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Otto Baum, 15 November 1911 – 18 June 1998, was a high-ranking commander (Oberführer) of the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.
Baum was born on 15 November 1911 in Hechingen-Stetten, a son of a merchant. From 1930 to 1932, he studied two semesters of agriculture at the University of Hohenheim. He served as a battalion commander in 3rd SS Totenkopf Infantry Regiment during the Operation Barbarossa, invasion of the Soviet Union. After recovering from severe wounds in 1943, he was promoted to regimental commander, and eventually reached the rank of SS-Oberführer. He took command of the SS Division Das Reich in July 1944 and saw action in the Falaise Pocket.
Hermann Johann Besuden, 6 June 1905 in Lüerte, Oldenburg – 4 August 1988 in Leer, Friesland, was a German physician and officer of the Waffen-SS, with the last rank of SS-Oberführer and army doctor of the 6th Panzer Army in World War II.
Wilhelm Bittrich, 26 February 1894 – 19 April 1979, was an SS-Obergruppenführer and Waffen-SS General during World War II.
Karl Jakob Heinrich Brenner, 1 May 1895 – 14 February 1954, was a decorated German general of the Waffen-SS who held the rank of SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of Polizei during the Nazi era. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.
Theodor Eicke, 17 October 1892 – 26 February 1943, was a German senior Nazi official and Obergruppenführer of the SS, one of the key figures in the development of the concentration camp system in Germany used in the Holocaust.
Eicke served as the second commandant of the Dachau concentration camp from June 1933 to July 1934, and together with his adjutant Michael Lippert was one of the executioners of SA Chief Ernst Röhm during the Night of the Long Knives purge. In 1936, Eicke became commander of the 3rd SS Panzer Division “Totenkopf” of the Waffen-SS, leading the division during the Second World War in the Western and Eastern fronts, and continuing to expand and develop the concentration camp system.
Eicke was killed on 26 February 1943, when his plane was shot down during the Third Battle of Kharkov.
Herbert Otto Gille, 8 March 1897 – 26 December 1966, was a high-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, making him the most highly decorated Waffen-SS member of the war. After the war, Gille became active in HIAG, a lobby group and a revisionist veteran’s organization founded by former high-ranking Waffen-SS personnel in West Germany in 1951.
Friedemann Götze, 26 February 1871 in Stade, Prussian Province of Hanover – 22 May 1946 in ibid, was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Imperials Germany Army, the Freikorps, the Reichswehr, and the Schutzstaffel, His final rank was SS-Brigadeführer and Colonel of the Army (retired). He was one of the professional military officers that formed and organized the Waffen-SS together with Paul Hausser, Felix Steiner, Wilhelm Bittrich, and Georg Keppler.
Arthur Heinrich “Heinz” Harmel, 29 June 1906 – 2 September 2000, was a high-ranking member in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.
Born in 1906, Harmel volunteered for the SS-Verfügungstruppe (later known as the Waffen-SS) in 1935 and served as a company commander in the SS-Regiment “Der Führer”, with which he took part in the Battle of France in 1940. In 1941, Harmel took part in the Balkans Campaign and Operation Barbarossa. In December 1941, Harmel took command of SS-Infanterie-Regiment “Deutschland”. Harmel participated in the capture of Kharkov on 15 March 1943. Harmel received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 31 March 1943. On 7 September 1943, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. In April 1944, Heinz Harmel took command of the SS Division Frundsberg.
During summer 1944, the division moved to the Western Front, in Normandy. Harmel had been ordered to break the enemy’s lines, to free the German units encircled in Falaise pocket numbering approximately 125,000 troops of the 7th Army. The operation ended with heavy losses and serious damage. Harmel was then sent to the Netherlands. He fought against the Allied offensive (Operation Market Garden) After the battles around Nijmegen, Harmel received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 15 December 1944. His division was then transferred to Alsace, where Harmel was ordered to establish a bridgehead to join the Colmar Pocket. After the failure of the December 1944/January 1945 offensive in Alsace, Harmel’s division was transferred to the Eastern Front, initially fighting in Pomerania and Brandenburg to hold the Oder Front. The division was subsequently transferred to Heeresgruppe Mitte where in late April it was ordered to counterattack the forces of Marshal Ivan Konev. Harmel refused and was dismissed from command by Field Marshal Schoerner. Harmel subsequently commanded an ad hoc battle group formed around the 24th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS, the SS Officer’s School at Graz and other smaller units. Harmel surrendered to the British forces in Austria. Harmel died in 2000.
Paul “Papa” Hausser
Paul “Papa” Hausser, 7 October 1880 – 21st December 1972, was a veteran of World War I, later General Reichswehr rank Generalleutnant ( Major General ) and an officer of the Waffen-SS in the rank of SS-Oberstgruppenführer und Generaloberst der Waffen-SS ( Colonel General ) after World war II. He also held numerous military decorations, including the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. It is called the father of the Waffen-SS.
Georg Keppler, 7 May 1894 – 16 June 1966, was a high-ranking Waffen-SS General during World War II. He commanded the SS Division Das Reich, SS Division Totenkopf, I SS Panzer Corps, III SS Panzer Corps, and the XVIII SS Army Corps.
Georg Keppler joined the army in 1913 and took part in World War I. Between 1920 and 1934, Keppler was a police officer commanding city and state police units. In 1935, he joined the paramilitary force of the Nazi Party, SS-Verfügungstruppe, leading a battalion size formation. In September 1939, his unit became a component of SS-Verfügungs Division. Keppler served as its regimental commander throughout the invasion of France, Balkans Campaign, and in Operation Barbarossa. In August 1940, Keppler was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. On 15 July 1941, he took over for injured Theodor Eicke as a commander of the SS Division Totenkopf. He went on to command the SS Division Nord and the SS Division Das Reich.
From February 1943, Keppler held a number of administrative positions within the Waffen-SS. In August 1944, he was given a field assignment as commander of the I SS Panzer Corps, which he led until October 1944, during the later stages of the Battle of Normandy. He then returned to the Eastern Front, where he took over the III Panzer Corps. He remained with this unit until 2 April 1945 when he became the last commander of the XVIII SS Army Corps, surrendering the unit to the U.S. Army on 2 May 1945. After the war Keppler was interned; he was released in 1948. Keppler died in 1966.
Matthias Kleinheisterkamp, 22 June 1893 – 29 April 1945, was an SS Obergruppenführer (General) and a Heer (Army) officer who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II, Kleinheisterkamp commanded the 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord, 2. SS-Division Das Reich, III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps, VII. SS-Panzerkorps, IV. SS-Panzerkorps, XII. SS-Armeekorps and the XI. SS-Armeekorps. He was also a winner of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.
Hugo Gottfried Kraas, 25 January 1911 in Witten an der Ruhr – 20 February 1980 in Selk near Schleswig, was a German officer of the Waffen-SS and Eichenlaubträger the Second World War. From 15 November 1944, he was the last division commander of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitler Youth. He was at the conclusion of the war appointed on April 20, 1945 to SS-Brigadeführer.
Walter Krüger, 27 February 1890 – 22 May 1945, was an SS-Obergruppenführer (Lieutenant General). He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.