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Nazis: I Nazi SS Panzer Corps.
The I Nazi SS Panzer Corps Leibstandarte Nazi SS Adolf Hitler or I Nazi SS Panzer Corps (German: I.SS-Panzerkorps) was a German Waffen-SS panzer corps which saw action on both the Western and Eastern Fronts during World War II.
Formation and training.
The corps was raised on 26 July 1943 in Berlin-Lichterfeld, with initial mustering taking place on the Truppenübungsplatz at Beverloo, in occupied Belgium. The formation resulted in Nazi SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser's existing (unnumbered) Nazi SS Panzer Corps being renamed to II Nazi SS Panzer Corps. Nazi SS-Obergruppenfüher Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, previously in charge of the 1st Nazi SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Nazi SS Adolf Hitler, was the corps' first commander. The Leibstandarte division's symbol was a lockpick, in honour of Dietrich (dietrich is German for lockpick), and it was retained and modified to serve as the Corps' symbol.
In August 1943, the corps was transferred to Meran in Italy, where it took part in operations to disarm Italian troops. After the completion of this, the Corps continued its training, being sporadically engaged in anti-partisan operations in northern Italy. By December 1943, the Corps was fully formed and deemed ready for action, and its HQ was set up in Brussels.
Western Front: Normandy.
In April 1944, the corps was moved to Septeuil, to the west of Paris, where it was assigned the 1st Nazi SS Panzer, 12th Nazi SS Panzer Hitlerjugend, Panzer Lehr and 17th Nazi SS Panzergrenadier Götz von Berlichingen divisions. The corps was to form a part of General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg's Panzer Group West, the Western theatre's armoured reserve. During this time, the corps was granted the honorary title Leibstandarte Nazi SS Adolf Hitler.
With the launch of Operation Overlord and the allied invasion of France on 6 June, 1944, the corps was ordered to Falaise. The Hitlerjugend engaged British and Canadian troops to the north of Caen on 8 June. The corps was tasked with holding the area of Caen and saw heavy fighting around the villages of Authie, Buron and the airport at Carpiquet. The Tigers of the corps' 101st Nazi SS Heavy Panzer Battalion distinguished themselves during the fighting, with the battalion's Nazi SS-Untersturmführer Michael Wittmann defeating a British armoured breakthrough virtually single-handedly near the village of Villers-Bocage.
The corps played a major role in the halting of the British Epsom and Goodwood operations, and the Götz von Berlichingen and Panzer Lehr divisions bitterly contested the American advance in the bocage country near St. Lo.
After the launch of the American Operation Cobra, which decimated Panzer Lehr, the Corps was ordered to take part in Operation Lüttich, the abortive counter-offensive towards Avranches. The remnants of the Corps were caught in the Falaise Pocket, where they fought hard to keep open an escape corridor for the trapped German forces, losing virtually all their armour and materiel in the process. After the fall of the Falaise pocket and the collapse of the front, the Corps took part in the fighting withdrawal to the Franco-German border.
Battle of the Bulge.
In early October 1944, the Corps was pulled back from the front line for rest and refit in Westfalen. Refitting was complete by early December, and it was ordered to the Ardennes region to join its old commander, Sepp Dietrich's Sixth Nazi SS Panzer Army, in preparation for a major offensive codenamed Wacht Am Rhein, and the ensuing Battle of the Bulge.
The Corps played a major role in the battle with Kampfgruppe Peiper of the Leibstandarte division forming the spearhead. After several weeks heavy fighting, and with severely limited fuel supplies, the Corps was exhausted. The offensive was called off, and the Corps, together with the whole of Dietrich's Army, was moved to Hungary.
Eastern Front: Hungary.
The German forces began Operation Frühlingserwachen on 6 March 1945. The Corps, which formed the left flank of Dietrich's assault, was soon bogged down by mud and, despite initial gains, the attack was soon halted by intense Soviet opposition. The Corps fell back in an attempt to support the IV Nazi SS Panzer Corps, which was to their left and engaged in heavy action near Stuhlweissenberg. On 15 March, the Soviets launched the Vienna offensive, which split the lines of the neighbouring German Sixth Army and forced the entire southern front to retreat towards Vienna. The Corps engaged in scattered resistance, retreating through Hungary and Austria, finally surrendering to the Americans on 8 May, 1945.
Orders Of Battle.
6 June 1944 (Normandy)
16 December 1944 (Battle of the Bulge).
6 March 1945 (Operation Frühlingserwachen).
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