wss-4

4. SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division was formed in October 1940 from members of the Ordnungspolizei (regular police) that was conscripted into the unit, Heinrich Himmler admitted in a speech to Waffen-SS officers that they were "neither National Socialists nor SS men" (1), with additions of units from the Heer, including the artillery regiment that was transferred from the 228. Infanterie-Division. It was used for occupation duties in Poland before seeing some action in the invasion of France were it took part as a reserve unit in the fighting at the Maginot Line. It fought on the northern sector of the Eastern front after the German invasion of the USSR, taking part in the advance towards Leningrad and later in the battles of Lake Ladoga.

It was transferred to the Balkans in 1943 were it was used for anti-partisan duties in Greece and the Banat before being withdrawn to Slovakia in January 1945 and then on to the Danzig area. It was evacuated by sea in April and fought on the Oder front north of Berlin and surrendered to US forces in May.

Known war crimes

On 25 March 1944 soldiers from the division took part in the transfer of Jews from Ioannina to the camp at Larisa, from which they were transferred to Auschwitz. (4)

Soldiers from SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 7 killed 215 civilians in Klissoura 5 April 1944 in retaliation of the killing of two German soldiers. Hermann Neubacher, Sonderbevollmächtigter des Auswärtigen Amtes für den Südosten (Special representative of the Foreign office for the South-East-area), reported on this massacre in a telegram to Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop on 15 May 1944. (2)

On 10 June 1944 soldiers from SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 7 killed 218 civilians in the Greek village of Distomo in retaliation for an attack by partisans near the village. (3)

Lineage

Polizei-Division (Sep 1940 - Feb 1942)
SS-Polizei-Division (Feb 1942 - June 1943)
SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division (June 1943 - Oct 1943)
4. SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division (Oct 1943 - May 1945)

Commanders     

Generalleutnant der Polizei Konrad Hitschler (1 Sep 1940 - 8 Sep 1940)
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl von Pfeffer-Wildenbruch (8 Sep 1940 - 10 Nov 1940)
SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Mülverstadt (10 Nov 1940 - 8 Aug 1941)
SS-Obergruppenführer Walter Krüger (8 Aug 1941 - 15 Dec 1941)
Generaloberst der Polizei Alfred Wünnenberg (15 Dec 1941 - 17 Apr 1943)
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Freitag (17 Apr 1943 - 1 June 1943)
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Schmedes (1 June 1943 - 18 Aug 1943)
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Freitag (18 Aug 1943 - 20 Oct 1943)
SS-Oberführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock (20 Oct 1943 - 19 Apr 1944)
SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Wagner (19 Apr 1944 - ? May 1944)
SS-Oberführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock (? May 1944 - 7 May 1944)
SS-Brigadeführer Herbert-Ernst Vahl (7 May 1944 - 22 July 1944)
SS-Standartenführer Karl Schümers (22 July 1944 - 16 Aug 1944)
SS-Oberführer Helmuth Dörnder (16 Aug 1944 - 22 Aug 1944)
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Schmedes (22 Aug 1944 - 27 Nov 1944)
SS-Standartenführer Walter Harzer (27 Nov 1944 - 1 Mar 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Fritz Göhler (1 Mar 1945 - ? Mar 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Walter Harzer (? Mar 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of Staff

Walter Krüger (1 Sep 1940 - 10 Sep 1940)
SS-Oberführer Nikolaus Heilmann (10 Sep 1940 - ? June 1941)
Major Reimann (21 June 1941 - ? 1942)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Braun (24 Feb 1943 - ? Apr 1943)
SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Blume (? Apr 1943 - ? July 1943)
SS-Standartenführer Rüdiger Pipkorn (? July 1943 - ? Oct 1943)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Helmut Kordts (? Oct 1943 - 1 Jan 1944)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Radtke (1 July 1944 - ? 1945)
Major Otto Kleine (? 1945 - ? 1945)

Quartermaster     

Major Hans Traupe     
Major Edmund Oeljnik     
SS-Sturmbannführer Johannes Oltermann     

Area of operations

Germany (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
Luxemburg, Belgium & France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, northern sector (June 1941 - May 1943)
Czechoslovakia & Poland (May 1943 - Jan 1944)
Greece (Jan 1944 - Sep 1944)
Yugoslavia & Romania (Sep 1944 - Oct 1944)
Hungary (Oct 1944 - Dec 1944)
Czechoslovakia & Eastern Germany (Dec 1944 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

June 1941 17.347
Dec 1942 13.399
Dec 1943 16.081
June 1944 16.139
Dec 1944 9.000

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (4)
- Auer, Karl, 22.03.1945, SS-Sturmbannführer, SS-Felders.Btl. 4
- Harnack, Martin, 10.02.1945, SS-Obersturmführer, Chef 1./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 8
- Pöhler, Gerhard, 16.02.1945, SS-Oberscharführer, Zugführer i. d. 2./SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 4
- Raith, Alois, 16.02.1945, SS-Unterscharführer, Gruppenführer i. d. 1./SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 4
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (8)
- Forstreuter, Hans-Boto, 28.03.1943 (1648), Major, Kdr. II./SS-Pol.Gren.Rgt. 3
- Frambach, Karl, 25.03.1943 (1667), Oberfeldwebel, Kp.Trupp-Fhr. SS-Pz.Jäg.Abt. (Polizei)
- Gehrke, Hermann, 05.10.1942 (1281), Hauptmann, Kp.Fhr. 9./SS-Pol.Schtz.Rgt. 2
- Offermanns, Wilhelm, 08.02.1942 (658), Oberleutnant, Zugführer im SS Pol.Schtz.Rgt. 1
- Planitzer, Paul, 28.03.1943 (1664), Oberleutnant, Kp.Fhr. 14./SS-Pol.Gren.Rgt. 3
- Renziehausen, Heinrich, 21.06.1942 (1058), Feldwebel, Zugführer i. d. 10./SS-Pol.Schtz.Rgt. 2
- Schubert, Arnold, 28.03.1943 (1663), Hauptmann, Chef 2./SS-Pol.Pz.Jäg.Abt.
- Wode, Werner, 28.03.1943 (1646), Oberleutnant, 5./SS-Pol.Art.Rgt.
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (3)
- Hafner, Hans, 16.08.1943 (359), SS-Unterscharführer, Stab III./SS-Pol.Art.Rgt.
- May, Karl, 16.08.1943 (371), Gefreiter, 3./SS-Pol.Flak-Abt.
- Schwertner, Erich, 10.08.1942 (208), Obergefreiter, 14./SS-Pol.Schtz.Rgt. 2
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (68)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (2)
- Oltermann, Hans, 19.12.1944, SS-Sturmbannführer d.R., Div.Int. (IVa) 4. SS-Pol.Pz.Gren.Div.
- Ott, Dr. Hans, 18.04.1945, SS-Sturmbannführer d.R., Div.Arzt 4. SS-Pol.Pz.Gren.Div.
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (6)
- Boehnke, Georg, 17.03.1943, Feldwebel d.R., 10./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt. 1
- Bracht, Karl, 08.04.1943, SS-Hauptsturmführer, 4./SS-Pol.Art.Rgt.
- Etthöfer, Alois, 08.02.1945, Oberleutnant, 3./SS-Pol.Art.Rgt.
- Frechtner, [first name not listed], 26.02.1945, SS-Untersturmführer, SS-Pol. Inf.Rgt. 3
- Niesen, Stefan, 00.00.1945, SS-Oberscharführer d.R., 1./SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 4
- Ortmann, Günther, 26.02.1943, Hauptmann, III./SS-Pol.Inf.Rgt. 3
Holders of the Knight's Cross (22, including 2 unofficial/unconfirmed) (19 RK + 2 EL + 1 SW)
Holders of the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (1)
- Preissler, Fritz, 04.12.1944, SS-Hauptsturmführer, Fhr. SS-Pz.Instandsetzungs-Abt. 4
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (4)
- 1./SS-Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 3
-- Date/Place of Downing: 20.10.1941 bei Alexandrowka
-- Award Date: 29.11.1941 (29)
- SS-Polizei-Radfahr-Abteilung
-- Date/Place of Downing: 03.09.1942 bei Otradnoje
-- Award Date: 11.02.1943 (324)
- SS-Polizei-Grenadier-Regiment 2
-- Date/Place of Downing: 19.02.1943 bei Iwanowskoje
-- Award Date: 31.10.1943 (368)
- 4./SS-Flak-Abteilung 4
-- Date/Place of Downing: 16.11.1944 bei Csany
-- Award Date: 00.00.0000 (o.Nr.)

Holders of other notable badges & decorations

Holders of the Anti-Partisan Badge in Silver (1)
- Walewski, Gerd, 14.01?.1945? \ 01.05?.1945, SS-Sturmscharführer, 4. SS-Pol.-Div.
Holders of the Anti-Partisan Badge in Bronze (1)
- Walewski, Gerd, 14.01?.1945? \ 01.05?.1945, SS-Sturmscharführer, 4. SS-Pol.-Div.

Order of battle (1939)

Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 1 (in some sources listed as Polizei-Infanterie-Regiment 1)
Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 2 (in some sources listed as Polizei-Infanterie-Regiment 2)
Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 3 (in some sources listed as Polizei-Infanterie-Regiment 3)
Polizei-Panzerjäger-Abteilung
Polizei-Pionier-Bataillon
Polizei-Radfahr-Kompanie
Artillerie-Regiment 300 (Heer)
Nachrichten-Abteilung 300 (Heer)
Versorgungstruppen 300

Order of battle (early 1943)

SS-Grenadier-Regiment 1 (Pol.-Div.)
SS-Grenadier-Regiment 2 (Pol.-Div.)
SS-Grenadier-Regiment 3 (Pol.-Div.)
SS-Polizei-Artillerie-Regiment
SS-Polizei-Aufklärings-Abteilung
SS-Polizei-Flak-Abteilung
SS-Polizei-Pionier-Bataillon
SS-Polizei-Nachrichten-Abteilung

Order of battle (1944)

SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 7
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 8
SS-Artillerie Regiment 4
SS-Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 4
SS-Panzer-Abteilung 4
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 4
SS-Flak-Abteilung 4
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 4
SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 4
SS-Pionier-Batallion 4
SS-Dina 4
SS-Panzer-Instandsetzungs-Abteilung 4
SS-Wirtschafts-Batallion 4
SS-Sanitäts-Abteilung 4
SS-Polizei-Veterinär-Kompanie 4
SS-Kriegsberichter-Zug 4
SS-Feldgendarmerie-Trupp 4
SS-Feldersatz-Battillon 4

Notable members

Gereon Goldmann (Franciscan priest active in the resistance against Adolf Hitler)
Alfons Zündler (Named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for his role in the rescuing of Jews while serving as a camp guard in the Netherlands)

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 29
Einsatzgruppen 3
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen or Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

Until February 1942 the men in the division used Polizei insignia, not Waffen-SS insignia.
SS-members who served in the division wore embroidered SS runes below the left breast pocket.

Oberst der Schutzpolizei Alfred Wünnenberg, commander of Polizei-Schützen-Regiment 3, in northern Russia, 1941. Note the Polizei insignia and SS runes
wunnenberg-alfred
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

A cuff title with the Polizei embelm was authorized on 15 April 1942 but was replaced by the "SS-Polizei-Division" cuff title on 1 December 1942.
cuff-wss-polizei2
(Courtesy of Relics of the Reich)

In fiction

The novel "Mac Wingate #3: Mission Code Minotaur" by Bryan Swift depicts the namesake of the series and his raiding party in a firefight with a detachment of the SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Divison on the Greek island of Kos in August 1943.

An MG team in France
wss-4ss-mg-france
(Courtesy of Henry)

Soldiers from the Polizei Division in the mud on the Eastern Front
wss-4-mud
(Courtesy of Die Deutsche Wochenschau/Ivan)

Soldiers from the Polizei Division marching

wss-4-soldiers-marching
(Courtesy of Die Deutsche Wochenschau/Ivan)

SS-Brigadeführer Walter Krüger and Generaloberst Erich Hoepner, commander of Panzergruppe 4, discussing in October 1941
kruger-walter-hoepner-erich-oct-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Memorial to the victims of the Distomo massacre
memorial-distomo
(Courtesy of John Nicholas Schweitzer)

Footnotes

1. "The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945" by George H. Stein, page 34.
2. The text of the telegram is available in "Griechenland 1941-1944" by Anestis Nessou page 225.
3. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 41.
4. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 62.

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
Steve Kane - Waffen-SS Forces in the Balkans: A checklist (in World War II Journal, Vol 7)
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
James Pontolillo - Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
Georg Tessin, Hans-Adolf Neufeldt & Jürgen Huck - Zur Geschichte der Ordnungspolizei 1936-1945
Gordon Williamson & Thomas McGuirl - German military cuffbands 1784-present
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 1. to 5. Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Father Gereon Goldman - The Shadow of his Wings
Friedrich Husemann - Die guten Glaubens waren (3 vol)
Friedrich Husemann - In good faith: The History of the 4. SS-Polizei-Panzer-Grenadier-Division
Kameradschaft des 3. Regiment in der SS Polizei Division - Das 3. Regiment: Der versucht einer geschichte in bildern erstellt von der kameradschaft des 3. Regiment in der SS Polizei Division
Hans Pichler - Truppenarzt und Zeitzeuge: Mit der 4. SS-Polizei-Division an vorderster Front
Gordon Rottman & Stephen Andrew - SS-Artillerie Regiment 4 SS Polizei Division: A Study of German Artillery
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 5, Polizei Division and Police Units
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 6, Polizei Division and Police Units: Luger to Wode

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