Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union

Unknown NCO of the Waffen-SS
Soviet tankers taken prisoner by Waffen-SS
The German forces were split into three army groups, each with a specific objective. Army Group North was to head through the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and take Leningrad. Army Group South would attack into the Ukraine towards Kiev and the Donbas industrial region. Between them, Army Group Centre's objective was Minsk, Smolensk and then Moscow itself. The Waffen-SS divisions were divided among the different army groups and placed under the command of the Wehrmacht. In the North, the Totenkopf was operating with Erich Hoepner's Fourth Panzer Group. In the center Reich was part of Heinz Guderian's Second Panzer Group. In the south Wiking and Leibstandarte were deployed alongside the tanks of Ewald von Kleist's First Panzer Group. The Germans got off to a good start, with the panzer groups quickly pushing towards their objectives and Russian forces falling apart in confusion. The armored columns advanced deep into Soviet territory with the Leibstandarte and Wiking divisions impressing their Army counterparts with their aggression and skill in attack. The Reich division distinguished itself on numerous occasions. Finally, one cannot ignore the actions of cleansing carried on the rear of the German armies by troops, under the direct command of Heinrich Himmler, namely the notorious Einsatzgruppen. Their crimes were forever marked by the seal of infamy. The Waffen-SS was just as the Wehrmacht subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), the German army high command. Left image: A Waffen-SS NCO of SS-Division Totenkopf poses for SS-Kriegsberichter Ernst Baumann in Soviet Union in July 1941. Commons Bundesarchiv. Right image: Soviet tank crew is taken prisoner by an Waffen-SS grenadier with the Schmeißer MP40 slung behind his back. Public domain.

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