ϟϟ-Sturmbannführer der Waffen-SS Stadler

SS-Sturmbannführer Stadler
An Austrian, like many of the brave soldiers of the Waffen-SS, Sylvester Stadler (December 30 1910 – August 23 1995) born in the Steiermark region. He entered the SS in 1933 before his homeland was annexed into the Reich. In August 1940, SS-Hauptsturmführer Stadler assumed command of SS-Regiment Der Führer. In the summer of 1941, SS-Division Reich was attacking in full force at Jelnja, Minsk, Orscha, Kiev and Smolensk, where Stadler and his company proved themselves. Stadler then participated in the difficult and bloody fighting outside of Moscow, before he was part of the famous defensive action of the regiment at Cholm and Welikje Luki. Together with some of the best divisions on the Eastern Front, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich participated in fighting to retake Kharkov in early 1943. For repeated demonstrations of bravery at the head of his battalion and for his outstanding leadership during the Kharkov battles, Stadler was awarded the Knight's Cross on April 6 1943. A few weeks later SS-Obergruppenführer Hausser informed him that he was being designated the regimental commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment Der Führer. Stadler could only stammer: Aren´t I too young for that? Hausser replied with a smile: Noncence, Stadler. Think of the great Napoleon. He wasn´t much older than you… Stadler, of course, proved to be more than up to the job. Promoted SS-Obersturmbannführer on April 20 1943, Stadler excelled in all of the engagements and battles through his initiative, bravery and loyalty to his men. During the next few months, Stadler led his battalions west of Kharkov and during the offensive against Kursk itself. He received the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross only five months after having been awarded the Knight's Cross. He was the 17th member of the Waffen-SS to be so honored. The award of at least one, possible two, Tank Destruction Strips also demonstrated the impressive personal commitment to duty far beyond the duty description of a battalion or regimental commander. On December 12 1943, SS-Obersturmbannführer Stadler became the 35th soldier of the German armed forces to receive the Close Combat Clasp in Gold when he hit the threshold of 50 days of close combat.
On January 30 1944, he was promoted SS-Standartenführer and on July 10 1944, he was made commander of the elite 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen. At the age of 33, he was one of the youngest officers in the Waffen-SS to hold this rank. At the end of 1944, Stadler´s panzers participated in the Ardennes Offensive. During the offensive, the SS-Oberführer Sylvester Stadler once again demonstrated his sense of military fairness, in which he exchanged wounded U.S. soldiers for captured soldiers of his division. A short while later, Hohenstaufen was dispatched to the 6.SS-Panzer-Armee west of Budapest. When he received order to pull back to the west in the face of the sheer hopelessness of the situation he did not carry out the order. Instead, he launched a risky relief attack on Stuhlweißenburg, which allowed the withdrawel of the German forces encircled there. The first-class frontline SS-officer Sylvester Stadler received the Swords to the Knight's Cross, as the 23rd officer of the Waffen-SS. Shortly afterwards he was promoted SS-Brigadeführer. On May 4 1945 he negotiated a ceasefire with American forces and received assurances that 9.SS-Panzerdivision Hohenstaufen would go into U.S. captivity. He was released from captivity in 1948 and started a life as a businessman. The family man with two sons died on August 23 1995 in Augsburg. Credit: Florian Berger: The Face of Courage. Image: SS-Sturmbannführer Sylvester Stadler March 1943. Photographer: SS-Obersturmführer and Kriegsberichter Friedrich Zschäckel. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

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