ϟϟ-Sturmbannführer der Waffen-SS Kaiser

SS-Sturmbannführer Zenz Kaiser
Another Austrian of the Waffen-SS, Vinzenz Kaiser (February 28 1904 – April 20 1945). He too, like Sylvester Stadler, was born in the Steiermark region of Austria. Kaiser joined the Austrian SS in 1931 and in 1934 the II./SS1, which later became SS-Standarte Deutschland. With Kaiser´s regiment frequently in the lead, the SS-Division Reich proved itself in the rapid campaigning of Operation Barbarossa and, by the winter 1941, advanced in the middle sector of the front to the area of Moscow. Kaiser showed himself to be a terrific front-line soldier, a brilliant tactician. Always in the hot spots of the operations with men and vehicles, he received the German Cross in Gold in 1942. Kaiser soon became known as a specialist in maneuver warfare. The one-time aspiring businessman with an interest in politics had become a talented officer and brave soldier. His men, who were completely loyal to him, called him Zenz. In the Third Battle of Kharkov 1943 Kaiser ordered an immediate counterattack by his battalion into an enemy attack. Kaiser´s SS-Panzergrenadiers pushed the Soviets back and enabled the rapid retaking of Kharkov as a result of his risky decision. Over and over again, Kaiser´s men broke through the positions of the enemy in the buildings and along the streets as the result of frontal attacks, well-directed thrusts to the flanks and in raids. It was noted that during these attacks Kaiser destroyed four Soviet tanks by hand, being the only regimental commander in the Waffen-SS to do so at this time. For these achievements he was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in April 1943. Vinzenz Kaiser also received the Close Combat Clasp in Gold for his 50th day of close combat. At 40 years of age, he was one of the oldest recipients of that award.
In June 1944, the hard frontline veteran and his men were transferred to 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen on the Western Front. Kaiser took part in the battles of Normandy and the retreat across the Rhine. In the course of defensive operations in the very outskirts of Nürnberg in April 1945, the experienced SS-Obersturmführer Kaiser and father of three wanted to observe American movements for himself. Together with his adjutant, SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Kukala, he headed out to conduct reconnaissance. This inappropriate action for an acting division commander – but quite typical for a Waffen-SS veteran of Kaiser´s type – cost him his life. Neither of the officers returned and were considered as missing for a long time. It was not until decades after World War II ended that the gravesite of the adjutant was found. Signs of beating and shot to the back of the head were found. Vinzenz "Zenz" Kaiser, holder of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross awarded to recognize his battlefield bravery, is presumed to have died on the night of April 19 – 20 1945 in American captivity. He was recommended for the award of the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross weeks before he was murdered. Image: SS-Sturmbannführer Zenz Kaiser after the Third Battle of Kharkov. He wears, among others, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the German Cross in Gold, the Infantry Assault Badge and no less than four Single-Handed Tank Destruction Badges on his right arm. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Credit: Florian Berger: The Face of Courage.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous28/11/12

    A very informative article, and short to the point.
    "Zenz"; Was known as a hard nose soldier. I am very
    fortunate to own his EK1.

    ReplyDelete
  2. To Anonymous/28.11.12:
    When you consider the way and manner this man disappeared on April 45, you should ask yourself how his EK1 miraculously found its way to you...

    ReplyDelete