8 March 1888|
|Died||23 October 1980
|Allegiance|| German Empire
|Years of service||1907–1918
|Commands held||SS Division Charlemagne
SS Division Nordland
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Iron Cross 1st Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
Gustav Krukenberg (8 March 1888 - 23 October 1980) was Brigadeführer of the Charlemagne Division of the Waffen-SS and further commander of its remains and the SS Division Nordland during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945.
He was born in Bonn, the son of a professor at Bonn University and his mother was the daughter of the archeologist Alexander Conze. He gained a doctorate in law and joined the army in 1907. He married in 1912. During World War I, he served as an ordnance officer and adjutant and was promoted to Hauptmann in 1918. After the war he served in the Civil Service as the private secretary to the Foreign minister and was briefly a director in industry. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and he worked at the propaganda ministry after Adolf Hitler came to power and was a member of the Allgemeine SS.
With the outbreak of World War II he re-joined the army as a major and served on the General Staff in Paris. In December 1943 he transferred from the Wehrmacht Heer, in which he had reached the rank of Oberstleutnant, to the Waffen-SS which he joined with the equivalent rank of Obersturmbannführer. He was soon promoted to Standartenführer and then Oberführer. A fluent French speaker, he commanded the French volunteers of the SS Charlemagne Division and following a summons on the night of 23/24 April 1945 to help with the defence of Berlin he breached several obstacles to lead the remnants of the division into the city at 2200 hrs on 24 April 1945.
On 25 April, Brigadeführer Krukenberg was appointed by General Helmuth Weidling as the commander of (Berlin) Defence Sector C, which included the Nordland Division, whose previous commander Joachim Ziegler was relieved of his command the same day. The arrival of the French SS men bolstered the Nordland Division whose "Norge" and "Danmark" regiments had been decimated in the fighting. By 26 April, with Neukölln heavily penetrated by Soviet combat groups, Krukenberg prepared fallback positions for Sector C defenders around Hermannplatz. He moved his headquarters into the opera house. Forced to fall back on 27 April, Krukenberg's Nordland headquarters was then a carriage in the Stadtmitte U-Bahn station in Defence sector Z (Central District).
The Frenchmen under Krukenberg proved particularly good at destroying tanks, of the 108 Soviet tanks destroyed in the centre district, they had accounted for half of them. On 29 April 1945 Krukenberg awarded one of the last Knight's Crosses of the war to Unterscharführer Eugène Vaulot. It is widely believed that On 1 May, Krukenberg attempted to stem the Soviet advance by ordering sappers to blow up the S-Bahn tunnel under the Landwehr canal causing 25 kilometres of S-Bahn and U-Bahn tunnels to flood, which led to many casualties. But in fact it is far more probable that the massive bombardment of the city by hundreds of tons of shells and rockets by the Soviets have caused the flooding of the tunnels. As the Germans made extensive use of the underground (U-Bahn) for redeployment of troops, makeshift-hospitals or just a place to take refuge from the constant shelling, it seems highly doubtful that Krukenberg ordered the destruction of the U-bahn tunnels.
After Hitler's death Krukenberg assembled most of his escort made up of French SS for the breakout. They joined up with Ziegler and a larger group of Nordland troops. They crossed the Spree just before dawn. Near the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station they came under heavy fire. Brigadeführer Joachim Ziegler was gravely wounded and died on 2 May. Later, Krukenberg made it to Dahlem where he hid out in an apartment for a week before surrendering to the Red Army.
- Iron Cross of 1914, 1st and 2nd class
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939), 1st and 2nd class
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
- Forbes 2010, pp. 390, 397.
- Forbes 2010, pp. 398, 401.
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, pp 301, 302.
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, p 323.
- Hamilton, A. Stephan. Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin, Helion & Co. 2008, p 214.
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, p 383.
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, p 384.
- Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin – The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-03041-4.
- Forbes, Robert (2010). For Europe: The French Volunteers of the Waffen-SS. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-811735-81-0.
- Hamilton, A. Stephan (2008), Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin, April 1945, Helion & Co., ISBN 9781906033125
- Le Tissier, Tony. Charlemagne - The 33rd Waffen-SS Grenadier Division of the SS. Pen & Sword (2010). ISBN 978-1-848842-31-1
- Schöttler, Peter. Dreierlei Kollaboration. Europa-Konzepte und deutsch-französische Verständigung – am Beispiel der Karriere von SS-Brigadeführer Gustav Krukenberg, in: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History, 9 (2012), 3, p. 365–386