ϟϟ-Panzergrenadier-Division „Das Reich“

SS-Hauptsturmführer Oskar Wolkerstorfer
 Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers: March 15 – 16 1943
The Soviets rushed reinforcements, including a tank brigade and an élite brigade of NKVD security troops, into the city. On March 14 1943 elements of the 17th NKVD Regiment and the 19th Rifle Division, reinforced by a dozen or so tanks, occupied the tractor factory complex southeast of Kharkov. Early in the morning of March 15 1943, SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment Deutschland's 2nd battalion of SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich, under command of SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Bissinger led the attack on the entrenched NKVD troops and concealed T-34s. The fighting continued until after the darkness fell. On March 16 1943, SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Kumm's Regiment Der Führer's 3rd battalion of the Das Reich, arrived and began a final attack to clear the last Soviet troops out of the factory. By mid-morning, the NKVD troops and surviving Soviet infantry abandoned Kharkov and withdrew to the south and east. Left image: The Austrian volunteer SS-Hauptsturmführer Oskar Wolkerstorfer, a veteran since 1937, wearing no less than four Single-Handed Tank Destruction Badges on his right arm. He served in Das Reich's Regiment Der Führer and distinguished himself during the battles for Kharkov and was awarded the German Cross in Gold as SS-Obersturmführer by SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Kumm. The studio portrait was taken late 1943. On March 19 1945 Wolkerstorfer was nominated for the Knight's Cross, but he never received the award. His final World War II decoration was the Wound Badge in Gold, which he received on February 13 1945. Oskar Wolkerstorfer died aged 52 on January 11 1971 in Linz, Austria. Right image: Battle hardened SS-Panzergrenadiers outside the tractor factory gates in Kharkov on March 15 – 16 1943. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

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