Werner Herman Gustav Pötschke, born 06-03-1914 in Brussel, Belgium, joined the SS in 1935 with SS number 288 965, attached to the SS Disposal unit before being posted in 1938 to SS-Standarte “Der Führer” under command of then SS Sturmbannführer Wilhelm Bittrich.
as a platoon commander.
In 1939 he was involved in the invasion of Poland in charge of a platoon of the reconnaissance company of the SS Regiment “Der Führer”. By 1940 and the start of the Battle of France he was in command of the 1st Company, Reconnaissance Battalion, SS-Verfügungstruppe.
In 1941 he took part in the Balkans campaign and fought from June 1941 in Russia.
In April 1942 he was given command of the 2nd SS Reconnaissance Battalion SS Division “Das Reich”, being awarded the German Cross in gold
in November , as SS Hauptsturmführer
. In April 1943, he was transferred to command the I Battalion, SS Panzer Regiment 1 “LSSAH”
in Grafenwöhr and Erlangen, also seeing service in August 1943 in Italy. From December 1943 he was back in Russia and for his achievements in the cauldron of the Kamanets-Podolsky battle was awarded the Knights Cross.
In November 1944 he was promoted to SS Sturmbannführer
and given command of the SS Panzer Regiment 1 “LSSAH”, which led the German attack during the Ardennes offensive.
During this campaign, troops under his command engaged in the Malmedy massacre.
The Malmedy massacre
was a war crime committed members of Kampfgruppe Joachim Peiper
(part of the 1st SS Panzer Division), a German combat unit, at Baugnez crossroads near Malmedy, Belgium, on 17-12-1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. According to numerous eyewitness accounts, 84 American prisoners of war were massacred by their German captors: the prisoners were assembled in a field and shot with machine guns. After the failure of that attack the Division was moved to Hungary and for his performance at the Gran (Esztergom) bridgehead on 15-03-1945 was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross.
Death and burial ground of Pötschke, Werner Herman Gustav..
Later that month while fighting to the south of Veszprém, he received serious wounds to the lower extremities caused by mortar shells during a commanders’ briefing on 23 March. He died of his wounds on 24-03-1945. Werner Pötschke is buried on the German Military Cemetery Mattersburg, Section 10, Row 2 Grave 1586.