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Herbert-Ernst Vahl, official portrait after being awarded the Knight's Cross
9 October 1896|
Posen, Province of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire now Poznań, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland
|Died||22 July 1944
near Thessaloniki, Hellenic State
|Years of service||1914–44|
|Rank||SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Herbert-Ernst Vahl was a Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was the commander of the SS Division Das Reich and the 4th SS Polizei Division, who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Born in 1896, Herbert-Ernst Vahl served in World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class. He was retained in the Reichswehr, Weimar Republic's army. In 1936 Vahl was posted to a battalion in the 4th Panzer Regiment, 2nd Panzer Division. In September 1939 Vahl was promoted to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel), and posted to command the 65th Panzer Battalion, 6th Panzer Division which he served with during the Polish Campaign.
In May 1940 he was in command of the 101st Panzer Battalion, which was a special unit comprising only flamethrower tanks. He commanded this Battalion during the Battle of France, the invasion of the Balkans (Operation Marita) and the Invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarosa). During this time he was awarded the German Cross in Gold.
Vahl's Battalion was then attached to the 3rd Infantry Division (Motorised) and moved to the Leningrad sector of the front. On 13 December 1941 Vahl was promoted to Oberst (Colonel) and given command of the 29th Panzer Regiment, 12th Panzer Division. In 1942 under orders from Berlin Vahl left the Heer and joined the Waffen SS, and is given the rank of Standartenführer (Colonel), and posted to the Das Reich Division as the commander of the 2nd SS Panzer regiment.
In February 1943, Vahl was promoted to Oberführer (Brigadier General), and given command of the Das Reich which was stationed in Russia. While in command during the Battle of Kharkov he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and was seriously wounded at Belgorod. In April 1943 while recovering from his wounds he was promoted to Brigadeführer (Major General) and Generalmajor of the Waffen SS. After recovering from his wounds he became the Inspector of Panzer troops in the SS Führungshauptamt (SS main office). In July 1944 Vahl returned to active service with the 4th SS Polizei Division which was in Greece serving in Thessalonika fighting against partisans. Vahl arrived to assume command of the Division on 13 July 1944 but was killed in a motoring accident on 22 July 1944.
Summary of career
- Dates of rank
- Leutnant: 8 January 1915
- Oberleutnant: 1 April 1925
- Rittmeister: 1 February 1931
- Major: 1 November 1936
- Oberstleutnant: 1 February 1939
- Oberst: 13 December 1941
- SS-Standartenführer: 1 August 1942
- SS-Oberführer: 10 February 1943
- SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS: 1 April 1943
- 1914 Iron Cross Second (1915) and First (1918) Classes
- Clasp to the Iron Cross Second (1939) and First (1941) Classes
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (1943)
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (1934)
- German Cross in Gold (1941)
- Vahl was not member of the NSDAP.
- His SS # was 430 348 and he joined the SS on 1 August 1942.
- 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.
SS-Obergruppenführer Georg Keppler
|Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
10 February 1943 – 18 March 1943
SS-Oberführer Kurt Brasack
SS-Oberführer Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock
|Commander of 4th SS Polizei Division
7 May 1944 – 22 July 1944
SS-Standartenführer Karl Schümers