Egon Christophersen

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Egon Christophersen
Egon Christophersen.jpg
Born 1 February 1919
Stevns, Denmark
Died 15 January 1988 (aged 68)
Køge, Denmark
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Years of service 1941–45
Rank Unterscharführer
Unit 5th SS Division Wiking
11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross I Class
Iron Cross II Class
Eastern Front Medal
Wound Badge in Silver

Egon Christophersen (1 February 1919 – 15 January 1988) was a Unterscharführer in the Waffen SS during World War II. He was the first of three Danes to be recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. He survived the war and died in Denmark at the age of 68.

Early life[edit]

Egon Christophersen was born on 8 February 1919 in Strøby in Stevns, Denmark. He attended the local school in Strøby from the age of seven and worked on the experimental farm Little Køgegaard from the age of fourteen with his three brothers.

World War II[edit]

During World War II, Christophersen joined the DNSAP and became a member of its Storm Section (SA). He volunteered to join the Waffen SS on 7 April 1941. He was posted to Graz to complete his basic training with the Training and Reserve Battalion, SS Regiment Der Führer. After completing his training he was posted to 11th Company, SS Regiment Norland, 5th SS Division Wiking in August 1941, later transferring to the 9th Company.

SS Wiking was by now engaged on the Eastern Front and Christophersen was again transferred, this time to 2nd Company, SS Regiment Norland. In May 1942, he was promoted to Sturmmann. He was wounded in the right and left thighs during fighting in the Caucasus and was evacuated to a military hospital in September 1942. After recovering from his wounds, he was posted to the SS Regiment Westland Training and Reserve Battalion in Graz.

Christophersen remained in Graz until February 1943, when he returned to his former division, Wiking, now a SS Panzergrenadier Division. He was awarded the Iron Cross II class for his bravery in the Caucasus and in May, was promoted to Unterscharführer.

In May 1943 Christophersen was transferred to the new SS Division 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland which was formed around the SS Regiment Norland, based in Grafenwöhr. He was assigned to 7th Company, 24th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment Danmark, which was mostly made up of soldiers from Denmark. After completing of its formation training, his unit was sent to Croatia to counter Josip Broz Tito's Partisans. Egon's brother Viggo, who had also joined the Waffen SS, was killed during this time.

The 11th SS Norland together with the 5th SS Wiking now formed the III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps and moved to the front line in the former Baltic states at Narva.

Narva[edit]

Christophersen and the 7th Company were dug in south of Narva and east of the Kreenholm beside the borough of Dolgaya Niva. They come under attack on 20, 22, 25, 26 and 28 May and 12 June from strong Russian forces. It was for his actions on 12 June that Chistophersen became the first Danish volunteer to receive the Knight's Cross. On that day, a strong Russian attack force overran outpost Sunshine held by members of the 7th Company on the far southeastern corner of the Narva Front, and began to besiege both the remnants of the 7th and the II.Battalion. Acting upon his own initiative, Christophersen assembled all of the survivors of 7th Company that he could find in no man's land and led them in a counterattack to regain the old company positions. In the course of fierce hand-to-hand combat with a powerful enemy force, he and his men were able to recapture Outpost Sunshine and stabilize the front. He was immediately awarded the Iron Cross (1st Class) by battalion commander Hauptsturmführer Heinz Hämel. He was also nominated for the Knight's Cross which he soon received on 11 July 1944. Only three Danes received the Knight's Cross during World War II. The two other Danes were Obersturmführers Soeren Kam and Johannes Helmers, both of whom were officers.

Post war[edit]

Christophersen survived the war and returned to live in Køge in Denmark. He worked at Ørum Hansen's Machinefactory for over thirty years. He died on 15 January 1988.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[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. 
  • Mitcham, Jr. Samuel (2007). Retreat to the Reich. Stackpole books 2007. ISBN 0-8117-3384-X.
  • Henschler Henri & Fay Will (2003). Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS 1943-45. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2905-2.
  • Mitcham Samuel (2007). The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-3371-8.
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1998). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil III: Infanterie Band 4: C–Dow [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part III: Infantry Volume 4: C–Dow] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2534-8.