Frundsberg Division Logo

The Combat History of the
10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg"

Chapter 1

Organization and Training

On 19 December 1942, Adolf Hitler directed the organization of two new SS divisions, the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions, to form a new reserve for Panzergruppe West in the area of Oberbefehlshaber (OB) West. The directive provided a replacement for the SS Panzer Corps, consisting of the Waffen-SS divisions "Leibstandarte," "Das Reich" and "Totenkopf," scheduled to depart to the east in February 1943. The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or OKW (Chief of the Armed Forces) ordered the expansion of the Waffen-SS that brought an end to volunteer recruitment in the Waffen-SS. Nevertheless, recruitment to the Waffen-SS was already in full swing by the spring of 1942 from service eligible men. On 5 January 1943, OKW ordered that replacements for the new divisions be allocated no later than 1 February. OKW estimated raising 27,000 men from the birth-year 1925 in the Reichsarbeitsdienst or "RAD" (compulsory labor service), 10,000 men from Aktion Rü 43 Tausch (Operation Armament 43 Exchange), and 5,000 Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans living outside Germany). In the event the latter 15,000 men could not be raised, OKW advocated extracting a higher yield from the birth-year 1925, despite their desire to forego weakening the next generation of officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of the armed forces. Even so, the SS could not guarantee mustering the personnel requirements. The predictable manpower shortages required that the chief of replacements, Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Friedrich Fromm, challenge members from the birth-years 1923 and 1924 to volunteer for the Waffen-SS. SS-Gruppenführer (Lieutenant General) Gottlob Berger, Chief of the SS Replacement Bureau, spoke personally at various RAD camps to enlist volunteer men. According to Berger, involuntary methods for enlistment were not uncommon in the Hessian region. In order to stave off shortages, OKW directed the SS to lower recruitment standards and admit men that were previously considered unacceptable. Finally, 800 men from the protective border police were also available for service in the SS. Despite a lackluster beginning with 10,000 applications by 26 January 1943, OKW remained optimistic the number of recruits would double.1

The 10th SS Panzer Grenadier Division organized alongside its sister division the 9th SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Hohenstaufen" on 31 December 1942. Command of the Hohenstaufen Division fell to SS-Brigadeführer (SS Lieutenant General) Wilhelm "Willi" Bittrich on 15 February 1943. SS-Standartenführer (SS Colonel) Lothar Debes, the first commander of the Frundsberg Division, was a well-educated Prussian officer, career soldier, veteran Hauptmann (Captain) of World War I and ardent national socialist. In May 1919, Debes resigned his commission out of opposition to the Treaty of Versailles stating, "At the time, I sacrificed my commission based on my honest conviction that soldiers should not make their services available to any regime that they themselves opposed." Simply stated, Debes was unwilling to serve as a soldier in the new Weimar Republic. Instead, Debes joined the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP or Nazi party) on 1 May 1930 and the SS seven years later. His longest posting in the SS was a five-year assignment at the officer's school in Braunschweig. Between 1 January 1942 and 15 June 1944, Debes received seven different assignments and by early 1943 rated as kriegsbeschädigt (damaged by war). Having sustained four injuries that included two on a single day, Debes was best suited for administrative positions. SS officers who were especially talented but unable to meet the physical requirements for combat commands were not discharged but rather retained for administrative assignments. The practice had great long-term benefits.2

The majority of the enlisted personnel were either conscripted or volunteered for the division. The remainder of its strength consisted of men transferred from other units. The men were both Reichs- and Volksdeutsche, between the ages of seventeen to twenty years from the inflationary period. The nucleus of the division consisted of a thirty percent cadre of older, seasoned soldiers of all ranks who gained combat experience in both the east and west. The cadre knew what to expect and offered the younger men a solid foundation of knowledge that surpassed basic military soldiering. Many of the older cadres passed through the Jungvolk, Hitler Jugend, and some even through the Sturm Abteilung (SA or Storm Troops) or the Allgemeine SS (general SS). The men went on to receive a comprehensive military training program that neared, in many cases, a duration of one year. The organization of units was conducted in various geographic areas that required a certain degree of soldierly adaptation and achievement that offered specific advantages for teaching self-reliance and sustainability. The strict and very challenging training was made easier by a well-selected source of food, supply, and quarters. At the onset of their training, many had already experienced three years of war within Germany that required their services in various places for labor or in the air defense zones. Indeed, at the end of their training in early 1944 the war was in its fifth year. Familiar with the reality and hardship of war, the young men and experienced officers and NCOs forged the steel mettle of the division.3

In January 1943, OKW emphasized to OB West the need to accelerate the organization and training of the 9th and 10th SS divisions until May. After the transfer of three SS divisions to the east, German capabilities along the Atlantic coast were reduced to nothing more than operational security, altogether insufficient for large-scale defensive operations. Moreover, the prospects of imminent Allied landings along the Atlantic coast were taken very seriously and expected at any given time.4

The major organization, training, and replacement units (A.u.E.) were established at the following locations:

SS-Pz.Gren.A.u.E.Btl.10 Brünn (Panzer Grenadier Battalion)
SS-SPW A.u.E.Btl. Keinsschlag/Böhmen (armored half-tracks)
SS-Pz.Jg.A.u.E.Abt.1 Rastenburg (tank destroyer)
SS-I.G.A.u.E.Btl.1 Breslau/Lissa (infantry support artillery)
SS-Flak A.u.E.Rgt. München (anti-aircraft)
SS-Nachr.Ers.Rgt. Nürnberg (signals)
SS-Artl.A.u.E.Rgt. Prag (artillery)
SS-Pz.A.u.E.Abt. Bitsch/(Elsaß) Lothringen (tank)
SS-StuG.A.u.E.Abt. Heidelager (self-propelled assault gun artillery)
SS-Pi.Ers.Btl. Dresden (engineers)
SS-Geb.Jg.A.u.E.Btl.7 Werschatz (mountain)5.

An element of organizing the division began at Buchenwald in Weimar. SS-Obersturmführer (SS First Lieutenant (Dr.) H. Kube was assigned the adjutant to the small Panzer-Instandsetzungsabteilung 10 (SS-Pz.Inst.Abt.10) or SS Tank Organizing Battalion. Their task was to register all the motorized vehicles for the division. The first commander of the SS-Pz.Inst.Abt.10 was Ullrich Besch, who later became the divisional engineer. After the Waffen-Werkstattkompanie (weapons repair company) was formed as the 4th Company, the battalion was renamed officially as "Instandsetzungsabteilung 10." The battalion consisted of four companies and one replacement troop (staffel). The staff and one company of the Inst.Abt.10 deployed in the general vicinity of the divisional staff, whereas the remaining companies and replacement troop were located in the rear areas.6

The SS Panzer Regiment 10 (SS-Pz.Rgt.10) began organizing on the last day of the year in 1942. The training of the regiment took place at the training facility near Bitsch in the region of Elsaß-Lothringen, France. Among eight other companies in the area, the 6./SS-Pz.Rgt.10 quartered to the west in Rohrbach. The nuclei of the 6th Company came from the Panzer Ersatz Abteilung Weimar (Pz.Ers.Abt.) that included Panzer Jägern (also known as tank hunters, tank destroyers or anti-tankers), members from the "Wiking" Division, and the other four older and more experienced divisions. Members arriving later were predominately NCOs from the SS Polizei Division (SS Police Division).7

The company commander of the 6./SS-Pz.Rgt.10, SS First Lieutenant Leo Franke, arrived at Bitsch in February 1943 to join other officers and NCOs to organize the company. At thirty-one years of age, Franke brought a wealth of experience to the division. As an enlisted man, he served four years in the Reichsheer and latter Wehrmacht (September 1933 - October 1937) and two years with the Polizei. On 12 October 1939, Franke entered an SS police unit and transferred to the Waffen-SS on 28 March 1940. Franke enrolled in the third wartime class at the SS officer candidate's schools at Bad Tölz and was elected an officer candidate. By 5 July 1940, Franke joined the 14./SS-Pz.Jäger-Kp. in the second regiment "Der Führer" of the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich." In February 1941, Franke's reviewing officer noted gaps in his tactical knowledge but considered him honest, clean cut, disciplined, a man who loved organization and considered him perfectly suited as an instructor with an excellent command voice. Franke participated in the campaign in southeast France and, on 21 June 1941, headed eastward against Soviet Russia during Operation "Barbarossa." Before arriving at Bitsch, Franke earned the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, the Infantry Assault Clasp, the War Merit Cross 2nd Class and the Wound Badge in Black.8

The II.Abteilung, Pz.Reg.10, 6.Kompanie, from left to right, SS-Hauptscharführer Fritz Stief (Spieß)
SS-Untersturmführer Rudi Schwemmlein, SS-Hauptsturmführer Leo Franke, SS-Untersturmführer Hans Quandel, SS-Hauptsturmführer Stratman (possibly).  Source: Archiv Westerhoff.
Photo: The II.Abteilung, Pz.Reg.10, 6.Kompanie, from left to right: SS-Hauptscharführer Fritz Stief (Spieß) SS-Untersturmführer Rudi Schwemmlein SS-Hauptsturmführer Leo Franke SS-Untersturmführer Hans Quandel SS-Hauptsturmführer Stratman (possibly). Courtesy of Bernhard Westerhoff.

Alexander Grenda, a member of the enlisted ranks, was born on 6 February 1921 in Surpal, northeast Poland. As the son of a baker, Grenda attended middle school, and a music and commerce school. For a Volksdeutscher or ethnic German, life in Poland remained progressive until 1926 when Josef Pilsudski consolidated power. When Edward Rydz-Smigly assumed power as the successor to Pilsudski in 1935, life for ethnic Germans living in Poland changed dramatically for the worse. Germans were relieved of their positions throughout various industries and the free press was abolished. However, Alexander Grenda had a secure future as a baker and confectioner. Many Volksdeutsche that lived outside the borders of the German Reich admired Adolf Hitler and greeted his prospects with open arms; Germany held the key to a prosperous future. Almost immediately following the admittance of Volksdeutsche as citizens into the Greater German Reich, draft notices were distributed. Grenda attended the RAD in Liegnitz-Neustadt and volunteered for the Waffen-SS. He attended basic training in Debica-Polen where he learned to fire the 7.92 x 57mm bolt-action M1898 Mauser rifle and the 9 x 25mm Maschinenpistole (MP) 38. He received instruction in close combat drills using shape charges, mines and bayonet training. He also learned how to drive a truck and went on to Bitsch-Westmark for tank drivers training. From Krupp to Maybach motors, the men became proficient in the disassembly and reassembly of the entire motors. After completing his examinations, Grenda received orders to the Panzerjägers at Angouléme near Bordeaux in France.9

Werner Pietzka, a recruit at the age of seventeen, arrived at the barracks of the 6./SS-Pz.Rgt.10 where he met the decorated and smiling SS-Hauptsturmführer (SS Captain) Edmund Erhard. On the most anticipated day of all, when the men took the oath and were sworn in, Pietzka was so excited over the affair that he became sick to his stomach. In and among the formation and ready to take the oath, Pietzka broke rank and approached the regimental commander.

"Panzerschütze (tank gunner) Pietzka requests permission to step out!"

Upon his return to the formation, the festivities resumed and the men declared their oath with a consecrated flag and became genuine soldiers.10

In 1943, Niko Getsch was a twenty year old SS-Unterscharführer (SS Senior Corporal/Lance Sergeant) in the 1./SS-Pz.Jgr.Abt.10. Getsch arrived in Germany in May 1940, among thousands of other young Volksdeutsche, from the Kingdom of Rumania. For many, arriving in Germany meant new opportunities for education and work. A number of the boys graduated from high school and looked forward to studying at one of the many prestigious universities within the German Reich. The steamship URANUS crossed the Donau to Wien where the boys were greeted by military music and SS Lieutenant General Gottlob Berger. Their plans for further education and work were suddenly postponed when they were notified that their military service was required first. Some were dumbstruck and some immediately questioned the legitimacy of the requirement. Notwithstanding, the boys found themselves on a train traveling from Wien to Prag-Rusin, where they were to receive their uniforms. As one of four, Niko Getsch was assigned to a sizeable room where they quartered for several delightful days. Instructors were not present and the boys did as they pleased. Two of the boys were matriculation candidates and the others, to include Niko, were farmers. Niko knew nothing about military life and, from one day to the next, his training in the SS Verfügungstruppe 11 began without warning. On the fourth evening of their stay in the barracks, a "room return" was scheduled. When the Unterführer vom Dienst or UvD (Duty NCO or drill instructor) arrived for the return of the room, the boys did not greet him with proper military decorum. He became very angry and began shouting. His voice grew louder when he noticed trash in the wastebasket. He proceeded to empty the contents of the basket throughout the room and intentionally knocked their clothes out of the cupboards. Shouting at the top of his lungs, while the boys stood thunderstruck at attention, the UvD stormed out the door and entered the next room yelling and screaming. Barely seventeen years of age, Niko had never experienced such a theatrical fit of rage. He did everything he could to refrain from bursting into tears. Comrade Karras took Niko to the side and comforted him, explaining,

"Hey, don't worry about him. From the way he was acting, he's just a stall boy!"

Growing up, Niko was reminded repeatedly by his elders never to act like a stall boy. 12

The barracks in Prag-Rusin were situated next to an airfield. Niko had never before seen aircraft so that the constant take-offs and landings were especially exciting. However, as soon as basic recruit training began, there was no time for watching aircraft. Niko recalls,

We were first taught how to stand up straight and in a row, which was referred to as a "rank." Our boots were to be placed next to one another, together in the back and open in the front. We were expected to quickly understand the concept of "right face" and "left face", without having to ask which way was which. When the Unterscharführer whacked his heels together, for everyone that meant "Attention!" But not for myself, because I did not feel that it was that important. As we stood in three rather wobbly and crooked ranks, an aircraft flew low over our heads. At the very same moment, while I was watching the multiple propeller aircraft, the senior NCO whacked his heels together. For all the recruits that meant "Attention", except for me. I was more interested in the aircraft landing. From that point forward I became our senior NCO's "favorite." First I was told to lay down, then get up, lay back down, and so on. After this drill became monotonous, I was then directed to run around the riding stable ten times.13

Otto Jacob was German born in 1925 and reported to the Wanzleben county culture house for a required military medical examination in the spring of 1941. The attendees were examined from head to toe and a determination made for Otto Jacob: "KV" or "Kriegsverwendungsfähig" (usable for war). On 19 December 1942, Jacob began his compulsory service with the RAD. Several days after the new year, the newest members of the RAD unit, all of whom were born in 1925, were called to formation. A number of SS soldiers were present to examine the young men. A loud command abruptly broke the silence,

"Attention! First rank, five steps forward! Second rank, three steps forward!"

Quickly and efficiently, two SS men looked over every man in each rank and questioned him about their schooling, medical history, ailments, etc.

"Left, face! About, face!"

The men were either told to stand fast or summoned out.

"Left, out! Attention!"

At the conclusion, the senior SS officer addressed the group of men standing to the left and out. Jacob was among them.

"Attention! As of this moment, you are candidates for the Waffen-SS! The Fatherland requires your services for the defense of our home!"

Jacob reported for duty on 13 January 1943 at the SS-barracks München-Freimann.14

Otto Jacob Jahrgang 1925 20 Feb 1943 in München-Fremann
Photo: Otto Jacob Jahrgang 1925 20 Feb 1943 in Muenchen-Fremann. Courtesy of Otto Jacob.

The SS-Pionier-Ausbildungs- u. Ersatzbataillone 1 (Pioneer Training and Replacement Battalion) organized in early January 1943 at the pioneer school at Hradischko, Czechoslovakia. The organizational staff included SS First Lieutenant Erich Adelmeier and SS-Untersturmführer (SS Second Lieutenant) Kurt Imhoff. The troops came from the RAD, of which many entered only several weeks prior to their arrival at the pioneer school. The NCO ranks included men from the Totenkopf Division and graduates from the second NCO course held at the pioneer school. The graduates were not yet promoted to NCO.15

Around the middle of January, SS Captain Wendler assumed command of the battalion and formed the companies. The 1st Company quartered in barracks whereas the 2nd Company occupied a school. The training for weapons, motor transport, and other disciplines began. In April, SS Captain Benz, from the SS Polizei Pioneer Battalion, replaced Wendler. Basic training concluded without significant problems, however, pioneer training was more challenging. The lack of fully trained pioneers meant that each platoon received only one trained pioneer. Indeed, throughout the period between January and March 1943, men shuffled back and forth from one unit to form another. For example, the 3rd Company from Pikowitz formed two pioneer platoons for the Kradschützen-Regiment 10 (motorcycle regiment). Later, the regiment converted to an Aufklärungs-Abteilung (reconnaissance battalion) and the two pioneer platoons were consolidated. The single pioneer platoon then attached to the 5th Heavy Reconnaissance Company, and the remaining troops and NCOs transferred to the Pioneer Battalion 10.16

Waffenapell der I. Abt. SS-Pz.Artl.Rgt.10

Photo on right: Weapons inspections of the I.Bn./SS-Pz.Artl.Rgt.10. Courtesy of Otto Jacob.

After three unsuccessful attempts to join the Waffen-SS, Helmut Vogelmann entered the RAD on 10 January 1943. Three weeks after joining the RAD, Vogelmann volunteered for the Waffen-SS and arrived at the SS Pioneer School in Dresden on 28 January. The pioneer battalion staff resided in Stichowitz, whereas one of the companies trained in Dawle. Vogelmann particularly enjoyed the training for building bridges, firing machine guns and the use of flamethrowers. Eventually, Vogelmann joined the pioneer platoon 16./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.21. Similarly, Erich Werkmeister came from the RAD barracks at Budweis (unit K/1/384) and volunteered for the Waffen-SS in the summer of 1942. He joined the 29th Panzer Pioneer Training and Replacement Battalion in late Fall where he completed his pioneer training for water service and bridge building. On 19 January 1943, Werkmeister received orders for basic training at the SS Training Regiment in Prag, where he remained for four weeks. In February, he transferred to Pikowitz and reported to the 8th Replacement Company. The men of the 3rd Replacement Company at Hradischko were almost all German-born from the birth years 1925 and a few from 1926. Three companies made up the pioneer school, whereby the first consisted of four platoons that were mechanized and equipped with armored half-tracks.17

A hardened member of the cadre and former member of the Leibstandarte, SS Captain Karl Keck, the company commander of the pioneer platoon, 16./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.21, was born on 20 January 1914 in Zürich, Switzerland. He joined the SS on 28 May 1933 and received assignment to the SS Regiment "Deutschland." After his reassignment on 1 April 1935 to the regiment "Germania", he attended the SS-Junkerschule (SS Officer Candidate's School) Braunschweig from 4 April 1935 to 31 January 1936, and subsequently attended a platoon leaders course. As a Lieutenant in the Schutzpolizei, a constabulary or municipal police, Keck transferred to a police company from 1 May 1937 to 1 April 1938. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Leibstandarte SS "Adolf Hitler" and participated in the campaign in the west against France. Keck received the Iron Cross Second Class for bravery in battle and then the Iron Cross First Class as a pioneer company commander in the east. His other decorations included the Infantry Assault Clasp and the Bulgarian King's medal for bravery. As a company commander, Keck transferred to the Frundsberg Division on 5 February 1943.18

The commander of I./Pz.Gren.Rgt.21, SS Captain Heinz Laubscheer, arrived for duty on 15 February 1943, in the French village of Saintes, along with 760 recruits. The troops were immediately assigned quarters in a school and cavalry barracks in Saintes Jean de Angley. The following day, work details were organized to clean the barracks at Mazeray and a command center established in the village of Saintes Jean de Angley. The battalion did not have a single vehicle at its disposal and acquired local French wood-gas-propelled trucks that enabled for the transport of supplies. SS First Lieutenants Willi Lösken and Max Krauß arrived on 17 February and were assigned as commanders to each living quarter. During the organization of the battalion staff and various companies, a non-existent working rank structure among the enlisted men presented significant problems. At the time, the selection of acting-NCOs proved inappropriate as the men lacked the necessary training, especially in the replacement battalion. On 18 February, SS Second Lieutenant Siegfried Stadler reported for duty and assumed managerial control over the officer corps, general billeting assignments, and the battalion supply. Sixty-two rifles and bayonets arrived that same day. The next day, SS Captains Karl Dietrich and Kurt Gropp arrived and reported for duty. The officers assumed command of the individual companies and a skeletal framework of the battalion staff (headquarters and service company) included:

1st Company SS First Lieutenant Lösken
2nd Company SS First Lieutenant Krauß
3rd Company SS Captain Dietrich
4th Company SS Captain Gropp.19

Training began on 22 February and it became readily apparent that the inexperience of the men required training from the ground up. The preparation and distribution of new divisional guidelines and orders required intensive work. SS First Lieutenant Roland Vogl reported for duty and assumed the responsibilities as the battalion adjutant. The next day, the officer corps was introduced to Major der Luftwaffe Hermann Graf, a recipient of Oak Leaves with Swords and Diamonds to the Knight's Cross. In addition, the regimental commander, SS Colonel Kohlroser, visited the battalion and ordered the exchange of members from the I Battalion with the III Battalion, in order to provide stronger and RAD-experienced men for the armored half-track battalion. As noted, the number and level of NCO training remained unsatisfactory. Despite the daily training of the NCOs, the number of occupied NCO billets remained at a mere 26 percent.20

The Replacement Bureau of the Waffen-SS and the General Office of the Armed Forces reviewed the progress of recruiting volunteers on 24 February for the still infant 9th and 10th SS Divisions. While the birth-year 1925 could yield as many as 60,000 volunteers, the Chief of OKW set the limit of volunteer replacements from the birth-year 1925 to 60,000 men. However, the Army Command and Staff and General Office of the Armed Forces, the Replacement Bureau of the Waffen-SS, and RAD reviewed violations of soliciting volunteers for the Waffen-SS. Objections raised by the Chief of the RAD to further recruit from the RAD uncovered the stark reality that volunteer replacements could no longer be mustered for the Waffen-SS.21

In a celebratory atmosphere on 28 February 1943, the regimental commander swore-in the recruits of the I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.21, who gave their oath of allegiance. The following day, Debes attended and reviewed the battalion training and inspected the billeting quarters. He gave a positive evaluation of the battalion and stated the existence of an organization of good order. Simultaneously, Debes expected the same level of discipline when the men were not in the field but out in town among French civilians. In the divisional special order No.4, he specifically forbade all SS men of the division to discuss with civilians any matter concerning the unit. He pointed out that within the region of the division, the "enemy listening service" employed the French public to fraternize with the troops to extract information. The order emphasized that passing information equated to treason and therefore punishable by death, and gave notice that all inbound and outbound correspondence from the junior enlisted ranks was to be reviewed until a more favorable outlook was represented. Throughout March, the battalion also established special duty assignments for Jagdkommandos (hunting commandos) within each company. Jagdkommandos provided early warning of Allied airborne combat troops, airborne agents, and prevented sabotage. The Jagdkommandos were comprised of one officer, three NCOs and thirty men. Each company was responsible for establishing a commando, equipped with three light MG and rifles. Intensive drivers training began as well within the respective battalions. None of the recruits were licensed due to the young ages. Basic training was concluded on 20 March 1943 that marked the beginning of group level training. The training levels of the NCOs, especially those that arrived from the Polizei, continued to remain poor. Before 9 March, the battalion had only a single light machine gun available for training. By 23 March, the battalion reported eleven officers, sixty-one NCOs, and 763 men.22


1. Helmuth Greiner an Percy E. Schramm, Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Wehrmachtführungsstab): 1940-1945 (cited hereafter as KTB-OKW) (München: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1982), 2:1158, and 5:20, and 74; and Wilhelm Tieke, In the Firestorm of the Last Years of the War: II.SS-Panzerkorps with the 9. and 10.SS-Divisions "Hohenstaufen" and "Frundsberg", translated by Frederick Steinhardt (Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, 1999), 1-3. In Tieke's book, the numbers of men mustered from the volunteer drive reflect the projected total by OKW. Gottlob Berger would lead readers to believe that the RAD could not supply enough men for the SS when, in fact, it was the primary source. The RAD refers to the auxiliary, quasi-military organization that constituted one of the steps along the path to military service. Mandatory service in the RAD began on 26 June 1935, and during the war, the term of duty in the RAD was cut to three months. Principally, everybody recruited by the Waffen-SS came by way of the RAD, although there were exceptions of volunteers who entered directly into the Waffen-SS, avoiding the RAD. In 1935, German law required every 19-year-old male to serve in the RAD for six months prior to beginning service in the armed forces. For information concerning the RAD, see Klaus Ewald of Weil im Schönbach, interviewed by author, 6 April 2004; and Dr. Helmut Meschenmoser, Landesbildstelle Berlin, 2000. Aktion Rü 43 Tausch refers to the exchange of service eligible German or ethnic German workers for forced laborers from outside Germany.

2. Lothar Debes, service record dossier, National Archives (cited hereafter as NA), Record Group (cited hereafter RG) 242, Berlin Document Center (cited hereafter as BDC), Microfilm Publication (cited hereafter as MP) A3343, Series SSO-074, Frames 1423-1472. For more information regarding his military career, see Appendix A. For information regarding officer retention in the Waffen-SS, see General Major Doerffler-Schuband, Officer Procurement in the Waffen-SS: Reception, Processing, and Training, 1-9, NA/RG549/MPM1035, Foreign Military Studies (cited hereafter as FMS), D-178.

3. Reichsdeutsche were natural German-born citizens within the immediate borders of the German Reich, whereas Volksdeutsche were ethnic German citizens living outside the Reich. In this case, Volksdeutsche referred to people in occupied foreign areas, such as Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Russia. The Jungvolk (young nation) was the junior NSDAP organization of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth). Young boys between the ages of 10-14 learned how to drill, camp, and paramilitary training was emphasized. Members of the Hitler Jugend usually graduated into military service between the ages of 17-18. The Sturm Abteilung (Storm Troopers or brown shirts) refers to the earliest organization of the NSDAP that was responsible for guarding the beer halls where Hitler spoke in public. An Abteilung refers to a section, branch, detachment, or battalion. For combat arms units such as tanks, antitank, artillery, and reconnaissance, it refers to battalion-sized formations. For more information about the intricacies of German unit designations, see Nicholas Zetterling, Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness (Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, 2000), 15. The Allgemeine SS (general SS) refers to the earliest ranks of the Schutz Staffel that provided personal bodyguards for Hitler. Consulted was David Littlejohn, The Hitler Youth (Columbia: Agincourt Publishers, 1988), 1-13; and Craig W. H. Luther, Blood and Honor: The History of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Youth," 1943-1945 (San Jose: R. James Bender Publishing, 1987), 12-14; and the Gemeinschaftsarbeit des SS-Kriegsberichter-Zuges der 10.SS-Panzer-Div. "Frundsberg", Dran Drauf und Durch! Buczacz-Caen-Nimwegen (Division Propaganda Branch IV: 1944), 11.

4. Operation "Gisela" was the planned German counterstroke in northern Spain against an Allied occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. This measure involved five German divisions, to include the 9th SS "Hohenstaufen." See Greiner and Schramm, KTB-OKW, 5:25, and Herbert Fürbringer, 9.SS-Panzer-Division "Hohenstaufen" 1944: Normandie-Tarnopol-Arnheim (Heimdal: Editions Heimdal, 1984), 54.

5. Based on an analysis of soldier's pay books collected from members of the division in captivity, see Ewald Klapdor, Die Entscheidung: Invasion 1944 (Siek: privately printed, 1984), 16.

6. The Feldpostnummer (field postal number) for the Inst.Abt.10 was 26218/A. Kameradschafts-Vereinigung und Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V. Hannover (cited hereafter as Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V. Hannover), Die Hellebarde: Nachrichten der Kameradschaftsvereinigung Suchdienst Frundsberg, No. 5 (Hannover: Kameradschafts-Vereinigung und Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V. Hannover, 1980), 4. At this point it should be noted that reference to Buchenwald refers to the greater SS facility that incorporated the concentration camp, SS barracks, and other SS training facilities. The platoon leader's course, a second level officer's training requirement that followed officer's candidates school, was held at the Buchenwald facility, home to one of three death's head regiments, the SS Totenkopfstandarte "Thüringen." See Bernd Wegner, The Waffen-SS, Organization, Ideology and Function, translated by Ronald Webster (Ferdinand Schoningh, Paderborn: 1982), English translation copy (Basil Blackwell Ltd: 1990), 91.

7. Bernhard Westerhoff, Weg einer Panzer-Kompanie 1943-1945: 6.Kompanie SS-Panzer-Regiment 10 "Frundsberg" (Fachingen: privately printed, 1986), 2-3. Reference to the older and experienced divisions of the Waffen-SS refers to the first five divisions that included the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler", 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf", 4th SS Panzer Division "Polizei", and 5th SS Panzer Division "Wiking".

8. Leo Franke, service record dossier, 14.SS-Pz.Jgr.Kp. "Der Führer", O.U., 17.3.1941, RG242/A3343/SSO-0218/F1015, 10.SS Panzer Division, Rgt.Gef.Std., 25.5.1944, F996-97, and SS-Pz.Ers.Rgt., Bitsch/Lager, 26.2.1943, F1002-03.

9. Alexander Grenda of Wolfsburg, interviewed by author, March 2004. Jozef Pilsudski was the dictator of Poland from 1926 to 1935. Rydz-Smigly, who served under Pilsudski in the Polish Legions, assumed power as dictator until September 1939, when he fled to Romania after both Germany and Russia invaded Poland. See Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. Edited by Glenn E. Curtis. Poland: a country study, 3rd ed. (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1994), 28-33.

10. Westerhoff, Weg einer Panzer-Kompanie, 1-2.

11. The SS-Verfügungstruppe or SS-VT (service or disposal troops) organized into two standarten or regiments, next to the Leibstandarte (life standard) and served to protect Hitler at his disposal. Both the Leibstandarte and the SS-VT formed the foundation for the latter Waffen-SS. Rick D. Joshua, "Tarnished Warriors: The Waffen-SS And Popular Misconception" (thesis, Brunel University, 1994), 9.

12. Suchdienst Frundsberg (hereafter cited as Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V. Köln), Die Hellebarde: Nachrichten der Kameradschaftsvereinigunng Suchdienst Frundsberg, Nr. 19, (Köln: Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V., 1997), 32-33. In 1943, the training and replacement facility for the SS Anti-Tank Training and Replacement Battalion 1 was located in Rastenburg, Germany. See Klapdor, Die Entscheidung, 16. Klapdor was an SS Second Lieutenant in the reconnaissance battalion.

13. Suchdienst Frundsberg e.V. Köln, Die Hellebarde, Nr. 19 (1997): 33.

14. Based on correspondence between the author and Otto Jacob, August 2001.

15. Based on a report by Erich Lessner, an NCO in the 1st Company, SS-Pi.Btl.10, contained in the Pionier Kameradschaft "Dresden," 10.SS-Panzer-Div. "Frundsberg": Chronik der Pioniereinheiten der 10.SS-PzDiv "Frundsberg", (from hereafter cited as "Chronik der Pioniereinheiten,") (Archive Westerhoff, 1990), 4.

16. Ibid., 4-5.

17. Ibid., 5-6. The locations for the training and lodging of pioneers included Pikowitz, Hradischko and Dawle.

18. Karl Keck, service record dossier, NA/RG242/A3343/SSO-0159A.

19. Kriegstagebuch (war diary)(cited hereafter as KTB), I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.21, Abt.Ia., Mar-Dez 1943, NA/RG242/T354/R150/F3792087.

20. Ibid., F3792087-88.

21. Greiner and Schramm, KTB-OKW, 5:159-160. In comparison, the organization of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Jugend", considered as part of the German program for "total war" after the loss of 91,000 men at Stalingrad, ran a less difficult course by recruiting from the birth year 1926, i.e. directly from the 30,000-strong Hitler Youth. Less than one year after Hitler directed its organization in June 1943, the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Jugend" mustered 20,540 men. See: Hubert Meyer, Kriegsgeschichte der 12.SS-Panzerdivision "Hitlerjugend," vol. 1, 4th edition, (Coburg: Europa Nation Verlag GmbH, 1999), 11-17.

22. KTB, I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.21, NA/RG242/T354/R150/F3792088; and SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Karl der Grosse", Div.St.Qu., 3.3.43, Betr.: Schweigepflicht-Verschlußsachen, NA/RG242/T354/R150/F3792063-64. For more information regarding Jagdkommandos, or "Hunting Commandos," refer to the secret battalion order, I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt.1, "Karl der Grosse", Ia./Tgb.Nr. 14/43, 10.5.1943, NA/RG242/T354/R150/F3792129.

Go to Page 2

This material is copyrighted by Dieter Stenger 2007.
Chapter 1 is available for purchase for $15.00.
Please contact to order!