The Waffen-SS (Armed SS), the force in which Michael Wittmann served, was a complex organisation with an interesting and complicated history. A good many books have been written on the Waffen-SS and the men who served in it, and while many commentators have been quick to tar those who served in the front line units with the same brush as the men who performed less than admirable tasks, others more recently have attempted to examine the subject far more objectively.
Simply put, the Waffen-SS were, as the majority of writers would be quick to point out, the product of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist system. One cannot deny this fact. On the other hand, one can justiably argue that they were more than simply an extension of Hitler’s will. The premier Waffen-SS units, among them the Leibstandarte, could rightly claim that they were genuine élite military units; moreover, the feats on the field of battle performed by some of those who served wearing the Waffen-SS runes can justifiably be placed alongside and in many cases above their colleagues in both the regular Army and the equally dedicated and fearless soldiers who fought in Allied colours. Michael Wittmann, the most successful Panzer commander of the war, was one such example.
The purpose of this section is to provide further information on the development of what was to become the Waffen-SS, and includes:
- A concise, illustrated historical overview of Michael Wittmann’s division, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, from its creation in 1933 from the ranks of a small Berlin bodyguard detachment and development as a front line Panzer division through to its dramatic last days in 1945.
- A guide to the Waffen-SS Ranking System, which includes explanations and illustrations of the distinctive Waffen-SS collar patches, shoulder boards and sleeve insignia.
These sections provide a brief overview of the formation, development and structure of the Waffen-SS, and are not intended to be a thorough history. Any views expressed are those of the author, although a wide variety of sources have been used. As with the rest of this site, the purpose of these pages is to provide an objective historical overview, and do not represent any form of political opinion.