Hello Jan-Hendrik (and others),
I agree with you that Gen.Maj. Karl Koetz did not command 5 PzD beginning on 18. April 1945. This is posted on the Axis History Factbook page for the division.http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=1277
I do not possess any primary sources that would back this up.
The Soviets had reduced the Königsberg fortress on 10. April and opened a new offensive in Samland on 13. April against Gen.d.Inf. Matzky's XXVI AK under which 5 PzD was fighting alongside the battered remnants of 28 JgD, 58 ID, 1 ID, 21 ID and 561 VGrD.
Christopher Duffy's Red Storm on the Reich
(Da Capo, 1993, New York) quotes A.D. Plato's Die Geschichte der 5. Panzerdivision 1938 bis 1945
(1978 - Regensburg) saying that Oberst Herzog would have ordered a general sauve qui peut
(every man for himself) at 15h30 on 16. April 1945. Herzog's order came about when 5 PzD was cut off in the Peyse peninsula as the Russians reached Fischhausen further west.
I therefore see Obst.d.R. Herzog as last commander of 5 PzD. Remnants must have found their way to Pillau, but did they fight as an organized unit under the banner of 5 PzD ???
Here are the fates of the commanders above mentioned units, XXVI AK
: Gen.d.Inf. Gerhard Matzky - surrendered to the British in May 1945.28 JgD
: Obst. Hans Tempelhof - unknown to me ???58 ID
: Gen.Lt. Curt Siewert - wounded on 13. April 1945. Surrendered to the British on 4. May 1945.1 ID
: Gen.Lt. Henning von Thadden - wounded on 26. April 1945. Shipped to Denmark. Died on 18. May 1945.21 ID
: Gen.Maj. Karl Koetz - taken ill on 16. April 1945. Surrendered to the British on 15. July 1945.561 VGrD
: Obst. Felix Becker - served as a Russian-English interpretor for the Wehrmachts-Führungsstab
in May 1945. May have surrendered to the British ???5 PzD
: Obst.d.R. Hans Herzog - unknown to me. Commands 5 PzD til 18. April 1945. Probably surrendered to the Soviets on that date in Peyse ???
Most of them escaped by sea via Pillau, including Gen.Maj. Karl Koetz. His successor is unknown to me.
Russ Schneider’s Gotterdammerung 1945
(Eastern Front Warfield Books, Philomont, Va. 1998, pp. 515-520) mentions 83 ID was shipped to Pillau via the Hela peninsula on 24. April 1945. The division encountered the Soviets’ final onslaught on 25. April and surrendered on the morning of 26. April 1945. He quotes from Geschichte der 83. Infanterie-Division 1939 - 1945
by Reinhard Tiemann (Podzun, Bad Nauheim, 1960).
According to Duffy (p.219), the last Germans to fight in the Samland, Batterie Lehmberg under command of Major Karl Henke, were wiped out at Pillau on 27. April 1945.
Unless it was from a medical bed before boarding ship from Pillau (until the last week of April ?), I don't see how Koetz could have commanded 5 PzD up to 8. May 1945.
Any comments or additions ?