11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland

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11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division „Nordland“
11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division „Nordland“.png
Divisional insignia
Active July 1943 – May 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Flag Schutzstaffel.png Waffen-SS
Type Panzergrenadier
Size Division
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Franz Augsberger
Fritz von Scholz

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.

History

Schalburg Korps (de)
The cool "Panzervernichter": Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant) Johan Petter Balstad, highly decorated[1] Norwegian volunteer of (7./SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt 23 “Norge”) SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 23 Norge.

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.

1944 to 1945

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 (Heeresgruppe Nord). From 27 July 1944, Nordland fought alongside the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian) and elements of the Grossdeutschland Division In the Battle of Tannenberg Line. During these battles, the commanders of two regiments were killed.

While visiting the front line, the division's commander, SS-Gruppenführer Fritz von Scholz was caught in an artillery barrage and received a head wound. Scholz died on 28 July 1944. Thereafter, Brigadeführer Joachim Ziegler took over command of the division. It retreated into what was known as the Courland Pocket. From late October to December 1944, the Nordland remained in the pocket; by early December the divisional strength was down to 9,000 men. In January 1945, the division was ordered to the Baltic port of Libau, where it was evacuated by sea.

On 16 April 1945, the division was ordered to defend Berlin. On 30 April 1945, after receiving news of Hitler's suicide, orders were issued that those who could do so were to break out. Prior to that SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke briefed all commanders that could be reached within the Zitadelle sector about the events as to Hitler's death and the planned breakout. The break out from the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker started at 2300 hours on 1 May. There were ten main groups that attempted to head northwest. Most were killed in the fighting or taken prisoner after they surrendered to Soviet troops. On 2 May 1945 hostilities officially ended by order of General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Defence Area Berlin.

Commanders

Order of battle

  • SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 23 Norge
  • SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 24 Danmark
  • SS-Panzer Battalion 11 Herman von Salza
  • SS-Panzer Artilleree Regiment 11
  • SS-Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 11
  • SS-Sturmgeschutz Battalion 11
  • SS-Panzerjäger Battalion 11
  • SS-Signals Battalion 11
  • SS-Pionier Battalion 11
  • SS-Nachrichtung Abteilung Truppen 11
  • SS-Supply troop 11
  • SS-Repair Battalion 11
  • SS-Wirtschafts Battalion 11
  • SS-War Reporter platoon 11
  • SS-Feldgendarmerie Troop 11
  • SS-Reserve Battalion 11
  • SS-Bewährungs-Company 11
  • SS-Medical Battalion 11
  • SS-Werfer Battalion 521
  • SS-Jäger Regiment 11

See also

References

  1. Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class, Frontkjemper-Abzeichen (Norway), Wound Badge in silver, 3 tank destruction badges for single-handed tank kills in close combat.