- Second World War (1939-1945)
- SS-Sturmbannführer (Major)
- Kommandeur I. / SS-"Totenkopf"-Infanterie-Regiment 1 / 3.SS-Panzer-Division "Totenkopf" / 16.Armee / Heeresgruppe Nord
- Awarded on:
- May 8th, 1942
The following press article is taken from the Schwarze Korps newspaper, written by SS war correspondent Alfred Sauder and dated 20.08.1942. It describes why Deisenhofer would be awarded the Knight’s Cross…
The Führer has awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer, Bataillon commander in a Division of the Waffen-SS.
The award of the Knight’s Cross to SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer is the visible recognition of his high achievements during the hard winter battles on the northern sector of the front. Words can only do so much to describe what the men of the Waffen-SS had to go through in this sector of the fighting and yet still finally achieve victory. It will only be possible at a later date to supply proper tribute to the tireless loyalty, discipline and contempt of death shown here.
The Bolsheviks pressed against the ring of fire and iron from all sides with extraordinary masses of men and materiel, trying to choke its trapped defenders into oblivion. The attackers counted on the desperation of encirclement, ghastly frost, unbearable hunger, thirst and lack of shelter among the defenders to tip the scales in their favour. However they did not count on their toughness, self-sacrifice and faithful devotion to duty even under all the circumstances.
It took three and four weeks - the relieving troops did not come through. They were pushed back. The aerial resupply by the Luftwaffe became ever more challenging, and both food and ammunition became scarce. However the defenders held their ground for one, two and then three months, refusing to give up an inch of ground in all this time. The massive Bolsheviks persisted day after day, night after night. However the more painful the living conditions in the cauldron became, the more the men seemed to outdo themselves.
One of the officers for whom the responsibility of this struggle lay with was Deisenhofer. His personal courage, ice-cold calm in critical moments and defiance of danger were decisive for the success of his Bataillon. But in desperate situations it is not just the courage and bravery of a unit that decides the battle, important as these are. Equally significant is their unshakeable trust and devotion to their leader.
SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer is a Bavarian. He is gifted with natural wit and a good deal of originality, and his character has resulted in him becoming a good natural comrade to his men.
They have witnessed how his attacks are both relentless in their execution and yet cleverly prepared at the same time. He is an inexorable commander who fights to win. His men know this, and from this confidence comes a great wall of individual wills that the Bolsheviks cannot overcome even with their best available regiments. Deisenhofer and his Bataillon repulsed 23 enemy attacks against the village of N., and through their bold counterthrusts they inflicted bloodily losses on the Bolsheviks at the same time.
A few weeks ago the time came to go over from defense to attack. SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer received the mission of capturing the last Bolshevik strongpoint with two Kompanien of his own.
A 50 metre wide river was crossed in rubber boats, and during the middle of the night the village of No. (defended by a Bolshevik battalion) was taken in a surprise attack. The enemy left behind innumerable numbers of dead, weapons and equipment as well as 40 prisoners.
However the enemy was quick to respond, and during the late afternoon of the following day they launched a counterattack. Supported by 3 heavy tanks, they pushed into the southwestern part of the village. Despite the much larger enemy force arrayed against him, SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer undertook a counterthrust with his men. He personally fought at their head and inspired his troops to give the best that they had. The enemy was thrown back following uncompromising close combat. The village itself was held against all further Bolshevik attacks.”
The following wartime excerpt provides further detail concerning the last few paragraphs of the article…
“On the night of the 30.04./01.05.1942 SS-Sturmbannführer Deisenhofer and 80 of his SS men launched a surprise attack that succeeded in capturing a bridgehead at Nowosselje, and this location would be of vital importance for the continuation of local operations. They then held it despite fierce enemy resistance. Deisenhofer and his men crossed the wide Robja river on rubber boats during aforementioned night and landed north of Nowosselje. They overwhelmed the enemy bunker crews and security units on the opposite riverbank and eliminated the hostile garrison in Nowosselje via a surprise attack. The bravery demonstrated here by Deisenhofer and his men laid the groundwork for the continued destruction of the enemy in the Lowat-Robja salient.”
Submitted on May 6th 1942.
Preliminary document and decoration on May 9th 1942 to AOK 16.