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6th Nazi SS Mountain Division Nord.


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6th Nazi SS Mountain Division Nord.
Insignia of 6th Nazi SS Mountain Division Nord (Hagall 
    rune)
Insignia of 6th Nazi SS Mountain Division Nord (Hagall rune)
Active September 1941 - May 1945
Country Flag of Germany Nazi Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch Flag Schutzstaffel Waffen-SS
Type Mountain infantry
Size Division
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Lothar Debes

The 6th Nazi SS Gebirgs Division Nord. was a German unit of the Waffen Nazi SS during World War II. It can trace its origins to the SS Kampfgruppe Nord. formed in February 1941, from two Nazi SS Totenkopf Regiments. The designation changed to SS Division Nord. in September 1941, and again in September 1942, to SS Gebirgs Division Nord. and finally to 6th Nazi SS Gebirgs Division Nord. in October 1943. The Division was the only Waffen Nazi SS unit to fight in the Arctic Circle when it was stationed in Finland and northern Russia between June and November 1941. It fought in Karelia until the Finnish armistice in September 1944 when it marched on foot 1.600 km through Finland and Norway. It arrived in Denmark in December and then transferred to western Germany. It fought in the Nordwind offensive in January 1945, where it suffered heavy losses and surrendered to the American forces in Austria at the end of the war.

Formation.

After the Norwegian Campaign and the surrender of Norway, Adolf Hitler did not want units of the Heer to guard the new border between occupied Norway and the Soviet Union so he decided to send units of the Nazi SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) formed from concentration camp guards.

The first unit to assemble in Kirkenes, was the Nazi SS Batalion Reitz, named after their commander Obersturmbannführer Wilhelm Reitz. The Nazi SS 'Totenkopf' Standarte 9, led by Obersturmbannführer Ernst Deutsch soon followed.

They were joined in the Spring of 1941, by the Nazi SS Standarte's 6 and 7 and moved into positions at Salla in Northern Finland. The formation was well equipped but barely trained, and the commanding General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst did not trust their fighting ability.

Operation Barbarossa.

Operation Arctic Fox.
The original plan for Operation Arctic Fox.

The Division was in position on the Norwegian - Finnish border by late June and as the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) started they were committed to the attack, in Operation Arctic Fox.

Involved in the battle at Salla, against strong Soviet forces they suffered 300 killed and 400 wounded in the first two days of the invasion.

The battle at Salla was a disaster, the thick forests and heavy smoke from forest fires disoriented the troops, and when faced with actual armed opponents instead of unarmed concentration camp inmates, the units completely fell apart.

The Brigade got a new unit attached, Nazi SS Gebirgsjäger Artillery Regiment 6, and was now redesigned as a Division. the Nazi SS Division Nord. in September 1941 and a new commander was appointed Finnish General Hjalmar Siilasvuo (this was the only time that an Nazi SS Division was commanded by a foreign officer), and took up new positions at Louhi , Kiestinki.

By the end of 1941, it had suffered severe casualties. Over the winter of 1941 - 42 it received replacements from the general pool of Waffen Nazi SS recruits, supposedly younger and better trained than the Nazi SS-men of the original formation.

1942/1943.

The rebuilt Division was called into action against the Soviet spring offensive in 1942 and this time managed to hold its lines. Throughout the rest of 1942 and through 1943 it remained on the Kestenga front, which was quiet compared to other areas of the Eastern Front.

1944.

In the Soviet summer offensive the division held its lines in heavy fighting until it was ordered to withdraw from Finland, upon the conclusion of a separate armistice between the Finns and the Soviets in September 1944. The 6th Nazi SS Gebirgs Division then formed the rear guard for the three German corps withdrawing from Finland in Operation Birch and from September to November 1944 marched 1,600 kilometers to Mo i Rana, Norway, where it entrained for the southern end of the country.

After crossing the Skagerrak in a naval convoy, the division briefly refitted in Denmark. The Division's losses were replaced for the greater part of young Volksdeutsche who had received only a brief training and had not volunteered but been drafted to the Waffen Nazi SS in the normal conscription procedure. Their fighting value was therefore correspondingly lower than had been the case with the former personnel and naturally lowered the combat abilities of the entire Division.

The Division was slated for participation in the German offensive in the Ardennes known as the Battle of the Bulge, but did not assemble in Aarhus, Denmark, until 20 December, several days after the attack had already begun.

Instead the division was allotted to Operation Nordwind in the Low Vosges mountains of southeastern France. Arriving at the front lines just before New Year’s Day. Nord was the largest German division involved in Nordwind, and it had young and fit personnel compared to regular Army outfits. By 2 January, part of the division (SS Gebirgs Regiment 12 and 506th Battalion) went into action against the U.S. 45th Infantry Division, attached to 361st Volksgrenadier Division. For six days the Nazi SS men fought in and around the town of Wingen, finally being pushed back by the Americans with most of the battle group killed or captured.

On 16 January, the Nazi SS Gebirgs Regiment 11 surrounded six companies of the American 157th Infantry Regiment. The Americans were forced to surrender three days later, losing 482 men. The Nord advanced for four more days before being mauled by American counterattacks.

The Division remained on the western front after the Nordwind offensive, fighting the Americans around Trier on the Moselle River in March before going into 7th Army's reserve in April. By this point the division had lost most of its heavy weapons (officially to fuel shortages) and was grossly understrength. In May 1945, the unit's survivors surrendered to the Americans in Austria

Previous names.

  • SS-Kampfgruppe Nord (February 1941 - September 1941).
  • SS-Division Nord (September 1941 - September 1942).
  • SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord (September 1942 - October 1943).
  • 6. Nazi SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord (October 1943 - May 1945) .

Commanders

  • Brigadeführer Karl Herrmann, (28 February 1941 - 15 May 1941).
  • Obergruppenführer Karl-Maria Demelhuber, (15 May 1941 - 1 April 1942).
  • Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp, (1 April 1942 - 20 April 1942).
  • Oberführer Hans Scheider, (20 April 1942 - 14 June 1942).
  • Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp (14 June 1942 - 15 January 1943).
  • Gruppenführer Lothar Debes, (15 January 1943 - 14 June 1944).
  • Obergruppenführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, (14 June 1944 - 23 August 1944).
  • Brigadeführer Gustav Lombard, (23 August 1944 - 1 September 1944).
  • Gruppenführer Karl Brenner, (1 September 1944 - 3 April 1945).
  • Standartenführer Franz Schreiber, (3 April 1945 - 8 May 1945) .

Area of operations.

  • Germany (February 1941 - June 1941).
  • Finland & northern Russia (June 1941 - November 1944).
  • Norway & Denmark (November 1944 - January 1945).
  • Western Germany (January 1945 - April 1945).
  • Austria (April 1945 - May 1945) .

Manpower strength.

  • June 1941, 10.373.
  • December 1942, 21.247.
  • December 1943, 20.129.
  • June 1944, 19.355.
  • December 1944, 15.000 .

Order of battle.

  • Division staff.
  • SS Gebirgsjäger Regiment 11 Reinhard Heydrich.
  • SS Gebirgsjäger Regiment 12 Michael Gaissmair.
  • SS Polizei Grenadier Batalion (mot) 506 (formed from the Nazi SS Skijegerbataljon Norge after the arrival in Oslo).
  • SS Gebirgs Artillery Regiment 6.
  • SS Sturmgeschütz Battery 6.
  • SS Infantery Regiment (mot) 5.
  • SS Infantery Regiment 9 (until 1943).
  • SS Schützen Battalion (mot) 6.
  • SS Gebirgs Panzerjäger Battalion 6.
  • SS Flak Battalion 6.
  • SS Gebirgs Signals Battalion (mot) 6.
  • SS Gebirgs Reconnaissance Battalion (mot) 6.
  • SS Gebirgs Pionier Battalion 6.
  • SS Dina 6.
  • SS Bekleidungs Instandsetzungs Company 6.
  • SS Medical Company 6.
  • SS Veterinary Company 6.
  • SS War Reporter platoon 6.
  • SS Feldgendarmerie Troop 6.
  • 2 Political Company (consisted of Norwegian volunteers, subordinated to AA6 for short periods).
  • 3 Nazi SS Political Company (consisted of Norwegian volunteers, replaced 3./Skijegerbataljon June 1944) .

Further Reading.

  • Roger James Bender & Hugh Page Taylor - Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS, vol 2
  • Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941 - 1945
  • James Lucas - Hitler's Mountain Troops: Fighting at the extremes
  • Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
  • George H. Stein - The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939 - 1945
  • Gordon Williamson - German Mountain & Ski Troops 1939-45
  • Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 6. to 10. Divisions
  • Massimiliano Afiero - Nord: La prima divisione da montagna delle Waffen Nazi SS
  • Franz Schreiber - Kampf Unter Dem Nordlicht
  • Alfred Steurich - Gebirgsjäger im Bild: 6.SS-Gebirgsdivision Nord 1940 - 1945
  • Johann Voss - Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS
  • Wolf. T. Zoepf - Seven Days in January: With the 6th Nazi SS-Mountain Division in Operation Nordwind .


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