ϟϟ-Division „Totenkopf“ – Wie ein Fels im Meer

Non-commissioned officer of the Totenkopf
Men of the Totenkopf distributing food to the needy
By May 1942, the Red Army had once again gone over to the offensive and had begun attacking. The frequency of Soviet attacks gave the exhausted SS-Division Totenkopf no chance for any sort of rest, and constant attrition through these defensive actions weakened the division. On July 1942, massive Soviets assaults smashed into the Totenkopf units and were only held back by the fanatical determination of the exhausted SS-troops, and with considerable losses. By August 1942 all the Totenkopf non-combatant personnel – cooks, clerks, medics and military police – had taken their places in the trenches with their comrades. There were now no reserves left whatsoever. A total of around 96,000 German soldiers had been cut off in the Demyansk Pocket, and the fact that the pocket held and the survivors were eventually relieved was due in no small measure to the tenacity of the men of the Totenkopf Division. The Totenkopf was a mainstay in its defence between February and October 1942. Left image: fine study of a Totenkopf NCO in Demyansk, wearing appropriately coloured camouflage smock and helmet cover, standard 8 X 50 binoculars, leather map case and Luger P/08 holster. An MP 28/II submachine-gun is slung across his back. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Right image: an SS-Sturmmann from the Totenkopf posing for the war correspondent Ernst Baumann when giving humanitarian aid to people affected by the battles on the north-eastern front. US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Fair use.

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