|SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Harmel|
In the spring of 1944 Harmel was appointed to command the recently formed 10.SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg and saw action in the relief of the German pocket around Tarnopol in March-April 1944, before being rushed back to the West following the Allied landings in Normandy. After suffering badly from Allied air strikes on its way to the front, Harmel's division went into action on June 30 1944 against the British Operation Epsom. The Frundsberg fought most effectively in the see-saw battles during July and August 1944, being fortunate to escape over the Dives River before the final closing of the Falaise Pocket. Withdrawing into Holland, the division was resting between Arnhem and Nijmegen in September 1944 when the Allied Operation Market Garden sent them back into action. Harmel played an energetic part in defending the Waal Bridge at Nijmegen, and thereafter slowing the Allied advance along Hell's Highway. For his part in the defeat of the airborne operation Harmel was awarded the Swords to the Knight's Cross on December 15 1944. Harmel's command was one of the last to surrender and did so to the British forces in Austria in May 1945. He was a prisoner of war in the United Kingdom for two years. Upon his release, he returned to Germany and worked as a sales representative. A highly respected soldier; in fact, in 1984 Heinz Harmel was awarded the Medal for Franco-German Reconciliation by the town of Bayeux, Normandie, around which his division 10.SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg had fought 40 years previously. He also developed a post-war friendship with Major General John Frost, against whose British paratroopers he had fought at Arnhem; Harmel had personally authorized a ceasefire to allow the collection of British wounded from the battlefield, and ensured their decent treatment thereafter. Knight's Cross holder Heinz Harmel maintained close links with his former SS-Grenadiers and was a very active participant in the postwar Waffen-SS veteran's organization, taking a personal interest in their welfare. He died in retirement in September 2000. Credit: George Mai. Image: SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Heinz Harmel in December 1944. Commons: Bundesarchiv.