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Heinz Hämel
Born (1914-10-25)October 25, 1914
Died 4 December 1977(1977-12-04) (aged 63)
Place of birth Obervellmar
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1935–1945
Rank Sturmbannführer
Unit SS-VT
5th SS Division Wiking
11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross I Class
Iron Cross II Class
German Cross in Gold
Wound Badge
Sudetenland Medal with Prague castle bar
Anschluss Medal

Heinz Hämel (25 October 1914 — 4 December 1977) was a Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Heinz Hämel was born on the 25 October 1914, in Obervellmar the son of a master cobbler. Between April 1921 and April 1925 he attended the local primary school in Obervellmar and then attended the Kassel secondary school until 1931. After graduating Hämel started an apprenticeship as a designer, which he completed in the autumn of 1933. Hämel then joined the Heer in December 1933, and served for four years with the 13th Infantry Regiment stationed in Ulm. He was then employed as a trainer in the Sturmabteilung (SA) Sportschool in Friedberg until it was abolished in March 1935.[1][2] Hämel then volunteered to join the SS-VT and was given the rank of Scharführer in the 5th Company, SS Standarte Germania. He participated in the Anschluss of Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland in 1938 and in March 1939 the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia.[1]

World War II[edit | edit source]

By the start of World War II Heinz Hämel had been promoted to Oberscharführer (Technical Sergeant) and was a platoon commander. He took part in the Polish Campaign and the Battle of France where he was awarded the Iron Cross II class in May and I class in August 1940.[1][2] After the Armistice was signed the SS Regiment Germania at first remained in France then moved to Holland as part of the occupying forces, then in late 1940 SS Regiment Germania was used as the basis of a new SS Division SS Division Wiking so Hämel found himself in Munich helping to form and train the new Division.[1]

Hämel was promoted to Hauptscharführer (Master Sergeant) and a platoon commander in the 5th Company at the start of Operation Barbarossa the invasion of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold for his personal bravery in April 1942, just before being promoted to Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant). Hämel was severely wounded in October 1942, during the fighting at Terekabschnitt and spent the next seven months in hospital being released in April 1943. Having been promoted to Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) in November 1942, he reported to the Reserve Battalion stationed in Arnhem for two weeks and was then posted to the 24th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment Danemark and given command of the 5th Company.[1][2]

Now part of the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland he was promoted to Hauptsturmführer (Captain) in November 1943, and in December moved back to the Eastern Front at Leningrad.[1]

In April 1944, he was given command of the II. Battalion and for his bravery and leadership during this time, at the Battle for Narva Bridgehead he was awarded the Knight's Cross in June 1944.[1][2]

During the Battle of the Courland Pocket in October 1944, Hämel was again wounded, shot in the forearm and evacuated to hospital. It was while in hospital at Attendorn in January 1945, he was promoted to Sturmbannführer (Major).[1]

This time after he had recovered he was given the post of commander of the Training Battalion III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps which included his old divisions the 11th SS, they were still on the Eastern Front located in Pomerania. Following the collapse of the front in Pomerania, Hämel formed his battalion in a battle group and withdrew towards Dievenowdisambiguation needed. They then withdrew into Austria and surrendered to the advancing Allies.[1]

Post war[edit | edit source]

Heinz Hämel survived the war and died on the 4 December 1977.[1][2]

References[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Mitcham, Samuel W (2007). Retreat to the Reich : the German defeat in France, 1944. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3384-7. 
  • Henschler Henri & Fay Will, Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS, 1943-45 Stackpole Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8117-2905-2
  • Mitcham Samuel, The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45,Stackpole Books, 2007. ISBN 0-8117-3371-8
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