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Ehrath, Fritz

Date of birth:
August 9th, 1909 (Karlsruhe, Germany)
Date of death:
August 20th, 1972 (Neckargemünd, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Sturmbannführer (Major)
Unit:
1. / SS-Regiment "Der Führer"
Awarded on:
January 10th, 1943
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant-colonel)
Unit:
Kommandeur SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 9 / 5.SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking"
Awarded on:
February 23rd, 1944
Ehrath’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“During the Korsun pocket battle SS-Obersturmbannführer Ehrath led a Kampfgruppe consisting of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. Germania, elements of the SS-Pz.Abt. Wiking and elements of the SS-Art.Rgt. Wiking. On the 15.02.1944 this Kampfgruppe took over the pocket’s southern front, located south of Shanderovka. The combination of the previous heavy fighting and the muddy, extremely poor road conditions meant that no heavy weapons were available. The Kampfgruppe would only have 1 Sturmgeschütz and 4 Panzer IVs available to complete its defensive mission, namely to hold its position until all the encircled units of the XXXXII. and XI. Armee-Korps had broken through towards the southwest in the direction of Lissjanka.

The enemy renewed their constant attacks against Kampfgruppe Ehrath’s position on the same day, attacking with overwhelming infantry/tank forces from the southern part of Nowo-Buda and along the Morenzy—Shanderovka road. Enemy groups and tanks that penetrated the line were thrown back with tenacious defensive willpower, tanks were destroyed with Panzerfausts and other close-in weapons. SS-Obersturmbannführer Ehrath was the soul of this decisive battle, and personally led counterthrusts from the foremost line to help patch up the front. It was obvious that the enemy’s goal was to break up the pocket from the south. However the dogged resistance of the Kampfgruppe frustrated all the enemy’s breakthrough attempts, which were carried out all the way up to early on the 17.02.1944. For their part the encircled troops were given the opportunity to prepare and conduct their breakout to the west. This began at 23:00 on the 16.02.1944, and was to have been completed by the morning of the next day. However ground conditions and enemy action delayed this timetable. In spite of this Ehrath continued to hold his position until all friendly soldiers and wounded had commenced their forward movement. Only then did he give the order to disengage from the enemy. After this he fought his way through to the spearhead of the relief forces with his Kampfgruppe.

Over the course of this brave defensive stand all hostile attacks were fought off, and in the process 24 enemy tanks were destroyed in close combat. The steadfastness displayed here enabled the bulk of the encircled forces to escape the pocket along the ordered march route.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

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