Josef Dietrich

Josef “Sepp” Dietrich ( 28 of maypole of 1892 – 21 of April of 1966 ) was a general of the Waffen-SS German and Oberstgruppenführer of the SS , winning reputation for harshness and brutality. Its name is intimately associated to the division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler .

He was also a close friend of Adolf Hitler . For his services during World War II he received the Knight ‘s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds , a reward that only reached twenty-seven people.


Josef Dietrich was born in Hawangen , near Memmingen in Bavaria . He worked as a butcher until 1911, when he enlisted in the Army. During World War I became sergeant payer, a charge of prestige, and later served in tank units.

After the war, Dietrich participated in the crushing of the ephemeral Soviet Republic of Bavaria when he joined the paramilitary organization Freikorps in May 1919. He then worked as a waiter, policeman, farmer, gas station employee, etc. Without being Nazi, it took part in the Putsch of Munich of 9 of November of 1923 supporting to Hitler and marching in Munich . However, it was in 1928 that he joined the Nazi Party and eventually became commander of Hitler’s bodyguards. 1 He accompanied him during his tours in Germany 2 and was nicknamed “Chauffeureska” by his boss. Little by little, Dietrich rose rapidly in the organization of the SS , with the help of Hitler, who even allowed him to live in the Chancellery.

In 1930, Dietrich was elected delegate to the Reichstag 2 for Lower Bavaria. In 1931 he became SS-Gruppenführer , which allowed him to belong to the circle of confidence of Hitler. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Dietrich ascended to SS-Obergruppenführer , founder and commander of the select Leibstandarte division SS Adolf Hitler , as well as general of the Waffen-SS and member of the State Council of Prussia .

In 1934 he participated actively, by direct orders of Hitler, in the arrest of several leaders of SA in the Night of the Long Knives . This gave him enough merit to be promoted to Obergruppenführer . 2 3 Dietrich always had the highest regard for Hitler.

On 12 January 1942, during Hermann Göring’s birthday , Hitler gave Dietrich a big boost by saying of him:

The role of Sepp Dietrich is unique. I have always given him the opportunity to intervene in compromised places. He is a man simultaneously astute, energetic and brutal. Under his bravado, Dietrich is scrupulous, conscientious and serious.

Adolf Hitler in 1942 .

During World War II

At the outbreak of war, Dietrich led the attacks of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in Paris and Dunkirk . He continued to play this role in operations in the Balkans , Greece and Yugoslavia in 1941 , until he was promoted to the command of the First SS Panzer Corps, attached to the Army Group Center on the Eastern Front . In September 1943 he was in charge of rescuing Clara Petacci , the lover of Benito Mussolini , of Italy . Although he had accumulated numerous medals and decorations by that time, he had also gained the reputation of committing abuses against prisoners of war. Dietrich felt welcomed by Hitler’s esteem and carried out abuses and eccentric actions. Erwin Rommel saw him as a rough person and declared that he had had more problems with Dietrich than with the enemy. 4 Many generals of the Wehrmacht complained of the conduct of the men under Dietrich’s command for their little military conduct and raised protests to the OKW which were rejected by express order of Hitler.

During the development of Operation Barbarossa , the Leibstandarte commanded by Dietrich carried out actions in the sector of the curve of the Dnieper and the forest, harassing to the partisanos .

The Leibstandarte gained a terrible reputation of mercy, ferocity and harshness with its prisoners (in fact they did not take prisoners, these were executed), obtaining only that the Russians surpassed them in desires of revenge, ferocity in combat and not to do no prisoner. Dietrich not only ordered the execution of the prisoners, wounded in enemy hospitals, but also the members of those SS units (especially those of foreign enlistment) that showed cowardice before the enemy. Sepp Dietrich used the politics of terror to subordinate his men. The Leibstandarte also cooperated in the persecution of Russian Jewish communities. The LSSAH executed in Bzura most cruelly 50 Jews . The cruelty of the methods of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler to the Russian prisoners was of such magnitude that the Soviet units received the order of Stalin to execute at once to any soldier SS that was captured. Many SS troops were summarily executed in the most brutal manner.

After the Battle of Kursk , the Leibstandarte was withdrawn from the Russian Russian front towards Italy . By then it had less than half of its troops and machines than when they began the operation on the Soviet Union .

Dietrich successfully commanded his Panzer Corps in the Battle of Normandy , reason why was promoted to the control of the VI Panzer Army before beginning the Battle of the Ardennes . Another reason for his rise was the distrust of Hitler towards the Wehrmacht officials after the failed assassination attempt of 20 July . During the battle, members of the SS under Dietrich assassinated 82 American prisoners, in what was later called the Malmedy Massacre . This happened near Malmedy , Belgium , where the same SS colonel Otto Skorzeny was involved (although later the falseness of the accusations was demonstrated).

At this point Dietrich began to hold resentments against Hitler and his refusal to give more freedom of action to the officers. In 1945 Dietrich commanded Operation Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening) on Lake Balaton , which would be Germany ‘s last significant offensive during the war. When the offensive failed, Hitler ordered Dietrich and his men to deliver their bracelets, which identified them as members of the Adolf Hitler Division , an order that Dietrich refused to fulfill. This luxury could be given because he knew that Hitler had him in esteem.

Dietrich was in charge of the tanks during the Vienna defense , but he could not prevent it from falling into the hands of the Red Army . On May 8, 1945, Dietrich surrendered to the American troops of General George Patton .

After the war

In 1946 Dietrich was accused of being responsible for the Malmedy Massacre and sentenced to life imprisonment . However, the testimony of other German officials managed to reduce the sentence to 25 years. After his 10th birthday, he was released. He was later arrested in August 1956 for his role in Long Knives Night , and was sentenced by a Munich court to 19 months in prison for the position of accomplice necessary to commit the murders of several SA leaders . In February 1959 Dietrich was released from prison because of his precarious state of health.

In 1966 Dietrich died of a heart attack in Ludwigsburg at age 73. Six thousand of his former comrades attended his funeral.

Promotions in the SS

  • SS- Oberstgruppenführer und Panzer Generaloberst der Waffen-SS : 1.08.44 (antiquity of 20.04.42);
  • General der Waffen-SS : 03.40 (antiquity of 1.07.34);
  • SS- Obergruppenführer : 1.07.34;
  • SS- Gruppenführer : 18.12.31;
  • SS- Oberführer : 10.10.30;
  • SS- Standartenführer : 18.09.29;
  • SS- Sturmbannfuhrer : 1.08.28;
  • SS- Sturmfuhrer : 1.06.28;

Notable decorations

  • Bronze Medal of Valor

In Popular Culture

In the film “Dirty Dozen II” appears fictitiously as a competent but brutal general who wants to take power in Germany by assassinating Hitler, reverse the prevailing military failure and prolong the war until possibly winning it, so The command of twelve men is sent to assassinate it so that Hitler continues with its misdeeds and the war finishes soon. It was interpreted by the actor Wolf Kahler .


  1. Back to top↑ Cachay, Bahlke & Mehl 2000, p. 350.
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c Dietrich, Josef. Encyclopædia Britannica . Consulted on 06/02/2008.
  3. Back to top↑ General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich. Exordio . Consulted on 06/02/2008.
  4. Back to top↑ Hitler-SS Leibstandarte Guard: San Martin-Alan Wykes Publishing.