|SS-Unterscharführer Gerhard Fischer|
The Soviets greatly outnumbered the German forces but failed to cut off their retreat. Soviet sources tally losses of 80,188 casualties for the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts, with 24,286 killed and missing, and 55,902 wounded. These losses were incurred over the period of 24 January – 17 February 1944 during both the encirclements and the breakout attempts. German accounts state that the 60.000 men originally inside the cauldron had shrunk in heavy fighting to less than 50,000 by February 16 1944, that 45,000 took part in the breakout and that 35,000 got through, with a total of 19,000 dead, captured or missing. Only a handful survived Russian captivity. The Wehrmacht General Wilhelm Stemmermann died fighting among his rear guard. The later SS-Obergruppenführer Herbert Otto Gille of the Wiking and the later SS-Standartenführer Léon Degrelle of the Wallonien both survived World War II. Image: Knight's Cross Holder SS-Unterscharführer Gerhard Fischer, Zugführer of 3.Kompanie/SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 5 of the 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking, wearing the crusher cap with his assault gun uniform. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his actions when the Wiking spearheaded the last desperate breakout of Korsun-Cherkassy on February 16 1944. Platoon commander Gerhard Fischer is born on November 12 1922 in Zwickau and is still alive in 2011. Image: Private collection.
|Sven-Erik Olsson as SS-Unterscharführer|
Tigers after the outbreak from Hube's Pocket
|Panzerkampfwagen Panther n°823 of 5.SS-Pz.Div. Wiking|
|SS-Scharführer of the Totenkopf|
After the relief attempts towards Cherkassy were 3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf and the 1.Panzer-Division attacked towards the city of Korsun, attempting to secure a crossing across the Gniloy-Tilkich river, the Totenkopf fell back behind the Southern Bug River. Totenkopf immediately began taking up new defensive positions west of Ivanovka in the second week of March 1944. After another two weeks of fierce fighting in the forward defense lines, alongside Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland, the Axis lines again fell back, withdrawing to the Dniestr on the Romanian border near Iaşi. Left image: a young SS-Unterscharführer and an SS-Untersturmführer of 3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf break for a meal beside the wreck of a Soviet T-34. This nice details picture is taken somewhere in Bessarabia in April 1944. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Right image: a close-up of another SS-Scharführer of the Totenkopf. Earlier photo by SS-Kriegsberichter Ernst Baumann. US National Archives and Records Administration. Fair use.
|SS-Untersturmführer of Totenkopf with men of 228.Sturmgeschütz Brigade|
In the first week of April 1944, the 3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf received replacements and new equipment, including Panther tanks. In the second week of April 1944, Totenkopf took part in fighting against a heavy Soviet Army attacks towards Second Battle of Târgu Frumos were elements of the divison, together with elements of the elite Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland, managed to halt an armoured assault by the Red Army. The assault was carried out by approximately 500 tanks. The German-Romanian forces successfully defended against the local limited objective attacks throughout the month of April 1944. The Soviet attack in May 2 1944 aiming at Târgu Frumos was the initial attempt by the Red Army to achieve its goal and testing the Axis defenses in Romania. The battle of Târgu Frumos has been used as a case study in officer tactical education in the United States Army and other armies, teaching how a mobile defense can defeat an armoured spearhead. Top clip: German soldier hip-firing his MG 34 next to a Sturmgeschütz III assault gun/tank destroyer from the Großdeutschland Division. Footage from Die Deutsche Wochenschau. Fair use. Middle clip: a Totenkopf SS-Panzergrenadier carefully inspects a knocked out T-34 in 1944. Footage from Die Deutsche Wochenschau. Fair use. Bottom image: an unidentified SS-Untersturmführer of 3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf in conversations with an Offizier of the Heer somewhere in Bessarabia in April 1944. One source identifies the Oberleutnant who is wearing a Sturmartillerie jacket as a member of the 228.Sturmgeschütz Brigade. This brigade served alongside Totenkopf in Bessarabia in the spring of 1944. Wehrmacht soldiers regarded the Waffen-SS men as thoroughly reliable comrades. Respect born of shared frontline experiences. The SS-Untersturmführer wears an early vertical Totenkopf collar tab. Commons: Bundesarchiv.
|German post-war refugee in Köln, March 1945|
The occupation of the Baltic states refers to the military occupation of the three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Soviet Union in 1940 followed by their forcible illegal incorporation into the Soviet Republics. The European Waffen-SS volunteers rushed to join the the defense of Estonia, Kurland and Western Latvia in 1944.
|Swedish commander of Pz AAII Nordland interviewed in Narva|
After having been conquered by the Danes, the Livonian Knights, the Teutonic Knights of Germany, the Poles, the Swedes and the Russians, the Baltic States declared themselves independent republics in 1918.
|Estnisches SS-Freiwilligen Bataillon „Narwa“|
|An unidentified Estnische SS Volunteer|
|SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner|
|20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS|
|III. (germanische) SS-Panzerkorps|
|Eesti relvagrenaderide SS-diviis|
Although many Balts were recruited into the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS the majority did so only in 1944 when the threat of a new invasion by the Soviet Red Army had become imminent. 20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Eesti relvagrenaderide SS-diviis) was an Estonian unit of Waffen-SS established in 1944. Seeing the Third Reich as the salvation of an independent Baltic, these sons of Estonia joined the ideological crusade against Stalin’s communists regime. After some brutal fighting against the Soviets
in 1944, these Estonians managed to force the Bolsheviks back to the east bank of the Narva River. Images: young Estonian volunteers of the 20.Waffen-Grenadierdivision der SS recieve food packages from local women at a trainstation in 1944. They are wearing the distinctive SS Autumn Oak Leaf camouflage parkas designed to be reversible, providing camouflage for two seasons. Distribution was limited to the Waffen-SS, ostensibly because of a patent. The camouflage patterns were designed by Johann Georg Otto Schick, a Munich art professor and then the director of the German camouflage research unit. Credit: Za Rodinu. Public domain.
|20.Waffen-Grenadierdivision der SS|
|Eesti relvagrenaderide SS-diviis|
|Former SS-Schütze Ülo Altermann of the Estonian Forest Brothers|
|Abandoned Kübelwagen SS-209 314|
|An unidentified fallen SS-Untersturmführer|
|SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 Nordland|
|42 Gunner taking aim|
|III. (germanische) SS-Panzerkorps in Narva|
|III. (germanische) SS-Panzerkorps in Estonia|
|Panther S25 of SS.Pz.Abt.11 Hermann von Salza|
|Norwegian tankers of SS.Pz.Abt.11 Hermann von Salza|
|SS-Untersturmführer Hans-Caspar Kreuger|
Photo shows the Swedish SS-Untersturmführer and Kriegsberichter Hans-Caspar Kreuger with his driver in Narva after the Soviet bombing raid of March 1944. Kreuger's Pan-European articles and writings frequently appeared in the Scandinavian press and was widely published in newspapers throughout Europe. According to various accounts Kreuger was fluent in 6 languages (Swedish, German, English, French, Spanish and Russian). He volunteered in the Russo-Finnish Winter War and enlisted with the Waffen-SS in July 1941 (he was also a member of the Allgemeine-SS). After graduating from the SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz Kreuger served with 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking. He participated in the break-out of Korsun-Cherkassy after denying orders to leave with the last plane out of the pocket. Following the bloody break-out in February 1944 Kreuger joined the SS-Kriegsberichter-Zug 11 of the 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland in the Narva bridgehead. According to various unconfirmed sources, Kreuger then served with the French Sturmbataillon (33.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS Charlemagne) in April 1945 during its struggle in the Battle for Berlin. SS-Untersturmführer Hans-Caspar Kreuger survived the war and with the help of a U.S. Army Captain he was able to leave captivity and immigrate to Argentina with four other Scandinavian Waffen-SS comrades. He later returned frequently to Europe to attend Waffen-SS veteran's reunions. Hans-Caspar Kreuger died aged 74 on November 15 1977 in a car accident at an un-monitored railroad crossing in Buenos Aires. Image: Courtesy of Joakim Munter.
|Hans-Gösta Pehrsson as SS-Untersturmführer|
|SS-Untersturmführer Pehrsson with fellow Waffen-SS officers|
The photo shows the commanding officer of the SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 Nordland Hans-Gösta Pehrsson with fellow Swedes at the Narva front in the spring of 1944. From left to right: SS-Untersturmführer Gösta Borg who served with 5.Wiking and 11.Nordland between 1941 and 1945. Ukraine in 1941, Breslau and Bad Tölz in 1943-1944, Ost Preußen, Viborg, Narva, Warszawa and the Ardennes in 1944. He returned to Sweden in 1945. SS-Untersturmführer Hans-Caspar Kreuger who served with 5.Wiking and 11.Nordland between 1942 and 1945. Klagenfurt and Bad Tölz in 1943 and 1944. Ukraine in 1943, Narva in 1944 and Berlin in 1945. Exiled in Argentina after the war. SS-Untersturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson, later promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer, who served with Freikorps Danmark and 11.Nordland between 1941 and 1945. Novgorod in 1941-1942, Leningrad in 1942, Bad Tölz in 1943, Narva, Estonia and Latvia in 1944 and Pomerania and Berlin in 1945. He returned to Sweden in 1945. SS-Untersturmführer Gunnar Eklöf who served with 5.Wiking, 11.Nordland and 17.Götz von Berlichingen between 1941 and 1945. Bad Tölz and Croatia in 1943, Narva and Dünaburg in 1944 and Berlin in 1945. He returned to Sweden in 1945. SS-Obersturmführer Carl Ferdinand Stodenberg Svensson who served with 5.Wiking, 11.Nordland and 12.Hitlerjugend between 1941 and 1945. Bad Tölz in 1942, Leningrad in 1943, in the Balkans, Normandie, Arnhem and Narva in 1944 and on the Rhine front 1945. He returned to Sweden in 1945. SS-Untersturmführer Carl-Johannes Thorkell Tillmann who served with 11.Nordland and 12.Hitlerjugend between 1942 and 1944. Sennheim and Bad Tölz in 1943. Narva and Normandie in 1944. Killed in action on June 26 1944 in Normandie. Behind the camera is SS-Untersturmführer Rune Ahlgren who served with 11.Nordland between 1943 and 1944. Bad Tölz. Narva and Latvia in 1944. Killed in action on October 30 1944 at Preekuln in Latvia as SS-Obersturmführer and platoon commander in Nordland. Courtesy of Joakim Munter.
|SS-Unterscharführer Erik Wallin|
|SS-Sturmmann Svend Larsen|
|Waffen-SS Volunteers in the Battles of the Baltics|
|SS-Untersturmführer Ellef Rasmussen|
|Swedish SS-Kriegsberichters interviewing a SS-Volunteer in Narva|