Kreipe, Karl, born 05-06-1895 in Niederspier, Thuringia, the thirteenth child of a Lutheran pastor from Hanover. He fought in World War I, seeing action at the Battle of Verdun where he won an Iron Cross First Class. Despite the Germans’ plan to “bleed France white,” the Battle of Verdun resulted in roughly equal casualties for both sides. The German death toll was 143,000 (out of 337,000 total casualties) while the French lost 162,440 (out of 377,231). Upon the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered for the army, and rose through the ranks, being appointed leutnant in December 1915. After the war’s end, Kreipe enlisted in the Hessen-Thüringen-Waldeck Freikorps, and joined the new Reichswehr in October 1919. He was retained in the much-reduced German armed forces permitted after the Treaty of Versailles, a testament to his ability as a soldier. By 1939, he had risen to the rank of Oberstleutnant. As commander of Infantry Regiment 209 of the 58th Infantry Division under command of Generalleutnant Iwan Heunert
, Kreipe participated in the Battle of France and the drive towards Leningrad during Operation Barbarossa.
For these actions he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 13-10-1941. He remained in the Leningrad front until May 1942, when he was transferred back to Germany, where he took up administrative and teaching positions. In June–October 1943, he was transferred back to the Eastern Front, where he led the 79th Infantry Division , succeeding Generalleutnant Richard Graf von Schwerin On 01-03-1944, Kreipe was appointed Commander of the 22nd Air Landing Infantry Division operating on Crete, replacing General Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller,
In 1946, Müller was tried by a Greek court in Athens for the massacres of hostages for reprisals. He was sentenced to death on 09-09-1946 and executed by firing squad 20-05-1947, along with former Generalmajor der Fallschirmjäger, Bruno Bräuer, on the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete. In the spring of 1944, a plan was laid out by the Allies to kidnap General Müller, whose harsh repressive measures had earned him the nickname “the Butcher of Crete”. The operation was led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor , together with Captain Bill Stanley Moss, Greek SOE agents and Cretan resistance fighters. However, Müller left the island before the plan could be carried out. Undeterred, Fermor decided to abduct Kreipe instead. In the night of 26 April, General Kreipe left his headquarters in Archanes and headed without escort to his well-guarded residence, “Villa Ariadni”, approximately 25 km outside Heraklion. Major Patrick Leigh Fermor and Captain William Stanley Moss, he died age 44, on 09-08-1965 dressed as German military policemen, waited for him 1 km before his residence on this spot. They asked the driver to stop and asked for their papers. As soon as the car stopped, Fermor quickly opened Kreipe’s door, rushed in and threatened him with his gun while Moss took the driver’s seat. The Abduction is commemorated near Archanes. Moss drove the kidnappers and the General in his car for an hour and a half through 22 controlled road blocks in Heraklion before leaving Leigh Fermor to go on and abandon the car, with suitable decoy material being planted that suggesting an escape off the island had been made by submarine. Moss set off with the General on a cross-country march supported by andartes to be rejoined by Leigh Fermor. Hunted by German patrols, the group moved across the mountains to reach the southern side of the island, where a British Motor Launch (ML 842 commanded by Brian Coleman) was to pick them up.
Eventually, on 14-05-1944, they were picked up (from Peristeres beach near Rhodakino) and transferred to Egypt. Kreipe was interrogated, and then transferred to a POW camp in Canada. Later transferred to a special camp in Wales, Kreipe was released from British captivity in 1947. General Kreipe met his kidnappers one more time in 1970 in a Greek TV show.
Death and burial ground of Kreipe, Karl Heinrich Georg Ferdinand.
He died at Northeim on 14-06-1976, old age 86 and is buried with his wife Ilse, born Berendz, on the Ricklinger Cemetery of Hanover.