Schwerin, Gerhard Hellmuth Detloff “Gerd” Graf von

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Schwerin, Gerhard Hellmuth Detloff “Gerd” Graf von, born 23-06-1889 in Hannover, two months after Adolf Hitler, as the youngest of five children of a Prussian civil worker and later Government President of Köslin. He belonged to the nobility of von Schwerin with military tradition and Gerhard lost his father eight years old and grow up as a loner. After his education in Köslin and Anklam, he 15 years old joined the Cadet School in Köslin  and with the outbreak of the first war he was in the fields as a Fähnrich in the 2nd Garde Foot Regiment and later with the 1st Pommerische Grenadier Regiment. Promoted to Leutnant in June 1915 and fighting on the Eastern and Western front as a Company leader and Battalion’s Adjutant. On 26-09-1918 he was severely wounded   and ended the war in a field hospital as a Oberleutnant. He was allowed in the new Reichswehr joined several Free Corpses, one was under the command of the later General of the Panzer Troops, Heinrich von Lüttwitz and retired from the Service in 1920. He reactivated in the Reichswehr  in 1923 with the 1st Prussian Infantry Regiment, in Königsberg, Königsberg at the end of the war Fortress Königsberg and defended by General der Infanterie, Otto Lasch In 1931 he joined the 18th Infantry Regiment in Paderborn and became a Hauptmann on 01-05-1933, Major on 01-10-1938 with the leading of the group USA/England as department of the Foreign Army West, an Information Service with the OKW. In this position he was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 01-04-1939, but after criticizing Hitler (see Did you know) he was moved from the General Staff and became the command of the 1st Battalion of the Motorized Infantry Regiment “Grossdeutschland”  in October 1939. He was involved on the Western front in Belgium, in the area of Nives, Witry and Neufchateau and later in France near the river Somme. Investigation revealed that his troops were involved in at least two massacres, as numerous not armed African black soldiers of the French Army, the Tirailleurs Senegal, who already had surrendered, were killed.  In the spring of 1941 Schwerin was transferred to Africa, under Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Erwin Rommel, as commander of the 200th Regiment Staff and led the so named “Kampfgruppe Schwerin” an Italian/German commando, against Fezzan in Libia and covered a 2000 kilometers and captured the oases of Mechili and took more than 2.000 British prisoners, among them two Generals. Appointed as commander of the 5th Panzer Regiment of the 5th Light Division and landed in the Führer Reserve. Promoted to Oberst on 01-08-1941 with the command of the 76th Infantry Regiment of the 20th Motorized Infantry Division  on the Eastern front. He confirmed his fighting capabilities in the battles of Wolchow, Schlüssenburg, along the river Newa, as well Stalingrad and was awarded with the Iron Cross of the Iron Cross on 17-01-1942. He got the temporary command of the 254th Infantry Division and appointed as commander of the 8th Jäger Division, nickname “Schlesische Division”   on 23-07-1942. In 1943, Adolf Hitler declared that all infantry divisions were now Grenadier Divisions except for his elite Jäger and Mountain Jäger Divisions. Succeeded by General der Gebirgstruppe, Friedrich-Jobst Volckamer von Kirchensittenbach , who died old age 94, on 03-04-1989, Munich. Age 43 von Schwerin in October 1942 was assigned as a Generalmajor and from November 1942 with the command of the 16th Motorized Infantry Division on the Eastern front, with the 4th Panzer Division , under Generaloberst der SS, Hermann Hoth The breakthrough fighting’s in the region of south Stalingrad had no success and the 6th Army  of Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Friedrich von Paulus and General der Artillerie, Walter von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was surrounded and destroyed. The 16th Division was retreated and in spring 1943, after heavy loses, refreshed became a Panzer Grenadier Division and attached to the Army Group South. On 17-05-1943 he received the Oak Leaves  for his leading and after his division had again heavy loses in the retreating battles near Isjum, Slowjansk, Stepanowsk and Kriwoi Rog, he was awarded with the Sword of the Iron Cross, on 04-11-1943.    In March 1944 the division was defeated in the region of Uman and the remains of the division transferred to France, Gyon, in the region of Normandy and became the 116th Panzer Division, “Hazewinddivision” . On 06-06-1944 the Allied started Operation Overlord, D-Day , but Generalmajor der Infanterie, Hans Speidel, a anti Hitler conspirator, kept the strong forces of Schwerin and Heinrich von Lüttwitz far from the battlefield and situated them in the region of Paris under false pretext. On July 19th 1944, one day before the bomb attack on Adolf Hitler, Speidel could no longer hold the 116th Panzer Division and Schwerin advanced in the direction of Normandy. After disagreements with his high commander General der Panzertruppe, Hans Freiherr von Funck  von Schwerin lost his command of the 116th. His division, now under command of Major der Panzertruppe, Heinz Günther Guderian son of Generaloberst der Panzertruppe, Heinz Wilhelm Guderian had a narrow escape and did not land in the Falaise Pocket.  Von Schwerin was again in command of the 116th on 23-08-1944 and together with Freiherr Smilo von Lüttwitz he wrote a memorandum to Hitler with the advice to stop the war? Because of his great merit in the past he was not tackled by Hitler. After new retreating battles in France and Belgium his division reached Aachen on 12-09-1944. He sent a personnel letter to the American Commander of the 12th Army Corps , General Courtny Hodges  not to destroy the cultural, full of civilians and fugitives, town and left the town with his forces. Von Schwerin landed in the infamous Führer Reserve on 14-09-1944 and escaped with a warning from the OKW , Hitler. Aachen after the war named a street after von Schwerin, but still von Schwerin was held responsible for the killing of two fourteen years old boys, suspected of plunder on 13-09-1944. He took the command of the 90th Panzer Grenadier Division , succeeding Generalleutnant Ernst-Günther Baade   in Italy and reached the climax of his military career as successor of General of Armoured troops Traugott Herr   as commander of the LXXVI Panzer Corps of the Army Group C, in the North of Italy. Promoted to General of the Panzer Troops on 01-04-1945, he landed in British captivity on 25-04-1945. Ernst Günther Baade was wounded in action and died from his injuries on 08-05-1945, age 47 and Traugott Herr died old age 85, on 13-04- 1976..

Death and burial ground of Schwerin, Gerhard Hellmuth Detloff “Gerd” Graf von.

   

Von Schwerin was released in 1947 and assigned as adviser of the new German Government, under Konrad Adenauer the new Chancellor. Living in Rottach-Egern, von Schwerin died at the very old age of 91, on 29-10-1980  and is buried on the cemetery of Rottach-Egern. Close by the graves of Oberst der Panzertruppe, Kommandeur Panzer Regiment” Brandenburg”Goerne Plaue, and the Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Commander of the 11th Infantry Division Gerhard Feyerabend and Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Completion Office of the XVII Army Corps, August Wagner,

 

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