ϟϟ-Division „Reich“ in Heeresgruppe Mitte

SS-Division Reich in the Gzhatsk area
SS-Division Reich in the Smolensk Oblast
SS-Division Reich in the Smolensk Oblast
The SS-Division Reich was with Army Group Center under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock during the Barbarossa for the drive on Moscow. By June 28 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 July 27 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 officers and men in June 1941. Top image: Grenadiers of the SS-Division Reich with a MG 34 mounted on a tripod in a Russian village near the city of Gzhatsk during the offensive against Moscow in 1941. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Bottom images: SS-Grenadiers of the Reich when serving with Panzergruppe Guderian in Army Group Center in the Smolensk Oblast in 1941. US National Archives and Records Administration. Fair use. 

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