- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Kommandeur 15.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS
- Awarded on:
- August 23rd, 1944
Heilmann’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“Following a long series of exhausting and eventful battles against overwhelming enemy infantry and tank forces, which brought heavy casualties with it, the 15. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS (lett. Nr. 1) reached its intended position on the 11.07.1944. However by now the Latvian infantry had been shaken so much by the previous battles that it was expected that they would not offer serious resistance in the face of strong enemy attacks.
Although the right neighbouring division (23. Infanterie-Division) had taken significant losses of its own, it understood the situation. However in the sector of the left neighbour (19. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS) a large part of the Latvian infantry had been thrown into a panicked flight as a result of a surprise enemy tank attack. As such one could no longer speak of a firm front on the southern wing of the Division. On the grounds of this fact it could not be expected that the 15. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS would hold out any more if the enemy pressure continued. This in turn would create a danger that, if a hole in the frontline was indeed opened up, then the important road junction and bridges at Opotschka would be open to a Russian thrust.
In this dangerous situation SS-Oberführer Heilmann decided to compel his Division to unconditionally hold the Odenwald position. He would personally go forward to his subordinate Kompanien and ensure that they did not retreat. It is exclusively on account of the handful of German SS officers, NCOs and men under the leadership of the extremely distinguished SS-Oberführer Heilmann (commander of the 15. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS) that the Division was subsequently able to offer renewed resistance and maintain contact with the neighbouring divisions.
Throughout this difficult combat situation SS-Oberführer Heilmann rushed from Kompanie to Kompanie without regard for his own well-being. He persevered in the foremost line by both day and night under heavy artillery and infantry fire. In both fully open terrain and that which was partially forested, he confronted fleeing Latvian Grenadiers and their leaders, compelling them to go back to the front with either words or violence. His heroic dutifulness and his unbending will to resist made certain that the wavering Latvian units were able to hold out under fire, while furthermore ensuring that the potential Russian breakthrough towards Opotschka in the sector of the battered 15. Waffen-Gren.Div. der SS (one that could have created disastrous consequences for the whole north wing of the 16. Armee) was averted.
On the grounds of the outstanding bravery he displayed here, which resulted in the timely prevention of the danger to the north wing of the 16. Armee, I hold SS-Oberführer Heilmann as being fully worthy of the award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”