Kraas, Hugo Gottfried “Hujo Rabatz”, born on 25-01-1911 in Witten in the Province of Westphalia, as the eldest of seven sons, of Franz Albert Kraas († March 1932) and his wife Maria Christine, born Korte. Hugo received the middle name Gottfried in honor of his grandfather Gottfried Norbert Kraas (1842–1925). He studied to become a teacher but his father’s death killed that dream – he had to stop studying and get a job. On 01-05-1934 he joined the NSDAP as number 2.204.561, and for a short period of time, more specifically until 19-04-1935, he was a member of the SA .In July 1935, Kraas joined the Army with the 6th Infantry Regiment Ratzeburger Jäger. His stay in the Reichswehr was not long and after only 3 months he was placed into the Reserves.
Shortly after in October 1935 Kraas became a member of the SS Germania Standarte with the rank of SS Rottenführer. The Germania Standarte took part in the annexation of Austria and was responsible for the security during the Italian leader Benito Mussolini‘s visit to Germany. It took part in the annexation of Sudetenland attached to army units. Kraas was part of the third cadet class of the SS Junkerschule in Braunschweig in April 1937 and after graduating on 12-03-1938, he received the SS-Untersturmführer rank. Hugo was the second excellent student in his course to graduate. In 1937, Kraas was selected to attend the SS Junkerschule in Braunschweig. He was commissioned on 12-03-1938 assigned to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (did you know), 14th Panzerjägerkompanie under the command of Kurt Meyer, “Panzermeyer” Kraas commanded the unit very successfully throughout the Poland’s Campaign and for that he received the 2nd class Iron Cross on 16-10-1939. In November, Kurt Meyer was appointed to be in charge of the 15th Kradschütsenkomp. He also became the first officer in the entire division to be awarded the Iron Cross first class for repeated personal bravery during the invasion of Holland. He earned it thanks to moving 50 miles to the enemies’ lines, along the River IJssel, and capturing 7 enemies’ officers and 120 soldiers. The General-Lieutenant and the leader of the 227th Infantry Division , Friedrich Zickwolff, nominated him to receive this award. The awarding took place on 25-05-1940. Some time later, on October 03-10-1940, he received the Bronze Infantry Assault Badge for courageous battles. As Kompanie commander in the Meyer’s LSSAH’s Aufklärungsabteilung, Reconnaissance Detachment, Hugo Kraas fought in he Balkans and Russia, where after Meyer was injured on October 1941, Kraas became the leader of the Aufklärungsabeilung. On Christmas Day in 1941, he was again decorated, this time with the German Cross in Gold for his exemplary leadership during the first battle of Rostov. Hitler’s adjudant Otto Günsche was present too. In June 1942, Kraas here with Panzermeyer, was given command of the I./SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment 2 I. Battalion leading it throughout the Third Battle of Kharkov. For his role in this operation he was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 28-03-1943. During the ensuing summer Kraas then succeeded SS Brigade Führer, Theodor Peter Johann “Teddy” Wisch
Theodor Wisch here after the war, left with SS Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich and SS Brigadeführer Hugo Kraas,, as a commander of SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment 2 and short time later was also promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer.
Operation Zitadelle was soon beginning. After operation Zitadelle failed, Russians took initiative on the front and German forces were in the role of the defenders. Kraas’ units destroyed 91 enemy’s tanks, 63 cannons, captured 900 Red Army soldiers and destroyed more than 3,000 enemies during the battle of Kursk. Kraas was wounded on 05-01-1944 and he was removed from the front. On January 25, as he was recovering, he had the honor of being one out of 375 soldiers who received the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves. This was for his bravery in Kursk and in the area of Zhytomyr. Six days later he was promoted to SS-Standartenführer. He passed the Division leaders’ course and afterward he was taken to the 12th SS Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend where on 15-11-1944 he took over the division from SS Brigade Führer Fritz Kraemer . Kraemer was tried at Dachau in 1946 for the involvement in the Malmedy Massacre and was sentenced to a ten-year imprisonment. Following his release, Kraemer lived in Höxter, Germany until his death on 23-06-1959, age 58.
Hugo Kraas became the fifth and the final leader of this division. After the Ardennes’ operation, he was promoted as SS-Oberführer and on April 20 as SS-Brigadeführer. He led the 12th SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend through the final fierce battles of the war, surrendering with about 10.000 men, at the Enns River, Austria, to Major General Stanley Eric Reinhart‘s 261st Infantry Regiment of the 65th Division, nicknamed “Battle Axe” , under John Eubank Copeland on 27-04-1945. Hugo was kept in prison until 1948. His oldest brother, SS Sturmbannführer Liborius Franziskuz “Boris” Kraas, born in 1915, died in battle on 13-02-1945, age 30, in Linz, Austria, his second brother Hauptmann Emil Kraas, born in 1914 and commander of the 3rd batallion of the 253th Infantry Division, under SS Obergruppenführer der Waffen SS, Kurt Meyer, commited suicide, also age 30, in 1944 as his division, was surrounded in Roemenia. His youngest brother Helmut Albrecht Kraas, born 1925, was a student at a “Napoli Hitler School” and survived the war.
The four Kraas brothers. From left Helmut-Albrecht, Emil, Hugo and Liborius “Boris. Of the six Kraas brothers, three received the Iron Cross.
Along with other members of LSSAH, 1. SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler, Kraas was investigated for the murder of several dozens of Italian Jews on 25-09-1943 in Italy. He was tried in absentia in Italy in 1955 and was found guilty. The investigation also took place in West Germany in 1965 but stalled for “lack of evidence”
On 25-10-1939 Kraas married the teacher and BDM leader Ruth Sünne Godbersen (born 18-02-1912 in Hennstedt; she died 1997) in Kile. Hitler sent him a letter with best wishes for the wedding through his adjutant SS Standarteführer Max Wünsche. He also received his book Mein Kampf with a personal dedication and 3,000 RM for starting a household.
Death and burial ground of Kraas, Hugo Gottfried “Hujo Rabatz”.
SS Brigade Führer Hugo Kraas died of a heart attack in Selk, Schlewig-Holstein, Germany, on 20-02-1980, age 69 and is buried with his wife Sünne, born Gödberson, who died age 85, on 12-07-1997, on the Neuen Friedhof of Haddeby, near Schleswig, Field 1-Row 6-Grab 7/8, where General der Fallschirmjäger, Kommander Festung Brest, Hermann Ramcke
Hugo was called “Hujo Rabatz” by his men and soldiers, because of his very special temperament in battle or as instructor in trainings. Hujo may be formed out of his prename Hugo. Rabatz means something like heave-ho or making ready for battle.
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