Werner Ostendorff

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Werner Ostendorff
Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Zschaeckel-149-16, Werner Ostendorf.jpg
Born (1903-08-15)15 August 1903
Königsberg, Province of East Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire now Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian Federation
Died 1 May 1945(1945-05-01) (aged 41)
Bad Aussee, Reichsgau Steiermark, Nazi Germany now Bad Aussee, Styria, Austria
Service/branch Waffen-SS
Years of service 1925–45
Rank SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS
Service number NSDAP 4,691,488
SS 257,146
Commands held
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Werner Ostendorff, (15 August 1903 – 1 May 1945) was an SS-Gruppenführer (Major General) and one of the youngest divisional commanders in the Waffen-SS. Ostendorff was also a winner of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and German Cross in gold.


NSDAP #: 4 691 488 - (Joined 1 May 1937)
SS #: 257 146 - (Joined, 1 October 1935)

Ostendorff joined the Army on 5 November 1925. Assigned to the 1st Prussian Infantry Regiment, he remained with the unit for his entire Army service. Appointed an officer candidate on 1 April 1926, he was promoted to Gefreiter on 1 August 1927, to Unteroffizier on 1 October 1927, to Fähnrich on 1 August 1928 and to Oberfähnrich on 1 August 1929. A month after being commissioned, Ostendorff was given a platoon command in the II. Bataillon. From mid-November 1933 to the start of the following March he helped form the SA military training school at Gudwallen. He transferred to the Luftwaffe on 1 March 1934. Trained as an observer and pilot, Ostendorff served with the Fliegertruppe Jüterbog as a tactical instructor, and head of the photographic interpretation section until the start of October 1935.

Moving to the SS-Verfügungstruppe, he taught classes at Junkerschule Bad Tölz until 1 April 1938. Ostendorff then transferred to the new SS-Standarte 3 "Der Führer" and led the 4. Sturm of the I. Sturmbann until 1 June 1939. He next transferred to form and lead the SS-Flugabwehr-Maschinengewehr-Abteilung, officially until 10 October 1939.

With the forming of the first SS division on 10 October 1939, that became "Das Reich", he left command of the anti-aircraft unit to Jakob Fick, was selected as the first divisional Ia (Chief of Staff) by Paul Hausser and officially held the post until June 1942. Ostendorff won the Knight's Cross on 13 September 1941 for leading a counter-attack against the village of Ushakovo in the vicinity of Smolensk which dominated the highly important Yelnya-Dorogobuzh road. The village was recaptured and the danger of a Russian breakthrough was eliminated.

He then led Kampfgruppe "Das Reich" in Russia from February to June 1942, during which Siegfried Max Schultz assumed the Ia post duties with those elements being refitted in France. His performance with Kampfgruppe "Das Reich" won him the German Cross in Gold.

Krüger, Reitzenstein, Hausser and Ostendorff in Russia, 1943

When Paul Hausser formed the initial SS corps in June 1942, he selected Ostendorff as his Chief of Staff. He officially held the post with SS-Generalkommando (later II. SS-Panzerkorps) until 22 November 1943, when succeeded by Rüdiger Pipkorn. Promoted to Oberführer for his actions at Kharkov, he was next given a divisional command.

Ostendorff was assigned command of the 17. SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Götz von Berlichingen", officially effective 1 November 1943. However, he remained with his corps post into the third week of November. Delays in the raising of the division lasted until early January 1944 when he actually assumed command from Otto Binge who had led the formation staff. During the fighting in Normandy, Ostendorff was badly wounded near Carentan on 16 June 1944 when he was hit in the shoulder by machine gun-fire. Divisional command then passed again to Otto Binge.

Resuming command from then temporary commander Gustav Mertsch on 21 October 1944, he remained as leader of "Götz von Berlichingen" until transferred again in late November 1944. Temporary divisional command passed to Hans Lingner but Ostendorff officially retained full commander status until early December.

Ostendorff was next promoted to Gruppenführer on 1 December 1944 and became the only Chief of Staff for Heinrich Himmler's Army Group Oberrhein from 2 December 1944 to 22 January 1945. His final posting was to "Das Reich" as divisional commander. He succeeded temporary commander Karl Kreutz officially on 10 February 1945, and led the division until grievously wounded by an incendiary shell on 9 March 1945 in the vicinity of Székesfehérvár during fighting in Hungary. Rudolf Lehmann assumed command of "Das Reich". Werner Ostendorff died at a field hospital in Bad Aussee from gas gangrene on 1 May 1945.[1][2]

Personal life

Werner Ostendorff was a son of the Prussian Regierungsvizepräsident Ernst Ostendorff. Married in October 1935, he and his wife had two sons and a daughter.[3]

Dates of rank

Notable decorations

Wehrmachtbericht reference

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
29 July 1944 (Addendum) In den schwere Kämpfen im Raum St. Lo – Lassay haben sich in den letzten Wochen in Abwehr und Gegenangriff besonders ausgezeichnet:
Die 17. SS-Panzergrandier-Division "Götz von Berlichingen" unter Führung ihres schwer verwundeten Kommandeurs Brigadeführer Ostendorff und seines Vertreters Standartenführer Baum,
die 353. Infanterie-Division unter Führung ihres Divisionskommandeurs Generalleutnant Mahlmann,
das Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 5 unter seinem Kommandeur Major Heinz Becker,
das Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 9 unter seinem Kommandeur Major Kurt Stephani und das Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 15 unter seinem Kommandeur Oberstleutnant Gröschke.
In the heavy fighting of the recent weeks in the St. Lo - Lassay area have particularly distinguished themselves in defense and counter-attacks:
The 17th SS-Panzer- Grandier-Division "Götz von Berlichingen" led by their severely wounded commander Brigadeführer Ostendorff and his representative Standartenführer Baum,
the 353rd Infantry Division, led by their divisional commander Lieutenant General Mahlmann,
the Parachute Regiment 5 under his commander Major Heinz Becker,
the Parachute Regiment 9 under his commander Major Kurt Stephani and the Parachute Regiment 15 under its commander Lieutenant Colonel Gröschke.


  1. No evidence of the award to Werner Ostendorff 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 "861" was assigned by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR).[8]



  1. Yerger 2005, pp. 78-84.
  2. Schulz 2003.
  3. Yerger 2005, pp. 84.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thomas 1998, p. 133.
  5. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 340.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 330, 499.
  7. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 103, 482.
  8. Scherzer 2007, p. 162.
  9. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 181.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). 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)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Schulz, Andreas, Wegmann Günter, Zinke, Dieter: Die Generale der Waffen-SS und Polizei: Lammerding-Plesch, Biblio-Verlag, 2003, ISBN 978-3-7648-2375-7.
  • 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)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Yerger, Mark C. (1999). Waffen-SS Commanders: Army, Corps, and Divisional Leaders, Vol.2. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History.
  • Yerger, Mark C. (2005). German Cross in Gold Holders of the SS and Police, Volume 2, "Das Reich:" Karl-Heinz Lorenz to Herbert Zimmermann. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 0-912138-99-8
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Standartenführer Otto Binge
Commander of 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen
January 1944 – 15 June 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Standartenführer Otto Binge
Preceded by
SS-Standartenführer Gustav Mertsch
Commander of 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen
21 October 1944 – 21 November 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Standartenführer Hans Lingner
Preceded by
SS-Standartenführer Karl Kreutz
Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
29 January 1945 – 9 March 1945
Succeeded by
Standartenführer Rudolf Lehmann