2nd SS Division Das Reich

2nd SS Division Das Reich

Overview
The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich (germ. 2.SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich) was a Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 division during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It is considered to be an elite formation amongst the thirty-eight division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

s fielded by the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

.

It served during the invasion of France and took part in several major battles on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 (particularly in the Battle of Prokhorovka
Battle of Prokhorovka
The Battle of Prokhorovka was fought on the Eastern Front during the Second World War as part of the Battle of Kursk in the Soviet Union . Principally, the German Wehrmachts Fourth Panzer Army clashed with the Soviet Red Army's 5th Guards Tank Army...

 against the 5th Guards Tank Army
5th Guards Tank Army (Soviet Union)
The 5th Guards Tank Army was a Soviet Guards armoured formation which fought in many notable actions during World War II.The 5th Guards Tank Army was formed on 10 February 1942. Its organisation varied throughout its history, but in general included two or more Guards Tank Corps and one or more...

 at the titanic Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

). Afterwards, it was transferred to the West and took part in the fighting in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

, ending the war with the last, desperate fighting in Hungary and Austria.

The symbol for the Das Reich division was the wolf's hook, or Wolfsangel
Wolfsangel
The Wolfsangel is a symbol. It is also known as the Wolf's Hook or Doppelhaken. The upright variant is also known as "thunderbolt" and the horizontal variant as "werewolf"....

.
Discussion
Ask a question about '2nd SS Division Das Reich'
Start a new discussion about '2nd SS Division Das Reich'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich (germ. 2.SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich) was a Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 division during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It is considered to be an elite formation amongst the thirty-eight division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

s fielded by the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

.

It served during the invasion of France and took part in several major battles on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 (particularly in the Battle of Prokhorovka
Battle of Prokhorovka
The Battle of Prokhorovka was fought on the Eastern Front during the Second World War as part of the Battle of Kursk in the Soviet Union . Principally, the German Wehrmachts Fourth Panzer Army clashed with the Soviet Red Army's 5th Guards Tank Army...

 against the 5th Guards Tank Army
5th Guards Tank Army (Soviet Union)
The 5th Guards Tank Army was a Soviet Guards armoured formation which fought in many notable actions during World War II.The 5th Guards Tank Army was formed on 10 February 1942. Its organisation varied throughout its history, but in general included two or more Guards Tank Corps and one or more...

 at the titanic Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

). Afterwards, it was transferred to the West and took part in the fighting in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

, ending the war with the last, desperate fighting in Hungary and Austria.

The symbol for the Das Reich division was the wolf's hook, or Wolfsangel
Wolfsangel
The Wolfsangel is a symbol. It is also known as the Wolf's Hook or Doppelhaken. The upright variant is also known as "thunderbolt" and the horizontal variant as "werewolf"....

. As a whole, the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 was found guilty of war crimes in the Nuremberg tribunal, with Das Reich itself being notorious for the Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane is a commune in the Haute-Vienne department in the Limousin region in west-central France.The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company...

 massacre.

Early war and the SS-VT - 1939/1940


In August 1939 Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 placed the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the SS-Verfügungstruppe
SS-Verfügungstruppe
The SS-Verfügungstruppe was formed in 1934 as combat troops for the NSDAP. By 1940 these military SS units had become the nucleus of the Waffen-SS....

 under the operational command of the OKH. Thus, at the outbreak of hostilities, there were four SS military regiments: Leibstandarte, Deutschland, Germania, and the new regiment from Austria, Der Führer (although Der Führer was not yet combat-ready).
Events during the Invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 raised doubts over the combat effectiveness of the SS-VT. Their willingness to fight was never in any doubt; at times they were almost too eager to fight. The OKW reported that the SS-VT had unnecessarily exposed themselves to risks and acted recklessly, incurring heavier losses than Army troops. They also stated that the SS-VT was poorly trained and its officers unsuitable for command. In its defence the SS-VT insisted that it had been hampered by its order fighting piecemeal instead of as one formation and improperly equipped to carry out what had been required of it. Heinrich Himmler insisted that the SS-VT should be allowed to fight in its own formations, under its own commanders, while the OKW tried to have the SS-VT disbanded altogether. Hitler, unwilling to upset the Army and Himmler, chose a different path. He ordered that the SS-VT form its own Divisions but the Divisions would be under Army command.

In October 1939 the Deutschland, Germania and Der Führer regiments were organized into the SS-Verfügungs Division and took part in the Campaigns in the West against the Low Countries and France in 1940, first seeing action in the main drive for the Dutch central front and Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

. After Rotterdam had been captured, the Division, along with other divisions, intercepted a French force and forced them back to the area of Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 and Antwerp. They were next used to mop up small pockets of resistance in the areas already captured by the German advance.
The Division was then transferred to France and helped breach a stiffly defended canal line, and then participated in the drive on Paris. At the end of the campaign, it had advanced all the way to the Spanish frontier.

War in the east - 1941



During the period after the fall of France, the Division was stationed in France preparing for the invasion of England. The Germania regiment was then sent to be the cadre in the formation of a new division, SS Division Germania (later Wiking), and a replacement third regiment was transferred from the Totenkopfverbände (SS Regiment 11); the reorganized unit was re-equipped as a motorized division and renamed the SS-Infanterie-Division (mot.) Reich. The Division was moved to Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 to take part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The Invasion of Yugoslavia , also known as the April War , was the Axis Powers' attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II...

 and Greece in March 1941. In April 1941, Reich took part in the successful capture of Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, the capital of Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

.
On the morning of 12 April 1941, SS Hauptsturmführer
Hauptsturmführer
Hauptsturmführer was a Nazi rank of the SS which was used between the years of 1934 and 1945. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was a mid-grade company level officer and was the equivalent of a Captain in the German Army and also the equivalent of captain in foreign armies...

 Fritz Klingenberg
Fritz Klingenberg
SS-Standartenführer Fritz Klingenberg was a German Waffen-SS officer who served with the 2.SS-Division Das Reich and was a commander of the 17.SS- Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen...

 and members of his motorcycle assault company approached Belgrade from Pančevo
Pancevo
Pančevo is a city and municipality located in the southern part of Serbian province of Vojvodina, 15 km northeast from Belgrade. In 2002, the city had a total population of 77,087, while municipality of Pančevo had 127,162 inhabitants. It is the administrative center of the South Banat...

 along the bank of the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 river. Forcing a crossing, Klingenberg crossed the river and approached the city, proceeding into downtown Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 with only six men. Soon after entering the city, Klingenberg encountered a group of twenty Yugoslavian soldiers, and without firing a shot the Yugoslavs surrendered. Receiving some reinforcements the Das Reich detachment held the city against counterattacks, and unfurled a large swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 and raised it over the embassy to declare the capture of the city. Two hours later, the mayor of Belgrade arrived at the embassy and surrendered the city to Klingenberg. It was not until the next day that a sizeable German force arrived to secure the city. For capturing Belgrade, SS Haupsturmführer Fritz Klingenberg was awarded the Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross refers to a distinguishing grade or level of various orders that denotes bravery and leadership on the battlefield....

.
After the capture of Belgrade, the Division was moved to occupied Poland to take part in the upcoming German invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. During the invasion of the Soviet Union, Reich fought with Army Group Center, taking part in the Battle of Yelnya
Yelnya Offensive
The Soviet Army's Yelnya Offensive operation was part of the Battle of Smolensk during the initial period of the German-Soviet War....

 near Smolensk
Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

, and then in the spearhead to capture Moscow. The war in the Soviet Union was going well but the cost to the Waffen SS was extreme, Reich had lost 60 percent of its strength and was still to take part in the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

, and was decimated in the following Soviet offensive; the Der Führer Regiment was reduced to 35 men out of the 2,000 that had started the campaign in June. With the Soviet capital in sight of the division, weather, massive losses and a major Soviet Winter Counter-Offensive
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

 pushed the division back.

Rest and refit - 1942


After a period of very bloody losses for the Division, Reich was pulled out of the fighting and sent to France to refit as a Panzer-Grenadier Division. Part of the division was left in the east, and they were titled Kampfgruppe Ostendorf. Ostendorf was to rejoin the division in June 1942.

In November 1942, portions of the division took part in an attempt to prevent the scuttling of the French Fleet at Toulon
Toulon
Toulon is a town in southern France and a large military harbor on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence....

. Soon after, the division was retitled again, this time to SS-Panzer Grenadier-Division Das Reich.

Back to the Eastern Front - 1943


Early in 1943, Das Reich was transferred back to the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, where it helped reclaim the crumbling central front around Kharkov. After helping to recapture Kharkov
Third Battle of Kharkov
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of offensive operations on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov , between 19 February and 15 March 1943...

, Das Reich, along with many other divisions, was thrown into a massive assault into the Kursk Salient
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

, a huge bulge in the German front line around the area of Kursk
Kursk
Kursk is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Kur, Tuskar, and Seym Rivers. The area around Kursk was site of a turning point in the Russian-German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history...

 and Byelgorod. Das Reich pushed upwards of 40 miles (approximately 64 kilometers) into the southern sector of the bulge, but was pulled out of the battle along with the other SS division when the offensive was called off. It was soon sent back to try to halt the Soviet counterattack Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev
Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev
Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev was a code name for the Belgorod-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation conducted by the Red Army between 3 August 1943 and 23 August 1943 against the Wehrmacht's 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf during World War II. The operation was conducted by the Voronezh...

. Along with the 3rd SS Totenkopf, Das Reich launched a counterattack against two Soviet tank armies, which had achieved a significant breakthrough. During the following battles the two SS divisions destroyed much of the Soviet armor, up to 800 tanks. Further Soviet reinforcements stopped the German counterattack.
After a brief period of fighting, Das Reich was refitted once again, this time as SS Panzer Division Das Reich.. In doing so, it left a portion of the division in the East titled Kampfgruppe Das Reich, also known as Kampfgruppe Lammerding. The rest of the division was transferred to the West to refit, and while doing so, took part in anti-partisan
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 operations in France, and perpetrated the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane is a commune in the Haute-Vienne department in the Limousin region in west-central France.The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company...

.

In winter 1943-1944 another massive Soviet winter counter-offensive managed to encircle German units in the center of the front. Kampfgruppe Das Reich was one of the units encircled by the Soviet offensive, and an assault by II SS Panzer Corps
II SS Panzer Corps
The II SS Panzer Corps was a Nazi German Waffen-SS armoured corps which saw action on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during World War II.- Formation - Kharkov :...

 managed to rescue the trapped elements of Das Reich. In February 1944 the Kampfgruppe was transferred to France to join the rest of the Division already stationed there. The remaining small portion of Das Reich left in the East was renamed Kampfgruppe Weidinger
Kampfgruppe Weidinger
Kampfgruppe Weidinger was a formation from the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" that was formed to support the attack of II SS Panzer Corps at the tail end of Operation Epsom in the Normandy Campaign...

 and was involved in the retreats through Proskurov
Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Khmelnytskyi is a city in Ukraine in the region of Podillia. It is located on the Southern Buh River and about from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The town's original name was Płoskirów, later Proskurov, but in 1954 was renamed Khmelnytskyi. It is the center of the Khmelnytskyi Oblast in western...

 and Tarnopol
Ternopil
Ternopil , is a city in western Ukraine, located on the banks of the Seret River. Ternopil is one of the major cities of Western Ukraine and the historical region of Galicia...

. Most of Das Reich was stationed in the southern French town of Montauban
Montauban
Montauban is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is the capital of the department and lies north of Toulouse....

 north of Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, gaining new equipment and freshly trained troops.

The Battle of Normandy and fighting in the West - 1944


When ordered to the Normandy battle front, Das Reich was delayed by fifteen days through a concerted programme of sabotage organised by SOE
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

 and the French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

. This delay was critical to the success of the D-Day advance.

After the D-Day invasion in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, France, Das Reich was committed to stop the Allied advance, and took part in the attempts to stop the Americans near Saint-Lô
Saint-Lô
Saint-Lô is a commune in north-western France, the capital of the Manche department in Normandy.-History:Originally called Briovère , the town is built on and around ramparts. Originally it was a Gaul fortified settlement...

 alongside the elite Panzer-Lehr-Division. Das Reich panzer commander Ernst Barkmann
Ernst Barkmann
Ernst Barkmann was a German Waffen-SS soldier and panzer ace. Barkmann fought and rose to fame during World War II for his actions in command of Panther tanks.-Early life:...

 became famous for the creation of Barkmann's Corner, where he destroyed numerous American tanks in small skirmishes. The Division recaptured Mortain, but was forced to retreat when it became apparent the Allies were going to encircle the Division along with a large number of other German units in the Falaise pocket
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

. Thanks to the efforts of Das Reich along with the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen
9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen
The 9th SS Panzer Division "Hohenstaufen", also known as SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 9, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 9 Hohenstaufen or 9. SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen, was a German Waffen-SS Armoured division which saw action on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during World War II. The...

, a large number of German forces were able to escape the pocket and retreat to the east.

Pulled back across the Seine River and then behind the West Wall fortifications in Germany, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich. took part in the Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

 to punch through the Ardennes Forest to reclaim the port of Antwerp on December 16, 1944. Coming within 23 miles (37 km) of the River Meuse, the Division was halted at Manhay on 25 December, and then slowly smashed by fierce Allied counter-attacks.

The end - 1945


Pulled out of the offensive, Das Reich was transferred into Germany to refit again, and to take part in the last German offensive
Operation Konrad
Operation Konrad was the German-Hungarian effort to relieve the encircled garrison of Budapest during the Battle of Budapest in January 1945. The operation was divided into three parts:...

 of the war in Hungary in an attempt to break the siege around Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

. This offensive also ground to a halt, and Das Reich spent the rest of the war more or less performing a fighting retreat through Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 to the area north of Linz
Linz
Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria . It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is , and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about...

, where the unit surrendered to the Americans in May 1945.

Achievements


The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich. was honored with 69 Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross refers to a distinguishing grade or level of various orders that denotes bravery and leadership on the battlefield....

es, 151 German Crosses in Gold
German Cross
The German Cross was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 17 November 1941 as an award ranking higher than the Iron Cross First Class but below the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross respectively ranking higher than the War Merit Cross First Class with Swords but below the Knight's Cross of the War Merit...

 and 29 Honor Roll Clasp recipients. It also boasted three Swords and 10 Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross holders. Cumulatively, more high award-winners served in its ranks than any other division in the Waffen-SS. A two volume history encompassing in detail the Division's German Cross in Gold, Roll of Honor Clasp, and Close Combat Clasp in Gold holders has been published.

Its Panzer Regiment (2nd SS Panzer) collected 20 Knight's Crosses and 17 German Cross in Gold during 111 weeks of combat, destroying 1,730 tanks and assault guns, for the loss of 500 panzers. The unit destroyed more than 2,000 enemy tanks in the course of its combat history, more than any other German field division. The official 5 volume text history of the Division was written by former Regiment "Der Führer" commander Otto Weidinger as well as a history of his own Regiment for which he was the last wartime commander.

War crimes


The division is infamous for the massacre of 642 French civilians in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane
Oradour-sur-Glane is a commune in the Haute-Vienne department in the Limousin region in west-central France.The original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company...

 on 10 June 1944 in the Limousin
Limousin (région)
Limousin is one of the 27 regions of France. It is composed of three départements: Corrèze, Creuse and the Haute-Vienne.Situated largely in the Massif Central, as of January 1st 2008, the Limousin comprised 740,743 inhabitants on nearly 17 000 km2, making it the second least populated region of...

 region. Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

 Adolf Diekmann, commander of the I Battalion, 4th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment (Der Führer) that committed the massacre, claimed that it was a just retaliation due to partisan activity in nearby Tulle
Tulle
Tulle is a commune and capital of the Corrèze department in the Limousin region in central France. It is also the episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulle...

 and the kidnapping of Helmut Kämpfe
Helmut Kämpfe
Helmut Kämpfe was a Sturmbannführer , in the Waffen SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II...

, although the German authorities had already executed ninety-nine people in the Tulle murders
Tulle murders
The Tulle Murders refer to the actions committed by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich in June 1944, at the end of World War II. After a successful FTP offensive on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich forces forced the guerillas to evacuate the city...

, following the killing and maiming of some forty German soldiers in Tulle by the Maquis
Maquis (World War II)
The Maquis were the predominantly rural guerrilla bands of the French Resistance. Initially they were composed of men who had escaped into the mountains to avoid conscription into Vichy France's Service du travail obligatoire to provide forced labour for Germany...

 resistance movement. There is some suggestion that the German authorities wanted to prosecute Diekmann for the massacre although he was not relieved of his command and was killed in action, before he could stand trial. On 12 January 1953, a military tribunal in Bordeaux, heard the case against the surviving sixty-five of the approximately two hundred German soldiers who had been involved. Only twenty-one of them were present. Seven of them were Germans, but fourteen were Alsatians, French nationals of German ethnicity. On 11 February, twenty defendants were found guilty.

Commanders

  • Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser
    Paul Hausser
    Paul "Papa" Hausser was an officer in the German Army, achieving the high rank of lieutenant-general in the inter-war Reichswehr. After retirement from the regular Army he became the "father" of the Waffen-SS and one of its most eminent leaders...

    , 19 October 1939–14 October 1941
  • Brigadeführer Wilhelm Bittrich
    Wilhelm Bittrich
    Wilhelm Bittrich was an SS-Obergruppenführer and Waffen-SS General during World War II.-Overview:...

    , 14 October 1941–31 December 1941
  • Brigadeführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
    Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
    Matthias Kleinheisterkamp was an SS Obergruppenführer and a Heer officer who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II, Kleinheisterkamp commanded the 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord, 2. SS-Division Das Reich, III. SS-Panzerkorps, VII. SS-Panzerkops,...

    , 31 December 1941–19 April 1942
  • Gruppenführer Georg Keppler
    Georg Keppler
    Georg Keppler was an SS-Obergruppenführer , a Heer and Polizei officer who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II, Keppler commanded the 2. SS-Division Das Reich, 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, I. SS-Panzerkorps, III. SS-Panzerkorps and the XVIII.SS-Armee-Korps...

    , 19 April 1942–10 February 1943
  • Brigadeführer Herbert-Ernst Vahl
    Herbert-Ernst Vahl
    Herbert Ernst Vahl was a Brigadeführer and Generalmajor in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was the commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich and the 4th SS Polizei Division, who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield...

    , 10 February 1943–18 March 1943
  • Standartenführer Kurt Brasack, 18 March 1943–29 March 1943
  • Gruppenführer Walter Krüger, 29 March 1943–23 October 1943
  • Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding
    Heinz Lammerding
    Heinz Lammerding was aBrigadeführer in the Waffen-SS and a commander of 2...

    , 23 October 1943–24 July 1944
  • Obersturmbannführer Christian Tychsen
    Christian Tychsen
    Not to be confused with the governor of the Danish Gold Coast of the same nameChristian Tychsen was a Obersturmbannführer in the Waffen SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

    , 24 July 1944–28 July 1944
  • Oberführer Otto Baum
    Otto Baum
    Otto Baum, was an SS-Oberführer of the Waffen-SS. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

    , 28 July 1944–23 October 1944
  • Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding
    Heinz Lammerding
    Heinz Lammerding was aBrigadeführer in the Waffen-SS and a commander of 2...

    , 23 October 1944–20 January 1945
  • Standartenführer Karl Kreutz
    Karl Kreutz
    Karl Kreutz was a Standartenführer in the Waffen-SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

    , 20 January 1945–29 January 1945
  • Gruppenführer Werner Ostendorff
    Werner Ostendorff
    Werner Ostendorff, was an SS-Gruppenführer and one of the youngest divisional commanders in the Waffen-SS...

    , 29 January 1945–9 March 1945
  • Standartenführer Rudolf Lehmann
    Rudolf Lehmann (SS officer)
    Rudolf Lehmann was a Standartenführer in the Waffen SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.Lehmann was trained as a SS officer at the Waffen SS officers school in Bad Tölz in April 1935....

    , 9 March 1945–13 April 1945
  • Standartenführer Karl Kreutz
    Karl Kreutz
    Karl Kreutz was a Standartenführer in the Waffen-SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

    , 13 April 1945–8 May 1945

1941 - 1942

  • SS Infantry Regiment Deutschland
  • SS Infantry Regiment Der Führer
  • 11th SS Infantry Regiment
  • 2nd SS Artillery Regiment
  • 2nd SS Sturmgeschütz
    Sturmgeschütz
    Sturmgeschütz is a German word for "assault gun", usually abbreviated StuG. The vehicle was a leading weapon of the Sturmartillerie, a branch of the German artillery tasked with close fire support of infantry in infantry, panzer, and panzergrenadier units...

     Battery
  • 2nd SS Motorcycle Battalion
  • 2nd SS Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 2nd SS Panzerjäger
    Panzerjäger
    Panzerjäger was a branch of service of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War which were the anti-tank arm-of-service who operated anti-tank artillery, and made exclusive use of the tank destroyers which were also named Panzerjäger...

     Battalion
  • 2nd SS Pionier Battalion
  • 2nd SS Signal Battalion
  • 2nd SS Rocket Battalion
  • 2nd SS Supply Battalion
  • 2nd SS Medical Battalion
  • 2nd SS Reserve Battalion

1944 - 1945

  • 2nd SS Panzer Regiment
  • 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Deutschland
  • 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Der Führer
  • 2nd SS Panzer Artillery Regiment
  • 2nd SS Motorcycle Battalion
  • 2nd SS Sturmgeschütz
    Sturmgeschütz
    Sturmgeschütz is a German word for "assault gun", usually abbreviated StuG. The vehicle was a leading weapon of the Sturmartillerie, a branch of the German artillery tasked with close fire support of infantry in infantry, panzer, and panzergrenadier units...

     Battalion
  • 2nd SS Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 2nd SS Panzerjager
    Panzerjäger
    Panzerjäger was a branch of service of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War which were the anti-tank arm-of-service who operated anti-tank artillery, and made exclusive use of the tank destroyers which were also named Panzerjäger...

     Battalion
  • 2nd SS Flak Battalion
  • 2nd SS Pionier Battalion
  • 2nd SS Signal Battalion
  • 2nd SS Rocket Launcher Battalion
  • 2nd SS Supply Battalion
  • 2nd SS Maintenance Battalion
  • 2nd SS Medical Battalion

See also


  • SS Brigade Schuldt
    SS Brigade Schuldt
    SS Brigade Schuldt was a formation of the Waffen SS during World War II. It was named after its commander Brigadeführer Hinrich Schuldt. It served on the Eastern Front and was composed of units drawn from the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, Polizei Divisions and a detachment from the...

  • List of Knight's Cross Recipients 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich
  • List of German divisions in World War II
  • Panzer
    Panzer
    A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

  • Panzer division
    Panzer Division
    A panzer division was an armored division in the army and air force branches of the Wehrmacht as well as the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II....

  • Heinz Barth
    Heinz Barth
    Heinz Barth was anObersturmführer in the Waffen-SS and war criminal....