Knispel, Kurt, born 20-09-1921, near the town of Cukmantel, Zlaté Hory in the Sudetenland Chechoslovakia. In early 1940, Knispel applied to join the armoured branch of the German Army, For his basic training, Knispel went to the Panzer Replacement Training Battalion at Sagan in Lower Silesia. He received basic infantry training, learning to use the Kar 98 rifle, the PO8 pistol, and the MG 34 machine gun, followed by tank training on the Panzer I, and Panzer II and Panzer IV. On 01-10-1940, he was transferred to the 3rd Company of the 29th Panzer Regiment, 12th Panzer Division under Generaloberst Josef Harpe. Knispel completed his training as a loader and gunner in a Panzer IV. This lasted until 11-06-1941 and consisted of courses at Sagan and Putlos.
Knispel was the gunner of a Panzer IV under Leutnant. Hellman during Operation Barbarossa, where he participated in the initial assault as part of Panzergruppe 3, LVII Army Corps (later LVII Panzer Corps), commanded by General der Panzer Adolf Friedrich Kuntzen .. Kuntzen died age 74 on 10-07-1964 in Hanover. Kurt Knispel saw action from Yarzevo to the gates of Stalingrad, in the north around the Leningrad-Tikhvin area, and also in the Caucasus under Eberhard von Mackensen. A photograph of November 1942 shows Gefreiter Knispel with the Panzerkampfabzeichen, the E.K.II, and the Verwundetenabzeichen in black.
A group of men from Putlos were sent to the 500th Panzer Battalion at Paderborn. These men, led by Oberfeldwebel Hans Fendesack, would become the 1st Company of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion, under command of Hauptmann Nordwin von Diest-Körber which fought at Kursk as flank cover for the 7th Panzer Division , Armee Abteilung Werner Kempf. Nordwin von Diest-Körber survived the war and died age 91 on 10.09.2003 Eilenriedestift. According to his biography, “Kursk hatte den Namen von Kurt Knispel im Battalion bekannt gemacht“ , Kursk has made the name Kurt Knispel famous in the battalion, Knispel saw further action during the relief attack on the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket, Vinnytsia, Yampil, and Kamianets-Podilskyi.
Death and burial ground of Knispel, Kurt.
Transferred from the east, the company was re-equipped with Tiger II and fought around Caen and in the retreat from Normandy. Then the unit was transferred back to the Eastern Front and saw action around Mezőtúr, Törökszentmiklós, Cegléd,Kecskemét and the Gran bridgehead, Gyula, Nitra, Bab Castle (in one action, Knispel reported 24 enemy hits on his Tiger II), Laa and finally Wostitz, where he was fatally wounded together with another tank commander Feldwebel Carl Skoda . Skoda was buried in Socherl. Knispel died in a field hospital in Urbau and was buried at a local cemetery. Ten days after his death, the war ended in Europe.
On 10-04-2013 Czech authorities confirmed that Knispel’s remains were found with 15 other German soldiers behind a church wall in Urbau. He was identified by his dog tags. On 12-11-2014 his remains were reburied at the military cemetery in Brno together, with 41 other German soldiers who fell in various places in Moravia and Silesia. Radek Hroch kindly sent me the grave photo.