wss-11

The 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland was formed in 1943 to combine all the Scandinavian and Dutch volunteer formations, but the Dutch did in the end not end up in Nordland, instead it contained a majority of volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) and a minority of Scandinavians.
It was sent to Croatia in September 1943 for training where it was also used to fight partisans. It was sent to the Oranienbaum front near Leningrad in November and December 1943 and suffered heavy losses during the Soviet offensive in January 1944, fighting on the Luga River and at Narva before retreating to the Tannenberg Line July 1944 where it remained until September 1944 when it retreated into Latvia seeing action in the Kurland battles.
It was transferred to Pomerania in February 1945 where it fought until 19 March when it was evacuated and sent to the Oder front. Much of the surviving parts of Nordland were caught up in the battle for Berlin and only a few suvivors managed to break out of the city.
The surviving elemets of the divisions surrendered to the western Allies at the Elbe river.

Known war crimes

Pukovnik Stjepan Peričić, the commander of the Croatian I Mountain Brigade reported in a letter that an SS unit had killed 100 people in Popovaca on 16 September 1943 following an attack by partisans, the killed included civilians as well as partisans. This incident occurred in the area controlled by units of the Nordland division. (2)

Lineage

Kampfverband Waräger (Feb 1943)
Germanische-Freiwilligen-Division (Feb 1943 - Apr 1943)
SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 11 (Germanische) (Apr 1943 - July 1943)
11. SS-Panzergrenadier-Freiwilligen-Division Nordland (July 1943 - Oct 1943)
11. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland (Oct 1943 - May 1945)

Commanders

SS-Brigadeführer Franz Augsberger (22 Mar 1943 - 1 May 1943)
SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Scholz (1 May 1943 - 27 July 1944)
SS-Brigadeführer Joachim Ziegler (27 July 1944 - 25 Apr 1945) (3)
SS-Brigadeführer Gustav Krukenberg (25 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of staff

SS-Hauptsturmführer Kille- (22 Mar 1943 - 1 Apr 1943)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Helmut von Vollard-Bockelberg- (1 Apr 1943 - ? 1944)
SS-Sturmbannführer Rüdiger Weitzdörfer- (? 1944 - 1 July 1944)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich von Bock und Polach- (? Oct 1944 - Mar 1945)
SS-Obersturmbannführer Herbert Wienczek- (? Mar 1945 - ? May 1945)

Quartermaster

SS-Sturmbannführer Gerhard Noatzke (1 Apr 1943 - ? 1944)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Joachim Tiburtius (? 1944 - 1 Mar 1945)

Area of operations

Poland & Croatia (Mar 1943 - Jan 1944)
Eastern front, northern sector (Jan 1944 - Feb 1945)
Northeastern Germany (Feb 1945 - Ap 1945)
Berlin (Apr 1945 - May 1945)

Manpower strength

Dec 1943- 11.393
June 1944- 11.749
Dec 1944- 9.000

Honor titles

The name “Nordland” translates as “Northern Land” and was chosen as this formation consisted mainly of “Germanic” SS volunteers. This division inherited its name from the regiment of the same name, which was transferred in from the “Wiking” division. The “Nordland” division was originally intended to receive the name “Waräger” (= Vikings, see also 5th division “Wiking”) but that name was rejected by Hitler himself, who wanted the division to keep using the already-existing regiment’s name.

Three of the division’s units were also named:
SS-Grenadier-Regt. 23 „Norge“
“Norge” is Norwegian for “Norway”; the regiment received its name because it was composed mainly of Norwegian SS volunteers.
SS-Grenadier-Regt. 24 „Danmark“
“Danmark” is Danish for “Denmark” and was adopted as the regiment’s name because it consisted of Danish volunteers.
SS-Pz. Abt. 11 „Hermann von Salza“
Hermann von Salza (1170 – 1239) was the Großmeister des Deutschritterordens (Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights) from 1209 until his death and a close associate of Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. An extraordinarily capable diplomat and leader, he is recognized as the most important Grand Master of his order. The order, which is also known as the Deutscher Orden and the Deutschherren, was founded in the late 1190s during the crusades and was heavily involved in eastern expansion and, at the peak of its power in the mid-14th century ruled, among others, Prussia, Estonia and Courland. (Which is also the reason why the heraldic shield of the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights was incorporated into the design of the “Kurland” cuffband, the Third Reich’s last instituted campaign award.)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (4)
- Seebach, Walter, 16.03.1944, SS-Obersturmführer, Kp.Fhr. 5./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 24
- Ternedde, Rudolf, 23.04.1945, SS-Sturmbannführer, Kdr. SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 24
- Viehmann, Karl, 03.04.1945, SS-Oberscharführer, Zugführer i. d. 14./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 23
- Wettstein, Willi, 00.00.0000, SS-Hauptscharführer, Zugführer im SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 23
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (1)
- Kusch, Hans, 25.12.1944 (4970), SS-Unterscharführer, Richtkreis-Unteroffizier i. d. 13./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 23 “Norge”
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (30)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (4)
- Conrad, Siegfried, 10.01.1945, SS-Sturmbannführer, Div.Int. (IVa) 11. SS-Frw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Nordland”
- Gläsker, Friedrich, 02.06.1944, SS-Sturmbannführer, SS-Div.Nachsch.Tr. 11
- Heindel, Kurt, 29.04.1945, SS-Hauptscharführer, 5./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 23 “Norge”
- Tiburtius, Joachim, 21.02.1945, SS-Hauptsturmführer d.R., Ib 11. SS-Frw.Pz.Gren.Div. “Nordland”
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (12)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (32, including 5 unofficial/unconfirmed)

Order of battle (fall 1943)

Stab
SS-Grenadier-Regiment 1 Danmark
SS-Grenadier-Regiment 2 Norge
SS-Kradschützen-Regiment
SS-Panzer-Regiment
SS-Artillerie-Regiment
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung
SS-Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung
SS-Pionier-Bataillon
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung

Order of battle (May 1944)

SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 23 Norge
SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 24 Danmark
SS-Panzer-Abteilung 11 Hermann von Salza
SS-Panzer-Artillerie Regiment 11
SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs Abteilung 11 (1)
SS-Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 11
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 11
SS-Nachrichtung-Abteilung 11
SS-Pionier-Bataillon 11
SS-Nachrichtung-Abteilung Truppen 11
SS-Nachschub-Truppen 11
SS-Instandsetzungs-Abteilung 11
SS-Wirtschafts-Abteilung 11
SS-Kriegsberichter-Zug 11
SS-Feldgendarmerie-Trupp 11
SS-Feldersatz-Bataillon 11
SS-Bewährungs-Kompanie 11
SS-Sanitäts-Abteilung 11
SS-Werfer-Battalion 521
SS-Jäger-Regiment 11

Notable members

Kurt Gildisch (Commander of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, Hitlers bodyguard unit, 1933-1934, served in Nordland after he was expelled from the SS and NSDAP for his drinking. Sentenced to 15 years in prison post-war for the murder of Catholic politician Erich Klausener during the Night of long knives)
Niels Kryssing (Son of SS-Brigadeführer Christian Peder Kryssing, a Dane who was the highest ranking non-German in the Waffen-SS)
Hans-Gösta Pehrsson (Swedish volunteer and commander of the so called Schwedenzug, the highest ranking Swedish volunteer in the Waffen-SS)
Erik Wallin (Swedish volunteer on whose experiences the book Ragnarök, Twilight of the Gods, is based)

 

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 12
(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 "Sonnenrad", a sun wheel swastika, inside a circle.

The "Nordland" cuff title was authorized for this unit.
The "Danmark" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 24 Danmark.
The "Hermann von Salza" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzer Abteilung 11 Herman von Salza on 15 February 1944.
The "Norge" cuff title was authorized for SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 23 Norge.

A sonnenrad swastika (sunwheel) was to be used instead of the SS runes on the rollar tabs but the SS runes were often used.
collar-wss-nordland
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

SS-Untersturmführer Johan-Petter Balstad, note the special collar tabs and cuff-title
balstad-johanpetter
(Courtesy of Bjørn Jervås)

The vehicle insignia was a sunwheel swastika.

A well known photo of a destroyed SdKfz 250 belonging to Nordland in Berlin 1945, it is belived to be the command vehicle of SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson, commander of the so called Schwedenzug, the "Sweden Platoon", and the dead driver SS-Unterscharführer Ragnar Johansson.
wss-11-250-berlin
(Courtesy of Julian)

Panther of SS-Panzer-Abteilung 11 Hermann von Salza at Narva (or possibly Kurland)
wss-11-salza-panther-narva
(Courtesy of Hjalmar)

In fiction

The 2000 crime novel "The Redbreast" (original Norwegian title "Redstrupe") by Jo Nesbø includes a backstory dealing with Norwegian volunteers in the "Norge" regiment.

Footnotes

1. The 4. Zug of the 3. Kompanie is often referred to as the Schwedenzug, the "Sweden Platoon". A total of 26 Swedes and 18 Estonia-Swedes served in that platoon with an additional five Swedish war correspondents being attached to it. It was commanded by the Swede Hans-Gösta Pehrsson.
2. Document D-578, from the Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression volumes, Supplement A: Closing Address, Closing Arguments, Closing Statements; Documents Introduced in Evidence By British and American Prosecutors, US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia:1947, pp. 889-91.
3. Joachim Ziegler was relieved of command and placed under house arrest on 25 April for "defeatism" when it became clear that he was avoiding to sacrifise his division in a futile defence of Berlin.

Sources used

Christopher Ailsby - Hitler's Renegades: Foreign nationals in the service of the Third Reich
John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Roger James Bender & Hugh Page Taylor - Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS, vol 3
Philip H Buss - Divisional signs of the Waffen-SS (Military Advisor, vol 19, number 4)
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Lars Ericson - Svenska frivilliga: Militära uppdrag i utlandet under 1800- och 1900-talen
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Lars Gyllenhaal & Lennart Westberg - Svenskar i krig 1914-1945
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
Herbert Poller - Pansarspaning med Waffen SS på Östfronten: SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 Nordland och svenska SS-Plutonen I Baltikum, Pommern Och Berlin 1943-45
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939-1945
James C. Steuard - Tactical Markings of the Waffen-SS, Part 4 (in AFV-G2 Vol 4 No 6)
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reporductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Wilhelm Tieke with Lennart Westberg & Martin Månsson - Division Nordland i strid: Svenskar, norrmän och danskar i Waffen-SS från Baltikum till Berlin 1943-1945
Wilhelm Tieke - Tragedy of the Faithful: A history of III. (germanisches) SS-Panzer-Korps
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

Massimiliano Afiero - Nordland: I volontari europei sul fronte dell'Est
Odd Helge Brugrand - 16 år og Hitlers soldat: historien om Ivar Skarlo, en norsk soldat på Østfronten
Thorolf Hillblad & Erik Wallin - Twilight of the Gods: A Swedish Waffen-SS Volunteer's Experiences with the 11th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, Eastern Front 1944-45 (also published with Bosse Schön listed as co-author)
Franz Kurowski - SS-Obersturmbannführer Paul-Albert Kausch: Kommandant der Waffen-SS-Panzerabteilung "Hermann von Salza"
Richard Landwehr - Nordic Warriors: SS-Pz.Gr.-Regiment 24 Dannmark, Eastern Front 1943-45
Jean Mabire - La Division Norland
Rolf Michaelis - Die 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Nordland"
Rolf Michaelis - Nordland
Erik S. Norling - Raza de Vikingos: La division SS Nordland 1943-1945
Erik Norling - Viento del Norte: La división Norland Epopeya y muerte 1943-1945
Herbert Poller - SS-Panzer-Aufklärungsabteilung 11: The Swedish SS-Platoon in the Battles for the Baltic, Pomerania and Berlin 1943-1945
Wilhelm Tieke with Lennart Westberg & Martin Månsson - Division Nordland i strid: Svenskar, norrmän och danskar i Waffen-SS från Baltikum till Berlin 1943-1945
Wilhelm Tieke - Tragedy of the Faithful: A history of III. (germanisches) SS-Panzer-Korps
Jonathan Trigg - Hitler's Vikings: The History of the Scandinavian Waffen-SS: The Legions, the SS Wiking and the SS Nordland
Mark C. Yerger - German Cross in Gold: Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 3, Regiment and Division Nordland

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