Friday, August 7, 2015

SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Waldmüller of SS Hitlerjugend

The strain of battle is evident in the face of SS-Sturmbannführer Johann "Hans" Waldmüller (13 September 1912 – 8 September 1944), commander of I.Bataillon / SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25 / 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend" while fighting in Normandy, June 1944. He is wearing the Italian M29 Telo Mimetico camo smock. Waldmüller joined the SS at an early stage in 1933. After started the career in SD (Sicherheitsdienst), during World War II he was transferred to the elites, the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler, in the Summer of 1940. When a new Waffen-SS division was to be formed in 1943, the 12. SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend", he was selected to be transferred over from the LSSAH as a Bataillonskommandeur. Waldmüller would take part in the fierce fighting in Normandy, where the "Baby Milk" Division would distinguished themselves for their outrageous fighting behavior. An account on one of the fighting: "During the fighting of 8 and 9 June 1944, I. Bataillon lost one NCO and four men killed. Four NCOs and sixteen were wounded. Of them, four NCOs and five men remained with the unit. The following days were remarkable mainly because of the industrious buildings of positions. The numerous fire attacks by enemy artillery forced the Panzer shelters to be constructed like bunkers. They were propped up on the inside with railroad ties from the close-by line Cane-Luc-sur-Mer. Trees had to be cut down to open up fields of fire. Sturmbannführer Waldmüller himself was on his feet day and night, to the point of dropping dead, to supervise and direct the building of the positions. His Bataillon command post, too, was an earth bunker in the open field, just behind the front line. His example, his inexorable insistence saved the lives of many of his men at the time." A second account on the fighting: "SS Major Johann Waldmüller, now the chief of the l. Battalion, stood in the midst of his men, the very soul of resistance," according to Kurt Meyer, his superior. For his bravery and excellent leadership he was recommended and awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes on 27 August 1944. But he was killed not long after that, gruesomely mutilated by the Belgian partisans. On 8 september, 1944, while driving on his sidecar together with SS-Untersturmführer Karl Marquard, he got ambushed near Basse-Bodeux on the road from Werbomont to Stavelot. The belgian partisans had positioned a rope on the road and when the vehicle neared they tightened the rope. The cycle was brought to a halt - either stopped or caught in the cable - and was immediatly put under fire. Soon later, horse-drawn carriages from Waldmüller's unit discovered the horror. The driver of the cycle was found, seriously wounded, on the left side of the road. In the cycle itself sat SS-Untersturmführer Marquard dead in the rear seat. He was shot in the head. SS-Sturmbannführer Waldmüller was discovered a little further, mutilated and dumped. His belly had been slit open, genitals cut off and dumped in a drainage pipe of a small lake. Both men were buried in Düren and still are. Photo by SS-Kriegsberichter Wilfried Woscidlo

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