By Massimiliano Afiero and Raphael Riccio
Created in 1943 from members of the Hitler Youth born in 1926, the division was attached to I SS Panzer Corps in March 1944 and transferred to Normandy. Based around Caen, it was intended to repel a possible and expected invasion from the sea. When the invasion came in June, it was one of the two closest panzer divisions to the landing beaches.
The defensive battles that took place in Normandy, particularly the four battles around the city of Caen, saw the young soldiers of the Hitlerjugend demonstrate determined resistance, conceding only due to being greatly outnumbered. After the battles fought in Normandy, the division was withdrawn first to the Franco-Belgian border, where it was engaged in hard defensive fighting and then to Germany for reorganisation.
Other difficult and demanding battles followed during the offensive in the Ardennes, on the Bastogne front, in Hungary and finally the last battles fought in Austria, on the sacred ground of the Reich, where the soldiers of the Hitlerjugend, despite the desperate situation and the superiority of the enemy, managed to achieve local success and launch desperate counterattacks even into the last weeks of the war, in the name and in defense of their homeland.
Packed with photographs, maps and profiles, this Casemate Illustrated follows the actions of the 12th SS Panzer Division throughout its existence.