|The Face of Courage|
ϟϟ-Hauptsturmführer der Waffen-SS Bruno Hinz
Bruno Hinz was born on August 25 1915 in Petersdorf, Sachsen. In 1933, he joined the SS and became a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe SS-Standarte Deutschland. He participated in the Polish Campaign and in the Campaign in France. In October 1941, now an SS-Untersturmführer, Hinz reached SS-Division Wiking at the Eastern Front. He was designated a platoon leader in SS-Regiment Westland, fighting alongside many Scandinavian and West-European volunteers of the Waffen-SS. By that winter, Bruno Hinz had already earned the Iron Cross, First Class and the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver for his bravery. Demonstrating decisiveness at the head of his soldiers, defensive prowess when needed and bravery in close combat, Hinz was always involved in critical situations.
Hinz experienced some difficult month during the offensive through the southern Ukraine, the fighting in the Caucasus and the bloody withdrawal from Grosny. In the spring of 1943, the constantly attacking SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Wiking took some heavy casualties but Hinz was able to demonstrate his capabilities in the weeks that followed. He received the German Cross in Gold for his successful command and accumulated so many close-combat days in such a short period that he was not given the Close Combat Clasp in Bronze, instead, Hinz started with the Close Combat Clasp in Silver. His company had showed its combat expertise in countless assaults, bouts of house-to-house and street fighting, patrols and hunting down enemy armor. Wounded several times in the fighting around Kharkov, Hinz was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver. He rallied his men through several crises as a result of his own initiative and bravery. In September 1943 his company was in a defensive position on the Dnieper which allowed the Wiking to cross the Dnieper River. Hinz held the position but was badly wounded by a rifle round through the lung. It was only weeks later, after Hinz had regained some strength and had escaped death by the narrowest of margins, that he was informed of his award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. On November 9 1943, he was promoted SS-Obersturmführer.
In February 1944 Hinz was given command of the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 38 of the newly formed 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen. Involved in heavy fighting in Normandy and separated from his battalion, the veteran of the Eastern Front railed his company, incorporated elements from other companies into his own force and formed a Kampfgruppe. In the space of two days, Hinz led his men around enemy strongpoints. Often involved in intense firefights and without any sort of rations, he, and 100 of his combat effectives and a few wounded made it back to the German lines by exploiting terrain. For his actions, Hinz was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross as one of the lowest-ranking individuals to receive that award in the entire German armed forces. A few days after receiving the award, Hinz was wounded for the ninth time. In the military hospital, the news reached him that he had been awarded the Close Combat Clasp in Gold. At his own request, the SS-Hauptsturmführer, who had been promoted on November 9 1944, was sent back to the field in January 1945. He participated in hard fighting in the Alsace and Franconia during the withdrawals. His regimental commander was the Austrian Knight's Cross Holder SS-Obersturmbannführer Vinzenz “Zenz” Kaiser. Hinz lost almost his entire battalion as a result of Allied air attacks. He became prisoner of U.S. Army in March 1945, Götz von Berlichingen could only muster some 800 men at the time. The remaining Kampfgruppen surrendered in southern Germany in May 1945.
As well as being awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross and Wound Badge in Gold, Hinz was awarded the very rare Close Combat Clasp in Gold, which was only awarded 631 times during World War II. Only 98 received both the Knight's Cross and the Close-Combat Clasp in Gold. Bruno Hinz rebuilt his life after the war and died in 1968 in München. Credit: Florian Berger: The Face of Courage.