Erich Bärenfänger

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Erich Bärenfänger
Erich Bärenfänger.jpg
Erich Bärenfänger
Born (1915-01-12)12 January 1915
Died 2 May 1945(1945-05-02) (aged 30)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1936–45
Rank Generalmajor
Unit 50th Infantry Division
Commands held III./GrenRgt 123

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Erich Bärenfänger (12 January 1915 – 2 May 1945) was an officer in the German Army (Heer) during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Bärenfänger was born on in Menden, Province of Westphalia, Germany. He was the son of an upper post office secretary.

Bärenfänger joined the Storm Troopers or "brownshirts" (Sturmabteilung or SA) in 1933.

In October 1936, Bärenfänger joined an infantry regiment and, after attending a reserve officer candidate training course, he was promoted to Sergeant. In April 1939, Bärenfänger was promoted to Second Lieutenant of the Reserve.

From September 1939 to June 1940, Bärenfänger was a platoon leader during the Polish and French campaigns. In early 1941, he participated in the Campaign in the Balkans.

In June 1941, Bärenfänger was involved in the attack on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. On the Eastern Front, he fought on the Taman Peninsula at the Mius and in the Kuban position on the Crimean Peninsula.

In the Caucasus, he distinguished himself for bravery before the enemy and received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Bärenfänger also received several foreign bravery medals from nations allied to Germany. He was appointed the inspector of the Hitler Youth military training.

Berlin, 1945[edit]

Towards the end of World War II, Bärenfänger took part in the Battle for Berlin.

According to Read and Fisher in "The Fall of Berlin", German dictator Adolf Hitler promoted thirty-year-old Lieutenant Colonel (Oberstleutnant) Bärenfänger to Major-General (Generalmajor) on 22 April 1945.[citation needed]

On 24 April, due to the direct command of Hitler, Bärenfänger was given command of defence sectors A and one day later also command of sector B.[1] Bärenfänger mounted at least two unsuccessful armored attacks northwards up the Schönhauser Allee. The second was on 1 May.[2]

Members of SS-Brigadeführer (Major-General) Wilhelm Mohnke's "break out group" saw quite a sight thanks to Bärenfänger. On 1 May, the group left the Führerbunker. As they made good their escape, there before them they saw a "host" of new "Tiger Tanks" and "artillery pieces" arrayed around the Flak tower as if "on Parade." The young Major-General Bärenfänger was allegedly seated in the turret cupola of one of the "Tigers" thus arrayed.[3]

On 2 May, Bärenfänger, a devoted Nazi, committed suicide with his young wife in a side street of Berlin.[2]



1 October 1937: Gefreiter[5]
1 December 1937: Officer cadet of the Reserves[5]
1 June 1938: Unteroffizier[5]
1 October 1939: Feldwebel of the Reserves[5]
30 March 1939: Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) of the Reserves, effective as 1 April 1941, seniority date 1 October 1939[5]
15 October 1941: Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant), effective as 1 September 1941, seniority date 1 July 1941, Leutnant seniority date changed to 1 February 1939[5]
31 August 1941: Hauptmann (Captain), effective as 1 August 1942, seniority date to be defined[5]
16 November 1941: Hauptmann (Captain), seniority date 1 August 1942[5]
10 June 1943: Major (Major), effective as 1 April 1943, seniority date 1 April 1943[5]
1 February 1944: Oberstleutnant, effective as 1 February 1944, seniority date 1 January 1944[5]
28 April 1944: Generalmajor (Brigadier General), promotion by Hitler bypassing the rank of Oberst (Colonel) with a seniority date 20 April 1944[5]



  1. ^ Thomas & Wegmann 1987, p. 176.
  2. ^ a b Beevor 2002, p. 384.
  3. ^ O'Donnell, James. (2001). The Bunker. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3
  4. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Thomas & Wegmann 1987, p. 177.
  6. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 24.
  7. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 199.
  8. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 120, 484.
  9. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 69.
  10. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 42.


  • Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin – The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-03041-4. 
  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • O'Donnell, James P. (2001) [1978]. The Bunker. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80958-3. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • 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. 
  • Stockert, Peter (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 3 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 3] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-932915-01-7. 
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1987). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil III: Infanterie Band 1: A–Be [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part III: Infantry Volume 1: A–Be] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-1153-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross, Oak-Leaves and Swords Recipients 1941–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-643-0. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Ernst Kaether
Commanders of the Berlin Defense Area
(Deputy to Adolf Hitler)

22 April 1945
Succeeded by
Helmuth Weidling