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On the 17th September 1944, Kampfgruppe 'von Tettau' received orders from the Headquarters of Model to attack the enemy on the western flank of Arnhem and destroy them. Nearly all of the units at his disposal were made up of either Guard or security battalions, Training and Replacement units or coastal defense units which all lacked combat experience and cohesiveness. However General von Tettau had one unit at his disposal that could perform exceptionally well against the elite British Paratroops which was the SS-Unterführerschule 'Arnheim'.
Unterführerschule 'Arnheim' was one of many 'Unterführer' schools located across the Third Reich which had the sole responsibility to train Waffen-SS NCOs (Non-commissioned officers) in the art of combat, tactics and combined arm operations (to name a few). Unterführerschule 'Arnheim' was established in 1943 and utilised the Arnhem and outlying areas to conduct its NCO training. The soldiers on these courses normally had combat experience and had spent at least 12 months at the front lines. The instructors were combat veterans with most of them having decorated careers in the top Waffen-SS Divisions which had fought on the Eastern Front.
SS-Standartenführer Michael Lippert - Commander of SS-Unterführerschule 'Arnheim' in September 1944.
In September 1944 Unterführerschule 'Arnheim' was under command of SS-Standartenführer Michael Lippert. Lippert had extensive combat experience holding command positions on the Eastern Front as commander of the II./Totenkopf Infanterie Regiment 2 and as the commander of the SS Freiwilligen Legion 'Flandern'. Born in 1897 Michael Lippert had served during WWI winning the Iron Cross II Class and was also one of the early members of the SS (SS # 2968) having been part of this organization since its inception.
Aware of the rapid advance of the Allied armies out of Normandy the school was part of a defensive line along the Waal River, called the 'Waal Linie'. The school was roughly 50 kilometres away on the Waal when the landings took place on the 17th September 1944. Lippert immediately alarmed his companies, but had to wait for the order to come from the Befehlshaber der Niederlanden. Around 18.00 hrs it came and the companies had to report at the Headquarter of von Tettau.
Except for the 1st Kompanie, under command of SS-Obersturmführer Oskar Pahnke, who stayed in the Waal linie for defence, the rest went by bike via Grebbeberg to be put into action against the British troops. The Unterführerschule had at that time two Battalions, the first battalion under command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Günther Schulz consisting of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies and the second Battalion under command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Eberwein consisting of the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th companies.
The Unterführerschule 'Arnheim' were ready for the first attacks on the morning of the 18th September 1944. Battalion Schulz and Eberwein took part in the attacks against the British positions on the dropping zones. By the afternoon the school had overrun the dropping zones and captured Renkum and the majority of Heelsum.
However as the school had reached the outskirts of Oosterbeek the opposition was strong. The defenders were of the Border Regiment. Over the next few days the school cleared pockets of enemy resistance and consolidated their positions and the ground they won.
By the 22nd September 1944, Lippert had been tasked to coordinate and command all ground forces on the western side of the pocket now forming around Oosterbeek. The school kept the pressure of the western side of the pocket making small but significant gains but at the same time suffering high casualties. On the 24th September SS-Hauptsturmführer Oelkers took over the command of the battalion of Schulz. Schulz became Hauptmann im Stabe in the headquarters of the Unterführerschule .
At the end of the battle, some of Germany 's top awards were bestowed to at least 4 different officers of the School for their bravery and personal conduct during the Battle of Arnhem which included the commander Standartenführer Michael Lippert. In November of 1944 the Unterführerschule ‘Arnheim' was disbanded and the staff were sent to other SS-Unterführerschule in the Third Reich.
Portrait of SS-Obersturmführer Erwin Heck who was the school's Ordonnanz-Officier during the Battle of Arnhem.
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