|Born||9 June 1914
|Died||3 April 1945
Killed in Action, Möllersdorf, Austria
|Years of service||1933–45|
|Unit||2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross 1st Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
Wound Badge in Silver
Dieter Kesten was born on 9 June 1914 at Gelsenkirchen. He volunteered to join the SS in September 1933, and served with the 7th and 79th Standarte, before being selected to become an officer and was posted to the SS-Junkerschule at Braunschweig in April 1936. After graduation he was posted to II.Battalion, Germania Regiment, becoming the Ordonnanz offizier on the regimental staff.
World War II
In May 1940 Kesten left the regiment to become adjutant to SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Herrmann, the future commander of SS Division Nord, until December 1940. He also occupied the same position for the commander of the Waffen-SS Ost. In May 1941 he was posted to the newly formed Kampfgruppe Nord, again as the adjutant until May 1942, when he returned to the Das Reich Division.
Kesten was given command of 1st Company, SS Regiment Langemarck (27th SS Volunteer Division Langemarck) and later was made the divisional adjutant. He transferred to 2nd SS Panzer Regiment as the commander of 6th company until November 1943. It was while in command of 6th Company that he was awarded the Knight's Cross.
During the Battle of Kursk, Das Reich had been transferred south to oppose the Russian counterattack across the Mius River, and destroyed 391 tanks and (Samokhodnaya ustanovka (self propelled guns)) from 30 July to 21 August 1943. Das Reich then moved to the outskirts of Kharkov, where it was involved in even heavier fighting. Its Panther battalion first saw combat on 22 July, around Starja-Ljubotin and Kommuna, knocking out 53 Russian tanks. The next day, 12 kilometers west of Kharkov, the platoon of Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) Karl Mühleck broke up a Russian tank assault. He alone destroyed seven tanks. On 24 July, Kesten's 6th Company, newly supplied with side-skirted Panzer IVs, battled 60 T-34s between Udy-Bogens and Orkan, south west of Kharkov, which had fallen to the Russians on the previous day. Kesten's panzers knocked out 29 of the 60 tanks. Karl Mühleck and Kesten would later receive Knight's Crosses for these actions.
Kesten was later given command of the II. Battalion, 2nd SS Panzer Regiment in November 1943. He was killed in action near Möllersdorf, south of Vienna, on 3 April 1945.
Like a Cliff in the Ocean, The History of the 3.SS-Panzer-Division "Totenkopf", Karl Ullrich, 2002, J.J. Federowicz Publishing, ISBN 0-921991-69-X
- 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; Fey, Willi (2003). Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS, 1943–45. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-2905-5.
- Mattson, Gregory Louis (2002). SS—Das Reich: The History of the Second SS division, 1939–45. Spellmount. ISBN 1-86227-144-5.
- Mitcham, Samuel W (2007). Retreat to the Reich : the German defeat in France, 1944. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3384-7.