Ziegler, Karl

Date of birth:
November 1st, 1905 (Lagenlois/Krems, Austria-Hungary)
Date of death:
January 12th, 1992 (Bregenz, Austria)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
III./Jäger-Regiment 207
Awarded on:
November 29th, 1942
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
Kommandeur III./Jäger-Regiment 207
Awarded on:
April 8th, 1943
Ziegler’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“Ziegler’s Bataillon was deployed along the defensive front of the Division on both sides of Abinskaja in a crucial position. Holding this area was of massive importance for not just the Division but also the other units in the vicinity.

On the night of the 22./23.02.1943 the Russians attacked along a very narrow strip of frontline with their 1135th Rifle Regiment, specifically a weak Kompanie from Ziegler’s Bataillon located in the centre of its front. Utilizing the nighttime conditions as well as the limited visibility of the terrain, the enemy was able to approach very close to the front unnoticed before storming the friendly positions (which were still under construction) in a massive assault.

Major Ziegler, who had no reserves available aside from a squad from the Infanterie-Pionierzug, immediately sealed off this penetration with a Zug taken out of the line from a neighbouring Kompanie. He then commenced a counterthrust along the frontline from south to north at the head of the Pionier squad.

With hand grenades and a machine-pistol he stormed forward with his handful of men. Inspiring them through his boldness and aggressiveness, the unit plunged itself into the enemy that outnumbered them 10-1 and was able to overpower them in bitter close combat.

By the end of this short yet extremely intense night-time action, 100 dead Russians lay on the battlefield. 9 prisoners were captured, as well as 2 heavy MGs, 4 light MGs, 2 mortars and numerous other infantry weapons.

Through this determined and bold act, conducted with heroism as well as exemplary bravery, Major Ziegler succeeded in eliminating a great danger for the whole defensive front that was in the process of developing. In doing so he secured a victory of great importance far beyond just the Division itself.

The friendly losses taken during this battle (1 dead and 4 wounded) were insignificantly small thanks to the skillful leadership of the Bataillon commander.

Major Ziegler is fully worthy of being awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”

To this was added a supporting statement by the divisional commander…

“Although Major Ziegler had additional officers from his staff to which he could have entrusted the counterthrust to on the night of the 22./23.02.1943, he made the brave decision to place himself at the head of the Pionier squad, recognizing the decisive importance of a successful defense. Through the counterthrust which he led an enemy force at least 10 times larger was smashed.

This battlefield success was of decisive importance for the whole Division, which had only just constructed a defensive front following a series of heavy withdrawal battles. This front, of operational importance, soon saw heavy fighting take place.

Any penetration by the Russians (who pursued the Division with overwhelming forces) could have resulted in unpredictable consequences if it was not smashed before it managed to consolidate its gains. A successful Russian breakthrough along the Krassnodar-Tanan road would have gotten into the rear of the friendly forces positioned south and north of there.

The determination of the defense at this position and the heavy losses inflicted on the Russians here had visible results as soon as the following day, with this defensive front becoming relatively calm.

Major Ziegler has a decisive share in this success. He is especially worthy of the award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources