The Independent SS-Totenkopfstandarten and Infanterie-Regimenter

By Jason Long and Jim Broshot

Introduction

The SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-Death's Head units) had their origin in the guard force of the Nazi concentration camps. As such they were't subject to the recruitment limits imposed on the Armed SS (Verfügungstruppen as they were then known) by the Wehrmacht. They weren't considered part of the Armed SS and service therein didn't meet the military service obligation required of all German males. Both of these conditions later changed, but this was true for the greater part of their existence.

The Totenkopf Division owed its origin to Hitler's decision after the conquest of Poland to expand the Waffen-SS from his prewar conception as a elite militarized guard force that owed its loyalty only to him to a combat force that exemplified the military virtues of National Socialism. He authorized its expansion from the Liebstandarte regiment (Hitler's bodyguard) and a division equivalent of Verfügungstruppen to the Liebstandarte and three divisions. The only resources available to Himmler with which to create these new divisions were the Totenkopfverbände and the Ordnungspolizei which Himmler controlled in his capacity of commander of all German police forces. The three senior SS-Totenkopfstandarten provided the core of a new SS-Totenkopf Division in the Waffen-SS while recently called-up police reservists were used to form the Polizei-Division. This latter unit wasn't formally part of the Waffen-SS for a few years, but I digress...

The cream of these units was incorporated in the new division with the dregs going to form new SS-Totenkopfstandarten. Curiously, the new SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie Regiments weren't lineal descendants of the Totenkopfstandarten, but were technically formed ab inito. The Führer Decree of 17 Aug 1938 established each Totenkopfstandarte as a motorized unit with three Sturmbannen, each with three rifle companies and a machine gun company. However this often seems not to have been followed, especially in regard to the level of motorization.
Strength is read as officers/NCOs/men.

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 1 Oberbayern

Formed 9/37 in Dachau with 5 Sturmbannen (battalions) at Dachau. 2 Sturmbannen occupied the city of Eger/Cheb in the Czech-owned Sudetenland in 9/38 prior to the Munich Settlement. Sent to Poland 12/9/39 for police duties behind the lines of 10. Armee through October. Became the SS-Totenkopf-Rekruten-Standarte 27/10/39 until its disbandment in the winter of 1940-41.

Commanders:
Oberf. Theodore Eicke
Staf. Otto Augustini
Ostubaf. Max Simon

Strength:
2/381771
4/383335

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 2 Brandenburg

Formed 1/7/37 in Oranienburg. Consisted of 6 Sturmbannen by 12/37. Contributed 2 Sturmbannen for the occupation of the Sudetenland in 10/38. Reformed in the spring of '39 with only 4 Sturmbannen. Sent to Poland 12/9/39 for police duties behind the lines of 10. Armee through October. Contributed troops to SS-Totenkopfstandarte 5 that same date (Tessin). Its younger troops were sent to SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie Regiment 2 on 16/10/39. Broken up to furnish troops to other SS units by the end of '39.

Commanders:
Ostaf. Michael Lippert
Staf. Otto Reich
Staf. Paul Nostitz

Strength:
3/381541
5/382989

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 3 Thüringen

Formed in Autumn '37 in Weimar-Buchenwald from various TK-Wachtruppen, notably Wachtruppen Elbe and Sachsen. By year's end it had 7 Sturmbannen though this was later reduced to 4. Contributed 2 Sturmbannen for the occupation of the Sudetenland in 10/38. Sent to Poland 12/9/39 for police duties behind the lines of 8. Armee through October. Contributed troops to the Totenkopf Division and the remainder formed 10. SS-Standarte in 1939.

Commanders:
Staf. Paul Nostitz
Stubaf. Heimo Hierthes

Strength:
2/381213
6-7/382220

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 4 Ostmark

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 4 Ostmark (25/2/41)

Formed 1/4/38 in Vienna with only 2 Sturmbannen. A third battalion, SS-TK-Sturmbann Götze was formed 10/38 in Berlin, but its subordination was strictly nominal. It became formally independent 7/39 and formed the core of SS-Heimwehr Danzig after moving to that city. Ostmark was transferred to Prague 10/39 to relieve the SS-Standarte Der Führer so that unit could be incorporated into the SS-Verfügungs Division being formed. Formation of 13., 14. and 16. companies was completed around 1/40.

Transferred to Holland for coastal defense duties 10/6/40. Received many British vehicles abandoned at Dunkirk during this period. Reorganized as an infantry regiment on 25/2/41. Equipped almost completely with Czech weapons.

Left for Warsaw on 30/4/41 arriving 5/5/41 where it was assigned to the newly-created 2. SS-Infanterie Brigade at the end of the month. Himmler intended for the brigade to be used in a rear-area security role, but the Army used it in support of 9. Armee's operations near Olita. Unlike the rest of the Waffen-SS Units assigned to Barbarossa Himmler retained control of it and ordered it pulled out and moved back to Lyck-Herzog and Muehle in East Prussia around the end of June. On 10/7/41 it was transferred to Arys training ground. While there its heavy weapons and vehicles were used to replace losses suffered by other Waffen-SS units as well as some troops.

It returned to the Eastern Front on 1/9/41 in an anti-partisan role behind Army Group North, again under 2. SS-Infanterie Brigade. However the shortage of troops forced its use in mopping up bypassed Soviet units and in rebuffing Soviet counter-attacks. It was relieved in place by the SS-Legion Flandern beginning 17/11/41. It arrived in Cracow by 7/12/41 where it was to recuperate and reorganize as a motorized regiment that was intended to replace the SS-Infanterie Rgt. 11 with 2. SS-Division Das Reich in 3/42.

It did manage to reequip with German weapons before the Soviet winter counter-offensive forced the Germans to scrape the bottom of the barrel for any units capable of helping to stem the Soviet advance. I./SS-IR 4 was airlifted to Malojaroslavice airfield beginning 19/12/41. It was complete by 23/12/41 and assigned to XIII. Korps. The airfield was forced to shut down operations late on 22/12/41 and the rest of the regiment was diverted to other airfields. II. Batallion and most of the heavy weapons companies landed at Juchnow on 26 and 27 December and were attached to 19. Panzer Division. III. Batallion and the regimental staff landed at Kaluga between 22 and 24 December. The separated battalions weren't able to assemble for a month or so as they tried to slow the Soviet advance with some success.

This came at a heavy price as when SS-IR 4 was withdrawn back to Germany on 14/4/42 it numbered only 180! It suffered 93% casualties from its starting strength of 2200! In recognition of its achievement Hitler retitled it Langemarck. In May 1942 it was assigned to Das Reich and was to be reorganized as a motorized infantry regiment of a motorcycle and two rifle battalions. Its I. Batallion was formed from the motorcycle battalion of Das Reich and the remnants of Ostmark formed the regiment's II. Battalion. In 10/42 this became the II. Batallion of the newly organized 2. SS-Panzer Regiment Das Reich. The motorcycle battalion lasted a while longer, but it was absorbed after the battle of Kharkov by the division's reconaissance battalion in 3/43. The title was transferred to the 6. SS-Sturmbrigade.

Commanders:
SS-Staf. Otto Reich
SS-Staf. Klingemann 1/12/40-5/7/41
SS-Ostaf. Hinrich Schuldt 5/7/41-

Strength:
8-10/38628
11-12/38867
28/7/4061/374/2500
12/412200

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 5 Brandenburg

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 5 Brandenburg (25/2/41)

Raised 12/9/39 in Berlin and Oranienburg with 3 Sturmbannen from elements of the Totenkopf Division and SS-TK-Std. 2 Brandenburg. Transferred to Vienna and Linz 11/39 where it provided a cadre for SS-TK-Std. 13. Transferred to Stettin by 28 May 40 and returned to Oranienburg by 28 July 40. III. Sturmbann formed the SS-Sonder-Btl. Reitz that was later incorporated into SS-TK-Std. K 4/6/40. Motorized 12/9/40 and transferred to Plock 4/11/40.

Assigned to SS-Inf. Brigade 2 in early '41 and formation of 13. and 14. companies complete some time before Barbarossa. Withdrawn from front-line service early 7/41 in company with SS-Inf.Rgt. 4. Disbanded at Arys Training Ground, East Prussia 1/9/41, but formed SS-Ersatz-Btl. Ost in Breslau. Personnel were sent as replacements to SS-Kampfgruppe Nord.

Landwehr gives this unit the name of Dietrich Eckhardt.

Commanders:
Brigfhr. Breithaupt

Strength:
28/7/4023/294/1561

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 6

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 6 (25/2/41)

Raised 12/9/39 in Prague with 3 Sturmbannen from cadres from the four senior Totenkopf Standarten. Transferred to Danzig and Bromberg 10/39 and provided cadre for SS-TK-Std. 9. Transferred to Sandefjord in Southern Norway 27/4/40. II. Sturmbann transferred back to Prague and was incorporated into SS-TK-Std. 14, but was replaced by II./SS-TK-Rekrutenstandarte. Motorized 12/9/40 and raised 13. and 14 companies some time that year. Assigned to SS-Kampfgruppe Nord for the invasion of Russia.

Commanders:
Oberf. Voss

Strength:
28/7/4047/502/2407

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 7

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 7 (25/2/41)

Raised 12/9/39 in Brünn with cadres from the four senior Totenkopf Standarten with 3 Sturmbannen. Transferred to Drammen in Southern Norway 27/4/40. II. Sturmbann transferred back to Brünn and was incorporated into SS-TK-Std. 9, but was replaced by I./SS-TK-Rekrutenstandarte. Motorized 12/9/40 and raised 13. and 14 companies some time that year. Assigned to SS-Kampfgruppe Nord for the invasion of Russia.

Commanders:
Brigfhr. Richard Hermann (5 May 40)
Staf. Schneider (28 July 40)

Strength:
28/7/4045/343/2383

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 8

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 8 (25/2/41)

Raised 11/11/39 in Cracow from elements of SS-TK-Std. 4 with 3 Sturmbannen. Motorized 12/9/40. Raised 13. and 14. companies and a flak batterie in early '41. Assigned anti-partisan duties under 1. SS-Inf.Brigade for the campaign in Russia. Redesignated as SS-Grenadier-Rgt. 8 1/9/43 and SS-Grenadier-Rgt. 39 12/11/43. Assigned to 18. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Horst Wessel 15/1/44 and simultaneously redesignated as SS-Pz.Gren.-Rgt. 39.

Commanders:
Oberf. von Jena (5 May 40)
Staf. Scherner (28 July 40)
Oberf. Classen

Strength:
28/7/4048/391/2360

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 9

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 9 (2/41)

Raised 11/11/39 in Danzig from a cadre from SS-TK-Std. 6 with 3 Sturmbannen. Transferred 24 April 1940 with I. and III. Sturmbannen to Brünn to replace SS-Totenkopfstandarte 7. II. Sturmbann was reformed (28/7/40) from II./SS-TK-Std. 7 which returned from Norway. It absorbed III./SS-TK-Std. 12 on 15/8/40. It was disbanded 15/11/40, but formed SS-Wach-Btl. Prag and its HQ became that of SS-TK-Std. K 5 days later.

Redesignated from SS-TK-Std. K as SS-Inf.-Rgt. 9 2/41 with 3 Battalions. 13., 14., and 16 companies were raised before Barbarossa. Formally assigned to SS-Kampfgruppe Nord for the invasion of Russia, but attached to 2. Gebirgs-Division. Transferred to the Volkhov River front near Leningrad 12/41. Partially dissolved 8/42, but HQ and III. Batallion were incorporated into the forming SS-Rgt. Thule in Sennelager as Stab and II. Batallion 1/8/42. Thule was later incorporated into 3. SS-Panzergrenadier Division Totenkopf in 1943.

Commanders:
Staf. Paul Nostitz

Strength:
28/7/4034/354/1862

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 10

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 10 (25/2/41)

Formed 11/11/39 in Weimar-Buchenwald from elements of the Totenkopf Division and SS-TK-Std. 3 Thüringen. Moved to Danzig 24/4/40 and to Cracow 22/5/40. Motorized 12/9/40. Raised 13., 14., 16. companies and a flak batterie before Barbarossa. Assigned anti-partisan duties under 1. SS-Inf.Brigade for the campaign in Russia. Redesignated as SS-Grenadier-Rgt. 10 1/9/43 and SS-Grenadier-Rgt. 40 12/11/43. Assigned to 18. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Horst Wessel 15/1/44 and redesignated as SS-Pz.Gren.-Rgt. 40 at the same time.

Commanders:
Ostubaf. Demme

Strength:
28/7/4041/254/2458

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 11

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 11 (25/2/41)

Formed 11/11/39 in Radom with cadres furnished by SS-TK-Std. 4 and 7 in 3 Sturmbannen. Transferred 22/5/40 to the Netherlands for coastal defense duties where it raised 13. and 14. companies. Motorized 19/9/40. Raised 15. and 16. companie before Barbarossa. Replaced SS-Inf.Rgt. Germania in SS-Infanterie Division Reich. Decimated during the Barbarossa campaign and disbanded in 1942.

Commanders:
Ostubaf. Diebitsch

Strength:
28/7/4055/367/2583

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 12

Formed 11/11/39 in Posen from cadres furnished by SS-TK-Std. 5 and 7 with 3 Sturmbannen. Dissolved 15/8/40, but 2 companies went to SS-TK-Standarte K and III. Sturmbann was distributed between SS-TK-Std. 9 and 4.

Commanders:
Ostubaf. Sacks

Strength:
28/7/4046/244/2360

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 13

Formed 11/39 in Wien, partly from SS-TK-Std. 5 with 2 Sturmbannen. III. Sturmbann was raised in 1940 before the unit was disbanded 29/7/40.

Commanders:
Staf. Klingemann

Strength:
28/7/4040/392/2187

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 14

SS-Infanterie-Regiment 14 (25/2/41)

Formed in Weimar-Buchenwald 24/4/40 from II./SS-TK-Std. 9, III./SS-TK-Std. 6, and IV./SS-TK-Rekruten-Std. with 3 Sturmbannen. Stationed in Copenhagen by 5 May 40. Motorized 12/9/40 and transferred to the Netherlands 23/11/40. Dissolved 30/6/41 except for I. Batallion which was redesignated as Sonder-Btl. der RFSS.

Commanders:
Ostubaf. Martin

Strength:
28/7/4040/392/2187

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 15

Formed 1/3/40 with one Sturmbann in Plock. II. Sturmbann raised in Litzmannstadt 10/10/40. Motorized 12/9/40. Dissolved 15/11/40, except I. Sturmbann which became SS-Wach-Btl. Oranienburg.

Commanders:
Stubaf. Dorheit

Strength:
28/7/4030/165/1484

SS-Totenkopfstandarte 16

Raised 24/4/40 from III./SS-TK-Rekruten-Std. at Dachau. Transferred to Prag by 5 May 40. Disbanded 15/8/40.

Commanders:
Staf. Hermann

Strength:
28/7/4033/304/2009

SS-Totenkopfstandarte K

Formed 12/11/40 for service in Kirkenes, Norway from elements of SS-TK-Std. 9, 12, and SS-Sonder-Btl. Reitz with 3 Sturmbannen. Redesignated SS-Inf.Rgt 9 18/2/41.

Commanders:
Ostubaf. Reitz

Strength:
28/7/4024/77/913

SS-Sonder-Bataillon/SS-Totenkopf-Standarte-Prag

At Prague 5 May 1940 and 28 Jul 1940. Did this later become SS-Wach-Abt. Prag? Landwehr gives the formation date of the latter unit as April 1941.

Commanders:
Hstf. Dr. Buchegger

Strength:
28/7/406/78/867

SS-Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarte

Formed 15 Sep 1939 (or in Berlin for deployment) in Poland with four squadrons. Enlarged to nine squadrons by 15 Dec 40 plus two batteries of horse artillery. Divided 21 May 1940 into SS-Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarte 1 and 2.

Commanders:
SS-Staf. Hermann Fegelein

Strength:
15/12/39587
19401584

Europa

FtF: Sep I 39: WK XI garrison: 1-8 Cav III TK (SS)
Nov I 39: Transfer from WK XI garrison to General Government Garrison

SS-Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarte 1

SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 1 (25 Feb 1941)

Formed 21 May 40 in Warsaw from elements of the SS-TK-Reiterstandarte with 5, later 7, squadrons and a reitende batterie (horse artillery battery). Reconsolidated with SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 2 6 Dec 40 to form SS-Totenkopf-Kavallerie-Regiment 1?

Commanders:
SS-Staf. Hermann Fegelein

Strength:
28/7/4054/190/1829

SS-Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarte 2

SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 2 (25 Feb 1941)

Formed 21 May 40 in Lublin from elements of SS-TK Reiterstandarte with 6, later 7 squadrons. Reconsolidated with SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 1 6 Dec 40 to form SS-Totenkopf-Kavallerie-Regiment 1?

Commanders:
SS-Stubaf. Franz Magill

Strength:
28/7/4031/114/1511

SS-Totenkopf-Rekruten-Standarte

Formed 27/10/39 from SS-Totenkopfstandarte 1 Oberbayern with 4 Sturmbannen. III. and IV. confirmed in Dachau. I. and II. Sturmbannen were incorporated into SS-Totenkopfstandarten 7 and 6 sometime in 1940 as the II. Sturmbann of each Standarte respectively. III. and IV. Sturmbannen absorbed by SS-Totenkopfstandarte 16 and SS-Totenkopfstandarte 14 respectively 24/4/40.

SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Erstaz-Battalion I

SS-Panzergrenadier und Ausbildungs Btl. 3 (Apr 1943)

Formed 1939.

SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Erstaz-Battalion II

Formed 1939, disbanded winter 1942/1943.

SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Erstaz-Battalion III

SS-Panzergrenadier-Ersatz-Bataillon III Totenkopf (12/42)

Formed 1 Sep 1941 from Feldersatz-Battalion Division Totenkopf

SS-Totenkopf-Ergänzungs Sturmband III

A reserve horse-drawn pioneer formation stationed in Breslau that was raised in 1938. Served under 1. and 2. Reiter (Cavalry) Brigades in East Prussia and Silesia and then under VIII. Corps in Poland and France. It was poorly armed, including water-cooled MG 08/15 machine-guns. Disbanded September 1940.

Bibliography:

Landwehr, Richard. "A Guide to the SS-Totenkopf-Standarten" Siegrunen. Vol. 1:3-6, Aug 77,
Ibid. "Formation of the 4. SS-Totenkopfstandarte Ostmark (SS Inf.Rgt. 4)" Siegrunen. Vol. 4:6, March 1981
Ibid. "Formation of the SS-Totenkopf Reiter Standarten, 1939-40" Siegrunen. Vol. 6:3, January-March 1984
Ibid. "Special Guard Battalions and Companies of the Waffen-SS" Siegrunen. Vol. 5:4, January 1982
Ibid. "The SS Heimwehr Danzig" Siegrunen. Vol. 5:4, January 1982
Ibid. "The SS Infantry Regiment 4 on the Leningrad Front" SR Newsletter. Issue 1, January 1982
Ibid. "SS-Inf.Rgt. 4 on the Eastern Front in the Winter of 1941-42" Siegrunen. Vol. 6:1, July-September 1983
Ibid. "Units of the Waffen-SS: The SS-Totenkopf Ergaenungs Sturmband III" Siegrunen. Vol. 9:4, September 1991
Munoz, Antonio J. Forgotten Legions: Obscure Combat Formations of the Waffen-SS
Niehorster, Dr. Leo W. G. German World War II Organizational Series; Volume 3/II: Mechanized GHQ Units and Waffen-SS Formations (22nd June 1941)
Snydor, Charles W. Jr. Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-45; 2nd edition
Stein, George H. The Waffen SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War, 1939-1945
Tessin, Georg. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945
Yerger, Mark. Knights of Steel: The Structure, Development and Personalities of the 2. SS-Panzer Division Das Reich
Ibid. Riding East: the SS Cavalry Brigade in Poland and Russia 1939-1942


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