ϟϟ-Oberscharführer der Waffen-SS Christen
In the morning of September 24 1941, SS-Sturmmann Fritz Christen and his anti-tank battery were fighting Russian forces north of the village of Lushno north of Demyansk. They knocked out 6 of 15 attacking tanks. The next day Soviets repeated the attack, and Christen's gun took hit. All crew members were killed and Christen wounded. Moreover, gun's sight was destroyed. Christen, alone manning the 50mm Anti-tank gun without a sight, destroyed 7 incoming T-34 and holding the line. At night, he would sneak from his firing pit out to other gun sites and retrieve ammunition to continue his fight. When a counterattack by other Totenkopf troops three days later recaptured Lushno, they found Christen manning the Anti-tank gun alone. In front of his lone position 13 destroyed tanks and about 100 killed Red Army soldiers were found. Fritz Christen was awarded with Knight's Cross by Hitler himself in Wolfsschanze, making him the first enlisted man in SS-division Totenkopf to be given the honor. SS-Oberscharführer Fritz Christen was captured in May 1945 by American forces. The Americans turned the severely diminished 3.SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf over to the Soviet Red Army. The senior officers were executed on the spot by the NKVD. The surviving remnants of the Totenkopf division later died in Soviet Siberia. Only few of them survived captivity to return to Europe. Fritz Christen survived ten years in the Gulags and was released to return home in 1955. He died on September 23 1995 at his home in Neusorg in Bavaria. Image: This photo is sometimes identified as SS-Sturmmann Fritz Christen. Photo: SS-Kriegsberichter Ernst Baumann 1941. US National Archives and Records Administration. Fair use.