Walter Harzer

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Walter Harzer
Born 29 September 1912
Stuttgart-Feuerbach
Died 29 May 1982(1982-05-29) (aged 69)
Stuttgart
Allegiance  Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1931-1945
Rank Oberführer (Senior Colonel)
Unit SS-Standarte Deutschland
Commands held 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen, 4.SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division.
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuz

SS-Oberführer (Senior Colonel) Walter Harzer (September 29, 1912 – May 29, 1982) was a German Waffen-SS officer who served in the SS-Standarte Deutschland and later commanded the 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen and 4.SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany. After the war, he became active in the veteran's association HIAG.

Early Life - Pre-War SS Service[edit]

Walter Harzer was born in Stuttgart-Feuerbach on 29 September 1912. In spring 1933, Walter joined Politische Bereitschaft (SS Political Readiness Detachment) in Württemberg and in October 1933 also the German Army. He was assigned to the 13.(Württemburgisches) Infanterie-Regiment, eventually reaching the rank of Gefreiter (Private). In March 1934 the 23-year old Harzer joined SS-Verfügungstruppe, graduating from the new SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz in 1936. After his graduation he was assigned to the SD-Hauptamt and later the SS-Standarte Deutschland.

Early World War II[edit]

With Deutschland, Harzer participated in the invasion of Poland and was awarded the Iron Cross II Class. However, on 1 November 1939 instead of continuing on with his regiment, Harzer was transferred as a Tactics Instructor to the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig and later to the SS-Unterführerschule Radolfzell. He remained instructor until 12 June 1941 when he was assigned as a commander to the II./SS-Infanterie-Regiment 4. It was with this unit Harzer received the Iron Cross I Class Iron Cross I class. From mid-1942 until April 1943 Walter served as a staff officer first with the LVII.Panzerkorps and later, after completing the General Staff Course, with the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 10, later renamed the 10.SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg.

Hohenstaufen[edit]

On 10 April 1943, Harzer was assigned to the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 9 (from 23 October 1943 the 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen). The title Hohenstaufen came from the Hohenstaufen dynasty, a Germanic noble family who produced a number of kings and emperors in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is believed that the division was named specifically after Friedrich II, who lived from 1194-1250. He remained with the division for 19 months and saw it to become a fully equipped Panzer Division. He proved himself to be an excellent staff and combat officer during the division’s relief attack on Tarnopol and later during the Allied attacks on Caen. On 19 August 1944, Harzer was decorated with the German Cross in Gold for his exemplary leadership during the operations in Normandy.

As the 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen was ordered for a refit in the Netherlands, Walter Harzer became its fifth commander, taking over for SS-Oberführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock. The division reached Arnhem on 9 September 1944, where they were to hand most of its vehicles and heavy equipment to Frundsberg in preparation for a move to Germany for refitting. However on Sunday 17 September 1944, the Allies launched Operation Market-Garden. Harzer’s division was heavily engaged in the Battle of Arnhem, and played a key role in preventing the main body of the British 1st Airborne Division from linking up with the small force under Lt-Colonel John Frost at Arnhem Road Bridge, thus preventing them from securing a bridgehead across the Rhine. Under Harzer's command the division then played a major part in the near total destruction of the 1st Airborne at Oosterbeek, an achievement for which Harzer was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

End of War & Postwar[edit]

On 10 October 1944 Harzer left Hohenstaufen and went on to become the Chef des Stabes V SS Mountain Corps before receiving the command of the 4.SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division at the end of November 1944. Together with the rest of this division SS-Oberführer Walter Harzer surrendered himself to the Americans near Wittenberge-Lenzen on 8 May 1945.

After the war Walter Harzer worked as a historian for HIAG and died after a heart failure in Stuttgart hospital on 29 May 1982.

Personal life[edit]

Summary of SS career[edit]

Dates of rank[edit]

Notable decorations[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Oberführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock
Commander of 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen
29 August 1944 - 10 October 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Brigadeführer Sylvester Stadler
Preceded by
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Schmedes
Commander of 4th SS Polizei Division
27 November 1944 - March 1945
Succeeded by
SS-Standartenführer Fritz Göhler
Preceded by
SS-Standartenführer Fritz Göhler
Commander of 4th SS Polizei Division
March 1945 - 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
none