- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Hauptmann (Captain)
- Kommandeur I. / Panzergrenadier-Regiment 5
- Awarded on:
- March 3rd, 1944
The following excerpt from the regimental history of the Panzergrenadier-Regiment 5 describes the actions by which Krützmann would be decorated with the Knight’s Cross…
As morning broke at 08:15 a massive drumfire by hundreds of guns commenced, the likes of which the old soldiers hadn’t seen for ages and the young soldiers hadn’t ever encountered. This is the prelude for the large-scale attack by the 1st Belorussian Front against the positions of the German army in the area southeast of Gomel and Retshiza. The Soviets are determined to break the Dnieper Line here, just as they did on both sides of Kiev a week before. After just a few minutes already the frontline of the combat battalions had a curtain of smoke and dust. In a short time all communication lines are also broken. Only the secondary position of the infantry guns reports in via radio and states at 09:00 that the front is still holding. Then this link was also cut. 15 minutes later the drumfire lets up a little, then moved on and began falling on the second line where our Bataillon command post was situated with full force. At least by then we knew that the enemy attack must have begun. The forward lines had been breached almost everywhere by Russian T-34 tanks and their following infantry. Only Leutnant Eichler with his three 8.8 cm guns and four Panzers could find some breathing space, however he also had to fall back and blow up his guns due to a lack of ammunition during the Soviet 3rd attack wave.
The battle had now reached the hill on which the Bataillon command post lay. Hauptmann Krützmann gave the following situation overview: Enemy tanks already passed us on both sides, enemy infantry still about 200 meters away. Our our Grenadiers are falling back everywhere in small groups. All the staff officers and leaders of the 4. and 9. Kompanie are currently trying to gain an overview of the situation or rally stragglers. There is no news from the neighbours and no more connection to the regimental staff. In the midst of this confusion, in which nothing can be calculated or planned with military precision, only one thing is important: the enemy must not reach the Bear position before our own troops are there and ready to defend!
With this in mind, back in the Bear position Hauptmann Krützmann calmly and precisely issued his orders. He saw to it that all weapons were taken along and no intact vehicle was left behind. In this way, through his personal presence, he prevented his troops from panicking. At the same time numerous skilled commanders from Oberstleutnant Kahler down to every unknown squad leader were able to bring order to the troops. While the Panzergrenadiers still had their noses deep in the dirt the enemy tank spearheads ran into the battle-ready self-propelled Panzerjäger and Wespen, who brought them to an inglorious halt!
Wherever one looked one could see explosions, smashed steel and broken, burning or immobilized T-34s and KV-1s. By the evening the balance read out as 185 enemy tanks destroyed, including 54 from the Panzer Gruppe Eicher, 26 from the Panzer Gruppe Fehrmann and 14 from the Wespen.
However now it was necessary to prevent the enemy from breaking into the Bear Position. In the right half of the Bataillon sector Oberleutnant Schmidt, and in the left Oberleutnant Moritz, gathered up everyone who could shoot a weapon. Reinforcing the Kompanien were Flak soldiers, Pioniere and old, gray-haired construction troops. The trenches are occupied more than thinly. On the right the connection to the neighbouring division is severed very soon following the disappearance of the Feldgendarmerie unit here. From here stems the next danger, that the enemy will find and exploit this gap in the German defensive line. Hauptmann Krützmann personally assembled a response team together, with the task of closing this gap no matter what the cost. This took place following much pluck, daring and many hand grenades.
The above-mentioned construction of the new defensive line did not have too many ‘5ers’. 231 men fell during the events of the last twelve hours alone, dead, missing or wounded.
On the following day Hauptmann Krützmann was the rock in the surf. He led his fleeing Grenadiers back in a counterthrust, taking the positions back and preventing a Soviet breakthrough in the process. On the 11.11.1943 the Panzerjäger destroyed 59 enemy tanks in front of the positions of the I. Bataillon.”