Knaust, Hans Peter, born on 07-08-1906 in Kiel. He joined the Reichswehr at the age of 17 on the 05-03-1924 and was posted to 4th Infantry Regiment. Completing his officer training, he was posted as a Leutnant to 5th Infantry Regiment in July 1934. On the 15-10-1935, as an Oberleutnant, he was posted to 27th Infantry Regiment as a Company Commander. He was promoted again in 1937 to Hauptmann remaining in the same position. In preparation for war, Hauptmann Knaust was posted as the Company Commander of the 8th Machine Gun Company, 79th Infantry Regiment. This unit was part of the Blitzkreig campaign in France and Knaust earned the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class. The battalion he was part of was upgraded during the Battle of France to II./Schützen Regiment 4 under command of then Oberst Erhard Raus With exposure to the fast-paced armoured warfare observed in France, Knaust was moved within the division as the Commander of the 4th Kradschützen-Bataillon, of the 6th Panzer Division. under command of General der Panzertruppe Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
Knaust led this unit into the invasion of Russia in 1941 which was normally always at the front of the Division. In October 1941, he was in command of the II./Schützen Regiment 4 which was involved in the German attempt to capture Moscow. However the German war machine in the East went on the defensive during the winter of 1941 and the 6th Panzer Division which included Knaust’s unit was involved in heavy defensive fighting outside Moscow. During one of these battles Knaust was severely wounded in the right leg, which ultimately he would loose, in the village of Timonino, north-west of Moscow. After recovered he stayed in battle with a wooden leg. For his personal bravery in leading II./Schützen Regt 4 in the battles for and around Moscow, Hans-Peter Knaust was awarded the German Cross in Gold. He spent the rest of 1942 recovering in hospitals and rehabilitation centers and finally was posted back to his divisions’ training and replacement battalion – Panzer-Grenadier-Ausbildungs und 64th Ersatz-Battalion. Now with an artificial leg, he was responsible to train the new replacements for the 6th Panzer Division and prepare them for the horrors of the Eastern Front. In September 1944, the 1st Airborne Division under command of Generaal-Majoor Roy E. Urquhart threatened to capture the bridge over Germany’s last natural defensive barrier – the Rhine. Field Marshall Walter Model requested all available reinforcements to be sent to the front to destroy the allied forces and Knaust’s unit was one of them, also Waffen SS Obergruppenführer, Kommandeur der II SS Panzerkorps, Wilhelm Bittrich
and Waffen SS Oberführer, 10th SS Panzer Division “Frundsburg” “A bridge too far” Arnhem
, SS Brigadeführer Heinz Heinz Harmel
and the 9th
SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen, under Walter Harzer
were present with their Panzer Divisions. Now a Major Knaust led a Kampfgruppe in Arnhem was the sole task of capturing the bridge, on the British Lieutenant Colonel John Frost
He did this by utilizing combined armoured and infantry attacks against each building held by the British Paras. After the battle for the Bridge Knaust was moved south with the task of holding the village of Elst. His force grew in strength with the inclusion of Tiger and Panther Tanks as well as infantry. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross on the 28-09-1944 by Field Marshall Model. His Kampfgruppe remained in this section for a further 2 months being attached to divisions such as the 10th SS Panzer , 116th Panzer and 9th Panzer Division . He was posted to the 490th Infantry Division in early 1945 as the commander of Regiment ‘Knaust’. His regiment was involved in stopping the British advancing through the Teuteburger Forest. The WehrmaIt was for this battle he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross. He was also mentioned in the German War Reports for the 18-04-1945 and promoted to Oberstleutnant. The Wehrmacht report said: The 490th Infantry Division under the command of Oberst Herman Heinrich Behrend , awarded with the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, has excelled by showing exemplary steadfastness in the heavy fighting in north-western Germany. The winner of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross Leutnant Colonel Knaust, regimental commander in this division, has personally particularly distinguished himself in these battles. Behrend died age 88 on 10-06-1987 in Soltau. Knaust was captured on the 05-05-1945 by the British and held for 12 months being released in 1946.
Death and burial ground of Knaust, Hans Peter.
Oberstleutnant Hans-Peter Knaust died on the 22-10-1983 in Kevelaer, Niederrhein, but is buried on the large cemetery of Ohlsdorf in Hamburg. On cemetery are also buried Hans Albers the actor, Hitler’s half brother Alois Hitler/Hiller, Generalmajor der Infanterie, General Stab 123th Infantry Division, Ernst Klasing, Generaloberst der Infanterie and commander of the 9th Army, Adolf Strauss and there is a family grave of the Fieldmarshall Wilhelm Keitel,