17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen

The name comes from a German knight Götz von Berlichingen (1480 to July 23, 1562), whose nickname was the Götz of the Iron Hand. He was chosen to lead one of Frankland's peasants' group during the German Peasants' Mutiny of 1525.

  • 37th SS Panzergenadier Regiment (June 1944)
  • 38th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment
  • 17th SS Panzer Abteilung

Division Leaders:

  • SS-Brigadeführer Werner Ostendorff (until June 1944)

Ostendorff was injured and in the meantime the division had five temporary leaders, one of those was:

  • SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Kniep

Ostendorff returned to his division in November 1944 and led the division until February 1945.

  • SS-Standartenführer Otto Baum
  • SS-Oberführer Fritz Klingenberg (January 1, 1945 to March 22, 1945)
  • SS-Brigadeführer Georg Bochmann

The division was formed at the end of autumn 1943 in France. Besides the trained men, additional Balkan Volksdeutsches were brought from other units, because the division lacked men to be of normal size. On June 10, 1944 the division was sent quickly to Normandy, where they fought from June to August 1944 under Carentan and Avranches and thereafter retreated to Paris and Metz. The division suffered great losses and was reformed in September 1944 in Merzig and as an addition the 49th SS Panzer Brigade and the 51st SS Panzergrenadier Brigade's remains were merged with it.

From September to November 1944 the division was in battles in the Saari area, where it suffered great losses. At the end of December 1944 they participated in Operation Northern Wind and attacked S. Alsace. From January to April 1945 the division retreated while battling through Rümlingen, Schwetzingen and Nuremberg to Bavaria. On March 24, 1945 the division had 3,134 men and 12 attack cannons on the front line (Sturmgeschütz).

On May 7, 1945 they surrendered to the US troops near Achensee after an 11-month long battling in the West. 900 division members remained missing and 400 men reached Southern Germany after walking in a circle.


Cuffband Götz von Berlichingen; runic symbols SS on the collar patches.

4 men from this division received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.