|SS-Unterscharführer Gerhard Fischer|
Knight's Cross Holder SS-Unterscharführer Gerhard Fischer, Zugführer of 3.Kompanie/SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 5 (5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking), wearing the crusher cap with his assault gun uniform. He was awarded the Knight's Cross for his actions when the Wiking spearheaded the last desperate breakout of Korsun-Cherkassy on February 16 1944. Forming up in two columns they flocked into two parallel ravines in the surrounding countryside, and where the two ravines met, the troops emerged into open country and headed out towards Lysianka. There, disaster struck as the Soviet troops, under General Konev, were waiting. Soon after 06:00 the slaughter began. Soviet tanks drove into the German columns crushing hundreds under their tracks. Fleeing troops were confronted by units of Cossack cavalry and hands were lopped off of those who approached with their arms raised in surrender. There was no time to take Prisoners of War and the carnage continued till it was all over. In the short space of three hours, over 19,000 German soldiers lay dead or was taken prisoner. 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|
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. 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.
|Unidentified SS-Untersturmführer of Totenkopf|
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. Credit: Wikipedia. Top 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. The Wehrmacht soldiers regarded the Waffen-SS men as thoroughly reliable comrades. Respect born of shared frontline experiences. The unknown SS-Untersturmführer wears an early vertical Totenkopf collar tab. Commons: Bundesarchiv.
|Der Kölner Dom 1945|
The United States also recruited many Waffen-SS veterans, often with an assist from high Vatican officials. The Vatican's help was based on a hoped-for revival of European Christianity and dread of the Soviet Union. The Vatican has consistently refused to comment and has kept its archive closed to the public. Image: A German Mark V Panther in front of the ancient Cologne Cathedral on March 6 1945. Public domain.
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|
|III. (germanische) SS-Panzerkorps|
Several Western scholars refer The Battle of Narva (February 2 – August 10 1944) to as the Battle of the European SS because the majority of the defenders were European Waffen-SS volunteers. Joining the Scandinavian and Dutch Nordland were formations from all over Europe. The SS Panzer Corps consisted of 24 volunteer battalions from Denmark, East Prussia, Flanders, Holland, Norway and Wallonia as well as the local Estonian conscripts motivated to resist the looming Soviet re-occupation. Altogether, the defenders of the Narva River line amounted to 50,000 men. Against them, the Soviets threw 200,000 men of Marshall Leonid A. Govorov's Leningrad Front. Stalin was personally interested in taking Estonia, viewing it as a precondition of forcing Finland out of the war. The Soviet operation were exhausted by the III (Germanic) SS-Panzerkorps in ferocious battles. The first Soviet Narva Offensive was halted on February 20 1944. Image: an unidentified SS volunteer of III.SS-Panzerkorps during the Battle of Narva in February 1944. Commons: Bundesarchiv.
|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. Public domain.
|20.Waffen-Grenadierdivision der SS|
|Eesti relvagrenaderide SS-diviis|
|Abandoned Kübelwagen SS-209 314|
|An unidentified fallen SS-Untersturmführer|
|42 Gunner taking aim|
|III. (germanische) SS-Panzerkorps|
|Norwegian SS volunteers Per Kjølner and Thomas Hvistendahl|
Norwegian volunteers SS-Untersturmführer Per Kjølner and SS-Untersturmführer Thomas Hvistendahl in Narva in 1944. They both served in the 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland's Panzer-Abteilung 11 Hermann von Salza. Kjølner first served in SS-Infanterie-Regiment Germania of SS-Division Wiking. After graduating from Bad Tölz in 1943, he became platoon leader in Hermann von Salza and received the Iron Cross First Class and the Close Combat Clasp in Bronze for his actions in the Battle of Narva. After World War II, Kjølner was tried by Olso Byrett and sentenced to 5 years in prison for treason. He later took over as director of the family company in Norway. Per Kjølner is born in 1921 and is still alive in 2012. Fair use.
|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 and fellow officers|
Six Swedish officers in the Waffen-SS 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 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 before 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|
|SS-Untersturmführer Ellef Rasmussen|
|Swedish SS-Kriegsberichters interviewing a SS-Volunteer in Narva|
|SS-Unterscharführer Markus Ledin|
|Markus Ledin and some Estonian Coastal Swedes|
|Pz AAII Nordland|
The Nordland Division's manpower strength was 11,749 men in June 1944 and on July 23 1944, SS-Obergruppenführer Steiner ordered a withdrawal to the Tannenberg Line, a prepared position 16 km to the west. The Dutch SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 48 General Seyffardt and the brigade's artillery component was to provide a rearguard for the retreating troops. The Soviet Marshal Govorov launched the Narva Offensive on the German lines on July 24 1944, and in the afternoon, the Nederland's
Artillery battalion started withdrawing across the Narva bridge. The Dutchmen got involved in heavy fighting but managed to hold the Soviets while the last of the Waffen-SS volunteers got across the river. The Nordland's Pioneer Battalion blew up the bridge. However, due to a colossal mistake by its officers, the General Seyffardt regiment would not survive the withdrawal. With the exception of the General Seyffardt, the withdrawal had been a success, and Steiner's men began to dig in on the Tannenberg Line, in preparation of the next Soviet attacks. 4.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Brigade Nederland had lost one of its two regiments, and many valuable veterans were lost forever. Top image: Swedish SS-Untersturmführer and Zugführer Gunnar Eklöf and a volunteer of the Nordland Division in the summer of 1944 in Estonia. SS-Untersturmführer Gunnar Eklöf joined the Waffen-SS in 1941 and was posted to SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 in 1944. He survived WWII and returned to Sweden in the summer of 1945. Public domain. Bottom image: An unidentified Dutch SS-Untersturmführer of the Nordland Division in 1944. Photo: SS-Kriegsberichter Eisner. US National Archives and Records Administration. Fair use.
|Pz AAII Nordland|
|SS-Obersturmführer Helmut Scholz|
|Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS|
|19.Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Division (lettische Nr. 2)|