Bräuer, Bruno, born on 04-02-1893 in Willmannsdorf, Silesia, joined the Army cadets in 1905, age 12 and started his military career. In World War I he received the Iron Cross first and second class whilst serving in the 7th West Prussian Infantry Regiment. After the war he remained in the new Reichswehr and Bräuer became the first German paratrooper in Hermann Goering’s (did you know) Luftwaffe, to jump from a plane on 11-05-1936. As commander of the 1st Battalion, he commanded this unit through Poland, France, our Netherlands (see About) and the Balkans and he earned a reputation for outstanding bravery. His objective was to take two bridges: Moerdijk and Dordrecht. At Moerdijk his second battalion under Major Fritz Prager captured the bridge by dropping two of his companies at each end and storming the bridge, taking it before it could be blown, in Mai 1940. Prager died age 34, on 02-12-1940 in Braunschweig, of cancer. At Dordrecht the first Battalion, first Fallschirmjäger Regiment could only drop one company-the 3rd company under Leutnant Henning Freiherr von Brandis. Brandis was killed there, age 27 on 10-06-1940 and is buried on the Ysselstein cemetery in Holland.
Fierce fighting took place, but the bridge remained in Dutch hands and Brandis was killed. A nearby airfield, Waalhaven, was taken by the third Battalion, first Fallschirmjäger regiment by luring the defenders away from the airfield and then landing in it. As Dutch resistance increased and Dordrecht Bridge still had not been taken, Bräuer commandeered Dutch vehicles. After terrible fighting and bravery from Bräuer, the bridge was taken intact. He received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross by Hermann Goering for this feat.
Bräuer would also have been involved with the spearhead for Operation Sae Lion, the planned German invasion of Great Britain. While Major , later General der Panzertruppe, Kommandeur General II FS Korps, Eugen Meindl‘s battalion would be dropped at Hythe, it was planned that Bräuer’s regiment would be dropped over Paddlesworth and Etchinghill. Both these units’ objectives would be Sandgate. While they were moving to their targets, the Luftwaffe would be flying back to France to transport the second wave of paratroopers-Major Eduard Edgar Stenzler’s battalion-who would support the first wave. Stenzler would be wounded seriously, lost an eye on 03-10-1941 and died in hospital on 19-10-1941, age 36. On 20-05-1941 Nazi Germany launched its air attack on Crete. Bräuer was to lead the first Fallschirmjäger Regiment and the second battalion, 2nd Fallschirmjäger Regiment. His objective was to take the airfield at Heraklion . Admiral Wilhelm Canaris chief of the German Abwehr, originally reported a mere 5000 British troops on Crete and no Greek forces, this action was not a success. Another commander on Crete was Generalmajor der Flieger, Kurt Student. When the news that Germans were advancing across the Island from Maleme reached the Allies, the latter withdrew to the harbor and were evacuated. In November 1942 Bräuer replaced General der Artillerie/Flieger, Kommandeur der 4th Panzer Heeresgruppe, Alexander Andrea as commander on Crete. He tried to make his officers treat the Cretans with more respect. In January 1945 the German 9th Parachute Division was formed under Bräuer, but two of his battalions were encircled by the first Ukrainian front in Breslau. He lands in the Führer Reserve and is on 10-05-1945 captured by the British Forces. The British lost 1.742 killed, 1.737 wounded, 11.835 taken prisoner from a garrison of slightly more than 32.000 men and there were 1,828 dead and 183 wounded Royal Navy personnel. Of a force of more than 10,000 men, 5.255 Greek troops were captured. One Cretan source puts the number of Cretans killed by Germans at 6.593 men, 1.113 women and 869 children. German records put the number of Cretans executed by firing squad as 3.474 and at least 1.000 civilians were killed in massacres late in 1944.
The Germans lost at least 12.000 killed and wounded, and about 5.000 drowned.
Death and burial ground of Bräuer, Bruno Oswald.
After the war Bräuer along with Generalleutnant der Infanterie, The Butcher of Crete”, Friedrich Müller was charged with war crimes by a Greek military court. He stood trial in Athens for alleged atrocities on Crete. He was accused of the deaths of 3,000 Cretans, massacres, systematic terrorism, deportation, pillage, wanton destruction, torture and ill treatment Brauer was convicted and sentenced to death on 09-12-1946.
He was executed by gunfire at 5 o’clock on 20-05-1947, the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete. He is described as “a truly unfortunate man. Bruno Bräuer, age 54, is now buried on the German war cemetery of Maleme, Hill 107, next to an unknown soldier and with German troops killed on the island during the invasion and the occupation. His remains were buried by George Psychoundakis,
a resistance fighter, Psychoundakis died old age 85 on 29-01-2006. Close by the Blücher brothers Hans-Joachim and Wolfgang.