|9 September 1919
|Place of birth
|13 September 1944
|Place of death
|⚔ Praga, Warsaw, Eastern Front
|National Socialist Germany
|Hauptmann der Reserve (posthumously)
|4th Company/Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 19/19. Panzer-Division
|World War II
|Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Othmar Kreuzinger (1919 – 1944) was a German officer of the Wehrmacht and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II.
Othmar Kreuzinger was born in 1919 as the son of the photographer Emil Kreuzinger and his wife Kamilla, née Zieger in Römerstadt. He attended high school (Oberschule) in Freudenthal (about 45 kilometres north of Olmütz and 55 kilometres northwest of Ostrau) and studied theology in Mariaschein (seven kilometers northeast of Teplitz-Schönau). As a young gymnast he was part of the Sudeten-German gymnastics movement (Turnbewegung) and joined the SA in Römerstadt immediately after the liberation and annexation to the German Reich in Oktober 1938.
After completing his studies, he volunteered for the Wehrmacht in September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, and was initially assigned to an assault battalion (Sturmbataillon), where he served as a flamethrower in Holland at the beginning of the Western Campaign on 10 May 1940, and was wounded on the very first day would. After healing in a military hospital (Lazarett) in Thuringia, he returned to his old unit in France, where he served as a private 1st class (Gefreiter) in coastal protection (Küstenschutz) until February 1942.
Then, in February 1942, Kreuzinger was deployed on the Eastern Front on the Crimean peninsula. He was wounded again on 20 March 1942 and promoted to Unteroffizier (NCO) by preference. During the fighting he earned the Panzer Assault Badge and received the Iron Cross 2nd Class as a platoon commander near Voronezh. From there he was first transferred to his replacement troops and then to the war school, where he was promoted to lieutenant of the reserves. After that, Leutnant d. R. Kreuzinger returned to the Eastern Front in February 1943 as a company commander in the 19th Panzer Division in Lower Saxony to take part in the offensive battles near Bjelgorod. In the fighting south of Blishujaja—Igumenka, Kreuzinger, while fighting at the head of his platoon, received decisive reconnaissance results on 8 July 1943 about the enemy position system. On 9 July 1943, as deputy company commander, he rolled up the trench system with the company and was wounded on the same day by a bullet in his right hand. Despite being wounded, he stayed with the front sections of the company until the attack was successfully ended. After the failure of his successor, Kreuzinger took over the company again despite his wound on 12 July 1943, proved himself at the Ryndinka bridgehead from 13 to 15 July 1943 in the east. In the particularly difficult, bloody and lossy battles of the company, Kreuzinger was the mainstay of his men. In July 1943, he received the Iron Cross, 1st class, for his skillful leadership and his brave behavior.
In the course of further fighting he was wounded for the fourth time on 14 August 1943 and for the fifth time on 21 August 1943. On 9 September 1943, for brave participation in 15 days of hand-to-hand combat, he received the close combat clasp of the first level. On 13, 22, and 24 September 1943, he suffered minor injuries while retreating. In October 1943, Kreuzinger was seriously wounded for the ninth time. After two months in the hospital, he returned to the old unit in the east in January 1944 and was promoted to Oberleutnant d. R. During the night of 4-5 March 1944, he destroyed the first and on 27 March 1944 the second Russian tank "T 34" in close combat. When, at the end of March 1944, the Russians asked the surrounded force group of General der Panzertruppe Hans Hube (de) to surrender, the only answer was an attack. The target of the attack was the town of Gucztin, 40 kilometers northwest of Kamenez—Podolsk. Of his own accord, Kreuzinger, with a few members of his company, passed the western edge of the village in massed flank fire and broke into the rear of the enemy positions by surprise. In tenacious struggles man against man, the raiding party (Stoßtrupp) destroyed several anti-tank nests, put a breaking out Russian tank "T 34" out of action in close combat and blocked the enemy's line of retreat. Under the impression of the success of the Kreuzinger group, the enemy fled, leaving behind six, partly undamaged "T 34", a captured Axis tank, twenty guns (7.62 cm), ten machine guns, a fuel store and a large number of fallen Russians of the Red Army. Outstanding bravery of Oberleutnant Kreuzinger were the basis for the division's further attack on the runway to Czortkow. For this achievement as well as for personal bravery, he received the close combat clasp in silver in April 1944. After that he was sent to the Carpathian front near Kolomea at Easter 1944. On 14 May 1944, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. This high award was presented to him personally on 21 May 1944 in front of the trench by his division commander, Major General Hans Källner (de).
Due to a fit of exhaustion, he got his well-earned vacation on 31 May 1944. On 14 June 1944, organized by the district leadership of the NSDAP, a Knight's Cross ceremony took place in the Theaterhaussaal. After being welcomed by the Ortsgruppenleiter Klamert, SS-Standartenführer Sieghart and Kreisleiter (Freudenthal) Rudolf Pohl, Kreuzinger was asked to talk about his experiences. He then became engaged to Miss Gisela Schwarz. After a five-week vacation, Kreuzinger returned on 6 July 1944 to his Lower Saxony 19th Panzer Division, which had meanwhile been relocated to Holland, took over his newly formed company and had to prepare it in five to six days for the heavy fighting that was to come in the east. It was now to the north of the eastern front, where Kreuzinger, as commander of the 2nd company of the 19th Panzer Reconnaissance battalion, and his men were back on heavy duty in July 1944. When the enemy made a deep penetration in the German main battle line south of Grodno and their own counterattack to restore the situation failed, Kreuzinger attacked with his company, broke through the enemy anti-tank gun positions and recaptured a town that was important for the further conduct of the battle. Through outstanding personal bravery, Kreuzinger created the conditions for building up the main battle line of the division and prevented a further breakthrough by the Soviets. He took part in retreat battles at Gustyn, Kuznica and Warka Bridgehead, among others.
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
- Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes [...] Awarded for his actions during the breakout battles of the 1. Panzer-Armee at the end of March 1944. During these battles Kreuzinger’s unit was assigned the task of taking the village of Gucztin. Oberleutnant Kreuzinger decided to launch a surprise attack against the village from the west with his depleted Kompanie in order to assail the Soviet positions from the rear. In hard combat Kreuzinger’s assault troop knocked out multiple AT gun positions, destroyed out a T-34 in close combat and then blocked the Soviet retreat route. The combined weight of these actions put the Soviet garrison into a disorganized retreat and they left behind 6 T-34s (some of which were undamaged), 1 captured German tank, 20 guns (7.62 cm), 10 machine guns, a fuel dump and a large number of dead. Kreuzinger’s bold action thus paved the way for the further advance of the 19. Panzer-Division along the road to Czortkow. For this, as well as his personally destroying 2 tanks in close combat earlier in the month, he would be decorated with the Knight’s Cross.
- Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub [...] Awarded for the recapture of the village of Kuznica (located on the Grodno—Bialystok road). The Soviets had taken the village after breaking through the German frontline and advancing about 6 km past it, creating a bridgehead simultaneously. Oberleutnant Kreuzinger recognized the danger and launched a flanking counterattack which succeeded in crushing the whole Soviet bridgehead despite the weather consisting of torrential rain during this time.
- Wehrmachtbericht [...] In the fighting near Warsaw, the Knight's Cross bearer First Lieutenant of the Reserves Kreuzinger, company chief in a Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion, repeatedly distinguished himself through extraordinary bravery. He found in this fighting a heroic death.
The 19th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion was deployed in tough street fighting in Praga, a surburb of Warsaw, Poland. With his light 2nd armored personnel carrier or infantry fighting vehicle (Schützenpanzer) company, Oberleutnant d. R. Kreuzinger, as leader of a counter-attack group, constantly launched dashing counter-attacks on 13 September 1944, so that it was possible to prevent the Russians from breaking through to the Vistula bridges towards Warsaw. He had just returned from a successful counterattack when, at 5 p.m. the same day, during fierce and bloody street fighting on the western edge of the Eastern Park in Praga, shells from a volley gun fell hard next to him. A splinter penetrated his steel helmet and fatally injured him. Othmar Kreuzinger suffered a soldier's death.
He was buried with military honors on 16 September 1944 at the military cemetery in Lomianiki, twenty kilometers north-west of Warsaw. After his death, he was named in the Wehrmacht report on 25 September 1944 for special bravery in the course of the above battles, Oberleutnant d. R. Kreuzinger, head of the 2nd company of the 19th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion of the 19th Panzer Division in Lower Saxony, subsequently received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 18 October 1944 as the 625th soldier in the German Wehrmacht posthumously and was, with effect from 1 August 1944, promoted to Hauptmann der Reserve (captain of the reserves).
Awards and decorations
- Iron Cross (1939), 2nd and 1st Class
- 2nd Class on 29 August 1942
- 1st Class on 25/26 July 1943
- Winter Battle in the East 1941–42 Medal
- Panzer Badge (Panzerkampfabzeichen)
- Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen 1939) in Black, Silver and Gold
- Gold on 25 August 1943
- Close Combat Clasp (Nahkampfspange) in Bronze and Silver
- Bronze on 9 September 1943
- Silver in April 1944
- Two Tank Destruction Badges (Panzervernichtungsabzeichen)
- Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht (Namentliche Nennung im Wehrmachtbericht) on 25 September 1944
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Knight's Cross on 14 May 1944 as Oberleutnant of the Reserves and commander (Chef) of the 4. Kompanie/Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 19/19. Panzer-Division
- 625th Oak Leaves on 18 October 1944 (posthumously) as Oberleutnant of the Reserves and commander (Chef) of the 2. Kompanie/Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 19/19. Panzer-Division/IV. SS-Panzerkorps/9. Armee/Heeresgruppe Mitte
- Florian Berger: Ritterkreuzträger aus Österreich und den k.u.k. Kronländern, 2006