Prager, Otto

Date of birth:
December 3rd, 1912 (Plauen/Saxony, Germany)
Date of death:
April 28th, 1945 (Neubrandenburg/Mecklenburg, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

Otto Prager finally reached the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer and was kiled during battle.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Sturmbannführer
Unit:
SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 4
Awarded on:
November 14th, 1944
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Sturmbannführer
Unit:
Führer SS-Polizei Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 7
Awarded on:
December 9th, 1944
Action:
Prager’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“SS-Sturmbannführer Prager has as the commander of the SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt. 7, beginning on the 01.10.1944, been responsible for a series of notable actions conducted on his own initiative. In the process he has shown outstanding bravery and contributed decisive results for the continuation of the respective battles.

The Bridgehead west of Mindszent (10.-12.10.1944): On the 09.10.1944 the enemy managed to cross the Tisza river west of Mindszent with the 906th, 910th and 912th Rifle Regiments (of the 243rd Guards Division). Their objective was to thrust towards the west, block the Szeged-Budapest road and thus cut off the German forces south of their break-in position, which could then be mopped up and destroyed. The Artillery Regiment of the 243rd Guards Division was available to support the attack with all its battalions while stationed on the east bank of the Tisza. The enemy had further follow-up forces (consisting of both Rifle Divisions and tank forces) ready and waiting on the east bank of the Tisza as well. On the morning of 10.10.1944 the Soviets began the breakout from their bridgehead towards the west, in the direction of Kistelek. In response SS-Sturmbannführer Prager independently took the decision to stop the march movement of his Regiment and launch an immediate counterattack. In three days of battle against a numerically and materially superior enemy, SS-Sturmbannführer Prager not only prevented the breakthrough of the enemy but also managed to smash the enemy bridgehead and the enemy troops inside it. According to prisoner statements the 910th Rifle Regiment was completely annihilated, and the 912th Regiment was also mostly destroyed. Only elements of the reserve 906th Regiment were able to escape back to the eastern bank.

In addition to receiving heavy losses in dead, wounded and prisoners the enemy also sustained the following materiel losses…

- 6 Pak (7.62 cm)
- 1 Pak (3.7 cm)
- 12 AT rifles
- 4 medium mortars
- 2 heavy mortars
- 16 light machine guns
- 22 heavy machine guns
- 1 Flak (3.7 cm)
- Numerous smaller weapons and equipment, as well as ammunition

SS-Sturmbannführer Prager commanded the bitter fight to crush the enemy bridgehead from the frontline, even leading his own messengers and communications troops into the fight.

The extremely intense 3-day battle for the bridgehead west of Mindszent also brought with it heavy losses for the Regiment (47 dead and 206 wounded), however it enabled the continued operations of the German formations further south and stymied one of the enemy attempts to build up a foundation for an assault towards Budapest.

The thrust into the flank of the Soviet 6th Tank Army (19.-22.10.1944): As a result of the recent fighting around Debrecen the German 6. Armee found itself trapped by superior enemy forces, cut off from its supply routes and trapped in desperate combat. Breaking out through the enemy ring appeared to only be possible if the enemy could be forced, by a blow to his flank, to divert significant forces away from the efforts to contain and destroy the 6. Armee. The SS-Pz.Gr.Rgt. 7, along with the 24. Panzer-Division, received the order to carry out this mission. As the battalion on the left flank was tied down fighting the superior enemy, SS-Sturmbannführer Prager decided to lead the rest of his Regiment into a sortie against an enemy supply line, despite having no security to the left or right. This would surely grab the enemy’s attention, forcing the enemy to pull out significant forces from other areas to employ against this movement. In a series of heavy, ever-changing battles the repeatedly brought up fresh enemy forces were smashed, and the Soviets were forced to undertake further regroupings of their forces. During an attack near Kaczorics on 25.10.1944, Prager’s men found themselves pinned and taking heavy losses across from a well-defended enemy Pak-Front, supported by a heavy artillery battery. In this situation Prager independently decided to gather up some friendly infantry and Sturmgeschütze and launch a deliberate assault against the heavy Soviet battery. This decision resulted in the battery’s complete destruction, and the attack of Prager’s forces could thereby be continued.

In the course of this flank thrust, the Germans inflicted bloody losses on the opponent. In addition to 77 prisoners taken the following enemy materiel was destroyed or captured:

- 14 Pak (7.62 cm)
- 10 AT rifles
- 17 light machine guns
- 11 heavy machine guns
- Numerous small arms
- 6 field howitzers
- 1 heavy howitzer
- 1 infantry gun
- 27 trucks
- 5 cars
- 12000 litres of fuel
- 39 loaded horse drawn wagons

During this flank attack, SS-Sturmbannführer Prager once again showed high personal bravery. Fighting in the foremost line, he personally directed the actions of his fighting Kompanien and led his men into the fight. This flank thrust, led by SS-Sturmbannführer Prager and his regiment, contributed immensely to the breakout of the 6. Armee through the weakened enemy lines and its withdrawal according to plan.

Bridgehead west of Tisza Bö (from 25.10.1944): On 24.10.1944 the enemy attempted to surround the German forces at the middle section of the Tisza river (in the Szolnok area) by pushing north along the west bank of the river while simultaneously launching an assault crossing at Tisza Bö. Their intent was obviously to gain a larger bridgehead via a pincer movement, which could then serve as a jump-off point for the strike to Budapest.

In the sector of the right enemy pincer near Tisza Bö and Nagy Körü, where the Soviets had already landed two Regiments of their 81st Rifle Division, SS-Sturmbannführer Prager launched a counterattack with his Regiment. In the ensuing combat, which took place in the overgrown wetlands between the river and the embankment, support by tanks was impossible and close combat (including frequent hand grenade duels) became the order of the day. Realizing that his Regiment, having been worn down to a very low strength by weeks of fighting, would suffer heavily in this sort of fighting Prager decided not to crush the enemy bridgeheads, but rather contain them and prevent their enlargement. The enemy launched their own attacks by both day and night, but were always repulsed with heavy losses. They were thus forced to commit additional forces (including the rest of the 81st Rifle Division) in an attempt to force a decision, but even these could not prevail against the resistance put up by Prager’s Regiment.

The fighting for these bridgeheads saw the 81st Rifle Division largely bleed itself out. According to prisoner statements individual companies were completely wiped out and others were left with a strength of just 6-12 men. The enemy also suffered heavy materiel losses (though it must be remembered that most of their heavy weapons were placed on the eastern bank of the Tisza). They lost a total of:

- 12 Pak (7.62 cm)
- 14 light machine guns
- 2 heavy machine guns
- 14 sub-machine guns
- Numerous rifles

After suffering these heavy losses the opponent called off his attacks. The attempt to create a bridgehead via pincer movement for the continued advance to Budapest had failed.

General comments: SS-Sturmbannführer Prager is a highly respected frontline officer. Up until 30.09.1944 he was the commander of SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 4. He has already been submitted for the German Cross in Gold on account of his many acts of valour performed in this previous role. The decision for it is still pending.

For the intrepid planning and brave, exemplary execution of his assigned tasks as Regimental leader, as well as for the decisive results he has achieved, he is absolutely worthy of the award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

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