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Klappich, Günter

Date of birth:
October 2nd, 1917 (Dortmund, Germany)
Date of death:
January 22nd, 1943 (Podpolny, USSR)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
May 18th, 1940
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
June 27th, 1940
Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 9th, 1940
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 12th, 1940
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Schwarz
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
August 15th, 1941
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Silber
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant)
Unit:
Chef 11./Infanterie-Regiment (mot) 60
Awarded on:
July 30th, 1942
Awarded for his bravery before the enemy in July 1942. In this time Oberleutnant Klappich was able to take Soviet forces in Staryj Oskol by surprise and seize the city with minimal losses, while also capturing both nearby bridges over the Oskol river undamaged. By this action it was possible for other German units to launch a southward thrust along the Oskol’s east bank the next day, thereby closing a pocket of Soviet soldiers on the western side.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
August 3rd, 1942
Medaille
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant)
Unit:
Führer, III. Bataillon, Grenadier-Regiment 60 (motorisiert)
Awarded on:
June 8th, 1943
The following divisional order of the day, dated 13.07.1943, describe how Klappich would be decorated with the Oakleaves…

“On the 08.06.1943 the Führer awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to Hauptmann Günther Klappich, Bataillons-Führer of the III./Grenadier-Regiment 60, who fell in battle on the 22.01.1943.

In January 1943 Heeresgruppe A began its retreat from the Caucasus, with the 4. Panzer-Armee pulling back from the Manytsch river to Rostov. In this context the 16. Infanterie-Division (mot) received the order to take the available troops east of Rostov near Manytschkaja and with these eject those enemy forces that had pushed over the Manytsch back across the river.

Moving through thick snow, bitter cold and limited visibility the two battalions (reinforced by Panzers) were brought up for the attack. Every officer and man understood the severe gravity of the situation. The successful withdrawal of the 4. Panzer-Armee and the bulk of Heeresgruppe A over the Don at Rostov depended on this operation going well. This was pointed out in a notification by the supreme commander of the 4. Panzer-Armee.

The lead battalion launched a surprise attack with its supporting Panzers and quickly penetrated into Ssamodurowka. However it turned out that the village was held in great strength by infantry and heavy weapons, including numerous modern Pak. The surprised enemy quickly got their act together and began bitterly contesting every house. The attack threatened to go to ground. However this village had to fall in order for the advance towards the Manytsch to proceed. The regimental commander thus ordered Oberleutnant Klappich, who had started his command of the III./Grenadier-Regiment (mot) 60 a few days prior, the task of launching the decisive attack.

Oberleutnant Klappich led his men in an attempt to surround the village from the east. Furious defensive fire from all weapons struck against them. The Kompanien could only make their way forward with difficulty against the 7.62 cm guns and heavy mortars. In the first ranks of his attacking Grenadiers Oberleutnant Klappich inspired his men forwards by his example, with the result that they succeeded in penetrating into the village from the east. With help from the skillfully deployed Panzers Klappich and his troops took up bitter combat with the enemy in the village. In tough close combat he took row after row of houses and after hard and bloody fighting reached the village centre.

Here, right in the middle of the fight, Oberleutnant Klappich received word that a strong enemy motorized column had been sighted moving from the direction of Manytschkaja towards the east under cover of the bad weather. It had outflanked his Bataillon from the north and threatened to attack him from the rear. The capture of Ssamodurowka, and the reaching of the attack objective, was now thrown into doubt. Reserves were unavailable.

Oberleutnant Klappich did not hesitate to make a decision. His orders: continue the attack and punch through to the western edge of the village. In a renewed, bold onslaught with himself at the head of an assault team, Oberleutnant Klappich succeeded in breaking through to the western edge. Encouraged by his brave example the other attacking troops were able to subdue the final, hard-fighting remnants of enemy resistance. Ssamodurowka was now in German hands.

Among the great number of prisoners was also the staff of a motorized Brigade. The chief of staff of this unit, still stressed from the battle, told his captors everything he knew about the enemy attack plan and the nearby Soviet units. In no time he revealed a great danger posed by an imminent surprise attack by three motorized and mechanized corps against the bridgeheads of Olginskaja and Bataisk.

The enemy also recognized the danger posed by the German Panzer-Armee if it were to launch a thrust into his deep flank towards the Manytsch. He immediately sent in fresh new forces to counterattack Ssamodurowka from the west and northwest. Oberleutnant Klappich, whose men had been exhausted by the retreat battles that had lasted for weeks, the cold and of coures the effort of the last costly attack, had to swiftly organize a defense against the impending flanking maneuver from the east. The artillery fired at his command in support of the hard pressed infantry via direct fire from the foremost line. With this last effort it was possible to push the enemy back.

However there was already a new danger from the east. Klappich personally hastened to the spot, gathered his exhausted men together and was also able to fend of this attack. With superhuman efforts and heavy losses Oberleutnant Klappich held the key point of Ssamodurowka. By his actions the already commenced attack of the Russian 7th Guards Tank Army towards the bridgeheads at Rostov was decisively paralyzed right at its beginning. In addition the great danger posed by the enemy offensive plans was brought to the attention of the German leadership in a timely fashion, meaning that these attacks could be fended off and the preconditions for the later destruction of the enemy Tank Army laid down.

Oberleutnant Klappich, who died a brave soldier’s death a few days later (22.01.1943) during an attack on Werch.-Podpolnyi, belongs to the most successful officers of the Division.

For his uncommon personal courage during the attack on Staryi Oskol (03/04.07.1942) he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He has furthermore especially distinguished himself through exemplary bravery and a high devotion to duty during the fighting near Armavir, in the Caucasus south of Maikop, and near Chalchuta in the Kalmückensteppe.

With thanks and honour the 16. Panzergrenadier-Division recognizes the heroic deed of one of its fallen, signified by the award of the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross. The name of Hauptmann Günther Klappich of the III./60 will remain inextinguishably and eternally in our hearts.

In memory of his undying glory!

Signed Graf von Schwerin”
254th Award.
Posthumous awarded
Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub

Sources

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