Heinrich Kreipe

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Heinrich Kreipe
General Heinrich Kreipe.jpg
Born 5 June 1895
Niederspier, Thuringia
Died 14 June 1976 (1976-06-15) (aged 81)
Northeim
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Rank General
Commands held 22nd infantry division
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Karl Heinrich Georg Ferdinand Kreipe (5 June 1895 – 14 June 1976) was a German career soldier who served in both World War I and World War II. He is most famous for his spectacular abduction when he was a general by British and Cretan resistance fighters from occupied Crete in April 1944.

Biography[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Kreipe was born in Niederspier, Thuringia. When World War I began, he volunteered for the army, and rose through the ranks. He was commissioned a lieutenant in December 1915. After the war, Kreipe enlisted in the Hessen-Thüringen-Waldeck Freikorps, and then joined the new Reichswehr in October 1919. He was retained in the greatly reduced German armed forces permitted by the Treaty of Versailles, a testament to his abilities as a soldier. By 1939, he had risen to the rank of colonel.

World War II[edit]

As commander of Infantry Regiment 209 of the 58th Infantry Division, Kreipe participated in the Battle of France and the drive towards Leningrad during Operation Barbarossa. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 13 October 1941. Kreipe remained in the Leningrad front until May 1942, when he was transferred back to Germany, where he took up administrative and teaching positions. In June–October 1943, he was returned to the Eastern Front, where he led the 79th Infantry Division. On 1 March 1944, Kreipe was appointed Commander of the 22nd Air Landing Infantry Division, operating on Crete, replacing General Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, who had been made the German commander of Crete in Hania.

Abduction by Greek and British agents[edit]

In the spring of 1944, a plan was made by the Allies to kidnap General Müller, whose harsh repressive measures had earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Crete". The operation was led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor, together with Captain Bill Stanley Moss, Greek SOE agents and Cretan resistance fighters. However, General Müller left the island before the plan could be carried out. Major Fermor decided to abduct Kreipe instead.

KreipeWagen.jpg

In the night of 26 April, General Kreipe left his headquarters in Archanes and headed without escort to his well-guarded residence, "Villa Ariadni", about 25 km outside Heraklion. Major Fermor and Captain Moss, dressed as German military policemen, waited for him 1 km before his residence. When he arrived, they asked the driver to stop and asked for their papers. As soon as the car stopped, Fermor opened Kreipe's door, jumped in, and threatened him with his pistol, while Moss took the driver's seat. (The abduction is now commemorated near Archanes.)[1] Moss drove the kidnappers and the General for an hour and a half through 22 controlled road blocks in Heraklion, before leaving Leigh Fermor to drive on and abandon the car, with material being planted that suggested their escape from the island had been made by submarine. Moss set off with the General on a cross-country march supported by andartes, soon rejoined by Leigh Fermor. Hunted by German patrols, the kidnappers crossed the mountains to reach the southern side of the island, where a British Motor Launch (ML 842 commanded by Brian Coleman) was waiting to pick them up. Eventually, on 14 May 1944, they were picked up (from Peristeres beach near Rhodakino) and transferred to Egypt.

Kreipe was interrogated, and then sent to a POW camp in Canada. Later transferred to a special camp in Wales,[2] Kreipe was finally released from British captivity in 1947. General Kreipe met his kidnappers one more time in 1972 in a Greek TV show.[3] He died at Northeim on 14 June 1976.

Legacy[edit]

In 1950 W. Stanley Moss, one of the leaders of the operation, wrote a bestselling account of the abduction — Ill Met by Moonlight.[4] In the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight, based on the book, Kreipe is portrayed by Marius Goring.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Photo
  2. ^ Brett Exton, Generalmajor Karl Heinrich Georg Ferdinand Kreipe, Some of the Prisoners Held at Special Camp 11, A link from the website ISLAND FARM PRISONER OF WAR CAMP: 198 / Special Camp: XI, Bridgend, South Wales, 2004.
  3. ^ Nikos Mastorakis, "The abduction of general Kreipe" Video on YouTube
  4. ^ "Moss, W. Stanley. Ill Met by Moonlight, 2014, Orion". 
  5. ^ Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) IMDB entry

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller
Commander of 22. Infanterie-Division (Luftlande)
February 15, 1944 - April 26, 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Helmut Friebe