Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz

Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz

Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche und Camminetz

Highly regarded among his troops, charismatic and brave, he was dubbed the “Count armored” (in reference to his title and his position in the armored troops) and made ​​a show, especially during the tough campaign on the Eastern Front, of considerable ability in conduct of rapid and unpredictable maneuvers the head of his panzer getting great results in some famous battles against the ‘Red Army.

For these brilliant successes, he was one of only 27 German soldiers to get the second highest decoration in the value of the German armed forces: the Knight’s Cross with Oak fronds, Swords and Diamonds.

Biography

The early years

He belonged to an aristocratic family of Polish origin and pomerane of Silesia, ancient military traditions and perhaps a descendant of St. Hyacinth, a famous Polish saint. The future general Strachwitz, passed early childhood, he was sent to study in Berlin, where he was given a strict military education appropriate to his social rank and entered as an officer in the cavalry regiment of the Guard. During the First World War, Count Strachwitz was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the Iron Cross after a few months of fighting and was later captured by the French, and accused as a spy was sentenced to death, later commuted the prison sentence.

After the surrender of Germany, Strachwitz returned home, and promoted to captain, participated in the revolt against the communist government of Silesia in command of a regiment of cavalry. During the time of Hindenburg, he held various military posts and was finally moved into its new armored divisions of the Wehrmacht (the famous Panzer Division) and promoted to major of the reserve. The Count Strachwitz was never attracted by the Nazi ideology and was deeply disgusted by the massacre of the night of the long knives, but nevertheless accepted various commands and participated in the invasions of Poland, the Netherlands and all Marita operation in the Balkans and in May 1941 he was promoted to colonel.

On the eastern front with the panzers

The Count Strachwitz played an important role during the initial phase of ‘Operation Barbarossa, where, under the command of II armored battalion (II Abteilung) of the Panzer-Regiment 2 belonging to the famous 16.Panzer-Division of General Hans Hube, distinguished himself in furious battles chariots of Dubno (24 to 30 June 1941), where his tanks helped to repel the confused and improvised counterattacks of Soviet armored forces, then in the Battle of Uman bag and then the lightning conquest of the port of Nikolaev (August 1941).

These skilled and victorious actions earned him the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, one of the highest honors in Germany. In those years he received from his troops, which was highly valued and appreciated, the nickname “Der Panzergraf”, meaning “the Count armored”, and earned great prestige among the armored troops of the Third Reich.

Strachwitz had great merit also victorious in the Second Battle of Kharkov in May, 1942, always at the head of his panzer II Abteilung / Panzer-Regiment 2, in the subsequent march toward Stalingrad, the 16. Panzer-Division was often at the forefront of the German forces of the 6th Army of General Friedrich Paulus, Strachwitz and boldly led his department ever forward in the vast Russian steppe.

On August 23, 1942, were his first tanks reached the Volga north of Stalingrad, where, however, they had to resist the immediate Soviet counterattack, finding themselves in difficulty. In September 1942, after a final successful defense north of Stalingrad, Strachwitz was recalled to his country, having given command of his battalion to Major Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, oberst promoted and given command of the new Panzer-Regiment Grossdeutschland, the department armored formation in Germany for the Panzergrenadier Division Grossdeutchland.

Colonel Strachwitz returned to the Soviet front in dramatic winter 1942 – 1943, the head of the powerful and well-equipped armored regiment of the Grossdeutschland, gained new shining success during the Third Battle of Kharkov helping to block and repel the Soviet forces, apparently irresistible advanced after the victorious conclusion of the battle of Stalingrad. In particular, the panzers were the Count Strachwitz who retook the ‘March 8, 1943, in collaboration with the Waffen-SS troops of General Hausser, the important centers of Borisovka and Belgorod.

His repeated successes earned him the rank of Generalmajor and the honorary degree (refused) to SS major (Sturmbannführer), military group which he always despised for its lawlessness.

The end of war

In the last years of World War II he served Strachwitz some defensive positions on the eastern front, and after a series of defeats, in April 1945, he surrendered to U.S. forces in Bavaria. Acquitted of war crimes, however, remained a prisoner of the Americans for four years, having been one of the main proponents of the war of conquest. Freed, he was offered a position as an officer in the ‘army of Syria, who refused preferring to remain in Germany, where he was a friend and confidant of the former royal family of Prince Louis Ferdinand.

Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz was one of only two soldiers of the Third Reich Panzertruppen to receive the prestigious Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (the other was Colonel Adelbert Schulz, of 7.Panzer-Division) for his enthusiasm and his energy, despite the not so young age, always had a great prestige among the ranks and among the senior officers of the Wehrmacht and is still considered one of the commanders of units less armored and brightest skilled emerged during the Second World War, worthy to stand next to names like Joachim Peiper, Franz Bäke, Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski, Ivan Yakubovskij, Iosif Gusakovskij, Creighton Abrams, Joe Vandeleur.

Bibliography

•Antony Beevor, Stalingrad, Rizzoli 1998

•Paul Carell, Operation Barbarossa, BUR 2000

•Paul Carell, Scorched Earth, BUR 2000

•Günther Fraschka, Knights of the Reich, Schiffer publ. 1994

Soldiers of the Wehrmacht

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