27 May 1914|
Würzburg, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
10 January 1990
Aalen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
|Years of service||1934–45|
SS-PzAufklAbt 2 "Das Reich"
SS-PzGrenRgt 4 "Der Führer"
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Otto Weidinger (27 May 1914 – 10 January 1990) was a member of the German Waffen-SS and a commander of SS-PzGrenRgt 4 "Der Führer" (2nd SS Division Das Reich) during World War II and was involved in the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane in France in June 1944. He held the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel). He was also a recipient of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross).
Otto Weidinger enlisted in the SS-Verfügungstruppe SS-VT (precursor to the Waffen-SS) in April 1934. His first duty assignment was as a concentration camp guard at SS-Wachsturmbann (camp guard detachment) Dachau. He volunteered for officer training and entered the SS-Junkerschule in Braunschweig in May 1935. After graduating from Junkerschule, he completed Zugführer (platoon leader) training back in Dachau and was commissioned as an SS-Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) in April 1936.
Weidinger's first command was the 3. Kompanie of the SS-Standarte "Deutschland" (2nd SS Division Das Reich) in Ellwangen. Shortly after he underwent training as a combat engineer with the SS-Pioniere Battalion, as well as attending the Kampfschule (combat school) in Munich.
Promoted to SS-Obersturmführer (Platoon Commander) in 1938, Weidinger first saw combat in the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland, earning an Iron Cross 2nd Class. After subjugating Poland, his unit then participated in the Battle of the Netherlands, where Weidinger continued to distinguish himself, earning an Iron Cross 1st Class and a promotion to Division Adjutant.
At the end of 1940, Weidinger was promoted to SS-Captain and his unit was sent to subdue insurgents in Lithuania. Weidinger commanded a heavy (anti-tank) company of the motorcycle rifle battalion of the SS-Reconnaissance-Detachment until the onset of Operation Barbarossa. He was subsequently promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and transferred to the Divisional Staff of the SS-Division "Das Reich". Following a tour of duty in Russia, Weidinger returned to the Braunschweig Junkerschule as a tactics instructor for officer candidates until 1943.
In June 1943, Weidinger was again ordered to the Russian front and assumed command of the First Battalion of the SS Regiment "Germany", with the rank of SS major. This battalion saw significant combat action at the Battle of Kursk. In the battle, Weidinger received a serious head wound. In November 1943 he was awarded the German Cross in Gold award. By the end of 1943 he commanded at the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", an armored infantry regiment.
In the spring of 1944, his SS Panzer Division received orders to move to France. On 21 April 1944, Weidinger was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Shortly thereafter, was promoted to the SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer (Lieutenant Colonel) and the assumption of command of the 4th SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment "Der Führer", which had the responsibility for defending the Normandy coastline. Command of "Der Führer" passed from SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) Sylvester Stadler to Weidinger on 14 June. Until then Weidinger had been with the regiment for familiarisation purposes.
After two months of heavy fighting following the Normandy D-Day invasion, Weidinger's unit, along with 50,000 other German troops, were surrounded by British, Canadian and Polish forces led by General Bernard Montgomery in what would be known as the battle of Falaise pocket. Faced with the prospect of surrender or annihilation, Weidinger had his unit constantly probe the enemy line for weaknesses. They discovered a very small gap in the Polish lines, which Weidinger then exploited by using the massed firepower of his remaining tanks to enlarge. Ten thousand German troops were able to escape the collapsing pocket. For his heroic actions in the face of near-certain defeat, Weidinger was awarded Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross in December 1944.
Following the withdrawal of German forces from Vienna, remnants of the SS Regiment “Der Führer” led by Weidinger, were relocated to Prague to affect the rescue and evacuation of several hundred German citizens, (mostly women and children). These evacuees formed a convoy of approximately a thousand vehicles leaving Prague in the direction of Pilsen. En route, they surrendered to the American 2nd Infantry Division, near the town of Rokycany.
When World War II ended, Weidinger was imprisoned by the American military in the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, along with thousands of other SS men who were automatically considered to be war criminals by virtue of having served in the Waffen-SS, which was designated as a criminal organization by the Allies. In August 1947, he was transferred to French custody, where he remained a prisoner until June 1951.
After six and a half years in prison, he was finally put on trial as a war criminal, along with 50 other SS soldiers. All were charged with a war crime for being volunteers in the Waffen-SS. He was acquitted by a military court in Bordeaux on 19 June 1951 and released on 23 June 1951. At the trial of the perpetrators of the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane in Bordeaux in January 1953, Weidinger was a witness for the defense.
Upon his release from prison, Weidinger trained as a pharmacist, working in a pharmacy until his retirement in 1982.
From 1967 to 1982, Weidinger wrote the history of Regiment "Der Führer" (he was its last commander) titled "Comrades to the End," as well as a 6 volume history of "Das Reich" consisting of five text volumes and a photo compilation published by Munin Verlag in Germany. Most of the "Das Reich" volumes have been translated into English as well as the regimental history.
In 1984, Weidinger self-published a controversial revisionist account of the Tulle massacre, Tulle and Oradour. A German-French tragedy. Re-issued after his death, by Nation und Europa, it was subsequently banned in France.
Otto Weidinger died January 10, 1990, aged 75, in Aalen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
- Infantry Assault Badge in Silver
- Wound Badge in Silver
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Close Combat Clasp in Bronze
- Tank Destruction Badge
- German Cross in Gold on 26 November 1943 as SS-Sturmbannführer in the SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung "Das Reich"
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 21 April 1944 as SS-Sturmbannführer and commander of the SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 2 "Das Reich"[Note 1]
- 688th Oak Leaves on 26 December 1944 and as SS-Obersturmbannführer and commander of the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 4 "Der Führer"
- 150th Swords on 6 May 1945 as SS-Obersturmbannführer and commander of the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 4 "Der Führer"[Note 2]
- According to Scherzer as commander of SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 2.
- No evidence of the award can be found in the German Federal Archives. The award was unlawfully presented by SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich. The date is taken from the announcement made by the 6. SS-Panzerarmee. The sequential number "150" was assigned by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Weidinger was member of the AKCR.
- http://www.oradour.info/appendix/dasorder.htm Order of Battle for Das Reich as of June 1944
- Thomas 1998, p. 424.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 501.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 439.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 773.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 94.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 48.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 184.
- Yerger, Mark C., "German Cross in Gold Holders of the SS and Police," volumes 1 and 2, R. James Bender Publishing corrects considerable fact errors of this article
- Yerger, Mark C., "Otto Weidinger, Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords, Commander SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 4 "Der Führer," Schiffer Publishing, is a detailed biographical study of this officer. Its text corrects the considerable personal and military career fact errors in this article.
- Otto Weidinger in the German National Library catalogue