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|Born||9 April 1897
|Died||4 December 1970 (aged 73)
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1914-1945|
|Commands held||ArtRgt 73
XLI Panzer Corps
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Rudolf Holste (9 April 1897 – 4 December 1970) was a German officer during World War I and World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Holste was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (Oberstleutnant) on 1 March 1939, Colonel (Oberst) on 1 February 1942, Major General (Generalmajor) on 1 October 1944, and Lieutenant General (Generalleutnant) on 20 April 1945.
World War II
From 28 February to 29 March 1945, Holste commanded the 4th Cavalry Division. The division fought in Hungary from February to March. When the division was forced back into Austria, Holste changed commands.
From 19 April to 8 May 1945, Holste commanded the XLI Panzer Corps in the area north of Berlin.
Relief of Berlin
On 22 April 1945, Holste became part of a poorly conceived and incredibly desperate plan that Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl proposed to German dictator Adolf Hitler. The plan was proposed to Hitler to mollify him. Hitler was in a rage the previous day after he discovered that forces under General Felix Steiner would not be coming to his relief in Berlin. The goal of Keitel and Jodl's plan was for the few remaining German forces in central Germany to attack the Soviet forces encircling Berlin. If successful, the German attacks would relieve the city and throw the Soviets forces back. With few other options, Hitler ordered that the desperate plan be implemented.
The plan called for General Walther Wenck's Twelfth Army on the Elbe and Mulde fronts to be turned completely around. Wenck's army was facing the American forces advancing from the West. The Western Front and the Eastern Front were so close that, by simply turning completely around, Wenck's army would face the Soviet forces advancing from the East. The Twelfth Army was to attack towards the east and link up just south of Berlin with General Theodor Busse’s Ninth Army. Then both armies would strike in a northeastern direction towards Potsdam and Berlin. The plan called for the combined armies to mop up the elite Russian troops that they thereby cut off. Wenck’s objective would be the autobahn at Ferch, near Potsdam.
Holste also had a part in the plan. He was to attack from the area northwest of Berlin with his XLI Panzer Corps. Holste was an old regimental comrade of Keitel’s and he was thought to be extremely reliable. The XLI Panzer Corps would be brought back across the Elbe. Holste was to counterattack between Spandau and Oranienburg. To give Holste as much punch as possible, Steiner was to turn over to Holste his mechanized divisions (the 25th Panzer-Grenadiers and the 7th Panzer).
Wenck's army did make a sudden turn around and, in the general confusion, surprised the Soviets encircling the German capital with an unexpected attack. Wenck's forces attacked towards Berlin in good morale and made some initial progress. But they were halted outside of Potsdam by strong Soviet resistance.
Neither Busse nor Holste made much progress towards Berlin. By the end of the day on 27 April, the Soviet forces encircling Berlin linked up and the forces inside Berlin were completely cut off from the rest of Germany.
Late in the evening of 29 April, Hans Krebs contacted Jodl by radio from Berlin and made the following demands: "Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of Holste's spearhead".
In the early morning of 30 April, Jodl replied to Krebs: "Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive".
This last desperate plan to save Berlin was never fully implemented, never had the manpower or equipment it required, never achieved its objectives, and ultimately came to almost nothing. The link up between Wenck and Busse, the Battle of Halbe, did allow a remnant of Busse's army and some German civilians to escape to the West.
Holste managed to evade capture until 8 May 1945.
In 1947, Holste was released.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- Wound Badge (1914)
- in Black
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
- Clasp to the Iron Cross
- German Cross in Gold (24 December 1941)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht (8 August 1944)
- Thomas 1997, p. 300.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 234.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 87.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Generalleutnant Walther Krause
|Commander of 14. Infanterie-Division
1 January 1943 – 15 May 1943
Generalleutnant Hermann Flörke
Formed from 4. Kavallerie-Brigade
|Commander of 4. Kavallerie-Division
28 February 1945– 29 March 1945
Generalleutnant Helmuth von Grolman
Generalleutnant Wend von Wietersheim
|Commander of XLI Panzer Corps
19 April 1945– 8 May 1945