Germany - Third Reich: A Fascinating and Extensive Photographic Record of the War and Gold Wound Badge Document Grouping to Hauptmann Hans Wilhelm Niehuus, I and II Battalions, 48th Infantry Regiment, 12th Infantry Division; 2 & 9 Companies and Regimental HQ 570th Infantry/Grenadier Regiment, 302nd Infantry Division and finally I Battalion, 94th Grenadier Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, who saw service in Poland, France and on the Eastern Front, he was recommended three times unsuccessfully for the German Cross in Gold. Earlier he had been awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class in the Polish Campaign, and an Iron Cross 1st Class for the fighting around Lille in the Battle of France.
A remarkable and very interesting document and photo album grouping to a former German Infantryman. The group consists of 6 award certificates, 12 documents, (two of which refer to three recommendations for the award of the German Cross in Gold), 5 promotion certificates, 15 assessment reports (from October 1934 until February 1944), 4 photograph albums with 535 photographs, and two good histories of the 48th Infantry Regiment in 1939 Poland and 1940 France.
- The Armed Forces 4 Year Service Medal awarded at Neustrelitz on 2nd October 1936 awarded as an Unteroffizier, HQ I/48th Infantry Regiment. Signed by Graf von Sponeck as Oberst and Commanding Officer.
Graf von Sponeck was awarded the Knights Cross on 14.5.1940 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 22nd Infantry Division. Hanged on 23.7.1944 in Gemmersheim Armed Forces Prison as a result of the failed 20.7.1944 Plot.
- The Black Wound Badge awarded at Neustrelitz on 23rd March 1943 for a wound received on 21st February 1943 as an Oberleutnant, 9/570th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by Dr Schroeder as Oberstabsarzt and Chief Doctor Reserve Hospital I Neustrelitz.
- The Silver Infantry Assault Badge awarded by Regimental HQ on 15th October 1943 as an Oberleutnant and Officer Commanding 9/570th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by a Major and acting Commanding Officer.
- The Close Combat Bar in Bronze awarded by Regimental HQ on 5th October 1944 as a Hauptmann, 1/94th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by an Oberst and Commanding Officer.
- The Silver Wound Badge awarded at Neustrelitz on 21st November 1944 for a third wounding received on 5th November 1944 as a Hauptmann, I/94th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by Dr Wedermeyer as Stabsarzt and acting Chief Doctor Reserve Hospital II Neustrelitz.
- The Gold Wound Badge awarded at Neustrelitz on 5th April 1945 for a fifth wounding received on 8th March 1945 as a Hauptmann, acting Commanding Officer 55th Special Purposes Battalion. (Batl z.b.V 55). Signed by an Oberstabsarzt and Chief Doctor Reserve Hospitral III Neustrelitz.
Hans Niehuus had also been awarded the following two decorations for bravery in the Campaign against Poland and France: Iron Cross 2nd Class on 30th September 1939 and Iron Cross 1st Class on 31st May 1940. Unfortunately both certificates are missing.
- Stettin, 8.9.1932 – A signed 12 Year enlistment certificate in the German Army for the period up to 30th September 1944.
- Berlin, 28.8.1936 – The award certificate for the German Sports Badge in Bronze with a good photo of Niehuus as an Unteroffizier in 48th Infantry Regiment.
- HQ I/48th Infantry Regiment, Neustrelitz, 1.2.1938 – A promotion certificate from Unteroffizier to Feldwebel (as from 1.1.1938). Signed by Ilgen as Oberstleutnant and Commanding Officer I/48th Infantry Regiment. (Ilgen was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 14.2.1942 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 96th Infantry Regiment in 32nd Infantry Division.
- Berlin, 12.5.1938 – The German Life Saving Association Performance Certificate with a good photo of Niehuus as a Feldwebel in 48th Infantry Regiment.
- Berlin, 12.5.1938. – The German Life Saving Association Performance Certificate with a good photo of Niehuus as a Feldwebel in 48th Infantry Regiment.
- Billets, 30.5.1942 – Copy of an extract from the 302nd Infantry Division’s Order of the Day No 51 – ‘Oberfeldwebel Niehuus (570th Infantry Regiment) is promoted to the rank of Leutnant with the effect of 1.2.1942.
- Divisional HQ, 17.11.1942 – Copy of an extract from the 302nd Infantry Division’s Order of the Day No.100 – ‘Leutnant Niehuus (570th Grenadier Regiment) is promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant with the effect of 1.11.1942.
- 570th Grenadier Regiment, 10.12.1942 – A Signed enlistment certificate for an unlimited period of service in the Armed Forces.
- An undated copy (post 15.6.1944) of the proof of the Assault and Close Combat Days for Oberleutnant Hans Niehuus – January/February 1943 as Officer Commanding 9/570th Grenadier Regiment, October 1943 as Adjutant of the Bolk Battle Group and April 1944 as the Regimental Adjutant. Correctness of this copy is certified by the Oberleutnant and Adjutant of the 48th Grenadier Replacement Battalion in Neustrelitz.
- Fuhrer HQ, 20.7.1944 – A copy of an extract from Personnel Change Register – Oberleutnant Niehuus (Adjutant of a Grenadier Regiment) is promoted to Hauptmann with effect from 1.4.1944 (122b) – signed for correctness on 31.7.1944 in Stettin.
- Two Copies of the Fuhrer HQ 20.7.1944 extract concerning Niehuus’s promotion to Haputmann. (see para 10 above)
- A copy of two Recommendations for the Award of the German Cross in Gold submitted by Oberst Heinemann as Commanding Officer 570th Grenadier Regiment. The copy is dated 31.8.1944 when Hans Niehuus was, wounded a the time in Halberstadt. The two actions took place on 25.1.1943 at the Donets near Mal. Kamenka and 9-12.2.1943 when the Niiehuus Company was detached from its Regiment. Hans Niehuus was a Company Commander at the time.
- I/94th Grenadier Regiment, 5.10.1944 – Recommendation for the award of the Close Combat Bar in Bronze. The period covers January/February (Voroshilovgrad area/Donets), October (Nikopol Bridgehead/Dnieper) 1943, April (Tiraspol area/Dniestr) and September (Latvia) 1944.
- RHQ 570th Grenadier Regiment, 24.10.1944 – A copy of this letter, certified as correct by the Adjutant HQ Deputy General Officer Commanding II Army Corps in Stettin on 30.1.1945, which recommends Hans Niehuus for the Award of the German Cross in Gold. The action took place on 10.4.1944 near Kalaglaya when Niehuus was the Regimental Adjutant.
- I/94th Grenadier Regiment, 26.10.1944 – An original signed order for the assembly position and implementation of an assault detachment operation during the night of 26/27.10.1944 by the 2nd Company. It is signed by Niehuus as Battalion Commanding Officer who annotates the document on the top of the front page in pencil as follows ‘In Kurland (Latvia) with good success’
- Westerland/Sylt, 4.5.1945 – A short certificate confirming that, according to entries in Hauptmann Hans Niehuus’s Soldbuch, he had been awarded the following war decorations:
The Iron Cross 2nd Class on 30.9.1939, Iron Cross 1st Class on 31.5.1940, Infantry Assault Badge on 16.10.1943, Close Combat Bar in Bronze on 5.10.1944, and Gold Wound Badge on 5.4.1945.
This certificate was signed by a Korvettenkapitan and Commanding Officer 5th Naval Replacement Battalion in Westerland near the German/Danish border facing the North Sea.
- Lubeck, 2.9.1949 – Public Complaint. Certificate confirming that Hans-Wilhelm Niehuus of Oldenburg/Holstein, Muhlenkamp 39 has at no time belonged to the NSDAP or its organisation.
- Doberitz, 19.10.1934 – as a Gefreiter in HQ I Battalion, Doberitz Infantry Regiment, signed by an Oberleutnant and Adjutant.
- Doberitz, October 1935 – as an Unteroffizier in HQ I Battalion, Doberitz Infantry Regiment; signed by a Hauptmann and Officer Commanding HQ Company; recommended for promotion. N was a trained Signaller.
- Neustrelitz, 29.11.1937 – as an Unteroffizier in HQ I Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment; signed by an Oberleutnant and Commander HQ Personnel. Recommended for promotion and employment as Feldwebel of the Battalion Signals Detachment.
- Neustrelitz, 31.10.1938 – as a Feldwebel in HQ I Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment; signed by a Leutnant Stein as a Commander Battalion HQ. Recommended for promotion and employment as Hauptfeldwebel
- Neustrelitz, 26.11.1938 – as a Feldwebel in HQ I Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment; signed by a Leutnant and Commander Battalion HQ. The assessment was approved by von Arnim as Major and Battalion Commander. It was noted that he attended an Aspirant Unteroffizier Course from 5.7.1934 to 25.8.1934 as Kreckow; was a Signalman Instructor and had been a Recruit Unteroffizier for 3 years before filling the appointment of Feldwebel in the Battalion Signals Detachment since 1.10.1937. An amusing quote is included ‘leadership is very good except for one misdemeanour (see punishment sheet).
- 24.1.1939 – as a Feldwebel (Signals Detachment Commander) – report is initialled by Major von Arnim.
- February 1941 as an Oberfeldwebel (Signals Detachment Commander) – report by Olicher as Hauptmann and Company Commander.
- 3.10.1941 – as an Oberfeldwebel Signals Platoon Commander in HQ Company, 570th Infantry Regiment – report by Koenig as Oberleutnant and acting Company Commander. Niehuus was acting commander of the Regimental Signals Platoon.
- 22.10.1941 – as an Oberfeldwebel on a 302nd Infantry Division Wartime Officer Applicant Course – report by Uhrahn as Oberstleutnant and Course Leader. Promotion to Aspirant Officer approved.
- 10.11.1941 – as an Oberfeldwebel in HQ Company, 570th Infantry Regiment – a report about his appointment to an Aspirant Officer by Koenig as Leutnant and Company Commander.
- 4.12.1942 – as an Oberleutnant in II Battalion, 570th Grneadier Regiment. This assessment is written by an Oberleutnant Bartel who has known Niehuus since 28.7.1939 and who has been under his (Bartel) command since 27.1.1942.
- 4.3.1943 – as an Oberleutnant Company Commander in 570th Grenadier Regiment. This assessment is written by an Oberstleutnant Heinemann as Niehuus’s Commanding Officer who has known Niehuus since 7.11.1942. It was noted that Niehuus had been a Signals Detachment Commander (1.9.1939-14.11.1941), a Platoon Commander (15.11.1941-13.12.1942) and a Company Commander since 14.12.1942.
- 13.12.1943 – as an Oberleutnant Company Commander in 570th Grenadier Regiment. This assessment is written by a Major Bolke as a Niehuus’s Commanding Officer prior to his posting to an Army School for Battalion Commanders in Antwerp.
- 29.1.1944 – as an Oberleutnant on a Battalion Commanders Course at the Army School in Antwerp. He was assessed as being suitable for commanding a Battalion. (Comments: Major Hohmeyer and Course Section Leader: suitable for Battalion Commander; Oberst Schneider and Course Commander: one of the best officers in the course detachment: Oberst Kirschner and School Commandant: worthy of notice.)
- 14.2.1944 – as an Oberleutnant by the Instruction Staff 2 at the Infantry School at Doberitz. This was Niehuus’s final assessment on the Battalion Commanders Course which he passed on being suitable to command a Battalion.
There are 4 albums (all written up) with 535 photos which are summarised as follows:
- Volume 1: 20.8.1939-21.10.1939 (176 photos with marked up maps of Poland which relate to the 1939 Campaign.) This is a rather poignant album in as much as it covers the last summer before WW2. You see Hans Niehuus on a mountain climbing vacation in the Austrian Alps (8-19.7.1939) and in the Harz Mountains (18.7-20.7.1939). There is a nice series of Hans with his girlfriend Lotti in July 1939. The military record begins with sailing from Stettin on 3.8.1939 to East Prussia and arriving in Pillau. The Regiment marches to the Polish border on 20.8.1939 and crosses it on 1.9.1939 near Wasily Zygny. The Campaign in Poland is recorded by photos with place names as follows: over the Wegierka to the south of Prasmysz, bridges over the Narev, Orys, Lomnica, Osiek, Chelsty, Ozorow, Prostyn (battle), Lipny, in front of Warsaw, Praga, Wyskow, over the Narev near Pultusk, 3 weeks rest in Dubrovka (Niehuus was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 30.9.1939) and his unit move to the West on 19-21st October. There is a nice series of Hans when he became engaged to Lotti on 2nd October on the Platform of the Neubrandenburg Railway Station!
- Volume 2: 21.10.1939-15.9.1940 (159 photos a marked map of France and an official booklet of map diagrams tracing 12 Infantry Division’s route during the 1940 Campaign in France. Move to the West (21.10.1939-10.5.1940), Siegburg near Bonn, Michelsberg, Cologne, Koblenz, Laachen See (19.11.1939), Lohntal (2.5.1940), Ahrtal (20.4.40), a move through the Mosel Valley (30.4-2.5.1940), Trier, Berncastel, Traben-Trarbach, Berlstein, Kochem. THE CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE – (10.5.1940-24.6.1940) – Phase 1; Plouvain (24.5.) advance through Belgium (10-16.5), Meuse Crossing (16.5) Dinant, Lens Industrial Area (22-25.5: Boiry, Noyelles-Loison, Vis, Arras); 26.5 – Billy, Douvrin, 31.5-5.6: four days rest after the Flanders Battle at Bernay; 4.6 – at the Channel – Niehuus was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on the 31st May for bravery during an action on the 25th May: Phase 2; 5.6 Crossing over the Somme near St. Valery; 8.6 – in front of Liomer, 9.6 – Beaucamps Vieux near Quesne; 10.6, crossing a river near Soire; 12.6. – on the advance; 13.6 – crossing over the Seine near Les Audelys; 17.6. near Laigle; 19.6. pursuit in Evron. Campaign is at end and rest between 26.6. and 14.7. in Les Roches-Baritaud (70kms to the south of Nantes) 14-24.7 – Croix de Vie at the Bay of Biscay (Oean and exercises); 25.7-2.9 in Normandy (Cherbourg, Montebourg and Quineville), 1-20.8: leave at Kiel, 2-4.9: transport to Holland; 4-20.9 Holland-S’Gravendeel near Dordrecht; 15.9 – Scheveningen via Rotterdam and The Hague.
- Volume 3 (119 photos and 16 postcards). This album primarily coves Neihuus’s period of service with the 570th in France 1941-42. The record begins however with photos of Niehuus as an Obefeldwebel in Strasbourg/Uckermark (Pomerania) and Pasewalk; then in Strasburg with Lotti and her parents. The move to France in 1941; 10 photos of the Eu area (near Treport) and 15 photos of Treport itself; 3 photos of an Aspirant Unteroffiziers course near Dieppe; then Niehuus as a Leutnant leader of an Unteroffizier course (302nd Infantry Division) in Baromesnil (14 photos) to the south of Eu (July/August 1942). You see Niehuus as an Oberfeldwebel on a visit to Paris (10 Postcards of Paris and 6 small cards of Versailles). There is a poignant series of 15 photos of war graves in France 1940. There is a fascinating series of Niehuus which shows how he ages as the war progresses (VII/39, 8/39, 10/39, 6/40, 7/42, his wedding in late 1944 and finally Spring 1945). This volume finishes with a good series of photos of officers and in particular a Major Bartels as Niehuus’s Battalion Commander in France.
- Volume 4 (91 photos). This is the smallest album but nonetheless interesting. It coves the period from December 1942 to March 1944. The main emphasis is the East Front. The first photo is of Senarpoint (December 1942) and then photos of Niehuus as the transport commander by the train which is taking his unit to Russia. Niehuus as Officer Commanding 9/570th Grenadier Regiment in winter camouflage uniform, there are pictures of Panje wagons and horses – the location is Lichaya/Donets; HQ 9/570 and trenches. Hans Niehuus sustained his first wounding (right arm) in February 1943 and there is a photo of him with two other wounded officers and then a series taken during his flight over South Russia back to Germany – the aircraft appears to be a giant Goliath 6 engines transport plane. He is seen convalescing during the summer of 1943 with the family of a Frau von Stulpnagel in Darglitz. He then returns to the East Front in August 1943 to the Nikopol Bridgehead (a good photo of Generaloberst Schorner and his Officer Commanding, a Major Bolke). He then attends a Battalion Commanders Course in Antwerp and Doberitz/Berlin between December 1943 and February 1944. He returns to the Front in March 1944 via Budapest (Danube by night), Bucharest and Odessa. There are a number of photos of graves in Russia with one of a Platoon Commander Feldwebel Frederik Hardy (KIA 25.2.1943). There is a good photo of his girlfriend – a Gerda Gebhardt (Antwerp 16.1.1944) and a further 5 of her in Leipzig and one with her and Niehuus on a railway station platform. The record ends with a happy series of 6 photos of Oberfeldwebel Niehuus with his comrades in France and some sort of celebration – his birthday?
Hans Niehuus was born on 3rd May 1915 in Kiel, he enlisted into the 5th Prussian Infantry Regiment in Stettin on 8th September 1932 and subsequently rose through the ranks to obtain a wartime commission. He was trained as an Infantry Signalman and served in Battalion and Regiment Headquarters Signals Detachment Commander, a Platoon, Company and Battalion Commander as well as being the Adjutant of a Battalion and Regiment.
Niehuus would initially have served in the campaign in Poland in 1939, where 12th Infantry Division attacked towards the Narew crossing near Rozan and the Bug. It finished the campaign in the Ostrow area. It was during the Polish Campaign that Niehuus was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 30th September 1939.
By December 1940 the Division was then moved to the west in preparation for the attack against France. In May the Division was in front of the Maginot Line, having moved west, the Division advanced via the Scarpe to the La Basse Canal and onto Lille. It would have been for fighting around the Lille area that Niehuus was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on 31st May 1940 for an act on the 25th May. In the second part of the offensive the Division attacked over the Seine and to the Loire. After France’s surrender, 12th Infantry Division remained on occupation duty until May 1941. However it is likely that Niehuus transferred to the 570th Infantry Regiment, 302nd Infantry Division when that unit was first formed in November 1940.
302nd Infantry Division remained in France up until January 1943 as part of the Occupation forces, and also as part of the Atlantic Coast Defences. The Division was involved in the defeating of the Dieppe Raid launched by the Allies in August 1942.
By late January 1943 the Division was rushed to the Eastern Front to help firm up the defences of Army Group South which was suffering heavy Russian attacks as a result of the Stalingrad counter-attack and subsequent Red Army offensives. Neihuus was involved in a number of close combat days beginning on 25th January 1943, initially in the Western Donets basin, he was involved in a counter-attack in the region of Mal Kamenka on 30th January. This action was covered in a recommendation for the German Cross in Gold:
‘Hauptmann N has on 25.1.1943 as the Donets near Mal. Kamenka carried out an assault detachment operation with complete success for the clearing up of an enemy occupied river loop with his Company, part of another Company and the Regimental Engineer Platoon. With biting cold, deep snow and in complete broken area of forest that at the time Oberleutnant Niehuus led his still inexperienced East Front men in an exemplary and firm manner and was to them above all through his personal brave manner a magnificent example in combat and daredevil spirit. The swiftly carried out operation brought a marked relief and clarification for the Regiment’s sector and caused the enemy high bloody losses (about 100 dead counted) an in booty: 12 light and heavy machine=guns, 2 mortars, 4 anti-tank rifles, 15 sub-machineguns.’
Niehuus was then involved in the fighting for Hill 21 on 11th February, a period which is further noted in the Recommendation:
‘From 9-12.2.1943 Oberleutnant Niehuus was then deployed with his Company against an area of enemy penetration outside of the Regiment’s sector. I no longer recall details from these battles since the Niehuus Company was subordinated to another Regiment. It was a matter of sealing off and counter-attack against a far superior enemy and the task was resolved by Oberleutnant Niehuus at the time again under the most difficult winterlike conditions. Still during these battles I received a message from the former Commander of the 302nd Division, Generalleutnant Elfeldt, with the following contents: ‘Niehuus Company has fought in a wonderful manner in a most violent action. Expect that external recognition follows.’’
Niehuus then took part in another counter-attack in the region of Kransaya-Poliana on 18th-19th February. Niehuus was wounded on 21st February 1943 whilst serving with 570th Grenadier Regiment as part of Army Detachment Hollidt whilst defending height 339.5. Niehuus was awarded the Black Wound Badge on 23rd March 1943 in Neustrelitz which would suggest that he spent a period of time away from the frontline. It is unknown when he returned to the combat, but later in the year on 15th October 1943 he was awarded the Silver Infantry Assault Badge by the Regimental HQ. This was just before a series of 3 close combat days as part of Kampfgruppe Bolk, in the defence against the Russian attempts to force the Dnieper River. Continuing to fight with the unit through the winter Niehuus was involved in the defence of the Dniester in April 1944 where he accumulated another 2 close combat days on and around 7th April 1944.
On 10th April Niehuus partipated in another action that resulted in part of a recommendation for the German Cross in Gold:
‘Deployed as a replacement Regimental Adjutant, on 10.4.1944 near Kalaglaya after carrying out an important delivery of orders to the most forward Battalion he made an independent decision on recognising withdrawing enemy movements to run forward with a few men from there, to fight them and so cut off the retreat to the enemy by moving the route. Through this the Regiment succeeded, in the following forced march, in destroying a strong enemy group (bulk of X Cavalry Corps).’
Most likely in August 1944 when the 302nd Infantry Division was destroyed, Niehuus was transferred to 94th Grenadier Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. This Division saw heavy fighting in the last six months of the war, initially via Riga, it was forced back to the Kurland Peninsula, it was during the initial fighting in Kurland that Niehuus was wounded on 5th November 1944 and was subsequently awarded the Silver Wound Badge in Neustrelitz on 21st November 1944. Niehuus having recovered was sent back to the front but not before it appears that he married in late 1944. Niehuus was wounded twice more, the fifth time being on 8th March 1945 entitling him to the Gold Wound Badge which he was awarded on 5th April 1945. By the time of this fifth wound Niehuus was no longer serving in the Kurland Pocket, and he would have finished the war in West Prussia with the 55th Special Purposes Battalion.