Soldbuch issued to Paul Löffler (Second edition), displays him in the front cover in the Waffen SS Panzer Wrap with Totenkopf Skull with the rank of SS Unterscharführer.
The Soldbuch was issued in December of 1943 with the Werkstatt Kompanie, of SS Panzer Regiment 3.
He had served in the unit since this date and
11.1944 – Winter shoes and a winter vest
98K Rifle & Luger Pistol P08 as well as a Erma MP in June of 1944.
Führergeschenk – type of moral boosting parcel, with often meat, smokes and other goodies.
Three security stamps all signed by SS Officers.
30.1.1943 – War Merit Cross with Swords Second Class
30.1.1945 – War Merit Cross with Swords First Class
Wounded on the 17.2.1945 – arrived at SS Feldlazarett 504 with a code 14 (STD) he just had a 10 day leave prior according to his leave – Sonderurlaub – realised on the 31.3.1945 and back to the unit.
Issued in tübingen in 1940, according to the entries, Löffler joined the SS Panzer Ersatz Abteilung in August of 1942 in Weimar – Buchenwald. He was sent in September to the end of the war with SS Panzer Regiment 3 – Wekstatt Kompanie
Löffler was trained on the MG34, K98 and MP. He did a training how to be a tank mechanic in Friedrichshafen.
His Battle Calendar displays he was in France from November 1942 till early 1943 on the Atlantic Coast with the Totenkopf Division.
In February 1943 the division was moved back to the Eastern Front as part of Erich von Manstein’s Army Group South. The division, as a part of SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser’s II SS Panzer Corps, took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov, blunting the Soviet offensive. During this campaign, Theodor Eicke was killed when his spotter aircraft was shot down. Hermann Priess succeeded Eicke as commander. The SS Panzer Corps, including the division, was then shifted north to take part in Operation Citadel, the offensive aimed at reducing the Kursk salient. It was during February 1943 that the 3rd SS Panzer Regiment received a company of Tiger I heavy tanks.
The attack was launched on 5 July 1943 with the II SS Panzer Corps attacking the southern flank of the salient as the spearhead for Generaloberst Hermann Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army. The division covered the advance on the left flank of the II SS Panzer Corps, with the SS Division Leibstandarte forming the spearhead. With the advance slower than had been planned, Hausser ordered his II SS Panzer Corps to split in two, with the Totenkopf crossing the Psel River northwards and then continuing on towards the town of Prokhorovka. In the early morning of 9 July, 6th SS Motorised Regiment Theodor Eicke attacked northwards, crossing the Psel and attempted to seize the strategic Hill 226.6, but failed to do so until the afternoon. This meant that the northern advance slowed and the majority of the division was still south of the Psel, where elements of 5th SS Motorised Regiment 5 Thule continued to advance towards Prokhorovka and cover the flank of the Leibstandarte.
By 11 July, elements of the division crossed the Psel and secured Kliuchi. In the afternoon of 12 July, near the village of Andreyevka on the south bank of the Psel, the Soviet forces launched a major counterattack against Regiment Thule and the division’s battalion of assault guns during the Battle of Prokhorovka. Elements of the division engaged lead units of the 5th Guards Tank Army, halting the Soviet advance and inflicting severe damage to the Soviet forces, but at the cost of the majority of the division’s remaining operational tanks. While the II SS Panzer Corps had halted the Soviet counteroffensive, it had exhausted itself. Citadel was called off on 14 July.
Along with the SS Division Das Reich, the division was reassigned to General Karl-Adolf Hollidt’s reformed 6th Army in southern Ukraine. The 6th Army was tasked with eliminating the Soviet bridgehead over the Mius River. The division was involved in heavy fighting over the next several weeks. During the July–August battles for Hill 213 and the town of Stepanovka, the division suffered heavy losses, and over the course of the campaign on the Mius-Front, it suffered more casualties than it had during Operation Citadel. By the time the Soviet bridgehead was eliminated, the division had lost 1,500 troops; the Panzer regiment was reduced to 20 tanks.
The division was then moved north, back to Kharkov. Along with Das Reich, Totenkopf took part in the battles to halt Operation Rumyantsev and to prevent the Soviet capture of the city. The city was abandoned on 23 August due to the threats on the German flanks. In October 1943, the division was reformed as a Panzer division. The Panzer battalion was officially upgraded to a regiment, and the two motorised regiments were given the titles “Theodor Eicke” and “Totenkopf”. The division, along with other Axis formations, continued its retreat towards the Romanian border. By November, the division was engaged in fighting against Red Army’s attacks over the vital town of Krivoi Rog to the west of the Dniepr.
In January 1944, Totenkopf was still engaged in heavy defensive fighting east of the Dniepr near Krivoi Rog. In February 1944, Totenkopf took part in the relief attempt of German troops encircled in the Korsun Pocket. In the second week of March, after a fierce battle near Kirovograd, the Totenkopf fell back behind the Bug River. Totenkopf took up new defensive positions. After two weeks of heavy fighting, again alongside the Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland, the Axis forces were retreated to the Dniestr on the Romanian border near Iaşi. In the first week of April, the division received replacements and new equipment, including Panther tanks. In the second week of April, Totenkopf took part in fighting against a heavy Soviet Army attacks towards Second Battle of Târgu Frumos. By 7 May, the front had quietened and the Totenkopf resumed its reorganizing.
In the Second Battle of Târgu Frumos, elements of the division, together with elements of the Großdeutschland, managed to halt an armoured assault by the Red Army. The assault, which in many aspects bore similarities to those of the later British Operation Goodwood, was carried out by approximately 500 tanks.[need quotation to verify] In early July, the division was ordered to the area near Grodno in Poland, where it formed a part of SS-Obergruppenführer Herbert Gille’s IV SS Panzer Corps, covering the approaches to Warsaw near the Modlin Fortress.
After the Soviet Operation Bagration and the destruction of Army Group Centre the German lines had been pushed back over 480 kilometres, to the outskirts of the Polish capital. The division arrived at the Warsaw front in late July 1944. After the collapse of the German Army Group Centre, the IV SS Panzer Corps was one of the few functioning formations on the central section of the Eastern Front. On 1 August 1944, the Armia Krajowa (the Polish Home Army) launched the Warsaw Uprising. A column of Totenkopf Tiger tanks were caught up in the fighting, and several were lost. The Totenkopf itself was not involved in the suppression of the uprising, instead guarding the front lines, and fighting off several Red Army probe attacks into the city’s eastern suburbs.
In several battles near the town of Modlin in mid-August, the Totenkopf, fighting alongside the SS Division Wiking and the Hermann Göring Division destroyed the Soviet 3rd Tank Corps. The terrain around Modlin is excellent for armour, and Totenkopf’s panzers exploited this to their advantage, engaging Soviet tanks from a range where the superiority of the German optics and the 75 mm high-velocity gun gave the Panthers an edge over the T-34s.
Budapest relief attempts
The efforts of the Totenkopf, “Wiking” and “Hermann Göring” divisions allowed the Germans to hold the Vistula line and establish Army Group Vistula. In December 1944, the IX SS Mountain Corps (Alpine Corps-Croatia) was encircled in Budapest. Hitler ordered the IV SS Panzer Corps to redeploy south to relieve the 95,000 Germans and Hungarians trapped in the city. The corps arrived just before New Year’s Eve. The relief attempts were to be codenamed Operation Konrad. The first attack was Konrad I. The plan was for a joint attack by the Wiking and Totenkopf from the town of Tata attacking along the Bicske-Budapest line. The attack was launched on New Year’s Day, 1945.
Despite initial gains, Konrad I ran into heavy Red Army opposition near Bicske and during the battle the 1st Battalion, 3rd SS Panzer Regiment’s commander, SS-Sturmbannführer Erwin Meierdress was killed. After the failure of the first operation, Totenkopf and Wiking launched an assault aimed at reaching the city centre. Named Operation Konrad II, the attack was launched on 7 January from just south of Esztergom. It reached as far as Budapest’s northern suburbs, by 12 January motorised infantry of the Wiking division spotted the Hungarian capital’s skyline. However, Gille’s corps was overextended and vulnerable, so it was ordered to fall back.
Operation Konrad III got underway on 20 January 1945. Attacking from the south of Budapest, it aimed at encircling 10 Red Army divisions. However, the relief forces could not achieve their goal, despite making a 24-kilometre bulge in the Soviet forces line and destroying the 135th Rifle Corps. The encircled troops capitulated in mid-February. The division was pulled back to the west, executing a fighting withdrawal from Budapest to the area near Lake Balaton, where the 6th SS Panzer Army under SS-Oberstgruppenführer Josef Dietrich was massing for the upcoming Operation Spring Awakening.
Gille’s corps was too depleted to take part in the assault, instead it provided flank support to assaulting divisions during the beginning of the operation. Totenkopf, together with Wiking, performed a holding action on the left flank of the offensive, in the area between Lake Velence-Székesfehérvár. Dietrich’s army made “good progress” at first, but as they drew near the Danube, the combination of the muddy terrain and strong Soviet resistance ground them to a halt. As the offensive stalled, the Soviets forces counterattacked in strength on 16 March. The Germans were driven back to the positions they had held before Operation Spring Awakening began. Attacking the line between the Totenkopf and the Hungarian 2nd Armoured Division, contact was lost between the two formations. The 6th Army commander, General der Panzertruppe Hermann Balck, recommended moving the I SS Panzer Corps north to plug the gap and prevent the encirclement of the IV SS Panzer Corps, however, by the time the divisions finally began moving, it was too late.
On 22 March, the Red Army encirclement of the Totenkopf and Wiking was almost complete. The 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen held open a route which could be used to withdraw – the Berhida Corridor – and Gille’s corps escaped the encirclement. The Red Army then launched the Vienna Offensive which destroyed any resemblance of an organised German line of defence. The remnants of the division retreated into Czechoslovakia where it surrendered to the American forces on 9 May.
There is a lot of links, books and talk about this unit online. This unit fielded some of the fiercest tanks of the war and this link details Löfflers unit the Werkstatt Kompanies role in the war. They were involved in many actions including the destruction of tanks. Löffler seen the war since 1943 in Russia, and managed to survive the war and was with the Totenkopf right to the end. He must have known the tanks inside out, having a NCO rank in this important part of the Panzer unit was an important role. Keeping the tanks in the fight they have been described in the book below often, even having to do special demolitions in order to not let the tanks fall into enemy hands. Its a rare set, and a highly sought after division.
Tigers of the Death’s Head: SS Totenkopf Division’s Tiger Company
By Michael Wood
“On the twenty-second, one Tiger from 9. Kompanie was defending the road east in the direction of Bakonycsernye in support of SS-Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 3 and knocked out a Russian tank before pulling back in the direction of Bakonycsernye. In Hajmasker, the Tigerin long-term repair (awaiting new engine parts) with SS-Panzer-Werkstatt-Kompanie 3 had to be towed from Hajmasker via Papa and Marczalto, over the border between Hungary and Austria, between Kophaza and Deutsch Kreutz on the thirtieth. On the twenty-third, the same Tiger, still in support of the Pionier battalion, was reported by the Russians as defending the main road between Szapar and Csteny. “