SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson

Date of Birth: March 10, 1910 in Karlskrona, Sweden
Date of Death: March 16, 1974 in Stockholm, Sweden

Honor Roll Clasp: December 25, 1944 as SS-Obersturmführer and the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland 3rd/SS Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung Unit 11 (SS Tank Division Reconnaissance) Commander.

SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson was a well-known and popular leader among the Swedish Waffen-SS volunteers. He was the most awarded Swedish SS volunteer and had the highest rank within his unit among the Swedes. Hans-Gösta Pehrsson was born on March 10, 1910 in Karlskrona. After graduating the school top of his class, he studied to become a chemist after which he worked as a paint chemist. Due to work-related reasons, Pehrsson went to Denmark in 1930s and found a new job in a chemistry firm in Copenhagen. On May 8, 1936 he got married with Edith Gelfius from Vienna. In September 1936 they had a daughter.

Being an anti-communist, Pehrsson voluntarily joined the Waffen-SS in June 1941 when the war between Germany and the Soviet Union began. In July 25, 1941 he went to the Free Corps Danmark and was trained in its Danish battalion first near Hamburg-Langehorn and from September 1941 in Posen-Treskau. During this time Pehrsson also passed the SS-Unterführerschule's junior leaders' course until spring 1942 in Posen-Treskau, after which he was promoted to SS-Unterscharführer. In May 1942 he was flown with the Free Corps Danmark's 2nd company (under the leadership of SS-Sturmbannführer Christian Frederik von Schalburg) to besieged Demjansk and later this company participated in unsuccessful battles next to the Totenkopf's division in the Biakowo area. On June 1, 1943 he was promoted to SS-Oberscharführer and on August 2, 1942 he received the 2nd class Iron Cross.

After a while he was promoted to the 4th company's MG-unit's leader. He was then injured. In 1942 he received the bronze Infantry Assault Badge and a black Wound Badge. On September 10, 1942 Pehrsson and the whole Free Corps Danmark received the NSDAP Honor Cross for Combatants. When the Free Corps was sent to battle again in December 1942, the Swede was sent to the SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz and from February 1 until June 31, 1943 he stayed there to pass the 9th war-Junkers course in the German inspection. As the SS-Standartenoberjunker, Hans-Gösta Pehrsson was transferred to the newly formed 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland in Grafenwöhr and on August 20, 1943 he took over leading the 11th SS Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung Unit's 3rd company's 4th group. On September 1, 1943 he was promoted to SS-Untersturmführer.

In September 1943 division Nordland and the SS Panzergrenadier Brigade Nederland were sent to Croatia for further preparations and training. From December 1943 Pehrsson and his unit were on the Eastern Front in Oranienbaum. The 11th SS Tank Reconnaissance Unit's 3rd company operated under a company which was called the Swedish company, because it had many Swedish volunteers and the whole 4th heavy weapons unit consisted of Swedes. Besides this, the company also had three tank units. Estonian Swedes, Imperial Germans or Reichdeutsches and ethnic Germans or Volksdeutsches from Rumenia were also is this unit. Swedish officers, such as group leader and SS-Untersturmführer Heino Meyer, Rune Ahlgren and Gunnar Eklöf, were also members of this unit. On January 14, 1944 the Soviet Union's great attack began and the 11th SS Tank Reconnaissance Unit had the chance to prove itself in these battles. On January 16, 1944 Hans-Gösta Pehrsson was injured near Narva. The Swede received the 1st class Iron Cross for his achievements on February 12, 1944. He had to stay in the hospital. He returned to his unit on March 3, 1944 and participated in the battles near the Narva bridgehead with his company.

When SS-Obersturmführer Kaiser died on April 19, 1944, Pehrsson took over leading the 3rd company and on May 15, 1944 he was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer (RDA June 21, 1944). Until July 1944 the 11th SS division Nordland's tank reconnaissance unit fought on the Narva bridgehead, then they were sent to Latvia to fight against the Russians who were moving towards Riga. During this Pehrsson was sent to the company leader's training. After returning, he took over the 3rd company again on August 2, 1944.

Pehrsson led his unit in Estonian battles near Tartu and from September 1944 they moved to Courland.

SS-Obersturmführer Josef Sepp Schirmer, from the 4th/SS Panzer Reconnaissance Unit 11, remembered the Swede: "Gösta Pehrsson was a good comrade. Loyal, honest, brave. He had great military knowledge and skills. He helped everyone out of trouble, even if he had to risk his life to do it. Every comrade's life was more valuable to him than his own life. He took care of his men and company. He was caring, friendly and warm-hearted. I saw my good comrade for the first time in Preekuln."

SS-Obersturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson especially stood out in October 1944 in Trekni and one of his fellow soldier's remembered it this way: "In the Preekuln area the 3rd/SS Panzer Reconnaissance Unit 11 was not successful. This place was called Trekni. Pehrsson received an order for the 3rd company directly from Brigadeführer Ziegler: 'Attack! Conquer one strategically important point and keep it until the last men are alive!' After the attack, once we had driven the enemies away from the upland and occupied their bunkers, only a few men from Pehrsson's company had remained. It was terrible bloodshed, one-on-one. The Russians knew what was at stake and tried to use all possible means to reconquer the upland. For four days we tried to stay strong and beat off the enemy's attacks. On the fifth day we had to retreat. Pehrsson's command point was about 100 meters behind the bunker line. I'll never forget the moment he saw us. He yelled: 'Cowards, go back!', although he knew we had no other choice. And then he led his MG to attack and we followed him. We surprised the Russians, who were certain of their win, with 12 men. Russians had not seen it coming and we managed to capture more than 100 enemy's men."

For his personal achievements in Trekni during October 16 to 19, 1944 and for his Swedish comrades' actions, which among other things include destroying seven T-34 tanks, SS-Obersturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson was presented for the German Land Force's Honor Roll. He was the only Swede whose name was in the Honor Roll in December 1944 as the 11th SS Division Nordland 3rd/SS Panzer Reconnaissance Unit's Commander and he received the Honor Roll Clasp.

From autumn 1944 Pehrsson and his German volunteers fought in four Courland battles until the overburdened division Nordland was transferred from Courland Libau to Germany by ship in January 1945. In February 1945 Pehrsson was active in Pommerland. There the Waffen-SS European volunteers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Estonia, Flandria, Wallonia, France, Latvia and Switzerland battled against the Russians. Almost every day counted as a close combat day and for this Pehrsson received the silver Close Combat Clasp.

On March 8, 1945 Pehrsson's bunker was hit by a bomb near Altdamm in Hornskrug and Pehrsson was injured and taken through the forest and swamp by SS-Unterscharführer Franz Berezyak to Stettin. Pehrsson received the silver Wound Badge. On April 15, 1945 Pehrsson was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and he was transferred to the division's headquarters where he replaced the Swiss SS-Hauptsturmführer Günter Greef and was in charge.

In the meantime the division Nordland, which had ran out of blood, battled in Berlin. There Pehrsson took over his SS Panzer Reconnaissance Unit's 3rd (armor) company on April 25, 1945 and, among other things, battled in the streets Frantsösiche Strasse, Unter den Linden and Fridrichstrass. During desperate battles in the capital, Pehrsson's command-SPW was hit by a bomb on May 1, 1945 and it burst into flames. After he managed to hide himself for three days, he was captured by the enemy on May 3, 1945. But he escaped and hid himself in Berlin.

On June 2, 1945 he and his company's Swedish SS-Unterscharführer Erik Wallin began an adventurous journey back to Sweden.

Since the soldiers who had returned from the war were not chased or discriminated in Sweden, Pehrsson had the chance to return to civilian life and found a good job in Stockholm as a salesman and engineer.

After a serious illness, Hans-Gösta Pehrsson died on March 16, 1974 in Stockholm.