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12 August 1902|
Neuruppin, German Empire
|Died||28 February 1953
Prisoner-of-War Camp 337 near Sverdlovsk, Soviet Union
|Allegiance|| Weimar Republic 1920–33
Nazi Germany 1934–45
|Service/branch|| Wehrmacht 1920–33
Waffen SS 1934–45
|Years of service||1920–45|
|Unit||3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Hellmuth Becker (12 August 1902 – 28 February 1953) was a high-ranking German member of the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and commander of the SS Division Totenkopf.
"The personification of the brutal landknechts who formed the high-ranking officers of the Waffen-SS", he was tried by Soviet authorities twice, for war crimes and sabotage, and was executed in 1953.
Born in 1902, Becker joined the army in 1920. In 1933, he joined the SS and met Wilhelm Bittrich and Hermann Priess. In 1935, Becker was transferred to the SS Totenkopf association "Bavaria", which later became part of the SS Division Totenkopf. Becker was appointed regimental commander in August 1941. In October, he was given command of the division, until in March 1944, he assumed command of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer-SS in Italy. In July 1944, Becker was given command of the Division Totenkopf. In September 1944, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross for the division's actions in Romania and the fighting around Grodno.
In December, the division was moved to Hungary for the battles around Budapest. Becker was twice mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht, OKW's daily propaganda communique, on 1 and 2 January 1945. The division crossed the Danube River to Vienna, attempting to surrender to the U.S. forces. Under the terms of Germany's capitulation, the surrender was refused and the unit was handed over to the Soviet Red Army.
Trial and execution
In November 1947, he was put on trial before a Soviet military court in Poltava and sentenced to 25 years forced labor for war crimes. While serving his sentence, Becker "tried his jailers' patience" by attempting to manufacture explosives, leading to his retrial. He was convicted and executed in February 1953.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- German Cross in Gold on 26 September 1942 as SS-Standartenführer in SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 3
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 1 February 1945
- Parrish 1996, p. 128.
- Thomas 1997, p. 31.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 31.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 209.
- Parrish, Michael (1996). The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939–1953. Praeger Press. ISBN 978-0-275-95113-9.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sydnor, Charles W. (1990) . Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933–1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00853-0.
- 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.