Rubatscher, Karl

Date of birth:
December 23rd, 1912 (Vienna, Austria)
Date of death:
August 3rd, 1997 (Vienna, Austria)
Nationality:
Austrian (1918-1938, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 1941
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant of Reserves)
Unit:
Adjutant I./SS-Grenadier-Regiment (mot) 39
Awarded on:
December 27th, 1943
Action:
Rubatscher’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

"SS-Obersturmführer Rubatscher has been the Adjutant of the I./SS-Grenadier-Regiment 39 (mot.) since the beginning of the actions in the East, and has taken part in all of the engagements of the Battalion.

Rubatscher has proven his outstanding leadership qualities as well as the highest levels of courage, consideration and personality during all of the actions of the Battalion again and again. In this time he has been a shining example to all of the Leaders and Junior-Leaders.

Completely outstanding, however, was how SS-Obersturmführer Rubatscher displayed himself on the 21.09.1943. The Battalion was made available to attack Cholm. The attack began shortly after that but had to be stopped as the Battalion received new orders to move to defensive positions at Charinka, with the command to wait for further instructions as the enemy was approaching. Thus from the highest level came an opportunity to move back to these defensive positions.

When the Commander of the Battalion sought clarification from the Regiment, due to the unclear situation, the Battalion determined in the early morning that there was no longer a link. Also, radio communication to the Regiment had already been broken. Rubatscher immediately sent out armoured cars in all directions and they returned and informed him that there were heavy enemy columns advancing from all directions.

At 06:30 hours, two enemy armoured cars probed their way forwards. These were immediately engaged by the Battalion's subordinated heavy weapons (one Zug Pak, one Zug Flak, one Zug light infantry guns).

At 07:30 hours, the enemy attacked with two tanks in the lead. These tanks were also forced to turn back and the accompanying infantry were repelled.

SS-Obersturmführer Rubatscher recognized the danger of the whole Battalion being destroyed and the radio troops intercepted a garbled message that indicated that their own German line was already eight kilometers northwest of Charinka. This message then gave the password used by the enemy. Since all of the roads were already occupied by the enemy, the Battalion had to march across country with all of their twenty-five vehicles and heavy weapons. This seemed to offer almost no prospects of success, as the soft ground in front of them made movement very difficult.

Rubatscher arranged the Battalion in such a way that there were two Kompanies in the lead, in the middle were the heavy weapons and one Kompanie providing security to the rear of the march. The Kompanies were already exhausted after the hard fighting around Jelnja and Duchowschtschina and they only had a combat-strength of around 25-30 men each. Due to the adverse circumstances of the Battalion, they had already gone two days without any food supplies.

Marching for many long hours, the marching Battalion was repeatedly attacked from both sides by heavy Russian cavalry and infantry in the strength of 200-250 men. Rubatscher immediately rushed to the threatened places, and after carefully considering the deployment of all of the standing men and weapons was always able to repel the strong enemy forces while inflicting heavy losses. After there seemed to be no prospects of moving ahead with the vehicles and heavy weapons, Rubatscher was repeatedly informed of the proposal to destroy the vehicles and guns. SS-Obersturmführer Rubatscher refused all of these demands and told the men that all of the vehicles and heavy weapons were needed by the Regiment. He spurred the men on with his shining example and told them they would use the last vehicle to make it through the main battle line.

After a five hour march, the Battalion came close to the place of Belorushje. Rubatscher, who marched with the lead Kompanie, saw that this place was heavily occupied by the enemy. It was clear to him that they would have to act very fast here, in order to get to the freedom of their own main battle line. Rubatscher let the heavy weapons move into open firing positions and, moving from Zug to Zug, gave the Zugführers clear orders. Within a few minutes they placed the village under the combined fire of all of the heavy weapons. Rubatscher himself stormed at the head of the infantry, and he was the first into the village after he had sent a Kompanie as security on both flanks. By seizing the initiative, he succeeded in throwing the enemy out and destroying them in close combat. The result was that the enemy suffered heavy losses, while large numbers of infantry weapons and twenty prisoners were captured.

During this attack the enemy received reinforcements from the village of Kutschino, lying to the west. This created a dangerous threat to the flank of the Battalion. Rubatscher immediately recognized this foreboding situation and attacked, moving out under the greatest of difficulty, at the head of the 1. Kompanie. He bypassed the enemy forces and pushed into the hills by the village of Kutschino. The village of Kutschino was taken and the enemy suffered heavy losses. 40 enemy dead were counted, 25 were taken prisoner and a number of infantry weapons were captured.

The fact that Rubatscher's attack (which Rubatscher himself led from the front) succeeded in both removing the threat to his own flanks and guaranteeing the breakthrough to the friendly main battle line can be credited to the outstanding leadership capabilities of SS-Obersturmführer Rubatscher. With this the path to the main battle line and freedom was opened.

It is exclusively on account of Rubatscher:

1.) That the Battalion, with all its men, weapons and vehicles was preserved.

2.) That the enemy, due to the disruption by this rear operating Battalion, was not able to break through the gaps in our own main battle line.

3.) This was thereby of extreme importance for the evacuation of Smolensk and for our sector of front overall, as the leadership planned accordingly and held it for the prescribed time.

The outstanding bravery and drive of Rubatscher is a very notable achievement, as during this battle he was wounded for the third time and yet remained with his troops despite the advice of the doctor to go immediately to the field hospital."
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources