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Colonel Friedrich Kutzbach, Deutsche Wehrmacht


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[Promptly posted in wrong forum. Could somebody move this thread to King Sargent Military History please? Thanks.]

 

When a grandaunt of mine on the maternal side died recently, I took a collection of documents on the life of her brother from her effects which she probably kept ever since his wife died, having always been the family genealogist. It offered an absolutely fascinating view into the personal life of a senior Wehrmacht officer, supplemented last weekend by letters written and pictures taken during his posting as a staff officer with 73rd Infantry Division at the Kuban in 1943 and surrounding his going MIA as commander of Grenadier Regiment 1 near Königsberg in early 1945, handed over by my uncle and aunt. Dave Clark helpfully supplied translations of some Italian and Romanian documents in the collection, courtesy of his multinational colleagues at the European Patent Office.

 

What follows is a summary of the picture that emerged. It will take several posts due to translated excerpts and several scans.

 

Friedrich Kutzbach is born on 31 March 1909 at Pfalzburg (Phalsbourg), Lorraine, as the son to a captain in the Upper Rhineian Infantry Regiment No. 99 (Prussian Army). He is duely innoculated (presumably against smallpox) in 1911, and again in 1919. From 1915, he attends the Royal Kaiser-Wilhelms-Gymnasium at Aachen, which is not so Royal anymore in 1919 when he leaves there because the family moves to Kassel. His academic exploits are modest according to his report cards, and he seems to have a particularly reluctant relationship with writing which leads to him failing grade and changing schools in 1922. He eventually manages a solid C exam in 1929, though he was always good at sports (getting the basic rescue swimmer certification of the German Lifesaving Society at age 16 upon which he later improves to become an instructor in 1932) and music - obvious army material!

 

Sure enough, he joins Infantry Regiment 3 in Eastern Prussia as a officer candidate the same year and graduates as an ensign from Infantry School at Dresden with overall "quite good" results on 8 August 1931 (though he's good at engineer classes, air protection and camoflage, and still "very good" at athletics). Same-same for the officer course from which he graduates as a senior ensign on 6 August 1932 (though his achievements in tactics are merely "almost sufficient" ). He then extends his term to a total of 30 years on 23 August 1932.

 

He gets his commission as a second lieutenant with seniority from 1 May 1933 (40), spelled out "In the Name of the Reich" and signed by Reichswehr Minister von Blomberg, same as with his promotion to first lieutenant with seniority from 1 December 1934 (135); when he is promoted captain on 1 January 1939 (106) it will be in the name of the Führer and Reich Chancellor, and signed by von Brauchitsch, the German Eagle imprint in the document replaced by the Third Reich eagle and swastika.

 

There are other signs of the times such as an "Ancestry Passport" which everybody is required to prove his "Aryan" descendancy at least three generations down with. Other more innocuous documents include an account book and checkbook, pay slips, bills from the Wehrmacht uniform store, various insurance papers (including a painstakenly detailed list of his earthly possessions, rather short by modern standards) and the testament of his granduncle Admiral Friedrich Ingenohl, former commander of the High Seas Fleet at the start of WW I, from which he inherits a golden watch, sapphire cufflinks and tie pin in 1934. There is a passport issued in 1937, with no visa entries - he will subsequently travel lots of Europe without those.

 

Meanwhile, he has been transferred to Infantry Regiment Marienburg in 1934 where he served as a battalion adjutant. According to his evaluations, his personality was initially considered not yet fully matured, but developed excellently, if sometimes still too good-natured with other soldiers. He is popular with his comrades, and free and unrestrained towards superiors "with his own firm opinion". Apparently he could improve in knowledge of regulations, military correspondence, horseriding and "feeling the pulse of the troops and bringing up their wishes in time" though. Overall, "he fills his post".

 

In 1936, serving with III. Battalion of Infantry Regiment 24, he got a "been there" Service Commendation IVth Class for "four years of faithful service". By 1937 he seemed to have overcome his earlier deficits and even become a passionated horseman, though his posture is still judged to be "in need of improvement". However, he is considered fit for command of a company. Instead, he becomes an aide-de-camp on the regimental staff and trains for the War Academy exam which he passes in early 1939. He then is made regimental adjutant on 1 April 1939 and in that capacity takes part in the attack on Poland in September that year.

 

On 29 September 1939 he is awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class by the commander of 21st Division. There is no citation, but an evaluation by his regimental commander from 4 December describes him as "fully proven before the enemy" and fit for general staff service. This time the recommendation is followed through, and he is attached to the general staff on 30 January 1940. Subsequently he becomes transport commander for the Warsaw area, where we still find him, ever the avid sportsman, passing tests for the Reich Sports Badge held by 1st SS Cavalry Regiment in April 1941. On 17 October, he is permanently posted with the general staff and can henceforth call himself a Hauptmann im Generalstab.

 

For some reason though he then ends up in a reserve hospital at Bad Wildungen, from whence he is provisionally commanded to fill the slot of Ia (first general staff officer) at Wehrmacht Transport Command Center effective 1 January 1942. On 25 February 1942, he is tasked with holding transport classes for the 5th General Staff Officer Course. He is promoted Major i. G. effective 1 April 1942 (92), getting bumped up in seniority to 1 February (51 B) retroactively three weeks later. Effective 10 August 1942, he is ordered to take over as Ia for Wehrmacht Transport Command Paris. He seems to expect some adventures there, since on 6 August he buys a personal Beretta 7.65 mm pistol at a Berlin hardware store for 47.20 Reichsmark, its original Italian proving certificate dated 12 July 1941.

 

Effective 15 January 1943 he is again transferred to become Ia for Wehrmacht Transport Command West and promoted Lieutenant Colonel i. G. with seniority from 1 May 1943 (16). While he has a cushy position, he seems to feel that the real war is passing him by, as evidenced by the joy expressed in letters written to his wive when he gets his next posting with 73rd Infantry Division. Fortunately she typed down excerpts, thus preserving his writings for future generations in a legible form. Translated excerpts from those excerpts will make up the next post.

Edited by BansheeOne
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[...]

 

Since nothing had been communicated about my posting up to this point, I was more than eager. First I met an old acquaintance from my old 1000-[sic]-man-army regiment as outer office man and then was received in a very brief and military way by the colonel himself, in which he shortly announced to me that he had decided based upon the presented good evaluations to chose me as the Ia of a division deployed at the Kuban bridgehead. That was really more than I would have ever expected. 1. Ia, which is already a monstrous fluke and 2. at a combat front, which after all is still permanently in the focal point of battle. My predecessor there, a class and division mate from 1930/31 at Dresden, is not required at once, so that I have some time to work myself in.

 

[...]

 

My plane trip goes on the 27th from here to Vynitsa, on the 28th to Simferopol and then via the individual superior commands to the peninsula across the Kerch Strait. I calculate to be there on the 30th at the latest. I am infinitely happy.

 

[...]

 

After a quite early rise at 4.30 hours I left for the airfield at 5.30 and boarded the plane at 7.00 hours. That is quite a big club which goes into such a Ju. Besides 5 men aircrew we are 14 more officers and about 8 - 9 hundredweight baggage and courier mail. Much space to twist or turn does not remain now either, though. Now we have been airborne for over 2 hours with almost cloudless sky. At the start the sun rather blazed upon my brush, but now we have more of a Southeast direction, so that one does not feel it. The scenery is terribly desolate.

 

[...]

 

The next landing is at Vynitsa, from there an hour later another plane to Zaporizhia, and if I am lucky, today on the late afternoon yet another one from there to Simferopol. There I have to report first thing.

 

[...]

 

[...]

 

Report my arrival on location effective 28.7. 16.00 hours. If I look at the distance covered in my mind, then I am still astonished how one can in 1 1/2 days - really in 9 1/2 flight hours and 5 car hours - manage such a distance after all.

 

[...]

 

The town makes the impression of a real rear echelon town and for Russian conditions quite proper. The street is crawling with soldiers, and for the usual picture of a Western town all that is missing are really just the woman signal auxiliaries. For dinner we ate very well at the army group, so that there was hardly a difference there at first either. The only and biggest difference is merely the whole uniform picture. One almost sees not a single field-grey uniform anymore, but just tropical uniform of every variant. Long pants, breeches, mostly however simply short pants with knee socks or just anklets over the boots. In part there are riding boots worn with the short panties. At first it feels funny when you report to the chief of staff, a general, and suddenly somebody in short panties and open shirt is standing before you. I find it most practical however and have received the first pieces this afternoon already.

 

[...]

 

On 28.7. I then rose at 1/2 7 hours, was rolled off to the airfield at 1/2 8 hours and took off at 8 hours with a combat plane. This flight was interesting especially due to the many beautiful points which the Crimea offers terrain- and nature-wise. We were also flying quite low, so that one could see everything very nicely. The Black Sea - which by the way is not at all black, but deeply green to blue - Feodosia etc. Then we were suddenly over on the Taman peninsula. The flight lasted 1 1/4 hours total.

 

[...]

 

I now steamed on with a car. That was a significant difference, firstly due to the road conditions, which I called more than beastly from my point of view, and secondly due to the dust, which was all but desert-like. At any rate the old hands claim that this all was nothing at all yet and I had seen only the best in roads, and those even in best weather. At any rate this final 5-hour car drive was enough for me.

 

[...]

 

Happily I found class mates at 2 commands next- and next-to-next-higher to me, which will doubtlessly ease my later work. The one I am relieving here is my class and division mate too, who however is little glad of my appearance here since he felt very much at home here in his position and places little value on any other position. The div. cdr., Lt. General von Bünau, whom I also know in passing from Dresden, Knight's Cross bearer, is making a wholly excellent impression, and I think that I will lead a good marriage with him. Otherwise the first impression of my immediate co-workers is a very favorable one, too. The mass is, like the troops too, from Swabia. Hard is currently the situation forward. Permanent Russian thrusts have lead to small losses of terrain before I came here, which to conquer back has cost much blood already. This is of course a hard beginning. I cannot help anything at all yet, as without knowledge of terrain there is no advising, I on the other hand do not see anything of the terrain during a combat action. My predecessor therefore has to stay about another 14 days to have me introduced in any respect. A too little in this can cost many human lifes, any other reasons have to stand back there at once. The difference between my position so far and the present one becomes rather clear to me in these combat days. If I had messed up somewhere earlier, then maybe a couple trains would have arrived late; if I do something wrong now, it will cost valuable blood and human lifes. [...]

 

[...]

 

By now I have been forward to the rgt. and btl. three times and found that we are defending us in a terrain which might be the most difficult there might be. Steepest stone slopes mostly wooded, dropping harshly, always overtowered by a ridge running perpendicularly or in parallel again, and blocked in there now our good landsers and the Romanian brothers-in-arms intermixed. I have come into a somewhat difficult combat action at this time, and I can just state over and over again, what the German soldier is for a man after all. 2-3 days in permanent gruelling artillery fire which in its severity is lacking nothing from the barrages on the Western Front according to World War participants, then the Russian comes and is greased off, and finally the German stands to for the counterthrust, is greased off too, stands to again and makes it. In this, btl. are sometimes just a hundred to a hundred and thirty men strong anymore versus an authorized strength of 600 - 700. And when they have eventually achieved success, then of 100 men only 20-30 have arrived at the final target anymore. Those then hold the sector which was filled by 100, and when the next standing-to is demanded, then those 30 men assault like they were still a full btl.

 

In those rides to the front you are dependant upon the kindness of the Russian, if he pops you a couple before or behind the car on the access roads which can be overlooked in many places over 1 km, but a.t.m. he seems to be better occupied otherwise, because I have not been harrassed a single time so far. Yesterday afternoon on the walk from one btl. command post to the other I had, for cutting short, to go down hell for leather a steep slope about 3 km long which was too steep to walk up already, since this slope could also be overlooked by the enemy. In this racing down on lose gravel I had finally picked up so much speed that I simply could not slow down any more, until I eventually could not put my legs forward fast enough anymore and did a salto which took me 5 meters ahead in one swoop. The only loss is my monocle. [...]

 

 

[...]

 

Above me an aircraft is circling, but one is really already so much used here to something going boom or a bomb striking somewhere, so that one mostly is just not interested at all whether the aircraft is of friend or foe. Yesterday I was underway forward from 5 - 13 hours again and it is ever again astonishing what the troops all accomplish to settle down where they have to offer resistance to the enemy permanently now. Kilometer-long running trenches of man's height, bunkers with tables, benches and sleeping coves, as nice and comfortable as it can be done a couple hundred meters from the enemy position the men have built their home here in tedious work, running the danger to get four meters of earth on the head at a direct hit. That danger is however still less than if they would lay themselves upon the bare earth where they then have no comfort at all. This life, which my club is leading here since the beginning of the Eastern campaign as they have not been pulled out for a single day yet, is really admirable, all the more if one sees how everybody is always in best spirits.

 

[...]

 

[...]

 

The times of the day are a little screwed up anyway. Yesterday I came into position to a btl. cdr. at 0430 hours, there he had just gotten into bed. That is explicable from the Russian out of a certain nervousness permanently shooting from the break of dusk to the morning at first light, and one can after all never know whether an attack follows upon that popping or not. Accordingly the men have to be alert the whole night.

 

[...]

 

The div. has earned itself about 20 - 25 Knight's Crosses in the course of the war already, of which about 6 - 7 are still here now. The German Cross in Gold is almost the order of the day already, since every 2nd front officer here got this.

 

[...]

 

I have to wonder again and again what our men all accomplish in buildings, shelters, trenches and bunkers. Today e.g. I went the first part from the point where I could not go on by car by a cable car about 100 - 180 meters higher. A simple cable device with so and so many supports, a box into which mostly ammunition and victuals can be loaded, and off you go. That spares a lot of sweat, people and horsepower. This swing can also transport people, of course only one at a time. And so I cruised through the air this morning, strongly reminded of the cable car trips on our wedding trip. Forward I then frequently looked through firing ports and out of bunkers, but the Russian is so much built-in too that one can only see the position, but not himself. In parts we are facing off at 40 - 50 meters on this massif on which I was this morning, but are separated through the unfavor of the terrain - descending slope - in such a way that we cannot see each other. All the bigger is of course the danger that such terrain parts are lost by us through a sudden coup.

 

[...]

 

More later.

Edited by BansheeOne
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[...]

 

Meanwhile the light has gone out once again and a candle is shining upon this letter. We have a light generator for our village here which is driven by a motor and supplying us with an ever-changing light about from 20.00 - 23.00 hours.

 

[...]

 

Newspapers I do not read here at all of course, firstly due to lack of time, secondly since usually severely outdated. The army dispatch and the short news I always get in the evening in copy from our intelligence and propaganda compiler. When, as today, you read of fighting at the Kuban bridgehead, I am not always directly involved, but any major attack of course affects our total forces here. Yesterday I was forward on a hill position when a new dance of the Russians commenced with an artl. fire like I have never experienced so far. For two hours it dinned, even though the matter was about 10-12 kilometers North of me. This morning the same dance. What remains of our good men forward in this is still astonishing to me with the force of that fire. The attacks following such witchdance are the easiest part, big of mass, lousy of quality, only people of 16-17 or over 45 years. If it was just the infantry and not this monstrous fire, we would long have sent the whole club to hell already. [...]

 

Yesterday afternoon I made my introductory visit to the Romanian mtn. div. subordinated to us, and their cdr. If all officers and enlisted were as proper and thorough-going as their div. cdr., we would stand better with our whole war action here. The coy. stands, falls and runs with their leader, after all. They are also very much weighing us down in command of course, since they are acting independently under us in part of the sector despite overall subordination.

 

[...]

 

 

[...]

 

In our valley we notice the war outwardly just by the artl. fire and the enemy aircraft. All the more we notice however through our paperwork and the daily casualty numbers, which unfortunately even on days where there are no enemy attacks but just the usual shooting amount, including the Romanian div. subordinated to us, to 55 - 60. Of those about 6-8 are dead, the others injured. It is bitter, those daily numbers, and yet ever again wonderful to see the guys forward in position, how they are upbeat and making it through this all.

 

[...]

 

[...]

 

Apropos of "Holiday Kid", that film was on here these days, too. I have however not yet gotten around to it, but the possibility of movies exists here 2x per week with 1 new movie each. Today apparently "Left of the Isar, Right of the Spree" or something was on. But since I am walking day and night as meat in its own juice here already, I do not need to go to the sauna of the theater for that. [...]

 

[...]

 

After a farewell jamboree for my predecessor, which went on until his departure this morning at 4.45 hours - without me, since due to work and the jobs to be done today I skived off at 23.30 hours this time already - I am now monocrat. If it does not come too thick right away with possible enemy incursions, then I am going to slowly rock myself in all right. Today at noon I finally moved into my legal residence, too. It is a small cottage 100 m opposite my duty seat. The inhabitants have long since been turned out. It is lying on an ascending slope with a small veranda and 2 chambers. The first is for my batman, whom I am taking over only in 4 weeks since he has now gone with my predecessor and then has leave, the second is for me with a wire bed minus mattress, instead 5 horse blankets, a 6th for a cover and a 7th for a pillow. Depending upon cold I can - later, when the necessary calluses will be there - take one away below and add it on top. A table with washing utensils, a stool with washbowl, a mirror (enormous! only allowed to cdr. and Ia) and a desk, several clothhangers and a nightstand are making my furnishings more than luxurious for Eastern conditions.

 

[...]

Edited by BansheeOne
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Fascinating stuff. Thanks for posting!

 

In part there are riding boots worn with the short panties

 

Just a translation note. "Panties" are womens' undergarments (I got the picture in my mind of some fellow in full German general rig less trousers and wearing a thong :blink: ). "Pants" is the word I think you wanted, though in this case, though th4e single word "shorts" would be more usual than "short pants".

 

Unless, of course, German tropical uniform was a great deal less formal than I thought.

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:D The word he used is "Höschen", which is the diminuitive to "Hose" (pants/trousers). This is also the word coloquially referring to (women's or kids') underwear, so imagine an ironic undertone of the writer.

 

I will have little time to translate more excerpts during the week, so instead here's some of his pictures giving an impression of local dress code, among other things:

 

 

First page shows, from top, a "farewell coffee on the veranda of the Ia office house" (presumably for his predecessor on that post), himself before his "villa" and his service Kübelwagen with driver.

 

Second page is again himself about to launch for a visit to the forward positions, a view across the port of Novorossisk from the South (the lines indicating the approximate course of the German [1.] and Soviet [2.] positions, 200 to 300 meters apart), and again himself on the balcony of his quarters at Haiduk.

 

Third page is the division commander LTG von Bünau (at right) talking with the commanding general (supposedly of the corps), General der Infanterie Allmendinger (with his usual attention to awards, my granduncle makes sure to note "oak leaves").

Edited by BansheeOne
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The good colonel would have agreed.

 

[…]

 

Among other things there was a conference at the Rom. div. subordinated to us on the programme this morning. I have after all by now slowly gotten used to negotiations with people who do not speak my language and where the mass of what is said is interpreted. First I talked about everything to the chief of staff – as the gen. st. offc. equivalent to my position is called – and afterwards the same again with div. cdr. Astonishing is ever again how quickly those Romanians have suddenly fixed a small breakfast in the next room after such short visits and talks. In this there are lots of such tasty morsels like baked small kidney pieces, fresh tomatoes, paprika peppers, a glass of Rom. white whine. Most of the times a plate with little pieces of cheese into which one toothpick each is stuck to take is also added. Then they are also eating this really sweet jam, which you can only eat if you are drinking fresh spring water with it at the same time, which there strangely is in that village while else you cannot drink the water here under any circumstances.

 

[…]

 

One thing I have probably not told you yet either, that malaria is rampant here. As a prophylaxis, you have to take one atebrin tablet here each day. Despite this we have up to 10 drop-outs due to malaria in the force daily.

 

[…]

 

I am having to scratch myself perpetually for 2 days, where I do not know whether it is the really small slugs which you do not see at all, or whether it is fleas, which are – despite being scarce in Europe else – still quite common. My scratching and my cursing merely evokes a lenient smile in my surroundings, as the old warriors have long since come to terms with this.

 

[…]

 

Today the son of my div. cdr. got the Knight’s Cross as a cpt. in his pz. div. My general already has it since the French campaign and has been up for the oak leaves for some time now. His youngest son was killed in action as a lt. 2 months ago, which is still visibly weighing upon him. When I congratulated him for his son today, he said really sadly, the youngest would soon get it too now, if he was still alive. The whole composition of our staff is, except for the civil servants, very nice and familial, since it is Franconians and Swabes for the most part.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Just now (21.15 hours) the first call from Hans Otto [his brother, my grandfather, also an officer in the army at this time] comes in. That was a nice surprise, all the more as I just talked to my O1 (aide-de-camp Ia) Cpt. Eberhardt from Nuremberg whether I would get through to Anna [the family place in Kassel], which dispatch considered hopeless before 24 hours.

 

[…]

 

I am just chowing a bar of crème chocolate again, which there happily is here every 3 – 4 days. It is unfortunately not fit to send, else I would like to sweeten your life, because I know after all that you like something so sweet. We often get it in a somewhat dissolved state too, since it has quite a way of transport especially in this heat after all.

 

[…]

 

I am not East-capable yet by a long shot either, because every night before going to sleep I am going on a hunt for giant cockroaches, millipedes, pill bugs and what all creeps and crawls in my den. My breakfast, mostly with marmalade, is attracting a myriad of wasps in the morning. Before I have not slain 1 dozen, my breakfast does not taste for me.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Tired and knocked up I am, and do not know of what. […] Hopefully it is not a small attack of Volhynian fever common with everybody here, which lasts about 3 days, or papatachi fever, which lasts about 5 days. That is the fashionably sickness here, and 2 – 3 of our gentlemen are actually down in turn.

 

[…]

 

Last night the only thing that did not let me sleep was a mouse, until I killed it at 2.30 hours and then climbed into bed under the singing of proud hunting songs.

 

[…]

 

Yesterday I walked the position of a Romanian btl. among other things. They have quite proper coy. commanders, of which I would have included one very good-looking young cpt. in the Wehrmacht without looking. Walking through the positions, the guys do not make a bad impression either, but what I have experienced from them so far was in parts thin. This is however apparently less due to the individual rather than the whole system, which is somewhat unsound. If in issuing of victuals all the victuals first go to the coy. commander and the coy. officers, so they can take out what they need in the kitchen, then the stuff goes on to the NCOs, you can imagine what is left for the enlisted. That is no singular observation by any means, but an officially authorized procedure with these folks. Also the man gets very little service pay, so that he of course has little interest in war. Given that it is however still astonishing what the guys are achieving and useful all things considered.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

My headaches and fever business I have overcome since yesterday afternoon and just have mad pains in the limbs now, which will hardly let you lie at night in the same position for 5 minutes, so that the night’s rest was just a very conditional one today again. This morning I come into the office, and there it has caught my O1 over night now, too. This morning we moaned to each other.

 

[…]

 

Meanwhile the vacationers are slowly returning, so that I am getting to know my staff completely only now. At table, the hodgepodge between Palatine, Swabian and Franconian is sometimes very amusing. All in all we are 17 officers and 11 civil servants in the inner staff. 2 candidates have just come back from their wedding leave, and since we are like a major family after all, the experiences are generally reported.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

You may quite reasonably stick with your good wishes which you send on the way with every letter, because there are in fact many rocks such a field mail bag has to circumnavigate in the truest meaning of the word, because the way from the Crimean to the Kuban often brings some mishap with it, either one of our shippies getting torpedoed, or running onto mines, or a cage of our cable car connecting the two peninsulas tilting, and then bringing Neptune the joy of our correspondence instead of ourselves, provided that Neptune is not illiterate.

 

[…]

 

Today now circumstances have occurred with me which are putting me and my whole work to a very hard test. My general got the news last night that his oldest, who got the Knight’s Cross 10 days ago, has now also been killed in action. At the end of April his youngest, now his oldest. He had not yet come over the first loss, so that the new one has shaken him completely. The only two kids. He has now been given 4 weeks of leave immediately. As successor for command of the div. a colonel has come from corps. Since the Romanian div. is led by a lt. gen., it cannot be subordinated to the colonel as a battle group. Consequently, the Romanian is now the leader of the battle group, the staff for it is mine and I for the battle group chief of staff to him, but else Ia to my colonel. That will bring much work and grief, as the Romanians obviously have different views and opinions. With my inherent thick-skinnedness I will bite myself through that too, though. My main opponents I know, those are the 5!! general staff officers of the Romanian div., who are now seeing their chance and want to co-govern with their general.

 

[…]

 

My new div. cdr. or rather leader has been known to me for some time already, too. He has the byname “hour theft” with us, since he talks infinitely much and entertains you for an hour and more without a break on the telephone.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

At a half past two hours I rose today to drive forward together with the Romanians at 3.15 hours. Participants were the Romanian div. cdr., the 2nd general of the Rom. div. (there is a thing like this there), the chief of staff (means Ia with us) and a German interpreter officer. The Romanians are a quite unique bunch. They always appear in the most forward line with a huge following instead of scooting through the trenches as unrecognized and unassuming as possible. Another property also is that they are chatting a terrible lot and are drawing any man and officer they meet into a huge palaver. One has to get used to that first, for me it is of course also very boring, since I do not understand a peep. The Southern agility and the temperament breaks out very much in this. On the other hand it looks unmilitary to us how junior officers interact with their general. All that is really missing is that they perpetually pat his shoulder.

 

Another peculiarity is the one that anywhere you enter a command post of theirs, you are immediately served with something. For instance we came to a btl. cdr. after an admittedly very long tour, uphill and downhill, where in a snap a killer table with slivovic, red wine, white wine, oil sardines, tomato-, pickle-onion salad, meatballs and cheese pieces was rolled up. The guzzling of our brothers-in-arms however is little pretty, as they are quite slouching at the table, fiddling in the air and on all of the plates with the cutlery and then picking their beaks with the toothpicks which are standing on the table. But – different strokes for different folks. So much for our brothers-in-arms.

 

Otherwise, unbidden, we are still having, touch wood, a quiet time. Except for the usual artillery fire raids – last morning again onto the lower part of our village which he can oversee from his heights – and except for some more or less strong raiding actions, not very much is happening. One to two dead and ten to fifteen wounded there are daily still, because his mortar fire, which he is actually scattering across the front quite irregularly, always hits some after all. We would soon have caught a blessing today again, too, if not the ears of the people forward there were not precisely tuned to the noises of the front. We were sitting in front of a btl. command post and talking about something, then the Romanian btl. cdr. jumped up and said: “Straight into the bunker”, and at the next moment 10 mortar shots roared down close to us. There the btl. cdr. had distinctly heard the launches and knew from daily experience that it would punch in somewhere within the next 40-50 seconds. This one only learns if one is permanently forward.

 

[…]

 

Yesterday I have been here four weeks now and am feeling quite at home here already after all. If there was no war and the situation here slightly precarious, one could feel bloody good. As soon as you get out of our gorge, one has that wonderful view at the big port of N. everywhere, which is lying precisely 10 km from us to the Southeast. The city itself is looking less enjoyable, since really 50% of all buildings have vanished, the other 50% heavily damaged. Also all formations of the nearer and farther surroundings are taking out everything that is not nailed down to build up their bunkers and shelters. There is hardly a door or window frame there anymore, but despite this there are still people living there. It is astonishing.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

This afternoon for once I concerned myself with the positions and defense of our world port in the course of my round trip and thereby found that the Russians after all had the facility of a port and a city there which can show itself in Europe. It is no Hamburg or Bremen, but e.g. Cherbourg could hide behind this.

 

[…]

 

My papataiy fever I have overcome for several days now already and am sleeping better than ever before, not last because my batman has finally turned up a decent pillow for me. That is after all better than the gas mask or a rolled-up pair of riding pants or similar stopgap.

 

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

If in the meantime until the arrival of this letter the Wehrmacht dispatches have reported of the hopefully thwarted new attack from all three elements, water, air and earth, then this my work has not been in vain. Such a little business here in the shop is sometimes really refreshing after all, since else signs of weariness occur with all involved due to the monotony of reports to be processed. In addition, the music played close to us once again last night and towards first light and gave us the clarity that we are not unreachable for the enemy artillery, and the combat pay also paid in headquarters has to be earned.

 

[…]

 

Meanwhile I have had to pause this scriptum a couple times already, had a talk with my Vasilin Rascanu, generale divisioni, 1 à munte, together with the cdg. gen., wolfed down lunch, greeted four young lt. and four senior ensigns who have come freshly to the front, dictated and devised a four-page-long order, and in half an hour an issue of orders on a rgt. command post, for which I still have to pick up my Vasilin and orientate him with the help of an interpreter about the order which he is supposed to have given, as leader of the group. The matter will become easier once I get the interpreter from Bucharest personally promised to me. Then I can also talk directly to my Vasilin by telephone.

 

[…]

 

4 years ago today I had given my last orders for the attack to Poland and was slowly dispatching myself to the German-Polish border. How did one think about the war then, and how does one think today?

 

[…]

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:D The word he used is "Höschen", which is the diminuitive to "Hose" (pants/trousers). This is also the word coloquially referring to (women's or kids') underwear, so imagine an ironic undertone of the writer.

OK, I see now :wub: . Thanks! This is great stuff.

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Feel free to link to this thread (or at least after somebody with admin powers has moved it to the mil. hist. forum).

 

[…]

 

I report the award of the War Merit Cross 2nd and 1st Class with Swords having taken place the 1.9.1943, which went on stage this evening at dinner by the acting div. cdr. after I had seen the Chief of Transport’s teletype this morning at the office wherein he announced this event. My aide-de-camp had, in the spirit of the phrases common with us, only noted on the teletype: “O homeland, o homeland”, which a.t.m. is the outbreak of the highest feelings with us. With this I now outwardly have found the recognition which was denied to me in my so-far 3-year work with the Chief of Transport. Here it created a colossal furor, as after all the award of both decorations in one strike is a rarity.

 

[…]

 

This afternoon I looked around in my rear area for once and found that all the folks who are bringing from the back all that which is after all absolutely necessary for warfare are demanding a very high amount of work and dedication after all, which unfortunately is mostly only recognized to a very small extent.

 

[…]

 

Much misery you see after all when we are forced to evacuate villages in the forward line of all civilian persons due to enemy action. In such an assembly area, where 2000 – 3000 women are gathered with their little goods and chattels, there are horrible pictures after all.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

We have e.g. a whole group vis-à-vis which is entirely consisting of broads, with mechanics, pilots, radiowomen and commanderesses and driveresses.

 

[…]

 

Today I visited our bakery coy. Time and again one gets a high esteem for our organizational talent if one considers that this single bakery is producing that of bread daily which e.g. my peacetime garrison Braunsberg with about 20,000 inhabitants needed and was produced there in ca. 30 – 40 bakeries. They are producing about 11,000 loaves à 1500 gr daily. For this the coy. has to work day by day in two shifts à 12 hours. The whole is being done in 5 field ovens which are only heated with wood and need 2-3 solid cubic meters per oven and day. The wood must be cut, fetched and split, all therefore an additional considerable extra work. Then I was in the butcher coy., where however a.t.m. mostly sausage is made. Fresh meat there is hardly a.t.m. Just the cattle of our about 900-big herd is being slaughtered which is overdue, so between 10 and 12 piece per day. This is then processed into sausages.

 

[…]

 

Then I visited an evacuation camp, into which we had to bring within the last three days 3500 people – 95% of them women and children – from a town in our most forward line. It is a big misery after all which one sees there, on the other hand it gives an interesting insight into the variegation of peoples which are gathered here. One sees very much blonde, blue-eyed types after all, and there are picture-pretty girls among those in part. Grotesque it seems seeing those in partly wholly modern summer dresses, with high heels and a handbag on their arm. It was after all a very rich and for Russian circumstances cultivated area here.

 

[…]

 

Today I have been here for 5 weeks already now, and of this 3 weeks in my exalted position. Time flies by at a dashing speed after all. Especially in these days there is of course a lot of dealing in remembrances of the outbreak of war, and comparisons are imposing themselves. Excellent however is still the attitude and the mood, which obviously has not a patch at all on the one at home. This is what makes the whole work and all the events so easy for one. What one is hearing from other fronts is actually very little and limited to the Wehrmacht dispatch. More is not necessary at all i.m.o., too.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

In my inspection tours I was at the medical coy. today, which has installed a main dressing station at our place. Time and again it becomes evident that there are cement and wood and train rails here, with which at soldiers’ you can build everything. So they have e.g. an operating theater below the earth in progress there, which after completion can quite hold itself against the one of a minor hospital. In the last days I have found that in my neighborhood at four places in a radius of 10 km there are cement factories, which earlier used to secure 39% of Russia’s overall production of cement. A mess the med. offc. have built themselves with a veranda, a saloon, and a bar inside the bunker, wood-panelled with wrought-iron wall brackets and a hanging lamp which could show itself on any arts exhibition. That all the landsers are creating out of themselves out of pure joy of work. Despite this I have no urge at all to make the acquaintance of this installation of my area of responsibility again after my rich experiences in this area.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Something else very incisive happened today. A new div. cdr. promoted to maj. gen. today arrived with the news that our good Gen. von Bünau will not return. Maj. Gen. Böhn is an acquaintance from my Paris time, where I often negotiated with him in his capacity as chief of the gen. staff of the Armistice Commission. The pleasant in this matter is that clear circumstances have now been created, which we have particular use for right now.

 

[…]

 

You will get a little of the short end now, but time does not suffice. Last night I left my desk at 2 hours to rise at 6 hours again. Now it is about midnight again already, and tomorrow it goes on at 7 hours.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

60 hours I have been sitting at the desk uninterrupted now. I think I have slept 2 x 2 hours since then. You heard the army dispatch last night of course and know what is going on here. It was devastating, but I think we have the crassest behind us now. Some time later more of this.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

It is a beastly situation in which we are sitting a.t.m. and have to fight as poor people with the most puny means against an enemy who is outnumbering, outshooting and out-equipping us 4-5 times. If we make it in the end after all, then not a minute I had to sacrifice for this will be too much to me.

 

[…]

 

Since noon today I am sitting in our air raid shelter, which has been never occupied so far as it was only finished recently. This morning the Russian, during one of his 8 – 9 air attacks which he executes daily with 20 – 25 planes onto our whole sector, actually put a bomb directly behind the house and one 10 m before the veranda. In this of course all the window panes jumped into our face, and since it had become too funny in that stable for us now, we moved. It is strange how indifferent you become to those air attacks, but it is really so that there is either a direct hit or it misses you, so that it is uninteresting.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

I do not know at all when I have been writing to you last time, I think it was still from my old quarters. Now the nomadic life is giving still less time to quietly settle down for a few lines than the days before when the big landing was, which you have meanwhile learned about with its effects from the Wehrmacht dispatch.

 

[…]

 

I am rather downcast a.t.m. since the marriage with my new cdr. is not like you could call it harmonic in an instance. I probably already wrote you that my previous cdr. will not return at all because they want to give him some time to overcome the blows of fate first. The new one, which I have briefly reported to you already, has by now been officially confirmed as cdr. He is a gen. st. offc. himself and therefore very critical towards all my actions. To this comes that he came straight into a beastly situation after all, without knowing the terrain and a single soul. Consequently he still thinks he has to do everything alone and I am sometimes feeling quite superfluous when I am just his mouthpiece. I am really not scrambling for independence, but really just as an ink pen, that is truly little enjoyable. Hopefully there will be a quieter time eventually where I can rock myself in with him.

 

[…]

 

For the time being I cannot yet complain about the changed circumstances, since living and sleeping is written small in such occasions. Yesterday it was once again just 1 hour that was left for sleeping. Accordingly I nodded away multiple times at any monotonous writing or other work. For that at least I slept 6 hours with just 5 or 6 interruptions last night. The food is good and the allowance of chocolate, cigarettes, drops and other things, liquid stuff too, abundant, sometimes overabundant.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Ivan is currently annoying us all the time with his “butchers”, those are battle planes with MG and 2 cm cannon, with which he is appearing in impertinently low raids over the village all the time. I have frequently threatened the brethren with the pistol already, but they will absolutely not refrain!

 

[…]

 

By my calendar I celebrated my farewell party two months ago today, on the 19.7., in Paris. How ever slightly changed are the situations, even though I have at least 1 glass of red wine standing before me this evening, too.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Today we had ceremonial farewell dinner with the Romanians, whom we have finally gotten rid of in our area of responsibility now. I will not cry a tear after them.

 

[…]

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As an addendum, the Romanians didn't leave without bestowing the Star of Romania with Swords and Ribbon of Military Virtue IV. Class (Officer) upon him "for feats of arms done on the battlefield". Two pictures of a "festive meal with Romanians and Slovakians" are included in the folder but dated 15 December 1943 and thus probably not of the occasion mentioned above.

 

 

The second page shows the divisional staff boarding navy ferry prams during the withdrawl from the Taman Peninsula across the Strait of Kerch, an event he obliquely refers to in subsequent letters.

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[…]

 

I am marveling again and again how our batmen manage with the current war to still serve us the food on actual plates. Drinking we are coffee, tee, wine, red wine, sparkling wine, all that there is now in plenty from just a single glass, which however does not even need to find use for brushing teeth, since we have another one for that yet.

 

[…]

 

On your louse-NH [?] I am reminded that my O1 is ranting about fleas all day a.t.m. and several times a day is pulling off his shirt and blowing the horn for merry hunting. This morning while dressing one such sucker escaped from my net shirt too, without me being able to kill it. In return we have been bearing down on the flies here in our dens by getting flycatchers from the IVb department. After one hour we were in noble competition with our 2 dens who had first caught 200 flies on his apparatus, which was achieved in both dens. At 20 hours we estimated about 2000 flies in both dens on a total of 4 flycatchers.

 

[…]

 

This evening there will be another trip to the next and hopefully last louse den of this area. In 3 days, if everything has gone smoothly, there will be a considerable bump from the stone which will roll off my heart then.

 

[…]

 

My marriage with my new prince is still not as it should be. But the time is too difficult to come to clear, common paths, too. Let’s hope the best for the future.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Since yesterday morning I am now here in my last quarters before the jump over the water, after we have accomplished our last feat of arms here yesterday morning. Yesterday the day again was 36 hours long with 1 – 1 ½ hours of sleep, so that at 19 hours in the evening I sank dead tired onto my bed. My employer has now rushed ahead this morning, and I am having to do the rear lantern for the whole club. This night the fleas badgered me strongly again, and this morning under the singing of cheerful hunting songs I undertook a razzia through my pajamas with the success that I could kill one while another could escape from my fingernail pincer with a valiant leap at the last moment.

 

[…]

 

The Ivans are at the moment favoring us with 6 – 7 attacks from the air daily onto our village, and our whole pleasure is, when German fighters come in sometimes, in watching how they are downing the brethren. Today we experienced 3 shootdowns in our area alone.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

2 days I have now struggled with the element which was to bring me my wheels, until I had gotten my whole enchilada off. No I am swimming myself, after overseeing that in 2 hours at the latest the rest of my club is gone. A little over 2 months my field of work has existed there, and now off towards new deeds. As nice as we had it we will likely not get it again there, since the culture, which the work of the men has created over a year is to be introduced somewhere else only within due course of time.

 

[…]

 

I hope to reach my destination with my car still this evening.

 

[…]

 

About the whole events I can only report to you later, and who knows if I get around to it in writing at all. One can do this at the map later then much better orally.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

A car trip of 400 km I covered from 2.10. 13.00 – 23.00 hours. One looks like a miller after 5 km in this road conditions already, so much one is dirtying up with this dust-rich paths. Still it is a superb drive through a hardly presumable, very beautiful fertile country. Only if one gets into the night it is not quite easy to find your way on the road – as far as existent – without any light. 3 nights ago some idiot actually struck me with his truck, so that I was stuck for 4 hours at night before a new car could be sent after me. Today I had bad luck again. While driving back along the track I got into a 3-time low level attack on one of our transport trains waiting at a stn. At the first attack I remained standing at a house for the good example, when however in the 2nd attack the pigs came down to 30 m and with little bombs and 2 cm gunfire put a little fire magic before my feet, I wanted to gain the saving bunker with a leap and in this sprained my left moue. Now I am stuck in my office for the time being and therefore have found the time for this letter, which emerged while lying down on a straw mattress.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

In the morning! I can already walk again!

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

I am underway alone again since yesterday morning, had to stay over night with my now new again superior command due to car breakdown without any stuff and therefore am unshaven and far from home today. I am nothing to write home about anyway, as due to my sprained foot and the corresponding bandaging I cannot get into the boot and therefore are wandering the surroundings with a boot on the right and a slipper on the left. That way I still presented myself to the commanding general and the commander-in-chief of the army today however. Now I am awaiting my car, which is to bring me to my by now new quarters. Who knows how long there, but the area will stay the same likely.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

Now I can also report to you in closer detail about the whole events after all, since they have become public through the Wehrmacht dispatch. On 5.9. we got the order to prepare the pullback from the Kuban bridgehead. It began with sending off all major baggage, victual stocks etc., so that my quartermaster had most of the work first. While we were supposed to have 21 days for this part at first, the time was shortened to 10 days on 9.9. already, so that as 1st day of the pullback from the old frontline 15.10. was decided. I was now just busy with fixating this very difficult tactical maneuver in writing orders-wise, which was not very easy since my div. cdr. was on leave after all and the Rom. div. cdr. was nominally leading his and our div. together, i.e. I was making the orders and he signed them, wherein there was not always the time to translate them to him to the last word. Into this trouble burst on 9.9. in the evening the newly named div. cdr. promoted to maj. gen. on that day.

 

On 10.9. at 02.00 h the bomb blew as the Russian landed with about 2 inf. rgt. in our port of Novorossisk. Without reserves worth mentioning we now had to try to clear the situation and were by-and-by fed yet some reserves from behind which were still available at the whole bridgehead. Those were tough hours as we always had to think after all of how this formations thrown together and felted into Novorossisk by street fighting, how we could pull them out for the pullback move on 15.9. Until 14.9. we then managed to clear up the situation at least so that we had contained the thing. In this there was permanently the soul stress to have bases in houses in the middle of the enemy, in which one could give provisions, ammunition and care of the wounded only at night by breaking through with assault guns. So the cdr. of our eng. btl. particularly held a position with 40 men for 5 days which was very important for the whole operation after all. For this we were able to hand him the Knight’s Cross yesterday.

 

On 15.9. in the evening we then pulled back about 30 km into a prepared position which we held for three days. So it went on then from 3 to 3 days from line to line. On the so-called Kuban bridgehead, which was closed up by the Taman Peninsula in the rear, our position narrowed down all the time of course, so that upon occupying each new position some div. could be spared and sent off already. Before we came onto the Taman Peninsula, there were only 2 ½ div. in the last position, of which ours had to defend well half of it. On 25.9. in the evening we then went away from the Kuban and had the last people over the old Kuban on 26.9. in the morning. The defense of the Taman Peninsula then other forces of our army had to lead while we reached the port of Taman, where we were put across with engineer ferries. I already wrote you that I had the pleasure to take care that everything went across and therefore had to hang out as a stevedore for two days in the port of Taman.

 

As final success we were proud however to have executed the whole pullback move without major losses of men, arms, materiel and other goods. The new mission now was to collect all the single elements which had arrived over at Kerch over 3 days and at first set off marching into the Crimean, and deploy them for the new mission, defense of a 30 km long coastal strip incl. the port of Feodosia. The takeover of this sector had just begun when a new order hit us, which sent us into a whole different area again. From yesterday’s Wehrmacht dispatch you can see that we have found a mission here again, too, which is very much giving us the gyp. The last nights again were waking nights with at most 1 ½, sometimes 3 hours however uninterrupted sleep. If I could ease our good guys their hard missions by work at the desk alone, I would gladly be busy for 14 days uninterrupted, but sadly I can only ever just think and ponder how I can shape the missions the most favorable by avoidance of too-high blood loss.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

It is horrible these days with the permanent tartar news and the difficult situation. My cdr. and I smoked true and well about 100 cigarettes together last evening, night and this morning, since this morning the empty packs were just piling on my window sill. Now I have sent my general to sleep a little for once, and when he eventually has the deepest sleep behind him and hears the telephone again, I will after 40 hours quickly do a nod, too. My battlefield is a really quite clean peasant’s den in which I am sitting , living, eating and sleeping together with my O1 and O4. In the anteroom my 3 clerk NCOs with a shed in which they have just about room for 6 at night. In front of that in the chamber the displaced and probably also the rightful owners of the den are dwelling. One really gradually gets knocked out backwards on walking through, such a smell is in the stable-like room in which about 15 people are lying every which way on the earth. Missing for the idyll are really just the cow and the pig which use to cohabitate in these rooms else.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

From mother I got sent a mousetrap today, probably prompted by my narration from Heiduk. In our current holes it is evoking a general smirk.

 

[…]

 

At the back of the folder with these letters is a series of three newspaper reports by a war correspondent covering the pullback from the Kuban Bridgehead with the byline of “Retreat of the Unvanquished”. The general drift is “this was just as good as a victorious battle because we destroyed everything the Bolshevists threw at us with little losses of our own”. That will become somewhat of a motto for the good colonel’s next assignments.

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A teletype from 10 November 1943 directs him to take over for the Ia of the Supreme Commander Western Taurica (Crimean) who has fallen sick. On 2 December he moves on to become Ia of XXIX. Army Corps. A teletype of 12 December retroactively transfers him into the leadership reserve of the OKH effective 1 December; in essence, he has become a firefighter, being sent wherever general staff officer posts become vacant. He gets a month of leave on 13 February 1944, then attends the regimental commander course at the Infantry School in Döberitz.

 

Finally on 3 May 1944, as a lieutenant colonel aged 35, he gets his first-ever troop command when he takes over Grenadier Regiment 1. The paperwork of this period is missing; funnily enough the first document of the time at GrR 1 is a typewriter copy of a novella apparently written by one of the regiment's soldiers in 1942 during the fighting South of Lake Ladoga, with a handwritten dedication to LTC Kutzbach on the front cover dated 8 July 1944. The piece is a rather cheesy story of a soldier going on leave from the Eastern Front looking for a girl, falls in love with a chick who's husband is MIA, and when he has the chance to bed her refrains out of respect for the absent comrade-in-arms, then unfulfilled but proud returns to the front. Oscar material it ain't.

 

At the time he assumes command, GrR 1 is engaged in static warfare at the Dniester as part of 1st Infantry Division. The regimental history recalls the Soviet offensive of summer 1944, the retreat of 1st ID beginning on 19 July, its encirclement at Stanislavov at the 25th and the subsequent breakout along a 20 km long road through the woods and across the Lomnica. On the 26th, the colonel is promptly awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class by the commander of 1st ID.

 

The fighting retreat goes on until 6 August when the division is pulled out of the front and crosses the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary. It is then transported by rail to East Prussia where it was originally based. Disembarking at Ebenrode (Nesterov), GrR 1 marches North and is soon engaged in heavy defensive fights against Soviet forces at Brämerhusen (Beregovoe). After the Soviet offensive is depleted, it is back to static warfare.

 

Friedrich Kutzbach is first mentioned by name in the regimental history when he greets the III. Battalion reformed in summer 1944 after being depleted in the earlier fights on 20 August 1944:

 

[...]

 

The embarkation of the btl. takes place in the night from the 19th to Sunday, the 20th August, school- and warlike. At 2.00 hours AM the transport rolls off headed for Schillfelde, where disembarkation is at 17.00 hours. Rgt. Cdr. Lt. Colonel Kutzbach adresses the btl., mustering in open square, with cordial words at the same time also carried by the seriousness of the situation on the Eastern Front, whereby the inclusion into the rgt.'s formation is fulfilled.

 

[...]

 

On 1 October, paperwork from his time at the Kuban catches up with him, and he is awarded the Kubanschild. At the same time, the regiment is ordered to Schirwindt (Kutuzovo) on the Lithuanian border. On 16 October the offensive of the 3rd Belorussian Front commences. The regiment suffers heavy casualties and has to retreat into the Schloßberg (Dobrovolsk) area. On 23 October it is pulled out of the front for refreshment as its strength has fallen so much it is no longer considered combat effective. On 1 November, he is promoted to full colonel.

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After being refreshed with reserves and returned WIAs but little rest, the regiment is soon back in the same sector and resumes the daily fight of recon patrols and raiding parties on either side. There are two more documents in the colonel’s own words during this time.

 

Attention, attention, this is war reporter 1st Lt. Stein:

 

Now speaking to you is the commander of Grenadier Regiment 1, Colonel Kutzbach.

 

“The regiment, deployed within the division in the North and South of the Eastern Front, received the call of the Führer in August this year to defend the East Prussian homeland.

 

I myself was allowed to do service in East Prussian rgts. in 10 peace years. Even if only a small percentage of my men are still East Prussians, this order still found a huge echo within the ranks of the rgt., since not just the East Prussians but also the longer-serving soldiers of other gaus had come to love and value East Prussia.

 

True to their oath, East Prussians and the comrades of the other gaus held its lines to the last man when the great Bolshevist offensive crashed against the front of the rgt. on 16.10.

 

Examples of this stalwart perseverance showed a private, who with a faustpatrone sneaked onto a Russian T 34, and when he had no success with the 1st and 2nd faustpatrone, sneaked back, fetched a 3rd and finally finished the tank with that. Or the first lieutenant, who was temporarily robbed of his eyesight by fragments in both eyes, lead the remainders of his company merely based upon reports by his men, or a young lieutenant who had been pushed out of a locality for the 2nd time, recaptured that with the last reserves of the rgt., the engineer platoon and in house-to-house fighting with heavy losses took the locality of Derschau into friendly possession again.

 

By this fanatic will of resistance it was achieved that no centimeter of East Prussian soil fell into the hands of the enemy without heaviest, bloody losses, and that due to small strongpoint crews who defended themselves to the last, the Bolshevist breakthrough attempt in 10 days won only about 20 km of ground.

 

How any member of the rgt. is feeling the obligation to give up no meter of East Prussian soil shows the letter of the aged 75-year-old colonel-in-chief, who wrote to me verbatim:

 

I would love to defend my dear East Prussia along in the ranks of the rgt.! Though I already have 75 years of life behind me, I still feel completely fresh and sprightly to fight along, live by example and die by example. I am available for any service, without any claim to rank, as a volunteer.”

 

On 16 November 1944 he is also awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver. You know your war is going badly when you have become a regimental commander before you get one of those …

 

To all 1ers!

 

The heavy October fights have subsided since the beginning oft the month and everybody is preparing for the next onslaught. The days with heavy losses from 16.10.44 – 22.10.44 have become generally known after all, so they have not to be touched on in detail anymore. The spirit of resistance and the hard struggle of the regiment, even under heaviest losses, has found the recognition of all superiors afterwards and has gotten wider publicity in individual accounts through press and broadcasting.

 

After eight days resting time in which all elements of the regiment were consolidated under Major Jöres, the regiment took over the Schloßberg sector on 1.11.44 with Battlegroup Jöres and one from Fus. Rgt. 22.

 

The FLOT is in places leaning against the old all-around defense at the Eastern edge of the town there. While assuming the position, Lieutenant Knuth, who had only just returned, was lightly wounded and will probably be back with the regiment in December already. The position is not very favorable and has to be provided with a run-through trench according to old tradition first. Quartering conditions are unfortunately very bad in places, which however is not so tragic a.t.m. since all men are equipped with the good old winter battle dress again. There have even been rubber boots, and for December probably 75% of effectives will be provided with felt boots, too.

 

The enemy is conducting himself quiet at the moment and limiting himself to local operations to bring in prisoners, which have unfortunately been successful already, too. The current bad weather period is impeding the build-up of positions enormously. Until 1.12.44 a 2nd line has to be built up (similar to the old “yellow” one), so that the emphasis is again on “burrowing”.

 

I. Battalion, reformed after the return of Cpt. Weißenbergs, is relieving Battlegroup Jöres with remaining elements of II. and III. Battalion in the coming week. II. Battalion is to get, if he situation permits, a downtime for training and refreshment. Cpt. Oskar Weiß is expected at the start of December. With his arrival the reforming of III. Battalion will then be tackled.

 

The regimental troops, especially 13th Coy. under 1st Lt. v. Siegfried who has returned home to the regiment, are quite well staffed again.

 

[Other changes of personnel, return and status of WIAs, engagements and births, officers KIA and MIA, promotions and decorations.]

 

The regimental history mentions him two more times, the first in connection with a Christmas party in the positions of 2nd Company, I. Battalion GrR 1.

 

[…]

 

Rgt. Commander Colonel Kutzbach and Btl. Commander Major Weißenberg had announced themselves fort the Christmas party. The bunkers were lined with fir sprigs by the landsers. On roughly furnished makeshift tables, festively decorated fir trees were standing. It was planned that the rgt. commander, the btl. commander, company commander and top would make a round tour to wish the individual squads a merry holiday. On this occasion packets and charitable gifts were to be distributed, too. That was – corresponding to the holiday – of course not possible without Santa.

 

Santa had to be there. Who was more appropriate than Franz Liedtke, the original East Prussian with a humor that did not leave him in any situation. He was a brave soldier and a man with soul, in short – a good comrade. From the train a mask was organized, to that a driver’s coat, tightly dabbed with cotton wool. The proper rod and an overdimensional bag turned Sergeant Liedtke into a Santa who could truly show himself.

 

An issue of honor was that every squad offered a schnapps to the exalted visitors. For Santa, this was critical. How should he drink his schnapps? Through the mask it was not possible. Forego the schnapps? For Franz Liedtke that was totally out of question.

 

Therefore he quickly decided, hardly that he had entered, yanked open the bunker door again, stood outside the bunker, lifted the mask at the beard and let the schnapps disappear with complacency. This repeated itself at each bunker.

 

[…]

 

[…]

 

On 12.1.1945 the Russian offensive starts on the Vistula, and on 13.1.1945 the barrages setting in at 7 hours are announcing the beginning of the offensive in the sector of 1st Inf. Div. at Schloßberg, too. A myriad of batteries are churning up the ground. For hours, the enemy is drumming down the German positions. With full force the fire is hitting predominantly 1st Inf. Div. and its neighbors. With many times superiority the enemy steps up to the attack. Heroically, the regiments fight for any meter of ground. Schloßberg is held under heaviest sacrifices; though the Soviets are throwing ever-new forces into the fight, it is however achieved again and again to clear up local incursion in embittered house-to-house fighting. Only when a deep incursion occurs with the right neighbor, a Volks-Grenadier Division weakened by high losses, the regiment receives the order to pull back.

 

The places of Salten, Steinershöfchen, Hanruh, Weizenfelde, Bergenthal, Langenflur, Dröschdorf, Grünheide, Horstnau, Jägerndorf, Schönlinde, Gr.-Engelau, Albrechtsheide and Lank are touched by the regiment. With those names hard fights with high losses are connected for the regiment still. On 22.1.1945 the regimental commander, Colonel Kutzbach, is killed in action. He does not return from a drive to the FLOT. Losses are high, and eventually only regimental HQ and 13th Company are still engaged in battle.

 

[…]

 

Only one post left now.

Edited by BansheeOne
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Or rather two, as it turns out.

 

Very revered madam!

 

As has become known to you from the Wehrmacht dispatches, we have had very heavy fighting up here in East Prussia since 13 January, in which 1st Inf. Div., as always, has acquitted itself very well under its proven commanders and inflicted extremely heavy losses upon the enemy. In the course of this fighting our division unfortunately has been split, whereby division headquarters and some battlegroups came to Königsberg while the biggest part of our combat force is standing in the area East of Heiligenbeil, which I was attached to as officer from division HQ. If I am now addressing you, most revered madam, with these lines, then I am having hereby to fulfill a duty by direction of the div. commander which is moving all of us extremely gravely. I shall hope and wish that these lines will reach you at all after I have tried various times, unfortunately in vain, to dispatch a wireless message to Lt. Colonel K. at the OKH/Transp. Dep. Maybe on this one-time courier way the letter will finally come to Prague for your notification.

 

On 21.1.45, GR 1 was fighting under the always particularly proven command of your revered husband in the area Northwest of Insterburg - Horstenau. On this day in the evening it had to be pulled back against superior enemy pressure over the wing. The Colonel got the order for this in the afternoon and drove, as he always used to do in such cases, to his btl. cdrs. to personally notify them of this order and discuss the individual steps. So he first went to one btl., orientated the commander and then betook himself to the next command post in the wooded terrain. In his Schwimmkübel with driver he was underway while his adjutant Cpt. Hahn remained at the command post, lead a small combat action first yet and then waited in vain for the Colonel. The time for the pullback of the troops was long surpassed, the infantry had long broken contact, when strong concerns overcame the adj. Cpt. Hahn, he no longer waited for the commander at the command post as ordered to, but went forward to the btl. with the motorbike. To the former btl. command post Cpt. Hahn did not come anymore, as the Russian was already here. He tried to come onto the Colonel's track somehow yet, but did not find anything and finally had to go back.

 

Since this time we are unfortunately missing any lead about the whereabouts of the Colonel, so that we had to assume and report that he is missing in action. Investigations in any possible way unfortunately have remained without result so far. Eyewitnesses of this occurrence we could not find, prisoners could not give us information either. We could only establish that the btl. at which the Colonel did not arrive anymore had to take back its line prematurely due to very strong enemy pressure. Hereby it is now explainable that the Colonel must unwittingly have come into the enemy lines. On the other hand there are claims that during the time within question there was hardly any battle noise or shooting. Therefore we can imagine that the Colonel unwittingly came into the command post already occupied by the enemy and fell into captivity there.

 

We shall hope and wish, are of the firm confidence too, that the Colonel has remained unharmed. We are further hoping to maybe be able to receive him as a returnee in the friendly line in foreseeable time, as it has often been the case already. So far however no way has shown itself to us yet by which we could learn anything about the condition and the whereabouts of the Colonel.

 

Be sure, very revered madam, that we will further endeavour to the utmost extent to get clarity on the whereabouts of your revered husband, even if we are seeing no possibilities at this time. All we are really just convinced that he fell into captivity unharmed. Since he was also transporting all the things which he needed in combat and carried with him in the car, we are unfortunately not able to send you any personal effects. His suitcase resp. his other baggage was sent with the trains to Medenau in Sambia. How far it should still exist is unfortunately not known to us, since our battlegroup has no connection there. As soon as we can learn anything about this, be assured, we will endeavour to let you be notified.

 

Hope and wish I may that you, very revered madam, will also not give up hope for a reunion with your husband, our especially revered regimental commander, and find the power to bear this hard fate.

 

With this courier mail I unfortunately also have the hard task to give Mrs. v. Sickart, spouse of our rgt. cdr. GR 43, note about his hero's death which he found yesterday in the area South of Zinten.

 

In compassionate attachment I remain

 

Your, very revered madam, devoted

 

Scholz

 

Very revered Lieutenant Colonel!

 

Through 3 wireless messages I already tried during the hard combat days to have a short message relayed to you, on which now finally more extensive lines can shine a light.

 

Even if Colonel Kutzbach has now been missing with us since the 21.1.45 already, we still have the firm hope and the sincere wish that the Colonel fell into enemy hands unharmed and we will be able to receive him again at a later time. With him, we are mourning our most proficient regimental commander in the 1st ID, which has sadly suffered a lot once more. Cdr. GR 43, Lt. Colonel v. Sickart, fell on 13.2.45, and cdr. FR 22 through a severe accident is somewhere in a homeland hospital. Our div. HQ is sitting in the fortress of Königsberg and trying to rebuild the division with scattered elements while our remaining inf. elements and the art. rgt. are fighting at Zinten, where I am staying as a supervisory officer, too. Unfortunately this fate was in part due to the personality of our div. cdr., quite hard for us after all.

 

Mrs. Kutzbach I could notify through the adj. with the Wehrmacht Commander Prague, Colonel v. Proeck, former cdr. GR 1, by attached letter. As far as it is within our powers we will try everything to get at least clarifying news about our commander Colonel Kutzbach. How difficult this however is in the current situation the Lieutenant Colonel may well fathom himself. At least we are keeping this firm hope. To the Lieutenant Colonel as well as all revered kin I wish all comfort to this hard grief in the firm hope of a later reunion.

 

With obedient compliments I remain

 

the Lieutenant Colonel's devoted

 

Scholz

 

+++ HNOX / GT NO. 1 7.3. 45 1545===

 

TO CHIEF TRANSPORT OPERATIONS / PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT.=

 

COLONEL KUTZBACH ACCORDING LT COLONEL I G FRANK ROM ONE A 1. I. D. OFFICIALLY MISSING IN ACTION. ART. OFFC. WANTS TO HAVE SEEN THAT COLONEL K. WAS KILLED IN ACTION. INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUEING.===

 

BOETTCHER, MAJOR I. G., BV. TO NORTH++

 

Captain K a s t u l l, a.t.t. adjutant Trsp.Cdt. Königsberg, met a btl. cdr. (major) of I.R. 1 with Knight's Cross at the railway station in Braunsberg. That was wounded after 21.1. at the head and left arm and was passing through with hosp. train in Braunsberg. He wants to have seen Friedrich as he was driving in his Kübel towards a village already occupied by the Russian. All attempts to stop the car failed. The same portrayal Cpt. Kastull got from a sergeant of G.R. 1 in Königsberg. Combat noise not to be heard after entering the village.

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Attached the after action report of 21.1.1945 about the whereabouts of regimental commander Gren.Rgt. 1, Colonel Friedrich K u t z b a c h, is presented. Since it has been not possible for me so far to make a notification of kin due to the combat action, Major S c h o l z, adjutant 1.J.D. upon my request has notified the brother of the regimental commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kutzbach, on 31.1.45 by way of teletype over XXXXI. Pz. Corps. Another after action report of the division is also said to have been dispatched to kin from Königsberg. As soon as the combat situation permits, I will naturally get in contact with the kin of my commander directly.

 

[signed] Hahn

Captain.

 

After action report of 21 January 1945.

 

After pulling out of the position at Dröschdorf on 20.1.45 in the evening, the elements of 1st Inf. Div. are merged to the headquarters of Grenadier Regiment 1 under its commander Colonel Kutzbach.

 

Formed are: Btl. Fus. Rgt. 22 (leader Captain Malottka), Btl. Gren. Rgt. 43 (leader Major Uhlig), Field Replacement Btl. 1 (leader Captain Günther).

 

Regimental headquarters do a change of position at 2.00 hours and arrive at Horstenau towards 7.00 hours, 8 km North of Insterburg. There new regimental command post.

 

Deployment of battalions as noted in attached sketch.

 

The pullback movement of the division elements runs according to plan and without friction. The new position is assumed. The commander, Colonel Kutzbach, drives to the battalions at 10.15 hours to make sure of their deployment.

 

At 10.30 hours already the Russian attacks in battalion strength with tank support from the area of Brandenau. The 4 assault guns assigned to the regiment are deployed at the runway Aulenbach – Insterburg. There the Schwerpunkt is expected. Despite this, deflection of the attack from Brandenau is accomplished.

 

The 2 tanks requested by the commander from the left neighbor (5th Pz. Div.) cannot be released by it. There is no link to the left and right neighbor. Due to the continuous enemy pressure on the right open flank, the own right wing has to be folded.

 

11.25 hours the deployment of an enemy battalion in Ringelau is reported. Engagement of the deployment by artillery is arranged, as well as recognized deployments of the enemy at 11.40 hours before the right wing in the Southern part of the Horstenau Forest.

 

12.50 hours enemy attack commences in company strength from Southern tip Horstenau Forest towards the South.

 

13.00 hours attack of two Bolshevist battalions at Brandenau. The 4 assault guns standing at the runway are deployed against this with the reserve battalion Fus. Rgt. 22. In the counterthrust, point of incursion is eliminated and old FLOT assumed.

 

13.30 hours renewed enemy attack with about 2 battalions from East edge Horstenau forest and Brandenau headed for Neuteich and Tonfelde, and incursion.

 

13.40 hours tank deployment in Blumenthal is reported with subsequent attack. Battalion Gren. Rgt. 1 is immediately dispatched for lengthening of the right flank. At 14.20 hours the commenced enemy attack is deflected. Battalion Gren. Rgt. 1 is moved back to old area without having been deployed. Battalion Gren. Rgt. 43 is severely edged by the deflected enemy which gets stuck in the forefield and is continuously reinforcing itself.

 

14.50 hours renewed enemy attack onto right open flank of the battalion. The forces to seal off the point of incursion do not suffice. At 15.40 hours 1st Inf. Div. due to the situation orders pullback to the line at Waldhausen. The regimental commander drives to Field Replacement Battalion 1 at 16.00 hours to relay the pullback order. The commander returns to the command post after half an hour after having eliminated a point of incursion at the field replacement battalion in most skillful leadership and thereby created the premise for an ordered pullback movement. After short situational review with the adjutant, the commander personally drives, only accompanied by his driver, to btl. command post Gr.R. 43 in the amphibious car. Battalion Gr. R. 43 however could not hold the position anymore due to open right flank and renewed frontal enemy attack with 3 tanks and was pushed back onto the edge of the forest lying South of Tonfelde. Due to sharp pressing of the enemy it was not possible to the battalion commander to make an appropriate wireless report to the regiment.

 

The regimental commander due to the enormous enemy pressure considered it right to give the btl. cdr. Gr.R. 43 the pullback order himself after short situation orientation in the field. Since no report about the already occurred inevitable pullback of the battalion was present at the regiment, Colonel Kutzbach drove to the btl. command post already evacuated by friendly troops. According to the statement of the battalion commander, Major Uhlig, the command post was already occupied by the enemy at this time. Moreover it has been learned through artillery LO that a strong enemy fire raid of tanks and artillery occurred onto Tonfelde. Whether Colonel Kutzbach was killed in this action or fell into captivity could not be cleared up. The regimental adjutant, who reconnoitered towards Tonfelde towards 17.30 hours himself, could only establish that the location was strongly occupied by the Russian.

 

A raiding party for the clarification of the situation could not be deployed anymore due to the pullback movement already underway. As a rearguard, an assault gun with the aide-de-camp of the regiment remained at the regimental command post until 18.30 hours, who however waited in vain for the return of the commander. At 18.30 hours the rearguard had to be retracted according to orders, too. Since 16.45 hours (the outset of the ride to the btl. CP), any trace of Colonel Kutzbach is missing, and investigations by troop interviews and on the Ic path have remained without result so far.

 

[signed] Hahn

Captain and Adjutant.

 

 

Dear Kutzbach!

 

Through your letter of 4.3. I recalled that I had really meant to write you for a long time already. Pardon me for not doing so, but there were so much of worries and hardships that something intervened time and again. Your brother has been missing in action since 28.1. He had his rgt. CP in Horstenau (Northw. of Insterburg) back then and wanted to drive forward to II/43 which had its CP at Thonfelde. The command post was however not there any more at this time. 1st ID does not know anything about the further fate of your brother, but has by my knowledge notified his kin that he is missing in action. I have tried to follow various rumors myself without having been able to get a final clarity. I therefore are mentioning them to you only. An art. observer (who however can not be determined anymore) is said to have seen how your brother wanted to walk into the CP and was suddenly overpowered and shot by Russians. Should I manage to determine anything more precise I would immediately advise you, I still have the hope that your brother has fallen in captivity. For the div. and for the gen. cdr. too his absence was a hard loss anyway.

 

As you will know after all, I am now sitting in Sambia. We have been handed all of 2 divisions here. The whole sector incl. Königsberg a corps without army det. could only command [unclear abbrevation], but apparently we are having headquarters in abundance. – You could do me a favor by the way and inquire at P 3 how long I am supposed to remain a corps chief yet. It has been 2 years now after all and the army chiefs are all younger than me. – But this just by the way, maybe you occasionally have the possibility to talk to Kienitz. – One more big request would be the one that you inquire again how my wife and the children are doing, I have not had any news for 4 weeks. I do not really know if you still have the possibility to have a call made sometime. The tel. no. was Erlangen 2904.

 

Today I got a card from Greiner from 16.1. He just had farewell night from the div. but did not write where he is coming to. Probably he has taken over a corps now after all.

 

With most cordial greetings

 

Always your

 

K. Spitzer

 

I am including a short report by Lt. Count Rantzau yet, who was with your brother back then.

 

In the pullback move into the position at Dreihornswalde the command post of III./A.R. 1 was co-located with the command post of Gren. Rgt. 1 at the manor house at the Dreihornswalde cemetery one night. The detachment was moving into a different command post during the night. I got the order to stay with Gren. Rgt. 1 as ALO and reported to Colonel Kutzbach still within the night.

 

The coming “Day of Dreihornswalde” is remembered as such in Gren. Rgt. 1 and has to be chronologically little before that day on which Colonel Kutzbach went missing.

 

The morning went calmly until towards 10.00 hour, the Colonel was able to rest some hours. Towards 10.30 hours slight 12.2 cm harassing fire onto own location. The Russian is taking the village of Dreihornswalde by three quarters. At the manor elements of the infantry are reforming and advancing with 3 assault guns down the slope to the village. Dreihornswalde gets completely in friendly hands. – The Russian however has observed that the counterthrust originated from the more highly situated manor. In a renewed attack heavy fire raids are on the manor. The command post moves into the basement.

 

As far as I remember, stronger enemy infiltrated at the left neighbor, which suddenly appeared to the left rear, forced a sudden change of command posts. At the same time strongest battle plane deployment.

 

Widely extended, the men are running across open field. I am keeping to the Colonel. Once I am permitting me to say, “the Colonel must take cover, too”, and sometime later: “Take care, Colonel”. Thereupon: “Yes” and “quite right”.

 

In the Inster position we reform.

 

Days later the regiment, since replenished, is doing a change of position out of the position at Horstenau towards noon. The Colonel is going by in his amphibious car: “You want to ride along, Rantzau?”

 

“My radiomen are already underway, Colonel, don’t want to lose sight of them.” “Yes of course, well, well,” and drives away.

 

Later I was in great worry about the long absence of Colonel Kutzbach. Nobody wanted to believe the sad news.

 

The statements of time may leave very much to be desired, I wrote this from memory. The short exchange of words with Colonel Kutzbach hould be presented correctly, since I understandably recalled these words to my memory frequently.

 

I was still ALO at Gren. Rgt. 1 after the commander’s going missing, but heard always just that the Colonel was missing in action and everybody was assuming it has happened nothing to the person of Colonel Kutzbach himself, since the enemy was conducting himself comparatively quiet.

 

[signed] Count zu Rantzau

 

Estimated Mrs. Kutzbach!

 

After long inquiry I today received your address from a comrade of my husband. Now dear Mrs. Kutzbach I wanted to ask you if you have news of your husband yet? My husband and Mr. Kutzbach drove out of Schlossberg with the car from the 19th to the 20th January 1945 to see how it is with the Russian, and since then any trace is missing. Until now I have no news yet. I beg you Mrs. Kutzbach if you have news, please let me know.

 

With best regards

 

Your Mrs. Schröder

 

Dear Mrs. Kutzbach!

 

Received your letter with thanks. I was [illegible] afraid to open it and yet [illegible]. No, until now I know nothing of my husband yet. Should I get any news, you will be the first I will let know. [illegible] not so much. There are many more prison camps [?] after all, but whether our men are still among them? We should [illegible] hope and wait.

 

With best regards from

 

Mrs. [illegible] Schröder

 

That’s it. In the original draft of the first post I stated that my aunt and uncle had recently visited his eventual gravesite, but it turns out I mixed up people and they went for my aunt’s father which she never knew, as he was another officer (1st Lt.) going missing before she could consciously meet him. Friedrich Kutzbach’s whereabouts remain unknown, a memorial stone at the family’s cemetery plot in Kassel referring to him as “resting in foreign soil”.

Edited by BansheeOne
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