Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Grenadier from Hitlerjugend SS Division Smoking in Normandy

A Grenadier from 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend" lit a cigarette during a pause in the battle. The picture was taken in Normandy front (France) in June 1944 by SS-Kriegsberichter Wilfried Woscidlo. Described as a "Crack Babies" division, the Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth born in 1926, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern Front. The division, with 20,540 personnel, first saw action on June 7, 1944 as part of the German defense of the Caen area during the Normandy campaign. The battle for Normandy took its toll on the division and it came out of the Falaise pocket with a divisional strength of 12,500 men. The division has been criticized for performing inadequately in the opening days of the Normandy campaign. Following the invasion battles, the division was sent to Germany for refitting. On 16 December 1944, it was committed against the US Army in the Battle of the Bulge. After the failure of the Ardennes offensive the division was sent east to fight the Red Army near Budapest. The 12th SS Division eventually withdrew into Austria; on 8 May 1945, the surviving 10,000 men surrendered to the US Army at Enns.The reputation of Hitlerjugend has been affected by war crimes committed by members of the division during the early battles in Normandy.

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