Hubert-Erwin Meierdress - Battles For Kharkov

Battles For Kharkov

The division arrived at the front in late February 1943, and, together with the SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich was thrown into action in Generaloberst Erich von Manstein's counter offensive to retake Kharkov. Earlier in January and February, the Das Reich and Leibstandarte had seen heavy fighting in defence of the city, inflicting some losses on the Red Army. Despite the best efforts of the SS-Panzerkorps, the Red Army was still advancing on the SS-Panzerkorps' flanks. Fearing encirclement, Hausser disobeyed Hitler's orders and authorized a full withdrawal from Kharkov.

The Totenkopf arrived in time to take part in the counteroffensive. The Soviet spearhead was formed by Mobile Group Popov. The SS-Panzerkorps was divided into a number of smaller Kampfgruppes, and Meierdrees' Abt formed the nucleus of one of the Totenkopf's kampfgruppes, providing flank defence to the main assault by elements of the Leibstandarte. During the battle, the Totenkopf's commander, Theodor Eicke was shot down and killed while performing battlefield reconnaissance. In the desperate fighting to retake the city, Meierdress performed well, his unit inflicting some casualties on the enemy, and playing a major role in the annihilation of Mobile Group Popov, taking part in the recapture of Belgorod.

After the victory at the Third Battle of Kharkov, the SS-Panzekorps was rested and refitted in preparation for the major offensive against the Kursk salient, Operation Citadel.

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