SS Panzer Commander, 9th Pz Div "Hohenstaufen"
3rd Reich War Hero at Arnhem
Knight's Cross & DKiG Recipient
Walter Harzer had a colorful military career which started in 1933, and spanned over the next 12 years of the "Thousand Year Reich" He began his military service with the SS Political Readiness Detachment during the spring of 1933, and later that year joined the German Army. It was in March of 1934, young Harzer joined the SS Verfugungstruppe, later graduating from the SS Officer's Candidate School, at Bad Tolz in 1936.
When WWII broke out in Sept. of 1939, Walter Harzer then attached to the SS Deutschland Standarte, participated in the invasion of Poland, earning him the first of his bravery medals, the Iron Cross 2nd Class. From the campaign in Poland, Harzer was then transferred to the SS Junkerschule at Braunschweig, becoming a combat tactics instructor. With stints as a commanding officer within the 4th SS Infantry Regiment, 10th Panzer Division Frundsberg,10th Panzer Division, & Eastern Front campaign, Harzer was not only on the fast track of promotions, he also was becoming a decorated soldier.
Already an SS Strumbannfuhrer by the time that he joined the 10th SS Panzer Division, Hohenstaufen, in the fall of 1943, Harzer found himself on the soil what was soon to be the battle ground after D-Day. For his actions as a commander and leader during fierce fighting first in the Ukraine, and later throughout Normandy & Caen during the invasion, Harzer was awarded the German Cross in Gold.
In Sept of 44, Harzer then the sole commander of the 9th Panzer Division, was to hold the Bridge at Arnhem, to prevent the allies from crossing the Rhine. Operation Market Garden launched by the allies, found what they were up against, when Harzer's 9th, all but obliterated the British 1st Airborne Division. For this fierce battle achievement, Walter Harzer was awarded the Knight's Cross. This historic event was to later become a book and then a movie titled, A Bridge Too Far.
Recalled back to Germany a month later, Walter Harzer was assigned first to the SS Mountain Corps, and then later to the SS Police Panzergrenadier Division, to face the inevitable. He surrendered to the Americans, on May 8, 1945.
Pictured above, are the items awarded to, and worn by SS Oberfuhrer, Walter Harzer
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