Strecker, Karl.

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Strecker, Karl, born 20-09-1884 in Radmannsdorf, the son of a Prussian Office. A lifelong and devoted evangelical Christian, Strecker wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a priest but the financial hardship that followed his father’s suicide forced him to instead attend a state-funded military school in Koeslin at the age of 12. Strecker began military training in a time of transition in the German Army. Historically the Prussian officer corps had been dominated by aristocratic Junkers, but Strecker was part of a new wave of middle-class Prussians who were beginning to dominate the Army’s officer ranks. Despite feelings of isolation due to his middle-class background, he excelled academically, graduating with excellent marks in all subjects, including Russian. He joined the Deutschordens Infantry Regiment Nr 152  on 14-06-1905, age 20 as a Leutnant. He served in the first war as a Company, Battalion leader and General Staff Officer and promoted to Hauptmann. When he was released from the Army as a Major in 1920, he joined the Security Police. Later he was working as an Officer with the Protect Police in Münster, Potsdam and Berlin and finally appointed to Commander of the Police School in Münster. After promotions to Police Oberstleutnant and Oberst, he on 01-04-1934 became a Generalmajor of the Police and Commander of the Landespolice Inspector Nord in Stettin. With the general compulsory service in Germany he joined the new Wehrmacht  and from 14-06-1935 assigned as Commander of the Army Office I in Neustettin. Following transferred as Commander of the 4th Infantry Regiment in Kolberg and Idar Oberstein. With the beginning of World War II he is the first commander of the 79th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Tapfer und Treu” . After heavy fighting continued into January 1945, this Division fell to US forces at Heidelberg and Darmstadt. Remnants of the 79th fought in the vicinity of Rothenburg ob der Tauber under the name Battle Group (Kampfgruppe) “Hummel” in mid-April. This last organized unit of the 79th Volksgrenadier Division under command of Generalmajor Erich Weber surrendered to US Forces on 14-04-1945. Grenadiers of the 79th Volksgrenadier Division fought small unit actions in the Alps.The mass of the division was lost in the last battles around Rothenburg and the remaining forces capitulated  in the Alps. Involved in battles in France and later in Yugoslavia and Russia.

Strecker’s new division was a reserve unit and was assigned to the border with France during the invasion of Poland. Although the division’s posting opposite the Maginot Line in Saarland was not as heavily active as other fronts, Strecker proved a capable combat commander during assaults on the Maginot’s fortifications and the subsequent offensive toward Paris. He earned praise by his superiors, including Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben, who would be hanged  in the Plötzensee,

who called Strecker one of his best division commanders and recommended him as a corps commander. He was promoted to Generalleutnant in June 1940. He remained in France until early 1941 when his division was transferred Austria and then to the Eastern Front to participate in Operation Barbarossa  as part of the 6th Army, under commander Friedrich Paulus  in Army Group South.

Strecker led his division in the invasion of Ukraine, participating in the Battle of Kiev and the First Battle of Kharkov. He earned another recommendation to command a corps. In January 1942 he was diagnosed with heart arrhythmia and sent on convalescent leave for three months. He returned to active duty in April, taking temporary command of the 17th Army Corps in Army Group Centre and receiving a promotion to General of the Infantry. He commanded the corps in the Second Battle of Kharkov. The commander of Army Group South, Friedrich Paulus, was impressed with Strecker’s performance at Kharkov and had him transferred to his 6th Army to take permanent command of the 11th Corps.

He was promoted to Generalleutnant on 01-06-1940. A General of the Infantry from 01-04-1942 he became the Commanding General of the XVII Army Corps,  where he succeeded Generaloberst Karl Adolf Hollidt.

Hollidt, Karl Adolf In Mai 1945 the remains of the XVII Corps in the region of Gitschin were surrendered by the Soviet forces and taken prisoner. The photo below of the surrendering. It is probably from very early in February 1943, as many men appear to be in shock at what is happening.  (Left, with peaked cap and monocle, facing right) is Generalleutnant Carl Rodenburg of the 76th Infantry Division ; he was released from captivity on 10-01-1955.  (Center left, with “crusher” hat, facing left) is Generalmajor Martin Lattmann of the 14th Panzer Division ; he was released from captivity in 1948.  (Center, in mountain cap) is Generalleutnant Werner Sanne  of the 100th Jäger Division .  (Right, with crusher hat, facing left) is Generaloberst Karl Strecker of the XI Corps. General Sanne died in captivity on 26–09-1952, age 63. Many German Generals, captured at Stalingrad, later agreed to assist the Soviets by renouncing the National Socialist regime in Germany. On 12-06-1942 he was appointed as Commanding General of the XI Army Corps  succeeding General der Infanterie, Joachim von Kortzfleisch  and took part in the Battle of Stalingrad. In the North pocket of Stalingrad General Karl Strecker capitulated on 02-02-1943 and was promoted like von Paulus, to Field Marshal Friedrich “Der Lord” Paulus by radio to Generaloberst. Field Marshal von Paulus capitulated  on 31-01-1943 in the South pocket to the Soviets and they landed in Russian captivity. After reformation of the XI Army Corps, the new commander was Generaloberst Erhard Raus.

Death and burial ground of Strecker, Karl.

Karl Strecker was released first in 1955 after intervention of the new Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with Josef Stalin  and retired in Idar-Oberstein. Karl Strecker died age 78, on 10-04-1973 in Riezlen and is buried with his wife Hedwig, born “Born” who died age 74 in 1972 on the Friedhof of Hirschegg, Klein Walsertal, Austria. Wolfgang Linke from Frankfurt kindly sent me the great grave pictures.




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