Dietrich Kraiss

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Dietrich Kraiss
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1984-058-20A, Dietrich Kraiss.jpg
Dietrich Kraiss in 1942
Born16 November 1889
Stuttgart, Germany[1]
Died6 August 1944 (aged 54)
near Saint-Lô, France
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy of Württemberg[1]
Army (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1909–44
Battles/warsWorld War I[1]
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Dietrich Kraiss (16 November 1889 – 6 August 1944) was a German general during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany.

Military career[edit]

World War I[edit]

On 24 March 1909 Kraiss joined the infantry regiment 8th Royal Württemberg "Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden" No. 126 a. Serving with this regiment, he commanded a platoon and then a company in the First World War on the Western Front. On June 18, 1915, he was promoted to First Lieutenant and on July 15, 1918 Hauptmann (Captain). For his services during the war, Kraiss was awarded the 1st and 2nd classes of the Iron Cross, the House Order of Hohenzollern with swords, the Order of the Zähringer Lion Knight Second Class, the Military Merit Order of Württemberg and the Wound Badge in black.[2]

Inter-war years[edit]

After the war, Kraiss was a company commander in various infantry regiments in the Reichswehr. From 1925 to 1928 he served as an instructor in an infantry school in Dresden. On May 1, 1931, he was promoted to Major and was transferred to the Ministry of the Reichswehr in Berlin, he remained there until the end of 1934. On October 1, 1934, he was promoted to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant colonel) and commanded a battalion in his native Württemberg. In March 1937 he was promoted to Oberst (Colonel) and was given in October of the same year, command of an infantry regiment in Hamburg.[3]

World War II[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War Kraiss commanded a regiment and participated in the Invasion of Poland. Afterward, his unit was relocated back to Germany in preparation for the Invasion of France. From May 1940, the regiment was a part of the 20th Infantry Division during the occupation of the Netherlands and France. He was promoted to Major General on 1 February 1941. In March 1941, he handed command of the regiment to Colonel Erich Jaschke and was briefly transferred into the Führerreserve.[4]

From July 1941 to March 1943 Kraiss was given command of the 168th Infantry Division and participated in Operation Barbarossa. For his leadership of the division during the Third Battle of Kharkov, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross[5][6]. On October 1, 1942, he received his final promotion to the rank of lieutenant general. In April 1943 Kraiss took over the newly established 355th Infantry Division, which sustained heavy losses during action against the Red Army at Merefa and was subsequently disbanded on 9 November 1943.[7][5]

From November 1943 onwards he was in command of the newly established 352nd Infantry Division, which with six other divisions, was located in Normandy in front of the Allied invasion. The division was sent to the coastal areas after Allied forces landed on the beaches Omaha and Gold. Against the orders of Adolf Hitler, Kraiss moved his division back to a defensive line about 20 kilometers away from the coast. There he was able to resist the Allied forces in this section for several weeks.[8]

Kraiss succumbed to a severe wound on August 2, 1944, near Saint-Lô, and was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on August 11, 1944.[7][8]

Awards and decorations[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Mitcham, p. 97
  2. ^ Otto von Moser: Die Württemberger im Weltkriege, 2. erweiterte Auflage, Chr. Belser AG, Stuttgart 1928.
  3. ^ Reichswehrministerium 1925
  4. ^ Müller-Hillebrand 1969, p. 286
  5. ^ a b Joseph Balkoski: Beyond the beachhead: the 29th Infantry Division in Normandy. Stackpole Books, 2005, ISBN 978-0-8117-3237-6, S. 68.
  6. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 470
  7. ^ a b Mark Henry, Ken Ford, Steve Zaloga, Howard Gerrard: D-Day 1944 (1): Omaha. Osprey Publishing, 2003, ISBN 978-1-84176-367-5, S. 16.
  8. ^ a b Barrett Tillman: Brassey's D-Day encyclopedia: the Normandy invasion A–Z. Brassey's, Washington D.C. 2004, ISBN 978-1-57488-760-0, S. 132.
  9. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 402.
  10. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 250.


  • Reichswehrministerium (1925). Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres [Rankings of the German Army] (in German). Berlin, Germany: Mittler & Sohn Verlag.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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.
  • 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.
  • Mitcham, Jr., Samuel W. (2007). Retreat to the Reich: The German Defeat in France, 1944. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-1-461-75155-7.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945. Die Inhaber des Eisernen Kreuzes von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündete Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchivs. 2. Auflage [Knight's Cross Bearer 1939-1945. The holders of the Iron Cross of Army, Air Force, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and allied forces with Germany according to the documents of the Federal Archives. 2nd Edition.]. Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Müller-Hillebrand, Burkhard (1969). Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues (in German). Vol. III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende. Frankfurt am Main: Mittler.