|Born||14 September 1920|
|Died||6 April 2007(aged 89)|
|Place of birth||Sensburg, East Prussia|
|Years of service||1938–1945|
|Unit||1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler|
|Commands held||1st SS Reconnaissance Battalion LSSAH|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Iron Cross 1st Class|
Iron Cross 2nd Class
German Cross in Gold
Winter War Medal 1941/42
Infantry Assault Badge
Close Combat Clasp in Silver
Early life[edit | edit source]
Hans-Martin Leidreiter was born in Sensburg, in East Prussia, on 14 September 1920 as the sixth child of police officer Friedrich Leidreiter. After completing his Reichsarbeitsdienst in 1938 he applied for a position as Fahnenjunker with the local infantry-regiment of the Heer, but without success. Therefore he volunteered for the Leibstandarte and joined the NSDAP on 1 October 1938.
Wartime career[edit | edit source]
As member of the 15. (Krad.-) Kompanie (LSSAH's Motorcycle Reconnaissance company) led by Kurt Meyer, Leidreiter took part in the German invasion of Poland and the invasion of France and the Low Countries. After the surrender of France Meyer and his men were quartered in Metz where the creation of the Aufklärungsabteilung LSSAH started in August. Leidreiter was assigned to the 2. (Krad) Kompanie, since November 1, 1940, as an SS- Rottenführer. From Metz the Leibstandarte was transported to Rumania from where it took part in the German invasion of the Balkans. Leidreiter distinguished himself on 15 April 1941 during the attack on hill 800. His group was one of the first elements of 2. (Krad) Kompanie that broke into the Greek positions and when he noticed that the defenders fled he immediately got his men on their motorcycles and cut off their retreat. It earned him the Iron Cross 2nd class on 19 April 1941. He then took part in the German attack on the Soviet-Union and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st class on 10 August 1941. A few weeks later, Leidreiter was particularly brave during the attack on Kherson. He led the vanguard of the 2nd company along the boards of the Dnieper River and broke into the city despite heavy artillery fire. The defenders pulled back and Leidreiter and his men captured twelve trucks and four anti-tank guns and made several prisoners.
Between 8 September and the 25 October 1941, Leidreiter served in the V. battalion of the Leibstandarte. He then attended the 7. Kriegs-Junker-Lehrgang at the Junkerschule in Bad Tölz, which started on 1 November 1941. He passed the course on 30 April 1942 as the best member of his inspection. An SS-Untersturmführer since 20 April 1942, Leidreiter was assigned to the 3. (le. SPW) Kompanie of the Aufklärungsabteilung. This was the start of a long cooperation and friendship with his company commander Gustav Knittel. Leidreiter served as platoon commander during the battle for Kharkov, acting as company commander for a few weeks when both Knittel and Emil Wawrzinek were wounded.
When Meyer left for the new Hitlerjugend Division in April 1943, Knittel took over the reconnaissance battalion and Leidreiter became his adjutant. He was lightly wounded by friendly fire on 11 June 1943 during the Battle of Kursk. The Leibstandarte was then send to Italy but in November the division returned to the Ukraine. Leidreiter was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer on 4 November 1943 and replaced SS-Obersturmführer Karl Böttcher as commander of the 2nd company on 25 November. On 8 December Leidreiter showed great bravery during the attack on Sabolot. He led his Schwimmwagen-mounted men as they accompanied the tanks of the Leibstandarte in their attack on the Russian anti-tank positions. His company destroyed three heavy mortars, five artillery pieces and four trucks, and killed sixty Russian soldiers. On 15 December Leidreiter was wounded during an attack on a village occupied by Russian troops. A grenade splinter penetrated his left ankle. His 2nd company pulled him out of enemy fire and took him to a German first aid post in Zhytomyr. On Christmas Eve 1943 he arrived in Baden Baden on a hospital train.
Leidreiter finally returned to the Aufklärungsabteilung on 10 May 1944 and was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 1 June 1944. He continued to serve under Knittel as company commander when the Leibstandarte was shipped to Normandy as part of the failed attempt of the German army to counter the Allied invasion as well as during the Ardennes Offensive. He became temporary commander of the Aufklärungsabteilung when both Knittel and Wawrzinek were wounded. Wawrzinek returned for Operation Frühlingserwachen, but he was killed when on 1 April 1945 a Russian rocket hit the battalion command post in Steinabrückl near Vienna. Leidreiter again acted as temporary commander until a new commander was assigned to the Aufklärungsabteilung, only days before the end of the war. When the Leibstandarte surrendered to the Americans in May 1945, Leidreiter decided to evade capture. He made it to the west on foot, accompanied by his driver August Rauber.
Later life[edit | edit source]
In 1945 Leidreiter moved to the area of the Lüneburg Heath, where he made a two-year agricultural apprenticeship, followed by six months at a south Bavarian farm which breeded silver foxes. 1948 he came to Saig to work as subworker on the silver fox farm Sankt Georg, and stayed until 1952. After that he started a six-semester long agricultural study at the University of Hohenheim. He then became an assistant teacher and rose to the position of deputy leader of the Agricultural- and Silviculture School in Titisee-Neustadt. Until his retirement in March 1983 he worked in the Agricultural Office. Since 1949 he was married to Lisa. She died a year before her husband. Leidreiter died on 6 April 2007, after a long fight against cancer.
Summary of SS career[edit | edit source]
Dates of rank[edit | edit source]
Notable decorations[edit | edit source]
- German Cross in Gold (1944)
- Eastern Front Medal (1942)
- Iron Cross Second and First Classes (both 1941)
- Close Combat Clasp (silver)
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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