- Second World War (1939-1945)
- stellvertretender Führer, Grenadier-Regiment 11, 131. Infanterie-Division, Heer
- Awarded on:
- March 17th, 1944
The following article from the Naumberger Kurier (dated 07.05.1944) describes why Dennhardt would be awarded the Knight’s Cross…
“Major Oskar-Hubert Dennhardt took over command of the Leipziger Grenadier-Regiment in place of its sick commander 10 days before the second Soviet offensive against Vitebsk was launched. The Regiment was involved in heavy defensive combat for days from its positions southeast of the city. On the first day, following a 90 minute artillery barrage, the enemy deeply penetrated into the defensive line at the boundary with the left neighbour while simultaneously laying down heavy flanking fire on Dennhardt’s Regiment. Major Dennhardt saw a 1 km wide frontline gap open up on the left wing of his combat sector. However the front of his Regiment was itself under pressure from strong Soviet forces, and was holding out only with all the effort that could be mustered.
Even so he brought up his last major reserves and reinforced them with individual Grenadiers taken out of the hard-pressed frontline. He then personally launched a counterthrust towards the left while at the spear tip of this small storm troop. He recaptured a portion of the lost terrain and prevented the enemy from penetrating deeper into the German rear, and by doing so the situation was somewhat stabilized. However he and his troops had to fend off another 6 attacks on this day and then another 9 further major attacks on the following three days, a period in which Dennhardt constantly fought in the foremost line with his men.
Then a new crisis developed on the fourth day. However here the Major also succeeded in throwing back the broken-in enemy forces and closing the breach. He furthermore was able to clean up another break-in point further towards the north at the head of a few Grenadiers. Although he was wounded in the process the Major continued to lead his storm troop and went on to establish a new, continuous security line. Here he was wounded again, and this time heavily enough to force him to be evacuated. These were his 11th and 12th wounds.”
The following divisional order of the day, dated 29.03.1944, provides further detail as to these actions…
“On the 17.03.1944 the Führer awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to Major Dennhardt, commander of Grenadier-Regiment 11.
Major Dennhardt began his career in 1934 as an officer candidate in Infanterie-Regiment 11. After being promoted to the officer ranks he then transferred to Infanterie-Regiment 53. Here he distinguished himself as a Kompanie commander, regimental adjutant and Bataillon commander during the Polish, French and Russian campaigns. In the autumn of 1943 he received the Anerkennungsurkunde des Führers for his decisive deeds as commander of the II./Grenadier-Regiment while it was serving with the 206. Infanterie-Division.
During the 2nd Defensive Battle of Vitebsk the Grenadier-Regiment 11 under the command of Major Dennhardt (who had taken over from the sick regimental commander) found itself at the hotspot of the fighting. On the 06.02.1944 it was involved in the heavy fighting for the Nowiki bridgehead, and on this day a 1 km gap formed along the boundary with the left neighbour. This gap threatened both the left flank of the Regiment as well as the entire bridgehead. However Major Dennhardt personally led a counterthrust in response, and by employing his last reserves in this way he prevented a deep enemy breakthrough towards the Vitebsk—Orsha railway line.
Later, on the 10.02.1944, the Russians once again achieved a penetration at the left wing and thrust through to Pawljutschenki. However Major Dennhardt likewise succeeded in preventing a Russian breakthrough at this location by personally leading a counterthrust and creating a security line with the last rounded up available friendly units. In the process he sustained his 12th wound.
Ultimately Major Dennhardt and his Kampfgruppe succeeded in holding their ground in days of fighting against an onslaught by 5 Russian rifle divisions, a tank brigade and extraordinarily strong enemy artillery support. These decisively important deeds by Major Dennhardt and his Kampfgruppe majorly influenced the course of the battle, and they were recognized with the award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.
I give my heartiest congratulations to Major Dennhardt on behalf of the whole Division for receiving this high honour.”
2824th Heer Award.