- Second World War (1939-1945)
- SS-Sturmbannführer (Major)
- Stellvertreter-Führer SS-Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 3 / 3.SS-Panzer-Division “Totenkopf"
- Awarded on:
- February 28th, 1945
Kraas’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“During the course of the attack of the IV. SS-Panzerkorps in the area southwest of Stuhlweissenburg, Kampfgruppe Eckert (with the reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 5 ‘Totenkopf’ and the subordinated SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3) broke through the enemy positions near Födor-psz. (southeast of Berhida) at 05:15 on the 18.01.1945 as the right assault group of the Division. After breaking fierce enemy resistance the Kampfgruppe thrusted further to the east in order to reach the Sarviz canal and form a bridgehead at Tac as per orders.
The SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas, formed the spearhead group of Kampfgruppe Eckert along with the I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 5 ‘Totenkopf’. After a bold, hard-fought thrust through 17 km of enemy territory this lead group had already reached the Sarviz-Malom section just south of Tac by the early afternoon hours. A further thrust over the Malom river and Sarviz canal was however impossible for the time being, as the enemy had blown the bridges over these two water channels and was occupying the eastern bank of the Sarviz canal with strong forces. A strong enemy Pakfront along the eastern bank of the Sarviz canal, alongside an extremely strong defense by enemy MGs and mortars in well-fortified field positions, made a crossing over the unfrozen river and canal impossible. In turn these defenses would rule out the possibility of creating the ordered bridgehead northeast of Tac during daytime hours.
A heavy, hours-long battle commenced in which friendly artillery intervened. By the late-afternoon hours the Pz.Gren.Begleitzug of the SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3 and elements of the I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 5 ‘Totenkopf’ had formed a narrow bridgehead across the Sarviz canal just northeast of Tac (specifically just north of Point 105). However the strong enemy Pakfront and field positions northeast of Point 105 remained intact. Every attempt to expand the inadequate bridgehead was brought to a halt by heavy enemy AT and mortar fire. Likewise the enemy continued to place heavy fire on the destroyed crossings over the Malom river and Sarviz canal. As a result the attempts to make this crossings passable for the Panzerjäger IVs of the SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3 had to be called off.
In this situation a further rapid advance by Kampfgruppe Eckert with the subordinated SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3 seemed to be doubtful. As such SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas decided to dispatch the SS-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 3 out of Tac and towards the northwest on his own initiative, while leaving the I./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 5 ‘Totenkopf’ to hold onto the bridgehead and secure the eastern edge of Tac.
Conducting a wide-reaching strike 4 km NNW of Tac, SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas and his Panzerjägern were able to force a crossing over the Sarviz canal across the partially destroyed railway bridge (made crossable following employment of all available means) located northeast of Szabadbattyan (small). They broke through the enemy anti-tank defense just east of the railway bridge, and after conducting a wide flanking maneuver from the northeast were also able to crush the enemy Pakfront to the northeast of Tac. With only 9 friendly Panzerjägern, and no infantry support, SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas succeeded in eliminating numerous enemy anti-tank gun positions in a lightning-fast action and breaking the enemy field positions on the east bank of the Sarviz canal. After this decisive success SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas immediately recommenced an energetic thrust further towards the east through Föveny-psz.
Through this bold thrust in the rear of the enemy, launched on his own initiative, SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas was able to crack the enemy blocking position east of Tac and lay the foundation for a further thrust towards the east. By opening the way in this manner, he enabled Kampfgruppe Eckert to once again begin pushing back the already retreating enemy east of Tac in the morning hours of the 19.01.1945.
With only 9 friendly Panzerjägern, and against the hardest of enemy resistance, SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas destroyed/captured the following on the 18.01.1945 in the Tac area:
30 enemy Pak
1 IS-2 tank
1 armoured car
During all the battles of the Division SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas has always distinguished himself as a leader through outstanding personal bravery, decisiveness and bold combat leadership. As a result of the thrust he led into the rear of the enemy on the 18.01.1945 the strong enemy Sarviz canal position was broken, an act which enabled the Division to energetically pursue the now fleeing enemy on the following day with the right-wing Kampfgruppe Eckert.
Due to this clear case of exemplary decisiveness, as well as the personal bravery demonstrated here, I ask that SS-Sturmbannführer Kraas be awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”