3rd SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf

  • 5th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Thule (June 1944)
  • 6th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Theodor Eicke
  • 3rd SS-Panzer Regiment Danmark

Division Leaders:

  • SS-Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke (until February 1943)
  • SS-Brigadeführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
  • SS-Gruppenführer Georg Keppler
  • SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Lammerding
  • SS-Brigadeführer Max Simon
  • SS-Brigadeführer Hermann Priess (October 1943 to June 1944)
  • SS-Brigadeführer Hellmuth Becker

The division was formed in November 1939. During a blitzkrieg the SS-Totenkopf-Division (SS-T) went to the front on May 16, 1940 as Rommel's 7th tank division's supporting unit, they fought in Southern Belgium and Eastern France. SS-T was with the LAH and the SS-VT on the battle front of the attack. The allied forces that came from the North were surrounded into the pocket near Dunkerque. When the allies were surrendered, the SS-T moved towards Bordeaux. They successfully participated in the battles of Le Cateau, Cambrai, Arras, Seine, Loire, Lyon and Charente. On June 17 the French requested peace and five days later the war had ended.

The division participated in the preventive attack against the Soviet Union, otherwise known as the Operation Barbarossa. The division acted under the Army Group Nord and was on the Lithuanian front until September 1941. They battled in the areas of Vilnius, Luga and Leningrad from September to December 1941. Participated in defence battles near Chelm and Demyansk from January to February 1942. Six divisions remained in the Demyansk Pocket, the Totenkopf was one of them. However, they managed to break out of the pocket. The winter campaign was so rough, often it was -40 degrees Celsius outside. For their brave fighting in Demyansk and in Chelm, the division received awards – metallic arm shields. The honor of designing these went to SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Krause, an artist who served in the LAH as the war letters' sender.

Next they headed into battles in Poland: they participated in the battles in Warsaw, on the bridgehead of Narew and Modlin. At the end of the year they moved to Hungary, where in January 1945 they tried to break into the besieged Budapest, where the 8th and the 22nd SS Cavalry Divisions, and according to some data the 33rd SS Cavalry Division, were trapped. From Feburary to March 1945 they retreated and fought over Stühlweissenburg. At the end of March and in May they continued to retreat to Austria, where they fought northeast of Vienna. On May 9, 1945 they surrendered to the US units. Out of 19,000 men of the division, 1,000 men and 6 tanks surrendered. As a result, only Kamfgruppe Simon remained on the front (until June 1942). In April 1942 the division had a breakthrough in the Demyansk-Lovat direction. From July to October 1943 they had defence battles northeast of Demyansk. Until February 1943 the division rested and was increased in France. From Febuary to March 1943 they participated in rough battles under Kharkov and then until July 1943 they battled in Belgrad area. From July 1943 to January 1944 they fought in the Arc of Kursk offensive and after the operation failed, they took part in defence battles under Izium, Kharkov, Dnepr and Krivoi-Rog. From January to April 1944 the division retreated towards the Romanian border, during which they had defence battles with the attacking Red Army. In June 1944 the division moved from the North to the middle front's area. In July 1944 they battled over Grodno. From August to December 1944 they had rough battles.

The war prisoners were handed over to the Red Army.


Cuffband with a skull symbol (until 1943), afterwards it had a Totenkopf symbol (order issued in September 1942). Regiments' names Thule (until 1943), Theodor Eicke (from March 1943), Heimwehr Danzig (1939 to 1943), SS-Heimwehr Danzig (from 1943). Totenkopf symbol (a skull) or runic symbols SS on the collar patches.

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