wss-18

The 18. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Horst Wessel was formed around a cadre from 1. SS-Infanterie-Brigade (mot) and included mainly Hungarian volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) from the Banat.
Elements of the division was used for anti-partisan duties in Croatia during training until June 1944 while the rest was in Hungary where the division took part in the occupation of Hungary.
Elements of it fought against the Slovak uprising in September and October 1944 as SS-Kampfgruppe Schäfer but it was not until one month later the division fought as a whole unit for the first time, this was against the Red Army south of Budapest.
It later fought in Silesia and Bohemia with the survivors surrendering to Czech and Soviet forces at the end of the war.

The SS-Kampfgruppe Riepe was formed in April 1945 from replacement soldiers for the Horst Wessel division with the additions of Estonians from 20. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS. It was commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Julius Riepe and fought the Red Army in Silesia and Sudetenland.

This unit took part in anti-partisan operations in Croatia.

Known war crimes

On 28 September 1944 captured eight Jews near Stara Cernova and handed them over to the divisions Feldgendarmerie for "special handling". (1)

Lineage

18. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division (Jan 1944)
18. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Horst Wessel (Jan 1944 - May 1945)

Commander

SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Trabant (25 Jan 1944 - 3 Jan 1945)
SS-Gruppenführer Josef Fitzthum (3 Jan 1945 - 10 Jan 1945)
SS-Oberführer Georg Bochmann (10 Jan 1945 - ? Mar 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Heinrich Petersen (? Mar 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of Operations (Ia)

Major i.G./SS-Sturmbannführer Erich Wulf (20 Dec 1943 - 15 June 1944)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Erich Stüber 15 June 1944 - 20 July 1944)
Hauptmann Schneider (20 July 1944 - 25 July 1944)
SS-Sturmbannführer Emil Stürzbecher (25 July 1944 - 25 Aug 1944)
Major i.G. Günther H. Wind (25 Aug 1944 - ? May 1945)

Quartermaster (Ib)

SS-Obersturmbannführer Heinrich-August Barner
SS-Hauptsturmführer Helmut Meyer

Chief Intelligence Officer (Ic)

SS-Hauptsturmführer Erich Stüber

Chief Personnel Officer (IIa)

SS-Sturmbannführer Alois Eckmayr

Judge Advocate (III)

SS-Sturmbannführer Siedel

Chief Administrative Officer (IVa)

SS-Sturmbannführer Hans-Michael Schottes

Chief Medical Officer (IVb)

SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Albrecht Wiehler

Area of operations

Hungary (Jan 1944 - July 1944)
Eastern front, central sector (July 1944 - Oct 1944)
Poland & Czechoslovakia (Oct 1944 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

30 June 1944 8.530
20 Sep 1944 10.063
Dec 1944 11.000

Honor titles

Horst Wessel (9 Oct. 1907 – 23 Feb. 1930) was a Berlin SAleader who was killed in an actually non-politically motivated incident, but was nonetheless stylized as one of the Nazi’s most important “martyrs”. (He also wrote the lyrics of the Nazi party’s “anthem”, which was thus named the “Horst-Wessel-Lied”.) This name was chosen as the division was originally intended to recruit heavily from the SA, but since it was raised as late as 1944, when most of the physically fit SA men of appropriate age for military service had already been drafted by or had volunteered for the armed forces and also due to general hostilities between the SA and the SS, not nearly enough of them were available. Some sources state that Hitler urged Himmler to name an SS unit after Horst Wessel, especially since the Army and the Air Force had already done so, but that Himmler was somewhat less than enthusiastic about the idea.

 

Horst Wessel on parade in Nuremberg 1929
wessel-horst-parade
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (1)
- Wiehler, Dr. Albrecht, 05.02.1945 (5223), SS-Obersturmbannführer, 18. SS-Frw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Horst Wesel
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (21)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (5)
- Fitzner, Hermann, 05.03.1945, SS-Oberscharführer, 2./SS-Flak-Abt. 18
- Henschel, Boris, 25.12.1944, SS-Obersturmführer, 1./SS-Art.Rgt. 18
- Jakobi, Alois, 15.02.1945, SS-Oberscharführer, 6./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 39
- Riepe, Julius, 25.10.1944, SS-Hauptsturmführer, I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 40
- Trabandt, Wilhelm, 15.02.1945, SS-Oberführer, 18. SS-Frw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Horst Wessel”
Holders of the Knight's Cross (3)
- Bochmann, Georg [140. Sw] 30.03.1945 SS-Standartenführer Führer 18. SS-Frw-Pz.Gren.Div "Horst Wessel"
- Lipinski, Hans 02.01.1945 SS-Obersturmführer d.R. Führer 1./ SS-Flak.Abt 18
- Riepe, Julius 13.01.1945 SS-Sturmbannführer Führer I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt 40

Order of battle

SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 39 (SS-Standartenführer Heinrich Petersen, SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Hoffmann)
- I. Btl. (SS-Hauptsturmführer Ernst Hoyer, SS-Hauptsturmführer Ernst Meyer)
- II. Btl. (SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Herwegh)
- III. Btl. (SS-Sturmbannführer Josef Schumacher)
SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 40 (SS-Obersturmbannführer Ernst Schäfer)
- I. Btl. (SS-Sturmbannführer Julius Riepe)
- II. Btl. (SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Teufel)
- III. Btl. (SS-Sturmbannführer Kurt Prochaska)
SS-Artillerie-Regiment 18 (SS-Standartenführer Hans Blume)
- I. Abt. (SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Hoffmann)
- II. Abt. (SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Köhler)
- III. Abt. (SS-Hauptsturmführer Herbert Zeder)
- IV. Abt. (SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Förster)
SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 18 (SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Sonne, SS-Hauptsturmführer Claus von Fehrentheil, SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt Wagner)
SS-Panzer-Abteilung 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Lorenz Baier, SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Wunsch)
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Neubert)
SS-Flak-Abteilung 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Albert Warninghoff, SS-Sturmbannführer Günther Karnitzky)
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Behn)
SS-Pionier-Bataillon 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Peter Fink, SS-Obersturmbannführer Wolf Griebner)
SS-Verwaltungstruppen-Abteilung 18
SS-Wirtschafts-Bataillon 18
SS-Nachschub-Truppen 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Konrad Zahn)
SS-Instandsetzungs-Abteilung 18 (SS-Sturmbannführer Willi Schmid)
SS-Feldgendarmerie-Abteilung 18
SS-Feldersatz-Bataillon 18 (SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Liebermann)
SS-Sanitäts-Abteilung 18 (SS-Obersturmbannführer Wieprecht, SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. Wiehler)

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 7
Einsatzgruppen 1
(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 the SA symbol.

The "Horst Wessel" cuff title was authorized for this unit.
cuff-wss-horst
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

A collar tab with SA runes was manufactured but most likely not issued.
collar-wss-horstwessel
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Footnotes

1. "Murderous Elite: The Waffen-SS and its complete record of war crimes" by James Pontolillo, page 137.

Sources used

John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Mark W.A. Axworthy - Axis Slovakia: Hitler's Slavic Wedge 1938-1945
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
Charles K. Kliment & Bretislav Nakládal - Germany's First Ally: Armed forces of the Slovak state 1939-1945
Richard Landwehr - Emergency Battle-Groups of the Waffen-SS, part I (in Siegrunen, No 79)
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
James C. Steuard - Tactical Markings of the Waffen-SS, Part III (in AFV News Vol 3, No 3)
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reporductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Wilhelm Tieke & Friedrich Rebstock - Im letzten Aufgebot: Die 18. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Horst Wessel
Gordon Williamson & Thomas McGuirl - German military cuffbands 1784-present
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 11. to 23. Divisions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Wilhelm Tieke & Friedrich Rebstock - Im letzten Aufgebot: Die 18. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Horst Wessel

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