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Knights Cross recipient, Hptm. W. Herold, Infantry


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Hello readers.

The military documents estate of this highly decorated former officer is presently under my care. These documents mainly pertain to his service in the pre-1945 service. As Hauptmann ( captain ) he served as a battalion commander before he was captured in February 1945. Born 13 January, 1915, he died on 14 Jan. 1986.

He was in Soviet captivity until 1953 and joined the new German army, the Bundeswehr and reached the rank of Oberstlt.(Lt.Col.) He left the service in 1971 after commanding a battalion of armored infantry and later serving in an administrative position. No documents of this part of his military service is contained in the grouping nor are any medals or such.

Bernhard H. Holst

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I am surprised that he joined the West German military coming from Soviet captivity. I would have thought that the Soviets would have let him return to the Eastern side.

Hello Paul.

His release date was rather late. W. Herold was a native of the then U.S. Occupation Zone and was returned to that area. The released prisoners whose homes were in the western regions under control of U.S , British and French Forces could return there. Also those who no longer had a home area because of territorial losses could choose where to go. I believe not many elected to go live in the "Socialist Camp" having first hand experience of its blessings.

The Bundeswehr was officially formed in 1956 and W. Herold joined after that time. By the surviving documents I gather that his health was in need of improvement following his return.

All former officers who wished to serve were screened by a commission in regards to any "baggage" from prior service and other suitability to be a part of the new military. Not all applicants were accepted.

Bernhard H. Holst

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Nice photo. I wonder how many of those who returned from Soviet captivity and joined the Bundeswehr did so for the Soviet cause, i.e. had communist leanings/blackmailed into spying?

Hello Kevin.

You already gave the two main reasons for possible spying by former officers joining the Bundeswehr.

How widespread that was I do not know. You are certainly aware of the MAD ( Militaerischer Abschirm Dienst or counter intelligence service) which was to prevent such incidents but how efficient was that service? We know enough of clever agents of both sides able to elude counter efforts either for a time or even forever.

BTW: this officer like a number of others spent many more years in captivity than usual which in my thinking was caused by special treatment reserved for selected personnel. To mind come officers who belonged to the Heeresgruppe Kurland ( Army group Courland in the Baltic) who often spent more time as prisoners than average. Probably in answer to the several Soviet attempts to defeat this holdout which were unsuccessful, only until the general capitulation took place were they subdued.

Hptm. Herold served in Gren.Rgt. 21, part of 17. Inf.Division destroyed in Jan./Feb. 1945 in Poland.

Bernhard H. Holst

Edited by Bernhard H.Holst
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Hello Kevin.

...You are certainly aware of the MAD ( Militaerischer Abwehr Dienst or counter intelligence service) which was to prevent such incidents but how efficient was that service? We know enough of clever agents of both sides able to elude counter efforts either for a time or even forever.

...

I'd imagine getting an agent recruited into that organisation would of helped massively in getting others recruited into the Bundeswehr as a whole.

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