wss-38

Unit history by Miha Grcar
Sub-sections by AHF staff

The division was formed on 27 March 1945 from personnel and students of the SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz. It was first intended that the unit should be named SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz, but was renamed to SS-Division Junkerschule and finally to 38. SS-Grenadier-Division Nibelungen by the commander of the cadet school Richard Schulze-Kossens.
Although it was called a division it never had more than a brigade's strength (roughly around 6000 men). The division was raised in the upper Rhein regions Freiburg, Feldberg, Todtnau in Schwarzwald, with the divisional headquarters in Geschwend bei Todtnau.

Although that it was formed from men of the Junkerschule, the division also received additional strength from parts of other units. This included an SS “special use” Begleit-Battaillon Reichführer SS (received on 9 April 1945), two Zollgrenzschutz Battaillons, soldiers from 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord, a company from 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs Division Prinz Eugen (with Volksdeutsche members) officers from the 30. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (russische Nr. 2) (who were incorporated in the SS-Polizei-Bataillon Siegling) and a whole battalion of Hitlerjugend members. The first commander was Richard Schulze-Kossens, who was the CO of the SS-Brigade Nibelungen and the Junkerschule Bad Tölz. He was followed by Martin Stange on 12 April (Heinz Lammerding and Karl Ritter von Oberkamp were also assigned to command, but never took the post).

The division had 2 Grenadier regiments (SS-Grenadier-Regiment 95 under the KC holder SS-Ostbf. Markus Faulhaber and from 12 April SS-Ostbf. Richard Schulze-Kossens. SS-Grenadier-Regiment 96 was commanded by the KC & OL holder SS-Ostbf. Walter Schmidt), which were both raised from the SS-Brigade Nibelungen. Some sources also claim the existence of a SS-Grenadier-Regiment 97, but it is likely that it was never more than two battalions strong. The divisions SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 38 received the majority of its men from the ‘Prinz Eugen’ division and officers from ‘Nord’. The Abteilung received about 10 Jagdpanzer 38(t) shipped on 15 April and 1 Bergepz. 38(t) shipped on 16 April, it also had some 7,5 cm Pak mot.Z. (towed) anti-tank guns (the Abteilung served under 17. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen from 17 to 24 April, until it came under its parent division).

The 38. SS division was first alerted for action on 7 April 1945 - at the time only 7 battalions strong. The unit was recognised as ready for battle on 24 April, when it entered the ranks of the XIII SS Armeekorps on the Danube River Front, facing American forces south of the river. The ‘Nibelungen’ was supposed to hold the Korps’ right wing from Vohlburg to Kelheim. The frontline which it was supposed to hold was too long for its strenght, so the division retreated on the 26 Apr to a new front, which it held to the 28th. On 29 Apr they had to retreat across the Isar river and established a new position south of Landshut, while resisting strong pressure on its both flanks. The next day the division retreated again, this time to a defensive line northwest of Pastetten. 1 May brought more retreating as the unit withdrew for almost 20km to Wasseburg. The US 20th Armored Division breached the entire divisions’ front on 2 May, forcing the ‘Nibelungen’ to retreat to Chimsee. The remains of the division regrouped on 4 May and established a new defensive line west of Oberwoessen. Although battered, the division put up a determined resistance until the ceasefire was called on 5 May. The division surrendered to the American forces on 8 May 1945.

Commanders

SS-Obersturmbannführer Richard Schulze-Kossens (6 Apr 1945 - 9 Apr 1945)
SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Lammerding (? Apr 1945 - ? Apr 1945)
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Ritter von Oberkamp (? Apr 1945 - ? Apr 1945)
SS-Standartenführer Martin Stange (12 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief of Operations (Ia)

SS-Sturmbannführer Heinrich Wulf (6 Apr 1945 – 8 May 1945)

Quartermaster (Ib)

SS-Sturmbannführer Ernst Fritscher (6 April 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Chief Intelligence Officer (Ic)

SS-Untersturmführer Hermann Buhl (6 Apr 1945 – 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

Southern Germany (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Subordination

1. Armee (7 Apr 1945)
XIII. SS-Armeekorps (24 Apr 1945 – 8 May 1945)

Honor titles

Originally known under the name “Junkerschule” (“Officer School”) due to fact that the staff members and cadets of the Junkerschule Tölz formed the cadre for the division, it was eventually named “Nibelungen”. The Nibelungen were, in German mythology, a lineage of dwarves, whose treasures – the Nibelungenhort – were guarded by the dwarf Alberich. When Siegfried overcame him, the name passed on to him and his men and later the Burgunders. The Nibelungen saga was written around 1198 – 1204 by an unknown Austrian poet. Richard Wagner – one of Hitler’s favorite composers – adapted the material with his Ring der Nibelungen opera cycle.

Order of battle (Apr 1945)

SS-Grenadier-Regiment 95 (in some sources listed as SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 95)
- 3x Bataillon
SS-Grenadier-Regiment 96 (in some sources listed as SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 96)
- 4x Bataillon
SS-Artillerie-Regiment 38
- 1. Abteilung
- 2. Abteilung
-- 5. Batterie
-- 6. Batterie
SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 38
- 2x Panzerjäger-Kompanie
- 1x Flak-Kompanie
SS-Pionier-Abteilung 38
SS-Flak-Abteilung 38
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 38
SS-Ausbildungs und Ersatz Abteilung 38
SS-Polizei-Bataillon Siegling
SS-Wirtschafts-Bataillon 38

Notable members

Hardy Kruger (actor)
Richard Schulze (One of the four Waffen-SS divisional commanders who started the war as a platoon commander, adjutant to Adolf Hitler and to Joachim von Ribbentrop, name changed to Schulze-Kossens post-war)

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Einsatzgruppen 1
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen och Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

A winged helmet is normally given as the symbol of the division but Richard Schulze-Kossens, first commander of the unit, post-war stated that no such symbol was ever used.

Sources used

Philip H Buss - Divisional signs of the Waffen-SS (Military Advisor, vol 19, number 4)
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
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

Klaus Schneider - Spuren der "Nibelungen" 1945

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