Willi Hardieck

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Willi Hardieck
Willi Hardieck II.jpg
SS-Hauptsturmführer Hardieck with the SS-Division Totenkopf
Birth name Wilhelm Friedrich Hardieck
Birth date 29 December 1912(1912-12-29)
Place of birth Gütersloh, Kreis Wiedenbrück, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date ᛣ⚔ 17 December 1944 (aged 31)
Place of death Stadtkyll, Kreis Prüm, Regierungsbezirk Trier, Gau Moselland, Rhine Province, German Reich
Allegiance  Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.png Allgemeine SS / Waffen-SS
Years of service 1932–1944
Rank SS-Obersturmbannführer der Reserve der Waffen-SS
Commands held Image-File SS Division Totenkopf.png SS-Totenkopf-Aufklärungs-Abteilung
12SSHJinsig.png SS-Panzer-Regiment 12
Awards Iron Cross
German Cross in Gold
Relations ∞ 1939 Elli Dethloff

Wilhelm "Willi" Friedrich Hardieck (29 December 1912 – 17 December 1944) was a German officer of the SS and the Waffen SS, finally SS-Obersturmbannführer in WWII.


Willi Hardieck in Bad Tölz
Letter from SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Hardieck to SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Arnold from 26 June 1944
Stadtkyll Cemetery of Honor with 402 fallen of WWII
Willi Hardieck VIII.jpg

Hardieck joined the SS rune.png on 1 May 1932 (No.: 32,786) and the NSDAP (No.: 1,112,708) in the same year. In 1934, he was accepted to the elite Leibstandarte and served with the Kraftfahr-Kompanie. After having proven himself, he was commanded to the SS-Junker School in Bad Tölz and received leadership training for officer candidates from 1 October 1937 to 31 July 1938. After a mandatory platoon leader course, he was commissioned and transferred to the SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 3 "Thüringen" in Buchenwald.

In 1939, after having been promoted to SS-Obersturmführer, Hardieck, like many others from the SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 3, volunteered for the SS-Heimwehr „Danzig“. From March to August 1939, more than 200 Polish military border violations involving arson, murder and kidnapping occurred. Danzig did not want to continue to submit to this terror without any protection. In November 1939, he was appointed commander of the 2nd Kradschützen Company of the SS-Totenkopf-Aufklärungs-Abteilung/SS-Totenkopf-Division (motorized).

On 20 November 1939, the divisional command issued an order creating a Panzerkraftwagen-Zug (armored vehicle platoon) for the SS-Totenkopf-Aufklärungs-Abteilung (SS Reconnaissance Battalion Totenkopf) under the leadership of SS-Obersturmführer Hardieck, who commanded the Kradschützen (motorcycle) company. Initially, the platoon was to contain three Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) or 38(t) in order to fill in the gap that resulted from the shortage of Panzerspähwagen (armored reconnaissance vehicles).

On 22 November 1939, Hardieck took command of the new formation which was integrated in his 2nd Kradschützen Company, eventually (exact date unknown) renamed 3rd heavy (schwere) Company. The crews were provided by SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2. The Panzerkraftwagen platoon was under the leadership of SS-Oberscharführer Werkmeister (who would later serve in the Panzer regiment). The personnel drove to Pilsen on 27 November, returned to Germany during mid-December 1939, and were quartered at Burgholz. On 20 December 1939, second and third platoons were added and organized into three sections consisting of two Panzers each, giving a total strength of six Panzers.

On 27 May 1940, the platoon, with seven Panzers, advanced along the Hinges–Le Cornet Malo road at 0300 hours and provided support to SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 3 during the assault on the La-Basse Canal. The remaining Panzerkraftwagen 10(t) was knocked out in Le Cornet Malo. The day’s fighting resulted in three killed and four badly wounded, including company commander SS-Hauptsturmführer Hardieck. The wounded were evacuated along with the wounded infantrymen. During his recuperation, Hardieck was subordinated to the Totenkopf-Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon I.

From 20 October to 17 November 1940, Hardieck was commanded to a battalion commander course with the 71. Infanterie-Division. From 9 January to 15 March 1941, he was commanded to a leadership coursewith the SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 3. On 25 March 1941, he was appointed commander of the 15th Kradschützen Company/III. SS-Infanterie-Bataillon/SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 3/SS-Division Totenkopf. In September 1941, Hardieck was appointed (depending on the source) either commander of the 2nd Schwadron/SS-Totenkopf-Kradschützen-Bataillon or 2nd Company/SS-Totenkopf-Aufklärungs-Abteilung.

On 1 June 1942, he was delegated with the leadership of the SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 6/6. SS-Gebirgs-Division "Nord" in Finland at the Arctic Polar Sea Front (Eismeerfront)and was appointed commander on 1 December 1942. On 17 May 1943, he was appointed staff officer and department head dealing with Panzer reconnaissance (In 6) with the SS-Führungshauptamt. From 2 August to 3 September 1943, he was commanded to the reconnaissance school battalion Krampnitz then to the Panzer troops shooting school in Putlos. He then returned to the SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 6/6. SS-Gebirgs-Division "Nord", as most sources state. From 19 June to 15 July 1944, he attended the 14th Regimental Leader Course for the Panzer Troops. He passed the course with “good”.

According to his personnel file, he was appointed regimental commander of the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen on 14 July 1944, but was placed in the Führer-Reserve (Leader Reserve) of the SS-FHA on 23 July 1944. It is very likely that the transfer never took effect. On 3 August 1944, he was assigned to the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer-SS as a regimental commander and was placed back to the Führer-Reserve about a month later on 10 September 1944 for unknown reasons. On 15 September 1944, Hardieck took over command of the Panzer Regiment of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. On 2 November 1944, he was transferred to the SS-Führungshauptamt for special use (zur besonderen Verwendung) and was transferred to days later to the commandos.

Panzer-Brigade 150

Main article: Operation Greif

On 4 November 1944, Hardieck was commanded to the SS-Jagdverband Mitte for the purpose of setting up the Panzer-Brigade 150, planned by Otto Skorzeny. Hardieck was appointed commander of the III. Combat Group (Kampfgruppe Z) to be deployed during the Battle of the Ardennes.


From 16 December 1944, the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, the bulk of the Panzer-Brigade 150 was kept ready with the 6th Panzer Army under Josef Dietrich in the Eifel. Due to the unfavorable weather conditions and the unfavorable development of the situation on the Ourthe, the bulk of Panzer-Brigade 150 could only be deployed on 20 and 21 December 1944.

On 17 December 1944, Willi Hardieck belonged to a small vanguard with the aim of reconnaissance against American positions northeast of Bastogne. Some sources state, Hardieck belonged to that part of the Operation "Griffin", which was placed in American army uniforms to cause confusion behind enemy lines through false orders but also through sabotage. It is not documented, that the combat group "Z" under Hardieck's command was entrusted with this task, but it is possible because the operation was kept in complete secrecy. Joachim Peiper writes after the war, that Willi Hardieck and Gustav Knittel were responsible for reconnaissance.

What is documented is the fact, that Hardieck was severely wounded when his lead vehicle (some sources state, it was a captured American Jeep) drove on a mine in the Ardennes. Kampfgruppe Z was taken over by Adrian Baron von Fölkersam.

Hardieck was transported back over the German border to the main dressing station (Hauptverbandsplatz) in Stadtkyll and died there just a short time later.[1] However, the official death record (15 August 1946) is a little different, according to this document, he died ("verstorben") on 17 December 1944 around 1300 hours between Roth (near Prüm) and Ormont, presumably during his transport to Stadtkyll.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Willi Hardieck's final resting place is at the German War Cemetery Stadtkyll; final burial location: Row 1, Grave 31.


On 23 December 1939 in Gütersloh, SS-Obersturmführer Hardieck married his fiancée Elli Dethloff (b. 8 March 1915 in Berlin). Their only known child was born 1941. The family lived in Berlin-Charlottenburg (Königin-Elisabeth-Straße 58).




Awards and decorations