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The summer of 1944 saw the beginning of long awaited battles begin. The Allied landings in France, and the Soviet offensive against Army Group Middle. From now till the end of the war the Waffen SS would be in constant action and its strength would dwindle accordingly. Replacements and refits were few and far between, and always inadequate. At the time of the Normandy landings the four Waffen SS divison's in the West were widely scattered. LAH was in Belgium, Hitlerjugend [HJ] west of Paris, Get von Berlichingen [Gv B] was at Thomas, and Das Reich near the Spanish border.
The German reaction was to have HJ launch an immediate center attack. At the conclusion of this, the Germans were able to hold the Allies to little gain with extreme cost to what they earned. Soon Das Reich and Gv B were at the front. Recognizing that forces were lacking, German command ordered Hohenstaufen and Frundsberg from Poland to Normandy. By 29. June both were in line, and on the July 11, LAH was released from reserve.
On June 12. and 26. , and July 18. the British and Canadians launched major offensives, however all were contained. On the 25. of July the Americans launched theirs but with different results. Das Reich and Gv B were encircled temporarily but were able to cut across Americans lines and save most of their men and equipment.
The Germans now made a series of blunders which exasperated an already bad situation. With American tanks circling from behind and the British pushing forward, the Germans were being forced into a vulnerable and narrow pocket near False. The Germans had two options. Either cut off the Americans by attacking towards Avranches and cut them off, or withdraw. They did nothing, for ten days. When the attack towards Avalanches was launched, it was too little, too late.
Meanwhile the Mortain line was growing unstable by the day, and the order to move was given. LAH joined with Das Reich, Gv B and the Army's' 2. and 116. Panzer Divisions on August 6. The expected move was easily held by the Americans. The Germans were now in a worse position prior to the attack.
With three of their strongest units west of Mortain they could only watch the jaws of the pincers close. Now was a race against time. They immediately began withdrawing units before it was too late. Gv B was pulled out on August 15. LAH and Frundsberg shortly after; HJ, Das Reich, and Hohenstaufen remained in the north of the pocket. By the end of August only HJ was still fighting.
Even though they all managed to escape they were in dire condition. Das Reich had 15 panzers, HJ 10, and LAH none. Meanwhile, 4. SS Panzer Korps in the east was fighting with success since mid July. At the close of August, until October, Totenkopf and Wiking were on the Vistula fighting Russians to a standstill. At the end of October, the front was quiet enough to pull them back into reserve.
In the west, there was no such luxury. Frundsberg took up positions around Arnhem, and Hohenstaufen was sent to Germany. But the Allies launched Market Garden and the 1. British Airborne dropped on top of the two. The plan was to relieve Arnhem after three days. However on the 12 th day, 2.
SS Panzer Korps was wiping away the last resistance east of the Rhein. With this failure Hitler thought the Allies in the west were in a weakened position. He devised a plan to push through the Ardennes, cross the Meuse and capture Antwerp. This would cut off the British and Canadian 21.
Group and force them into a second super Dunkirk. Even though the plan had a small chance of success several factors had to be meet. First was the suppression of Allied air supremacy, capture gasoline supplies and finally Blitzkrieg style attack. Incident weather did keep the planes down for the opening stages, however when the weather did clear the Luftwaffe had no chance what so ever to challenge them. Fuel was lacking on such a scale that opportunities were forgone to search for fuel. And finally the leaders of 1940 were no longer there.
Guderain and Man stein were replaced by Dietrich and Paper. LAH and HJ were in the first line of attack. On December 16. they were to attack with Das Reich and Hohenstaufen [ 2. SS Panzer Korps] who would be released once the advance of the First started to lag.
The day of the attack saw LAH breakthrough and HJ stopped entirely. Three days later LAH was 20 miles to the west and out of fuel, HJ, had gotten no where. Hohenstaufen was now commited to the battle some days earlier then planned. On December 20, the next day, HJ was brought around south in an attempt to outflank the Americans. The same day, again much earlier then planned, Das Reich was released to support 560. Volkgrenadier Division to the south.
By the 23. HJ was bled white, had advanced a mere seven miles and was pulled off the line. Hohenstaufen had advanced the furthest of the SS, to Salmchtatean, which isnt even half way to the Meuse. Das Reich was the only one still moving and was attacking repeatedly to the north.
However it was forced westward and was eventually stopped. The next day reinforced with Hohenstaufen and a regiment of grenadiers attacked another five miles to the west. What was left of HJ and LAH, which had been trying to wipe out Bastogne, joined the retreat to the west. The new year saw the situation on all fronts increasingly desperate. Men which had been pulled out of units all along the front to strengthen the failed offensive now had to face the Allied offensive. Frundsberg near Aachen and Gv B in the Saar had seen some fighting but were in decent shape.
RFSS was still falling back in Italy, but in Hungary a disaster was unfolding. In mid-December a Soviet offensive had encircled 9. SS Korps (the incomplete 22 SS Kav Division and a few army units) in Budapest. To relieve them Wiking and Totenkopf which were behind the Vistula were pulled out and sent south. The 4.
SS Panzer Korps was the only reserve on the front, so when the Russians attacked the whole front collapsed and wasnt stopped until the Oder. While Germany was being attacked on both sides the best German formations were being wasted on Budapest. Totenkopf which got as close as the airport, was for some unknown reason sent north of the city. Instead of giving up Hungary and withdrawing all troops, Hitler ordered another attack. To do this the Waffen SS units which were the reserves in the west were pulled out and wasted on a vain attack. Frundsberg which was knocked around for three months near Aachen and sent to the Oder, only to be swept aside when the Soviets crossed.
Hohenstaufen which had lost most of its equipment in heavy fighting around Houtalize was sent to help bolster the helpless situation in Hungary. In the end LAH and HJ, Das Reich and Hohenstaufen, and Wiking and Totenkopf, the First, Second, and Fourth SS Panzer Korps respectively saw the last of their strength bled from them around Budapest. They first retreated to Vienna, then north and finally west to surrender to the western allies. LAH, HJ, RFSS, Hohenstaufen and Totenkopf all surrendered in Austria. Das Reich, Frundsberg, and Wiking in Czechoslovakia, Prinz Eugen in the Balkans, Gv B in southeast Germany, and Nordland in Berlin.
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