SS-Oberstgruppenführer (Colonel General) Josef

Josef Dietrich, who in the history of the Second World War is more commonly known as Sepp Dietrich, was born on May 28, 1892 in Hawangen. After obtaining basic education, he worked as a tractor driver when he was a youngster, starting from the age of 15 he earned living as an apprentice in hotels. In October 1911 Dietrich joined the army, fought in the World War I with the artillery and ended his army service with a Vice Feldwebel's rank.

After the war Dietrich worked in the Bavarian Police and in 1924 he rose to be a Hauptmann (Captain). In 1923 he joined the NSDAP and in 1933 he became the leader of Hitler's bodyguards' unit, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). In 1934 he participated in suppressing the coup attempt of Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders.

In March 1936 Dietrich's LSSAH was the first unit to march to the soon to be remilitarized Rhineland, to Saarbrücken. In 1938, during the Austrian Anschluss, LSSAH was one of the first units to invade Austria. In 1939, during the Poland's campaign, LSSAH was in reserve. Some time during the World War II the LSSAH expanded and was equal with the size of a brigade.

In May 1940 when the war revived in the Western Front, the LSSAH became an actual front unit for the first time and it invaded through Holland, Belgium and North of France and reached the English Channel near Dunkirk. Then Dietrich and his men turned south, like the rest of the German army, and reached Saint-Étienne in South of France by the time of the truce on June 22.

In April 1941 Dietrich and his brigade took part in the Balkans Campaign invading from Bulgaria through Yugoslavia to reach Greece. Next the regiment was formed into an SS-division with the same name and in the Eastern Campaign, which began on June 22, Dietrich and his division invaded the South of Ukraine.

By June 1942 Dietrich's LSSAH, which had participated in the most heated areas of the front, was ragged and it was taken to France so that the men could rest near Paris and the division could be reformatted. The unit was brought back to the Eastern Front in January 1943 with a slightly longer name – SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. The same winter Dietrich and his Panzergrenadiers participated in the Battle of Kharkov and the town was won back successfully. The next summer they took part in the Battle of Kursk and got into the famous Battle of Prokhorovka. During the Battle of Kursk, On July 27 Dietrich was appointed as the leader of the 1st SS-Panzerkorps and a year later, on October 24, 1944, he reached the highest position during his military career – the leader of the 6th SS-Panzer -Armee. In December the same year he took part with his tanks in the last big German attack of this war – the Ardennes Offensive. Dietrich had his last battles of the World War in Hungary and Austria.

Before reaching the end of our story, let's look at Dietrich's General's rankings chronology: October 10, 1930 SS-Oberführer (Senior Leader); December 18, 1931 SS-Gruppenführer (Group Leader); July 1, 1934 SS-Obergruppenführer (General); August 1, 1944 SS-Oberstgruppenführer (Supreme Group Leader).

Dietrich was taken prison by the enemies and in July 1946 he was accused of executing the US military prisoners and was sentenced to life in prison. However, he was released in October 1955. In May 1957 Dietrich was under trial in Germany where his participation in the Night of the Long Knives was investigated. To be more specific, his participation in suppressing the coup attempt of the SA leaders. Dietrich, who was then 65 years old, got away with an 18-month imprisonment.

The famous Waffen-SS General Sepp Dietrich died on April 21, 1966 in Ludwigsburg.