Fritz Klingenberg

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Fritz Klingenberg
Fritz Klingenberg
Birth date 17 December 1912
Place of birth Rövershagen, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, German Empire
Death date 22 March 1945
Place of death Herxheim, German Reich
Allegiance  National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.png Waffen-SS
Years of service 1935–1945
Rank SS-Standartenführer
Unit 2.SS-Division Das Reich
17.SS- Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen
Commands held 17.SS- Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen
SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Fritz Paul Heinrich Otto Klingenberg (b. 17 December 1912; 25 March 1945) was a German officer of the SS and the Waffen SS, finally SS-Standartenführer and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in WWII. He served in the 2.SS-Division Das Reich as well as commander of the 17.SS- Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen. He was best known for his unorthodox and audacious capture of the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade for which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.


Fritz Klingenberg, gefallen für Deutschland.jpg
Klingenberg, Fritz, Ritterkreuzträger.jpg
Fritz Klingenberg, Grabstein.jpg

Early Life - Pre-War SS Service

Fritz Paul Heinrich Otto Klingenberg was a son of dairy owner and was born in Rövershagen in Mecklenburg on 17 December 1912. After successfully completing his high-school education, he began studying science and history at the University of Rostock. In 1934 however, he interrupted his university studies and joined the SS-Verfügungstruppe, becoming one of the first ever graduates of the new SS-Junkerschule at Bad Tölz. After his graduation he was assigned to SS-Standarte Germania, Das Reich and up until the outset of World War II, Klingenberg served on an inspection team of the SS-VT.

Götz von Berlichingen

On 21 December 1944, Fritz Klingenberg was promoted to SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) and two weeks later (on 12 January 1945) was ordered to take command of the 17. SS- Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen. The Division was attached to General Max Simon's XIII SS Corps, defending the area between Neustadt and Landau, southeast of Saarbrücken against the XV Corps of the U.S. Seventh Army.


When resistance finally collapsed on 22 March 1945, Klingenberg was among the casualties. He had died leading his division near Herxheim and is buried at the German War Cemetery in Andilly, France.


The consummate SS-Mann, Klingenberg was fairly tall, standing over 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m). A photograph taken at Klingenberg's Knight's Cross presentation ceremony at the Berghof in 1941 shows him standing with Hitler. Klingenberg was apparently tall enough that, according to an aide to photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, Klingenberg was asked by Hoffmann to stand to the side and slightly behind Hitler so as to not dwarf the Führer, who stood about 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m). The disparity, however, can still be clearly seen in the photograph.




Awards and decorations

Third Reich


  • Iron Cross (1939), 2nd and 1st Class
    • 2nd Class on 23 June 1940
    • 1st Class on 24 June 1940
  • Namentliche Nennung im Wehrmachtbericht (reference in the Wehrmachtbericht) on 13 April 1941
  • Infantry Assault Badge (Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen) in Bronze on 3 July 1941
  • Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen 1939) in Black on 19 October 1941
  • Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal (Medaille „Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42“) on 3 November 1942
  • War Merit Cross (1939) (Kriegsverdienstkreuz), 2nd Class with Swords, 1943
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 14 May 1941 as SS-Hauptsturmführer and chief of the 2./SS-Kradschützen-Bataillon/SS-Division "Reich"/XXXXI. Armeekorps/12. Armee[1]
  • German Cross in Gold on 28 April 1944 as SS-Obersturmbannführer in the 2. SS-Panzer-Division "Das Reich"[2]

Further reading

  • SS-Das Reich: The History of the Second SS Division, 1941-1945 by Gregory L. Mattson (Zenith Press, (22 March 2002), ISBN 0-7603-1255-9, ISBN 978-0-7603-1255-1).
  • The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror: The Full Story From Street Fighters to the Waffen-SS by Gordon Williamson (Motorbooks International, (March 1994), ISBN 0-87938-905-2, ISBN 978-0-87938-905-5).
  • Invasion of Yugoslavia: Waffen SS Captain Fritz Klingenberg and the Capture of Belgrade During World War II by Colin D. Heaton [1]
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2