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30 November 1897|
Borntin, district of Neustettin, Pomerania
|Died||21 April 1945
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany (to 1945)
|Years of service||1914–45|
|Rank||General der Panzertruppe|
|Commands held||5th Panzer Division
XXXIX Panzer Korps
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (posthumous)|
Karl Gustav Adolf Decker (30 November 1897 – 21 April 1945) was a German general in the infantry, serving during World War II. Trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945. 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.
Karl Decker was born on 30 November 1897 as son to an officer in Borntin in Pomerania. In the beginning of World War I he initially served in the Infanterieregiment 54 as an Unteroffizier. He was promoted to an officer candidate for bravery before the enemy and also was awarded the Iron Cross (1914) 2nd Class. Decker was again promoted in 1915 to Leutnant and shortly afterwards received the Iron Cross 1st Class. He then served as Zugführer (platoon leader) of a machine gun unit after he was transferred to the Feldkriegsschule of the 8. Armee in 1916. He then held the position of battalion adjutant. During 1918, he was assigned to the Infanterieschule in Döberitz as a weapons instructor.
After the capitulation of the German Empire, Decker was accepted into the Reichswehr and served with the Reserve-Jägerregiment 29, the Jägerregiment 5 and the Reiterregiment 6. He was promoted to Oberleutnant and Hauptmann during these assignments. As a major, he was transferred to the Stab of the Kavellerieregiment 15 together with Horst Niemack. Shortly afterwards, he was reassigned again, this time to the Panzerabwehrabteilung 38 in Mühlhausen. He later became the commanding officer of this unit.
During the Battle of France, Decker commanded the I. Abteilung of the Panzerregiment 3 in the 2. Panzerdivision. This unit fought at the Maas, near Sedan, St. Quentin and Abbeville. Decker was awarded both clasps to the Iron Cross (1939) for his personal bravery and was also promoted to Oberstleutnant.
In Balkans Campaign, his regiment fought its way through Yugoslavia, northern Greece, occupied Athens and crossed the Corinth Canal. Karl Decker was always leading his unit from the front. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 13 June 1941 for his personal bravery and for his success.
Karl Decker was put in command of Panzerregiment 3 before Operation Barbarossa began. His regiment fought hard in the battles at Wjasma, Brjansk and near Moscow. Decker was promoted to Oberst on 1 February 1942. A few months later, he was transferred to the Stab of the 9. Armee. In April 1943, he again was ordered to the front as commander of the 5. Panzerdivision. Decker distinguished himself multiple times, for instance at Shisdra, in the relief of the cauldron of Kowel and at Operation Zitadelle and was promoted to Generalmajor on 1 December 1943. Decker also distinguished himself many times during the retreat of Heeresgruppe Mitte. He became the 466th soldier to receive the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 4 May 1944 and promoted to Generalleutnant.
For his leadership capabilities, Decker was made commanding general of the XXXIX. Panzerkorps. Decker's corps fought successfully as part of the 3. Panzerarmee in multiple defensive and retreating battles. Decker was promoted to General der Panzertruppen on 1 January 1945.
General der Panzertruppen Karl Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945 after the total defeat and encirclement of the Heeresgruppe in the Ruhr Pocket in April. Decker was posthumously awarded the 149th Swords to the Knight's Cross on 26 April 1945.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg (20 December 1917)
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black (26 June 1940)
- Eastern Front Medal (15 July 1942)
- Panzer Badge in Silver (1 June 1940)
- German Cross in Gold on 1 August 1942 as Oberst in the Panzer-Regiment 3
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 13 June 1941 and Oberstleutnant and commander of the I./Panzer-Regiment 3
- 466th Oak Leaves on 4 May 1944 as Generalmajor and commander of the 5. Panzer-Division
- 149th Swords on 26 April 1945 (posthumous) as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXIX Panzerkorps[Notes 1]
- Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht on 11 December 1943, 2 March 1944, 5 August 1944 and 12 October 1944
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|11 December 1943||Die im mittleren Frontabschnitt eingesetzte pommerisch-mecklenburgische 292. Infanteriedivision unter Generalmajor John und die schlesische 5. Panzerdivision unter Generalmajor Decker haben hervorragenden Anteil an den in den letzten Wochen im mittleren Frontabschnitt erzielten Abwehrerfolgen.||The Mecklenburg-Pomeranian 292nd Infantry Division under Major General John and the Silesian 5th Panzer Division under Major General Decker deployed in the middle front sector of have played a prominent part in the defensive successes achieved on the middle sector of the front during the last few weeks.|
|2 March 1944||... In diesen Kämpfen hat sich die schlesische 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung des Generalmajors Decker zusammen mit den ihr unterstellten Infanterie-, Panzer-, und Flakartillerieverbänden hervorragend bewährt.||... The Silesian 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Major General Decker along with its subordinated infantry, armor, and anti aircraft artillery detachments have proven themselves exceptionally in these battles.|
|5 August 1944 (Addendum)||Im Kampfraum südwestlich von Kauen zeichnete sich die schlesisch-sudetendeutsche 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Decker durch hervorragenden Angriffsgeist aus.||The Silesian-Sudeten 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Lieutenant General Decker distinguished itself by showing excellent attacking spirit in the battle area southwest of Kaunas.|
|12 October 1944 (Addendum)||In den schweren Abwehrkämpfen nördlich der Memel hat sich die schlesisch-sudetendeutsche 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Decker durch beispielhaften Kampfgeist erneut hervorgetan.||The Silesian-Sudeten 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Lieutenant General Decker distinguished itself again by showing excellent fighting spirit in the heavy defensive fighting north of the Memel.|
- The German National Archives hold no records for the presentation of the Swords. The Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR) assumes that the presentation fell into the timeframe 20 April 1945 to 29 April 1945. It is assumed that the nomination was approved on 26 April 1945. Scherzer states that the assumption is based on a statement from Decker's widow. She claimed that she had been informed that her husband had received the award. The date and sequential number "149" were assigned by the AKCR.
- Berger 1999, p. 52.
- Thomas 1997, p. 110.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 80.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 267.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 158.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 82.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 48.
- Fellgiebell 2000, pp. 49–50.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 125.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 625.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 48.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 191.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 287.
- 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 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.
- Nipe, George M. (2011). Blood, Steel and Myth—The II. SS-Panzer-Korps and the road to Prochorowka, July 1943. Stamford, CT: RZM Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9748389-4-6.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- "Karl Decker". Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS 1939–1945 (in German). Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- "Karl Decker". World War 2 Awards. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
Generalleutnant Ernst Felix Fäckenstedt
|Commander of 5. Panzer-Division
7 September 1943 – 16 October 1944
Generalmajor Rolf Lippert
General der Panzertruppen Dietrich von Saucken
|Commander of XXXIX. Panzer-Korps
15 October 1944 – 21 April 1945
Generalleutnant Karl Arndt