Armin Bauer

Armin Bauer was born on 13 Oktober 1919 in Neundorf, Germany. In 1937, when he was around 18 years old, his mother died. Armin was a member of the Hitler-Jugend where he earned the HJ Ehrenzeichen. Armin got drafted into the German army on 20 July 1939, at district Dresden III. On page 6 of the Wehrpass they noted that his actual army-service would be postponed for a few month's. The picture that was used in his Wehrpass was made in his hometown Radebeul, near Dresden. A spare photo with the makers stamp on the back was put into the Wehrpass´s cover-pocket.

Armin´s religion was written down on page 3 as Gottglaubig, you don´t see that often. I quote from the "Der erste zug" website: "Gottglaubig was the term Nazis used for people who believed in God but rejected the regular organized churches. It was the "politically correct" religion, especially if one had aspirations".

Armin's civilian qualifications got noted into the Wehrpass, including his civilian Führerschein (drivers licence) classes I, II and III and his education. He also got his HJ Ehrenzeichen and the Reichs- sportabzeichen im bronze noted into his Wehrpass, those are a Hitlerjugend honor badge and a Bronze (national) sports medal. Armin's civilian job was "Autoschlosser", which simply means car mechanic.

After conscription Armin was send to his training unit, this was Artillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 256. Armin was assigned to the 2th Schwere-geschutz kompanie (heavy gun company) of this Artillery unit. The unit was based in the Artillerie-Kaserne of the city Meißen in Germany. This town is about 25 km northwest of Dresden and about 15 km from his hometown Radebeul.

Armin began his training on 12 Januari 1940. On 12 February 1940, one month later, he transferred to Armee-kraftfahrpark 527 (Army-motorvehicle-pool). Such a short training would indicate that Armin had been in the army before, or had gotten earlier training otherwise. In the Wehrpass they noted that Armin was trained on the standart issue k98k rifle, the motorised schwere 10cm kannone 18 (Heavy 10cm cannon Nr.18) and the LMG 34. LMG stands for "Leichte Machinegewehr", basically its just the MG34 without the tripod (but with the bipod ofcourse), with tripod it would become a SMG (Schwere Machinegewehr). Armin also got his military driver licence for all three classes he already had in his civilian life, but also for Halbketten (halftrack) vehicles in general, the RSO (Raupenschleper OST) and the Maultier (halftrack).

Armin stayed with Armee-kraftfahrpark 527 untill 1 March 1940 when he got transferred to Kraftwagen-Werkstatt-Zug 315 (Vehicle maintenance platoon Nr. 315). This unit was part of the 72. Infanterie-Division. Around this time the Division was positioned at Nordhausen in Thüringen as OKH-Reserve.
Later on in 1940 Armin's unit got renamed to Kraftwagen-Werkstatt-Kompanie 172. With this unit he participated in the battle for Europe. Armin's Division was send to action in the second phase of the Invasion of France. In the area of La Fère the Division crossed the Oisne and then the Oise-Aisne canal. Hereafeter they fought at Chemin-des-Dames, marched to Ourcq and crossed the Marne at Nanteuil. Then the Division followed French army units and crossed the Seine and Loire towards Cher, east of Vierzon. After the French surrendering the Division stayed in France as occupation force in the Bretagne area for some time.

On the 1st of July 1940 Armin was promoted to Gefreiter (private first class). On 28 September 1940 he was awarded the "Kriegsverdienstkreuz II Klasse mit Schwertern", this War Merit cross second class was for good conduct in non-combatant situations, whereas the Iron cross was for combatant actions. In Oktober 1940 the Divison moved to the Paris area. Here Division stayed as security/occupation force untill 18 Januari 1941.

On 19 Januari 1941 Armin's Division was moved to Romania to train Romanian troops for about 2 months. Romania was an ally to Germany at this time. After that they marched through Bulgaria (also an ally of Germany) and fought in the Balkan battles all the way into Greece. In Greece they stayed for about 3 weeks to secure it. After these actions they marched back trough Bulgaria into Romania. In Romania they ressumed their training of the Romanian troops for a short time.

On 22 June 1941 the invasion of Russia (Soviet Union) started unter the codename "Unternehmen Barbarossa". At first the Division was a reserve of the 11.Armee but at Nikolajew the Division was send to the front. In September 1941 the Division crossed the Dnjepr in the Berislaw area and marched via Askania-Nowa to Melitopol. From Melitopol the Division went to Landenge at Perekop. Hereafter they fought on the Krim-Peninsula and at Sewastsopol. On 16 November all of the Krim was in German hands except for the Sevastopol fortress. The division secured the coast and made ready for the attack on Sevastopol, which couldn´t start right away due to supply difficulties. On 17 December the attack on the fortress city Sevastopol began but failed and was halted around 31 December. Around the same time the Soviets launched a counter attack, which had to be dealt with first. In January 1942 the Division participated in the defensive battles at Eupatoria on the Krim.

On 1 Mai 1942 Armin got promoted to Obergefreiter (corporal). A new attack on the Sevastopol fortress began on 7 June 1942. On the 13th of June German units penetraded the Soviet outer-ring defences. On 4 July 1942 the last Soviet soldiers surrendered. After these battles the Division stayed to secure the Krim-Peninsula till 20 Augustus 1942. On 23 July 1942 Armin received the "Ostmedaille". This medal was to recognize those who participated in the invasion of Russia during the the 1941/1942 winter.

In August 1942 the Division was moved with the 11.Armee to the front at Leningrad and fought from August/September 1942 till February 1943 in the Rshew area. On 23 August 1942 Armin was awarded the "Krimschild" for participating in the previous battles on the Krim-Peninsula.

On 6 Februari 1943 Armin was awarded the Romanian medal: "Kreuzzug gegen den Kommunismus", this medal was for Romanians who participated in the invasion of Russia and German soldiers that fought with Romanian troops. In March 1943 the Division was moved to the Orel area. On 15 May 1943 Armin received the "Kraftfahrbewährungsabzeichen" in Bronze. This medal was for vehicle drivers at/near the front. Including not only combat vehicles but also suppply vehicles. The driver had to have a specific amount of driving days to earn the medal, depending on whether it was a combat or supply vehicle.

On 26 June 1943 Armin got the "Kraftfahrbewährungsabzeichen" in Silver. In July 1943 Armin's Division participated in "Unternehmen Zitadelle"; the battle for Kursk. Under the 20.Armee-Korps they fought west of Kursk and in the Dmitrijew-Ssewsk area.

On 17 July 1943, right after the Kursk battles, Armin got transferred to the 1st Kompanie of Panzerjäger-Abteilung 72 of the same Division. This was probably due to the high losses of soldiers in the previous heavy battles. What Armin's new function was is unknown to me, but due to his training on motorized guns and tracked-vehicles i would expect some sort of motorized anti-tank weapon. This is supported by the photo on the right which shows Armin in an assault-gun uniform.

Armin's Division fought defensive battles near Dessna from July till September 1943. In September the Division participated in the battle for Brjansk. In Oktober they fought at the Dnjepr near Kiew and in November they were in the Tscherkassy area. In January 1944 the Division, together with many units of the XI. and XXXXII. Korps, got surrounded in the Korsum area. At this time the Division had 0 tanks, 33 artillerie pieces and 14 anti-tank pieces.

The pocket, called the Tscherkassy kessel or Korsun kessel, was a debacle. Two entire German Corps got surrounded. Attempts to relieve the pocket failed. The Russians attacked it from all directions. At first the Division had a relative quiet part on the front but the Russians tried to split the pocket right between them and the neightbouring Infanterie-Division, which almost succeeded.

Panzerjäger-Abteilung 72 repels Russian Panzer attacks on the "Panzerhill"
(Copyright: Dörfler - "Die 72.Infanterie-Division")

On 16 February 1944 the remaining units in the pocket made a break-out towards the west. Armin's Division bore the brunt of the attack, it was in the lead. The outbreak succeeded but with the loss of most (heavy) equipment and many men. The Division got out of the pocket with 91 officers, 3524 men and 200 Hiwi´s (Russian "volunteers"). Armin survived and got out with his Division.

Sources and the opinions of historians differ. But the German army lost an estimated 30.000 to 55.000 men with the pocket. The Soviets lost 24.286 men and had 55.902 wounded. It was a bitter pill for the German army. Something they could not recover from easy. While the Russian army kept on marching.

After the outbreak of the Tscherkassy kessel the Division re-grouped near Hrubieszow in Poland. Armin's unit, Panzerjäger-Abteilung 72 was re-organised. It received a Sturmgeschütz-, normal Panzerjäger- and Fla-Kompanie. At this time Armin was in the Sturmgeschütz-Kompanie. The Division did not get much rest, in April 1944 they were send to the front at the Kowel-Lemberg area. Hereafter they fought at Berditschew, Rowno, east of Sokal and North of Horochow. On 13 May 1944 Armin transferred to the 2nd Company of his unit. They also wrote "Mot. Z." meaning motorized platoon. Starting in July 1944, the Division made a fighting retreat towards Baranow at the Weichsel river. At Baranów the Russians had made a bridgehead (Lvov-Sandomierz offensive).

Armin's Division fought for months to remove the bridgehead. On the 1st of August 1944 Armin was promoted to Unteroffizier (Sergeant). One day later, on the 2nd of August 1944, Armin Bauer died in battle at the town Olendry, southeast of Sandomierz. Armin was only 23 years old. As it was common to write the promotion date as the 1st day of a month its unknown to me if Armin died as Unteroffizier or that they promoted him posthumous as an honor. Armin's Division failed to remove the Russian bridgehead and suffered many casualties.

On 16 Oktober 1944 Armin's father, Erich Bauer, received the following letter with Armin's Wehrpass.
It was send from the Wehrmeldeamt Dresden III, where Armin was enlisted in 1939.

Below you can see the complete grouping that i bought, it included a ribbon-bar as well, but that was from another soldier (unknown who). The document group (excluding the ribbon-bar) consists of the following:

* The Wehrpass.
* Extra civilian photo as used in the Wehrpass.
* Photo showing Armin in Sturmgeschütz uniform with some medals.
* His silver Kraftfahr abzeichen.
* His eastfront medal ribbon.
* The letter to his father from Wehrmeldeamt Dresden III.
* A document about his family and the family weapon (seal).