Introduction. An explanation to the reader.

Several units’ names have been left in German because there are numerous translations of their names and these have only caused confusion. For instance, the word panzer refers to a tank and to an armored car. The word panzergrenadier has also several translations – it is a tank grenadier and an armored car grenadier. The meaning is the same. SS-Panzerkorps has been translated as SS Panzer Corps, SS Armor Corps and SS Armortank Corps.

The author of the current text has changed the numbers of the units a little bit. The reason for this is to make the text more understandable for the reader. For example, the German version is SS-Pz. Gren. Regt. 4 Der Fürer, which is too long and it can cause confusion. The author changed the name into 4. SS-Pz-Gren. Regt. Der Fürer.

The names of the SS-units can also be confusing in several texts and the reason behind this is that these names are constantly changed on paper.

For instance, a unit named 1. SS-Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarte was formed and it was the very first mounted troops unit. Later it was merged with Waffen-SS and in battles it was renamed to SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 1. In December 1943 when the SS-units got a numeral priority rating its name was changed to SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 15.

From foreign units Ukrainian 14th SS Division Galizien has managed to set a distinctive record in name changing.

In September 1943 SS-Freiwilligen-Regt. 1 (galizische) was formed, but it was quickly changed to SS-Frw. Grenadier-Regt. 1 (galizische Division). At the end of October 1943 its name was changed to SS-Frw.-Gren.-Regt. 29 (galizische Division). In January 1944 it was changed to SS-Frw.-Gren.-Regt. 29 (galizische No 1) and at the end of June 1944 to Waffen-Gren.-Regt. Der SS 29 (galizische No 1). But in November 1944 the unit was renamed due to political aims to Waffen-Gren.-Regt-der SS 29 (ukrainische No 1). In April 1945 the name of the division was changed to 1st Division, Ukrainian National Army.

Similar renaming occurred in other units and these names can be quite confusing.


The World War II began on September 1, 1939. Two countries that were a major threat to Europe – Germany and the Soviet Union – decided to redistribute the world. On August 23, 1939 the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This pact contained a secret protocol according to which spheres of interest were distributed in Europe. All contracts that had been valid so far were torn to piece ruthlessly and they were announced to be historical. During the years 1939 to 1940 the Baltic States, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway were deleted from the world map. Pieces of other countries were also occupied by major states. The Great German Empire and the Soviet Union grew bigger and bigger. The empires started to pose a threat to one another.

June 22, 1941 Germany forestalled the Soviet Union and attacked it first. 190 divisions and more than 3,000 tanks crossed the Soviet Union’s border in Poland. This started the period of the bloodiest battles during the World War II.

German troops moved quickly at the beginning and the end of the war seemed very close. Russians incurred remarkable losses.

By 1941 the Soviet Union had managed to produce 24,000 tanks and 4,800 armored cars. Germany and its allies had 4,000 tanks. Despite the difference in numbers, Russian army was beaten and Germans managed to get to Leningrad and Moscow within three months!

The Generals of the Soviet Union blamed the Luftwaffe and the "dominant" German forces. German naval forces were victorious at the beginning of the war because of their battle skills. Russians had more aircrafts, but these were not successful in battles. There were many outdated destroyers. During the war the Soviet Union managed to get enough foreign help and new aircrafts.

However, on land German army’s technology was greater in numbers. This kind of tactic had already justified itself in occupying Poland. Every Polish division had a certain number of armored cars. Since the front was wide, divisions had to keep distances that were tens of kilometers long. Armored technology was dispersed. Germans experimented with tank divisions. Units were assembled in a certain area of the front and after gunneries were prepared, the troops started their attack. They broke through the Polish front.

German Generals have said in their memoirs that the campaign to Poland was a rehearsal for the war. During the World War II Russians acclaimed the battle technique tested by Germans and were victorious.

But the attack of German forces got stuck. We will not discuss the war actions here, a lot has been written on this topic. Out of the 190 Wehrmact divisions 6 Waffen-SS divisions participated in the first battles.

To an average person SS is a symbol of evil because of the Jewish and communist propaganda. Unwillingly an image of a Gestapo member wearing black or a concentration camp guard roses before people’s eyes. Only few know that SS was divided into several different units.

SS was a country within a country. SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler was actually in charge of the whole Germany and later the occupied countries too. He controlled everything that happened in the state. SS controlled the police, Gestapo or the Secret State Police, concentration camps, intelligence and counterintelligence and Waffen-SS or the SS-units.

SS had 12 main departments. The most important one was the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) formed in 1939. All departments of security were under the Main Office (SD, SP, Gestapo) and they were divided into seven smaller departments. The second important office was the Main SS Economic and Administrative Department (WVHA), which was in charge of all concentration camps.

Waffen-SS or the SS-units were also a part of Himmler’s state, but these were actually the elite units of Germany. Himmler imagined his units to be the creators of a new Europe. He set them equal to archaic German Order crusaders or ancient Teutons. After winning the war they had to set ground for the German race to take over the whole Europe. Thus at the beginning the selection of men accepted in the SS-units was very strict – only Germany’s strongest and healthiest were accepted. In average about 3 men out of 15 were selected. They were trained to be the best and most efficient units in the World War II.

It was a big mistake to put all SS-units and departments on the same level after the war had ended and judge them. In reality SS-Totenkopfverbande (the units of concentration camp guards) and Waffen-SS (SS battle units) were completely different. The first ones were only on home front, the second ones were fighting on battle fronts.

At the end of the war Waffen-SS was also sentenced to be a criminal organization and it was banned. The men who fought under these units were called murderers and traitors. Unfortunately this problem has not been solved righteously even nowadays. Former Waffen-SS brothers-in-arms keep amongst themselves. This is due to the victors wish to show themselves are heroes and liberators. They do not wish to acknowledge an elite brotherhood that was so much feared during the war beside themselves.

A false understanding goes also for the young men from Estonia, Latvia and other countries that fought under the Waffen-SS against the spread of communism and the Soviet Army. Germans allowed to form national units only under the SS. During the war nobody told the soldiers that Waffen-SS was actually an elite force that belonged to the Nazi Party (NSDAP).