Friday, April 9, 2010

Enemy Elite Friday: August Dieckmann (Germany)


"The village of Otscheretino was captured on the 16.02.1942 as part of the advance against the enemy north of the Samara.  The village was of decisive importance due to its command over the area, and so the 1 SS Germania under the commander of Major Dieckmann was deployed to reinforcement its garrison.  Otscheretino was the dominant, vital cornerstone of the right wing of Gruppe Sanne and so its control was of great significance for the fighting in the area.  A Russian attack took place on the afternoon of the 19.02.1942.  It was preceded by strong artillery/mortar fire, and it included 8 heavy Russian tanks.  After a hard battle the much superior enemy were able to penetrate into the eastern and middle part of the shot-up, burning village with their tanks and infantry.  The last usable assault Pak was knocked out by an enemy tank round.  The other armour-piecing weapons remained inoperable.  In this decisive moment, one which would decide the fate of the village, Major Dieckmann rushed to a cannon from a Batterie that was still in the area.  His confident and determined attitude convinced its crew to take orders from him, and they maneuvered their gun into position to engage the enemy armor from close range.  The gun and its crew succeeded in destroying 4 of the enemy tanks.  Major Dieckmann now decided to take advantage of the situation and lead a counter thrust on his own initiative.  Leading his soldiers with a Hurra, he threw the much larger enemy force out of the village.  In conjunction with other friendly forces the Bataillon also fended off further hostile tank-supported attacks on the 20.02.1942 and on the night of the 22./23.02.1942.  During the counter thrusts that he launched the enemy lost over 300 dead, 29 prisoners, 9 heavy machine-guns, 12 light machine-guns, 5 anti-tank rifles, 1 machine-pistol and 167 rifles.  The exemplary personal bravery and initiative of Major Dieckmann were decisive factors that ensured our continued control over Otscheretino along with high losses for the enemy."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on April 23, 1942.

"SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on the 24.04.1942 for his part in holding Otscheretino (15 km south of Barwenkowo) during the hard winter fighting. 
SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann then went on to lead an armored combat group during the attack on Rostov (21.-23.07.1942).  Over the course of three days of hard combat his unit broke through the deeply layered defensive system north and northwest of Rostov, and in all this time Dieckmann was always to be found at the spearhead of the advance.  In particular, he was heavily involved in conducting the assault against the third anti-tank ditch and the village of Leninawan (4 km NW of the city) on the 23.07.1942.  On this day SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann personally carried out terrain reconnaissance that would ultimately be of decisive importance for formulating the offensive moves of the armored combat group.  He did this escorted by only one officer and two messengers and all while under heavy enemy artillery, mortar and rifle fire.  During the course of the urban combat for the suburbs of Rostov SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann kept the attack in motion with great personal effort, and his shining example of bravery did much to enable the armored combat group to obtain control of the southwestern part of the city by the 23.07.1942.  During the thrust over the Kuban river at Grigoripoliskaja on the 03.08.1942 it was once again SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann and his Kampfgruppe that made the creation and holding of the bridgehead here possible.  Even while Grigoripoliskaja itself was still being fought over in heavy urban combat, SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann drove through the village in his car to the crossing site of 1. Kompanie, which had just begun to do so on rubber boats as he arrived. Here, while under strong enemy fire, he oversaw the crossing and set about personally reconnoitering the possibilities for building a bridge.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann would go on to consistently intervene in the subsequent defensive battles for the bridgehead.  His mere appearance on the battlefield gave heart to his men and motivated them to achieve their best.  His calm and ruthlessness in critical situations has almost attained legendary status. 
SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann and his Kampfgruppe were again deployed at the decisive points during the continued advance against the Laba river at Teginskaja and the Chadyshenskaja oilfield.  One such example was at Woronzowo-Daschkoff (50 km north of Maikop).  Here elements of Kampfgruppe Dieckmann secured the village towards the west on the night of the 10./11.08.1942, and were then in turn attacked by a regimental sized Russian force from the east.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann saved the situation through his lightning swift rearrangement of forces.  He personally deployed a Kompanie for defense and threw back the broken-in enemy via a counter thrust by an assault troop under his personal control.  A Batterie of light howitzers under SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann’s direction shot up oncoming enemy troops even as they made it to within 100 metres.  The defense against this attack generated considerable losses amongst the enemy, and this was entirely to the credit of SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann.  His personal leadership here prevented the enemy from taking over the supply road of the Division and getting into its rear.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann again distinguished himself in an outstanding way during the urban combat for the village of Chadyshenskaja.  Located in the oilfield, it was defended by three enemy battalions as well as strong anti-tank and anti-aircraft elements.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann was personally involved in close combat amongst the lead riflemen and tanks, and with his Kampfgruppe he succeeded in blocking the Maikop—Tuapse road while inflicting heavy losses on the foe.  On the 05.10.1942 Dieckmann’s Bataillon was involved in an assault against the hills west of Malgobek, however the unit became pinned down by intense enemy fire after it had taken the first two hills.   SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann immediately perceived the danger for his Bataillon, and he at once rushed to the foremost Kompanie.  He stormed forward as the point man, encouraging his men to follow him. His Bataillon took heart from the personal example of their commander, and proceeded to reach the hill and eject the enemy atop of it within a short time.  An immediate Russian counterattack was fended off with significant losses for the enemy.  An attack by I. Bataillon against the hill dubbed ‘White House’ on the next day only gained ground very slowly due to the heavy fog and limited visibility.  The neighboring Bataillone for their part were pinned down.  In this extremely difficult situation SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann and his Bataillon pushed on in spite of the heavy losses incurred on the previous day.  And though the enemy were well dug-in on the hill they succeeded in reaching it even so.  ‘White House’ was initially only reached by 2. Kompanie.  This singular achievement by the Kompanie was only possible because SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann repeatedly stormed forwards ahead of the troops, who proceeded to follow his example and courage.  This deed in turn enabled the advance of the right and left wing, with the result that the hill was ultimately captured.  However the enemy then launched their own attack with tanks and mounted infantry at 12:00 on the 07.10.1942.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann immediately recognized the danger and counterattacked with his Bataillon, becoming engaged in fierce combat.  But even though the enemy was eventually reinforced the Bataillon nonetheless managed to repulse all hostile attacks with incredible spirit.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann continually inspired his men from the foremost line despite the strong enemy tank and artillery fire, and by doing so he brought out the best in every single one of his soldiers.  On the 17.10.1942 Hill 701 was captured by I. Bataillon after an energetic attack.  However they had barely attained their attack objective when the enemy launched their own tank and artillery supported counterattack.  The enemy managed to break-in at a decisive spot. SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann instantly realized the danger that the front would be rolled up, and so he rallied an assault party together from the men nearest to him.  With these he threw the enemy out of the positions while personally fighting with machine-pistol and hand grenade.  Through this deed the hill could be held for the whole day against all further attacks of the enemy.  And this was an important achievement, as it denied them the possibility of launching flank attacks into the divisional elements that were attacking on both the right and the left of the hill.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann has had a major share in the successes of his Bataillon (and by extension the Regiment) through his personal bravery, confidence and decisiveness, even in the most dangerous of moments.  His exploits were largely responsible for ensuring the eventual capture of the oil city of Malgobek following hard combat.  On the 12.02.1943 SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann and his Bataillon seized the village of Grischino from a bitterly defending enemy through a bold surprise attack of their own, and in doing so they cut off the supply lines to the enemy’s Mobile Group Popov, which was fighting in the Krasno—Armaiskoje area.  The Bataillon’s skillful defense in the subsequent fighting also ensured that the enemy’s efforts to retake the village, and therefore restore their supply route, came to naught.  During the attack against the Donez on the 24.02.1943 the Regiment had the mission of capturing the city of Alexandrowka.  The enemy was defending this village with several thousand men, over 20 tanks and strong artillery formations.  I. Bataillon, the point unit, was to launch an enveloping attack against the city from the east while II. Bataillon tied down the enemy in a frontal attack from the south.  I. Bataillon attacked Alexandrowka at 13:00 and initially made good progress. However the attack then threatened to stall on the city’s edge under the heavy enemy defensive fire, particularly within the sector of the middle Kompanie.  SS-Sturmbannführer Dieckmann personally placed himself at the head of this Kompanie, inspired his men forwards, and together they were able to skillfully overcome the heavy defensive fire.  Thanks to his courageous intervention the penetration into the city succeeded.  Despite a determined enemy defense the city of Alexandrowka was captured after much tough urban combat for every house."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves citation, awarded on April 16, 1943.

"Obersturmbannführer Dieckmann was a commander who outstandingly distinguished himself throughout the innumerable battles in the East, and by now he has become an icon of heroic troop leadership on the eastern front beyond merely the ranks of the SS-Division ‘Wiking’ and the Waffen-SS.  And yet in Dieckmann the Waffen-SS has lost one of its best commanders, one who has constantly been a model of soldierly virtues to the Germanic volunteers of his Division.  On the 24.04.1942 Dieckmann received the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross for his outstanding bravery in the first winter campaign.  Then, on the 20.04.1943, he was awarded the Oakleaves as the 233rd soldier of the German Wehrmacht to be so honoured for continually distinguishing himself in the battles of his Division as a Bataillon commander.  After taking over the Regiment ‘Westland’ (in the SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division ‘Wiking’), Obersturmbannführer Dieckmann once again found himself in the midst of uninterrupted defensive battles on the southern sector of the Eastern front beginning on the 05.07.1943. Starting on the 11.08.1943, his Regiment repelled over 100 enemy attacks in the area west of Kharkov alone, and the majority of these were conducted by much larger enemy forces. In this time Dieckmann was always the soul of resistance for the Regiment. Despite the strong enemy fire his place was always forward and alongside his men, who were in turn strongly motivated to fight on account of their commander’s devotion to duty, fearlessness and prudent leadership. The daily combat reports of the divisional commander continually cited Dieckmann’s deeds of bravery. He continued to remain alongside his men and master every trying situation during the difficult defensive and retreat battles despite being wounded several times by shell splinters. Dieckmann would immediately set out to personally reconnoiter the situation in his armoured car whenever the enemy achieved penetrations at either his Kompanien or the neighbouring units, and by doing so he was able to make the necessary combat decisions on the spot. With the handful of men that were immediately available he would then throw himself against the enemy or hold onto his positions long enough until the danger for ongoing retreat movements had passed. His name will be forever connected to uncounted successful defensive battles during which he stood as a rock in the storm.  Dieckmann was fighting in the foremost line on the 10.10.1943, the very same day upon which the Führer decided to recognize his deeds with the award of the Oakleaves with Swords. As he tried to reenergize a stalled attack along the Dnieper he was mortally wounded by a bullet. However his name will live forever in the heroic books of both the Waffen-SS and the entire eastern front."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords citation, awarded on October 10, 1943.

A truly dealy enemy elite,

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