Oskar Schäfer

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Oskar Schäfer
Nickname(s) Fritz
Born (1921-01-16)16 January 1921
Nixdorf, Sudetenland
Died 22 November 2011(2011-11-22) (aged 90)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1939–45
Rank Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant)
Unit 103 SS Heavy Panzer Battalion
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross I Class
Iron Cross II Class
Wound Badge

Oskar Schäfer (16 January 1921 – 22 November 2011) was a Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) in the Waffen-SS during World War II, who was awarded 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.

Early life[edit]

Schäfer was born on 16 January 1921 in Nixdorf in the Sudetenland. After completing his high school education in November 1938, he volunteered to join the SS-VT and was assigned to the 12th Company, SS Standarte (Regiment) Deutschland.[1][2]

World War II[edit]

Schäfer took part in the Polish Campaign, the Battle of France and the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) as an infantryman, almost reaching the gates of Moscow, with the 2nd SS Division Das Reich and was seriously wounded in the head. After recovering from his wounds he was transferred to the SS Panzer Battalion 5, of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking serving in the south of the Eastern Front.[1]

His time with SS Wiking lasted until 1943 when he was posted back to Germany to help train and form a new SS Battalion in the Armour school at Sennelager. This new Battalion the 103 SS Heavy Panzer Battalion would use the Tiger tank.[1][2]

He deployed back to the Eastern Front with the Battalion, in command of the 3rd Company, of the now named 503 SS Heavy Panzer Battalion in the spring on 1945 and took part in the fighting at Arnswalde and Stargard[disambiguation needed]. He was again seriously wounded but managed to escape from the Russian encirclement at Kolberg and reach Greifswald.[1]

Back with the rest of the Battalion he prepared for the Russian assault across the River Oder and the defence of Berlin. Now commanding a King Tiger he was wounded again with first degree burns.

On the 28 April while fighting in the Zähringer Strasse area of Wilmersdorf he was ordered to attend the Führerbunker to be awarded the Knight's Cross.[1][3]

The award was presented by Wilhelm Mohnke who also enlisted Schäfers help in the planned breakout from Berlin on 2 May 1945. His Tiger II leading the Mohnke group was hit crossing the Heer Strasse by a Russian JS II tank. Schäfer was again seriously wounded suffered further burns, temporarily lost his sight and lost his memory.[1]

Post war[edit]

Schäfer remained in hospital after the end of the war recovering from his wounds, and was not released until 1947.[1] [2]

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 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. 
  • Henschler Henri & Fay Will (2003). Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS 1943-45. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2905-2.
  • Mitcham, Jr.Samuel (2007). Retreat to the Reich. Stackpole books. ISBN 0-8117-3384-X.
  • Mitcham Samuel (2007). The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-3371-8.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 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. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Oskar Schäfer's obituary (Portuguese)