Dietrich von Saucken


Dietrich von Saucken
Dietrich von Saucken
Dietrich von Saucken.jpg
Dietrich von Saucken
Born 16 May 1892(1892-05-16)
Fischhausen, East Prussia
Died 27 September 1980(1980-09-27) (aged 88)
Pullach
Buried at Waldfriedhof Solln, grave Nr. 17-1-125
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Years of service 1910 – 1945
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held 4th Panzer Division
Second Army
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards House Order of Hohenzollern
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit dem Eichenlaub mit Schwertern und Brillanten

Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard Kasimir Dietrich von Saucken (16 May 1892 – 27 September 1980) was a general in the German army, the Wehrmacht Heer, during World War II. He was the last of just 27 men to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten; Germany awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade, that with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, during World War II to recognise extreme bravery or successful leadership on the battlefield).

Contents

Biography

Born in Fischhausen, East Prussia, Saucken joined the German Army as a Fahnenjunker (ensign) in 1910 and was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 19, 1912. After the First World War, he served as a colonel in the pre-war Wehrmacht and was promoted to major general on January 1, 1942. Appointed to command the 4th Panzer Division at the end of 1941, he later served as commandant of the German School for Mobile Troops (Schule für Schnelle Truppen).

In late June, 1944, as deputy commander of the III Panzer Corps on the Eastern Front, Von Saucken formed an ad hoc unit known as "Group von Saucken" from the remnants of several units that had been smashed in the Soviet assault on Army Group Centre. This grouping (later designated the XXXIX Panzer Corps) attempted to defend the occupied city of Minsk and temporarily maintained an escape route across the Berezina River for retreating German soldiers in the face of overwhelmingly superior Soviet forces.

In the last months of the war, Saucken led the Second Army in its defence of East and West Prussia, ordering the surrender of his army one day after the unconditional surrender of all German forces on May 8, 1945. After surrendering on the Hel Peninsula, von Saucken went into Soviet captivity. His captors sentenced him to 25 years' hard labour, later commuted to 30 months.[citation needed]

Saucken was released in 1955. He died near Munich, Germany, in 1980.

Von Saucken was the last German officer to receive the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, Swords, and Diamonds during the Second World War. His oldest son, Leutnant Hans-Erich von Saucken (born on May 29, 1924), was killed in action on May 30, 1944, in Romania.

Character traits

A cavalry officer who regularly wore both a sword and a monocle, Von Saucken personified the aristocratic Prussian conservatives who despised the braune Bande ("brown mob") of Nazis. When he was ordered to take command of the Second Army on March 12, 1945, he came to Hitler's headquarters with

his left hand resting casually on his cavalry sabre, his monocle in his eye, . . . [and then] saluted and gave a slight bow. This was three 'outrages' at once. He had not given the Nazi salute with raised arm and the words 'Heil Hitler', as had been regulation since 20 July 1944, he had not surrendered his weapon on entering....and had kept his monocle in his eye when saluting Hitler.

When Hitler told him that he must take his orders from Albert Forster, the Gauleiter (Nazi governor, or "District Leader") of Danzig, Von Saucken

returned Hitler's gaze....and striking the marble slab of the map table with the flat of his hand, he replied 'I have no intention, Herr Hitler, of placing myself under the orders of a Gauleiter'. In doing this he had bluntly contradicted Hitler and not addressed him as Mein Führer.

To the surprise of everyone who was present, Hitler capitulated and replied "All right, Saucken, keep the command yourself." Hitler dismissed the General without shaking his hand and Von Saucken left the room with only the merest hint of a bow.[1]

Awards

References

Citations
  1. ^ Beevor 2002, pp. 80-82.
  2. ^ a b c d Scherzer 2007, p. 651.
Bibliography
  • Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin the Downfall 1945. London ; New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-88695-5.
  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Fraschka, Günther (1994). Knights of the Reich. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military/Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-580-0.
  • Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr (2001). Crumbling Empire, the German Defeat in the East, 1944. Westport, Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96856-1.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch - Zwernemann (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-22-X.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients 1941-45. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-644-5.
  • Helden der Wehrmacht - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.

External links

Bundeswehr Kreuz Black.svg Military of Germany portal
Military offices
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
December 27, 1941 – January 2, 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Erich Schneider
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
May 31, 1943 – January, 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Hans Junck
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Hans Junck
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
February, 1944 – May 1, 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Clemens Betzel
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Hermann Breith
Commander of III. Armeekorps
May 31, 1944 – June 29, 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Hermann Breith
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Otto Schünemann
Commander of XXXIX.Panzerkorps
June 29, 1944 – October 15, 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Karl Decker
Preceded by
General Walter Weiß
Commander of 2. Armee
March 10, 1945 – May 9, 1945
Succeeded by
none

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