Hippel, Ferdinand

Date of birth:
September 4th, 1903 (Groß Bössau/Rößel (East Prussia), Germany)
Date of death:
April 18th, 1968 (Weißenthurm, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Oberst (Colonel)
Unit:
Kommandeur, Grenadier-Regiment 253, 34. Infanterie-Division, Heer
Awarded on:
October 22nd, 1943
Action:
Hippel’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“On the 22.09.1943 the Grenadier-Regiment 253, commanded by Oberst Hippel, was deployed on the left wing of the Division as outlined in the attached sketch. Due to it being badly understrength only the forest path could be secured.

In the early morning hours of the 23.09.1943 44 enemy tanks - T-34s and assault guns with mounted infantry - broke through this forest position in a swift drive. The Grenadiers did manage to shoot off some Red army infantry, but were powerless to stop the armoured breakthrough. They continued to hold their line.

As the first report from the Bataillon arrived at the Regiment, the first enemy tanks already arrived at Reschtki. The regimental command post was located in the northwest part of the village. The enemy tanks had the task of encircling the village, eliminating its garrison and thereby laying the groundwork for an attack against the bridge position at Kanew.

With lighting speed Oberst Hippel recognized the impending danger that threatened to impact the whole XXIV. Panzer-Korps. The thrust of the enemy tanks to the bridge position had the be prevented at all costs, as supply troops from 4 divisions in the bridgehead were currently in the process of trying to cross the Dnieper here. With the 15 soldiers he could assemble (comprising his adjutant, messenger and the communication troops at his disposal) Oberst Hippel took up the uneven fight. With all contact to the Division and his Bataillonen being severed, he ordered his staff to prepare for an all-round defense. He was also able to enlist the help of 2 self-propelled AT guns of the Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 34 that were positioned in the northeastern part of the village. Each of these destroyed 5 T-34s, which brought a temporary respite. After 4 hours of battle (at around 09:00) the small strongpoint had been completely surrounded. The enemy infantry had approached skillfully. Covered by the houses, they got to within 20 meters of the German positions in some places.

Oberst Hippel therefore decided to move the battle into open terrain, where he and his men would stand a more promising chance of defending against the overwhelming enemy might. It was clear to him this his resistance was of extraordinary importance for the crossing of the Korps. He thus ordered a breakthrough towards to south in order to reach a specially prepared position (see sketch). With a loud ‘Hurra’ he stormed at the head of his small Kampfgruppe against the nearest Russian soldiers, breaking through their line. Almost all of his men reached the new position, and so Oberst Hippel could prepare for a further defense. MGs were not available, and the few machine-pistols of the staff had been knocked out by enemy tank fire. With only rifles and some hand grenades the commander and his men were able to repeatedly throw back the enemy and hold the decisive position in a battle that lasted for hours. Ultimately Hippel’s contingent would be reduced to a mere 6 men, however thanks to the fighting spirit and unshakeable confidence of Oberst Hippel the defending force retained its power despite the almost hopeless situation.

With the destruction of 17 of the 44 attacking tanks by either gunfire or close-combat weapons, and the effects of the bloody losses that Oberst Hippel and his small unit had inflicted on the enemy infantry, the attacking strength of the enemy gradually faded away.

Throughout the battle the regimental commander displayed independent and swift initiative as well as a strong personal example, unwavering cold-bloodedness, and exemplary personal bravery. As such the defending force of Oberst Hippel succeeded in its defense against the ceaseless enemy attacks after much close combat, and were able to bring the enemy breakthrough attempt to a halt.

By putting his life on the line here, Hippel contributed decisively to the fact that the Korps was able to cross over the Dnieper river in a smooth and orderly manner.

Since the 11.07.1943 Oberst Hippel and his Regiment have fought almost daily in decisive positions during the fighting near Orel and west of Kharkov. His stubbornness as a leader and fighter has never failed, but instead mastered every situation. He is thus worthy of the requested award.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
II. Bataillon, Infanterie-Regiment 80, 34. Infanterie-Division, Heer
Awarded on:
August 28th, 1941
Ehrenblattspange des Heeres und Waffen-SS

Sources