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The Story Of The "Wiking"

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    Name:5th SS Panzer Division Wiking
    Divisions Ärmelband: "WIKING"
    Regiments Ärmelband: "GERMANIA" "NORDLAND" "WESTLAND"
    Nationality:German,Dutch,Flemish,Nowegian,Danish,Swiss,Finn,Sw eden,Estonian,Walloon,Balkan,Ethnic German
    Fight in: Russia,Hungary,Austria
    Knights Cross: 54
    Fate: Surrendered to the British and Soviets in May 1945.
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    Formation and Training
    After the success of the Infanterie-Regiment (mot.) Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, SS-Verfügungstruppen-Division and the SS-Division Totenkopf during the early war campaigns in Poland and the West, it was decided to expand the number of Waffen SS divisions. Due to the influx of foreign volunteers, particularly from Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, a decision was made to form a volunteer division. This unit, originally called Nordische Division (Nr.5), was to be made up of Nordic volunteers mixed with ethnic German Waffen-SS veterans.
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    To this end, the Germania motorised infantry regiment from the SS-Division Verfügungstruppe was removed from the division in late 1940. In December, Germania was dissolved and the troops were used as a basis for the formation of a new SS motorised formation, now to be designated SS-Division (mot.) Germania. During its formative period, the division's name was changed again, to SS-Division (mot.) Wiking in January 1941.In February 1941, the Finnisches Freiwilligen-Bataillon der SS was formed from Finnish veterans of the Winter War. This formation was attached to Wiking, further bolstering its strength.
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    The division was formed around three motorised infantry regiments: Germania, formed mostly from ethnic Germans; Westland, consisting mainly of Dutch and Flemish volunteers; and Nordland, comprised mostly of Danes, Swedes and Norwegians. Command of the newly formed division was given to SS-Brigadeführer Felix Steiner, the brilliant former commander of the Verfügungstruppe's Deutschland Regiment.After its formation was complete, the division was sent to Heuberg, Germany for training. By April 1941, Wiking was deemed combat-ready. It was ordered east in June 1941, to take part in Army Group South's advance into Ukraine during Operation Barbarossa.
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    Operation Barbarossa
    The division was not ready for combat until 29 June 1941, seven days after the launch of the operation. During its first action, near Tarnopol in Galicia, Ukraine, the division acquitted itself well. In August, Wiking was ordered to establish a defensive perimeter around a bridgehead across the Dniepr river. Despite determined enemy attacks, the division held the line. Against stiffening resistance, the division continued its advance towards Rostov-on-Don. It took part in the heavy fighting for Rostov before being ordered back to the Mius River line in November. During 1941, the Heer officers in charge of the deployment of the Wiking were skeptical of its fighting abilities and so were hesitant to commit it to major actions. As the division proved itself again and again in combat, it began to earn the grudging respect of the Heer commanders.
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    After successfully holding the line over the winter of 1941-42, Wiking was ordered to retake Rostov-on-Don and advance into the Caucasus, securing the region's vital oilfields. This attack was known as Operation Maus, and formed a part of Army Group South's offensive Case Blue, aimed at capturing Stalingrad and the Baku oilfields. Launched at the height of summer, the offensive was unexpectedly successful. Within six weeks, Rostov and the entire Don region had been recaptured, and Wiking was driving deep into the Caucasus.
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    The Caucasus
    By late September 1942, Wiking was in a position to launch an assault to capture the vital city of Grozny. Working in cooperation with General der Panzertruppen Traugott Herr's 13.Panzer-Division, a plan was arranged to capture the city. As they reached the Terek River, the Soviet defences solidified. Several obstacle belts had to be breached before the Georgian Road (along which American supplies were transported) could be reached. Realising the difficult situation, Steiner divided his division into four columns, each with separate objectives, but all aimed at breaching the Soviet defences and opening a road to the Caspian Sea.
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    The Nordland regiment was to attack along the Kurp River to Malgobek. The Panzer battalion (Abteilung) Wiking, with elements of the Germania regiment, was to breach the main line of defence and establish a bridgehead. The Westland regiment was to capture the town of Sagopshin, and the division's engineer component, along with the rest of Germania was to advance along the Kurp.
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    The attack got underway on the night of 25-26 September 1942. Nordland's assault soon bogged down, as they realised that not only were they outnumbered by the enemy , but the enemy was also well entrenched in prepared positions. Within thirty minutes, almost half of the men of Nordland had fallen. Despite this, Nordland still captured the hill, and its commander Fritz von Scholz was awarded the Knight's Cross for his actions during the battle. The division finally captured Malgobek on 6 October, however the objective of seizing the capital and opening a road to the Caspian was unreachable. The closest point to Grozny, Hill 701, was captured by the Finnish volunteers (III (finn.) /SS-Infanterie-Regiment (mot) Nordland.) During this operation, Wiking had lost over 1,500 men. Several combat units were reduced to only dozens of men, and as a Wiking veteran later wrote, "Casualties weren't counted anymore, just men left alive."
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    In the first week of November 1942, the division was transferred from the Terek bend to the Urukh-Alagir sector to participate in the renewed attack eastwards, which was attempted in the direction of Ordzhonikidze rather than via Grozny. It ended up arriving just in time to extricate 13th Panzer Division from encirclement at Gisel, after which it took up defensive positions behind the Fiagdon river. The encirclement of Friederich Paulus's 6.Armee at Stalingrad meant that the Caucasus was relegated to a secondary theatre, and when the attempt to relieve Stalingrad failed in the face of further Soviet advances, the entire Caucasian position itself began to come under threat.
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