Strachwitz von Gross Zauche und Camminetz, Hyacinth Graf von “Panzer Count”.

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Strachwitz von Gross Zauche und Camminetz, Hyacinth Graf von, born 30-07-1893 in Groß Stein, Silesia, the second child of Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche and Camminetz, 1864-1942 and Maria Aloysia Hedwig Friederike Therese Oktavie, 1872-1940. Like all first-born sons of the family for centuries, Count Strachwitz had the first name “Hyacinth” or “Hyazinth”. His first sister was Aloysia Gräfin Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz,1892-1975  His siblings were: Aloysia, Johannes “Ceslaus” (born 1896), Elisabeth (1897), Manfred (born 1899), Hyacinth’s brother Manfred served briefly in the First World War and in the Freikorps. Manfred was badly wounded. Freikorps ( “Free Corps” or “Volunteer Corps” ) were irregular German and other European military volunteer units, or paramilitary, that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Hyacinth joined the Freikorps and fought against the Spartacist uprising of the German Revolution in Berlin, and in the Silesian Uprisings. In the mid-1920s he took over the family estate from his father and became a member of the Nazi Party and the Allgemeine-SS.

Nothing is known about Manfred’s further career, Manfred died on 28-08-1972 in the Rhineland, Mariano (born 1902) and Margarethe (born 1905). His youngest daughter, Alexandrine “Lisalex” Aloysia Maria Elisabeth Therese (born 30-07-1921), was a news helper (Blitzmädel), his eldest son Hyacinth (born 02-05-1920), was seriously wounded and therefore bedridden, but was able to recover after the war. His youngest son, Hubertus “Harti” Arthur (born 11-03-1925), had a leg amputated, but he fell in Holstein on 25-03-1945 in the final battle for Germany after he had voluntarily returned to the troops.On 06-01-1946, his wife Alexandrine “Alda”, who was married on 25-07-1919, became a VS. -American military vehicle run over and killed. His request to attend the funeral was refused by the Americans. His family were members of the Silesian old nobility  and held large estates in Upper Silesia, including the family Schloss at Groß Stein.  According to family tradition, being firstborn and heir to the title Graf (Count) Strachwitz, he was christened Hyacinth after the 12th century Saint Hyacinth. When he came of age, Strachwitz was sent to Berlin to partake in a Prussian military education. Josef Goebbels  was the Gauleiter of Berlin. After several years intense training and study, Strachwitz was admitted to the élite Gardes du Corps cavalry regiment. The Gardes had been established by Prussian King Frederick the Great

in 1740, and was considered the most prestigious posting in the Imperial German Army, it was even patroned by Emperor, Wilhelm II Adolf Hitler had a particular admiration for the Prussian King, Frederick the Great and a painting of him was always hanging in his office. In August 1914, Strachwitz was a Leutnant in the Garde. Only a few weeks into the campaign, Strachwitz had been awarded the Iron Cross both II and I class for bravery in action. In late 1914, he led a raid behind the French lines. After a week of wreaking havoc in the enemy rear, Strachwitz was captured by the French. As he was wearing civilian clothing, he was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted, and Strachwitz was interned in a prisoner of war camp in Southern France. Graf Strachwitz was an excellent athlete in his youth, horseman, fencer, and candidate for the 1916 German Olympic team. By the beginning of World War II he was 46 years old and called a “Reserve Uncle” by the younger officers in the supply unit to which he had been relegated. Although it was primarily his military expertise and courage that vaulted him back into a combat command, his still superb physique enabled him to endure the rigors of battlefield leadership and to survive being wounded about 13 times. After the outbreak of war in September 1939, Strachwitz served with the 1st Panzer Division  throughout the campaigns in Poland and France and the Low Countries. Strachwitz next fought during Operation Marita, the campaign in the Balkans.

 During this campaign, Strachwitz took part in the advance on Belgrade, fighting alongside the Infanterie-Regiment Großdeutschland. In the early war campaigns, Strachwitz fought well and by May 1941 he had been promoted to the rank of Oberst der Reserve. When several new armoured divisions were formed for the launch of Operation Barbarossa, Strachwitz was transferred with the 2nd Panzer Regiment and given command of the 1st Battalion, now part of the German 16th Panzer Division , under General der Infanterie, Friedrich Wilhelm Chappuis

  On 22-06-1941, the German invasion of the Soviet Union was launched. The 16th Panzer Division was ordered to reinforce a bridgehead over the Bug River held by the division’s motorcycle battalion, then currently under heavy counter-attack. “Panzer Count” Strachwitz’s battalion had been equipped with submersible tanks, designed for the abandoned invasion of England. At 04.30 on 22 June, the tanks of Strachwitz’s battalion, under fire from the opposite bank, drove into the river. After completely submerging, the tanks emerged on the far bank, and began engaging the enemy, soon clearing the area and consolidating the bridgehead. Strachwitz, charging his Panzer III ahead of his troops, engaged a Soviet supply convoy, destroying over three hundred soft-skinned vehicles and several Russian artillery batteries. Strachwitz was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for his part in this action. Throughout the campaign, Strachwitz showed an immense talent for commanding the panzers, so much so that his troops nicknamed him der Panzergraf (the Armored Count). The 16th Panzer Division, nicknamed “Windhund” or “Greyhound”  next formed a part of Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Friedrich Paulus‘s

German Sixth Army, which was encircled near Stalingrad in late 1942. The 16th Panzer Division later participated in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest then in the Battle of the Bulge, again sustaining heavy casualties. It was caught in the Wesel Pocket, but managed to escape across the Rhine, ultimately surrendering within the Ruhr Pocket in April, 1945. The Hürtgen Forest cost the U.S. First Army at least 33,000 killed and wounded, including both combat and non-combat losses, with upper estimates at 55,000; German casualties were 28,000. The Allies won the Battle of the Bulge, resulting in significantly higher casualties on the German side despite their surprise attack on Allied forces. Losing 120,000 people and military supplies, German forces were dealt an irreparable blow, while Allied forces suffered only 75,000 casualties. The Ruhr pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in April 1945, on the Western Front near the end of World War II in Europe, in the Ruhr Area of Germany. Some 317,000 German troops were taken prisoner along with 24 generals. The Americans suffered 10,000 casualties including 2,000 killed or missing. General Omar Nelson “Brad” Bradley was in command of 1st Army and under his command were the US s 1st Division, ,  (nicknamed “The Big Red One”)  By the end of the war, the 1st Division had suffered 4,964 killed in action, 17,201 wounded in action, and 1,056 missing or died of wounds. Five division soldiers received Medals of Honor, their. commander Lieutenant General Clarence Ralph Huebner,   the 29th Division   “Blue and Gray Division”, commander Brigade. General. Norman Daniel “Dutch”. Cota,  The 29th Infantry Division lost 3,887 killed in action, 15,541 wounded in action, 347 missing in action, 845 prisoners of war, in addition to 8,665 non-combat casualties, during 242 days of combat and the 2nd Infantry Division (“Indianhead”), commander Major General Walter Melville “Robby” Robertson

and 2nd Division lost 1,964 (plus USMC: 4,478) killed in action and 9,782 (plus USMC: 17,752) wounded in action, all landed at Omaha Beach and the 4th Division    official nickname, “Ivy”, the second nickname, “Iron Horse”, with commander Major General Raymond Oscar “Dubby”. Barton Barton, Raymond Oscar "Tubby".  , losses by VE-Day the Fourth had sustained 22,100 casualties (4,850 dead), second only to the Third Division, which fought in Africa, Italy, and southern Germany. This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Normandy Invasion. 90th Division nickname (“Tough ‘Ombres”),  commander  Brigadier General. Samuel Tankersley Williams   (February 1943 − July 1944), total battle casualties: 19,200 ; Killed in action: 3,342 ; Wounded in action: 14,386 ; Missing in action: 287 ; Prisoner of war: 1,185  and the 9th Infantry Division (nicknamed “Old Reliables”), commander  Major General Manton Spraque. Eddy   The 9th Infantry Division total battle casualties: 23,277; Killed in action: 3,856, Wounded in action 17.416, Missing in action 357 and Prisoner of war 1.648.

,   By now Strachwitz had been promoted to command of the entire 2nd Panzer Regiment. During one engagement on the northern flank of the Kessel, his unit destroyed 105 T-34s. Soon after this, Strachwitz was seriously wounded and flown out of the encirclement. For his actions, he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross. After a month’s sick leave, Strachwitz was recalled to active duty and promoted to Generalmajor der Reserve, and was placed in command of the 1st Panzer Division, though for a short period only. During this time, Strachwitz was also given the rank of SS-Brigadeführer und General der SS. Strachwitz had become a member of the NSDAP before the war, Party membership number 1.405.562  and was also a member of the Allgemeine SS, membership number 82.857. Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler  typically gave high-profile people like Strachwitz high ranks in the SS for prestige and to keep these people in contact. In late 1944, Strachwitz was returned to active duty, despite the fact that he was still suffering badly from the near-fatal accident. He was promoted to Generalleutnant der Reserve in January 1945 and ordered to organize the formation of a Panzerjäger Brigade based at Bad Kudova. The Brigade, designated Panzerjäger-Brigade Oberschlesien was an ad-hoc formation of different units, and was, for the most part, poorly trained and equipped. As its designation suggested, the Brigade was tasked with defending Upper Silesia, Upper Silesia. Strachwitz commanded this formation in numerous desperate engagements, which destroyed hundreds of enemy tanks and vehicles. In April 1945 Strachwitz led his men in a successful breakout from a Russian encirclement in Czechoslovakia to the U.S.-held region of Bavaria, where all surrendered to U.S. Army forces. During the war, Strachwitz had lost his younger son in combat on the eastern front, but his elder son, though gravely wounded, survived the war. He had also a daughter. Shortly after his surrender to U.S. Army forces near Felgen, his wife died in a car accident, but he remarried and had two sons and two daughters with his second wife. Strachwitz was taken to the prisoner of war camp at Allendorf near Marburg, where he was interred together with Frans Halder,

  Heinz Guderian

and fighter ace General of the Luftwaffe Adolf Galland.  

Count von Strachwitz accepted an offer from the Syrian government and became an advisor for agriculture and forestry as well as an advisor for building a Syrian army. After the coup in Syria, he fled to Lebanon accompanied by his second wife and arrived in Italy in June 1949. In autumn 1951 he set foot on German soil again. He founded the Upper Silesian Relief Organization and lived on a meager pension.With his second wife, Nora von Stumm (born 1916/ died 2000), he had two sons and two daughters. After his wife received an inheritance, he lived on a small estate on Lake Chiemsee.

Death and burial ground of Strachwitz von Gross Zauche und Camminetz, Hyacinth Graf von.

 Relieved he settled on an estate in Winkl/Grabenstätt in Bavaria, where he lived quietly until his death on 25-04-1968, age 74. The Bundeswehr provided an honour guard for his coffin, as a mark of respect. Der Panzergraf was laid to rest with his wife Laura, born von Saurma-Juusch, who died age age 84, on 25-04-1986, on the village cemetery of Grabenstätt.

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