The 12-SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend' in Normandy by Angelos N. Mansolas
'I know every single one of these grenadiers. The oldest is barely eighteen. These boys have not yet learned how to live, but by God they know how to die!' These were the words of the division's commanding officer, SS Oberfuhrer Kurt Meyer for his own men - men admired even by their very opponents.
Established in 1943, the 12th SS Panzer Division was designed to become an elite unit, consisting of 17 year-old youths, '... a generation of future soldiers, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel', commanded by a nucleus of hardened SS officers and NCOs. This is a detailed history of the division from its formation, all through the Normandy campaign where it received its baptism of fire.
Although employed in the field for the first time, those young Waffen SS soldiers fought with a tenacity and ferocity unexcelled by any other unit Allied or German deployed in the invasion front, defending doggedly every single yard of ground from Caen to Falaise - a distance of just 25 miles, for which the Canadian and British forces fought hard to capture, paying a high price in human lives.