Hetzenauer, Matthäus.

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Hetzenauer Matthäus, born 23-12-1924 in Brixem im Thale, Austria, the son of a Tyrolean farming family in Brixen im Thale, he worked after completion of elementary school, first on the parental Sonnleitbauernhof. In September 1942, he was drafted to Kufstein Mountain Rescue Battalion 140, but was released after basic training. But already in January 1943 he received a new call-up order to the Styrian training area Seetaler Alpe, where met the best snipers of the German mountain troops from all the theaters of war for training and education. Transferred to the 7th Company of Mountaineer Regiment 144 of the 3rd Mountain Division.  He served in the 3rd Mountain Division  on the Eastern Front, who was credited with 345 kills. His longest confirmed kill was reported at 1,100 meters (1,200 yards). Hetzenauer was also a recipient of the Knight Cross of the Iron Cross . After spending most of 1943 in basic training, Hetzenauer     trained as a sniper during March – July 1944 at the Truppenübungsplatz Seetaler-Alpe in Steiermark, before being assigned as Gefreiter to the 3rd Gebirgsjäger Division, under command of Generalleutnant Paul Klatt Klatt survived the war and died 06 June 1973, age 76.

Hetzenauer utilised both a Karabiner 98k snipper variant  with 6x telescopic sight and a Gewehr 43 with ZF4 4x telescopic sight. He saw action against Soviet forces in the Carpathians, Hungary and Slovakia.  and is credited with 345 kills. His longest confirmed kill was reported at 1,100 meters (3,600 ft).

On 6 November 1944 he suffered head trauma from artillery fire, and was awarded the Wounded Badge  three days later.

Gefreiter Hetzenauer received the Knight Cross of the Iron Cross on 17 April 1945. Generalleutnant and Divisions commander Paul Klatt had recommended Hetzenauer because of his numerous sniper kills, which totaled two enemy companies, without fear for his own safety under artillery fire and enemy attacks. This recommendation was approved by General der Gebirgstruppe Karl von Le Suire  and General der Panzertruppe Walter Nehring 

Death and burial ground of Hetzenauer, Matthüas.

   

The joy at being awarded such a prestigious medal did not last long as he was captured only one month later by Soviet troops the following month, and served five years in a Soviet prison camp in routinely appalling conditions . He returned home on 10-01-1951 by the strength of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.  Retiring in Brixen im Thale Matthäus Hetzenauer died at the age of 79 on 03-10-2004 after several years of deteriorating health in Brixen im Thale and is buried with his wife Maria, born Sonnleithof, who died 2 years later in 2006, age 81,.on the local cemetery of Brixen im Thale, in section 3, row 3.

  

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