Military Wiki
Ludwig Crüwell
Born (1892-03-20)20 March 1892
Died 25 September 1958(1958-09-25) (aged 66)
Place of birth Dortmund
Place of death Essen
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held 11. Panzer Division
Afrika Korps
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

Ludwig Crüwell (20 March 1892 – 25 September 1958), was a German general known for his involvement with the Afrika Korps. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Legally it was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Ludwig Crüwell.[Note 1] Crüwell was captured by the British on 29 May 1942, after his plane was forced to land.


Crüwell became commander of the Afrika Korps on 31 July 1941, answering to General Erwin Rommel, who on the same day took command of Panzer Army Africa, consisting of one infantry and two panzer divisions.

On 29 May 1942, Crüwell was inspecting operations by air in Libya. His Fieseler Fi 156 pilot mistook British troops for Italian soldiers and landed. Although the pilot was fatally wounded, Crüwell survived and was taken prisoner.[1] General Crüwell remained a prisoner and on March 22, 1943, was intentionally placed with another POW, General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma (captured in November 1942 while in temporary command of the Afrika Korps), who during the meeting disclosed intelligence regarding the V-2 rocket, i.e.; surprise that London was not yet in ruins from German rockets being tested at a "special ground near Kummersdorf" he had visited. This led to the British investigating Peenemünde and following confirmation bombing raid the Peenemünde facilities[2]


Wehrmachtbericht reference

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Tuesday, 2 June 1942 Bei einem Erkundungsflug über den feindlichen Linien wurde General der Panzertruppen Crüwell abgeschossen und geriet in britische Gefangenschaft.[5] On a reconnaissance flight over enemy lines General of Panzer Troops Crüwell was shot down and fell into British captivity.


  1. Until late September 1941, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as highest military order was officially surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern), however the first presentation of the Swords to Adolf Galland was made prior to this date on 21 June 1941.


  1. "A Pilot's Error Leads to Capture," Chillicothe Daily Tribune, June 2, 1942, p.6
  2. von Braun and Ordway III 1975, p. 51.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Thomas 1997, p. 106.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 263.
  5. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 148.
  • Alman, Karl (1998) (in German). Ritterkreuzträger des Afrikakorps [Knight's Cross Bearers of the Afrika Korps]. Rastatt, Germany: VPM Verlagsunion Pabel Moewig. ISBN 978-3-8118-1457-8. 
  • von Braun, Wernher (Estate of); Ordway III, Frederick I., and Dooling, David Jr. (1985—first edition) [1975]. Space Travel: A History. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-181898-4. 
  • 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. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • 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. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 11. Panzer Division
1 August 1940 – 15 August 1941
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Günther Angern
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Philipp Müller-Gebhard
Commander of Afrika Korps
15 September 1941 – 8 March 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Commander of Afrika Korps
19 March 1942 – 28 May 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring

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