Eckert, Hans

Date of birth:
June 1st, 1916 (Zailach b. Ansbach, Germany)
Date of death:
July 11th, 1974 (Kitzingen, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
July 25th, 1941
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
September 25th, 1941
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
September 28th, 1941
Bronze version.
Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
October 1st, 1942
Medaille
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
January 28th, 1943
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Silber
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant)
Unit:
8./Deutschland, Kampfgruppe "Das Reich"
Awarded on:
February 13th, 1944
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant)
Awarded on:
March 15th, 1944
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant)
Unit:
Bataillonsführer SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Bataillon, "Das Reich"
Awarded on:
April 20th, 1944
Nahkampfspange in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer der Reserve (1st Lieutenant of Reserves)
Unit:
Führer II./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt 3 "Deutschland", SS-PzKampfGrp "Das Reich"
Awarded on:
May 4th, 1944
Eckert’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“SS-Obersturmführer Hans Eckert took over the leadership of the Grenadier-Bataillon of the SS-Kampfgruppe ‘Das Reich’ on the 28.03.1944 after its previous commander had been wounded.

On the 28.03.1944 the Kampfgruppe moved into the area northwest of Minkowzy with orders to relieve those elements of the 101. Jäger-Division that were located there. But just before the Kampfgruppe arrived the Russians attacked these positions with strong forces and achieved a penetration about 2 km wide along both sides of the road.

As the entire Kampfgruppe began to initiate its countermeasures, SS-Obersturmführer Eckert rallied the SS men in his vicinity as well as any retreating Heer soldiers on his own initiative. With these forces he led a bold counterthrust that was of decisive significance for the holding of the frontline at this location. He threw the enemy back far beyond their jump-off positions and in doing so ensured that these positions could be held for the entire day until the ordered withdrawal time came to pass.

On the 29.03.1944 SS-Obersturmführer Eckert and his Bataillon were in position south of Ruda-Gortschitschanskaja. The Bataillon’s right boundary ran along the northern edge of Sszibory.

Over the course of the morning the enemy succeeded in breaking through the lines of the right neighbour along the road in Sszibory. A dangerous crisis once again arose. SS-Obersturmführer Eckert had barely been informed of the situation when he at once ordered and personally led a counterthrust in the neighbouring sector on his own initiative. After a short time the Russians were thrown out of the village by this energetically conducted counterthrust. A great danger was thus resolved, made all the more threatening by the fact that only a single Feld-Ersatz-Bataillon was in position to guard the important road.

Once again it was the decisiveness and exemplary dash of SS-Obersturmführer Eckert that was responsible for mastering a major crisis.

On the 05.04.1944 the Kampfgruppe had the mission of occupying new positions east of Wolkowce and establishing contact with the 208. Infanterie-Division. The Kampfgruppe proceeded along the railway line and reached its sector. But then it received a message from the front that which reported that a Russian column with infantry and anti-tank guns was already marching towards the west on the road that ran along the left boundary. SS-Obersturmführer Eckert immediately decided to attack the enemy and block the road. He immediately dispatched a Zug towards the west, which would ideally tie down as many enemy forces as possible. Meanwhile he and the rest of the SS-Grenadier-Bataillon would begin an attack against the marching column along a broad front.

He personally stormed at the head of his Bataillon as far as the road. The enemy’s integrity was immediately broken, and the marching column was scattered in a very short time. One Kompanie thrusted across the road further towards the east, with the result that the fleeing Russians were taken under murderous MG fire from two sides.

80 enemy dead were counted on just the road itself. 80 rifles, 5 heavy machine-guns, 3 anti-tank rifles and 2 anti-tank guns (4.7 cm) were also captured.

A decisive success for the entire overall situation was again achieved, one which was all the more important due to the fact that the left flank remained fully open for the entire day. The Grenadier-Bataillon was involved in heavy defensive combat for the rest of the day. Several counterthrusts were necessary in order to hold the frontline until the ordered time of retreat.

The great success of this day was in large part thanks to the exemplary fighting abilities of SS-Obersturmführer Eckert.

On the 12.04.1944 the Kampfgruppe lay at the disposal of the XXXXVI. Panzer-Korps in Amilowka. At around 16:00 the Kampfgruppe received orders to immediately march towards Slone in order to eliminate a broad Russian penetration against the frontline of the 75. Infanterie-Division. The most important objective was to reconquer Hill 347, a preeminent height that dominated the entire sector. The Kampfgruppe commenced its attack at 06:00, however it immediately ran into an exceptionally powerful enemy blocking fire by weapons of all kinds. Heavy losses were incurred, and for the time being it seemed that the attack would bog down. However in this moment SS-Obersturmführer Eckert intervened in the fight and inspired his men to get back on their feet. At the price of much heavy fighting and substantial casualties it was ultimately possible to partially capture and hold the important hill until the onset of darkness.

New ammunition was acquired in the first night hours, and after midnight the remainder of the hill was stormed in a bold night attack in accordance with the orders of the Bataillon commander. The result was that this commanding position remained firmly in our control for the entirety of the following day. This attack was vital for the holding of the front in the left sector of the 75. Infanterie-Division.

This success is all the more remarkable considering that the attack was mostly conducted by specialist forces (such as artillerymen, flak troops, tank crews, maintenance units and communications personnel) fighting in their first purely infantry operation.

The superior leadership qualities of SS-Obersturmführer Eckert had once more brought this extraordinarily difficult attack to a successful conclusion.

It is evident that SS-Obersturmführer has repeatedly demonstrated outstanding fighting spirit, swift decisiveness and exemplary bravery. He is a shining example to his men and the model of a magnificent frontline officer.

SS-Obersturmführer Eckert has been wounded a total of 6 times. Since the 13.02.1944 he has been a holder of the German Cross in Gold and the Close Combat Clasp in Gold.

SS-Obersturmführer Eckert is especially worthy of receiving the high award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

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