|7 August 1913
|Place of birth
|Schalkau, District (Kreis) Sonnenberg, Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, German Empire
|21 November 1996 (aged 83)
|Place of death
|Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
| Weimar Republic
National Socialist Germany
|Years of service
|World War II
|Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
|∞ II. Marga Emmerling
Werner Pfitzer (7 August 1913 – 21 November 1996) was a German NCO of the Reichswehr and officer of the Wehrmacht, finally Hauptmann (Captain) and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II.
Werner Pfitzer joined the 14. (Badisches) Infanterie-Regiment of the Reichswehr on 15 October 1931 and committed for 12 years, his training battalion (Ausbildungs-Bataillon) was stationed in Donaueschingen (Wehrkreis V). He served deligently and was promoted from Schütze to Oberschütze, then to Gefreiter (lance corporal), Unteroffizier (sergeant), Feldwebel (staff sergeant) and to officer candidate (Offizieranwärter).
With the expansion of the Reichswehr to the Wehrmacht, the regiment was renamed the Constance Infantry Regiment (Infanterie-Regiment Konstanz) on 1 October 1934. The 1st Battalion under , in which Pfitzer served, of the regiment was reformed to the 2nd Battalion of the Meiningen Infantry Regiment (Schützen-Regiment 2) of the 3. Kavallerie-Division. The 1st Rifle Regiment (Schützen-Regiment 1) was formed in early October 1935 in Gera, in Military District IV. There were also contributions from the 18th Cavalry Regiment (3rd squadron) and from the former 1st Battalion of the 14th Infantry Regiment, now the Meiningen Infantry Regiment. After being formed, the regiment was incorporated into the new 1st Panzer Division. Tactically, the regiment was subordinated to the 1st Rifle Brigade under Colonel Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel. On 15 October 1935, the former mounted soldiers of the cavalry discarded their yellow weapon color and received the pink of the motorized troops (Kraftfahrtruppe).
In October 1938, now serving with the Schützen-Regiment 1, Pfitzer participated in the liberation of the Sudetenland. After crossing the border, the regiment was housed in Karlsbad, Komotau, Postelberg in the Saaz Hopfenland. When they returned in the fall of 1938, the 1st Battalion was provisionally stationed at the Ohrdruf military training area (Truppenübungsplatz Ohrdruf). At the beginning of 1939, the 1st Battalion also moved into new barracks in the Lützendorf district of the city of Weimar as its final location. The entire regiment was now stationed in new barracks in Weimar.
The regiment was now also equipped with Schützenpanzerwagen (armoured personnel carrier; SPW). In mid-March 1939 the regiment moved out again. It was deployed in the Oppeln area, in military district VIII, while other divisions occupied Bohemia and Moravia. On 20 April 1939, the regiment took part in the great birthday parade (Führergeburtstag) in Berlin, which was considered a great honour. This was followed by smaller exercises until mobilization. On 21 August 1939, the regiment left its location and moved to Central Silesia. During the night of 24/25 August 1939, the regiment and division reached an accommodation area between Rosenberg and Oppeln.
On 1 September 1939, the start of the Poland Campaign, the regiment made good progress, attacking hard and victorious. On 5 September 1939, the regiment continued to attack Petrikau. In the evening, the first soldiers of the regiment, 1st Battalion (with Pfitzer), entered Petrikau. It was not until late in the evening that the place could finally be cleared of the enemy. The regiment now took over the security of the city. The next day the regiment, like the rest of the division, had to resist heavy attacks. The advance continued over the next few days. On 10 September 1939, the 1st Battalion of the regiment, under Major Wilhelm Helmut Otto Siegfried von Studnitz, was sent north, being pushed back at midday by a superior enemy attack and suffering heavy losses. It was only able to hold out with the help of the 6th battery of the 73rd Artillery Regiment. The 2nd battalion of the regiment attempted to take a bridge near Opacz in a surprise attack, which had already been set on fire by the enemy. The attempt failed despite the support of the 1st Battalion (Abteilung) of the 73rd Artillery Regiment. On 18 September 1939, the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment, supported by Panzer, made a decisive counterattack on the D. Ruszki crossroads. On 19 September 1939, the regiment and the division moved to Warsaw via Blonin. From 23 September 1939, the regiment and the division moved to the Tomaszow area. On 3 October 1939, the regiment received the order to move back home with the division. By 12 October 1939, all units reached their peacetime location. At the end of November 1939, the regiment and the division moved to the area around Dortmund. Werner Pfitzer earned the 2nd Class of the Iron Cross for his service.
On 1 April 1940, Pfitzer was promoted to Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant) and received rank seniority (Rangdienstalter) from 1 April 1938. On 10 May 1940, the Battle of France had begun. On 12 May 1940, the regiment's command post was near Sugny (Ardennes). On 12 May 1940 at around 3 p.m., the III. Battalion of the regiment, with the support of the II. Battalion of the 56th Artillery Regiment under Captain Söth, took Neuenberg and met local resistance at Brechen. On the same day, the 1st Battalion of the regiment, supported by two platoons of the 1st Panzer Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 73rd Artillery Regiment, took the Semois near Bouillon. It cleared the city and formed a bridgehead on the southern bank elevations by the afternoon. During the night the town of Fleigneux was firmly in German hands. As a result, the division attacked on 13 May 1940 over the Mass on Sedan. During the night of 18 May 1940, the bridgehead was extended to the north beyond Thenelles. At noon the regiment advanced under the 1st Rifle Brigade on Vermand and took Hancourt in the course of the afternoon. The 2nd battalion of the regiment crossed the Somme on 19 May 1940 and formed a bridgehead without contacting the enemy, which could be extended to the south and south-west. On 20 May 1940, the 1st Battalion of the regiment was deployed as the vanguard of the 1st Rifle Brigade. First this vanguard reached St. Albert and then around 3 p.m. La Chausée – Tirancourt the Somme. The regiment, reinforced by parts of the 2nd Panzer Regiment, 1st Division of the 73rd Artillery Regiment, 2nd Division of the 45th Artillery Regiment and 616th Artillery Battalion, reached the crossing over the river under weak enemy resistance. By the late afternoon, the I. and III. Battalion formed a bridgehead south of Piequigny. The 2nd battalion of the regiment fended off several attacks near Camon, east of Amiens, with the support of the 2nd battalion of the 73rd artillery regiment. Then, by 5:15 p.m., the 2nd Battalion detached the 2nd Battalion from the 1st Panzer Regiment from their security near Dury. At around 7:30 p.m., English attacks near Salouél began at the seam between the regiment and the 1st Kradschützen Battalion. These attacks were repulsed. On 21 May 1940, the regiment had its first day off, which was used to maintain technology and rest. In the late afternoon of 22 May 1940, units from the regiment reached Samer as part of the 1st Rifle Brigade. The place was taken and progress was made towards Wirwignes. From there, the II. Battalion turned from the regiment to the embattled Desvres. Battalion commander Major Ludolf Wilhelm Dodo Eberhard von Jagow, son of General der Kavallerie Walther Julius von Jagow, was killed there that day (⚔ due to shot in the heart).
On 17 June 1940, the regiment was deployed to block the roads in the Gray area leading from the northeast into the divisional area. At 5 p.m. the regiment and the division attacked Montbéllard. Shortly before 7 p.m., the "Krüger Battle Group" reached Baumes-Les-Dames. The 1st Panzer Brigade, with the 1st Battalion of the regiment, had passed through Oiselay. The division decided to order the capture of Belfort on its own. With parts of the II. and III. Battalions from the regiment, Montbéllard was purged. When the II. Battalion of Panzer Regiment 1 entered Belfort, the II. Battalion of the regiment followed the tanks directly into the town center. By 8 o'clock the city was in the hands of the division except for the outer forts and the citadel. The second battalion of the regiment was deployed against the citadel, but remained under defensive fire. At 2 p.m., the 2nd Battalion of the regiment, supported by the 2nd Section of the 73rd Artillery Regiment, attacked the eastern works of the inner fort. The riflemen stormed Fort des Hautes Perches and also took Fort de la Justice and Fort de la Miotte by evening. To the right of 2nd Battalion, 1st Company of Panzer Engineer Battalion 37 had advanced on Perouse. The 1st battalion of the regiment belonged to the advance group Breusing of the Panzer-Brigade 1. This attacked Belfort from the north-east. Advancing on Giromagny, the group received artillery fire from forts north and south of Giromagny. A scouting party from the 1st company from the regiment entered Giromagny and surprised the 900-strong garrison. Shortly after 4 p.m. the German Reichskriegsflagge was hoisted on the Belfort citadel. On 19 June 1940, Major von Studnitz set off for the Fort du Ballon-de-Sevrance with the 1st Battalion of the Regiment and the 2nd Section of the 73rd Artillery Regiment via Plancher-BAS and Plancher-les-Mines. This was then stormed with the help of the engineers from Mountain Pioneer Battalion 85, under Colonel Richter. The III. Battalion from the regiment advanced against Fort Chateau-Lambert and the Marienhöhe in the most difficult forest terrain. From noon on 20 June 1940, the III. Battalion from the regiment over a 16-ton war bridge built by Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 37 over the Moselle to follow the advance detachment of skirmish group (Gefechtsgruppe) Krüger, with the 2nd battalion from the regiment and parts of the 1st detachment from Panzer-Regiment 1. The Regiment's 1st Battalion secured the Ballon-de-Sevrance area that day. On 23 June 1940, the regiment and the division marched into the Bugny-Morteau area. The repair of weapons, vehicles and equipment began there. For the successes in the French campaign, the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hermann George Otto Balck, and the battalion commander of the II. Battalion, Major Dr. jur. Josef-Franz Eckinger, were awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Leutnant Pfitzer received the 1st Class of the Iron Cross.
On 6 November 1940, the III. Battalion together with the 1st (probably with Lieutenant Pfitzer), 6th, 14th and 15th Company was transferred to the newly formed Rifle Regiment 113 (Schützen-Regiment 113) as it's 1st Battalion. The regiment was placed under the 1st Panzer Division after it was formed. The regiment was tactically subordinated to the 1st Rifle Brigade as the second regiment. On 18 June 1941, the division moved into its staging area for the Russian campaign near Tilsit. It belonged to Panzer Group 4 and crossed the Russian border on 22 June 1941. As one of the first soldiers in the campaign, Pfitzer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for bravely storming the bridge at Ostrow. With this award he was alo promoted to Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) on 1 August 1941 and received rank seniority (Rangdienstalter) from 1 March 1940. Seriously wounded in his right shoulder, he spent the remaining four years of the war on staffs or as a training officer.
He served i.a. in the Reich as a consultant for the Reich Youth Leadership (Reichsjugendführung) and in the Army department of the OKH. On 1 May 1942, he was promoted to Hauptmann (Captain). From 15 July 1942 to 15 May 1943, Pfitzer was company commander in the Panzergrenadier Training Department (Ausbildungs-Lehr-Abteilung für Panzergrenadiere). From 18 August 1943 to 1 April 1945, he served in the Balkans and in Greece (together with Hauptmann Kurt Josef Waldheim, who would become Bundespräsident of Austria in 1972) under Generaloberst Alexander Löhr as Ic in the high command of Army Group E, then as an orderly officer with General der Panzertruppe Walther Wenck (1900–1982) in the high command of the 12th Army. Most recently, he served in the bunker (Führerbunker) of the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin. Following a driving order from his comrade, SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Otto Günsche, the Führer's personal adjutant, he managed to cross the Elbe before the Soviet encirclement of the Reich capital.
After the war, Pfitzer was a civilian employee at Rhein-Main Airport in Frankfurt am Main. He was close friends with the generals Hermann Balck and Walther Wenck as well as the personal adjutant of the Führer SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Otto Günsche. Only after the partial German unification did he return to visit his, now Thuringian, homeland.
His second marriage was to Marga Emmerling (1922–2003), Luftwaffe staff assistant (Luftwaffenhelfer) in Fighter Wing 11 (Jagdgeschwader 11), who had been wounded in the Anglo-American terrorist attack on Darmstadt on 11 September 1944 (dress rehearsal for the destruction of Dresden). Together they regularly took part in events of the traditional association of the 1st Panzer Division and the OdR section Darmstadt. He stayed freinds with his first, divorced wife.
Awards and decorations
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung), 4th Class, 1936
- Sudetenland Medal (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938)
- Iron Cross (1939), 2nd and 1st Class
- Panzer Badge (Panzerkampfabzeichen des Heeres) in Bronze and Silver
- Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen 1939) in Black
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 19 July 1941 as Leutnant and assault troop leader (Stoßtruppführer) in the 3rd Company/I. Bataillon/Schützen-Regiment 113/1. Panzer-Division