Max Wünsche was a senior figure in the Waffen SS during World War Two fighting in the Netherlands (1940), France (1940), the USSR (1941–43) and at D-Day (1944). Considered to be a hard line Nazi, Wünsche was held as a POW at Camp 165 in Scotland after its capture in 1944.
Wünsche was born on April 20th 1915. He developed an interest in agriculture and for a short time after leaving school he was employed as an estates manager. Wünsche joined the Hitler Youth Movement in November 1932 and in July 1933 joined the SS. He was deemed to have officer qualities and Wünsche graduated from officer training in 1936.
He took part in the attack on the Netherlands and France in 1940. In December 1940, Wünsche was made adjutant to Sepp Dietrich and took part in ‘Operation Barbarossa’ – the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.
In June 1942, Wünsche returned to Germany to study at the Staff College. He successfully completed this course and was promoted to Sturmbannführer.
In February 1943 Wünsche was awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knight’s Cross, for bravery shown during the Russian campaign.
In June 1943, Wünsche transferred to France to take command of the 12th SS Panzer Regiment. This regiment played an active part in trying to repel the Allied landings in Normandy on D-Day and in the weeks after June 6th 1944. For his work Wünsche was awarded oak leaves to his Knight’s Cross.
The 12th SS Panzer Regiment was trapped in the Falaise Pocket in August 1944. Wünsche tried to escape on foot but was wounded in the calf and captured.
Wünsche was held as a POW at Camp 165 in Caithness, the most northerly POW camp on mainland Britain. Compound O within Camp 165 was where hard line Nazis were kept – away from other POW’s – and Wünsche was considered to be a hard line Nazi.
He was released in 1948 and returned to Germany. He worked at an industrial plant until his retirement in 1980.
Max Wünsche died on April 17th, 1995.
- Camp 165 was located in the Scottish Highlands. To locals Camp 165 was a basic Prisoner-of-War camp. However, Camp 165 also served another purpose. …