- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Leutnant der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant of Reserves)
- Führer, 1. Kompanie, Füsilier-Bataillon 110, 110. Infanterie-Division, Heer
- Awarded on:
- December 5th, 1943
The following press article describes why Heinz Fritzler would receive the Knight’s Cross…
“How Leutnant der Reserve Fritzler Earned the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross:
There exist soldiers who wish to always achieve visible success whenever a difficult situation presents itself. To their ranks belongs the first Knight’s Cross Holder of a Füsilier-Bataillon in a northern German Infanterie-Division, Oberleutnant der Reserve Heinz Fritzler, who was honoured with this high award by the Führer on the 05.12.1943 for a series of actions in which he showed the highest personal bravery.
A particularly successful day for this battle-hardened patrol and Kompanie leader was the 13.09.1943, a day on which he found himself near Osobenka (15 southwest of Bytosch). A few days prior the Division had withdrawn from the Orel area by shortening its front, however by doing so the Soviets launched a pursuit with great fury. For 24 hours the Bataillon had been engaged in heavy defensive combat within the forested corridor near Oschenka. Their orders had been to hold this position for 48 hours. The Russians pounded this position with mortars and heavy weapons of all calibers, and thereafter tried on several occasions to penetrate it. However their attacks shattered against the iron willpower of the defenders. The position was held on the first day.
On the second day the enemy once again attacked the position of the Bataillon with vastly superior forces, who assaulted in the wake of a strong artillery barrage by their heavy weapons. Although the Füsliere put up a bitter defense that managed to kill a great number of Russians in close combat prior to their reaching friendly positions, the enemy nonetheless were able to penetrate into the left wing of the Bataillon. From here they planned to roll up the entire main battle line. With this the position of the Füsiliere was put into an extremely precarious situation. Leutnant Fritzler immediately recognized this danger. On his own initiative he assembled a few men together by stripping other parts of his frontline sector, and with these he commenced a counterattack against the numerically superior foe. Inspired by the example of their leader, his men followed with loud battle cries that brought confusion and terror upon the enemy. Although the Soviets defended desperately in the man to man fighting, they were forced to yield to the élan of the spirited German soldiers. Their attempts to offer further resistance floundered under the impetuous forward drive of our own brave soldiers, and the enemy was routed with terrible losses.
Great was the success of this decisive counterthrust. 13 Russians were taken prisoner, while 62 enemy dead covered the hotly contested forest floor. Furthermore 1 medium mortar, 2 heavy and 4 light MGs fell into the hands of our Füsiliere.
Leutnant Fritzler immediately pursued the fleeing enemy a kilometre further into the enemy-occupied forest area. Then he met renewed heavy resistance by the Russians, who for their part wished to launched a counterthrust of their own with freshly brought up forces. The brave host of German soldiers immediately went into position, skillfully using every bush and stump of the forested landscape. They then held off the fiercely pressed hostile attacks with incredible resolve and endurance of their own. When the Russians perceived that a penetration from the front was unlikely, they then tried to surround the Füsiliere. However Leutnant Fritzler again counterattacked and succeeded in throwing back the enemy completely.
Through this magnificent deed, conducted with the most extreme boldness, Leutnant Fritzler and his men prevented a planned enemy breakthrough, the aim of which was to link up with a group of enemy soldiers that had been cut off in the previous days. This meant that strong elements of the Division had likewise been decisively saved from encirclement.
A few months later, at the end of November, the Russians once again broke through along the Ssosh with overwhelming forces and the main battle line had to be pulled back. Here Leutnant Fritzler mastered a similar combat situation. Although he received a shot through his right hand in the process, he remained with his troops until the danger of a Russian breakthrough had passed.”