Harzer, Walter, born in Stuttgart-Feuerbach on 29-09-1912, joined the SS Political Readiness Detachment in Württemberg and in October 1933 also the German Army. He was assigned to the 13th Württemburgisches Infanterie-Regiment, eventually reaching the rank of Gefreiter, Private. In March 1934, Harzer joined SS-Verfügungstruppe, age 23, graduating from the new SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz in 1936.
After his graduation he was assigned to the SD-Hauptamt and later the SS-Standarte Deutschland
. With Deutschland, Harzer participated in the invasion of Poland and was awarded the Iron Cross II Class. However, on 01-11-1939 instead of continuing on with his regiment, Harzer was transferred as a Tactics Instructor to the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig and later to the SS-Unterführerschule Radolfzell. After completing the General Staff Course, he served with the 10th
, under SS Hauptsturmführer, Lothar Debes
later renamed the 10.SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg, under SS Brigadeführer, Heinz Harmel
The Frundsberg particpated in the Battle of Arnhem, a Bridge too far. (see Hans-Peter Knaust
On 10-04-1943, Harzer
was assigned to the 9th
SS-Panzergrenadier-Division, Hohenstaufen. The title Hohenstaufen came from the Hohenstaufen dynasty, a Germanic noble family who produced a number of kings and emperors in the 12th
centuries. As the 9th
was ordered for a refit in Holland
, (see About
) Walter Harzer became it’s fifth commander, taking over for SS-Oberführer, Kommandeur 19th Waffen SS Grenadier Division
, Friedrich Wilhelm Bock
The division reached Arnhem on 09-09-1944, where they were to hand most of its vehicles and heavy equipment to Frundsberg in preparation for a move to Germany for refitting. However on Sunday 17-09-1944, the Allies launched Operation Market-Garden. Harzer’s division was heavily engaged in the Battle of Arnhem, and played a key role in preventing the main body of the British 1st
from linking up with the small force under Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost
at Arnhem Road Bridge,
thus preventing them from securing a bridgehead across the Rhine. Colonel Frost died of heart failure, on 21-05-1993, age 80, in West Sussex. Under Harzer’s command the division then played a major part in the near total destruction of the 1st
Airborne at Oosterbeek, an achievement for which Harzer was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
. On 10-10-1944 Harzer left Hohenstaufen and went on to become the Chef des Stabes V SS Mountain Corps before receiving the command of the 4th
at the end of November 1944. He succeeded SS Brigadeführer, Frits Schmedes
who died age 57, on 07-02-1952, after a short illness, in Springe. Together with the rest of this division SS-Oberführer Walter Harzer surrendered himself to the Americans near Wittenberge-Lenzen, on 08-05-1945. Total casualties amongst the Waffen-SS will probably never be known, but one estimate indicates that they suffered 180.000 dead, 400.000 wounded, and 40.000 missing. World War II casualties indicates that the Waffen-SS suffered 314.000 killed and missing, or 34.9 per cent. By comparison, the United States Army suffered 318.274 killed and missing in all theaters of the war.
Death and burial ground of Harzer, Walter.
Years after the Battle, Harzer wrote, “It is with personal pride that I regard this German victory, because it was achieved not by regular units, but by railway workers, Arbeitsdienst and Luftwaffe personnel as well, who had never been trained for infantry work and were actually unsuitable for house-to-house fighting.” After the war Walter Harzer worked as a historian for HIAG. HIAG, Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS
, literally “Mutual aid association of former Waffen-SS members”) was a lobby group and a revisionist veteran’s organisation founded by former high-ranking Waffen SS personnel in West Germany in 1951. Its main objective was to achieve legal, economic and historical rehabilitation of the Waffen-SS. Another famous member was SS Obergruppenführer Kurt Meyer
Walter Harzer died after heart failure,
in a Stuttgart hospital, on 29-05-1982, age 69. SS Oberführer Walter Harzer is buried with his wife Gisela, who died age 84 in 2002, on the cemetery of Feuerbach, Stuttgart, in a family grave.