Friday, February 15, 2019

SS General Jakob Sporrenburg

Jakob Sporrenburg was born the son of a gardener in Düsseldorf on September 16, 1902. He lost a brother killed and one seriously wounded in World War I. While training as a mechanic in 1919 he joined the Freikorps and served for 1 l/2years. He joined the NSDAP in 1922 and was arrested by the French for sabotage activities in the Ruhr for which he was in jail from March, 1924, to August, 1925. After his release he worked as a telephone installer in Düsseldorf. He joined the SA on August 25, 1925, and rejoined the NSDAP on December 15, 1925. As an SA-Truppführer he served with SA-Standarte 39 until late September, 1930. He also joined the Hitler Youth on August 1, 1929 and was the Hitler Youth leader for Düsseldorf for the remainder of 1929. On October 1, 1930, he joined the SS and was commissioned as an SS-Sturmführer on December 15, 1930. He then took command of SS-Sturm 54 until being promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer on November 21, 1931. After commanding the l./20.SS-Standarte from November, 1931 to early July, 1932, he took command of the entire Standarte until July, 1933, and was promoted to SS-Standartenführer on November 9, 1932. From September, 1933 to September, 1936. he commanded Abschnitt XX and also commanded the SS garrison in Kiel (November, 1933 to September, 1936) as well as holding a seat in the Reichstag from April / 938 until the end of the war. Promoted to SS-Oberführer on November 9, 1933, and to SS-Brigadeführer on January 30, 1936, during the autumn of 1935 he served as a reserve Leutnant in the Army with Infanterie-Regiment 26. Reassigned to the RSHA. from the start of 1937 to September, 1 939, he was Inspector of the Sipo and SD for Königsberg and was head ofSD Oberabschnitt "Nordost. " From September, 1939, to July, 1940, he led Oberabschnitt "Rhein " (see " Rhein-Westmark ") and was HSSPF "Rhein "from October, 1939, to July, 1940. Promoted to SS-Gruppenfuhrer on January 1, 1940, he led Oberabschnitt "Nordost" and was HSSPF "Nordost" from mid-June 1940 to the start of May, 1941. After training with the Ordnungspolizei and the RSHA he was assigned as SSPF "Weißruthenien" during July and August 1941 then became a special assignments officer to Gauleiter Erich Koch until mid-March 1943. Given the rank of Generalleutnant der Polizei on July 7, 1943, he was next with the HSSPF "Rußland-Mitte" and the anti-partisan command until mid-August 1943 when he became SSPF "Lublin" and held that posting until November 1944. In November, 1944 he was attached to the staff of Oberabschnitt "Ost" then held a transitional staff posting for two weeks with Oberabschnitt "Nord. " At the end of November 1944 he took the newly created post of SSPF "Süd-Norwegen " and held that assignment until the end of the war. He was awarded the Gold Party Badge on January 30, 1942, the Iron Cross 2nd class (June 20, 1941) and also the first class (November 30, 1944), both classes of the War Service Cross with Swords in 1943, The NSDAP Long Service Award in Gold on January 30, 1942, the Gold Hitler Youth Honor Badge, the SA Sports Badge in Gold and the Reich's Sports Badge in Silver. His involvement with Einsatzgruppen operations caused him to suffer from depression and have a breakdown in 1941. Despite this fact he was active in executions throughout 1943 and won high accolades from HSSPF Curt von Gottberg and Wilhelm Koppe. He was tried in Warsaw in 1950 and hanged there on December 6, 1952.


Source :
"Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS" by Mark C. Yerger

SS General Hans-Adolf Prützmann

Hans-Adolf Prützmann was born on August 31, 1901, in Tollkemit, East Prussia. He worked as a farmer and entered local politics, serving as a senator for East Prussia. On August 12, 1930, he joined the SS and first served with SS-Sturm 24. Commissioned as an SS-Sturmführer on November 10, 1930, he became adjutant of the 30.SS-Standarte in late March 1931 and was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer on August 3, 1931. In August, 1931, he moved to the 19.SS-Standarte as administrative officer then took command until early September, 1932 during which time he was promoted to SS-Standartenführer on January I, 1932. From late August, 1932, to mid-December, 1933, he commanded the 18.SS-Standarte and was promoted to SS-Oberführer on June 26, 1933, and to SS-Brigadeführer on November 9, 1933. He was a member of the Reichstag from April, 1938, until the end of the war and also led Abschnitt X from mid-July to mid- November, 1933. Prützmann took command of Oberabschnitt "Südwest" in mid-November, 1933, and left that command at the end of February, 1937, during which he was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer on February 28, 1934. He commanded Oberabschnitt "Nordwest" (which became "Nordsee") and was HSSPF "Nordsee" from June, 1938, to May, 1941. He was then officially HSSPF "Nordost" and commander of the area Oberabschnitt until the end of the war but was in Russia and his duties were undertaken by substitutes. In Russia he served as the HSSPF "Rußland-Nord" from June to November, 1941, and then changed posts with Friedrich Jeckeln and became the HSSPF "Rußland-Süd" until mid-March, 1944. Becoming a Generalleutnant der Polizei on April 1, 1941, and promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei on November 9, 1941, from October, 1943, to September, 1944 he was the also the HöSSPF "Ukraine." In June, 1944, he became Himmler's liaison officer with the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Armed Forces High Command) and for all of 1945 he also was Inspector of special guerrilla units ("Wehrwolf"). He became a General der Waffen-SS on July 1. 1944, and during the final weeks of the war served with the Dönitz government as Himmler's representative. He was awarded the Gold Party Badge, the Iron Cross 2nd class in 1941, the Iron Cross 1st class in 1943, both classes of the War Merit Cross with Swords and the German Cross in Gold on June 16, 1944 for leading Kampfgruppe "Prützmann" in Russia (composed of Ordnungspolizei and foreign units under his command). His German Cross recommendation was personally submitted by Himmler. Prützmann was cultured, creative, a talented organizer, and was feared by subordinates. His command in Russia was also brutal and resulted in the deaths of more than 360,000 people from August to October, 1942 alone, more than the totals for several of the Einsatzgruppen in Russia. Captured by the British, he committed suicide on May 21, 1945.


Source :
"Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS" by Mark C. Yerger

Thursday, February 14, 2019

U-995 Crew Now and Then

Surviving U-995 crew, now and then. German submarine U-995 is a Type VIIC/41 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. She was laid down on 25 November 1942 by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned on 16 September 1943. During the war U-995's commanders were: Kapitänleutnant Walter Köhntopp (16 September 1943 to 9 October 1944) and Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Georg Hess (10 October 1944 to 8 May 1945). At the end of the war, on 8 May 1945, U-995 was stricken at Trondheim, Norway. She was surrendered to the British and then transferred to Norwegian ownership in October 1948. In December 1952 U-995 became the Norwegian submarine Kaura and in 1965 she was stricken from service by the Royal Norwegian Navy. She then was offered to the German government for the ceremonial price of one Deutsche Mark. The offer was refused; however, the boat was saved by the German Navy League, DMB. U-995 became a museum ship at Laboe Naval Memorial in October 1971.


Source :
"After the Battle Nr.36 - Walcheren"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-995

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

German Actor and a Luftwaffe Pilot Hannes Stelzer

This is a movie picture of the Austrian actor Hannes Stelzer (1910-1944). He played a highly decorated war pilot hero in the 1941 movie 'Stukas'. By 1943 the meanwhile jobless Hannes is forced to enlist in the German Army. He becomes a fighter pilot at the Luftwaffe, and between film roles he took on combat missions in World War II! On 27 December 1944, Stelzer died in a plane crash over the village of Zemné, Slovakia (not in Hungary as is often stated) in a snowstorm, according to a Wehrmacht report. He was 34 years old. His wife actress Maria Bard - who was married twice before - committed suicide earlier earlier at Berlin on April 1944.


Source :
http://www.germanfilms.net/hannes-stelzer/

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

German Soldiers Surrender at Vilnius

German soldiers surrender to the Red Army in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, 11 July 1944. The picture was taken by Fyodor Kislov. During the battle for the city, the Soviet 5th Army and 5th Guards Tank Army engaged the German garrison of Fester Platz Vilnius (consisting of Grenadier-Regiment 399 and Artillerie-Regiment 240 of the 170. Infanterie-Division, Grenadier-Regiment 1067, a battalion from the Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 16, the anti-tank battalion of the 256. Infanterie-Division, and other units under the command of Luftwaffe Generalmajor Rainer Stahel. The Soviet 35th Guards Tank Brigade initially took the airport, defended by the battalion of paratroopers; intense street-by-street fighting then commenced as the Soviets attempted to reduce the defence. While the German aim of holding Vilnius as a Fester Platz or fortress was not achieved, the tenacious defence made a contribution in stopping the Red Army's drive west for a few precious days: most importantly, it tied down the 5th Guards Tank Army, which had been instrumental in the initial successes of the Red Army during Operation Bagration. This delay gave German forces a chance to re-establish something resembling a continuous defence line further to the west. Hitler recognised this achievement by awarding Stahel the 76th set of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross awarded during the war. Nevertheless, the outcome fell far short of what the German command had hoped for, and the continuous frontline that was established only held for a short time. Without the traffic network based on Vilnius, the German position in the southern Baltics was untenable. By the end of July, the 3rd Belorussian Front was ordered to conduct the Kaunas Offensive Operation to further extend the gains of Operation Bagration.


Source :
http://albumwar2.com/german-soldiers-surrender-in-vilnius/
https://heroesandgenerals.com/forums/topic/92943-add-vilnius-on-the-map/

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Russian Sniper Captured by the SS

Soviet Union, 1942: Waffen-SS soldiers captured a Russian sniper and dragged him from his hole (one of them smashes his rifle). There is little chance that this sniper would come out alive, because any sniper never fares very well when captured by the enemy, but captured by the SS? It's the worst scenario! BTW, The SS soldier on the left wears a Soviet padded Telogreika/Vatnik, a warm cotton wool-padded jacket.


Source :
https://www.reddit.com/r/HistoryPorn/comments/4a3wy4/waffenss_captured_a_russian_sniper_one_of_them/

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Pack-Mule Unit Takes a Much Needed Respite

The arduous terrain in which the German Gebirgsjäger (mountain troops) advanced into Poland in September 1939 can well be imagined and, as a consequence, sapped the strength from many of the men participating in the long march. In this photograph, a pack-mule unit takes a much needed respite.


Source :
"Images of War: Hitler's Mountain Troops 1939-1945" by Ian Baxter

Gebirgsjäger Cleaning Their Weapons

German Gebirgsjäger (Mountain troops) have occupied a village somewhere in southern Poland in September 1939, and are seen cleaning their weapons. This was known to the soldiers as, ‘Clean and patch hour’, which was a period of time allowed in order to clean weapons and repair clothes before resuming operations.


Source :
"Images of War: Hitler's Mountain Troops 1939-1945" by Ian Baxter

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Luftwaffe Officers at Feldkommandostelle "Steinbruch"

1942-1943: One side of a stereograph of Luftwaffe officials at a German Air Force headquarters location in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. Original caption in German reads: "Im fahrbaren und somit schnell beweglichen Hauptquartier der Luftwaffe werden die Operationen der Luftverbände geleitet" (In the mobile and thus rapidly moving headquarters of the Air Force, the operations of the combined Luftwaffe staffs are conducted). Hermann Göring's Feldkommandostelle "Steinbruch" was built during the same time when the "Werwolf" complex was built. It was blown up in 1944 by retreating German forces. Parts of the large bunker that stood here can be found in the forest north of the village of Hulivtsi (near Kordeliwka and close to the Luftwaffe airfield in Kalinowka – Google Earth: 49°29'51.85"N – 28°35'51.54"E). The complex was once attacked by a group of partisans, led by general Naumova, in February 1943.


Source :
https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1180077
https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/64587/Remains-Headquarters-Hermann-G%F6ring-Steinbruch.htm

Monday, January 28, 2019

Pioneers Carrying an Extended Charge

Two Heer pioneers rush forward in training carrying an extended charge (Gestreckteladung) as their Unteroffizier looks on. This consisted of 200g charges wired to planks at 10-15cm (4-6in.) intervals.


Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

Crossing a Pontoon Bridge at Night

Crossing a pontoon bridge at night, under the supervision of the Pioniere during an exercise (note the coloured bands on helmets and caps). Brückengerät B bridge construction was a rather complicated procedure that required a reconnaissance of the area to determine the most suitable site to build the bridge and determine the type of bridge required. The Brückengerät B pontoon bridge sections could be assembled in three different configurations: a 130m-long version with a maximum capacity of 4 tons, an 80m-long version with a capacity of 8 tons, and a 50m-long version that could carry up to 20 tons.


Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Inflatable Boats are Loaded with Troops

5.5m medium inflatable boats are loaded with German troops. It was these boats that were paddled across countless rivers to secure the far shore and allow a bridgehead to be established enabling the pioneers to build bridges and operate ferries.


Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

Corduroy Road in the Frontline

A completed corduroy road made by the German pioniertruppen was often settled in by running a tank or other heavy vehicle down it before the 'ribbon-cutting ceremony'. The guide rails on the edges were a standard fixture. Beneath the surface logs are at least five stringer logs running the length of the road surface. Depending on the depth of the mud it might require several layers of cross-laid logs. Ideally a layer of sand, earth, or gravel would be laid on the surface for a smoother ride.


Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

German Infantry Crossing the River

Improvisation and ingenuity were characteristic of the German Pioniere, even though their makeshift solutions could not always be fully appreciated by the men using them. This improvised footway, built using medium-sized inflatable boats, planks, and timber, enables the infantry to get across the river, but judging from the look of the machine gunner in the foreground something more stable would have been appreciated.


Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kriegsmarine Land Quarters

Many naval quarters on land were only a little less cramped than conditions on board ships. During training periods, each man was usually allocated a cupboard which had to be kept locked - the reason being that one should not tempt others to steal. The men are wearing white working denims over blue naval shirts with the large ‘Nelson’ collar.


Source :
Book "Wolfpacks At War: The U-Boat Experience In WWII" by Jak Mallmann Showell

Fun at Wilhelmshaven Naval Barracks

The Reichsmarine barracks in Wilhelmshaven around the time when Hitler came to power.‘Lord Muck’, lounging on the chair and being serenaded, claimed he was too hard worked to clean his locker properly prior to an inspection, so his mates are giving him a hand to make sure that the offending piece of furniture is spotless. Some punishment was called for and coping with a wet wooden locker was not terribly congenial because the offender could not lock his clothes away until it had dried out again. Consequently he was confined to barracks for a brief period while the rest of the ‘charmen’ had a run in town.


Source :
Book "Wolfpacks At War: The U-Boat Experience In WWII" by Jak Mallmann Showell

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Leutnant Wolfgang Stein in Stalingrad

Leutnant Wolfgang E. F. Stein, commander of the 2.Kompanie / Pionier-Bataillon 635, remembers his experience in Stalingrad during the battle on 18 October 1942: “As the oldest lieutenant, I became company commander. We were ordered to blow up bunkers on the bank of the Volga in close combat. During the night we advanced through the Red Barricade gun factory, near the fuel depot. There I was severely wounded during the attack. I suffered a high loss of blood and was lying there senseless. At dawn my comrades brought me back while using smoke and hand grenades and brought me to the battalion command post. My friend, assistant doctor Dr. Lechtken, saved my life; I was flown out to Stalino severely wounded. In this action my friend and comrade Leutnant Fritz Bauch also was severely wounded; he lost his right leg. Of my unit, Oberleutnant Fröhlich, Leutnant Hartung, Gefreiter Bethke, Pionier Straubinger, and Pionier Fischbacher were killed.”


Source :
Book "Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army" by Hans Wijers

Helmut Walz Describes His Experience in Stalingrad


The fights at Stalingrad that the German 305. Infanterie-Division entered on 14 October 1942 were heavy and costly. At first they were fighting for the housing blocks between the Red Barricade factory and the tractor works. Then, from October 17, the fight shifted to the Red October gun factory. Snipers, infantry and artillery fire, aircraft bombs, rain, cold nights, dirt, insects, and lack of sleep reduced the Germans’ strength. Death was lurking everywhere in the dismal desert of the destroyed factories.

Helmut Walz, of the 7.Kompanie / II.Bataillon / Infanterie-Regiment 577, describes the fighting: “On the morning of October 17, we were in the ruins of the factory. Then we were ordered to cross the open terrain to the factory halls. That was a desert of rubble in which everything lay scattered around. About fifteen meters away, I saw Soviet soldiers in a bunker. I was about ten meters ahead and only five to six meters from them, and I took cover behind a brick of concrete, a piece of rubble, but a big one. I huddled behind it and called over to them that they were to surrender. They didn’t do that. Fires were burning everywhere,  and then I threw a hand grenade in there. And then one came out who had blood running from his nose, his ears, and his mouth. I knew nothing about first aid, but I knew one thing: he could not survive. He aimed his submachine gun at me, a Soviet one with the drum in front (PPSH). I was saying to myself: ‘Boy, you won’t get me!’ I took aim at him with my pistol and then saw something small start hurtling through the air. For a moment, I was stunned—what was happening? Then I moved my hand over my face, and there was a big spurt of blood and teeth coming out. One of my comrades saw what was happening and jumped on a slab of concrete and then on top of the Soviet soldier. With his boots, he struck straight into the face of the Russian. I can still hear it crack today. He probably kicked him to death. Leutnant Hennes indicated that I was to crawl into the cover of a shell crater, where he bandaged me provisionally. At that moment, a Soviet soldier appeared over us. The Russian aimed his submachine gun at Hennes, and then his steel helmet was torn away, a bull’s-eye hit, straight in the head. His head was open—I could see the brain lying there, brain to the left and the right and water in between, no blood. Another soldier of our unit killed the Russian who had shot Hennes, and I crawled away to find a medic.”

Apparently, Soviet soldiers found Leutnant Hennes or at least took his field post letters with them, for the war diary of the Soviet 62nd Army reported: “On October 13, Lieutenant G. Hennes of the 305th Infantry Division proudly wrote: ‘We’re storming Stalingrad. The Führer said: Stalingrad has to fall, and we say, It will fall.’ But the pride of the Germans was premature. No efforts can topple the resistance of the protectors of the heroic city.”


Source :
Book "Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army" by Hans Wijers

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Gebirgs Motorcyclists Crossing the River

Two motorcyclists, wearing their distinctive rubberised coats, wade across a stream during a Gebirgs units drive through southern Poland, September 1939. A pioneer with a spade has been attempting to erect a temporary crossing for the motorcycles, but without much luck.


Source :
Book "Images of War: Hitler's Mountain Troops 1939-1945" by Ian Baxter

Gebirgsjäger in a Rubber Boat

German Mountain troops (Gebirgsjäger) are seen paddling across a river in a pneumatic boat during invasion of Poland, 1939. These 18 feet boats could carry a multitude of equipments up to 1.35tons. They were also used to construct pontoon bridges. In this photograph, bicycles can be seen stacked onboard.


Source :
Book "Images of War: Hitler's Mountain Troops 1939-1945" by Ian Baxter