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This Division was formed in December, 1940. Initially, the Division was
called Germania but the title of the unit was changed to Wiking in January,
1941. In February, a Finnish Volunteer unit was raised and attached to the
Division (For more about this specific foreign unit, please look under the
section on German foreign units in the section on Finland). Training for
the Division took part at Truppen-Ubungsplatz Heuberg. The Division
was ready for action in April, 1941.
Wiking first saw action as a part of Army Group South fighting for Tarnopol in Galacia on June 29th, 1941. In August, 1941, the Division fought on the Dnieper River in attempts to establish a bridgehead. Soon after, the Division moved through Dnepropetrovsk and on to Rostov. In the Winter of 1941, the Division moved back to the line of the Mius River where is spent the Winter months.
When the Germans launched offensives in the Spring and Summer of 1942, Wiking fought into and through the Caucasus region, pushing very far South. Wiking stayed in the Caucasus region until the Spring of 1943.
In the Wiking Division, as was common with many Divisions, elements were added and removed many times throughout its existance. the Nordland Regiment was removed to help establish another Waffen SS Division, as were elements of the Division that contained Scandinavian members. Also, Narwa, an Estonian unit, was transfered to the Division and then removed in 1944.
In October, 1943, the Division was renamed as a full Panzer Division. In the Summer and Fall of 1943, the Division fought in defensive operations in the Area of Kharkov and the Dnieper River. When the Soviets launched their massive offensive against the German Army Group Center in June, 1944, Wiking was one of many Divisions that was trapped in numerous pockets that were created as the Soviets rushed Westward towards the Reich. Wiking was trapped in the Cherkassy Pockets, and being the only Panzer unit in that pocket, sprearheaded an attempt to break out. At the time, an independant foreign formation, Wallonien, was a part of Wiking. Although the Divisision managed to break out, it lost all it Armor and a great deal of equipment and personnel while doing so.
The remaining men and equipement that managed to survive the Cherkassy Pocket were formed into a Kampfgruppe that was soon transfered to Poland and amaglamatd into a reformed 5.SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking". At the same time that Wiking was reformed, the Soviets had pushed all the way to the Vistula River and to Warsaw in Poland. Wiking took part in the desperate attempts along with the 3.SS.Panzer-Division "Totenkopf" and the Heer 19.Panzer-Division to stem the Soviet advance. Wiking helped to push the Soviets out of Warsaw and back across the Vistula River where the Front stabilized until January, 1945.
Wiking was pulled from Warsaw in December, 1944, and transfered south for the attempted break-through to Budapest to rescuse 45,000 trapped Germans located in that City. Wiking pushed forward for two weeks, but could not reach the city against massive Soviet strenght and resources. Wiking then fought to the West of Budapest in more defensive operations, moving into the area of Czechoslovakia, where the Division surrendered to the Soviets in May, 1945.
The Wiking Division was well known not only for being a fierce and bitter fighting unit, but because a great number of its members were not German, but were foreign volunteers from many other Western and Northern European Countries. The following listings is a general break-down of the foreigners in the ranks of Wiking.
Holland: 631 Dutchman were reported in the Westland Infantry Regiment in June, 1941.
Flanders (Flemish Speaking Belgium): Members of this area were found mainly in the Westland Infantry Regiment.
Norway: 294 Norwegians were reported in the Division on June 22, 1941, in the Nordland Infantry Regiment. According to some, another unit was made up of Norwegian members, the SS Freiwilligen Panzer Grenadier Abteilung, but others state that it was a part of Regiment Nordland, and not independent.
Denmark: 216 Danes were reported in the Nordland Infantry Regiment in June, 1941. Another Danish unit was reported to have been formed called Danmark which may have been a special unit.
Switzerland: Conflicting information gives the Swiss contribution to this Division as being either a single individual, while another records the level at 800.
Finland: 421 Finns were in the Division in 1941, and the Finish Volunteer Battalion was added in 1942.
Sweden: Varying numbers of Swedes are said to have served in the Division.
Estonia: Estonians served in the SS Panzer Grenadier Abteilung Narwa.
Wallonia: (French speaking Belgium)- Wallonian membes served in the SS Strumbrigade Wallonien.
Volksdeutsche: Some divisional replacements were drawn from Volkdeutsche in the Balkans region, and a few other locations.
Wiking Panthers in Russia
Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner, 12.01.40 - 5.01.43
Obergruppenführer Herbert Gille, 5.01.43 - 8.06.44
Oberführer Edmund Deisenhofer, 8.06.44 - 8.??.44
Standartenführer Rudulf Mühlenkamp, 8.??.44 - 10.09.44
Oberführer Karl Ullrich, 10.09.44 - 5.05.45