Bunzel, Hans Karl, born 29-04-1915 in Haynau, was a highly decorated Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht during World War II and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Hans Bunzel was involved in all big battles in Europe, as a Oberleutnant with the Panzer-Abteilung 116 under command of Hauptmann/Major Wolf-Werner Graf von der Schulenburgand
Wolf-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg was a German administrative lawyer, merchant, head of the Foreign Department of the Reich Sportsman, Wehrmacht officer and at last SA Brigadeführer. On 15-11-1943, he became commander (iV) of the Parachute Hunters Regiment 1. He fell on 14-07-1944, age 44, as commander of the 13th Parachute Regiment in the Battle of Saint-Lô..
Bunzel received the Sudetenland Medal , the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 19-09-1940 and the 1st Class on 21-07-1941. He was wounded in battle during the the invasion of Poland and received the Wounded Badge in Black, Silver and Gold
In May 1941, Panzer Group Kleist became Panzer Group 1 (Panzergruppe 1), which was attached to Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt‘s Army Group South at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. At the start of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Panzer Group 1 included the III, XIV and XLVIII Army Corps (mot.) with five panzer divisions, also the Panzer Abteilubg 116 and four motorized divisions (two of them SS) equipped with 799 tanks. Panzer Group 1 served on the southern sector of the Eastern Front against the Red Army and was involved the Battle of Brody which involved as many as 1,000 Red Army tanks. On 06-10-1941, Panzer Group 1 was enlarged to the 1st Panzer Army following the fall of Kiev, with Kleist still in command. The army captured Rostov, but was forced to retreat eight days later.
In this Russian Battle of Brody with the Panzer Abteilung 116 for the bridgehead of Manytschkaja all of the Brigade commanders had fallen in this battle of attrition for the bridgehead. In the weeks that followed Hauptmann Tebbe’s tanks participated in the seesaw fighting. Oberleutnant Kühne and the Oberfeldwebel Bunzel were bulwarks of the battalion in the fighting. Panzer Abteilung 116 lost tanks to enemy fire and mines. Its struggle in this sector was to keep open the gates in Rostov through which the entire the Ist Panzer Army.had to pass. Hans Bunzel and his platoon continued to fight at Ssamodurowski and the group of hills Ssidorkin, which were occupied by the enemy. It would lead us to far astray if all of the separate engagements of Hans Bunzel were described in detail. With an effective of February 1943 Hans Bunzel was promoted to Leutnant on 30-04-1945. On 27-03-1943 he was transferred to the battalion staff as a liaison. Staff work did not agree with this front-line soldier and he quickly requested and he returned to his “home” the 3rd Company. Hans Carl Bunzel is awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross in the field on 10-02-1943 as Oberfeldwebel and Zugführer (platoon leader) in the 3rd Panzer Abteilung 116 By this time everyone in the battalion knew who Hans Karl Bunzel was. His name was inextricably linked with an irrepressible aggressiveness. Leutnant Bunzel participated in hard defensive fighting.along the Mius in the summer in 1943 and in that round of bitter fighting associated with Isjum and Slawjansk. It was the “old hands” who kept the battalion afloat and taught the younger replacements how to survive in combat.Eastern Front Medal (10 August 1942)
Hans Carl Bunzel survived the war and retired in Neukirchen beim Blut. Bunzel died age 84 on 12-11-1995, after suicide with a gun, and is buried on the local cemetery of Neukirchen beim Heiligen Blut
My friend Bernhard Wölfle from Neukirchen beim Heiligen Blut, kindly sent me the grave photo’s. Bernhard in March 2019 reported that the gravestone meanwhile is removed.