The 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was a military unit of the Waffen-SS, which had originally been created as Adolf Hitler’s personal Bodyguard SS Regiment. In 1939 the Leibstandarte SS became a detached unit aside the SS-VT, participating in the Invasion of Poland in September 1939 as an independent unit. In September 1941, after Operation Barbarossa had been launched, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was increased in size from a regiment to an army division. By mid 1943, during its deployment in Italy, this unit would be upgraded into a full armoured division, being redesignated the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
In March 1933, Josef “Sepp” Dietrich had organized the Sonderkommando Berlin, a 120-men unit, which consisted of the most faithful and fittest SS men. In November 1933, the Leibstandarte was an 800-men strong regiment which swore allegiance to Hitler at a remembrance ceremony in Munich for the tenth anniversary of the Munich Putsch. In January, 1934, the SS commander in chief, Heinrich Himmler, had renamed it Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
When World War II broke out, it was an SS regiment that would participate in the German invasion of Poland. In 1940, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler would also fight in the Battle of France. In April 1941, it would take part in Operation Marita, which was the invasion of Greece. Deployed on the Eastern Front, the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler would see fierce combat action during Operation Barbarossa from June to December 1941. Under the command of Paul Hausser, it participated in the Battle of Kharkov and the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. Then, it would be redeployed in Italy and later in France, on the Western Front. Attached to the 1st SS Panzer Corps, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler would fight ferociously in the Battle of Normandy.
From July 18 to July 20, 1944, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler fought fiercely against three British armored divisions during Operation Good Wood in which the British sustained heavy losses. Attached to the I SS Panzer Corps, the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte participated in the Ardennes counteroffensive, fighting against American units. On January 30, 1945, the Leibstandarte was transferred to Hungary along the I SS Panzer Korps to bolster the crumbling situation there. After participating in Operation Spring Awakening (Frühlingserwachen), the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler moved to Zossen, near Berlin, and from there, to the area of Mürwik, in northern Germany, near Denmark, where they surrendered to the advancing British forces in May 1945.
The 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler used a wide variety of armament. Aside from the infantry weapons used by the Wehrmacht troops, it was equipped with the best tanks, tank destroyers, and anti-tank guns.
Tanks: Panzerkampfwagen III, IV, V (Panther), and VI (Tiger).
Tank Destroyers: Marder II and III, Panzerjäger I, Nashorn, Elefant.
Anti-tank Guns: 8.8-cm Flak 18/36 (an 88mm AA gun used as a tank destroyer), and the 7.5-cm Pak 40 (a 75mm anti-tank gun).