By: Rich Deveau-Maxwell
“I, Oskar Wolkerstorfer was born on 2.11.1919 in Linz, Austria as the 6th child of the unskilled worker Josef Wolkerstorfer and his wife Therese Wolkerstorfer, née Weinberger. I attended 4 classes of Volksschule and 4 classes of Hauptschule. On 10.9.33 I entered the Ebenhöchsche bookshop, Heinrich Korb Linz, as an apprentice. On 10.09.36 I was taken on as an employee and remained with this company until the day of my entry into the SS-VT. During my apprenticeship I completed 3 years of university study. In August 1933 I joined the Hitlerjugend and in July 1934 I transferred into the SA. On 1st January 1937 I joined the Allgemeine-SS and led a group there until my departure for the Reich. I was arrested for fourteen days on the occasion of the July 1934 coup in Austria. On June 30, 1937, I entered the SS-VT "N" Donau. On January 30, 1938 I left the Roman Catholic Church. I possess the basic sports certificate and the Reichssportabzeichen.”
Despite standing at only 5ft 6” tall, Oskar Wolkerstorfer was clearly a man with a promising military career; being promoted from SS-Mann to SS-Junker on 12.04.39, and then shortly after to SS-Standartenjunker on 09.11.39.
Wolkerstorfer attended the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig from 9.11.39 to 20.12.39 and was described on 20.12.39 as consistent, with very good soldierly knowledge, and “dashing and committed in service.” His performance as Zugführer, was rated “1” according to the following: ( 1 - good, 2 - mediocre, 3 - poor) with the following remarks: Suitable as a platoon commander. (Assault Squad Leader). Bizarrely, the comment regarding his special aptitude after the war described him as suitable for service in the SS-Sicherheitsdienst or Allgemeine-SS, presumably due to his university education. Wolkerstorfer graduated the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig with the following grades and assessment:
1. In Ideological Education: sufficient.
2. In Tactical Instruction: pretty good.
3. In Topography and Cartography: sufficient.
4. In Military Service: good.
5. In Engineer's Training: sufficient.
6. In Signals Classes: ---
7. In Armoured Combat theory: sufficient.
8. In Aviation: ---
9. In General Practice Army Doctrine: sufficient.
10. In Orienteering: sufficient.
11. In military Affairs: quite good
12. In Infantry Combat theory: pretty good.
13. In Sport: sufficient.
14. In Riding: sufficient.
Wolkerstorfer was described as a sincere, helpful and reliable companion, with an easygoing disposition. His instructors described him as attentive, and a fast learner. While his Junkerschule assessment stated he had only an “elementary school education” despite his university term, Oskar was described as “one of the best in the auditorium” during the course. His superiors noted his “good soldierly attitude”, and clean and tidy appearance. They ascertained that Oskar Wolkertorfer was energetic, and was suitable to develop his skills as an SS-Officer.
On 24.12.39, Oskar Wolkerstorfer married his fiancée Hansi Klimstein.
On the 1.1.40, Wolkerstorfer was sent to the Unterfuhrerschule of the SS-Totenkopverbande at Breslau, and received his commission as SS-Untersturmführer on 20.4.40. Following his promotion, Wolkerstorfer was transferred to the 2./SS “Der Fuhrer” Regiment of the SS-Division “Reich” on 5.7.40. The details on his erkennungsmarke read “2./SS “DF” 130”.
An evaluation dated 7.10.40. during Wolkerstorfer's short time with 2./SS “DF”, stated “Wolkerstorfer is a fresh, safe and self-confident SS officer. He has a solid theoretical knowledge, but still lacks experience and practice. He has good teaching ability and good general education, who appears interested in aspect of his role. His open personality is respectable and balanced.” Deemed ideologically consolidated, Wolkerstorfer was complimented on performing his role as platoon leader well.
At around this time, the question surrounding Wolkerstorfer's lack of SS-number came again to the fore; on 14.10.40, Wolkerstorfer's wife wrote the following curt communication to the SS-Hauptamt-Ergänzungsamt in Berlin. “Subject: SS number. I ask you to give me the SS number of my husband. My husband joined the SS in Linz in 1936 and then on 15 June 1937 came to Dachau to the Nuremberg Standarte and was promoted to SS-Ustuf on 20 April 40. His name is Oskar Wolkerstorfer. At the moment he is with the “Der Fuhrer” Regiment, field post number 15807 C. I ask you to do this as soon as possible. HH. Hansi Wolkerstorfer. Linz. A/D, Ringstrasse 52.” Following this communication, and after much back and forth, Wolkerstorfer finally received his SS-number; 353112.
Shortly afterwards on 8.2.41 Wolkerstorfer was again transferred, to the 1./SS “Der Fuhrer” under the command of Vinzenz Kaiser. Wolkerstorfer distinguished himself in the Western campaign as platoon leader and later as the adjutant of the 1./SS "DF" with special personal bravery. For his actions he was awarded the EKII on 28.7.41. Due to his special achievements as a platoon commander in the 1./SS "DF" in the fighting of Operation “Barbarossa” he was awarded the EKI on 1.10.41.
Wolkerstorfer led the 15th /SS "DF" from September 1941, “and as company commander led his unit perfectly, and was not only a prudent leader but also an example of bravery and recklessness.”
On 23.9.41 the "DF" Regiment was in position in front of Sakunowo. The enemy had managed to maneuver strong forces into the rear of the II./SS "DF". The 15th company, as regimental reserve had to be deployed. In a surprisingly short time Wolkerstorfer, had penetrated his company into the village, and succeeded in destroying the surprised enemy. The company had to battle against Russian tanks which unexpectedly pushed into the area. One of these tanks was destroyed by Wolkerstorfer in close combat, while two more were destroyed by assault guns. The rest prudently withdrew. “Due to the special bravery of Wolkerstorfer and his prudent leadership, as well as the swift deployment of the 15th Company, the rear of the 2nd Battalion was cleared, and numerous prisoners and equipment were captured.” This action would mark Wolkerstorfer's first enemy tank destroyed in close combat.
On 8.10.41 Wolkerstorfer found out by reconnaissance in the direction of the motorway Misnk - Moscow that the enemy had brought large reserves at night from the direction of Moscow. In the dawn of the 9.10 Wolkerstorfer advanced with 2 SPW, 1 Motorcycle platoon, and PAK at the head of the II./SS "DF" and penetrated into Oreschewo. Before the opponent came to his senses, the motorcycle platoon had already taken the first positions and thus enabled the following 6th company to penetrate the defences of the bitterly defending, numerically superior opponent. Wolkerstorfer, in the decisive moments before the enemy units came to readiness, advanced at high speed with the help of two armoured cars and the motorcycle platoon, ensuring the capture of the position.
21.10.41 found Wolkerstorfer advancing in the direction of Borrisovo. Borrisovo was occupied by strong enemy forces and was taken under attack by the "DF" regiment. Wolkerstorfer covered the left flank of "DF" regiment, which later penetrated into the rear of the enemy positions at Borrisowo, but was repelled by enemy counterattacks.
Wolkerstorfer and his unit were crucial in the actions around the capture of the bridge at Borrisovo, as exposed to enemy fire, with the help of anti-tank and machine guns his unit managed to keep the bridge covered until the II./SS "DF" managed to reach it.
On 24.11.41 the 15./SS "DF" received the order to advance in the direction of Istra. With a subordinated assault gun Wolkerstorfer made a surprise advance on Istra, and destroyed the enemy outposts in the positions on the height before Istra. With supporting fire from the assault gun, Pz.Sp.Wg and anti-tank guns the enemy lost the strength of several companies. Pursuing the fleeing Russians, Wolkerstorfer, and his company reached the Istra bridge with some men before it could be blown up, despite heavy losses due to the strong defensive fire of tanks and artillery from the heights. During the attempt to remove the explosive charges, Wolkerstorfer was severely wounded at close range by a bullet. He remained with his company until they had succeeded in forming a small bridgehead, allowing the following III./SS "DF" to enter Istra and occupy the heights behind.
Due to his conduct at Istra, SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Bittrich sent the following communication on 5.12.41 to the SS-FHA. “Promotion due to bravery before the enemy. The division submits a promotion proposal to SS-Obersturmführer for SS-Untersturmführer Wolkerstorfer, Company Commander 15./SS "DF". The division asks to announce the promotion because of bravery before the enemy. Wolkerstorfer was particularly brave in forming the Istra bridgehead. In the leadership of his company, he proved himself through bravery and operational readiness, as well as clear and exemplary leadership. SS-Untersturmführer Wolkerstorfer was severely wounded during the fighting at Istra.”
Heavily wounded, on 26.1.42 Wolkerstorfer was admitted to the Heidelberg Military Hospital. The following report details Wolkerstorfer's diagnosis and convalescence:
“27.1.42: Single shrapnel wound in the groin or in the middle of the buttock healed without irritation. In the area of the right hand there is a distinct pulsating pre-curvature.
29.1.42: Arteriography: percutaneous arteriography of the femoral artery in an aneurysm in the area of the flexure of the leisten. The femoral artery is located at the upper end of the contrasting column. Somewhat below the hip joint one sees a cherry-sized dilated site. The arteriography should be repeated.
30.1.42: The patient goes on holiday.
10.2.42: The patient is back from vacation.
23.2.42: The aneurysm did not increase significantly during the treatment.
25.2.42: Arteriography shows the aneurysm spurium of the femoral artery, the size of a bonnet, a little above the bend of the ridge.
2.3.42: The patient is presented again to Prof. Dr. Kirschner, who does not consider an operation of the small aneurysm to be necessary at the moment. A new check in a 1/4 year is necessary.
9.3.42: Dismissal. Summary: Wolkerstorfer was wounded by a bullet in the right hand. The wounds healed well. However, an aneurysm of the femoral artery formed in the area of the flexure of the shoulder. The arteriography shows that it is an aneurysm spurium of the femoral artery. Since the small aneurysm did not increase in size during an observation period of several weeks, the consultant surgeon, Prof. Kirschner, recommended that the operation not be performed for the time being. Should the operation ultimately become necessary at a later date, the prognosis for the operation would be more favourable due to better development of the collateral circulation. Wolkerstofer is discharged for 1/4 year convalescence. This period of convalescence is absolutely necessary.”
Whilst in hospital, Wolkerstorfer was awarded three Tank Destruction Badges, for the first action, and two further tanks destroyed during the fighting near Moscow on 1.12.41. The awards were presented on 20.2.42 when he also received the Wound Badge in Silver for his wounds sustained at Istria.
Following his convalescence, Wolkerstorfer returned to the front; On 4.2.43 the regiment was positioned on the east-west axis in the area of Woltschansk. The 15th Company was ordered to reconnoitre the enemy positions in Jefremowka and then to establish itself south of Jefremowka for defence. Ostuf Wolkerstorfer led the reconnaissance himself and brought back the best results in the shortest time. On 5.2.43 he advanced from Jefremowka against Malaya-Volchia, against the enemy, and destroyed numerous heavy weapons and anti-tank guns, and brought back documents and strength reports about the enemy.
Until 16.2.43 the regiment was in position northwest of Bereka when the order was received to detach from the enemy. During that period the Russians pressed hard and it was not possible to disguise the withdrawal. The 15th Company was ordered to secure the release of the 2nd Battalion east of Ochochaje. As soon as the 2nd battalion had marched through Ochochaje to the west, the Russians attacked with strong cavalry against the 15th company. Obersturmführer Wolkerstorfer himself led counter-attacks and his company repulsed the Russian attacks, laying minefields at critical locations favourable for an enemy advance. When the remaining elements of the regiment had disengaged, Wolkerstorfer and his company withdrew.
On 20.2.43 the 15th company was ordered to reconnoitre in front of the regiment in the direction of Novomoskovsk. At Goshoffka the 15th Company encountered the enemy. In order to throw back the Russians Wolkerstorfer deployed the company and advanced into the village with his first platoon. After the initial advance it became clear that the enemy had occupied the village with strong forces and tanks. Wolkerstorfer and his company immediately attacked. After hours of fighting, they had managed to push the enemy out of the essential parts of the village. With two 5cm PAK the 15th company destroyed two Russian tanks. The following II. Battalion occupied and secured the village.
On 25.2.43 the regiment advanced from Pawlograd in the direction of Losawaja. The 15th Company had been sent ahead of the advance. South of Yurievka, the 15th Company encountered the enemy's rearguards, who had settled in positions along the railway line. The reconnaissance result of the 15th company allowed the possibility of destroying the enemy by surprise. Wolkerstorfer attacked with his company, penetrated the field positions and engaged the enemy. After the fighting, over 110 Russian dead remained, 10 heavy mortars, one 4.7 PAK, 3 Pz.Büchsen and a heavy MG were captured.
Regimental commander SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Kumm wrote in Wolkerstorfer's recommendation for the German Cross in Gold “In addition to these bravery acts and examples of an impeccable and exemplary leadership, Wolkerstorfer has shown a long series of outstanding performances. He has always stood with his man where the going was tough in all previous campaigns. Every task, no matter how difficult it may seem, was handled without hesitation and thus essential successes were achieved. In spite of this, Wolkerstorfer is still a daredevil, and yet one of the bravest soldiers. Wolkerstorfer has earned the German Cross in Gold not only because of his outstanding one-time achievements, but also because of his constant 100 percent commitment.”
20.4.43 saw Wolkerstorfer's fourth and final award of the Tank Destruction Badge, and his last award as SS-Obersturmführer.
For his achievements, the following note dated 5.10.43 regarding Wolkersorfer's impending promotion to SS-Hauptsturmführer stated; “Wolkerstorfer is a proven SS officer; he has proven himselfiin the field and especially in the hard offensive and defensive actions in February and March. Additionally, as a result of his character and personality he is considered worthy of promotion.
On 1.10.43 Wolkerstorfer was transferred to the Balkans to the newly formed V.SS-Gebirgs-Korps.
17.3.44 would see Wolkerstorfer awarded the Close Combat Clasp in Silver, commanding 1./SS AA 105.
A V. SS-Gebirgs-Korps assessment dated 15.7.44 stated of Haupsturmführer Wolkerstorfer:
Personality evaluation, strength of character, weaknesses, inclinations: Decent, but not always of transparent character and tends slightly towards boastfulness. Good soldierly performance, but always requires exaggerated recognition, especially for awards and promotions that he is fully deserving of.
Mental and physical disposition, official services and knowledge: Very agile mentally with good achievements, has good tactical, skill at arms and technical knowledge.
Appearance and behaviour towards superiors, comrades and subordinates; off-duty behaviour: Of good appearance, but often falls back on immature, moody ideals. Prefers his subordinates to treat him with a certain blind adoration, which alienates some of his subordinates. In this area, maturity must be developed.
Ideological orientation: Convinced national socialist and old fighter, good ideological teacher. In his present role as company commander his performance is excellent. He fulfils his current position as deputy Battalion commander. Old Eastern Front veteran. His current aptitude and suitability is for the time being as commander of a Reconnaissance battalion.
Shortly afterwards, a V. SS-Gebirgs-Korps report on 20.10.44 when Wolkerstorfer was the commander of SS Aufklärungsabteilung 505 described him as a “tactful, sincere, and extremely active SS officer, an excellent soldier, enthusiastic about life with excellent organizational skills and personal readiness for action.” Regarding his aforementioned character traits, a cautionary note described Wolkerstorfer as “extremely capable of development; however, a strong leading hand is often necessary, as Wolkerstofer is sometimes still jumpy, with juvenile exuberance.”
On 19.3.45 Wolkerstorfer was nominated for the Knight's Cross, but the award was never ratified. His final decoration was the Wound Badge in Gold, which he received on 13.2.45 after being wounded for the sixth time.
Oskar Wolkerstorfer died in Linz, Austria on 11 January 1971.
Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze (1942)
Wound Badge in Black (1941)
Wound Badge in Silver (1942)
Wound Badge in Gold (1945)
German Cross in Gold on 9 April 1943 as SS-Obersturmfuhrer in the 15./SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "Der Fuhrer"
Iron Cross 2nd Class (1941)
Iron Cross 1st Class (1941)
3 x Tank Destruction Badge in Silver (1942)
1 x Tank Destruction Badge in Silver (1943)
Panzer Badge in Silver (1942)
Close Combat Clasp in Silver (1944)
Sudetenland Medal (1939)
Anschluss Medal (1939)
SS-Honour Ring (1942)
Eastern Front Medal (1942)
Croatian Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir, 3rd Class with Swords (1944)