Hey Guys i just typed an essay for school and i know it may be a burden to some of you but could you please correct me if im wrong on some of the historical facts. I now i left alot out because im really tired and this has taken me 2 and a half hours.
The SS-Totenkopfverbande ”SS-TV” meaning Death Head Unit was the SS organization responsible for the death camps. The SS-TV was an independent unit within the SS with its own ranks and command structure. The SS-TV was led by a ruthless commander named Theodor Eicke. He was one of the concentration camp inspectors who was in charge of replacing all the regular troops with experienced SS soldiers and officers. The first camp he was in charge of was Dachau and was later on in charge of opening many other camps like Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Ravensbruk, and Mauthausen. In 1940 he was promoted to SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt which made him in charge of a lot more concentration camps.
One of the SS-TV’s goals was extermination of the lesser race. It ran the camps throughout Germany, such as Dachau and Buchenwald. Within Nazi-occupied Europe, it ran Auschwitz in German occupied Poland, and Mauthausen in Austria as well as many other concentration and Death Camps As the years progressed personnel from Dachau then went on to work at Sachsenhausen camp and the Oranienburg camp, where Eicke established his central office. In 1935 Dachau became the training center for the concentration camps service. Many of the early recruits came from the ranks of the SA and SS. Senior roles were filled by personnel from the German police service.
The SS-TV were known for their brutality and were punished if they showed and humanity to the prisoners. They were known for beating prisoners to death if they do one thing wrong. The SS-TV were separated into ranks in the camps the hierarchy of the camp started with the highest being Kommandant, who was running everything and was always assisted by a command staff. The prison barracks within the camp were supervised by a Rapportführer who was responsible for daily roll call and the camp daily schedule. The individual prisoner barracks were overseen by junior SS-NCOs “Non Commissioned Officer” called Blockführer who had one to two squads of SS soldiers responsible for overseeing the prisoners. Within extermination camps, the Blockführer was in charge of the Sonderkommando, which was the Jewish police force of the camps. The Blockführer was also the person who would physically gas victims in the camp gas chambers.
In May 18, 1939 Hitler ordered the SS-TV to increase their size to about 25,000 men in event of combat mobilization. This is what changed the SS-TV into the SS-Totenkopfdivision. Hitler said that the SS-TD “SS Totenkopfdivision” would serve as combat replacements for the SS Verfugungstuppe “Regular SS”. As the Wehrmacht invaded Poland on September 7th 1939, the SS-TD was ordered to stay back. On September 8th 1939 the overall strength of the SS-TD was just under 25,000 troops. There were three regiments that were assigned to the rear areas in Poland to conduct police and security measures behind German lines. The SS-TD had no military value on capturing Poland, but instead they used their military power to terrorize the civilian population. They did that by hunting down straggling polish soldiers, confiscating agriculture, and torturing and murdering large numbers of political leaders, aristocrats, businessmen, priests, intellectuals, and Jews.
As the conflict on the eastern front ended for a while the SS-TD was shipped to the western front preparing for the blitzkrieg assault into France. They were initially held in reserve during the assault into France and the Low Countries in May 1940. They were committed on 16 of May to the Front in Belgium. The SS-TD soldiers fought fanatically, suffering heavy losses. On May 19th the SS-TD was on the French border and fought for one week committed its first War Crime, it is called the Le Paradis massacre. The 4th division on the SS-TD was taking heavy fire from a british occupied building. The british soldiers finally surrendered after running out of ammunition. There was 99 members of the Royal Norfolk Division that came out of the building with the white flag waving. The 4th division leader Fritz Knochlein lined them up on the wall and gunned down and killed 97 of the 99 surrendered British soldiers and officers. The two soldiers that survived were very badly wounded and survived the war. After the war Fritz Knochlein was tried at the Nuremburg Trials and was found guilty and was sentenced to death.
In 1941, the division was ordered East to join General Erich Hoepner. He was one of the generals of Army Group North, and was tasked with advancing on Leningrad and formed the northern wing of Operation Barbarossa. The SS-TD saw action in Lithuania and Latvia, and by July had breached the highly prized Stalin line. The division then advanced by Demjansk to Leningrad where it was involved in heavy fighting from 31 July to 25 August. The Soviets launched some major offences during that time period and about 90,000 SS and SS-TD Troops were in circled by the Russians for several months. They were in circled near the town of Demjansk in what would come to be known as the Demjansk Pocket. During these battles the SS-TD suffered so greatly that, due to its reduced size, it was re-designated to a smaller division. The Division was pulled out of the eastern front and shipped to France to be re-fitted and re-supplied, they would not be shipped back to the western front until February 1943.
In February of 1943 they were shipped back to the eastern front to be part of General Van Mansteins Army Group South. They would be part in the Battle of Kharkov where General Eicke was killed as his recon plane was shot down over Soviet occupied area. The SS-TD was then shifted to the north to be part of Operation Citadel which was to attack the Kursk salient. They held off the soviets but later they broke through the German lines and made them fall back to the Romanian Border. The SS-TD had many more offensive and defensive actions and were eventually pushed back to Poland. After a while the Russians put a bounty on SS-TD soldiers and would give a reward on each one that was killed.
The Germans were pushed all the way back to Warsaw Poland by July of 1944 and won a few major battles but were eventually broken through by the Russians. The SS-TD did not want to be captured by the Soviets, so they attacked the American 11th Armored Division. The Americans, who suffered heavy losses, were angered by this. And when the SS-TD Surrendered to the U.S they were immediately handed over to the Russians. The senior officers that were with them were immediately executed by the Russians. The Rest was sent to labor camps in Siberia and only a handful made back to Germany after the war.