The German senior military commander Felix Steiner died on this day in 1966. He held the rank of Obergruppenführer in the SS, as well as the rank of general in the Waffen-SS. The rank of Obergruppenführer was the highest in the SS till 1942, immediately behind the rank of a Reichsführer-SS (Heinrich Himmler held this rank in World War II). For example, the rank of an Obergruppenführer was similar to the rank of a General of the Corps in the German Army (the rank of Reichsführer-SS was similar to the rank of a field marshal).
Felix Steiner organized small combat units in the SS, which were armed with submachine guns and hand grenades (instead of rifles), and had camouflage uniforms. Heinrich Himmler appointed Steiner the head of the elite SS division (5th SS Panzer-Division Wiking). It was one of the most elite SS divisions, along with the well-known Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, and Totenkopf (the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd SS Divisions).
Shortly before the end of the World War II, when the Soviets were approaching to Berlin, Steiner was Hitler’s last hope. He appointed him the head of the improvised Army Detachment Steiner (German: Armeeabteilung Steiner). Hitler thought Steiner would be able to attack the Soviets, and finally defeat them. Of course, Steiner`s troops barely survived, and that plan was something akin to a fantasy.
When Hitler found out that the planned attack was impossible, he became furious. During the press conference Hitler said that they had lost the war (in front of his generals). It was one of the key moments of his collapse. After the war, Steiner was acquitted of all war crimes charges, and died in Munich in 1966.