Military Wiki
Karl Heinrich Brenner
Born (1895-05-01)May 1, 1895
Died February 14, 1954(1954-02-14) (aged 58)
Place of birth Mannheim, Germany
Place of death Karlsruhe, Germany
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch War Ensign of Germany 1903-1918.svg Imperial German Army
Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Years of service 1914–1920
Rank Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of Polizei
Unit Field Artillery Regiment "von Scharnhorst"
Baden Volunteer Battalion Ost
7th Infantry Regiment
Police Regiment Warsaw
SS Artillery Regiment Totenkopf
SS Polezei Artillery Regiment
6th SS Gebirgs Division Nord
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
German Cross in Gold

Karl Heinrich Brenner (1 May 1895 — 14 February 1954) was a Leutnant in the Imperial German Army during World War I. He then joined the State police force before joining the Waffen SS. He rose to the rank of Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of Polizei during World War II and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross to recognize extreme battlefield bravery and successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Early life

Karl Heinrich Brenner was born on 1 May 1895, in Mannheim. He attended a secondary technical school and after graduation volunteered to join the Imperial German Army on the 3 August 1914. He joined the Field Artillery Regiment "von Scharnhorst" in Hanover.

World War I

Brenner was selected to become an officer in 1915, and promoted to Leutnant, he remained in the Field Artillery Regiment "von Scharnhorst" until January 1919. He then served with the Baden Volunteer Battalion Ost from January 1919 to April 1920. During the war he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class and the Wound Badge in Silver, for being wounded four times.

Between the Wars

Brenner participated in the Kapp Putsch, the attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic and was then discharged from the Army's 7th Infantry Regiment in 1920.

Brenner then joined the Landespolizei in Baden and in 1926, joined the Hitler Youth. In May 1933 he joined the NSDAP (party number 3.460.685). In 1935 he moved to the National Police School in Berlin and became an aide to the deputy commander of the Prussian State Police. He also got married to Ursula Moninger-Brenner (born March 26, 1915 – 1983, she would later marry Oberstgruppenführer, Sepp Dietrich in 1942). In the summer of 1935 he was involved with the Artillery exercises at the Jüterbog Artillery School with the 4th Artillery Regiment in Ulm. In 1936 he was promoted to Battalion Commander and Hauptmann of Ordnungspolizei and he joined the SS on the 11 September 1938 (SS number 307.786) and was given the rank of Obersturmbannführer.

He then participated in the Anschluss of Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland in 1938. In August 1939, he was given command of the Police Sports School at Spandau in Berlin.

World War II

During World War II his first assignment was from October 1939 the command of the police regiment Warsaw until March 1940 when he was transferred to the SS Division Totenkopf and given temporary command of the SS Artillery Regiment Totenkopf.

After the Totenkopf Artillery Commander resumed command Brenner was given command of the SS Polezei Artillery Regiment. He received the Wound Badge in Gold in September 1941 for the loss of his left eye and in November 1941. he was posted to command the Waffen SS Northwest and became the inspector of the police at Salzburg. Then from August to October 1942, he assisted in the formation of the SS General Command.

In December 1942, he was given command over one of the four Kampfgruppes (battle groups), in the occupation of the French port of Toulon. In February 1943 he returned to Berlin as commander of the Central office of Ordnungspolizei and then commander of the Ordnungspolizei in Salzburg, as the Chief of anti-partisan operations under Higher SS and Police Leader Alpenland which was one of the most powerful postings in Nazi Germany. He also got married for the second time in 1942, leaving his first wife and three daughters.

During December 1943,he was posted as the police commander in the Ukraine and was also awarded the German Cross in Gold. The citation read: On 2 March 1944, Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of Polizei Brenner with a small convoy of personnel carriers entered the town of Borkidisambiguation needed. He personally led the defensive fight, for three days ensuring the town could be held. On 15 March 1944 he met the enemy in the northern part of Kremianez and Gruppenführer Brenner personally led the last reserves in the counter-attack and forced the their superior opponents out of this part of the town. On 21 March 1944, the Russian forces had overwhelmed our lines in the vicinity of Dytkoviecki in a surprise Russian tank attack. Gruppenführer Brenner by his personal bravery, stopped our forces from retreating and built a new front line. On 27 March 1944 Russian tanks broke through the line in the Suchovola sector. Gruppenführer gathered the members of the divisional staff and launched a counterattack. On 2 April 1944 the German line south of Brody was broken by a superior force. Under the leadership of the Gruppenführer Brenner he gathered the scattered troops and started a counterattack, which stopped the Russian attack and over the night of the 5 and 6 April 1944 on height 261, southwest of Brody, he arranged several counterattacks which, resulted in the capture of the local supply route along a major road. On 13 and 14 April 1944, in the sector of Stanislavzik, Brody and Hutniki the Kampfgruppe was forced back after the shock of the Russian attack, Gruppenführer Brenner personally positioned the reserve troops and forced the superior attacking force back. Which allowed the defence to be carried out as planned.

Karl Brenner next assumed command of the Curt von Gottberg Kampfgruppe in July 1944 and Chief of the Bandenkampfverbände (substituting for Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski) between July and September 1944 on anti partisan operations. He then replaced Gustav Lombard as commander of the 6th SS Gebirgs Division Nord in September 1944, It was while in command of the 6th SS Gebirgs Division that he was awarded the Knight's Cross in December 1944.

The Division was under command of the XVIII Mountain Corps and under attack by the advancing Russian forces in the Karella sector. They were ordered to breakthrough at Kuusamo, Kistinki and simultaneously to prevent reinforcements moving up. On 19 September 1944, the Division attacked a Regiment held in reserve that consisted of two mountain artillery battalions and Headquarters. The successful defence secured the front line along the Finnish, Russian border.

After pulling out of Finland the division was transferred to Denmark and later to Germany, where they surrendered to US forces in Bavaria. Brenner remained in command of the Division until 2 April 1945 when he was made a prisoner of war by the Americans.

Post war

Brenner survived the war in captivity upon his release he returned to Germany and died on the 14 February 1954 in Karlsruhe.

Decorations and awards

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Brigadeführer Gustav Lombard
Commander of 6th SS Mountain Division Nord
September 1944 – March 1945
Succeeded by
SS-Standartenführer Franz Schreiber


Further reading

  • 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. 
  • Mitcham, Jr.Samuel, Retreat to the Reich, Stackpole books 2007. ISBN 0-8117-3384-X
  • Henschler Henri & Fay Will, Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS, 1943-45 Stackpole Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8117-2905-2
  • Mitcham Samuel, The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45, Stackpole Books, 2007. ISBN 0-8117-3371-8

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