The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Sep 2014 10:02

Hi Christian,

You write, "Obviously the Waffen-SS units created had to be equipped.....". That misses the point. Why did the Waffen-SS units have to be created in the first place? Especially when it could only be done at the expense of the Army, which had developed the equipment, the organization and tactics to be deployed and had an existing depot, training and A&Q structure to support them. Within six months of the Army losing ±20 divisions at Stalingrad, half of them were back in the field occupying Italy and setting up the Italian Front. By contrast, the new 12th SS Division took ten months to field.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 05 Sep 2014 10:28, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Sep 2014 10:09

Hi jkeenan,

Please remember I am talking about establishments here. Some Army establishments were never fulfilled before materiel was diverted to the Waffen-SS.

I did not count the nominal promotion of 1st, 2nd and 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions to panzer divisions in October 1943 as it did not change the fact that they had had two tank battalions since before the beginning of the year. As far as I can tell, all the changes I note involved either the creation or deletion of one or more divisional tank battalions.

1943:
Late January: 24th Panzer Division destroyed during retreat into Stalingrad.
31/1: 3rd and 29th Motorised Divs. lost in southern Stalingrad pocket.
1/2: 9th and 10th SS PzGr. Divs. ordered formed.
2/2: 14th and 16th Panzer Divs. and 60th Motorised Div. destroyed in northern Stalingrad pocket.
9/2: 22nd Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
11/2: 29th PzGr. Div. ordered reformed.
15/2: 27th Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
17/2: 14th, 16th, 24th Panzer Divs. and 60th PzGr Div. ordered reformed.
1/3: 3rd PzGr. Div. reformed.
27/3: 36th Motorised Division demoted to infantry division.
11/5: 10th, 15th and 21st Panzer Divs. destroyed in Tunis.
1/6: 15th Panzer Div. reformed as 15th PzGr. Div.
2/6: 14th PzGr. Div. demoted to infantry division.
15/7: 21st Pz. Div. reformed.
?/7: 11th and 16th SS PzGr. Divs ordered formed.
?/8: 12th SS Panzer Div. ordered formed.
29/9: 18th Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
3/10: 9th and 10th SS PzGr. Divs. promoted to panzer divisions.
21-22/10: 5th SS PzGr. Division promoted to panzer division.
?/11: 17th SS PzGr.Div. ordered formed.
30/12: Panzerlehr Div. ordered formed.

The source is largely Nafziger. I am aware of some discrepancies in his dates with other sources, but none seem to change the overal picture very significantly.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 05 Sep 2014 11:10

Sid Guttridge wrote:You write, "Obviously the Waffen-SS units created had to be equipped.....". That misses the point. Why did the Waffen-SS units have to be created in the first place? [...]
I think we are looking at this from two different angles. My main interest in the subject is the assertion that the Waffen-SS units that did exist received better equipment than those of the Heer. The order in which the units of the Heer and the Waffen-SS is largely beyond the scope of this interest.

Your argument for preferential treatment in terms of unit formation does seem compelling, and I would be very interested in a similar list for the entire war (or at least from the time when the first Waffen-SS armored formations appeared).

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 05 Sep 2014 17:30

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Sid,

The source is largely Nafziger. I am aware of some discrepancies in his dates with other sources, but none seem to change the overal picture very significantly.
Using Nafziger - and calculating by "battalion - can be problematic given the number of odd battalions floating about the Heer, which were periodically used to rejuvenate the Panzer regiments. I did a calculation using Lexikon based on the number of companies theoretically active to come up with following yearly "averages". I tried to exclude the outliers such as those units that had exclusively a Beutepanzer existence and those that had only a transient existence. It does include some "Panzer" units that were actually equipped with StuG or Jagdpanzer, but excludes the Sturmpanzer units. Also, the average for 1945 is of course highly questionable given the large number of units "created" that had little or no actual existence. Finally, note this has nothing to do with the actual strength of the units in terms of the number of tanks actually assigned to them, which is a different issue entirely. :lol:

I haven't double-checked the entries yet, but this should be pretty close. Note there is actually a fairly steady increase in strength by this measure. However, whether or not that increase would have been greater without the necessity to organized W-SS Panzer units is also a different issue. :D

[corrections]

1939 (4 months) - 105.0
1940 - 128.75
1941 - 173.83
1942 - 203.33
1943 - 233.00
1944 - 250.67
1945 (4 months) - 276.5

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 05 Sep 2014 18:37

Sid Guttridge wrote:
2/6: 14th PzGr. Div. demoted to infantry division.
The perils of relying too much on Nafziger. 14. Infanterie-Division (mot) never completed organization as a Panzergrenadier Division and so never had a Panzer Abteilung assigned to it. In June 1943 it was de-motorized and in September had Infanterie-Regiment 101. re-assigned to it from the now defunct 18. Panzer Division.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by j keenan » 05 Sep 2014 18:56

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi jkeenan,

Please remember I am talking about establishments here. Some Army establishments were never fulfilled before materiel was diverted to the Waffen-SS.

I did not count the nominal promotion of 1st, 2nd and 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions to panzer divisions in October 1943 as it did not change the fact that they had had two tank battalions since before the beginning of the year. As far as I can tell, all the changes I note involved either the creation or deletion of one or more divisional tank battalions.

1943:
Late January: 24th Panzer Division destroyed during retreat into Stalingrad.
31/1: 3rd and 29th Motorised Divs. lost in southern Stalingrad pocket.
1/2: 9th and 10th SS PzGr. Divs. ordered formed.
2/2: 14th and 16th Panzer Divs. and 60th Motorised Div. destroyed in northern Stalingrad pocket.
9/2: 22nd Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
11/2: 29th PzGr. Div. ordered reformed.
15/2: 27th Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
17/2: 14th, 16th, 24th Panzer Divs. and 60th PzGr Div. ordered reformed.
1/3: 3rd PzGr. Div. reformed.
27/3: 36th Motorised Division demoted to infantry division.
11/5: 10th, 15th and 21st Panzer Divs. destroyed in Tunis.
1/6: 15th Panzer Div. reformed as 15th PzGr. Div.
2/6: 14th PzGr. Div. demoted to infantry division.
15/7: 21st Pz. Div. reformed.
?/7: 11th and 16th SS PzGr. Divs ordered formed.
?/8: 12th SS Panzer Div. ordered formed.
29/9: 18th Panzer Div. ordered dissolved.
3/10: 9th and 10th SS PzGr. Divs. promoted to panzer divisions.
21-22/10: 5th SS PzGr. Division promoted to panzer division.
?/11: 17th SS PzGr.Div. ordered formed.
30/12: Panzerlehr Div. ordered formed.

The source is largely Nafziger. I am aware of some discrepancies in his dates with other sources, but none seem to change the overal picture very significantly.

Cheers,

Sid.
Here is what I've worked out for 1943
24th Pz.Div. returned with Pz.Rgt.24 two Battalion II/Btl.mixed
14th Pz.Div. returned with Pz.Rgt.36 two Battalion II/Btl.mixed
16th Pz.Div. returned with Pz.Rgt.2 two Battalion
22nd Pz.Div. The Pz.Abt. went to the 23 Pz.Div.The stab of the 204 Pz.Rgt. to 509 Pz.Btl.Due to been destroyed on the eastern front.
27th Pz.Div. The Pz.Btl.127 went to the 24 Pz.Div. to form Stug.Abt.
21st Pz.Div. returned with Pz.Rgt.100 two Battalion
18th Pz.Div. Dissolved due to poor performance Pz.Abt.18 Personnel used to form sPz.Abt.504(H.Tr.)
Pz.Lehr two Pz.Btl.
Pz.Gren.Div. had Stugs for there Pz.Abt. except the 15th which had a Pz.Abt.
The Waffen -SS The Pz.Gren.Divs had Stugs apart from Nordland which had a Pz.Btl.
The Pz.Div. Had two Btl. apart from Frundsberg which had one Btl.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by dshaday » 06 Sep 2014 01:34

Hi

A quick look at a summary of Army Panzer divisions shows that 27th Panzer division was never fully formed (late 1942) and was an understrength unit for its short history until dissolved and re-used in 1943. There is also a mention of 179th Reserve-Panzer-Division formed in 1943 (stationed in France) and absorbed by 116 Panzer Div in 1944.

Plus the Luftwaffe had the Herman Goering Panzer Div formed in 1943. Those tanks being diverted from use by Army and Waffen SS units.

Also, wasn't Panzer Lehr was much larger than a normal panzer division.

Regards

Dennis

RichTO90
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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 06 Sep 2014 04:38

dshaday wrote:A quick look at a summary of Army Panzer divisions shows that 27th Panzer division was never fully formed (late 1942) and was an understrength unit for its short history until dissolved and re-used in 1943.
27. Panzer Division was formed from elements of 22. Panzer Division beginning 1 October 1942. It an ad hoc formation that was never completed and in the crisis of winter 42/43 was disbanded 21 April after the men and equipment had already been used 15 February as replacements for III. Panzer Korps. In that sense, attempting to form it was as much of a drain on front line Heer resources as the SS were.
There is also a mention of 179th Reserve-Panzer-Division formed in 1943 (stationed in France) and absorbed by 116 Panzer Div in 1944.
179. Reserve-Panzer Division was part of the Ersatzheer and in common with the other Reserve units in France in 1943 and early 1944 were only under command of the Feldheer in case of invasion. Its primary responsibility was unit training for troops arriving from the Wehrkreise. It contributed 3,000 personnel and a grand total of three Pz.-IV (k), seven Pz.-III (l), and three Pz.-III (k) to the formation of the 116. Panzer Division. The remnants of the 16. Panzergrenadier Division contributed over 7,000 men, albeit they apparently left the six remaining tanks of 16. Panzer Abteilung behind in Russia...all 66 Panzer IV (l) available by 1 June 1944 were new issue.

Two very different issues.
Plus the Luftwaffe had the Herman Goering Panzer Div formed in 1943. Those tanks being diverted from use by Army and Waffen SS units.
Although it began forming 1 February 1943, it wasn't until September that the Panzer Regiment was fully organized, with I. Abteilung (1.-4. Panzer-Kompanie still forming), II. Abteilung (Stab, Stabs-Kompanie, Panzer-Flamm-Zug, 5.- 8. Panzer-Kompanie and a Panzer-Werkstatt-Kompanie), and III. (StuG) Abteilung with Stab, Stabskompanie, 9. and 10. StuG Kompanie and 11. s. Panzerjäger-Kompanie (mot.Z.) As of 31 August 1943 it had a grand total of 26 Pz-III (l), 3 Pz-III (Fl), 42 Pz-IV (l), 4 Befehls Pz. 6 StuG, and 16 StuG. It may have lost 6 StuH/StuG, 2-4 Pz-III (Fl), and 5-10 Pz-III (l) and Pz-IV (l) in Sicily (the record is unclear).

In terms of being a drain, much less important than the SS may have been, but given that the Heer Panzer Truppen managed a steady wartime increase, it is difficult to establish just how significant that drain was.
Also, wasn't Panzer Lehr was much larger than a normal panzer division.
Not really, technically 130. Lehr Panzer Regiment was initially organized as a Regiments Stab and II. Abteilung with 5.-8. Kompanie. The I. (Panther) Abteilung was supplied by I./Panzer Regiment 6. until August 1944 when the I./Panzer Regiment 130. was formed. It did have Pz.-Kp. (Fkl.) 316 attached, with five Tiger II, three Tiger I, 10 StuG.-III, and 36 B-IV remote-controlled demolition vehicles, but that isn't significant. In any case Lehr was a Heer unit, so would not constitute any more a dilution of Heer strength than Division GD did.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Sep 2014 10:31

Hi RichT90,

I am not entirely clear as to your methodolgy, but it makes interesting reading. For example, are you including the Ersatzheer's panzer units? What proportion were in panzer formations? etc., etc.. Anyway, I would like to know more.

You write, "However, whether or not that increase would have been greater without the necessity to organized W-SS Panzer units is also a different issue." Indeed it is, but I would suggest that this is not really a disputable issue. The armour in question could hardly go anywhere else unless the Luftwaffe were to form more than the Hemann Goering Panzer Division (itself a similarly unnecessary diversion of resources), or the Kriegsmarine, SA, RAD, Volksturm, etc.,were to create tank arms out of nothing. Every man and tank that ended up in the Waffen-SS (and elsewhere) was one less that the Army would otherwise necessarily have got, because Alt-Reich W-SS manpower had Army obligations until early 1938/39 and all tanks were developed by and for the Army alone.

As I wrote earlier, "In short, the Waffen-SS represented no "value added" and there was no military justification for the creation of the Waffen-SS as an independent arm of the Wehermacht. The motivation for the creation and expansion of the Waffen-SS was entirely political."

I know about 14th Infantry Division, etc.. That is why I posted to jkeenan "Please remember I am talking about establishments here. Some Army establishments were never fulfilled before materiel was diverted to the Waffen-SS."

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Sep 2014 10:36

Hi Christian,

You write, "My main interest in the subject is the assertion that the Waffen-SS units that did exist received better equipment than those of the Heer."

As I understand it, this was not the case and they were formed on Army establishments. However, from 1944 there were new establishments drawn up for W-SS Panzer Divisions that were larger than those of the Army. However, I do not think these were ever put into effect.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 08 Sep 2014 10:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Sep 2014 10:57

Hi Dennis,

The creation of the Herman Goering and PanzerLehr Divisions drew off resources from the numbered Army panzer divisions for different reasons.

The Herman Goering Division is more directly analogous to the W-SS, in that its manpower and weaponry should properly have been in the Army. The same was true of the Luftwaffe Field Divisions and the more junior Fallschirmjaeger Divisions that received no parachute training. The Luftwaffe's expertise was in the air.

The PanzerLehr is a bit different. It was something of an ego trip by Guderian. Its original title was "ReservePanzerLehr". Its units were drawn from the panzer arm's demonstration and training establishment, which had been taken out of the Ersatzheer's control in early 1943. The consequence of its fielding was to disrupt panzer corps training in the first half of 1944 because it drew off a large number of instructors. It also apparently had a very large number of APCs which could only be assembled by restricting the flow of these vehicles to numbered Army panzer divisions. While it added to the immediate field strength of the Army in West (and Hungary) this was bought at some cost to the wider panzer arm.

In short, the rationale of creating all the named panzer divisions, from whatever source, was questionable, because they could only be formed at the expense of the Army's numbered panzer divisions - the same divisions that gave Germany all its early war conquests.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 08 Sep 2014 12:22

Sid Guttridge wrote:I am not entirely clear as to your methodolgy, but it makes interesting reading. For example, are you including the Ersatzheer's panzer units? What proportion were in panzer formations? etc., etc.. Anyway, I would like to know more.
Rather simple actually. I use the nominal monthly number of Kompanien assigned to each Panzer Regiment or Abteilung of the Feldheer. I avoided including the Ersatzheer because they were not part of the operational Feldheer, as well as those that were exclusively equipped as Beutepanzer. Both were used as replacement units at different times, but then they were usually re-rolled as Feldheer or re-equipped with German kit.
You write, "However, whether or not that increase would have been greater without the necessity to organized W-SS Panzer units is also a different issue." Indeed it is, but I would suggest that this is not really a disputable issue.
Quite true, but was I arguing that? In any cases, the loss of units in combat during late 1942 and early 1943 had as significant effect. That is some 60-70 Kompanien that required replacement in spring 1943, not all of which were replaced.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by John Hilly » 08 Sep 2014 17:17

Just a small note here.
Sid Guttridge wrote:The PanzerLehr is a bit different. It was something of an ego trip by Guderian. Its original title was "ReservePanzerLehr". Its units were drawn from the panzer arm's demonstration and training establishment, which had been taken out of the Ersatzheer's control in early 1943.
There was 900. Panzer Lehr Brigade in Heeresgruppe Mitte during Operation Typhoon in 1941.

With best, J-P :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Sep 2014 11:37

Hi John Hilly,

Lehr units of the Ersatzheer existed for all Army arms and were frequently loaned to the Feldheer as a temporary expedient. They had served in Spain, Poland, France, the Eastern Front and Italy before the PanzerLehr Division was created. For example, if I remember rightly, the signals unit served in the Spanish Civil War, Guderian used the reconnaissance unit in Poland and France, while some heavy artillery was rushed to the Anzio bridgehead in early 1944. Apart from the mountain unit, all Lehr units apparently had their bases in Brandenburg.

The designed role of the Ersatzheer Lehr detachments was as demonstration units. They used officers with recent combat experience to integrate new equipment and develop new tactics, organization and establishments for their use. Their use by the Feldheer was disruptive for the Ersatzheer.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. This subject probably deserves its own thread.

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Re: The Military Successes of the Waffen-SS

Post by RichTO90 » 09 Sep 2014 14:00

Sid Guttridge wrote:Lehr units of the Ersatzheer existed for all Army arms and were frequently loaned to the Feldheer as a temporary expedient. They had served in Spain, Poland, France, the Eastern Front and Italy before the PanzerLehr Division was created. For example, if I remember rightly, the signals unit served in the Spanish Civil War, Guderian used the reconnaissance unit in Poland and France, while some heavy artillery was rushed to the Anzio bridgehead in early 1944. Apart from the mountain unit, all Lehr units apparently had their bases in Brandenburg.

The designed role of the Ersatzheer Lehr detachments was as demonstration units. They used officers with recent combat experience to integrate new equipment and develop new tactics, organization and establishments for their use. Their use by the Feldheer was disruptive for the Ersatzheer.
I agree. The Lehrtruppen weren't just "parade" or "show troops", they also developed new doctrine and tactics for their arm of service. However, they also weren't always "elite" or even predominately combat veterans. The verstärktes Infanterie-Lehr-Regiment is a good example. It was created in November 1943 from Ausbildungs units of the Ersatzheer that had virtually no combat experience and were simply one of the units intended to be fire brigades in France and Italy in the case of an Allied amphibious invasion. And what were considered Lehrtruppen was also subject to change. The original Panzerlehr Abteilung was created in 1934, but was then incorporated as the III. Abteilung of Panzer Regiment 5. It retained its "Lehr" function along with its operational function, but in February 1940 it became I./Panzer Regiment 33. Also, in November 1940 Panzer Regiment 4 became Lehr-Panzer Regiment 4, which title it retained until May 1941.

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