Josef “Sepp” Dietrich was born on this day in 1892. He was one of only four men who held the rank of SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer, similar to the rank of army general in the German Army (only the rank of Reichsführer-SS was higher than their rank, and held by Heinrich Himmler as the head of the SS). The four men who held the rank of Reichsführer-SS were: Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, Franz Xaver Schwarz, Kurt Daluege, Paul Hausser.
Dietrich also held a rank of Lieutenant General in the Waffen-SS (German: Panzer-Generaloberst der Waffen-SS). Those who hold the rank of SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer wore three oak leaves and three squares on their collar Josef Dietrich received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten). It was the second highest military decoration in the Third Reich (the Knight’s Cross with Golden Oak Leaves was the highest military decoration, and only one man receved it).
Dietrich also served as Hitler’s chauffeur and bodyguard. Later, he became the head of the unit known as Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. Dietrich was promoted after his participation in the murder of Hitler’s opponents, members of the SA (Sturmabteilung) units, during the Night of the Long Knives. Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler later became the most elite SS Division (1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler). Sepp Dietrich had a major role in the so-called Waffen-SS. The Waffen-SS units were something akin to a parallel army, which was closer to Hitler than the regular army (Wehrmacht).
At the end of World War II, Dietrich surrendered to the Americans in Austria. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1958. He died in the German city of Ludwigsburg in 1966.