wss-2

2. SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich was formed in October 1939 from the Deutschland, Germania and Der Führer regiments of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT). The regiment Germania was removed from the division in 1940 to form the Wiking division.

It took part in the campaign in the west 1940 and after spending some time guarding the border with Vichy France it was transferred to the Netherlands. It took part in the campaign in the Balkans where a small detachment led by SS-Hauptsturmführer Klingenberg managed to get the mayor of Belgrade to surrender the city without a fight.

Das Reich took part in the invasion of the USSR and fought on the frontlines until August when it was withdrawn from refitting. It was sent back to the front September and a few months later it took part in the failed offensive against Moscow. It was transferred to France March 1942, with the exeption of a small Kampfgruppe, where it was upgraded to a Panzergrenadier Division. It was sent back to the Eastern front January 1943 where it took part in the capture and recapture of Kharkov as well as fighting at Kursk.

Das Reich was transferred back to France, this time to be upgraded to a Panzer Division, and was sent to Normany when the Allies invaded. It took part in the heavy fighting in Normandy before retreating into Germany. It later took part in the fighting in the Ardennes, Hungary and Austria.

Albert Kerscher spoke about the fighting in Hungary after the war:

Hungary was important to Germany strategically; all of us understood this fact. The Soviets were pouring in millions of men and thousands of tanks and guns, and in my battalion alone we had only twelve tanks. The greatest problem for us was of course the Red Army, but they were increasing their forces with partisans every step forward. We were just as concerned with our fuel and supplies getting through the partisans in our rear as we were the massive attacks we faced from the front. This problem increased the closer the Soviets came to Budapest. We could just not kill enough or destroy enough of their hardware to make a dent in the flood. We were losing, and it was just a matter of time. (1)


Before surrendering to the US Army, elements of Das Reich helped large numbers of civilians in Prague escape the Red Army.
On May 9 1945 this message was sent to the divisional HQ:

The Regiment "Deutschland" - now completely cut off, without supplies, with losses of 70 per cent in personnel and equipment, at the end of its strength - must capitulate. Tomorrow the regiment will march into captivity with all heads held high. The regiment which had the honor of bearing the name "Deutschland" is now signing off. (2)

 

Known war crimes

After the campaign in France 1940 SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr Henning Graf von Hardenberg was tried by a SS court for his failure to shoot a wounded black French colonial soldier, he was acquitted but was expelled from the SS. (10)

In September 1941 soldiers from Das Reich assisted Einsatzgruppe B in the murder of 920 Jews in Lahoysk. (8)

In Frayssinet-le-Gélat 15 civilians were killed on 21 May 1944 in retaliation for the killing of a German officer by partisans.

In Rouffillac 16 civilians (including six women and four children) and in in Carsac-Aillac (known during the war as Carsac-de-Carlux) 13 civilians were killed by soldiers from I./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Der Führer 8 June 1944. (7)

On 9 June 1944 in Tulle, France, 99 civilians were hanged and 148 deported to Dachau in reprisal for attacks by the French resistance.

In Argenton-sur-Creuse 9 June 1944 soldiers from Das Reich (most likely 15./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. Der Führer) killed 67 civilians in retaliation for railway sabotage and capture of German soliders by the partisans.

In Marsoulas 27 civilians were killed 10 June 1944 in retaliation after partisans fired at a patrol from the chruch steeple in the village.

On 10 June 1944 at Oradour-sur-Glane 642 cilivians were killed and the village burned down by a company of soldiers commanded by SS-Sturmbahnführer Adolf Dieckmann sent to the village to search for the captured SS-Sturmbahnführer Helmut Kämpfe. Dieckmann was schedueled to be court-marshalled for this atrocity but was killed in action before it could take place.

Soldiers of III./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Deutschland killed 57 civilians 11 June 1944 in retaliation for an attack on the unit, they also claim they found arms and explosives in the villages. In Trébons 11 were killed, in Pouzac 19 including two children and in Bagnères 25 including 11 women. (5)

On 6 August 1944 four civilians were killed in the Bais region in retaliation for attacks on the division by French partisans. (6)

Numerous cultural treasures including Venus de Milo were stored for safe keeping at Château de Valençay and in August 1944 soldiers from Das Reich arrived, caused a fire and then open fire on the French guards rushing to put out the fire, killing one of the guards. The items were placed there on German orders and the guards were acting on German orders. The soldiers were looking for the persons who had open fire on German vehicles in the area. (9)

Three members of Das Reich were put on trial post-war for the shooting of ten Jews and a Soviet POW in April 1945 near Leiben, Austria.

Oberst Dr Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte was CO of the Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6 during the Normandy campaign and the below is a transcript of a secretly monitored conversation of him talking to other captured German officers in early 1945.

[In Normandy] I was placed under the command of [ss] Division 'Das Reich’. Actually a fantastic division, marvellously equipped and composed of first- rate men. I captured two American doctors in Normandy - they were from the 1st [sic] American paratroop division - and they were shot. Because I didn’t believe it, the divisional commander [of 2nd SS Panzer Division] gave as his reasons: ‘One looked so jewish and the other wasn’t up to much either' (12)

 

Lineage

Panzer-Division Kempf (Sep 1939 - Oct 1939)
SS-Division Verfügungstruppe (Oct 1939 - Apr 1940)
SS-Division Deutschland (Apr 1940 - Dec 1940)
SS-Division (mot) Reich (Dec 1940 - May 1942)
SS-Division (mot) Das Reich (May 1942 - Nov 1942)
SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich (Nov 1942 - Oct 1943)
2. SS-Panzer-Division Das Reich (Oct 1943 - May 1945)

Commanders

SS-Oberstgruppenführer Paul Hausser (19 Oct 1939 - 14 Oct 1941)
SS-Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Bittrich (14 Oct 1941 - 31 Dec 1941)
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp (31 Dec 1941 - 19 Apr 1942)
SS-Obergruppenführer George Keppler (19 Apr 1942 - 10 Feb 1943)
SS-Brigadeführer Hebert-Ernst Vahl (10 Feb 1943 - 18 Mar 1943)
SS-Oberführer Kurt Brasack (18 Mar 1943 - 29 Mar 1943)
SS-Obergruppenführer Walter Krüger (29 Mar 1943 - 23 Oct 1943)
SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Lammerding (23 Oct 1943 - 24 July 1944)
SS-Standartenführer Christian Tychsen (24 July 1944 - 28 July 1944)
SS-Brigadeführer Otto Baum (28 July 1944 - 23 Oct 1944)
SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Lammerding (23 Oct 1944 - 20 Jan 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Karl Kreutz (20 Jan 1945 - 29 Jan 1945)
SS-Gruppenführer Werner Ostendorff (29 Jan 1945 - 9 Mar 1945) (3)
SS-Standartenführer Rudolf Lehmann (9 Mar 1945 - 13 Apr 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Karl Kreutz (13 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of Staff

SS-Standartenführer Werner Ostendorff (1 Apr 1940 - 31 May 1942)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Schultz (31 May 1942 - 22 May 1943)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Georg Maier (23 May 1943 - ? June 1943)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Sommer (20 June 1943 - 17 Dec 1943)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Albert Stückler (1 Jan 1944 - ? Feb 1945)
SS-Sturmbannführer Ralf Tiemann (1 Mar 1945 - 30 Apr 1945)
Major Joachim Schiller (1 May 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Quartermaster

SS-Sturmbannführer Günther Ecke (1 Apr 1940 - 30 Nov 1940)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Eugen Kunstmann (1 Dec 1940 - 21 Dec 1940)
SS-Standartenführer Heinz Fansau (21 Dec 1940 - ? Jan 1941)
SS-Haupsturmführer Eugen Kunstmann (? Jan 1941 - ? 1942)
SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Jantseh (1 Mar 1942 - 10 Aug 1942)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Steinbeck (9 Nov 1942 - ? 1943)
SS-Sturmbannführer Heino von Goldacker (31 July 1943 - 1 Mar 1945)

Area of operations

Czechoslovakia & Germany (Oct 1939 - May 1940)
Netherlands & France (May 1940 - Apr 1941)
Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria & Poland (Apr 1941 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 -June 1942)
Germany (June 1942 - July 1942)
France (July 1942 - Jan 1943)
Eastern front, central sector (Jan 1943 - Feb 1944)
France, Belgium & Western Germany (Feb 1944 - Dec 1944)
Ardennes (Dec 1944 - Jan 1945)
Hungary & Austria (Jan 1945 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

May 1940 21.005
June 1941 19.021
Dec 1942 17.112
Dec 1943 14.095
June 1944 20.184
Dec 1944 18.000

Manpower strength (7 April 1945)
45 Officers
123 NCO
1.330 Soldiers
11 Operational tanks

Honor titles

The title “Das Reich” (“The Reich”) is self-explanatory. Originally formed in 1939 as the SS-Verfügungstruppe-Division (mot.), the unit’s designation was soon shortened to SS-Verfügungsdivision. Its initial honor title was SS-Division “Deutschland”, but this was abolished after roughly one month as it caused too much confusion with the already-existing regiment of the same name, which was part of this division. Thus, the new honor title “Reich” was introduced, with the later addition of the definite article “Das”.

Two of the division’s regiments were also named:
SS-Pz. Gren. Regt. 3 „Deutschland“
“Deutschland” means, of course, “Germany”.
SS-Pz. Gren. Regt. 4 „Der Führer“
“Der Führer” (= “The Leader”) was, of course, the title held by Hitler. A possible reason for the use of this name is that the regiment was formed in Hitler’s native Austria after the Anschluss to the Reich.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (28)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (12)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- Hess, Max, 01.05.1944 (484), SS-Rottenführer, 4./SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. Das Reich
- Reimann, Otto, 01.05.1944 (494), SS-Hauptsturmführer, 2./SS-Flak-Abt. Das Reich
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (156)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (12)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (33)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (90, including 15 unofficial/unconfirmed)
Holders of the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (2)
- Ennsberger, Alois, 28.11.1943, SS-Hauptsturmführer, TFK im I./Pz.Rgt. 2
- Huss, Fritz, 10.11.1944, SS-Obersturmführer, TFK u. Chef 2./SS-Pz.Instandsetzungs-Abt. 2

Holders of other notable badges & decorations

Holders of the Anti-Partisan Badge in Silver (1)
- Quack, Albert, 12.03.1945, SS-Oberscharführer ? , SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 3 "Deutschland"

Order of battle - SS-Division Verfügungstruppe (1939-1941)

SS.VT-Standarte Der Führer
SS.VT-Standarte Deutschland
SS.VT-Standarte Germania
SS.VT-Artillerie-Standarte
SS.VT-Artillerie-Standarte
SS.VT-Aufklärung-Abteilung
SS.VT-Panzerjäger Bataillon
SS.VT-Flak-Abteilung
SS.VT-Pioneer-Abteilung
SS.VT-Nachrichten-Abteilung
SS.VT-Panzerabwehr-Abteilung
SS.VT-Flak-Abteilung
SS-Ersatz-Abteilung

Order of battle - SS-Division Reich (1941-1942)

SS-Infanterie Regiment Deutschland
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
-- 14. Kompanie
-- 15. Kompanie
-- 16. Kompanie
- Leichte Infanterie Kolonne
SS-Infanterie Regiment Der Führer
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
-- 14. Kompanie
-- 15. Kompanie
-- 16. Kompanie
- Leichte Infanterie Kolonne
SS-Infanterie Regiment 11 (formerly SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 11)
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
-- 14. Kompanie
-- 15. Kompanie
-- 16. Kompanie
- Leichte Intanterie Kolonne
Artillerie Regiment
- I. Abteilung
-- 1. Batterie
-- 2. Batterie
-- 3. Batterie
- II. Abteilung
-- 4. Batterie
-- 5. Batterie
-- 6. Batterie
- III. Abteilung
-- 7. Batterie
-- 8. Batterie
-- 9. Batterie
- IV. Abteilung
-- 13. Batterie
-- 14. Batterie
-- 15. Batterie
Sturmgeschütz Batterie Messbatterie
Krad Schützen Bataillon
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
- 4. Kompanie
- 5. Kompanie
Aufklärungs Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Leichte Aufklärungskolonne
Panzerjäger Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Pionier Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Brückenkolonne
Leichte Pionier Kolonne
Nachrichten abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
Leichte Nachrichten Kolonne
Wirtschafts Bataillon
Verpflegungsamt
Bäckerie Kompanie
Schlachterie Kompanie
Nachschubdienste
- 1. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 2. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 3. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 4. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 5. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 6. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 7. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 8. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 9. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 10. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 11. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 12. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 13. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 14. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 15. Kraftwagenkolonne
Nachschubkompanie
Instandsetzungsdienst
- 1. Werkstattkompanie
- 2. Werkstattkompanie
- 3. Werkstattkompanie
Ersatz Kolonne
Sanitätsabteilung
- Feldazarett
- 1. Sanitätskompanie
- 2. Sanitätskompanie
- 1. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 2. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 3. Krankenkraftwagenzug

Order of battle - SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich (1942-1943)

SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Deutschland
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Der Führer
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
Artillerie Regiment
- I. Abteilung
-- 1. Batterie
-- 2. Batterie
-- 3. Batterie
- II. Abteilung
-- 4. Batterie
-- 5. Batterie
-- 6. Batterie
- III. Abteilung
-- 7. Batterie
-- 8. Batterie
-- 9. Batterie
- IV. Abteilung
-- 10. Batterie
-- 11. Batterie
- 12. Batterie
Kradschützen Bataillon Langemarck (4)
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
- 4. Kompanie
- 5. Kompanie
Panzer Regiment
- I. Abteilung
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
- II. Abteilung
-- 4. Kompanie
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
Schwere Panzer Kompanie
Panzer Pionier Kompanie
Panzer Werkstatt Kompanie
- 1. Leichte Panzer Kolonne
- 2. Leichte Panzer Kolonne
Sturmgeschütz Abteilung
- 1. Batterie
- 2. Batterie
- 3. Batterie
Aufklärungs Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Leichte Aufklärungskolonne
Panzerjäger Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Flak Abteilung
- 1. Batterie
- 2. Batterie
- 3. Batterie
- 4. Batterie
- 5. Batterie
Leichte Artillerie Kolonne
Pionier Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Brückenkolonne
Leichte Pionier Kolonne
Nachrichten Abteilung
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
Leichte Nachrichten Kolonne
Wirtschafts Bataillon
Verpflegungsamt
Bäckerie Kompanie
Schlachterie Kompanie
Nachschubdienste
- 1. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 2. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 3. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 4. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 5. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 6. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 7. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 8. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 9. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 10. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 11. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 12. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 13. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 14. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 15. Kraftwagenkolonne
Nachschubkompanie
Waffen Werkstattkompanie
Instandsetzungsdienst
- 1. Werkstattkompanie
- 2. Werkstattkompanie
- 3. Werkstattkompanie
Ersatz Kolonne
Sanitätsabteilung
- Feldazarett
- 1. Sanitätskompanie
- 2. Sanitätskompanie
- 1. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 2. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 3. Krankenkraftwagenzug
Stabskompanie
Feldgendarmerie Kompanie
Feldpostamt
Kriegsberichter Kompanie

Order of battle - SS-Panzer Division Das Reich (1943-1945)

SS-Panzer Regiment 2
- I. Abteilung
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
- II. Abteilung
-- 4. Kompanie
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Deutschland
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Der Führer
- I. Battalion
-- 1. Kompanie
-- 2. Kompanie
-- 3. Kompanie
-- 4. Kompanie
- II. Battalion
-- 5. Kompanie
-- 6. Kompanie
-- 7. Kompanie
-- 8. Kompanie
- III. Battalion
-- 9. Kompanie
-- 10. Kompanie
-- 11. Kompanie
-- 12. Kompanie
-- 13. Kompanie
SS-Panzer Artillerie Regiment 2
- I. Abteilung
-- 1. Batterie
-- 2. Batterie
-- 3. Batterie
- II. Abteilung
-- 4. Batterie
-- 5. Batterie
-- 6. Batterie
- III. Abteilung
-- 7. Batterie
-- 8. Batterie
-- 9. Batterie
- IV. Abteilung
-- 10. Batterie
-- 11. Batterie
-- 12. Batterie
SS-Kradschützen Bataillon 2
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
- 4. Kompanie
- 5. Kompanie
SS-Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 2
- 1. Batterie
- 2. Batterie
- 3. Batterie
SS-Aufklarungs Abteilung 2
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Leichte Aufklärungskolonne
SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 2
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
SS-Flak Abteilung 2
- 1. Batterie
- 2. Batterie
- 3. Batterie
- 4. Batterie
- 5. Batterie
Leichte Artillerie Kolonne
SS-Panzer Pionier Abteilung 2
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
- 3. Kompanie
Brückenkolonne
Leichte Pionier Kolonne
SS-Nachrichten Abteilung 2
- 1. Kompanie
- 2. Kompanie
Leichte Nachrichten Kolonne
SS-Wirtschafts Bataillon 2
Verpflegungsamt
Bäckerie Kompanie
Schlachterie Kompanie
SS-Nachschubdienste 2
- 1. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 2. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 3. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 4. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 5. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 6. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 7. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 8. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 9. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 10. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 11. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 12. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 13. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 14. Kraftwagenkolonne
- 15. Kraftwagenkolonne
Nachschubkompanie
Waffen Werkstattkompanie
- 2. SS-Instandsetzungsdienst
- 1. Werkstattkompanie
- 2. Werkstattkompanie
- 3. Werkstattkompanie
Ersatz Kolonne
2. SS-Sanitätsabteilung
- Feldazarett
- 1. Sanitatskompanie
- 2. Sanitatskompanie
- 1. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 2. Krankenkraftwagenzug
- 3. Krankenkraftwagenzug
Stabskompanie
Feldgendarmerie Truppe
Feldpostamt
SS-Kriegsberichter Zug 2

Notable members

Ernst Barkmann (usually credited with 82+ destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Hermann Behrends (SS-Gruppenführer, Reichstag deputy, deupty head of the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, VOMI, Höhere SS und Polizeiführer Serbien, Sandschack und Montenegro 1944)
Dr Wilhelm "Wim" Brandt (Inventor of the Waffen-SS camouflage clothing)
Hermann Buch (son of SS-Obergruppenführer Walter Buch)
Fritz Darges (Adjutant to Adolf Hitler 1943-1944 and to Martin Bormann 1936-1939)
Rudolf Lehmann (one of the four Waffen-SS divisional commanders who started the war as a platoon commander)
Arno Giesen (usually credited with 111 destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Ludwig Kepplinger (received the Knight's Cross on 4 September 1940 as the first Waffen-SS NCO)
Karl Leiner (son in law of Theodor Eicke)
Roland Paul (usually credited with 37+ destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Ortwin Pohl (son of SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, the head of SS-WVHA)
Erich Rossner (panzerjäger usually credited with 16+ destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Emil Seibold (usually credited with 69 destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Franz Six (served in Das Reich in 1941, SS-Brigadeführer, head of Sonderkommando 7c/Vorkommando Moskau of Einsatzgruppe B, head of Amt VII of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), appointed as head of the planned state police operations in a German-occupied UK)
Oberst i.G. Peter Sommer (with the right of wearing the uniform of a SS-Standartenführer, was of partial Jewish descent and served as chief of staff)
Hilmar Wäckerle (first SS commandant of Dachau)

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 39
Einsatzgruppen 3
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

The tactical marking of the division was a Wolfsangel rune, normally painted in white or yellow. A temporary insignia in the shape of a horizontal bar with two vertical bars was in use prior to the battle of Kursk.

wss-2-wolfsangelwss-2-insignia-kursk
A "Springender Teufel" ("Jumping Devil") or "gnome" insignia was used by the Tiger company of Das Reich during the Kursk battle, Will Fey, a veteran on the unit described history the "gnome" insignia to Akira Kikuchi:
"A tank man of 2.Pz.Regt.Das Reich found a strange metal figure in the streets of Kharkov city after the battle in March 1943. He was transferred to the Tiger company, along with the future, in April at which time his lucky embelm of the Springender Teufel was adopted by the Tiger company." (11)

wss-2-springenderteufel

The "Das Reich" cuff title was authorized for this unit 1 Sep 1942.
The "Der Führer" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 4 Der Führer Sep 1938. They also wore a "DF" on their shoulder boards.

ss-derfuhrer-cuff
(Courtesy of SS Officer Computer Research)

The "Deutschland" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 3 Deutschland Nov 1935. They also wore a "D" on their shoulder boards.

cuff-wss-deutschland
(Courtesy of Tony Barto)

The "Germania" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 9 Germania Sep 1936. They also wore a "G" on their shoulder boards.
The "Langemarck" cuff title was authorized for SS-Infanterie Regiment 4 Langemarck.

Other militaria

A very difficult item to find these days is armored-related jackets, sometimes referred to as "wraparounds" or "wrappers". Here is a beautiful Waffen-SS styled assault gun jacket for an SS-Hauptsturmführer of Aufklärungs from SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 2, Das Reich Division with an RZM styled cuffband. The slip on shoulder boards are SS styled with black underlay, golden-yellow branch piping, twin gilt rank pips and gilt metal "A" in Gothic.

uni-wss-hstuf-dr-wrap
(Courtesy of Willi Schumacher)

This is a beautiful tailor-made tunic with officer insignia of a SS-Obersturmbannführer in the Veterinary branch of the Deutschland regiment. The shoulder boards are sewn in Army boards with the veterinarian metal snake cipher.
uni-wss-osturmb-de-vet
(Courtesy of Willi Schumacher)

 

In fiction

The French 1975 movie "Le vieux fusil" (English titles "The Old Gun" and "Vengeance One by One") by Robert Enrico features soldiers from Das Reich as the opponents of the main character.

In the 1998 movie "Saving Private Ryan" directed by Steven Spielberg troops from Das Reich are shown in the fictional Battle of Ramelle though it was not in Normandy at the time, it did not arrive until the end of June and then it was in another part of Normandy.

In the 2007 movie "Hannibal Rising" directed by Peter Webber the vehicles are from Das Reich even though that unit was nowhere near Lithuania in 1944.

Soldiers of the SS-Division Verfügungstruppe crossing La Bassee Canal 1940
ssvt-div-la-sassee-canal-1940
(Courtesy of Ralph)

SdKfz 10 of Das Reich in the summer of 1941
sdkfz10-2ss-summer41
(Courtesy of Ralph)

Tigers of Das Reich at Kursk
tiger-dasreich-kursk
(Courtesy of Chris)

PzKpfw. T-34 747(r) (conversion of a Soviet T-34), 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", Romania 1944
foreign-t34-747-ss
(Courtesy of Thorleif Olsson)

Postcard of the action of the movements of the Der Führer regiment in 1940
wss-reg-dasfuhrer-1940
(Courtesy of Chris)

Adolf Peichl congratulates Soretz for the 2000nd tank destroyed by the division, November 1943
wss-2-peichl-2000-tank
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Cars from the division passing through a village on the Eastern front in June 1941
wss-2-cars-east-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Two soldiers of the Der Führer regiment standing honor guard at the Reinhard Heydrich monument in Prague
wss-2-der-f-heydrich
(Courtesy of Martin)

A memorial to the victims of the Argenton-sur-Creuse massacre
memorial-argenton-sur-creuse
(Courtesy of Jean Faucheux)

Footnotes

1. "German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939-1945" by Colin Heaton, page 73.
2. "The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945" by George H. Stein, page 249.
3. Werner Ostendorff was badly wounded by an incendiary shell 9 March during the fighting in Hungary, he died in hospital 1 May 1945.
4. The remants of SS-Infanterie-Regiment 4 from 2. SS-Brigade (mot) merged with the Kradschützen Bataillon to form Schnelles-SS-Schützen-Regiment Langemarck in April 1942. In October 1942 the regiment was broken up with I. Bataillon remaining as an independent battalion until it became part of SS-Panzerjäger Abteilung 2 while II. Bataillon became II./SS-Panzer Regiment 2. The honor title "Langemarck" was passed on to SS-Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade Langemarck.
5. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 32-33.
6. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 33-34.
7. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 39.
8. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 73.
9. "The rape of Europa: The fate of Europe's treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War" by Lynn H. Nicholas, page 288 and "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 40.
10. "Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940" by Raffael Scheck, page 7, and "Blacks under the swastika: A research note (Journal of Negro History 83)" by Robert W. Kesting, page 95.
11. "Lucky emblem of the 8th Tiger company, Das Reich at the Battle of Kursk (in AFV News Vol 29, No 1)" by Akira Kikuchi.
12. "D-Day And The Battle Of Normandy" by Simon Trew, page 289, UKNA WO 208/4177, Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (UK) report GRGG 265, ’Report on Information from senior officer PW on 27 Feb — 1 Mar 1945, pp.7-8

Sources used

John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Roger James Bender & Hugh Page Taylor - Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS, vol 2
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Colin Heaton - German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939-1945
James A. Huston - Across the Face of France: Liberation and Recovery, 1944-63
Steve Kane - Waffen-SS Forces in the Balkans: A checklist (in World War II Journal, Vol 7)
Robert W. Kesting - Blacks under the swastika: A research note (Journal of Negro History 83)
Akira Kikuchi - Lucky emblem of the 8th Tiger company, Das Reich at the Battle of Kursk (in AFV News Vol 29, No 1)
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Peter Lieb- - Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44
Gregory L. Mattson - SS Das Reich: The History of the 2nd SS Division 1939-45
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
James Pontolillo - Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes
Bryan Mark Rigg - Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German military
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
C.F. Rüter & D.W. de Mildt - Justiz und NS-Verbrechen (Nazi crimes on trial)
Raffael Scheck - Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
James C. Steuard - Tactical Markings of the Waffen-SS, Part 2 (in AFV-G2 Vol 4 No 4)
James C. Steuard - Tactical Markings of the Waffen-SS, Part 3 (in AFV-G2 Vol 4 No 5)
Frank Thayer - Shoulder strap cyphers of the SS (in The Military Advisor, Vol 9 No 1)
Simon Trew - D-Day And The Battle Of Normandy (Haynes Publishing, 2012)
Ulrich of England & Otto Spronk - Deutschland Erwache: History & Development of the Nazi Party and the "Germany Awake" Standards
Gordon Williamson & Thomas McGuirl - German military cuffbands 1784-present
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 1. to 5. Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Knights of Steel (2 vol)
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Helmut Günther - Hot Motors, Cold Feet: A Personal Memoir of Service with the Motorcycle Battalion of SS-Division "Reich", 1940-1941
Max Hastings - Das Reich: The march of the 2d SS Panzer Division through France
James Lucas - Das Reich: The military role of the 2d SS Division
Gregory L. Mattson - SS Das Reich: The History of the 2nd SS Division 1939-45
Karl Metzger & Paul K Harker - Honor Denied: The Combat Memoirs of SS Radio Operator Karl Metzger
Guy Penaud - La 2e SS Panzer-Division
Roman Ponomarenko - Дивизия СС "Райх" Марш на восток 1941-1942 (SS-Division "Reich": March on East 1941-1942) (Moscow, 2009)
David Porter - Das Reich at Kursk: 11 July 1943
Regimentskameradschaft "Deutschland" - Frontkämpfer - hart wie Stahl
Claudius Rupp - Im Feuer gestählt: Panzerjäger der Waffen-SS, Division "Das Reich"
Wolfgang Schneider - Das Reich Tigers
Jacek Solarz - Das Reich
Philip Vickers - Das Reich: Drive to Normandy June 1944
Otto Weidinger - Comrades to the End: The 4th SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment "Der Führer" 1938 - 1945 The History of a German-Austrian Fighting Unit (German title: Kameraden bis zum Ende: Der Weg des SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiments DF 1938-1945)
Otto Weidinger - Das Reich (5 vol)
Otto Weidinger - Division Das Reich im Bild
Hans Werner Woltersdorf – Gods of War: Memoir of a German Soldier (German title: Picknick Zwischen Biarritz und Shitomir)
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 1, Das Reich: Kurth Amlacher to Heinz Lorenz
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 2, Das Reich: Karl-Heinz Lorenz to Herbert Zimmermann
Mark C. Yerger - Knights of Steel (2 vol)

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