I SS Panzer Corps

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I SS Panzer Corps
S SS-Pz Abt 101.jpg
Unit insignia
Active27 July 1943 – 8 May 1945
Country Germany
BranchFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
TypePanzer corps
RoleArmoured warfare
EngagementsWorld War II
Josef Dietrich
Fritz Kraemer
Georg Keppler
Hermann Priess

The I SS Panzer Corps (German: I.SS-Panzerkorps) was a German armoured corps of the Waffen-SS. It saw action on both the Western and Eastern Fronts during World War II.

Formation and training[edit]

The corps was raised on 26 July 1943 in Berlin-Lichterfeld, with initial mustering taking place on the Truppenübungsplatz at Beverloo, in occupied Belgium.[1] SS-Obergruppenführer Sepp Dietrich, previously the commander of the SS Division Leibstandarte (LSSAH), became the corps' first commander.[2]

In August 1943, the corps was transferred to Meran in Italy, where it took part in operations to disarm Italian troops. After this, the corps continued its training, being sporadically engaged in anti-partisan operations in northern Italy. By December 1943, the corps was fully formed and deemed ready for action, with its HQ being set up in Brussels in early 1944.[2]

Operational history[edit]

Western Front: Normandy[edit]

In April 1944, the corps was moved to Septeuil, to the west of Paris, where it was assigned the SS Division Leibstandarte, SS Division Hitlerjugend, Panzer-Lehr-Division and the SS Division Götz von Berlichingen. The corps was attached to 5th Panzer Army, the Western theatre's armoured reserve.

With the launch of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of France on 6 June 1944, the corps was ordered to Falaise. The Hitlerjugend engaged British and Canadian troops to the north of Caen on 8 June. The corps was tasked with holding the area of Caen and saw heavy fighting around the villages of Authie, Buron and the airport at Carpiquet.[3]

After the launch of the American Operation Cobra, which destroyed the Panzer Lehr Division, the corps was ordered to take part in Operation Lüttich, the abortive counter-offensive towards Avranches.[4] The corps was caught in the Falaise Pocket, where they fought to maintain a corridor for the trapped German forces, losing all their armour and materiel in the process. After the collapse of the front, the corps retreated to the Franco-German border.[5]

Battle of the Bulge[edit]

In early October 1944, the corps was pulled back from the front line for rest and refit in Westfalen. Refitting was complete by early December, and it was ordered to the Ardennes region to join Sepp Dietrich's Sixth SS Panzer Army, in preparation for an offensive codenamed Wacht Am Rhein, and the ensuing Battle of the Bulge. The corps played a major role in the battle with Kampfgruppe Peiper of the Leibstandarte forming a mobile spearhead.[6] After several weeks heavy fighting with severely limited fuel supplies, and heavy Allied air attacks, the corps was exhausted. The offensive had to be called off. Kampfgruppe Peiper became infamous during the battle for the murder of U.S. prisoners of war in what became known as the Malmedy massacre.[7] In the wake of the defeat, the corps along with the remainder of Dietrich's Army, was moved to Hungary.[8]

Hungary and Austria[edit]

The corps, composed of LSSAH and Hitlerjugend SS divisions, was instrumental in one of the last successful German offensives, Operation Southwind, eliminating the Sovjet bridgehead west of the Garam in February 1945. The Germans then launched a pincer movement north and south of Lake Balaton as part of Operation Spring Awakening on 6 March 1945. This area included some of the last oil reserves still available to the Axis. The attack was spearheaded by the 6th SS Panzer Army and included the corps, made up of elite units such as the LSSAH and Hitlerjugend SS divisions. Dietrich's army made "good progress" at first, but as they drew near the Danube, the combination of the muddy terrain and strong Soviet resistance ground them to a halt.[9] On 16 March, the Soviets forces counterattacked in strength, which forced the entire southern front to retreat towards Vienna. The German forces, including the LSSAH and the Hitlerjugend divisions could not hold Vienna, which fell to the Soviet forces on 13 April.[10] The Germans units then retreated into Hungary.[11] Thereafter, the bulk of the LSSAH surrendered to US forces near Steyr and the SS Division Hitlerjugend surrendered to US troops near the town of Enns, Austria on 8 May 1945.[12]


Orders of battle[edit]

6 June 1944 (Normandy)

16 December 1944 (Battle of the Bulge)

6 March 1945 (Operation Spring Awakening)



  1. ^ Reynolds 2007, p. 16.
  2. ^ a b Cook & Bender 1994, p. 421.
  3. ^ Milner, Marc, "Stopping the Panzers: Reassessing the Role of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division in Normandy, 7-10 June 1944.", Journal of Military History 74.2 (2010): 491-522. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
  4. ^ Kingseed, Cole, "Operation Cobra: Prelude to breakout", Military Review 74.7 (1994): 64. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
  5. ^ Reardon, Mark, "Hell in the Hedgerows", World War II 20.8 (2005): 30-38. History Reference Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
  6. ^ Westemeier 2007, pp. 107, 108.
  7. ^ Westemeier 2007, pp. 114–119.
  8. ^ Seaton 1971, p. 537.
  9. ^ Stein 1984, p. 238.
  10. ^ Dollinger 1967, p. 198.
  11. ^ Dollinger 1967, p. 182.
  12. ^ McNab 2009, p. 182.


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  • Dollinger, Hans (1967) [1965]. The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. New York: Bonanza Books. ISBN 978-0517013137.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.
  • Reynolds, Michael. Men of Steel: I SS Panzer Corps: The Ardennes and Eastern Front
  • Reynolds, Michael. (2007). Steel Inferno: I SS Panzer Corps in Normandy. Spellmount Books. ISBN 978-1-86227-410-5.
  • Seaton, Albert (1971). The Russo-German War, 1941–45. New York: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-21376-478-4.
  • Stein, George (1984) [1966]. The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939–1945. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9275-0.
  • Westemeier, Jens (2007). Joachim Peiper: A Biography of Himmler's SS Commander. Schiffer Publications. ISBN 978-0-7643-2659-2.