Hermann Prieß

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Hermann August Friedrich Prieß
Black-and-white portrait of a man wearing a military uniform with an Iron Cross displayed at his neck.
SS-Brigadeführer Hermann Prieß
Born (1901-05-24)24 May 1901
Marnitz, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, German Empire
Died 2 February 1985(1985-02-02) (aged 83)
Ahrensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Reichsheer
Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1919–31, 1934–45
Rank SS-Gruppenführer Collar Rank.svg Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS
Service number NSDAP #1,472,296
SS #113,258[1]
Commands held 3rd SS Division Totenkopf
1st SS-Panzerkorps "Leibstandarte"
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Hermann Prieß[Note 1] (24 May 1901 – 2 February 1985) was the commander of 3rd SS Division Totenkopf ("Deaths head") of the Waffen-SS – the armed paramilitary branch of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS) – following the death of Theodor Eicke in February 1943. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Prieß was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS on 20 April 1944. On 30 October 1944 he became the commanding officer of the 1st SS-Panzerkorps Leibstandarte and led it during the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, Prieß was convicted of war crimes because of his involvement in the Malmedy massacre, and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was released from the Landsberg Prison in 1954.

Early life and career

Prieß was born on 24 May 1901 in Marnitz, at the time in the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a Federal State of the German Empire, the son of a butcher and farmer. On 22 January 1919, he volunteered for military service in the Deutsches Heer, which was transformed to the Reichsheer in the Weimar Republic. At the time he joined, his unit was the formally 2. Großherzoglich Mecklenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 18 of the 17th Division based in Parchim. Due to the limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, his regiment was disbanded. Prieß then fought with Cordt von Brandis in the Freikorps in the Baltic in the Estonian War of Independence where he was wounded in combat near Riga. In 1920, he returned to the Reichswehr, serving in Reiter-Regiment 14 of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and after 12 years of service he was discharged in June 1931 holding the rank of Unteroffiziere mit Portepee, a non-commissioned officers rank.[2]

World War II

On 24 October 1944, Prieß succeeded SS-Obergruppenführer Georg Keppler as commander of I SS Panzer Corps "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler".[3] Prieß led this unit, as part of the 6th Panzer Army, in the failed Ardennenoffensive, which was dubbed the Battle of Bulge. The objective of the offensive was to split the British and American Allied line in half, so the Germans could then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis Powers' favor. Subordinated to I SS Panzer Corps was Kampfgruppe "Peiper", led by SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper. Peiper's command was responsible for the Malmedy massacre, a war crime in which 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by their German captors near Malmedy, Belgium.[4]

After the Ardennenoffensive, the 6th SS Panzer Army was transferred to Hungary, where it fought against the advancing Soviet Army. The I SS Panzer Corps arrived in Hungary in early February 1945. There, Prieß committed his forces into action against the Gran Bridgehead, a strong position formed by the Soviets over the Danube near the town of Gran, destroying the bridgehead by the end of February. He then commanded I SS Panzer Corps in Operation Frühlingserwachen (Operation Spring Awakening), the last major German offensive of World War II. The attack, centered in the Lake Balaton area, began on 6 March 1945 and ended with a German defeat on 16 March 1945.[5]

Prisoner of war and later life

In May 1945, Prieß was captured by US forces and taken prisoner of war. He started working for the US Army Historical Division at an internment camp in Oberursel. From May–July 1946, Prieß became one of 73 defendants at the Malmedy massacre trial held in the Dachau internment camp, formerly the Dachau concentration camp. On 16 July, Prieß was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. In October 1954, he was released prior to serving his full sentence from the Landsberg Prison. Prieß died on 2 February 1985 in a retirement home in Ahrensburg, Schleswig-Holstein.[6][Note 2]

Summary of career



26 February 1935: SS-Untersturmführer[2]
15 September 1935: SS-Obersturmführer[2]
13 September 1936: SS-Hauptsturmführer[2]
20 April 1939: SS-Sturmbannführer[2]
1 August 1940: SS-Obersturmbannführer[2]
21 June 1941: SS-Standartenführer[2]
13 July 1942: SS-Oberführer[2]
15 July 1943: SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of the Waffen-SS[18]
20 April 1944: SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS[5]


  1. His name, in German, is spelled with a "sharp S"; see ß.
  2. According to Williamson, Prieß died on 2 March 1985.[7]
  3. According to Scherzer as commander of SS-Artillerie-Regiment "Totenkopf".[12] According to Von Seemen as commander of SS-Artillerie-Regiment 3 "Totenkopf".[13]



  1. Westemeier 2013, p. 727.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Stockert 1997, p. 407.
  3. Krätschmer 1999, p. 503.
  4. Stockert 1997, pp. 409–410.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Stockert 1997, p. 409.
  6. Stockert 1997, p. 410.
  7. Williamson 2006, p. 31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Berger 1999, p. 275.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Thomas 1998, p. 172.
  10. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 359.
  11. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 344, 500.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Scherzer 2007, p. 604.
  13. Von Seemen 1976, p. 270.
  14. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 72.
  15. Von Seemen 1976, p. 37.
  16. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 43.
  17. Von Seemen 1976, p. 16.
  18. Stockert 1997, p. 408.


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  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krätschmer, Ernst-Günther (1999). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Waffen-SS. Coburg, Germany: Nation Europa Verlag. ISBN 978-3-920677-43-9. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Nipe, George M. (2011). Blood, Steel and Myth—The II. SS-Panzer-Korps and the road to Prochorowka, July 1943. Stamford, CT: RZM Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9748389-4-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Stockert, Peter (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 3 (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-932915-01-7. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Westemeier, Jens (2013). Himmlers Krieger: Joachim Peiper und die Waffen-SS in Krieg und Nachkriegszeit. Paderborn, Germany: Ferdinand Schöningh. ISBN 978-3-506-77241-1. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross, Oak-Leaves and Swords Recipients 1941–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-643-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke
Commander of 3. SS-Division "Totenkopf"
26 February 1943 – 21 June 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Brigadeführer Hellmuth Becker
Preceded by
Commander of XIII SS-Armeekorps
7 August 1944 – 24 October 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Gruppenführer Max Simon
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Georg Keppler
Commander of I. SS-Panzer Corps
30 October 1944 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by