- Second World War (1939-1945)
- SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant-colonel)
- Kommandeur SS-Kavallerie-Regiment 2 / SS-Kavallerie-Division / 9.Armee / Heeresgruppe Mitte
- Awarded on:
- March 10th, 1943
His Knight's Cross recommendation reads as follows...
"On the 26.11.42, SS-Kav. Rgt. 2 was put into action to block the breakthrough south of Belyj. In a forced march the unit reached Baturino with the task of standing by ready for action on orders of the Division. The immediate reconnaissance showed that the opponent stood in Cholomedina with about 25 tanks and 3-400 men, having reached with it the rear of the 1. Rgt. and the deep flanks. Recognizing this heavy danger that threatened the flanks of the then marching Division and questioning the carrying out of the tasks assigned by the Division to block the breakthrough, SS-Obersturmbannführer Zehender, against the divisional order, at his own decision and under good moonlight attacked at 24:00 hours supported by one Battery of light field guns and one 8.8cm anti-aircraft gun. He threw the opponent out of Cholomedina after a difficult fight.
The following day the enemy tried with larger forces to win back Cholomedina and the road that crossed this village, which was of great importance for his motorized elements as a march and supply road. In spite of the heavy losses suffered by his Regiment, SS-Obersturmbannführer Zehender was able to hold the line for the next two days through his personal intervention, giving his men a permanent example of how to fight on. Through his deed, the move forward of the opponent was definitely stopped and a roll-up of our front, and with it a widening of the penetration point, soundly prevented.
As on 2.12.42, SS-Obersturmbannführer Zehender verified, through reconnaissance and the statements of deserters, that an attack from the forests was going to take place. At his own decision he attacked with the Ski Battalion subordinated to him, outflanked with a Kompanie the enemy wing units and pounced on the supplies of the opponent. Numerous field kitchens, ration supply depots and vehicles with fuel and ammunition were blown up.
For 24 hours the Battalion was encircled, but thanks to the good leadership and model behaviour of SS-Obersturmbannführer Zehender, they destroyed the enemy encirclement. Through this attack was prevented the advance of the opponent that had the objective of trying (for the last time, due to high losses) to break through the thinly occupied position on the road. Through the employment of the Regiment for the capture of Cholomedina and the road going through this village, and the attack at his own decision against the rear of the positions of the enemy, Zehender earned considerable credit in this successful operation. It led to the encirclement and annihilation of the enemy forces that had broken through south of Belyj.
SS-Obersturmbannführer Zehender is especially worthy of the award of the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross. He has repeatedly distinguished himself through his decisiveness in the campaigns in Poland, France, Serbia, Greece and the East Campaign in 1941 with SS-Regiment "Deutschland". Zehender is a bearer of the German Cross in Gold and was already wounded three times."