Saucken, Dietrich Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard Kasimir von, born 16-05-1892 in Fischhausen, East Prussia, the son of Landrat, the chief administrative officer of a Landkreis, Wilhelm Eduard Erich von Saucken and his wife Bertha Marie, born Westphal (1862–1928), As a child, Saucken attended the Collegium Fridericianum, a prestigious gymnasium in Königsberg, present-day Kaliningrad, where he graduated with his Abitur (university-preparatory high school diploma) in 1910. As a student, Saucken showed aptitude as an artist, a talent supported by his mother and the director of the Fridericianum, Georg Ellendt. He often visited Nidden, present-day Nida, Lithuania, where his ambitions to become an artist were influenced by the Künstlerkolonie Nidden, an expressionist artists’ colony.
Following graduation, Saucken joined the Prussian Army on 01-10-1910 as a Fahnenjunker (Cadet) in Grenadier-Regiment König Friedrich Wilhelm I. (2. Ostpreußisches) Nr. 3 (2nd East Prussian Grenadier Regiment King Frederick William I Nr. 3), one of the oldest Prussian regiments, subordinated to the 1. Division (1st Division) and based in Königsberg. There, he was promoted to Leutnant (second lieutenant) on 19-06-1912
With the outbreak of World War I, the division was deployed on the Eastern Front. With the division, Saucken fought in the battles of Stallupönen, Gumbinnen, and Tannenberg and earned the Iron Cross 2nd Class in October 1914
Saucken then fought in the Battle of Verdun and in the battles of the Carpathian Mountains in September 1917, and received the Iron Cross 1st Class in May 1916.For combat in the Spring Offensive and Hundred Days Offensive on the Western Front, he received the Prussian Knight’s Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords and the Austrian Military Merit Cross. In 1918, he also served with the Baltic Sea Division under the command of General Rüdiger von der Goltz which fought in the Finnish Civil War (27 January – 15 May 1918). General von der Golz died 04-11-1946, aged 80, in Bernbeuren, Saucken was wounded seven times and dismissed in a highly decorated manner.
After the First World War he served in the Volunteer Border Protection Unit East of the Freikorps and the Provisional National Army. In 1921 he joined the Reichswehr. From 1927 on he was on special assignment in the Soviet Union, where he learned to speak Russian. In 1934 he was promoted to Major and posted as an instructor to the War School Hanover. He was promoted to Oberst on 01-06-1939.and was promoted to the rank of Generalmajor on 01-01-1942. Appointed to command the 4th Panzer Division at the end of 1941, he succeeded General der Panzer Willibald von Langermann und Erlencamp,
he later served as commandant of the German School for Mobile Troops. In late June 1944, as deputy commander of the III Panzer Corps , he succeeded General der Panzertruppen Hermann Breith, and von Saucken formed an ad hoc unit known as “Group von Saucken” from the remainders of several units that had been smashed in the Soviet assault on Army Group Centre. This grouping, later XXXIX Panzer Corps attempted to defend the occupied city of Minsk and temporarily maintained an escape route across the Berezina River for retreating German soldiers in the face of overwhelmingly superior Soviet forces. Saucken was the last German officer to receive the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves, Swords, and Diamonds during World War II. His oldest son Leutnant Hans-Erich von Saucken , born on 29-05-1924, was killed in action on 30-05-1944 in Romania, age 20. A cavalry officer who regularly wore both a sword and a monocle, Saucken personified the aristocratic Prussian conservatives who despised the braune Bande, brown mob, of Nazis. When he was ordered to take command of the 2nd Army on 12-03-1945, he came, “his left hand resting casually on his cavalry sabre, his monocle in his eye, von Saucken saluted and gave a slight bow. This was three ‘outrages’ at once. He had not given the Nazi salute with raised arm and the words ‘Heil Hitler’, as had been regulation since 20 July 1944, he had not surrendered his weapon on entering….and had kept his monocle in his eye when saluting Hitler” When told by Hitler that he must take his orders from Albert Forster, (Forster was hanged age 48, on 28-02-1952), the Gauleiter, Nazi governor, of Danzig. Saucken “returned Hitler’s gaze….and striking the marble slab of the map table with the flat of his hand, he replied ‘I have no intention, Herr Hitler, of placing myself under the orders of a Gauleiter’. In doing this he had bluntly contradicted Hitler and not addressed him as Mein Führer. To the surprise of everyone who was present, Hitler capitulated and replied “All right Saucken, keep the command to yourself”. Hitler (see Adolf Hitler) (did you know) dismissed the General without shaking his hand and von Saucken left the room with the merest hint of a bow. In the last months of the war, Saucken led the Second Army in its defence of East and West Prussia, ordering the surrender of his army one day after the unconditional surrender of all German forces on 08-5-1945. After surrendering on the Hel Peninsula, von Saucken went into Soviet captivity. He was sentenced to 25 years hard labour, commuted to 30 months. Saucken was released in 1955.
Under the administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia Albert Forster, the local non-German population of Poles and Jews was classified as sub-human and subjected to extermination campaign involving ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation. Forster was tried, convicted and hanged on 28-02-52 age 51, for his crimes after Germany was defeated.
Death and burial ground of Saucken, Dietrich Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard Kasimir von.