11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland

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The 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland was a German Waffen SS mechanized infantry division recruited from foreign volunteers. It saw action on the Eastern Front during World War II.

Conception

Image-File Schalburg Korps.jpg

By 1943, the foreign formations of the Waffen-SS had established a record in combat. The 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, a volunteer division, had been in action since 1940.

However, the Wiking, whose enlisted men were predominantly Nordic volunteers, was officered by Germans. In February 1943, Hitler ordered the creation of an SS Division which would be officered by foreign volunteers. The Wiking's SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment Nordland, a Scandinavian volunteer regiment, was pulled out of the line to be used as a basis for the new division. The division was originally to receive the name Waräger (Varangians) but the name was rejected by Hitler himself. It was decided that the division was to continue using the already-existing regiment’s name, Nordland.

The Nordland's two Panzergrenadier regiments were also given titles. The regimental titles were a reference to the location where the majority of the regiment's recruits were from, SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 23 Norge (Norwegians) and SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 24 Danmark (Danes).

Despite most volunteers hailing from Scandinavia, the Nordland carried the widest range of nationalities found in any single division. By the end of the war, Danish, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Estonian, Finnish, French, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss and British volunteers had either served in the division or been attached to it.

After its formation in Germany, the division was attached to SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner's III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps and was moved to occupied Croatia for training and to complete its formation. Soon after its arrival, the SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Niederlande was attached to the division and it began combat operations against Josip Tito's partisans. In late November, the Danmark regiment was involved in heavy fighting with a force of 5,000 partisans near Glina. During this period, the Nordland's Panzer Abteilung, SS-Panzer Abteilung 11, was given the honour title Hermann von Salza in honour of the fourth Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights.

In January 1944, orders were received to move the division to the Oranienbaum front near Leningrad, under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model's Army Group North.

See also

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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