ϟϟ-Division „Reich“ in Heeresgruppe Mitte

SS-Grenadiers of the Reich in Operation Barbarossa
The SS-Division Reich was with
"Fight for Lenin and Stalin – be prepared!"
Army Group Center under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock during the Barbarossa for the drive on Moscow. By 28 June 1941 Second Panzer Group, led by General Heinz Guderian, and General Hermann Hoth's Third Panzer Group had encircled three Russian armies and captured over 320,000 men in the Bialystok-Minsk pockets. The two panzer groups then pressed ahead, linking up on the far side of Smolensk on 27 July in another double envelopment. Two more Russian armies were trapped and destroyed, and another 300,000 troops taken prisoner. Reish suffered heavy losses defending the Yelna position as the Kiev Pocket was formed and closed. It then broke through the Moscow defences south of Borodino and came within a few kilometers of the Soviet capital. Soon, German troops found themselves suffering from the winter cold. Then, when the Soviets launched their first major counter-attack late in 1941, the Reich provided an unparalleled example of tenacity. Hammered by Stalin's organs, the Katyusha multiple rocket launcher, tanks and massed infantry supported by fresh well equipped Siberian divisions, the Waffen-SS more than justified their reputation as the eastern army`s fire brigade. The men of the SS-Division Reich, the title became Das Reich in May 1942, fought from the first to the last day of the war on almost every front, they rushed from one battle crises to another, filled with absolute consciousness of their duty, many thousands of them sacrificing their young lives. The Reich Division's manpower strength was 19,021 men in June 1941. Top image: Men of the Reich division in a Russian village near the city of Gzhatsk during the offensive against Moscow. Bottom image: A group of SS-Grenadiers secure the services of a local translator to explain the legend on this recently captured Soviet flag which reads: Fight for Lenin and Stalin – be prepared! Commons Bundesarchiv.

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