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Darges, Fritz

    Date of birth:
    February 8th, 1913 (Dülseberg/Saxony, Germany)
    Date of death:
    October 25th, 2009 (Celle/Lowersaxony, Germany)
    Nationality:
    German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

    Biography

    Fritz Darges joined 4. / 28.SS-Standarte as SS-Anwärter (SS cadet) on April 1st, 1933. From April 5th onwards he attended the Junkerschule (Cadetschool) in Tölz as SS Junker. On December 10th, 1934 he was promoted to SS-Standartenoberjunker. From January 25th to February 28th , 1935 he attended the Oberfähnrichkursus with the I. / SS-Standarte Deutschland. He was posted to II. / SS-Standarte Deutschland in the rank of SS-Untersturmführer and was employed as Zugführer from May 17th onwards.
    July 1st, 1936, Darges was transferred to the SD-Hauptamt (SD Main office) and subsequently to the SS-Personalkanzlei (SS personnel department) which posted him to the Dienstleitung of Reichsleiter Martin Bormann. September 12th, 1937 he was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer. September 15th, 1938 he was transferred back to the SS-Standarte Deutschland.
    From October 11th, 1939, onwards he was once more part of 1./SS Standarte Deutschland. July 1st. 1940 came his promotion to SS-Hauptsturmführer. From September 1st, 1940 onwards, Darges was acting Kompaniechef of 7./SS Standarte Der Führer. October 11th, he left for Unterführerschule Lauenburg to be posted as Kompanieführer with the Panzerabteilung Division Wiking. After having been wounded in the Caucasus, he was posted to the SS-Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung on November 1st, 1942; January 30th, 1943 saw him promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer.
    From April 21st, 1944 onwards, Darges served in the SS-Personalhauptamt with the intention to be posted as Adjutant des Führers. On August 20th, 1944, the post of Kommandeur des Panzerregimentes Division Wiking became vacant and was given to Darges.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    July 15th, 1940
    Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    August 19th, 1942
    Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    September 8th, 1942
    Silver version.
    Panzerkampfabzeichen (ohne Zahl)
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    October 16th, 1944
    Panzerkampfabzeichen II Stufe
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant-colonel)
    Unit:
    Kommandeur SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 / 5.SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking" / IV.SS-Panzerkorps / Heeresgruppe Süd
    Awarded on:
    April 5th, 1945
    Darges’ Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

    “SS-Obersturmbannführer Darges has led the armoured spearhead of the Division since the beginning of the fighting to relieve Budapest. In this capacity he has achieved decisive successes for the continued combat through his skillful combat leadership in the unfavourable terrain of the Vertes mountains.

    The enemy was quick to respond to our surprise thrust on the southern slopes of the mountains, and on the 04.01.1945 they created a strong defensive line held by fresh forces (above all tanks and assault guns).

    As a result of these new enemy forces, as well as terrain difficulties, our intended thrust towards Bieske via Csabdi was prevented (even though Darges’ Gruppe had by then destroyed 5 tanks and 3 assault guns and broken through several anti-tank gun lines). Darges correctly perceived that a continued advance would be impossible on the next day due to the continuous stream of enemy reinforcements coming from Many. Because of this he decided that the best course of action would be to force a breakthrough on the same night.

    Driving at the head of his armoured group, he skillfully bypassed a tank reinforced AT gun barrier and launched a surprise thrust towards the southeast (specifically Vacztely) via Hills 264 and 269. He captured the commanding hill near Hegis (2 km NW of Bieske) and struck against the road Many-Bieske. Here Darges and the lead vehicles of his group encountered a hostile column marching towards Bieske, and from this column they destroyed 12 trucks, 4 artillery pieces (12.2 cm), 4 anti-tank guns (7.62 cm) and a large number of horse-drawn wagons.

    Undeterred by the enemy forces in his rear and the strong flanking threat from the east, Darges then carried on the attack against the Hegis castle (from which his armoured spearhead was taking heavy fire from anti-tank guns and artillery) and captured it. In the process 7 enemy anti-tank guns (7.62 cm) were destroyed, and the enemy was thrown back towards Bieske. However at daybreak Darges was forced to establish a hedgehog defensive position around the castle after his advanced armoured spearhead came under a concentrated enemy attack.

    Over the course of the whole day the enemy tried to eliminate this group, which was blocking their main supply road. To this end they attacked it with infantry and tank forces supported by strong artillery and mortar fire. However SS-Obersturmbannführer Darges was able to inspire his Kampfgruppe to resist steadfastly through his own brave example, and after every repulsed enemy break-in he reorganized his Panzers and weak escorting infantry. By repeatedly eliminating small groups of enemy armour he succeeded in inflicting heavy losses on the foe.

    On this day 13 enemy tanks were destroyed, among other things. However the enemy pressure increased on the night of the 05./06.01.1945. Enemy forces made it as far as the castle courtyard a total of 6 times, however each time they were ejected after fierce close combat. Only in the morning of the 06.01.1945 was it possible to resupply Kampfgruppe Darges with an armoured convoy, and on the following night the remaining elements of the Division were finally able to reestablish contact.

    This bold thrust by SS-Obersturmbannführer Darges forced a breakthrough of the last wooded foothills of the Vertes mountains. And through his tireless resistance he secured an extremely vital position for the relief of Budapest.

    During the time period 01.-07.01.1945 the armoured group led by Darges destroyed/captured the following enemy materiel:

    46 tanks and assault guns
    61 anti-tank guns
    6 artillery pieces
    96 trucks
    60 horse-drawn wagons.”
    Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

    Sources

    • Photo 1: Willi Schumacher Collection
    • Photo: Willi Schumacher Collection
    • - WEGMANN, GÜNTER, Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939-1945, Biblio-Verlag, 2004.
      - Die Ordensträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht (CD), VMD-Verlag GmbH, Osnabrück, 2002
      - Fellgiebel W.P., Elite of the Third Reich, The recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945: A Reference, Helion & Company Limited, Solihull, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-46-9
      - Federl, C., Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Panzerdivisionen 1939-1945, VDM Heinz Nickel, Zweibrücken, Germany, 2000
      - Schneider J.W., Their Honor was Loyalty!, R. James Bender Publishing, 1977
      - Ritterkreuz Archiv IV/2009, Veit Scherzer, Ranis, Dezember 2009, ISSN 1866-4709
      - Lexicon der Wehrmacht
      - Axis Biographical Research
      - Personalakte
      - Microfilm Publication A3343. US National Archives.

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