|"In the Shadow of the Elites: The
9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen"
by Major James T. McGhee
"I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Fuhrer and Reichschancellor, loyalty and
bravery. I vow to you, and those you have named to command me, obedience unto
death, so help me God."
This oath, taken by each member of the Waffen SS, summarizes their unflinching
obedience and devotion to duty. Although condemned as a criminal organization
following the Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, the soldiers of the "elite"
Waffen SS Divisions were among the most effective of the German military
formations. These formations included the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte
Adolf Hitler", 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", 3rd SS
Panzer Division "Totenkopf ", 5th SS Panzer Division "Wiking",
9th SS Panzer Division "Hohenstaufen", 10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg",
and the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend ".
Each of the SS divisions listed above displayed the attributes associated with
those of elite organizations. Although listed among the elites, the performance
of 9th SS Hohenstaufen is less publicized than most of the other SS
Panzer Divisions despite its participation in some of the most significant
battles of World War II. Why does the Hohenstaufen Division reside in
the shadow of the other divisions, and does it deserve the title of an "elite"?
The answer to the first question may lie within a combination of many reasons.
First, the Hohenstaufen arrived late onto the battlefields of Europe,
seeing its first action in the spring of 1944. Second, none of the most notable
Waffen SS personalities including Michael Wittmann, Ernst Barkmann, Jochen
Peiper, and Kurt ‘Panzer' Meyer, about which many histories have been written,
were members of the Hohenstaufen. The division's history also is void
of the most publicized atrocities attached to other SS divisions including the
1st SS Leibstandarte's ties to the Malmedy Massacre, the 2nd SS Das
Reich's massacre of French civilians, and the 3rd SS Totenkopf's
murder of English prisoner's of war at Le Paradis and their direct ties to the
concentration camps. Finally, the Hohenstaufen never develop the fanatical
reputation among scholars as those who carried the name of the Fuhrer on their
coveted cuff titles, as did the 12th SS Hitlerjungend (Hitler Youth)
and the 1st SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler .
To answer the second question one must first define what attributes are
commonly associated with the elite Waffen SS formations. The title of an elite
often revolved around organizations of highly motivated volunteers chosen for
their high standards of physical fitness. These soldiers received excellent
training, were armed with the most modern military weapons and were led by
strong, charismatic leaders. They were aggressive almost to the point of
recklessness when conducting an attack and fanatical in the defense. Finally,
the elite formations were able to maintain high levels of morale and
camaraderie even in the face of defeat. A short history of the organization and
combat performance of the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen from its
conception in December 1943 to its final battle in April 1945 will show that it
displayed the attributes found among the best Waffen SS divisions and earned
the title of an elite.
As the tide began to turn against Hitler, with the fall of Stalingrad and the
loss of North Africa, he placed a greater demand upon the men of the Waffen SS
who where, "an extraordinary body of men, devoted to an idea, and loyal unto
death." On 31 December 1942, Hitler agreed to the formation of two additional
Waffen SS divisions, the 9th SS Hohenstaufen and the 10th SS Frundsberg
. These new formations were to recruit heavily from the 1925-26 year groups,
making them approximately 18 years of age. However, the recruitment of
volunteers for the new divisions was disappointing. As a result, for the first
time, the Waffen SS resorted to large-scale conscription. Between 70 and 80
percent of these youths who met the standards for service with the Waffen SS
As previously stated, one mark of the elites was their ability to attract
highly motivated volunteers. This initial conscription would seem to indicate
that the Hohenstaufen was not formed as an elite organization. In his book, Hitler's
Elite Guard at War, The Waffen SS , George Stein records that the
conscription of these youths was met with anger from "parents, ministers,
bishops, and cardinals" and as a result of these complaints, the conscripts,
according to SS Obergruppenfuhrer Juttner were, "to be kept in training for a
month or so and then offered the choice of volunteering or being released from
the SS service". He reported, "that there were three who asked to be released
out of the entire two divisions. All the rest said, ‘No, we stay!'"
One motivating factor for these youths to stay in the Hohenstaufen was
undoubtedly their reverence for their NCOs and Officers. From the beginning of
their training, these leaders impressed upon the recruits that they were
members of an elite organization. These NCOs and officers were for the most
part veterans who had come from the other Waffen SS divisions. They
deliberately fostered a close relationship between themselves and their men.
Expected to rise from the ranks, Waffen SS officers earned the respect and
loyalty of their men by leading from the front and never asking them to do
anything that they would not do themselves. For many, this bond between
brothers in arms was "the most memorable aspect of service in the Waffen SS".
From the beginning of 1943 through March 1944, the Hohenstaufen conducted
an intensive training program at multiple locations in France. Created
primarily as a motorized reserve for the Western Front, the training of the Hohenstaufen
included special training to counter airborne landings by paratroops. The
training emphasis for the Hohenstaufen was very similar to the other
elite divisions. It was a rigorous training program that emphasized sport,
physical fitness, and above all, field craft. SS veteran Friedrich-Karl
"Our training was indeed hard, especially in the divisions that were formed
later in the war, such as the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen,
10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg and 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
. These were the last divisions that were able to make use of the relative
peace in the West for their training, before the D-Day invasion in June 1944.
However, it was very intensive. They all received the most up-to-date and
modern equipment but, because they were so well equipped, a great deal was
expected of them when they went into action."
At the beginning of November, 1943 the Hohenstaufen was reorganized as
a panzer division. With the designation of a full panzer division, the Hohenstaufen
received the most mobile and powerful weapons available. In addition to the
standard small arms, mortars, flak batteries, towed artillery, and heavy
machine guns, they were equipped with Panzer IV's, formidable Panzer V
"Panthers", half tracked personnel carries called shutzenpanzerwagen (SPW)
some armed with anti-tank guns or rockets, and mobile artillery platforms such
as the 10.5cm "Wespe" and the 15cm "Hummel".
Proclaimed ready for combat at the end of March 1944, the 9th SS Hohenstaufen
was ordered to the Eastern Front to help restore the front and relieve the
German 1st Armored Army surrounded at Tarnopol. They were motivated, well
trained, superbly equipped, and although they lacked combat experience, were
led by veteran NCOs and officers who were returning to face an old enemy. "The
young soldiers watched their Unterfuhrer (NCOs) and officers and
listened to them, for these, mostly old soldiers of the Eastern Front, knew
Russia and, with their war experience, formed the steel framework of the
The young soldiers of the Hohenstaufen received their baptism of fire
on the Eastern Front. But like so many others before them had found, the
weather was their most formidable enemy. Melting snow and sudden rains turned
the roads into a morass, nearly impassable by most wheeled vehicles and
extremely difficult for even the tracked SPWs. These road conditions placed a
severe stress on both men and machines. A 35-kilometer march could take as long
as 14 hours to complete. The road conditions took away the Hohenstaufen's
greatest advantage, mobility.
A second problem facing the division was their inability to concentrate their
forces. Committed to the relief attack before the entire division arrived at
their debarkation station, the units of the Hohenstaufen were
committed into the attack piecemeal. They were not provided time to adequately
concentrate their forces or conduct proper reconnaissance. Rushed to the front
over terrible roads, "They arrived for the relief attack practically straight
from the march and ‘with their tongues hanging out" The following
description of the roads presents the difficulties faced by those committed on
the Eastern Front during the spring thaw. "The highway consumes the material of
the vehicles and gnaws at the strength of the driver. The mud of the spring
penetrates every seam and crack, mixes with the oil of the machines, and wears
the hinges and bearings."
The German attack to relieve the garrison at Tarnopol began too late and was in
the end a failure. Only a few of the German 1st Armored Army's beleaguered
defenders were able to break out of the pocket. On the Eastern Front, the SS
grenadiers of the Hohenstaufen learned that good training and
equipment, experienced leadership and high morale were not enough to ensure
During the final days of April 1944, the Hohenstaufen was withdrawn to
act as a mobile reserve for Heeresgruppe Nordukraine in anticipation
of a renewed Russian offensive. On 6 June 1944, while the Hohenstaufen
was refitting in the Ukraine, allied forces began the invasion of Normandy, and
opened a second front in the West. The great invasion for which the young SS
division had been organized and trained started without them. Within six days,
the Hohenstaufen received new orders and began entraining their
equipment for a movement back to France. The order signed by Field Marshall
Model remarked, "I am certain that you will accomplish your new missions in the
spirit of our slogan, ‘No soldier in the world is better than the soldiers of
The Hohenstaufen arrived in Normandy with the II SS Panzer Corps and
its sister division, the 10th SS Frundsberg on 23 June. Originally, the Corps
was to counterattack the British and Americans near Bayeux in order to drive a
wedge between the two armies. For this planned counter attack, the Heavy SS
Panzer Abteilung 102 arrived to support the II SS Panzer Corps. This
unit was armed with the nearly impregnable heavy Panzer VI "Tiger" tanks. The
"Tigers" outclassed every Allied tank on the Western Front in terms of
firepower and armor. Given their tank's superiority, the well-trained panzer
crews arrived full of confidence.
The planned counter attack never materialized. The allies won the build up of
troops of men and material and began expanding their beachhead. A war of
attrition began in which the grenadiers of the 9th SS Hohenstaufen became
involved in a deadly pattern of attack, defend, and counterattack.
The battles in Normandy were far different than those on the Eastern Front.
Both the terrain and the enemy they were facing brought many new challenges.
Much of the terrain in Normandy was often crisscrossed with fields surrounded
by thick hedgerows. Called the bocage, the countryside severely
restricted the maneuver of tanks and armored vehicles and limited their fields
of fire. Once again, the terrain took away the maneuver and firepower
advantages of a panzer division. However, what it did provide was limited
protection and concealment from the allied fighter-bombers that dominated the
skies over Normandy. Historian George Stein writes, "In the West the SS troops
had to face what they bitterly called the Materialschlacht . Against
heavy naval fire, unending streams of tanks, fully motorized infantry, superior
artillery, and above all crippling attacks from the air, even the determination
of the SS troops came to nothing."
The 9th SS Panzer division was involved in the brutal fighting around the city
of Caen and perhaps most notably the brutal battles to seize and hold the
critically important heights along Hill 112. Here, the men of the Hohenstaufen
tested their training, equipment, and their believed superiority as soldiers
against the material strength of the Allies. In preparing for an attack against
Hill 112, given the name "Calvary Mountain" by the Germans, a member of SS
Panzer Abteilung 102 reported, "They began to dig in up there and
showed no desire to fight. We waited impatiently for a chance to test our
strength against theirs."
The morale of the Hohenstaufen remained high as they tenaciously
defended the heights and inflicted heavy casualties on the Allies. The number
of Allied tanks destroyed by the Hohenstaufen from their first
engagement on 28 June through 1 July included 62 Churchill II and III's, and
British Shermans. However, the attacks had not achieved any tactical success
and casualties for the division were also high at over 1,800. The Division
commander, Standartenfuhrer (Colonel) Stadler, who assumed command on
3 July, reported the following regarding the fighting in Normandy,
||"With every attack repelled, the confidence of
the troops grew stronger, whereas the enemy's aggressive spirit seemed to
decrease more and more. Although his attacks were always preceded by heavily
massed artillery barrages lasting for hours, his tanks and infantrymen advanced
only hesitatingly and very carefully and having suffered some casualties or
losses, immediately turned around to have the artillery go into action again.
The latter then even increased its intensity of fire, if a further
intensification was at all possible. During those days, the enemy artillery
fire reached such a pitch that veterans of the First World War unanimously
agree, it surpassed even the fire in the trenches during the tremendous battles
of materiel during the war."
The complete superiority of the Allies gradually reduced the combat
effectiveness of all the Waffen SS divisions in Normandy. The 9th SS Panzer
Division was no exception. "The best German Divisions were bled white and
Germany's youth died! All of the courage, all the bravery were not equal to the
overwhelming material superiority of the Allies." The 9th SS Division
having sustained such high casualties could no longer be considered a full
division. Its two regiment's were combined into one called Panzer Grenadier
At the end of July, the Americans began "Operation Cobra" and broke through the
German lines along the Perriers - St. Lo road. The breakthrough threatened to
surround the German Armies in Normandy. The Pzr. Gdr. Rgt. "Hohenstaufen"
fought fanatically against British attacks during the first weeks of August.
With the assistance once again of Tiger Abteilung 102, they inflicted
heavy casualties on the enemy. Tieke writes that against the strong English
attacks of 11 August, the grenadiers of the "Hohenstaufen" "stood like a
rock". However, their defenses and those of the remaining German
formations in Normandy were not strong enough to prevent the threatened
encirclement. The Hohenstaufen was ordered to escape and on 18 August
managed to avoid being encircled. Its remnants, 30% of its authorized strength,
prepared a defensive line to protect the northern flank and help keep open the
escape corridor out of the "Falaise Pocket".
The battle of Normandy was lost and the Waffen SS Divisions had paid a terrible
price in both men and equipment. The Regiment "Hohenstaufen" had been defeated
but not destroyed as a fighting unit. Its officers were able to maintain good
order, discipline, and conduct an organized retreat. By the end of August, a
general retreat to the West Wall was unavoidable. On 2 September, now
Kampfgruppe "Hohenstaufen" fought a successful defensive action at Cambria
destroying over 40 enemy tanks. The division arrived in their new
assembly areas on the 8th of September near the city of Arnhem. From here the
survivors were expecting to reorganize and receive replacements and equipment.
The 9th SS Panzer Division had been in involved in constant combat for over two
months. Their personnel strength had been bled down from 18,000 to
approximately 6,000, which included severe shortages of officers and NCOs.
On 10 September, the Hohenstaufen was ordered to turn over its
remaining operational vehicles to its sister unit, the remnants of SS Panzer
Division Frundsberg. Two grenadier battalions and an artillery
battalion were also transferred. This left the Hohenstaufen with only
a cadre of approximately 2,500 men. These men along with their remaining
equipment were ordered back to the homeland for reorganization. Before their
departure was complete, the British 1st Airborne Division began landing east of
Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden. The remaining grenadiers of the Hohenstaufen
, instead of finding themselves on trains back to their homes, found themselves
once again in the middle of a great battle.
The reader is reminded that the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen had
been specially trained to counter airborne landings as part of their
preparation to defeat the Allied invasion of France. Immediately upon
notification, the quick reaction companies of the Hohenstaufen organized
themselves for action. Their orders were to conduct reconnaissance in the
cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen and to defeat the British paratroopers landing
east of Arnhem near the town of Oosterbeek. Seemingly impossible, the
reconnaissance battalion led by Hauptsturmfuhrer (Captain) Graebner,
who at the time of the airborne landings was receiving the Knights Cross for
his actions in Normandy, was able to assemble 40 armored vehicles and have them
ready for action within two hours.
The quick assemblage of the Hohenstaufen was a direct reflection of
the exceptional capabilities of the SS leadership and discipline of the SS
grenadiers. An SS officer reflected, "These soldiers were thinking about their
families, as everything had virtually been packed for the move to Siegen. The
mood was resigned – ‘here we go again!' They were inevitably disappointed at
first, but the officers and NCOs were able to overcome this and get the
soldiers quickly into action."
SS Obersturmbannfuhrer (Lieutenant Colonel) Spindler exemplified the
exceptional leadership qualities of the officers of the Hohenstaufen.
At 34 years old, Spindler was the greatly respected commander of the armored
artillery regiment. During "Market Garden" he commanded 16 separate ad hoc
units. His command, designated Kampfgruppe Spindler, and the
sperrlinie or blocking line he created on the western approaches into Arnhem
during the night of 17-18 September was according to historian Robert Kershaw,
"to affect the outcome of the battle of Arnhem decisively."
The fighting in and around Arnhem was different than what the Hohenstaufen
encountered in Normandy. The British paratroops were scattered, lightly armed
and possessed no armor. Despite good weather, the Allied fighter-bombers did
not provide the British paratroopers with adequate air support. An SS trooper
remembers, "It was a wonderful sunny day. Morale was high. There were no
"Jabos" like there were in Normandy – we felt we could win!"
The fighting in and around Arnhem was brutal and often fought at very close
quarters among the gardens, hedges, and buildings of Arnhem and Oosterbeek.
Again, the advantages of mobility and firepower that the available panzers
brought to the battlefield were limited. Urban combat is routinely a war of
attrition and for many German units fighting in Arnhem including the battle
groups of the Hohenstaufen; casualties may have been as high as
50%. After nine days of fierce fighting, the remnants of the British
1st Airborne Division retreated across the Rhine. Of the 10,000 British
Paratroopers who jumped or glided into "Market Garden", less than 2,100
escaped. Approximately 1,500 were killed, 2,200 were wounded, and the rest were
taken prisoner. Operation Market Garden had failed and the soldiers of the Hohenstaufen
had won a well-deserved victory. The commander of Kampfgruppe Hohenstaufen,
Standartenfuhrer Walter Harzer was awarded the Knight's Cross to the
Iron Cross for his unit's actions. It was the last great victory of the war for
any of the elite Waffen SS Divisions.
On 1 October 1944, the Hohenstaufen was transferred to Western Germany
to be brought back to division strength. The young SS men, who had trained so
diligently in France the year before, had been decimated through the battles of
Normandy and Holland. Those who survived were elite veterans, battle hardened
through those difficult challenges. These men formed the backbone of the
reorganized 9th SS Panzer Division. Replacements arrived from the SS
replacement units and many of the original volunteers returned from hospitals
after having been wounded in Normandy. Approximately 30% of those who arrived
were former Luftwaffe personnel. These men were mostly from staff
organizations, Flak units and ground personnel. They were neither trained nor
highly motivated to join a front line combat unit such as an SS Panzer
Division. The burden fell once again on the young SS officers and NCOs to
motivate and train these recruits to perform their missions within the
division. "The greatest efforts of our young Komapanie Chiefs were, according
to Obersturmfuhrer (1st Lieutenant) Steinbach, required in the correct
psychological handing of these men that were coming to us. The transfer to the
Waffen SS at first made them shudder, but our warm-hearted and comradely style,
our nose for recognizing that here we had to do with valuable men, soon made
them part of us."
The division was brought back up to 80% of its authorized strength by the end
of October. The real problems were training and the receipt of new equipment.
Special accelerated training programs were created but there was a shortage of
experienced trainers. Equipment arrived slowly never reaching above 70% of the
authorizations. By the beginning of December however, the division
was out of time. Hitler had ordered a new offensive in the Ardennes. The Hohenstaufen
along with the SS Divisions Leibstandarte, Das Reich, and Hitlerjugend
were organized into the 6th SS Panzer Army. This formation was to spearhead the
last great German offensive in the West.
The Hohenstuafen moved by rail to their assembly areas on December 12.
It had only been two months since the decimated battle groups of the Hohenstuafen
had been pulled off the front lines for reorganization. "It's reconstitution as
a Panzer Division, albeit weaker than planned, in such a short time and in the
face of Allied heavy bombing campaigns, must be considered as nothing short of
The Ardennes offensive, later to become known as the Battle of the Bulge, began
on 16 December 1944. The Hohenstaufen was initially held in reserve
waiting to exploit the planned breakthrough. Initial progress of the attacking
divisions was good but the attack soon stalled due to the severe congestion
along narrow roads through the heavily wooded Ardennes forests. Severe
shortages of fuel brought many formations to a halt. The elite Panzer Divisions
that Hitler had placed so much hope in were unable to maneuver and most never
had a chance to engage the Americans and were soon pushed back.
The Hohenstaufen joined the offensive on the 18th of December. They
fought in the dense forests around the towns of St. Vith and Bastogne. The
difficult terrain, poor weather conditions, shortages of fuel and the Allied
material superiority in both artillery and airpower once again proved lethal.
By the beginning of January the situation was extremely unfavorable for the Hohenstaufen.
The commander the 20th Regiment writes, "Through unfavorable circumstances
(inadequate training of the men and serious shortages of supplies, in
particular clothes and shoes) I have very high casualties; mostly due to
artillery and, whenever the weather clears, from Jabos . Yesterday, I
received 200 replacements, unfortunately, almost all old men from the Ukraine,
some of whom neither speak nor understand German."
The Ardennes offensive failed to achieve its objectives of seizing the port of
Antwerp and dividing the Allied armies. The Hohenstaufen like the
other divisions that took part was forced to retreat. Once again, the elite
Waffen SS Divisions had failed to achieve their objectives. Although no records
of the Hohenstaufen's casualties exist, Tieke estimates that they may
have been as high as 30%. One of the most notable losses was SS Obersturmbannfuhrer
Spindler, the artillery officer whose kampfgruppe had played such a
decisive role in the victory at Arnhem. The fighting in the Ardennes had once
again tested the men of the Hohenstaufen . "Despite their overall
defeat, the men of the 9th SS Panzer Division had nothing of which to be
On January 16th, the 6th SS Panzer Army was ordered to withdraw from the
fighting in the Ardennes and begin immediately to prepare for another
offensive. This time the target would be the city of Budapest and the oil
fields of Hungary. Three days earlier, an attack by the SS Totenkopf and
SS Wiking Panzer Divisions had failed to relieve the German garrison
surrounded at Budapest. Hitler called a halt to the operation and ordered the
SS Panzer Divisions of the 6th SS Panzer Army to refit. The German High Command
ordered that the divisions complete refitting by the 30th of January.
The 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen conducted a fighting retreat back
to the Reich until they were relieved on 25 January.
The leadership of the Hohenstaufen Division and the other SS
Divisions, after sustaining heavy casualties and huge losses of equipment
during the Ardennes offensive, were once again reorganized to conduct a major
offensive; this time against the Soviets in Hungary. Replacements consisted
mostly of untrained Luftwaffe and Navy personnel.
The Hohenstaufen began its attack as part of Operation Spring
Awakening on the morning of 6 March 1945. The attack followed a short artillery
barrage and was conducted without the time to conduct a reconnaissance of the
area. The weather was poor with temperatures being just above freezing. The
snow fell, but the most significant hurdle to overcome was the muddy road
conditions. The nemesis, which had been so instrumental in the failure of their
attacks towards Tarnopol almost one year earlier, once again returned to defeat
them. Like each time before, the Hohenstaufen was unable to take
advantage of their mobility. Standartenfuhrer Stadler remembers, "A
massed Panzer attack is simply impossible. The entire landscape has turned to
softened mud in which everything sinks. Obersturmbannfuhrer Telkamp, a
prudent panzer commander, led the most advanced Kompanie personally and had to
determine that his Regiment could not be committed because the heavy vehicles
sank into the mud. After two panzers had disappeared in the filth up to their
turrets, the attack on a broad front by the advancing Grenadiers could only
still be supported by one panzer company from the only highway in the attack
sector. Since the Russians expected our attack, the Regiment soon received
heavy defensive fire from all weapons. Under these circumstances, the attack
only went forward with difficulty."
The attacks advanced slowly and the combat strength of the Hohenstaufen
division melted away. Russian counterattacks put the division on the defensive.
Despite the overwhelming material superiority of the Russians and the
increasing casualties, the grenadiers of the Hohenstaufen maintained
their morale and discipline, and fought off each attack. Again, Stadler
reported, "The Russians attacked all day long in battalion and regimental
strength from their well constructed positions. Since they knew the terrain
well, the support by artillery, heavy mortars and tanks was targeted and
effective. Scarcely was an attack repulsed when the Russians appeared again in
another place. The Hohenstaufen kept up its high morale, as it, under
the given circumstances, was able to hold of all the attacks and make them
extremely costly for the enemy. Unfortunately, our own losses were equally
Two of the defining factors of an elite formation are its ability to maintain
its morale and conduct a fanatical defense in the face of defeat. In Hungary,
the Hohenstaufen sealed their status as one of the elite. Wilhelm
Tieke describes the action, "On March 22, 1945, the 9th SS Panzerdivision,
under its commander, Oberfuhrer Stadler, fought to the point of self
sacrifice. It served to hold a reception position for the forces fighting their
way out of the area of Stuhlweissenburg. In relation to this, the history of
the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking reads: ‘It must be remarked at this point
that the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen played a decisive part in
the fortunate breakout of Wiking . Contrary to orders, Stadler had
pushed his front as far forward as possible to the northern part of Lake
Balaton in order to hold the sector open for the Division.'"
Operation Spring Awakening was a death march for the elite Waffen SS Divisions.
The 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen conducted an orderly retreat
back into Germany and finally surrendered to the Americans on 8 May 1945. Over
the past year, the division had fought in many of the most significant battles
of World War II. The familiar names of Normandy, Caen, Hill 112, Falaise,
Arnhem, St. Vith, and Bastogne, all appear in the unit history. They fought in
the bocage of France, along the dikes of Holland, in the forests of
Belgium and the mud of the Eastern Front, and yet the reputation of the
original elite divisions overshadows that of the Hohenstaufen .
The Hohenstaufen had fought as well as any Waffen SS formations from
April 1944 to May 1945. The conditions under which they fought prevented them
from conducting large-scale maneuver warfare so familiar in the histories of
the SS divisions that participated in the invasions of France and Russian, and
their demonstrated power of the mighty panzer formations during the maneuver
battles of Kharkov and Kursk. Regardless, the combat performance of the Hohenstaufen
was nothing short of commendable. The division has earned its place among the
elite Waffen SS Divisions.
Show Footnotes and
. George Stein, The Waffen SS 1939-1945
, (New York: Cornell
University, 1966), 283.
. Stein, 199.
. Stein, 204.
. Ibid, 205.
. Gordon Williamson, Loyalty is My Honor: Personal Accounts from the Waffen
, (London: Brown Packaging Books Ltd., 1999), 44.
. Wilhelm Tieke, In the Firestorm of the Last Years of the War
Translated by Frederick Steinhardt, (Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz, 1999), 4.
. Williamson, 31.
. Ibid, 40.
. Tieke, 15.
. Tieke, 19.
. Ibid, 25.
. Ibid, 48.
. Tieke, 64.
. Ibid, 68.
. Stein, 223.
. Fey, 105.
. Tieke, 95.
. Sylvester Stadler, "Combat Report of the 9.SS-Panzer-Division:
Hohenstaufen" 7.03.44-7.24.44, As written by Sylvester Stadler in 1947 / MS #
B-470", Internet: article on-line, Accessed 8 January 2004, available at
. Tieke, 129.
. Ibid, 166.
. Tieke, 217.
. Ibid, 222.
. Robert Kershaw, It Never Snows in September: The German View of
Market-Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944
, (New York:
Ian Publishing Ltd, 1994), 73.
. Ibid, 74.
. Ibid, 108.
. Kershaw, 91.
. Ibid, 311.
. Tieke, 265.
. Tieke, 278.
. Ibid, 279.
. Michael Reynolds, Sons of the Reich: II SS Panzer Corps in Normandy,
Arnhem, Ardennes, Eastern Front
. (Havertown: Casemate, 2002), 183.
. Reynolds, 183.
. Tieke, 330.
. Ibid, 334.
. Reynolds, 245.
. Reynolds, 247.
. Tieke, 376.
. Ibid, 379.
. Tieke, 384.
Fey, Will. Armor Battles of the Waffen SS, 1943-45
. Translated by
Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz, 1990. Reprint, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2003.
Kershaw, Robert. It Never Snows in September: The German View of Market-Garden
and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944
. New York: Ian Publishing
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Copyright © 2005 Major James T. McGhee.
Written by James T. McGhee. If you have questions or comments on this
article, please contact James T. McGhee at:
About the author:
Major James T. McGhee is a native of Dexter, Missouri, and now serves in the
active Army as an Operations Officer assigned to the 101st Sustainment Brigade,
Ft. Campbell, KY. He studied history at Southeast Missouri State University, is
a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, and holds a Maters
Degree in Military Studies from American Military University. In his spare
time, Todd enjoys researching and writing military history with emphasis on
World War II on the Eastern Front.
Published online: 02/25/2005.
* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent
those of MHO.