SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

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Griffin brigade
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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Griffin brigade » 09 Sep 2016 21:37

I am just about to start the Ardennes section and so far can wholly concur with the above comments of Martin , a superbly researched and written account , warts and all of SS Pz Aufk Abt 1 and the career and charachter of one it's well known and contraversial commanders . Many thanks and congratulations on this excellent piece of History Timo !
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Harro
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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 09 Sep 2016 22:52

Thank you for the kind words, I hope you'll enjoy reading the rest of the book just as much :milsmile:

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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 25 Sep 2016 10:06

Going through the material not used for the book. Basically all interviews, letters and files not relating to Knittel's service with the AA LAH. Think I'll combine it all in a book about the soldiers of the Aufklärungsabteilung. For example Hans Fischach, who was born in Aschaffenburg on the 21st of July 1922. He recalled his days as a dispatch runner for SS-Haupsturmführer Hugo Kraas, commander of the 2. (Krad.) Kompanie, Aufklärungsabteilung “LAH”:

“I was a member of the 2. Kompanie from the start, that is since the early days in Metz in Fort Alvensleben, in the ‘Kompanietrupp’ (Company HQ Squad) as dispatch runner in the Horch of company commander Kraas. Next to me sat ‘Kompanietruppführer’ (Company HQ squad leader) Bernhardt – ‘die Pfeife’ (the pipe). He came from the Allgemeine SS and there he was possibly more than the [SS-]Rottenführer he was with us. In the squad he was not well-regarded and did not enjoy much respect. Kraas’ driver was [SS-]Sturmmann Artur Gerheim. He originated from Franfurt and was a fine, cheerful comrade and a very capable driver.” (letter from Hans Fischach dated the 7th of April 2003)

Artur Gerheim would serve in the battalion until the final weeks of the war. He was killed in action in Hungary as an SS-Untersturmführer. The “Pfeife” was Eduard Bernhard, born in Fulda on the 5th of December 1908 and was an SS-Untersturmführer in the Allgemeine SS at that time.

“During the Balkan Campaign, ‘Kriegsberichter’ (war reporter) Hans Schwarz van Berk was assigned to our company. He sat in Kraas’ vehicle in between Bernhard and me and also showed up sporadically during the campaign in Russia. He wrote articles about the actions of our unit for the ‘Das Reich’ newspaper.”

About the 10th of August 1941:

“At Bobry I was wounded for the first time. I was ‘Schütze 7’ in ‘Gruppe Koch’. We approached a small hill with our motorcycle-combinations and a four-wheeled recce vehicle and there we were shot at from all sides by Russians who were hidden under bundles of hay. Burose fell immediately, was recovered by the armoured car but he was already dead. I was shot through my left shoulder and a bullet had grazed my left cheek. Peter Prokopp was also wounded.” (letter from Hans Fischach dated the 11th of November 2006).

SS-Unterscharführer Helmut ‘Bubi’ Burose (born in Heide on the 29th of August 1921) was killed by a shot through the heart (source: medical reports of the Aufkl.Abt. ‘LAH’ – BA-MA). He led a squad in the platoon of SS-Untersturmführer Emil Wawrzinek, who’s unit had been at the head of the company. Wawrzinek was wounded by artillery fire. SS-Sturmmann Peter Prokopp had been in the sidecar of Fischach’s motorcycle-combination and had been shot through his left arm:

“Peter Prokopp and I were transported to the military hospital in Saporoschie in the same ‘Sanka’ (ambulance), then to the hospital in Menden (Kreis Iserlohn) by train.”

Fischach returned to the Aufklärungsabteilung in December 1941 where he replaced Horst Simon as squad leader. Simon had lost his right arm one or two days earlier and did not return to his unit:

"Early 1942 Panzermeyer waved me, [SS-]Unterscharführer Holde Fuß and [SS-]Sturmmann Erich Kurz goodbye as we left for the Junkerschule Braunschweig.“

After completing the officer course Fischach was assigned to the "Hohenstauffen" division as an SS-Untersturmführer. He became an author and illustrator after the war, lived in Munich all his life and died on the 25th of February 2008. Many of his books are still available in German through Amazon

http://www.stern.de/panorama/hans-fisch ... 02754.html

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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by pim » 25 Sep 2016 10:35

Thanks for always sharing important additional information via the forum(s) and Facebook on this unit. I for one would very much welcome a book authored by yourself about the soldiers of the LAH AA. :)
If it comes remotely close to the quality of your Gustav Knittel book it will be very much worth it.

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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 22 Oct 2016 08:17


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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 04 Dec 2016 18:14

Excerpt from one of my recorded telephone conversations with the late Heinz Eisner, who served as an SS-Unterscharführer in the signals platoon of the Aufklärungsabteilung LSSAH. This story is also included in my book about Gustav Knittel, in chapter 2.8 "Operation ‘Citadel’"

https://www.facebook.com/gustavknittel/ ... 7540377624

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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 03 Jan 2017 20:42

Preview from my next book, which will combine all my interviews with members of the Aufklärungsabteilung "LSSAH" which I could not use in my Knittel biography.

Near the end of March 1945 a scouting party near the Hungarian town of Pápa was to report on the advancing Russians. The late Walter Herrmann – driver of an Sd.Kfz. 250 armoured halftrack in 2. (le.SPW) Kompanie – recounted:

“ ’Spähtruppführer’ (scouting party leader) was [SS-]Untersturmführer Stiewe. He joined the crew of my vehicle. The second vehicle was an armoured radio vehicle. He had to drive to an observation point on a conical hill approx. 3-4 km in front of Pápa. It was surrounded by flat plains and we could see for miles around. At the foot of the hill there was a sudden movement. Stiewe ordered [SS-]Unterscharführer [Hermann] Warnke and two soldiers to go down to find out what was going on. He returned and reported that gypsies were hiding in caves. Stiewe then sent the whole crew down the hill. They were to dig in and detain the gypsies. On top of the hill Stiewe and I remained with the armoured radio vehicle. By 13.00hrs we could see the Russians roll to the west, which was also our only way out. I urged Stiewe to abandon our position and to commence our retreat. After the crew of the radio vehicle also requested to leave, he threatened everybody who kept talking about pulling back with court martial. He had orders to hold his position until 7.00hrs the next morning. The Russians rolled by without interruption and without armoured spearhead. By 17.00hrs Stiewe also got queasy and he ordered us to retreat. First, the soldiers at the foot of the hill were called back. When they had reached the top and had mounted the vehicle, we noticed that [SS-]Sturmmann Fischer was missing. Two men had to go back down to fetch him. Fischer was found asleep in a hole. Meanwhile Stiewe sent the radio vehicle away with orders to go a specific farmstead. As soon as Fischer reached the top we also drove off. To our unpleasant surprise the radio vehicle was not where it should have been waiting for us. Two soldiers of our Pionier-Bataillon showed up who informed us that the radio vehicle had whizzed by without stopping. The Pioniere hitched a ride in our vehicle. We were without any contact with the Abteilung.

We drove on. Meanwhile it became dark. As I drove along a forest road I recognised an armoured column at the crossroads in front of us. I stopped and woke up Stiewe, who slept with a blanket over his head like the others. They were obviously Russians. We covered the ‘Balkenkreuze’ on our vehicle with blankets. The men pulled up their headbands as if it were Russian hats. Stiewe stood behind me with his hands on my shoulders and I had to drive to the pressure of his hands: I rushed down the forest road in the direction of the crossroads at the top speed and as soon as I felt pressure on my left shoulder I hit the left track brake and swung left at the crossroads. For several hundreds of meters I drove past the Russians at maximum speed. It was quite a few T-34’s with some jeeps in between. As soon as Stiewe’s hand pressed my right shoulder I hit the right track brake back into the woods. Not a single shot was fired. Either the Russians had been too surprised or they had not recognised us as we whizzed by.

After we left the forest for open terrain we approached a farmstead. Behind it, the road split to the left and right. I turned left, bearing in mind that the Russians also drove to the left, that is to the west. Stiewe ordered me to stop, came down into the vehicle, checked his maps and told me to turn around and take the road to the right. I had this feeling, that we were heading straight towards the Russians again, but I obeyed Stiewe’s order. After a few hundred meters the road turned into a ditch. Stiewe had two men walk to the left and right to find out where the ditch ended. The end was to the left. The ‘Schützen’ mounted the vehicle again. When I reversed, the tracks slipped as we got stuck in a swamp. All blankets and clothes we had onboard were put under the tracks but as soon as I opened the throttle a little, they flew out the other side. The hull sank into the mud. Stiewe ordered us to get out of the vehicle. He asked if I had a weapon. I had a Belgian 08 in my laundry bag. He ordered me to bring a carbine along instead. Then he also got out. I put on my overcoat, grabbed my dispatch case and emptied two spare fuel canisters in the vehicle. I then climbed onto the engine hood, took an egg grenade and tossed in into the crew compartment. It set the halftrack ablaze. When I jumped down I sank knee-deep into the mud. I struggled to get out and joined the crew. Stiewe’s first question was about my weapon. I pulled my pistol out of my pocket. His response was that would have me court-martialled for insubordination. He then walked on with the express order for me to stay close to him.

After we had walked quite a distance we came across a road. Two Russians walked towards us from the other side of the road. We took cover and let them pass. We then crossed the road ‘im Sprung auf marsch, marsch’ (get up, on the double). The two Russians were alarmed by the noise this made and opened fire. Of all people, [SS-]Sturmmann Fischer, who earlier had fallen asleep in his foxhole, was shot through a knee. Of course we had to drag him along. One arm around Stiewe, the other around me. Since Stiewe was 1.80m tall and I was just 1.64m short, Fischer hung around his neck whereas I had to cope with his full weight. It did not take long before I collapsed and I was replaced by [SS-]Unterscharführer Warnke. He was about the same height as Stiewe which meant the wounded man was able to hobble along on his good leg. We approached a forest and hoped to be safe. Shortly before the forest someone shouted: ‘Eu Stotterkoj’ (stojte kto – halt, who goes there). Stiewe replied: ‘Verwundete’ (wounded men). On the other side the response was: ‘Nemetzkis, Nemetzkis!’ (Germans, Germans!) and then they opened fire like I had never experienced before or since. Like all comrades I immediately hit the dirt. At the barracks yard we had been drilled to turn on our belt buckles. I then crawled away. When I got the chance to look up I saw my comrades run. I also jumped up and followed them. When I noticed rifles, machine guns and overcoats laying around, I realised why my comrades were faster than me. While running I threw off my dispatch case, got out of my overcoat and then I also managed to run faster. The comrades lay in a small swale. We were totally exhausted. Fortunately the Russians did not follow. The wounded Fischer was there but Stiewe and Warnke were nowhere to be seen. I asked him, didn’t they carry you? They had collapsed the moment the shooting had started. He had turned around and just ran until someone supported him. That was [SS-]Rottenführer Prosdewitz, but he also had not seen the two. We then asked [SS-]Unterscharführer Erwin Viergutz […] He suggested I should take command. I then told the others that I would walk in the direction of the battle noises. Those who wanted to join me should do so, otherwise I would go on my own. All along we had heard the sound of tank guns as background music and Stiewe believed this to be the sound of our Tiger and Panther tanks. He refused to believe that this was the sound of T-34’s. It was clear to me that in the direction of these battle noises lay our only chance to find our lines. With the wounded in the middle we walked on. Somewhere we reached a river which we followed. We then reached a road which crossed the river. Russian tanks, jeeps and other combat vehicles moved from right to left, ambulances from left to right. We carried the wounded on our shoulders as we waded into the river on the other side of the road. At some distance from the bridge the clambered out of the water. After some time we reached a village were we found marks of SPW tracks in the sand. Two of us sneaked into the village. They met a man who stated he was German and who told them that the last German soldiers had left the village for the neighbouring village the previous evening. He accompanied them to our hideout and showed us the way to the neighbouring village. As we approached that village we spotted an 8.8cm ‘Flak’ gun. A soldier shouted ‘Sie kommen’ (they’re coming), threw his rifle away and fled. The gun crew came forth and we identified ourselves as Germans. With that we had really made it back to our lines. Our wounded were carried to an aid station and we moved on. Meanwhile it was 5.00hrs.

On the German side of the lines we thought we would easily be able to return to our Abteilung. Without our wounded we quickly walked on. We soon realised that there was no organisation whatsoever. We came across a large village. After we had crossed it a motorcycle-combination pulled up. An Oberst asked us to which unit we belonged and where we were going. We replied that we obviously wanted to return to our unit. He then asked if we were unaware of the latest orders from the ‘Reichsheini’ Accordingly, anyone who was caught away from his unit could be shot on sight. We were to turn around and report to his Kampfgruppe forthwith. We turned around, though with no enthusiasm. Shortly thereafter we came across a couple of trucks from the ‘Wiking’ Division. We stopped them and they took us along to their strongpoint. In the end we were caught in some village during the rest of our march. We had to hand over our ‘Soldbücher’ (pay books) in some hall. Will Prosdewitz and I were the last who handed them in. The Feldwebel at the entrance put them on a large pile. We remained at the entrance and watched the passing traffic. As soon as we saw vehicles pass from the Panzerregiment ‘LSSAH’ I grabbed our pay books, shouted ‘Willi, komm’ and off we went. We jumped on a vehicle and hitched a ride to the baggage train.”


SS-Untersturmführer Siegfried Stiewe was born in the Pomeranian town of Damerkow (today Dąbrówka in Poland) on the 13th of January 1924 and is listed as missing near the Hungarian city of Komárom since March 1945. SS-Unterscharführer Warnke is also missing since March 1945, their graves are not listed by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräbersfürsorge e.V. In his letter dated the 14th of March 2006, Walter Herrmann explained that none of the members of the group considered recovering the bodies of Stiewe and Warnke:

“in our hopeless situation all we could think about was survival. Late November 1945 I was released from American captivity. In 1954 or 55, Stiewe’s father – Oberstleutnant Josef Stiewe – paid me a visit. I had found the names of Stiewe and Warnke in the missing-persons lists and had provided the corresponding missing-in-action statements. That’s how the father got my address. I gently informed him that he should not count on the safe return of his son. I spared him the specifics. The death of his son had spared my life, since the consequences of his threats about having me court-martialled for insubordination were totally clear."

www.facebook.com/gustavknittel

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Harro
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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 24 Mar 2017 09:01

From my Youtube channel...






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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by smetanin albert » 07 Feb 2018 13:58

from SSO Oetter
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Harro
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Re: SS-Aufklärungsabteilung LAH...

Post by Harro » 07 Feb 2018 14:12

Thanks, that's a very young Oetter (also interesting to see confirmed once more that it isn't spelled Ötter. He joined the Waffen-SS in the summer of 1940 and after completing his basic signal training was assigned to the Funkkompanie of the Nachrichten Abteilung in the 'Wiking' Division. Oetter took part in the battles around Tarnopol and Dnjepropetrowsk as a radioman and was awarded the E. K. II. In November 1941 he attended the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig and graduated at the top of his class in the signal officer specialty course held later at Nürnberg. It seems he was to succeed SS-Obersturmführer Heinz Westfahl as signals platoon commander during the Kharkiv battles (releasing Fritz Wiese as temporary commander) but it is unclear what exactly happened. He first shows up in the war diary of the Aufklärungsabteilung on March 28, 1943, then disappears again with Wiese leading the platoon all the way until he was KIA in April 1945.

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