The Westwall


Waffen-SS at attention in the Siegfried line. Source LIFE Magazine.

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SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor Fritz Witt

SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Witt (25.05.1908 – 14.06.1944), commander of 12 SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend receives a model of an 8-wheel armoured scout car. The model was a birthday present by the division’s reconaisance battalion to their divisional commander’s 36th birthday on May 25, 1944. To the left of Witt, his adjutant SS-Sturmbannführer Heinrich “Hein” Springer (3.11.1914 – 27.10.2007).
Over the next week, Witt’s division managed to hold the line above Caen despite incessant determined attacks and constant air, artillery and naval bombardments.
On 14 June, a British naval barrage hit the divisional command post in Venoix. Witt was hit in the face by shrapnel and killed instantly. The 12th SS-Hitlerjugend and his former 1st SS-Leibstandarte comrades mourned his loss. Kurt Meyer, as the next highest ranking officer, was promoted to divisional commander; at 33 years of age.
Fritz Witt, recipient of the Knight’s Cross with oakleaves, was buried with full military honours at Champigny—Saint-André-de-l’Eure in France. Source panzer-archiv.

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12 SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend


Front line combat troops of 12th SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend in Normandy 1944. These young SS-Panzergrenadiers of the HJ Division inflicted devastating losses on the British and Canadian forces, the training which Franz Witt had developed maintaining his unit’s morale and fighting ability.

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12 SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend


Young grenadier of 12th SS-Panzerdivision “Hitlerjugend” in Normandy, summer 1944. The majority of the Grenadiers were born as late as in 1926. Source Bundesarchiv.

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SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25


At Ardenne Abbey, Normandy, regimental command post of the 25th SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment (12 SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend), late June 1944. On the left regimental commander SS-Obersturmbannführer Heinz Milius, in the center SS-Obersturmbannführer Hubert Meyer, the HJ-Division’s first staff officer, behind them the SS war correspondent SS-Oberscharführer Herbert Reinecker (a very prolific German novelist, dramatist and screenwriter), and at right SS-Obersturmführer Bernhard Meitzel, the 01. Source panzer-archiv.

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Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden (Waffen-SS)


Men of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25 erect temporary grave crosses for the dead along the walls of Ardenne Abbey during the first days of the Normandy Invasion. Those who fell were generally buried first at site in the blood-drenched soil of Normandy. During the few pauses in the battle, members of the division cared for the graves of their fallen comrades.
Photo by Propaganda-Kompanie photographer (SS-PK) Wilfried Woscidlo, the burial of SS-Oberscharfuhrer Helmut Belke, Panzermeyers driver in Normandy, he was killed in action in the attack on Bretteville on June 8, 1944. Source panzer-archiv.

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12 SS-Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend


The sky was open and the English and Americans had complete supremacy in the air over Normandy in 1944. This attempt to shoot down aircraft with an MG 42 could scarcely have been successful against the armoured fighter-bombers. Source panzer-archiv.

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