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PKeating

Major a.D.und RKT Heinrich SPRINGER RIP

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Major (Retd) Heinrich Springer, who was one of the last two living Knight's Cross Holders from the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, has died. The colour photograph shows Springer, in the middle, during Fritz Witt's birthday party in France in 1944.

Heinrich Springer came from Kiel and joined the SS-Verf?gungstruppe in 1937. He served in the ranks in the Germania and Der F?hrer Regiments (Standarten) and participated in the Austrian and Sudetenland annexations. In 1938, he he was posted to the SS-Junkerschule in Bad T?lz, passing out as an SS-Untersturmf?hrer in October 1939. Posted to the LSSAH, Springer won the EK2 as a platoon commander at Dunkirk in 1940. Promoted to SS-Obersturmf?hrer in September 1940, he also fought in the Yugoslav and Greek campaigns.

During Barbarossa in July 1941, as Adjutant of 1./SS-Inf-Rgt (mot.) Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Springer was awarded the EK1 for his leadership of a patrol far behind Bolshevik lines, tasked with re-establishing contact with III Armee-Korps under General von Mackensen. By November 1941, SS-Hauptsturmf?hrer Springer was in command of 3./SS-Inf-Rgt (mot.) LAH when the company attacked and held a vital bridge over the Don river at Rostov in the face of concerted Bolshevik counter-attacks. Springer was wounded and evacuated. Whilst in hospital, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz in January 1942.

Returning to the LAH, he remained in command of 3./SS-Inf-Rgt (mot.) LAH until severely wounded by an artillery shell at Karkhov in March 1943. During his convalescence, he was promoted to Sturmbahnf?hrer and posted in October 1943 to the newly forming Hitlerjugend Division as Divisional Adjutant. Following the Normandy campaign, Springer was posted to the staff of Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model as First Ordnance Officer. Model was in command of Armeegruppe B and Springer saw action at Arnhem and during the Ardennes counter-offensive.

This is a just a brief biography. I am sure others can add more detail. Herr Springer was very much of the old school, extremely charming and solicitous yet rather formal at the same time, but very appreciative of young Europeans who took the trouble to get in touch with him in the days before veterans like him found themselves buried under tidal waves of requests for signed photos by people who then sold them on eBan. There came a time when Herr Springer, like other veterans, simply stopped responding to letters from people he did not know.

The funeral was private and, interestingly, Heinrich Springer's website http://www.heinrich-springer.de now leads to a German bookseller's webpage offering a biography of Springer. Springer was also a holder of the Wound Badge in Gold. There were not many soldiers on active service wearing that decoration.

Heinrich Springer RIP.

PK

Edited by PKeating

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awarded the Ritterkreuz in January 1942.

Herr Springer was very much of the old school, extremely charming and solicitous yet rather formal at the same time.

Hit the nail on the head there Prosper. Having had the privilege both of visiting Hein on several occasions at his home and having him visit me on his trip to the UK, he most certainly was an "old school" gentleman of the finest kind. Extremely friendly, loyal, polite and possesed of the finest good manners, his old style formality was both quaint and charming. Visitors to his home were treated with enormous courtesy and I will always remember when staying with him, being greeted at the start of each day not with a casual "Morning !", but with a nod stopping only just short of a bow, and a (very) firm handshake.

Here he is with his wife Ursula ( a wonderful woman and a real character) on their wedding day.

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His formal portrait on the award of the Knight's Cross. Unlike many "Aces" who won this award by accumulating a "score", Springer earned his for a single infantry combat action where he displayed exemplary personal bravery, leading a charge on a heavily defended bridge over the river Don.

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Gordon:

Is this the chap who was the subject of your article in Antique Arms and Militeria so many years ago? It's the reason i started collecting.

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Gordon:

Is this the chap who was the subject of your article in Antique Arms and Militeria so many years ago? It's the reason i started collecting.

Indeed it was. Here are some more.

First, in Russia with "Panzermeyer", Gerd Bremer and Sepp Dietrich.

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And here (at left with briefcase) on the staff of Generalfeldmarschall Model, seen in discussions with Fallschirmj?ger General Eugen Meindl

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From everything I have read about him, he seems to have been one of the more noble TR personalities. I am sure that he will be missed by friends and historians alike.

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France 1944 as Staff Officer with 12 SS Pz Div, here with Fritz Witt, Rudolf Lehmann and "papa" Schuch

Hi Gordon,

It's not Lehmann but Hubert Meyer

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