Image size: 1600 x 1009 pixel. 788 KB
Date: Tuesday, 15 August 1944
Place: Modlin, Masovia, Poland
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Möller from KB-Zug HGr. Mitte
Crew of Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausführungen H (SdKfz 161) of 9.Kompanie/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3/3.SS Panzer-Division "Totenkopf" ("Death's Head") attached to the IV.SS-Panzerkorps at rest at a forest's edge. Note the Panzerschurzen (side armor) and the man accessing the side hatch of the turret. The guy on the left side of the turrent is wearing SS-Erbsenmuster M44 dot camo tunic exclusively for the SS only. The Totenkopf was initially formed from concentration camp guards and men from the SS-Heimwehr Danzig ("Home resistance Danzig"). The division was officered by men from the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), of whom many had seen action in Poland. From June 21, 1944, the division was commanded by SS-Brigadeführer Hellmuth Becker. In several furious battles near the town of Modlin in mid-August, the Totenkopf, fighting alongside the 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking and the 1.Fallschirm-Panzer-Division Hermann Göring virtually annihilated the Soviet 3rd Tank Corps, which contained a division of communist Poles. The terrain around Modlin is excellent armour terrain, and Totenkopf's panzers exploited this to their advantage, engaging Soviet tanks from a range where the superiority of the German optics and the 75mm high-velocity guns gave them an edge against the T-34s. Later, IV.SS-Panzerkorps attempted to relieve the city of Budapest in December 1944 but were stymied by tough Russian resistance and poor coordination with other German units. By May 1945, they were within reach of the American forces, to whom the division officially surrendered on May 9. The Americans promptly handed Totenkopf back to the Soviets, and many Totenkopf soldiers died in Soviet Gulags. War photographer Möller was with 3rd SS "Totenkopf" in 1944, e.g. with parts of 9th Company (Tiger)/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 in Warsaw.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-695-0406-03