- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Generalmajor (Brigadier)
- Kommandeur 6. Volks-Grenadier-Division / Heeresgruppe Mitte
- Awarded on:
- April 14th, 1945
Brücker’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“After becoming embroiled in a series of intense and costly defensive battles starting on the 14.01.1945, the 6. Volks-Gren.Div. finally reached a new defensive sector along both sides of Hennersdorf during the night of the 19./20.02.1945. This was after a withdrawal movement of about 50 km.
Throughout these 4 weeks of fighting it was always General Brücker who managed to inspired his soldiers to give their best efforts. He was able to do this by demonstrating his own bravery in the foremost line with machine-pistol and grenades in hand.
At around 06:00 on the 20.02.1945 the Kampfgruppen that had been tasked with occupying the new frontline (who had only just reached the positions themselves) were still in the process of establishing themselves in the new position.
With the exception of the Pz.AOK 4’s Sturm-Bataillon (part of Gruppe Försterling), most of the garrison consisted of hastily assembled march companies, alarm units, police detachments and Volkssturm. Armed with only minimal amounts of heavy weaponry, this approximately 900-man strong force had to hold a frontline width of 14 km.
In order to be able to prosecute the battle flexibly, the divisional commander nonetheless decided to create a reserve force behind the middle of his defensive sector. This consisted of Bataillon Rommelspacher (a roughly 200-man strong unit that also was comprised of march units), another Kompanie as well as the Pz.Jg.Kp. 1183. This latter unit, comprising 6 operational Jagdpanzers, was the only unit that could effectively engage hostile armour.
Due to the relatively smooth and untroubled nature of the withdrawal movement that had just been carried out, it was not anticipated that the enemy would immediately attack here.
However, at around 09:00 on the 20.02.1945, the enemy launched an armoured attack from the north along the road to Hennersdorf. This force struck the still unready friendly battle positions with an initial strength of 8-10 tanks plus infantry support. The enemy penetrated into Hennersdorf along both sides of the road junction, rolled up the lines to the east and west and threw back friendly forces (which initially had no anti-tank weapons available) out of the village and towards the south.
The friendly forces here were exhausted from weeks of ceaseless combat, and they were unable to prevent the enemy from expanding their penetration to a depth of 2 km south of the road junction with follow-on armoured reinforcements.
At this same time another armoured attack was being conducted against the sector of the left neighbouring division, which also incorporated the inter-divisional boundary. Other tanks entered into the southern part of Wünschendorf, while still more threatened Lauban from the east. All this threatened to collapse the Division’s entire defensive frontline. At this point the Division had determined it was up against 35 enemy tanks (this included the tanks in the southern part of Wünschendorf). 7 enemy tanks (including 1 IS-2) were destroyed during the course of the day, which contributed to the Division’s total of over 50 enemy tanks destroyed in the time period 10.-22.02.1945.
The deep right flank at Wünschendorf was threatened, and in the rear Russian armoured forces were penetrating into Lauban from the east against a totally inadequate garrison. Yet more tank attacks were being conducted all along the Division’s defensive front, which only possessed minimal numbers of battle-worthy soldiers. The situation was totally unclear to the higher commands. Although he was threatened in the right flank at Wünschendorf and in the rear at Lauban, and although the situation was dire everywhere else, the divisional commander decided to dispatch all available troops to prevent those strong enemy armoured formations that were attacking from the north from uniting with the other enemy troops that were advancing against Lauban. To this end he deliberately stripped his divisional front of all the forces he could find in order to throw them into the fighting that counted.
By this time the men of the Division had seen their commander demonstrate his personal initiative and attacking spirit in the foremost line during the fiercest of defensive combat on many occasions. As such, by this time they had full faith in him and his orders. It was because of this that his ruthless employment of the reserves at the decisive point of the battlefield succeeded, with the result that the enemy armoured attack was brought to a halt despite the meagre quantities of friendly tank-destroying weaponry.
This action bought the necessary time for additional reserves and tank-destroying weaponry to be brought to the fore and used for the solidification of the frontline. Such an outcome permitted the execution of counterattacks that definitively removed the danger of a hostile breakthrough to Lauban combined with a subsequent surprise thrust from there to Görlitz.”
To this was added an insightful comment by the commander of V. Armee-Korps, which further details why Brücker would eventually receive the Knight’s Cross…
“The 6. Volks-Gren.Div. was subordinated to the Korps in the time period 21.-27.02.1945. On the 23.02.1945 Generalleutnant Brücker’s personal conduct definitely contributed to the success of our own relief operation east of Görlitz (in the direction of Gruna—Hohkirch), during which the enemy lost 33 tanks and 36 anti-tank guns.
Although his period of subordination was rather short, I nonetheless have come to conclude that Generalleutnant Brücker is worthy of the high award.”
The Ritterkreuz was handed out by General der Panzertruppe Kirchner in Lissa, south of Penzig, Lower-Silesia.