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Erich Bärenfänger
Erich Bärenfänger
Born (1915-01-12)12 January 1915
Died 2 May 1945(1945-05-02) (aged 30)
Place of birth Menden
Place of death Berlin
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1936–1945
Rank Generalmajor
Unit 98.InfDiv
Commands held III./GrenRgt 123

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Erich Bärenfänger (12 January 1915 – 2 May 1945) was an officer in the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


Bärenfänger was born on in Menden, Province of Westphalia, Germany. He was the son of an upper post office secretary.

Bärenfänger joined the Storm Troopers or "brownshirts" (Sturmabteilung or SA) in 1933.

In October 1936, Bärenfänger joined an infantry regiment and, after attending a reserve officer candidate training course, he was promoted to Sergeant. In April 1939, Bärenfänger was promoted to Second Lieutenant of the Reserve.

From September 1939 to June 1940, Bärenfänger was a platoon leader during the Polish and French campaigns. In early 1941, he participated in the Campaign in the Balkans.

In June 1941, Bärenfänger was involved in the attack on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. On the Eastern Front, he fought on the Taman Peninsula at the Mius and in the Kuban position on the Crimean Peninsula.

In the Caucasus, he distinguished himself for bravery before the enemy and received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Bärenfänger also received several foreign bravery medals from nations allied to Germany. He was appointed the inspector of the Hitler Youth military training.

Berlin, 1945

Towards the end of World War II, Bärenfänger took part in the Battle for Berlin.

According to Read and Fisher in "The Fall of Berlin", German dictator Adolf Hitler promoted thirty-year-old Lieutenant Colonel (Oberstleutnant) Bärenfänger to Major-General (Generalmajor) on 22 April 1945.[citation needed]

On 26 April, due to the direct command of Hitler, Bärenfänger was given command of defence sectors A and B.[citation needed] Bärenfänger mounted at least two unsuccessful armored attacks northwards up the Schönhauser Allee. The second was on 1 May.[1]

Members of SS-Brigadeführer (Major-General) Wilhelm Mohnke's "break out group" saw quite a sight thanks to Bärenfänger. On 1 May, the group left the Führerbunker. As they made good their escape, there before them they saw a "host" of new "Tiger Tanks" and "artillery pieces" arrayed around the Flak tower as if "on Parade." The young Major-General Bärenfänger was allegedly seated in the turret cupola of one of the "Tigers" thus arrayed.[2]

On 2 May, Bärenfänger, a devoted Nazi, committed suicide with his young wife in a side street of Berlin.[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Beevor 2002, p. 384.
  2. O'Donnell, James. (2001). The Bunker. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thomas 1997, p. 18.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 120, 484.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 69.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 42.
  • Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-88695-5.
  • Berger, Florian (1999) (in German). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War]. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • O'Donnell, James. (2001). The Bunker. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003) (in German). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz]. Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross, Oak-Leaves and Swords Recipients 1941-45. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-643-7.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Ernst Kaether
Commanders of the Berlin Defense Area
(Deputy to Adolf Hitler)

22 April 1945
Succeeded by
Helmuth Weidling

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