|SS-Sturmbannführer Zenz Kaiser on his award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
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-Obersturmbannführer 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: Clip from a 1943 German newsreel showing the then SS-Sturmbannführer Zenz Kaiser when awarded the Knight's Cross 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. Credit: Florian Berger: The Face of Courage.