Eduard Deisenhofer

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Dr. jur. Eduard Deisenhofer
Deisenhofer.jpg
Deisenhofer as SS-Obersturmbannführer during service with 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, 1942.
Born (1909-06-27)27 June 1909
Freising
Died MIA 31 January 1945(1945-01-31) (aged 35)
near Arnswalde
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1930 – 1945
Rank Oberführer
Unit SS-VT
SS Division Totenkopf
10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg
5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking
17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen
Battles/wars World War II
Awards German Cross in Gold
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Close Combat Clasp in Silver

Dr. Eduard Deisenhofer (27 June 1909, Freising, Upper BavariaMIA 31 January 1945) was an officer and commander in the German Waffen-SS who served with several combat divisions on both the eastern and western fronts, earning several high grade distinctions, such as the Close Combat Clasp, and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Deisenhofer can be seen as an interesting example of the 'educated' SS man, most of whom served in the SD.

Early life and pre-war career[edit]

Born in Freising, Bavaria, to a middle-class family, Deisenhofer excelled in his studies at school from a young age. After his schooling, he pursued studies in the fields of politics and economics. He eventually received his PhD as a political economist. During his time at university, he had come into contact with the Nazi Party, and soon applied to join the SA. After only a few months with the SA, Deisenhofer transferred to the SS, beginning his service on 1 October 1930.

Described by Gottfried Klingemann as a 'clear-thinking and just man with an energetic and tenacious character', Deisenhofer quickly climbed his way through the ranks, holding various low level command positions, including service with the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in 1934 and at the KZ Dachau in 1935. By this stage he had reached the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer.

On 30 January 1936, Deisenhofer married Edeltraut Holzapfel. Over the course of the next few years, they would have three daughters, one of whom was killed in a bombing raid in May 1943.

In 1936, he was transferred to SS-Wachtruppe Oberbayern. Over the next two years he served in both the Totenkopfverbände units SS Verbande Sachsen and SS Standarte Thuringen.

Early war campaigns[edit]

The outbreak of war found him serving back with the Oberbayern, now expanded to an SS Totenkopf Standarte. The Oberbayern was involved in police and security measures during the Invasion of Poland.

After the Polish campaign, Oberbayern was absorbed into the newly formed SS Division Totenkopf. Deisenhofer, now an SS-Sturmbannführer (Major), was placed in command of the II Battalion of SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 1. He led this formation through the initial phase of the Campaign in the West, receiving the Iron Cross First Class for his bravery in combat. Deisenhofer was pulled out of the line in late May and placed in charge of II Battalion of the newly formed Dutch and Belgian volunteer formation SS-Freiwilligen-Standarte Nordwest. After commanding the II./Nordwest during its training and formation, Deisenhofer was transferred to the SS-Ersatz-Bataillon Ost, a replacement and training unit based in Berlin.

In August 1941, Deisenhofer was transferred to the command of the I./SS-Infanterie-Regiment 9 Germania, one of the Infantry regiments of the SS-Division(mot) Wiking, currently serving on the Eastern Front. Deisenhofer commanded the Battalion during the winter, before being sent back to the Totenkopf division in February 1942, this time to serve as commander of I./SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 1.

The Totenkopf was attached to Army Group North, advancing on Leningrad. The division saw very heavy fighting near Demjansk and during the battle was completely surrounded (Demyansk Pocket). Deisenhofer led his men well, acting bravely and showing courage under fire. When his badly depleted Battalion was formed into part of a larger Kampfgruppe, Deisenhofer was given command, leading the Kampfgruppe during the breakout from the pocket, and engaging in more than 35 days of hand-to-hand combat, qualifying him for the Close Combat Clasp in silver. On 20 April 1942, he was promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel). On 17 May 1942, Deisenhofer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his actions in the Demyansk Pocket. The tattered remnants of the Totenkopf were pulled back to France to be rebuilt. Deisenhofer was ordered to Berlin for reassignment.

Training duties[edit]

Deisenhofer was firstly reassigned as commander of an SS motorcycle replacement battalion which he led until he was ordered to SS-Junkerschule in Bad Tölz, Bavaria.

Upon arrival at the SS officers school, Deisenhofer was informed that he was to take over as training group commander. As part of this command, he was to travel between several different training grounds including the Armour school, Panzertruppenschule Wünsdorf and the Light Infantry school, both located at Wünsdorf.

At the end of April 1943, Deisenhofer was transferred to Berlin to operate as a training officer for the SS Infantry and Mountain troop Inspection department, a part of the SS-FHA. In November 1943 he was sent to the 11th (Officer Training) Department (Amt XI) of the SS-FHA.

Divisional command - late war[edit]

In early March 1944, Deisenhofer was finally relieved from his duties attached to the SS-Junkerschule Tölz and sent back to a combat formation, this time SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 21 of the 10.SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg. Diesenhofer commanded the regiment during the Frundsberg and the 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen's successful attempt to relieve the encircled 1.Panzerarmee of Generaloberst Hans-Valentin Hube in what was known as the Kamenets-Podolsky Pocket. For his actions during this battle, Deisenhofer was promoted to SS-Standartenführer (Colonel).

The Frundsberg was sent to the Normandy Front to attempt to halt the advance of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group, currently advancing on Caen. Deisenhofer led the regiment through heavy fighting including the battles on Hill 112 and the defeat of Operation Epsom.

In mid July, Deisenhofer was ordered back east to take command of the 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking, currently engaged in heavy fighting in the area near Modlin. In mid August, Deisenhofer was ordered back to Berlin to await his next command. At the end of the month, he took over command of the 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen, which was engaged in a fighting withdrawal towards the Saar. Deisenhofer commanded the division during the heavy fighting against the Americans on the Moselle and in the subsequent withdrawal to Metz. At the end of September, Deisenhofer was wounded in the fighting and ordered back to Berlin to rest and recuperate.

On 31 December, he was tasked with organising a Kampfgruppe from the recruits of the SS-Truppenübungsplatz to defend Bad Saarow. On 1 January, Deisenhofer was promoted to SS-Oberführer (Senior Colonel). Near the end of January, Deisenhofer was ordered to Arnswalde in Pomerania to take command of the 15.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr.1). He began travelling north to take over his next command, but a Soviet ground attack aircraft attacked the staff car, killing Deisenhofer, his driver and his adjutant. Because evidence of Deisenhofer's death is lacking, he is classified as missing in action, rather than killed. His remains were not found.

Summary of SS career[edit]

Dates of rank[edit]

Notable decorations[edit]

Notes[edit]

NSDAP #: 250 226 - joined on May 25, 1930
SS-#: 3642 - September 1, 1930

References[edit]

  • 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. 
  • Yerger, Mark C (1997). Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, Corps and Divisional Leaders of a Legend: Augsberger to Kreutz. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7643-0356-2. 

Bibliography - links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Herbert Otto Gille
Commander of 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking
6 August 1944 – August 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Standartenführer Johannes Mühlenkamp