The Nordland Regiment
joined the Wiking Division upon its formation on the 1st December 1940 and remained until 1943.
The Nordland Regiment was primarily composed of Danes and Norwegians. In addition, a contigent of
835 Finns attached to the
"Finnische Freiwilligen Bataillon der Waffen-SS" (Finnish Volunteer Battalion)
were also incorporated into the Wiking Division. The majority were in the Nordland Regiment.
On March 22, 1943 the
SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment Nordland was withdrawn and used as a cadre for
the SS Division Nordland. The Estonian SS Battalion Narwa was attached to the Wiking where it
remained until July 1944. The Estonian unit was transfered to the "20. Waffen-Gren Div der SS."
Nordland Cuff Title
Originally Nordland members wore the early RZM pattern cuffband with the Latin script characters.
The Latin script was machine embroidered on a black woven rayon band. The script was
done in silver/grey cotton thread. The band has bordered top and bottom edges of
seven horizontal strands made of silver/aluminum threads.
The RZM pattern for officers was in hand-embroidered form and flatwire woven.
Later in 1943, members of the Nordland Division received the BeVo woven cufftitle although many still wore the old RZM style cufftitle.
Division der SS Nordland
In March 1943
the SS Nordland Regiment was detached from the SS Wiking Division (its replacement was taken
over by a battalion of Estonians). The Nordland Regiment and volunteers from their prospected
homelands were incorporated into a new division the
"11. SS Panzer-Grenadier Nordland Division."
It originally consisted of three regiments: Dutch, Danish and Norwegian. In May 1943, these
three regiments were sent to Grafenwohr training camp in Bavaria. The Dutch Regiment was
removed in order to form a separate organized division because it contained the largest contingent
of volunteers. Several ethnic-Germans from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Balkans filled its
place through agreements held between the Personnel Office of the Waffen-SS under SS-Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger and the various countries. The ethnic Germans that were recruited enabled the
Waffen-SS to greatly expand in size. These ethnic Germans were incorporated into a new battalion,
which was designated "SS Pz-Abt 11 Herman von Salza" (11th SS Tank Detachment). The other two
remaining regiments: "SS Grenadier Regiment 1 Danmark," were composed of volunteers from the
Freikorps Danmark while the "SS Grenadier Regiment 2, Norge" included former members from the Norwegian Legion.
23. SS Pz-Gren Rgt Norge & 24. SS Pz-Gren Rgt Danmark
Servicemen from the Wiking Division were assigned cuffbands to represent the different nationalities and unit designations
of the Division. The following cuff titles were issued: DANMARK, NORGE, HERMAN VON SALZA and NORDLAND. In addition, the collar patch "Sonnrad"
(sunwheel) was issued to the Danish and Norwegian contingent of the division, although the "SS" Runic patch was widely preferred.
Also, the Danish and Norwegian volunteers wore the SS issued nationality sleeve shield on their shoulders.
On 28 August 1943, the 11th SS Pz-Gren Nordland Division under the divisional command of SS-Brigf u Gen.
Maj. Fritz von Scholtz accompanied the rest of III (Germanische) SS-Panzerkorps on its journey to Croatia.
By mid-September, the SS Division Nordland was deployed to northern Croatia in the Sisak-Petrinja region
where it was engaged in anti-Partisan activities.
On 12 November, the Danish and Norwegian units were
officially designated as
"23. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Norge,"and "24. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment
Danmark," By 25 November, the III (Germanische) SS-Panzerkorps departed for the Eastern Front from Croatia.
By early December, the Nordland Division was tasked to protect the Oranienbaum pocket, 25kms south- west
of Leningrad. The Nordland Division was soon caught up in a desperate struggle to stop a massive Russian
breakout from Oranienbaum to the Estonian border.
Interesting picture of Danish volunteer wearing the "Sonnrad" collar tab, Danish SS national shield
and "Danmark" cuffband (pic posted with kind permission of Mr. Holger Thor Nielsen). This
picture is also found in page 235 of German Military Cuffbands by Williamson and McGuirl.
of European Volunteers
On 14 January 1944, the Russians began a massive offensive
on the Oranienbaum and Leningrad Fronts. By late January 1944, the division retreated towards Narva, Estonia.
During the next several months the division fought well in Narva against overwhelming odds in it what was known
as the "Battle of European Volunteers" because of all the different nationalities that participated during the
Battle of Narva. The Nordland Division fought rearguard actions at the Narva bridgehead in Estonia.
The following is an excerpt from the book written by Richard Lanwehr, NARVA 1944: THE WAFFEN-SS AND
THE BATTLE FOR EUROPE, Chapter VIII, The Fight for the Narva Bridghead.
On 1 and 2 February 1944, the formations of the III. SS Panzer Corps had begun moving into the
Narva bridgehead area with the forces of the 47th, 2nd Storm and 8th Soviet Armies right on
their heels. The commanders of "Nordland" and "Nederland," Brigadeführers von Schulz and
Wagner, were forced to reassemble their troops as quickly as possible. I. Battalion/SSRgt.
"Danmark" led by Hstuf. Per Sorensen, took up positions around the main Narva-Jamburg road.
To the north of I. "Danmark" were the battalions of the "Nederland" Brigade, while to the south, were
more soldiers from the "Nordland" Division. Placed at the key points in the rather flimsy
front, were Tiger tanks from the Army Heavy Tank Detachment 502 and 1st Company/SS Panzer
Detachment "HvS "/Div. "Nordland." Along with them were the assault guns from "Nordland" and
"Nederland." They absorbed the weight of the early battles for the bridgehead.
During the 6 and 7 of March there were massive Soviet aerial bombardments, which cause a great destruction to the city of Narva. Below are some
remarkable pictures taken by the Swedish SS-Kreigsberichter Hans-Caspar Kreuger
(from the collection of Soren Nielsen):
SS Danish volunteers riding on a German motorcycle. Notice the sidecar has the Nordland emblem and below the Danish national flag.
Next is a picture of Germanic volunteers enjoying a day of rest and drinking.
The Narva bridgehead showing on your left the "Hermmansburg" Castle with the tower partially
destroyed. The "Ivangorod" citadel ilustrated on your right side is completely destroyed.
"Hermannsburg" castle shown on your right.
These images illustrate the destruction of the inner city.
In the meantime, in early April 1944 after heavy losses, the Waffen-SS High Command decided to remove one battalion
each from the "Danmark" and "Norge" Regiments for refitting, included veteran experienced Officer's and NCO's
from the Nordland. Therefore remnants of the first battalion of "I/SS-Pz-Gren Rgt 24 Danmark" and "I/SS-Pz-Gren
Rgt 23 Norge" were withdrawn.
In summer of 1944 both battalions were marched to training ground at Hammerstein
in Western Prussia where they refitted with mostly volkdeutsche from Eastern Europe and Werhmacht soldiers from
various retired units. "The I/SS-Pz-Gren Rgt 24 Danmark" had only about 350 Danish men while the "I/SS-Pz-Gren Rgt
23 Norge" only less then 50 Norwegians. The two battalions would never returned to the Nordland Division, instead
they were transported to the "IV SS Pz-Korps" in Modlin in order to relieve some of "Westland" positions. Both
battalions were assigned to "5. SS-Panzer Division Wiking" although the "Norge" also subordinated to the "Totenkoph"
Division. In December 1944, both battalions participated in the Budapest relief attempts. Both battalions would
remain with the Wiking Division as independent units until the end of the war.
Nordland BeVo Cuff Band
By 1943, those members of the division
not entitled to wear their own unit cuffband received the machine woven "Nordland" cuffband shown above. The cuffband was
made by the famous German company BeVo of Wuppertal. The trade name BeVo was an abbreviation of the word "Beteiligung"
(partnership) and "Vorsteher" (name of owners). The reverse shows the recognisable "salt & pepper" design.
By July 1944, the Nordland Division begun withdrawing from Narva to the secondary defensive lines 25kms due west of
the River Narva, known as the Tannenberg Positions. The Tannenberg defensive lines were anchored by a series of
three hills, running west to east as follows: Hill 69.9, Grenadier Hill and Orphanage Hill.
The hill referred as the Orphanage Hill was a strategic point that protected the rear side of the city of Narva.
In heavy fighting the SS "Norge" Regiment and a Panzer Group formation "Strachwitz" were able to hold against
overwhelming odds. Eventually, the battered German formations were overrun. By September 1944, the division under
the III (Germanic) SS Armored Corps had withdrawn from Estonia and started defensive positions in Latvia. There it
fought desperate battles for the defense of Riga, Latvia. By 12 October, Riga had been taken over by the Russians.
The remainder of the Nordland's service was like the rest of the German forces in Russia, a story of constant retreat.
It fought three major battles in the westerly retreat through "Kurland" (Courland).
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In January 1945, the division was
evacuated from Baltic Sea port of Libau and shipped to Pomerania. The main body of the division disembarked at Stettin.
The Pz-Abt "Herman Von Salza" was reorganized and shipped to Gotenhafen, south of Danzig. It was then sent to Grafenwohr
for training, returning to the division in Pomerania shortly thereafter. The Nordland Division was reassembled under
11th SS Panzer Army near Stargard in Pomerania. It saw heavy fighting in East Prussia. The division was withdrawn in
mid-March, and was refitted in the northeastern part of Berlin.
On April 18, the division was ordered to Berlin, where
it fought with distinction along with two Spanish companies and a battalion of 300 French volunteers from the "33rd SS
Division "Charlemagne." The remnants of the Nordland Division fought well defending the Reichschancellery until annihilation
on April 1945. The last Commander of the Nordland Division was SS-Brigaderführer Dr. Gustav Krukenberg who was the former
commander of the Charlemagne Division.