23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland (1st Dutch)

  • 48th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Regiment General Seyffardt (May 1944)
  • 49th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Regiment De Ruyter

Division Leaders:

  • SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Wagner

In 1941 the 2,500-men Volunteer Legion Niederlande was formed and it battled on the Eastern Front until the summer of 1943 and was then sent to Thuringia. After receiving 3,000 men in addition, the Legion was expanded on October 26, 1943 into the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Nederland. The Brigade had 6,000 men, 5,500 of them were Dutch volunteers. At the end of 1943 they participated in operations against the Tito partisans in Croatia. In January 1944 the unit was taken to the Leningrad front where it was subjected to the III SS Panzer Corps and battled outside the Oranienbaum pocket. They retreated in January 1944 until Estonia and battled on the Narva bridgehead. In July 1944 the brigade retreated to the Sinimäed Hills, but the 48th SS Regiment General Seyffardt was besieged and destroyed. In September 1944 they retreated into the Courland pocket. In September the brigade had 6,530 men. In December 1944 the brigade was expanded to the 23rd SS Division Nederland.

In January 1945 the division was taken from Courland to Stettin with ships. They participated in the battles in Pomerania, under Stargard and Stettin. The division faced rough battles in defending Berlin in Fürstenwalde in April 1944, and in the Halbe pocket's battle they lost more than a half of their men. Then the division tried to reach Elbe, but only a small number of men managed to do that. The survivors surrendered to the US units in Magdeburg.

Insignia:

Cuffband at first with Freiwilligen Legion Niederlande, then with Nederland; regiments names General Seyffardt and De Ruyter; on the collar patches the legion members wore the Wolfsangel runic symbols (from 1941 to 1943), later runic symbols SS.

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