wss-36


The 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS was formed February 1945 when SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger was upgraded to a division.
When SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger was upgraded to a division a number of Heer units were attached to the unit: Pionier-Brigade 687, Grenadier-Regiment 1244, schwere Heeres-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 681 and Panzer-Abteilung Stahnsdorf 1. Grenadier-Regiment 1244 was made up a mix of men from various sources, about half of them were students from NCO schools and a about a quarter came from the Volkssturm.
The number of desertions increased rapidly and together with the massive Red Army offensive this meant that the unit was no longer a functioning unit by the middle of April though small elements continued to fight. The remaining elements of the unit disbanded south of Magdeburg and attempted to reach the western Allies.

Lineage

Wilddiebkommando Oranienburg (15 June 1940 - ? July 1940)
SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger (? July 1940 - 1 Sep 1940)
SS-Sonderbataillon Dirlewanger (1 Sep 1940 - ? Sep 1943)
Einsatz-Bataillon Dirlewanger (temporary designation used in 1943 and 1944)
SS-Regiment Dirlewanger (? Sep 1943 - 19 Dec 1944)
SS-Sonderregiment Dirlewanger (temporary designation used in 1943 and 1944)
SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger (19 Dec 1944 - 20 Feb 1945)
36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (20 Feb 1945 - May 1945)

Commanders

SS-Oberführer Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger (20 Feb 1945 - ? Apr 1945)

Area of operations

Germany (Silesia) (20 Feb 1945 - 16 Mar 1945
Germany (Elbe River) (16 Mar 1945 - 3 May 1945)

Manpower strength

1 July 1940 84
1 Sep 1940 300
4 Feb 1943 700
30 Dec 1943 259
19 Feb 1944 1.200
17 Apr 1944 2.000
30 June 1944 971
15 Aug 1944 648
16 Oct 1944 4.000
29 Dec 1944 6.000

Composition July 40- July 42- July 43- July 44- Dec 44- Feb 45-
June 42 June 43 June 44 Nov 44 Feb 45 May 45
Waffen-SS Troops (1) 5% 5% 5% 5% 5% 5%
Poachers 94% 60% 15% 5% 5% 5%
Non-German 0% 15% 30% 10% 5% 5%
Penal Troops 1% 20% 15% 40% 45% 40%
Inmates (2) 0% 0% 35% 40% 40% 14%
Heer Troops (3) 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 30%

 

Nicknames

Dirlewanger (Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger was its founder and commander)

Holders of other notable badges & decorations

(SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger/SS-Regiment Dirlewanger/SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger/36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS)
Holders of the Anti-Partisan Badge in Silver (3)
- Feiertag, Heinz, ??, SS-Obersturmführer, 36. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS
- Walser, Erwin, May 1944, SS-Hauptsturmführer, Sonder-Kommando "Dirlewanger"
- Zimmermann, Paul, ??, SS-Untersturmführer, 36. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS
Holders of the Anti-Partisan Badge in Bronze (5)
- Blessau, Werner, ??, SS-Hauptsturmführer, i.d. 36. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS
- Ingruber, Egyd, ??, SS-Obersturmführer, SS-Sonder-Btl. "Dirlewanger"
- Schreiner, Max, ??, SS-Untersturmführer, 36. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS
- Stöweno, Rudolf, ??, SS-Hauptsturmführer, SS-Sonder-Btl. "Dirlewanger"
- Weisse, Kurt, 00.00.1944, SS-Obersturmbannführer, SS-Sonderbataillon "Dirlewanger"

Order of battle (20 Feb 1945)

Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 72
Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS 73
SS-Artillerie Abteilung 36
SS-Füsilier Kompanie 36
SS-Nachrichten Kompanie 36
Pionier-Brigade 687 (Heer)
- 2 x Battalion
Grenadier-Regiment 1244 (Heer)
- 2 x Battalion
schwere Heeres-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 681 (Heer)
- 2 x Company with 88mm anti-tank guns
Panzer-Abteilung Stahnsdorf 1 (Heer)
- Staff Company
- 2 x Assault Gun Company (15 Sturmgeschütz III)

Notable members

Erich Buchmann (Recipient of the Prussian Golden Military Merit Cross in the First World War)
Oskar Dirlewanger (Infamous founder of the unit)

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

A collar insignia with crossed rifles and a hand grenade was authorized.
collar-wss-36div
(Courtesy of N & T Global Trading)

Soldiers from the Dirlewanger unit (at the time a regiment) during the Warsaw uprising wearing the special collar tabs
dirlewanger-warsaw
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Regular Waffen-SS soldiers attached to the unit.
2. Concentration camp inmates excluding poachers but including political prisoners as well as regular criminals.
3. Regular Heer soldiers attached to the unit after it was designated a division.

Sources used

John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
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
Thomas L. Jentz - Panzertruppen Vol 2: 1943-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
French L. MacLean - The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonder-Kommando Dirlewanger Hitler's Most Notorious Anti-Partisan Unit
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
George F. Nafziger - The German order of battle: Waffen SS and other units in World War II
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reproductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson - German Security and Police Soldier 1939-45
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 24. to 38. Divisions and Volunteer Legions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Christian Ingrao - The SS Dirlewanger Brigade: The History of the Black Hunters
Hans-Peter Klausch - Anti-faschisten in SS Uniform: Schicksal und Widerstand der deutschen politischen KZ-Haeftlingen, Zuchthaus-und Wehrmachtsgefangenen in der SS-Sonderformation Dirlewanger
French L. MacLean - The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonder-Kommando Dirlewanger Hitler's Most Notorious Anti-Partisan Unit
Rolf Michaelis (ed.) - The SS-Sonderkommando "Dirlewanger": A Memoir
Rolf Michaelis - Das SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger: Ein Beispiel deutscher Besatzungspolitik in Weißrussland
Rolf Michaelis - Die SS-Sturmbrigade „Dirlewanger“: Vom Warschauer Aufstand bis zum Kessel von Halbe (Winkelried-Verlag, Dresden 2006)
Rolf Michaelis - Dirlewanger

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