ϟϟ-Obersturmbannführer der Waffen-SS Richter
It is also worth noting that several Totenkopf soldiers were decorated with the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for gallantry during the battles at Demyansk. Study of some of the actions for which these decorations were awarded illustrates just how ferocious the fighting during these months could be. SS-Obersturmführer Wilfried Richter born in Pforzheim on May 9 1916 joined the SS in 1937 and during the Demyansk battles, he commanded a small combat group located at Kalitkino on the banks of the Robja river. The Waffen-SS occupants were all but exhausted by their defence of the area against attacks by fresh Soviet assault troops. Remarkably, in the view of the condition of his men and the overwhelming Soviet superiority in numbers, Richter´s battle group repulsed attack after attack. On April 5 1942 a particularly powerful Soviet attack hit Kalitkino, threatening to overrun it. The Soviets, supported by around 16 T-43 tanks, struck without warning. They established a toehold, but only after losing six of their tanks. Then the Totenkopf troops immediately counterattacked, using Teller mines against the Soviet tanks and destroyed five more in this fashion. The Soviet infantry force was still substantial and the situation looked bad for the greatly-outnumbered Waffen-SS troops. Richter decided to call down German artillery fire on his own position. The enemy were caught in the open, suffering horrendous losses. As soon the barrage was over, Richter and his men engaged the Soviets in ferocious hand-to-hand combat. The battle raged until all the Soviet troops had been killed or had fled. Richter was decorated with the Knight's Cross on April 21 1942. He ended his career as an SS-Obersturmbannführer and battalion commander in the 38.SS-Division Nibelungen. Wilfried Richter died on April 18 1981. Credit: Gordon Williamson, SS - The Blood-Soaked Soil. Image: Knight's Cross Holder SS-Obersturmbannführer Wilfried Richter. Commons: Bundesarchiv.