National Committee, a body seemingly dedicated to achieving Ukrainian independence but actually a sham to bolster the Ukrainians' morale and keep them fighting alongside the Germans to the bitter end. Shandruk had planned on taking control of the division in March 1945 and renaming it the "First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army". Himmler agreed to hand the division over to Shandruk, and between 25-30 April 1945 the men took a new oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian nation.
The lucky few
The division surrendered to the British near Radstadt on 8 May 1945. When Shandruk successfully convinced his captors that he and his men were Poles rather than Russians, they were spared the unenviable fate that surely would have followed compulsory repatriation to the Soviet Union (after struggling to convince the Germans that they were Ukrainians rather than Galicians, the men of the 14th SS Division saved their lives by claiming to be Galicians after all). They negotiated with the British Army and retreated from the front across the mountains to a region agreed upon by the British. The Ukrainians were interned in the pleasant surroundings of Rimini, an Italian seaside resort on the Adriatic. The Soviets made many attempts to obtain the division, but with the Cold War intensifying this prospect was a non-starter. Finally, the Labour Government brought them all to Britain. One idea was that they would be a ready spearhead for any attack on the Soviet Union. To the relief of the men of the division, this idea came to nought; thereafter, many of them emigrated to the USA, Canada, South America and elsewhere.
These Ukrainians were lucky, but their country, like the Baltic states and the homelands of the other Eastern peoples, was under Soviet control. They and the other foreign nationals who had fought for Hitler had gambled, but they had lost.
Background - © Copyright Brown Online
SS Division (motorized) Wiking - Wikipedia
Panzergrenadier der Pz.Div. Wiking im Bild by Regimentskameradschaft WESTLAND
Europaïsche Freiwillige - Peter Strassner
Staf. Johannes Mühlenkamp und seine Männer, Teil 1 und 2 - Oosterling, Fischer & Erlings
Felix Steiner, General der Waffen-SS - Karl-Heinz Mathias
Der Freiwilligen - Felix Steiner
Ziel Kaukasus - Wilhelm Tieke