1. SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
The 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) was Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard. Initially the size of a regiment (brigade), the LSSAH eventually grew into an elite division-sized unit. The term Leibstandarte was derived partly from Leibgarde – a somewhat archaic German translation of “Garde du Corps” or personal bodyguard of a military leader (“Leib” = lit. “body, torso”) – and Standarte: the Schutzstaffel (SS) or Sturmabteilung (SA) term for a regiment-sized unit.
The LSSAH independently participated in combat during the invasion of Poland, and was amalgamated into the Waffen-SS together with the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) and the combat units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) prior to Operation Barbarossa in 1941. By the end of World War II it had been increased in size from a regiment to a Panzer division.
The Leibstandarte division’s symbol was a skeleton key, in honour of its first commander, Josef “Sepp” Dietrich (Dietrich is German for skeleton key or lock pick); it was retained and modified to later serve as the symbol for I SS Panzer Corps. The elite division, a component of the Waffen-SS, was found guilty of war crimes in the Nuremberg Trials. Members of the LSSAH participated in numerous atrocities. They murdered at least an estimated 5,000 prisoners of war in the period 1940–1945, mostly on the Eastern Front.
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October 1941 MG34 troop of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
The second model of the LSSAH Standard.
1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Unit insignia.
Modern Day Photos
A preserved Tiger II tank left by the Kampfgruppe Peiper at La Gleize in December 1944.
Black and White Photos
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler parades in Berlin, 1938.
A December 1935 parade for Adolf Hitler at the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Barracks. Sepp Dietrich is on the far right.
Parade for the third anniversary of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler on the barracks’ grounds. Sepp Dietrich is at the lectern. May 1935.
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler barracks in Berlin, 1938. 1st SS Panzer Division.
Heinrich Himmler inspecting a tank of the 1st SS Division, Metz, September 1940.
Leibstandarte advances in the Balkans
SdKfz 231 armoured cars of the LSSAH advance into the Balkans.
Fritz Witt, Heinrich Himmler and Jochen Peiper with officers of the Waffen-SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Greece, 1941.
LSSAH Panzer IV Ausf. H in Milan, Italy, September 1943.
Eastern Front 1943 parts of 1 SS-Panzergrenadier-Division- Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.
StuG III, Ausf G belonging to the 1. SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte in the area of Orel, July 1943 during the Battle of Kursk.
A Panzerjäger (tank destroyer) Marder III, Kharkov, February 1943 of the 1st SS Panzer Division.
Fritz Witt, Kharkov March 1943.
Peiper’s troops of the 1st SS on the road to Malmedy.
Tiger 1 on the 1st SS Panzer Division.
Tiger I “(tower number 133) of the first SS-Panzer-Korps “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” in town before business “Nieuverburg” in the foreground floating bucket, PK 698.
1st SS Panzer Division Tigers and with a stuck MAN ML4500 in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, in November 1943.
Hummel from the 1st Panzer Division SS Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler on rail transports.
December 19,1944. Off to the left in the photo is SS Capt. Josef Diefenthal leading the SPW battalion in Peiper’s advance.
Tiger I tanks of the I SS Panzer Corps Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler close to Villers-Bocage. June 1944.
German soldiers surrendering in St. Lambert on 19 August 1944.
SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, commander of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment LSSAH. He is shown here as a SS-Sturmbannführer.