Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz (1893-1968)

Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz (1893-1968) was an aristocratic German general who served in Poland in 1939, France in 1940 and on the Eastern Front, before commanding Panzer Lehr Division from the summer of 1944 until late in the year. He was one of only twenty eight recipients of the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross.

Graf Strachwitz entered the German Army before the First World War, entering the Prussian Military Academy at Lichterfelde as a Cadet. He then joined the 'Garde de Corps', the regiment that served as the Kaiser's bodyguard at Potsdam. His First World War career was brief - he was captured by the French in September 1914 - but distinguished, and he was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class during this short period.

At the start of the Second World War Strachwitz was a junior officer. He served in Poland in 1939 and France in 1940 (taking part in the advance on Sedan). During the invasion of the Soviet Union he commanded the 1st Battalion, 2nd Panzer Regiment, 16th Panzer Division. He was awarded the Knight's Cross on 25 August 1941 (for his part in the closing of the Uman pocket) and the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross on 13 November 1942 (for his part in the advance to Stalingrad - the 16th Panzer Division was the first to reach the Volga north of Stalingrad). Strachwitz was wounded and evacuated before the Soviet's isolated the Germans in Stalingrad.

This second award came at the same time as promotion to colonel and an appointment to command the Grossdeutschland Panzer Regiment. He continued to win awards, receiving the Swords to the Knight's Cross on 28 March 1943 (for fighting against odds around the villages of Borisovka and Tomarovka) and the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross on 15 April 1944 (the eleventh of twenty-eight recipients of that award). The same period saw him promoted to Generalmajor. Strachwitz found in the battle of Kursk and the defensive battles around Kharkov during 1943. The Diamonds was awarded after Strachwitz personally led a relief force which broke through Soviet forces besieging Riga, allowing the German garrison to be evacuated.

At some point between April and June 1944 Strachwitz was moved from the Eastern Front to Normandy. He took command of the Panzer Lehr Division, an elite formation formed from training units, replacing Fritz Bayerlein on 8 June 1944 (D-Day+2) while Bayerlein was promoted to command a full corps. Strachwitz commanded Panzer Lehr until early December 1944, when Bayerlein returned to rebuild the unit after its mauling in France. Strachwitz himself commanded an anti-tank brigade on the Eastern Front during 1945, but managed to move far enough west to surrender to American troops in May 1945.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 October 2011), Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Camminetz (1893-1968), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_strachwitz_hyazinth.html

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