Hopfe, Willi

Date of birth:
June 21st, 1912 (Berlin/Brandenburg, Germany)
Date of death:
October 29th, 1997 (Berlin/Brandenburg, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

Willi Hopfe finally reached the rank of Oberfähnrich.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Obergefreiter (Corporal)
Unit:
Gruppenführer 5. / schnelle Abteilung 123
Awarded on:
January 15th, 1943
At the turn of 1942/43, the Soviets launched violent attempts to break through the German lines at the Demyansk salient. Among the defenders including Obergefreiter Hopfe of the Schnelle-Abteilung 123. At this time he was holding an MG nest with a few comrades. Near this position the enemy eventually achieved a penetration that resulted in the loss of the position, however as 3 enemy tanks with infantry support began to open fire Hopfe moved to reoccupy his post. Through well-laid fire he held his position for many hours, pinning down the attackers and preventing their forward advance.

As darkness set in, Hopfe voluntarily engaged several enemy patrols that were investigating his area, resulting in heavy firefights. When the German counterattack took place the next day, Hopfe joined them in the assault. He recognized the moment of Soviet weakness and inflicted bloody losses on them with his MG.

Although the penetration was sealed off in this way, more enemy tanks came up during the course of the day and these brought the MG position under heavy fire. However the brave Obergefreiter Hopfe was not deterred. Even when an enemy tank came to crush the post with its tracks, Hopfe leaped out of harm’s way behind a snow wall that was nearby and continue to fight from here until the enemy tank had moved on, after which he reoccupied his old position.

When the enemy attempted to again smash through the German defense with a heavy drumfire that afternoon, it was once again Hopfe who provided confidence and courage for his faltering comrades. They were as such also able to break the enemy attacks following the barrage, even though they were supported by tanks.

For his role in holding the line with bitter determination, while inspiring his comrades to do the same, Hopfe would be awarded the Knight’s Cross.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources