SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

HEINZ  HARMEL  (3985-1994)
General, Waffen SS


During the Battle of France 1940, Harmel fought with his company in the Netherlands and France, where he received the IRON CROSS (2nd) then the IRON CROSS (1st) as well as the Infantry Assault Badge.  Then, HARMEL went to the south of France.  1 January 1941, he became commander of the 2nd Battalion of the SS-Infanterie-Regiment "Der Führer".  April 1941, he took part in the Balkans Campaign.  In Belgrade, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (Major).  June 1941, the German offensive (Operation BARBAROSSA) began against the Soviet Union.  With the 2. SS-Panzer-Division "Das Reich"), under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hauser where HARMEL took part in fights near Jelna.  For this action, Harmel was awarded the DEUTSCHES KREUZ in GOLD on 29 November 1941.

    4 December 1941, HARMEL took command of SS-Infanterie-Regiment "Deutschland", whose commander, SS-Oberführer Wilhelm Bittrich, replaced SS-Gruppenführer Paul Hausser as divisional commander when he was seriously wounded.  HARMEL officially became commander of the SS-Infanterie-Regiment "Deutschland" on 18 June 1942.  He was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Colonel) 20 October 1942.  During the winter of 1942-1943, HARMEL struggled with his men near Rzhev-Oskol, with courage and selflessness.  HARMEL participated in the capture of Kharkov on 15 March 1943.  He distinguished himself by attacking with his regiment at night.  To honor these heroic actions, HARMEL received the KNIGHTS CROSS 31 March 1943.  He also received the TANK DESTRUCTION badge which was was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 9 March 1942 to honor individuals who single-handedly destroyed an enemy tank with hand held explosives.  On April 20, 1943, HARMEL was promoted to the rank of SS-Standartenführer (Colonel).  7 September 1943, he received the KNIGHTS CROSS with OAK LEAF and also the FRONTSPANGE in Silver.

     From March 1944 to April 1944, SS-Standartenführer HARMEL followed a training for divisional commanders at Hirschberg.  On April 1944, he took command of the 10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg" and on 18 May 1944 he was promoted to SS-Oberführer.  On 9 September 1944 he was promoted to the rank of SS-Brigadeführer and at 38 years of age, he was respectfully called "Der Alte" (The Old Man) by his men, who were often themselves just teenagers.  The 10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg" theoretically accounted 19,513 men, but it was already greatly reduced by the fighting and never reached this count.

     During the summer 1944, the division moved from the Eastern Front to the Western Front in Normandy.  HARMEL had been ordered to break the enemy's lines and to free the German units, trapped at Falaise Pocket.  August 1944, approximately 125,000 German soldiers of the 7th Army were encircled.  The operation ended with heavy losses and serious damage.  HARMEL was then sent to the Netherlands where he fought for the defense of the Reich against the Allied offensive (Operation Market Garden) and he distinguished himself again during the battle.  After the fights around Nijmegen he was awarded the KNIGHTS CROSS with OAK LEAF and CROSSED SWORDS 15 December 1944.
      His division was then transferred to Alsace where he was ordered to establish a bridgehead to join the Colmar Pocket.  After the failure of the December 1944/January 1945 offensive in Alsace, his division was transferred to the Eastern Front, initially fighting in Pomerania and Brandenburg to hold the Oder Front.  The division was subsequently transferred to Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Middle) where in late April it was ordered to counterattack the forces of Marshal Konev.  Obeying such orders would have resulted in the guaranteed destruction of the division - HARMEL refused.  Called before Generalfeldmarschal Schoerner, he was dismissed from command of the "Frundsberg" division.
     SS-Brigadeführer HARMEL ended the war in May 1945, commanding an ad hoc battle group formed around the 24th SS-Karstjäger, the SS Officer's School at Graz, Austria and other smaller units.  The battle group's mission was to secure the mountain passes along the Austrian - Slovenia border to provide a secure retreat route for German forces fleeing Yugoslavia.  HARMEL's command was one of the last to surrender and did so to the British forces in Austria.