The 3rd SS Panzer Regiment was part of the Totenkopf Division—one of the 38 Waffen-SS divisions active during World War II. Notorious for its brutality, most notably a mass execution of British prisoners in the battle of France, “Totenkopf” had a fearsome reputation. The 3rd SS Panzer Regiment was formed in France in late 1942, and transferred to the Eastern Front in early 1943 where it fought for the rest of the war.
The regiment participated in a number of battles, and would be reduced and rebuilt a number of times. The panzers of 3rd SS Panzer Regiment fought at Kharkov, took part in Operation Citadel, fought in the battle of Krivoi Rog, and the relief of the Korsun Pocket. The regiment then retreated over the Dniester. They fought in Poland against the Russian advance, before being moved to Hungary where they participated in the attempt to relieve Budapest. They eventually surrendered in Czechoslovakia to the 11th US Armored Division.
This Casemate Illustrated tells the story of the 3rd SS Panzer Regiment through the words of the veterans themselves, illustrated with a wealth of contemporary photographs, original documents and artifacts. Among the veterans whose accounts are included are Walter Weber, a member of a tank crew in 5. Kompanie who recounts their optimism and high spirits at the start of Operation Citadel as the Germans made initial advances, followed by retreat as winter set in and the Russians began to push them back. Unterscharführer Stettner recalls the fierce tank battles and the difficulties advancing across minefields and evading an often well-concealed foe. Corporal Fritz Edelmann records the attempts to relieve Budapest in 1945 that Totenkopf took part in, which ended in encirclement, defeat and surrender to the Americans on May 9, 1945.