As I understand it, the German SS was virtually a parallel army to the regular German Army (Wehrmacht) It had its own generals, officer corps, etc. I gather that after the anticipated German victory, the regular army would be disbanded and the SS would twk over. How were the SS divisions named? I read that there was an "Adolf Hitler: division, and another named “Das Reich” (the State). Most armies designate divisions numerically-what made the Germans decide to give them the names of living persons?
Waffen SS divisions did have numbers, actually. “Das Reich” was the 2nd SS Division, Hitlerjugend was the 12th, Totenkopf was the 3rd, and so on. There were 38 in all.
Some of the nicknames were given to the division upon formation; the early ones formed later on. Some were directly related to the nature of the division; the 5th “Wiking” division was actually made of Nordic volunteers. Some were just the idea of the commanding officer or someone involved in forming the division.
From what I gather, the SS divisions were kind of unique in having names, in that from what I can gather, your typical German Army division wasn’t named, although they did have emblems and distinctive insignia.
The SS divisions typically were named and numbered, much like US divisions.
There was a division Werewolf
Living persons? There weren’t many who were named after then-living people, no? Adolf Hitler should be obvious. The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division, aka SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger was named after its commander. He was particularly messed up even by Nazi standards. Kaminsky Brigade, after Bronislav Kaminski, was an unofficial name. Panzer Division Kempf.
Others were named after historical figures who the Nazis emulated. Charlemagne, the House of Hohenstaufen, Skanderbeg, etc. Often the names had something to do with the ethnic or national composition of the troops (in Waffen SS).
Werwolf was a strategic operation.
They weren’t named after living people. The (eventual) division you are referring to was the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Leibstandarte translating roughly as Life Guards as in the Royal Life Guards regiments that have served European nations for centuries, see for example the Life Guards (United Kingdom) and Royal Life Guards (Denmark). The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) began as a formation of 117 men in 1933, was an unnumbered infantry regiment at the outbreak of war with Poland, became a larger motorized infantry regiment that was actually of brigade size but still just called the LSSAH regiment by the invasion of France, was to become a division for Barbarossa and was officially renamed the SS-Division (mot.) LSSAH but never reached full divisional strength until it was pulled back to France in 1943 where it became the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division LSSAH. It wasn’t until later in 1943 when it became the 1. SS-Panzer-Division LSSAH that it actually received a divisional number.
Most of the earlier SS division’s lineages are similar in that they began life as regiments or brigades, grew in strength to divisional size and only received divisional numbers much later in their life. Similarly the II SS Panzer Corps was known simply as the SS Panzer Corps until a second SS Panzer Corps was raised and just to complicate things the new Corps became the I Corps and the existing Corps became II Corps.
The Grossdeutschland Division was a German regular army division that had an official name and no number, the Panzer Lehr Division also had an official name and no number, but unofficially is often referred to as the 130th Panzer Lehr Division as many of its subcomponents were numbered 130.
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I gather that after the anticipated German victory, the regular army would be disbanded and the SS would [take] over. /QUOTE].
NO. The SS were always specials, elite brigades, skunk works, green berets, suicidal fanatics, expendable … (Because their families would know they were fanatics, there’d be less backlash against huge losses in an SS division, than if a regular army was to suffer such losses. So regular army is less expendable… )