Ludwig Streil

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Ludwig Streil
Ludwig Streil.jpg
Major Streil, c. 1935/36
Birth date 21 January 1893
Place of birth Zusamzell, Altenmünster, Swabia, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Death date 17 May 1940 (aged 47)
Place of death Along the Charleroi Canal (Senette) near Ittre, Belgium
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Fahne der Bayerischen Armee.png Royal Bavarian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1912–1914
Rank Oberst (Colonel)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1929 Eileen Bredt, née Meyer

Ludwig Streil (21 January 1893 – 17 May 1940) was a German officer of the Bavarian Army, the Imperial German Army, the Freikorps, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, finally Oberst (Colonel), regimental commander and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in WWII.


Bavarian Bravery Medal in Gold
Wedding at St. Matthäuskirche Munich in 1929
Ludwig Streil (2nd from right) with the Reichswehr
Streil in Poland ...
... from the book Wir zogen gegen Polen
Belgium, 17 May 1940: Last known photograph from Streil's last day alive.
Fieldgrave in Itre, Belgium and Streil's current grave at the German Military Cemetery in Lommel

Early life

Streil's schooling consisted of attending the local Volksschule (public school) and two years in the Bauschule (School of Architecture and Construction) in Augsburg. At age 19, he was working as a Maurer Praktikant (mason trainee) when on 23 October 1912, he entered Bavarian Army as a two-year volunteer in the 8th Company of the Königlich Bayerisches Infanterie-Leib-Regiment, needing to complete his mandatory military service.


On 1 August 1914, the German Empire entered into the First World War, with Streil serving in the above mentioned regiment. Within a very short time Unteroffizier (NCO) Streil had distinguished himself in battle on the Western Front as “Der Patrouillengänger” (the foremost and outstanding/daring reconnaissance/patrol scout). He also proved himself as an innovator of new ideas. He experimented with different designs of hand grenades, for example filling tin cans with lead shrapnel, hobnails and gunpowder, as well as utilizing barrels filled with sand, gravel and straw to roll in front of himself and his fellow soldiers to provide protective cover while advancing towards enemy trenches.

By 24 October 1914, he had been awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class. While fighting in the vicinity of Vermandovillers, between Amiens and St. Quentin France, he was awarded Bavaria’s highest award for NCOs for his bravery as reconnaissance scout and the valuable information he had previously gathered. Nossoncourt was the location of his outstanding act of bravery for which he received this award. It was here that he voluntarily reconnoitered far behind the enemy lines to locate the exact location of an artillery battery which had hitherto evaded all efforts to destroy it. With the aid of his drawings the battery was able to be located and destroyed.

In the book “Das Königlich Bayerische Infanterie Leib-Regiment im Weltkrieg 1914/18”, written in 1931 by Major Joseph Ritter von Reiss and other surviving officers of the regiment, there is a specific entry regarding the dangerous reconnaissance patrols of the 8th Kompanie from 21 to 25 October 1914 conducted by Unteroffizier Streil in which he repeatedly volunteered to approach the enemy front-lines, at times as close as 10 meters, to collect valuable strategic information.

While attached to and fighting with the German Alpenkorps at Son Pauses along the Italian Dolomite Front in Tyrol, Vizefeldwebel Streil was well known among the local troops on account of his hut, nick-named “Schloß Hubertus” (Castle Hubertus), which contained an orchestrion[1] that had been taken from the ruins of a local manor named “Jagdhaus Hubertus” (Hunting Lodge Hubertus).

On page 156 of the “Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuch-1973” it mentions “Offizier-Stellvertreter” (Officer Deputy) Streil again specifically for his bravery during the attack on 23 June 1916 at Fleury, France. During a charge towards enemy lines, a French machine-gun was wreaking havoc and death upon the advancing German troops of the 8th Company. Vizefeldwebel Streil stormed the position together with two other men and threw a hand-grenade at the French gun and crew. But before it could explode, the gunner was able to fire a number of rounds hitting Streil three times; wounding him in the neck, lung and shoulder. A few moments later, his company commander First Lieutenant Georg Ritter und Edler von Rauscher auf Weeg was shot in the head and killed while issuing orders to nearby German machine-gunners.

What follows is a combination of two separate accounts of the events concerning Streil’s severe injuries sustained on the above mentioned date 23 June 1916. The first from Ludwig Streil’s own account “Mein letzter Sturm” and the other from the 1940 Josef Magnus Wehner obituary for Streil (“Neuer Typus unseres Volksreiches”) outlining the ordeal as published in the Münchener Stadtanzeiger on the 24th anniversary on 23 June 1940.

Following the attack on and destruction of the machine-gun, during which he had been hit three times, Streil was left behind by the advancing troops, lying in a shell crater in no-man’s land for two days and nights in the midst of constant shell fire. He had no food and little water. He sustained further injuries while he was lying there, already seriously wounded, waiting for help to arrive, beginning with an un-exploded large caliber naval gun projectile that crashed into the ground just meters away from him. Though it luckily did not explode, the concussion on impact caused his chest and lungs to compress temporarily robbing him of the ability to breath and bruising his lungs and body. In the hours that followed, he received further shrapnel wounds, the first passing through his left foot causing severe bleeding. A few hours later, two more pieces of red hot shrapnel cut into his left upper and lower thigh. During the night a further four fragments ripped into his back, left upper and lower thigh and his right shoulder, fracturing his shoulder-blade. Just around mid-day, two days after his initial injury, he was struck by an empty shrapnel shell casing further injuring his left arm. A combat orderly (Gefechtsordonnanz) named Sutor had initially been able to provide some hasty first aid following Streil’s initial injuries, but then had to leave with the charging troops advancing further in the attack through Fleury to the heights overlooking Verdun. On 25 June 1916, orderly Sutor returned to Fort Douaumont and set out searching for and finding his “Zugführer” (platoon leader) still lying in a shell hole in no man’s land. He attempted to carry the “half-naked coal black” body by himself but was unable to do so. He later returned with medics, one of which was apparently killed just before reaching the safety of Fort Douaumont.

The examining doctors initially expected Streil to die, however they made an effort to save his life. While Streil lay in no man’s land, he had wanted to die, praying for a shell to explode near enough or on him to put him out of his misery. Now, that there was hope for survival again, his will to live returned. On 26 June 1916, he was transferred from Douaumont to the field hospital (Feldlazarett) at Azannes, France. From the end of June 1916 until April 1917, he was treated in various locations in Germany to recover from his wounds and regain his strength. As of 25 November 1916, like other wounded, he was administered by the 1. Ersatz Battalion/Infanterie-Leib-Regiment. His military record states that he was back at the front by 1 May 1917, when he participated in the static battles of the Upper Alsace Region between 21 May and 29 July 1917. His next deployment was to the Italian Front from 24 October to 19 November 1917 to participate in the Battle of Caporetto (12th Battle of Isonzo).

On 24. December 1917, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant of the Reserves as "Bravery Officer" (together with Ferdinand Hipper[2] and Nikolaus Puhl[3]), a very rare honor for outstanding achievement, but not a singular event within the regiment, as sometimes claimed.

He remained with this regiment until the end of the war on 11 November 1918 in various capacities as Führer der Pionier-Kompanie (leader of the of the Combat Engineers Company), as Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion/Infanterie-Leib-Regiment, as Ordonnanz-Offizier (ordnance officer of the 2nd Battalion) and once again as Zugführer in der Pionier-Kompanie (platoon leader of the Combat Engineers Company of the 2nd Battalion). In October 1918, he was awarded the Wound Badge in Gold after suffering three further severe and light injuries. One of which was a severe wound to his left forearm caused by a large piece of shrapnel.


Ludwig Streil is and was well-known for his many poems and verse written primarily about his experiences as a soldier in the First World War and later years between the wars in the military. Therein he exalted the virtues of good soldiers both in friend and foe as well as the tragedy of war. He wrote a beautiful poem for his fallen friend, company leader Ernst Siegfried Maximilian Maria Graf von Moy.

He also wrote a play called “Ein Deutsches Spiel” (A German Play) which dealt with the Allied occupation of the Rhineland 1918/19. The play was performed a number of times; once on 18 December 1933 at a Christmas celebration of the 4th Machine-Gun Company of the 19. (Bayerisches) Infanterie-Regiment at the Hotel “Union” (Bayerstraße in Munich), then in December 1938 in Innsbruck by the 2. Gebirgs-Division (as mentioned in the Innsbrucker Zeitung) and perhaps in the Berliner Konzerthaus in 1923 in front of Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert and the Diplomatic Corps.

His compassionate and sympathetic poem “Mein Feind” (My Enemy) was set to music by the famous Bavarian military march composer Georg Fürst (1870–1936). Georg Fürst was at one time musical director of the Bayerisches Infanterie-Leib-Regiment as well as the Königlich Bayerisches 5. Infanterie-Regiment „Großherzog Ernst Ludwig von Hessen“ and later the 19. (Bayerisches) Infanterie-Regiment, but is best known for his many popular military marches (e.g. Badenweiler-Marsch).


After the war, the “Leiber” Regiment was demobilized. According to the “Urteil des Arbeiter- und Soldatenrates” (Judgement of the Worker's and Soldier's Council), Streil was discharged from his military service on 1 February 1919. By April 1919, the former commander of the “Leiber” Regiment, Colonel Ritter von Epp had formed the “Freikorps Epp” and was enlisting many men of his former regiment. These Freikorps became famous at the time of the Weimar Republic fighting against communists in some cities and towns. Streil was taken into the ranks of “Freikorps Epp” and made Werbe-Offizier (Recruiting Officer). In May 1919, he was instrumental in defeating communist fighters in Munich of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and in April 1919 during the aftermath of the November Revolution.


When the Freikorps was later included into the Reichswehr, it was renamed “Brigade Epp” and was part of the Reichswehr-Schützen-Brigade 21. It was with this Schützen-Brigade that he participated in the fighting in the Ruhraufstand (Ruhr-Uprising) in March 1920 against the “Rote Ruhrarmee” (Communist Ruhr-Army). From 1 October to 31 December 1920, Streil was temporarily transferred to Infantrie-Regiment 42 and then to teh Infantrie-Regiment 14. As part of the limited “100.000 man” Heer (Army) of the Reichswehr, Streil entered the newly formed 19th Bavarian Infantry Regiment on 1 January 1921 (platoon leader in the Machine Gun Company) and was later commander of the 1st Company. He remained with the regiment until 31 December 1934. in these years, he was instrumental in rebuilding the German Army. In 1929, compulsory military service was reintroduced and with it the need for more instructors. On 1 October 1934, Captain Streil was posted to the Infantry School Dresden.


On 15 October 1935, Major Strei was transferred to the to the Military College in Munich as “Inspektions-Chef” (Inspection Chief). In this capacity he not only held the most authority, but he was also the most popular officer of the school and was largely responsible for running and overseeing the entire facility. Streil remained at this post until 12 October 1937. On 12 October 1937, Major Streil was made commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Infanterie-Regiment 62 (Landshut), which was part of the 7. Infanterie-Division.

The Infanterie-Regiment 62 was mobilized from 1 to 10 October 1938 in preparation for the liberation of the Sudetenland. Lieutenant Colonel Streil entered Czechoslovakia with his troops and was made temporary Stadtkommandant (town commandant) of Bergreichenstein in the Böhmerwald. The predominately German-speaking population of the Sudetenland had been forced into the new country Czechoslovakia after WWI. Conditions in the country were poor at best and the German population had suffered substantially under the germanophob Czech government. Therefore the German population welcomed the region’s inclusion into the German Reich. The few Czechs living in the region fled after the arrival of German troops. Commandant Streil ordered that a report be written about the conditions of the local population and how they could best be assisted to develop economically. For this and other efforts to better the life of the local population, he was made an honorary citizen of the town in 1938.


On 1 August 1939, Streil was sent with the German 7. Infanterie-Division to Slovakia where it was fully mobilized for action by 26 August 1939. His first action in the war was noted on 1 September 1939 with the commencement of fighting at the Jablunka/Jablunkov Pass. As an officer and gentleman, Streil commanded respect from all ranks – from his superiors to the lowest Private. Streil personified the ideal of a German officer (or any military officer for that matter) by setting the highest demands of courage, gallantry, resoluteness, fairness, consideration and loyalty from himself and from those he commanded. His character was summed up in the idiom with “Er trug den Marschallstab im Tournister!” literally “He carried the marshal’s baton in his knapsack” meaning “He had/showed the potential of being an excellent leader of men and armies”.

Throughout his military career until the day of his death, he demonstrated his fearless courage in the face of the enemy. In battle he could always be found at the forefront attacking with his troops – hand grenades in hand. Streil was always striving to improve the efficiency but also the safety of – and for – his troops. His bravery and contribution during the difficult yet short-lived Battle of Prezmyśl (1 to 14 September 1939) during the conquest of former Galicia in Poland resulted in him being awarded the clasps to the Iron Cross. Furthermore he participated in the fighting at Brzuchowice, Poland and up to the demarcation line at Lemberg, Ukraine which was occupied by Russian troops invading Poland from the East.

On 10 January 1940, he was named commander of the Infanterie-Regiment 61.[4] As of the end of January 1940, the regiment had been transferred from Poland to the West in the border region around Geilenkirchen in preparation for the fighting in the Netherlands and beyond. On 10 May 1940, the regiment advanced crossing over the border and attacking the bunkers along the Juliana Canal beginning the conquest of Netherlands, Belgium and ultimately France.

On 17 May 1940, the regiment was poised to advance further westward, preparing to cross the Charleroi Canal (Senette River), south of Brussels. It had been on the move constantly through Holland and Belgium for an entire week since 10 May crossing the Juliana-Kanal, Hertogenbosch (Mass-Schelde-Canal) on same day, Albert Canal on 11 May, St. Trond on 13 May, and Limal an der Dyle by 15 May 1940. They had been marching and fighting non-stop, covering 160 km while getting very little rest. Commander Streil had not slept more than a few hours per night since 9 May 1940. He was up and reviewing the front line by 5:00 am seeing that everything had been put in place to ensure the success of the day’s upcoming battle and the safety of his troops. The attack across the Senette was scheduled to begin at 8.30 pm. As the day progressed, the German and French artillery carried on duels attempting to destroy each other’s batteries and guns. That afternoon, while he was reviewing the most forward positions and the preparations which had been taken, Streil ran into a sector that was just coming under heavy enemy artillery fire. Bold and fearless as always, he carried on his inspection of the Pionier-Kompanie’s (Engineer Company) preparations to cross the river when he was killed by exploding shells.

The battle began and raged on for many hours until after midnight. At 02.00 am on 18 May 1940, when there was a lull in the fighting, the mortal remains (only his right hand) of Oberstleutnant Ludwig Streil were buried under a grove of trees on the grounds of near-by Chateau d’Ittre (Ittre in Walloon Brabant Province). The news of Streil’s untimely death spread through the regiment like wild-fire, shocking and saddening the troops. When they commenced their attacks in the following days, “Streil, Streil” was their battle-cry. They were the first companies to cross the canal from the entire 7th Division, and in fact from the entire Corps.


Lieutenant Colonel was killed in action on 17 May 1940 along the Charleroi Canal (Senette) near Ittre, Belgium while fighting with his regimental staff and the 2nd Battalion of Infanterie-Regiment 61 (established 15 October 1935). Streil’s fieldgrave was relocated in 1946/47, when the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) transferred the remains of fallen German soldiers, which were provisionally buried throughout Belgium, and interred them in the German Military Cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte) at Lommel (Limburg); final resting place: Plot 49, Grave 264.


Ludwig was the son of Josef Streil, a master blacksmith and farmer in Zusamzell, and his wife Viktoria, née Demharter.


On 19 December 1929, Captain Streil married Eileen Theodora Bredt, née Meyer (1898–1976). Eileen brought three children into the marriage:

  • Otto Bredt (b. 28 September 1918), Unteroffizier (Sergeant) with the Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 98. Missing in action on 21 January 1944 near Nikopol, Ukraine.
  • Walter Rolf Bredt (b. 21 June 1920), officer in the Infanterie-Regiment 40, finally Hauptmann (Captain) of a Panzergrenadier-Regiment. in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Eva Bredt (b. 30 March 1924)

They also had two children of their own with last residence at Gut Hub (estate at Hubersee), Penzberg, Bavaria during WWII:

  • Georg Streil (b. 15 August 1932; d. 4 July 2015)
  • Gabriele Streil (b. 16 December 1933; d. 7 October 2013)


  • 23 October 1912 Two-Year Volunteer (Zweijährig-Freiwilliger)
  • 21 September 1913 Unteroffizier (NCO; Sergeant)
  • 18 January 1915 Vizefeldwebel (Sergeant First Class)
  • 24 December 1917 Leutnant der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant) without Patent[5]
    • commissioned as Tapferkeits-Offizier (Bravery Officer) due to his outstanding military service and daring war deeds
  • 23 May 1919 Leutnant (active) with Patent from 24 December 1917[6]
    • with the Reichswehr, he received rank seniority (RDA) from 11 May 1915 (9)
  • 1 February 1925 Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant)
  • 1 June 1929 Hauptmann (Captain)
  • 1 August 1935 Major
  • 1 April 1938 Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • 21 January 1943 Oberst (Colonel) with rank seniority (RDA) from 1 May 1940

Awards, decorations and honours (excerpt)

Knight's Cross award document

Awards and decorations

  • Military Merit Cross (Bavaria), 3rd Class with the Crown and Swords (BMVK3.mKr⚔/BM5c.mKr⚔) on 11 September 1914[7]
  • Iron Cross (1914), 2nd and 1st Class
    • 2nd Class on 24 October 1914
    • 1st Class on 3 July 1918
  • Bavarian Bravery Medal (Military Merit Medal) in Gold (BMVM1/BgMV) on 1 December 1914[8]
    • Streil was one of only 998 recipients of this medal in WWI.
  • Leiberring (regimental ring) for 24 months of service at the war front
    • he received the ring for NCOs on 24 July 1917 and the officer ring after 24 December 1917
  • Medal for Bravery (Austria-Hungary) in Bronze (ÖbT) on 26 May 1918
  • Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen 1918) in Gold[9]
  • Military Merit Order (Bavaria), 4th Class with Swords (BMV4⚔/BM4⚔) on 3 March 1919[10]
  • Bavarian Long Service Award Medal for 9 or 12 years (medal bar, 3rd from right)
  • Tyrolean State Memorial Medal (Tiroler Landesdenkmünze 1914–1918) on 14 June 1929
  • Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung), 4th to 1st Class
  • Sudetenland Medal with the Prague Castle Bar (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938 mit Spange „Prager Burg“)
  • Repetition Clasp 1939 to the Iron Cross 1914, 2nd and 1st Class
  • Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 June 1941 as Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the Infanterie-Regiment 61/7. Infanterie-Division
    • awarded by Hitler on recommendation of Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Brauchitsch; Tagesbefehl (order of the day) of Infanterie-Regiment 61 signed by Oberstleutnant Albert Ringler (Streil's successor) is dated 12 July 1941, regimental commander from 21 May 1940 to 31 July 1941. The recommendation of Von Brauchitsch is mentioned in the newspaper report “Ritterkreuz nachträglich an einem tapferen Offizier verliehen” (Knight's Cross retrospectively awarded to a brave officer; not posthumously).

Stolen by the enemy

It should be noted, that his awards and decorations as well as many personal items were stolen by invading American soldiers when they occupied the town of Penzberg in the closing days of the war, ransacking and looting from house to house, stealing whatever they wanted. Later, the post-war German police and US Military officials repeatedly visited the family home and confiscated any materials they deemed "National Socialist" in nature including most all of his diaries and documents and many other personal effects, even though he was never a party member nor affiliated with the NSDAP outside of his military career. None of the stolen or confiscated items were ever returned to the family.


  • Honorary Citizen (Ehrenbürger) of Bergreichenstein (Sudetenland) in 1938



  1. Orchestrion is a generic name for a machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an orchestra or band.
  2. Hipper received the Leiberring for NCOs, later for officers, and Military Merit Order (Bavaria), 4th Class with Swords (BMV4⚔/BM4⚔) on 8 November 1918
  3. Nikolaus Puhl (1893–1954), who received the Leiberring for NCOs, later for officers, and Military Merit Order (Bavaria), 4th Class with Swords (BMV4⚔/BM4⚔) on 12 May 1918, would later become lord of the manor in Landenham near Munich on the Austrian border and Lieutenant Colonel of the Wehrmacht (Kreisdirektor des Wehrmeldeamts Wassserburg).
  4. Infanterie-Regiment 61
  5. Verordnungs-Blatt des Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministeriums, July to December 1917, p. 3279
  6. Verordnungs-Blatt des Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministeriums, 1919 II, p. 304
  7. Verordnungs-Blatt des Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministeriums, July to December 1914, p. 475
  8. Verordnungs-Blatt des Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministeriums, July to December 1914, p. 605
  9. Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres 1931, p. 147
  10. Verordnungs-Blatt des Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministeriums, 1919 II, p. 238