Witt, Fritz, born on 25-05-1908 in Hohenlimburg, a suburb of the city of Hagen.
Witt’s father was a textiles salesman. After graduating from high school Witt also worked as a textiles salesman from 1925 until 1931 as until he lost his job. During this period of time, he became a strong supporter of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler
(did you know
). Witt saw the Nazis as the answer to the chaos and poverty of the Weimar Republic. Witt joined NSDAP
as nr. 816.769 and on 17-03-1933, the SS, as nr. 21518, serving in the SS-Stabswache Berlin
, Gauleiter Joseph Goebbels
(did you know
an élite guard formation of only 117 men, receiving his commission as an SS-Untersturmführer
on 01-10-1933. In 1938, as commander of the 3rd
, Fritz Witt took part in the annexation of Austria, marching into that country with his unit. After this, it was motorized. Then the Deutschland participated in the occupation of the Sudetenland. In March 1939, Witt served with the SS Standarte during the bloodless annexation of Bohemia and Moravia. Hitler ordered the formation of an SS-Verfügungs-Division, comprising all three SS-VT Standartes, The Leibstandarte was to form its own unit. During the Polish campaign, Fall Weiss, Witt’s SS-Standarte Deutschland was subordinated to Panzer-Verband Werner Kempf
based in East Prussia. Witt’s company saw some heavy fighting and he served well during this campaign. For personal bravery in combat, Witt was awarded both the first and second classes of the Iron Cross within
. In October 1939, with the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer
, Witt was appointed commander of the 1st
Battalion of the Deutschland. In the same month, the SS-Verfügungs-Division was formed and placed under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer, Paul “Papa” Hausser
Fritz Witt fought with bravery during the Invasion of France, again showing skill commanding his unit. On 27-05-1940, 20 British Matilda tanks
attacked Witt’s battalion. Despite the fact that Witt’s unit had no anti-tank weapons, Witt rallied his battalion and they held, destroying nine of the British tanks with grenades and other improvised methods. Witt was the model of the young leader, never retreating in the face of anything. On 16-10-1940, Witt was transferred to the Motorized Infantry Regiment Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, taking command first of the 3rd
Battalion, then, in March 1941, of the 1st
Battalion. In April, 1941, Witt participated with his unit in Operation Marita, which was the invasion of the Greece.
His unit saw ferocious fighting, playing an important role. The 1st
Battalion had been tasked with clearing resistance from the Klidi Pass, just south of Vevi and opening the way to the heart of Greece. Clashing with a hastily-assembled Australian-British-New Zealand-Greek force, under an Australian, Major General, Iven Giffard Mackay,
he died age 84, on 20-09-1966, Witt and his men were engaged in heavy fighting for three days before the pass fell. Witt’s brother, Franz Witt,
also a member of I. Bataillon was killed in the battle for the Klidi Pass. Witt’s battalion had wreaked havoc on their enemy, causing a high number of casualties and capturing over 520 prisoners for the loss of only 37 dead and 95 wounded. After the conclusion of the Balkan campaign Witt remained in command of 1st
Battalion. The Leibstandarte, now upgraded to a division, was to take part in the advance into Russia as a part of Army Group South. From 22-06-1941, Fritz Witt and his unit fought in Operation Barbarossa,
participating in the encirclement of 600.000 men near Kiev. Then Witt’s unit now moved south, to join the German 14th
Army Corps. Witt’s battalion fought fiercely for the town of Perekop, later advancing across the Perekop Isthmus and launching the assaults on the Soviet defensive positions near the Tarter Ditch. In February 1943, after being engaged in heavy fighting on the Eastern Front, Witt, along with former Hitler’s body guard and Falaise Pocket, 12th
SS Panzer Division, SS Standartenführer, Max Wünsche
and SS Obergruppenführer, Kommandeur 12 SS LSSAH, “Hitlerjugend”, Kurt “Panzermeyer” Meyer
was transferred to the newly created Waffen-SS unit the 12th
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. On 20-04-1944, Witt was promoted by Sepp Dietrich
to SS-Brigadeführer und General Mayor of the SS.
Witt continued training exercises for his division, allowing his troops to familiarise themselves with the terrain around Caen. This training would later prove vital. On 06-06-1944, the Western Allies landed on the Normandy beaches. Witt ordered his division to form up north of Caen, defending the city and the Carpiquet Aerodrome. On June 7, Standartenführer Kurt Meyer’s SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25, along with the 2nd
Battalion from SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Wünsche’s SS-Panzer-Regiment 12
, attacked the advancing the 3rd Canadian Division
, nicknamed “The Water Rats”
under command of Major General Rodney Frederick Leopold Keller
and destroyed 28 Canadian tanks, annihilating a company of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders
for the loss of only six tanks. Rodney Keller died age 53 on 21-06-1954 while visiting Normandy. On June 8, the 26th
SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment under command of SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer, Wilhelm Mohnke
arrived, he died age 90, on 05-08-2001, in Hamburg and took up positions to the west of Meyer. Having arrived there, the regiment launched an attack towards Norrey-en-Bessin, capturing the vital village. Over the next week, Witt’s division managed to hold the line above Caen despite incessant Allied attacks and constant air, artillery and naval bombardments. The Hitler Youth inflicted devastating losses on the British and Canadian forces, the training which Witt had developed maintaining his unit’s morale and fighting ability.
More than 40 German divisions were destroyed during the Battle of Normandy. No exact figures are available, but historians estimate that the battle cost the German forces a total of around 450.000 men, of whom 240.000 were killed or wounded. The Allies had achieved this blow at a cost of 209.672 casualties among the ground forces, including 36.976 killed and 19.221 missing. In addition, 16.714 Allied airmen were killed or went missing in direct connection with Operation Overlord.
Death and burial ground of Witt, Fritz.
The wounded Max Wünsche (left), Fritz Witt (center) and Kurt Meyer (right) between 7 and 14 June 1944 near Caen, in France.
Fritz Witt, receives here a model of an 8-wheel armoured scout car The model was a birthday present by the division’s recce battalion to their divisional commander’s 36th birthday on May 25-04-1944 six weeks before his death. On 14-06-1944, a British naval bombardment hit the divisional command post in Venoix. Witt, age 36, was hit in the face by shrapnel and killed instantly. The Hitler Jungend SS Division, along with his LSSAH comrades, mourned his loss. The 33 year old Meyer was ordered to take command of the division.
Fritz Witt first was buried on the spot near Chateau de la Guillerie, in Tillieres sur Avre,
but reburied on the war cemetery St André Champigny, France and close by the grave of General der Flieger,Hangman of Paris ” Kommandeur Wehrkreis XVII, Otto von Stülpnagel, the butcher of Paris and Generaloberst der Waffen SS, Kommandeur der 7th Heeresgruppe, Friedrich Dollmann. Also buried there is the Flyer Ace, Flugzeugführer 7./J.G. 2, Major, Joseph “Sepp” Wurmheller, SS Obersturmführer with 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Hans Junge, Hitler´s former adjutant and husband of Traudl Junge-Humps
Hitler´s youngest secretary, Generalmajor der Infanterie, Commander of the 33rd
Landswehr Infantry Regiment, Arnold von Bessel
and Generalmajor der Flieger, Kommandeur Luftwaffe Heeresgruppe 198, Otto Abernetty