The SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger was formed December 1944 when SS-Regiment Dirlewanger was upgraded. The unit was soon used for frontline combat as the soviet offensive continued and some parts of the unit proved capable but many deserted.
It was upgraded to 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS in February 1945.

Bruno Gesche, the commander of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers was ordered to serve with SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger after he was removed from his command due to his heavy drinking. The order was changed after the intervention of among others SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein and Gesche was instead sent to 16. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Reichsführer-SS.

Four Norwegians are known to have been KIA or MIA while serving in the Dirlewanger unit as a result of their court martial sentences.


SS-Oberführer Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger (19 Dec 1944 - 20 Feb 1945)

Area of operations

Hungary (14 Dec 1944 - 29 Dec 1944)
Germany (Silesia) (13 Feb 1945 - 20 Feb 1945)

Holders of other notable badges & decorations

See 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS

Order of battle

SS-Regiment 1 SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
SS-Regiment 2 SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
Nachrichten-Kompanie SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
SS-Sanitätskompanie SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger
Panzer-Abteilung Stahnsdorf 1 (Heer) (from 14 February 1945)

Notable members

Erich Buchmann (Recipient of the Prussian Golden Military Merit Cross in the First World War)
Oskar Dirlewanger (Infamous founder of the unit)

Sources used

Martin Dean - Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-44
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Colin Heaton - German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939-1945
Peter Hoffmann - Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting the Führer 1921-1945
French L. MacLean - The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonder-Kommando Dirlewanger Hitler's Most Notorious Anti-Partisan Unit
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Eirik Veum & Geir Brenden - De som falt: Nordmenn drept i tysk krigstjeneste

Reference material on this unit

Christian Ingrao - The SS Dirlewanger Brigade: The History of the Black Hunters
Hans-Peter Klausch - Anti-faschisten in SS Uniform: Schicksal und Widerstand der deutschen politischen KZ-Haeftlingen, Zuchthaus-und Wehrmachtsgefangenen in der SS-Sonderformation Dirlewanger
French L. MacLean - The Cruel Hunters: SS-Sonder-Kommando Dirlewanger Hitler's Most Notorious Anti-Partisan Unit
Rolf Michaelis (ed.) - The SS-Sonderkommando "Dirlewanger": A Memoir
Rolf Michaelis - Das SS-Sonderkommando Dirlewanger: Ein Beispiel deutscher Besatzungspolitik in Weißrussland
Rolf Michaelis - Die SS-Sturmbrigade „Dirlewanger“: Vom Warschauer Aufstand bis zum Kessel von Halbe (Winkelried-Verlag, Dresden 2006)