- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Ordnanz-Offizier, I. Bataillon, Grenadier-Regiment 481, 256. Infanterie-Division, Heer
- Awarded on:
- August 27th, 1943
During the heavy defensive battles west of Vyazma in August 1943, Soviet forces succeeded in gaining ground in the sector of the 256. Infanterie-Division and threatened to encircle major German formations. Recognizing this great danger, Oberfähnrich Haschberger rallied some men from his Bataillon staff and reinforced this scratch force with some retreating infantry stragglers.
Without waiting for heavy weapon support he launched an attack into the enemy flank, and succeeded in bringing the tank-supported enemy attack to a halt while sealing off the enemy penetration. Despite having been wounded by this stage, he managed to fend off the subsequent enemy ripostes against his blocking position and was even able to retake the recently lost Hill 237.2, of great importance to the German defenses in the area. 4 T-34s knocked out in close combat and 40 prisoners were the visible results of this success.
However the prisoner count actually outnumbered the men in Haschberger’s own unit, and remained an ever-present danger as they could not be taken to the rear. As such 2 men had to guard them at all times. The situation on Hill 237.2 meanwhile appeared to be hopeless. The Division had become aware of the success of Haschberger’s thrust and had promised relief, however in the meantime Haschberger would have to repel all enemy attacks against his position for a day and night, a task made no easier by the fact that he had already sustained four wounds.
The 18 German soldiers and their 40 prisoners were encircled while in their trenches on the hill. After a gruelling night the men saw tanks once again approach the hill. Recognizing the only possible course of action, Haschberger told his men that he had called down artillery fire on their own positions and that they had to take cover. Both sides took heavy fire, however the Russian tanks were persuaded into falling back along with their escorting infantry. A few hours later the Divisions-Bataillon 256 and the Pionier-Bataillon 256 (reinforced with Sturmgeschütze) finally reached the hill and firmly restored the old German line.
All the men of Haschberger’s scratch unit had been wounded to some extent, however they had achieved a remarkable victory. Generalleutnant Danhauser, the divisional commander, would later come to visit Haschberger at the main dressing station to congratulate him on his steadfastness. When he asked which of his troops had especially distinguished themselves, Haschberger responded, “All of them Herr General, otherwise we wouldn’t be alive.”
As such all of the men in Haschberger’s unit were decorated for bravery while at the main dressing station. Haschberger himself would subsequently be awarded the Knight’s Cross.