6. SS-Gebirgs-Division "Nord"
|IN NORTHERN FINLAND 1941 - 1944|
In Finland between June 1941 - November 1944
|25.5.41 - 20.4.42
10.41 - 30.3.42
1.4. - 20.4.42,
20.4.42 - 15.12.43
15.12.43 - 30.1.44 30.1. - 20.5.44
20.5. - 23.8.44
23.8. - 1.9.44
1.9.44 - 10.3.45
10.3. - 9.5.45
Hans Scheider (acting)
Gustav Lombard (acting)
Franz Schreiber (acting)
SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord" was originally ordered to be formed on 24.2.1941 in Norway from the SS-Polizei-Brigade which consisted of SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 6 and 7. These regiments were reinforced and re-named as SS-Infanterie-Regiment 6 (mot.) and 7 (mot.). On 15.3. the new the Stab / Kampfgruppe and other sub-units were assigned in Germany.
it was clear that SS-Kampfgruppe "Nord"
was far from the effective combat-ready motorized unit it
marched from the Northern Norway to Finnish Lapland for Unternehmen
Barbarossa during June 1941 having some 1.800 motor
vehicles and about 8.000 men. The last elements arrived
in Northern Finland from Germany on 16.6. including for
example artillery and anti-aircraft formations. Units of
the forthcoming division were for the first time together
only a few days before the highly important attack!
SS-Division "Nord" (mot.)
On 17.6.1941 SS-Kampfgruppe was officially re-named as SS-Division "Nord" (mot.) and SS-Brigadeführer Herrmann transferred the command to SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl-Maria Demelhuber. Since 10.6.1941 SS-"Nord" had belonged to General der Kavallerie Hans Feige's XXXVI Armee-Korps together with 169. Infanterie-Division. Finnish 6th Division, a few frontier jäger kompanies and fortress artillery battalion were also attached to Army Korps later for re-taking of the former Finnish village Salla and for advancing to Murmansk railway at Kandalaksa [Kantalahti].
divisional commander mentioned in his first memorandum to
General Feige that his troops were not ready for
such a demanding operation. Although SS-"Nord"
was almost fully motorized and well equipped in paper
there were certain serious lacks in armament and vehicles,
the majority of men were poorly trained and without any
combat experience. Additionally personnel consisted of
strange mix of very young inexperienced soldiers and NCOs
and older rather incompetent reservists who were mainly
Attack to Salla and Alakurtti
The attack of the XXXVI AK started on 1.7.1941 with about 40.600 German and 16.000 Finnish soldiers. Troops had to attack partly through the almost impassable untouched forest wilderness. Landscape was full of small rivers, streams, lakes and large swamps and bogs. For supply units had only a few very weak roads not well suitable for motor vehicles and especially SS-Division "Nord" (mot.) in the middle of the front had serious difficulties.
After a few days almost unsuccessful combat in forests many SS-soldiers lost their nerves and lots of men escaped from the front. Only very hard Prussian discipline prevented the whole units to leave their defensive lines. Critical situation was was solved replacing most incompetent leaders but relationships between personnel of "ordinary" Wehrmacht and "elite" SS became very bad.
the burned village of Salla was captured quite easily
from the north and south by German 169.I.D. when
Finnish 6.D flanked Soviet defences from the south
through roadless wilderness and surprised Soviets east
from Salla at Kairala. Germans' casualties were
especially high compared to any battles of Eastern Front:
over 9.000 men! Due to
very heavy losses, hard Soviet resistance and numerous
fortified defensive lines much weaker attacker had no
power to push Soviet troops away from its positions even
after numerous attempts. Fresh Soviet troops finally stopped
XXXVI AK at Alakurtti - Vilmajärvi area for the
rest of the war.
Attack to Kiestinki and Louhi
In late July and August 1941 units of SS-Division "Nord" (mot.) rested and trained intensively. Between July and September "Nord" was gradually moved away from the front and transferred 140 km south to Kiestinki area. There Maj.Gen. Hj. Siilasvuo's Finnish III Army Corps (III Armeijakunta, III AK) was preparing to continue its attack towards the village of Kiestinki and further to Louhi with its experienced Finnish troops.
The first arrived SS-I.R.6 (mot.) (I. and II./SS-I.R.6 and III./SS-I.R.7) was attached to reinforce Finnish Group J (Ryhmä J) (Commander Lt.Col. J. Turtola, 8.8.41- Col. H. Schreck) which on 14.8.1941 was officially re-named as a temporary Division J (Divisioona J, Div.J) (Commander Col. V. Palojärvi, Chief of Staff Maj. W. Halsti).
On 3.8.1941 also Panzer-Abteilung z.b.V 40 (Stab and 2.Pz.Kp.), SS-Feld-Artillerie-Regiment "Nord" with two light field artillery battalions and two separate German field artillery battalions as well as MG-Bataillon was moved away from Salla front and subordinated to III AK. Motorized and armoured units were primarily subordinated to fast group called Detachment Somersalo / Group J (Osasto Somersalo) (Lt.Col. A. Somersalo).
[About units of SS-"Nord" attacking with Finish troops.]
On 18.8.1941 the grouping of SS-"Nord" was as follows:
SS-"Nord" was officially subordinated to Finnish III AK on 31.8.1941. Finally the staff of this fully motorized infantry division SS-Division "Nord" (mot.) remained almost inactive having only securing and supply duties while most of its combat troops were assigned to assists Finnish units.
[About units of SS-"Nord" attacking with Finish troops.]
On 22.6.1942 SS-Division "Nord" was attached to new German XVIII Gebirgs-Armee-Korps which had arrived in Finland together with 7. Gebirgs-Division during the winter and spring 1942 and replaced Finnish III AK and 3rd Division. They were moved to rear area and reserve of the Finnish Supreme HQ until spring 1944 when they both were transferred to Karelian Isthmus to reinforce Finnish defences. Temporary Finnish Division J was also suspended on 7.8.1942 and thereafter SS-Division "Nord" hold the front-line at Kiestinki area until September 1944.
In September 1942 "Nord" received
new units, equipment, weapons and vehicles from Germany.
Division was largely re-organized and re-named as SS-Gebirgs-Division
"Nord" becoming officially a non-motorized
SS mountain division. The number "6." was
actually attached to the division's name rather late: on
22.10.1943 (according to SCHFR p. 254 in August 1943).
The Birke Plan - Lapland War 1944 - 1945
Finns accepted the peace pact with USSR on 2 September 1944. Day after that all German units received the following telex message: "Birke anschlagen" ("Cut the birch"). It meant that all units must began preparing retreat from Finland. On 4 September another more urgent message arrived: "Birke fällen" ("Fall the birch") which meant immediate evacuation of troops, weapons, vehicles and all possible supplies. Five days later the first elements of XVIII Geb.AK started their long march to Norway from Kiestinki - Uhtua front. There were no serious fights with the slowly following Soviets at that stage. Soviet troops stopped rather soon after crossing the Finnish border.
During August and September Germans had activated two temporary units called Kampfgruppe West and Ost to secure their southern flank. Units from SS-Gebirgs-Division "Nord" together with Divisions-Gruppe Kräutler formed the bulk of these battlegroups. On 29 September 1944 Finnish Separate Battalion 5 (Er.P 5) (Maj. M. Hautala) was stopped by SS-Aufklärungs-Bataillon 6 (SS-Obersturmführer Zimmermann) securing the bridge over River Olhavanjoki. Finnish and German soldiers smoked cigarettes together like earlier. Next day Er.P 5 received a new order: "The bridge must be taken by force." The attempt failed but it was the first serious fight during the so called Lapland War [Lapin sota].
[About SS-"Nord" delaying Finish troops.]
left Finland to Norway in November 1944 and it was
transferred to Germany during the last days of 1944. In
the spring 1945 division fought against US forces and
surrendered to Americans. The last German troops withdrew
from the Finnish territory in April 1945.
Infantry Weapons Used by SS-Division "Nord"
summer 1941 40 to 95 % of the infantry weapons used by
different units of SS-"Nord" were of
Czech origin. For example lots of light 7.92 mm MG 26(t),
MG 30(t) *, Polish lMG 28(p) and heavy MG
37(t) ** MGs were used. The portion of Czech light
MGs was 75% and medium MGs 85%! Also the percentage of
Czech-made G 24(t) rifles was about 40
to 50% and about 70% of pistols were Czech ones (Cz).
It's also interesting to note that SS-"Nord" had initially only a few MP 38/40 SMGs but lots of more typical SS-weapons like 9.00 mm Erma EMP and Bergman MP 35 SMGs instead. Germans' basic AT rifle was obsolescent and quite ineffective 7.92 mm Panzerbüchse 39 (Pz.B 39).
New weapon models arrived in Finland later than elsewhere but still the amount of German-made weapons (Deutsche Waffen) rose gradually so that in the autumn of 1944 division had about:
The exact amount of MGs is unknown but it has been over 1.000 pcs. MG 42 appeared in Finland as late as at the beginning of 1944 and MG 34 was therefore the main German LMG model used in 1944.
To the group of foreign weapons (Beutewaffen) belonged among others:
Under construction! © 2000 - 11.2004 Harri Anttonen