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Placzek, Franz

Date of birth:
November 5th, 1914 (Kriegsbach/Silesia, Germany)
Date of death:
March 17th, 1977 (Löhne/Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

Franz placzek served with the Bundeswehr after World War Two, reaching the rank of Hauptfeldwebel.

Participated in a total of 354 sorties, including 66 in the West.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
October 15th, 1940
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
November 12th, 1940
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
April 13th, 1942
Luftwaffe Ehrenpokale für besondere Leistungen im Luftkrieg
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Oberfeldwebel (Flight Sergeant)
Unit:
2. Staffel, I. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 55, Luftwaffe
Awarded on:
July 10th, 1942

According to the Vorschlag of the Ritterkreuz awarded on 20-7-1942.
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
January 3rd, 1943
Frontflugspange für Kampfflieger in Gold mit Anhänger
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Oberfeldwebel (Flight Sergeant)
Unit:
Beobachter, 2. Staffel, I. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 55, Luftwaffe
Awarded on:
April 3rd, 1943
Placzek’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“Oberfeldwebel Placzek has already been decorated with the German Cross in Gold (award date 20.07.1942) in recognition of the brave soldierly conduct that he demonstrated whilst flying as an observer over the course of 205 sorties.

Since that time Oberfeldwebel Placzek has continued to prove his unwavering offensive spirit and exceptional skill whilst flying a further 124 [the original text reads 129] sorties as an observer for his Staffelkapitän. Although Oberfeldwebel Placzek has been in constant action with the Gruppe he has proved capable of dealing with all the demands placed upon him in any situation. His unfailing resilience, his willingness to serve and his outstanding battlefield successes have served as an example for his entire Staffel.

During quite a few operations the prevailing tactical and technical conditions demanded that the young crews of the Staffel were forced to deliver their bombs only after the Staffelkapitän had done so first. However the superior skill and brave conduct of Oberfeldwebel Placzek meant that the entire formation was usually able to score direct hits upon their targets.

The unconditional readiness for duty displayed by Oberfeldwebel Placzek brought about especially notable results immediately after the enemy breakthrough along the Don (in the time period 22.-25.11.1942). Numerous bold low-level attacks were launched against enemy columns and troop assemblies, and in the process the enemy sustained extremely high losses. Despite extremely unfavourable weather conditions (sometimes the cloud cover was only 20-50 metres above the ground) Oberfeldwebel Placzek struck the enemy on both roads and in valleys from extremely low altitude. This form of flying was not especially suitable for the He 111, however he was nonetheless able to smash hostile columns and damage/destroy a huge number of enemy vehicles and artillery pieces.

These feats-of-arms (which have been impossible to quantify due to the urgency of the situation and the prevailing weather conditions) were of decisive importance, as other weapons could not be employed due to the weather situation. They thus played a key role in ensuring that the defensive line along the Chir river could be built up and held successfully. This in turn meant that the resupply of Fortress Stalingrad could proceed from the resupply base at Morosowskaja.

The aircraft of Oberfeldwebel Placzek was badly damaged by the enemy whilst carrying out one of these low-level attacks, and it crashed just before reaching its airbase. Oberfeldwebel Placzek was wounded in the process.

Oberfeldwebel Placzek is clearly worthy of being awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross on account of both his heroic conduct during this particular timeframe as well as the sum of his successes throughout the duration of the war.”

In his recommendation Placzek was recorded as having flown a total of 329 sorties (including 66 against England and 263 against the USSR) at the time of being recommended for the Knight’s Cross.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

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