“HORST WESSEL” The Combat History of the 18.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division covers the combat histories of two units, the 1.SS-Infanterie Brigade (mot) and the 18.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Horst Wessel”. The 1.SS-Infanterie Brigade (mot) was employed at the central and southern parts of the Eastern Front from the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union in June 1941 until end 1943/beginning 1944. Its combat trail led through the following areas: Jul 1941 – Lwow (Lemberg). Aug/Sep 41 – Korosten, Dec 41 – Kremenchug, Dec 41 – Brjansk, Dec – Aug 42 Kursk, Aug – Nov 42 – Borissov, Dec 42 – Newel, Oct 43 – Smolensk, Nov/Dec 43 – Bobruisk. End 1943/Beginning 1944 - transfer to Stablach, East Prussia for refitting.
While refitting it was decided that the brigade’s remnants would be used as the nucleus of the new 18.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Horst Wessel”. They were transferred to Croatia in the spring of 1944 for the establishment of the new division.
The “Horst Wessel” division had a unique history. Filling its ranks proved difficult and it never reached its authorized strength, or received all necessary equipment. The intent to form it from Hungarian Volksdeutsche failed because not enough volunteers stepped forward. Only a new Hungarian law made it possible for the Germans to draft the Hungarian Volksdeutsche. While forming and training, the division had to send off battle groups to take part in various battles, a practice that continued until the end of the war. As a result, it never fought as a complete division. Generally, its combat path led through the following areas: Mar 1944 – Occupation of Hungary (operation Margarethe), May 1944 – transfer to the Batschka, Jul – Aug 44 – Defensive fighting ion Galicia, Sep/Oct 1944 – combatting the Insurrection in Slovakia, Nov 44 – Jaszbereny, Hungary, Dec 44 – Matra Mountains, Feb 45 Slovakia and Czech Republic, Mar – May 45 Southwest Poland and Southeast Germany. May 45 – Surrender.
Wilhelm Tieke has done an excellent job of researching and writing a very readable book that combines the operations of the division with the personal accounts of its soldiers. Long overdue, this volume should be an asset to any WW II library.