1 January 1920|
|Died||1 September 2007
|Years of service||1938–1945|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Prof. em. Dr. Bodo Spranz (1 January 1920 – 1 September 2007) was a highly decorated Hauptmann in the Wehrmacht during World War II and one of the leading researchers of preclassic meso-American history. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Early life and military career
Bodo Spranz was born on 1 January 1920 in the town of Nordhausen, in the German Harz. After completing his basic military training, he served as Fahnenjunker and Geschützführer with the 8. Batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 12 in Rostock during the Polish campaign, between 16 November 1938 and 10 October 1939. He received a promotion to Gefreiter on 1 April 1939. On 1 August 1939 he was promoted to Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier and on 26 January 1940 was promoted again to Fahnenjunker-Wachtmeister. After attending the Waffenschule in Jüterbog and being promoted to Leutnant, he was assigned as Zugführer IV. Abteilung Artillerie-Regiment 209, participating in the Battle of France. Between 21 July and 9 August 1940, he underwent training for duty on a Sturmgeschütz with the VI. Artillerie-Lehrregiment at Jüterbog. Upon successful completion of his training, he was assigned to Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 185 as a Zugführer with the Heeresgruppe Nord on the Eastern Front. On 30 September 1941, he was transferred to Schweinfurt as a Batterieoffizier with the Sturmgeschütz Ersatz- und Ausbildungsabteilung 200. He was once again serving on the Eastern Front between 15 January 1942 and 13 January 1943 as a Zugführer and later Batteriechef with Sturmgeschützabteilung 185 and on 1 April 1942 he was promoted to Oberleutnant. For a short time he returned to the Sturmgeschütz Ersatz- und Ausbildungsabteilung 200 at Schweinfurt but transferred back to the Eastern Front on 2 June 1943 as a Batteriechef with Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237. As a consequence of being decorated with the Knights Cross and the Oakleaves, both on 3 October 1943, he received a promotion to Hauptmann. He served with the Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237 until 2 April 1944, after which time he was assigned as Hörsaalleiter with the Sturmgeschütz-schule at Magdeburg. From the beginning of 1945 until the end of the war, Bodo Spranz was assigned as an Ordonnanzoffizier (Aide-de-camp) with the Chef Generalstab des Heeres, Generaloberst Heinz Guderian, with the 29. Panzergrenadier-Division in Italy and finally with Army Commander General Wenck in Berlin. He was captured by the Americans on 6–7 May 1945, trying to escape Soviet captivity and transferred to a British POW camp until his release.
From 1947 to 1950 Spranz attended the Art Academy in Bremen and in 1951 was hired as a technical assistant at the Übersee-Museum Bremen (Ethnological Museum in Bremen). With the approval of the Bremen Senate he could study ethnology, folklore and history at the University of Hamburg, without neglecting his museum duties. Professor Franz Termer supervised him in pre-Columbian America and presented him a dissertation topic in this direction. In 1958 he received his doctorate in Hamburg with the thesis "The Codex Borgia; studies the iconography of a Mexican picture manuscript in the Vatican Library in Rome." After graduation, he remained at the Bremen Ethnological Museum. On 1 June 1962 he became the full-time director of the ethnological museum in Freiburg. He qualified in 1969 with a publication "The Pyramids of Totimehuacan/Puebla (Mexico) and their integration into the development of the Preclassic pyramid building in Mesoamerica" and received the Habilitation Ethnology. He held the position of director until 1984.
Awards and decorations
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (23 June 1940)
- 1st Class (2 July 1941)
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black (4 September 1941)
- in Silver (2 September 1942)
- in Gold (8 December 1942)
- Eastern Front Medal (27 July 1942)
- 4 Tank Destruction Badges for Individual Combatants
- General Assault Badge
- with 25 Numeral
- German Cross in Gold (5 May 1943)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 329.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 63.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Bodo Spranz in the German National Library catalogue
- World War 2 Awards.com
- Lexikon der Wehrmacht
- Ritterkreuztraeger 1939-1945