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Matthäus Hetzenauer
Born (1924-12-23)23 December 1924
Died 3 October 2004(2004-10-03) (aged 79)
Place of birth Brixen im Thale, Tyrol (Austria)
Place of death Brixen im Thale, Tyrol (Austria)
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1943–1945
Rank Gefreiter
Unit 3rd Mountain Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Iron Cross 2nd & 1st class
Infantry Assault Badge
Wound Badge (black)
Sniper's Badge (gold)
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Matthäus Hetzenauer (December 23, 1924 in Tyrol, Austria – October 3, 2004) was an Austrian sniper in the 3rd Mountain Division on the Eastern Front of the World War II, who was credited with 345 kills. His longest confirmed kill was reported at 1100 metres. Hetzenauer was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


After spending most of 1943 in basic training, Hetzenauer trained as a sniper during March - July 1944 at the Truppenübungsplatz Seetaler-Alpe in Steiermark, before being assigned as Gefreiter to the 3rd Gebirgsjäger Division. He utilised both a Karabiner 98k sniper variant with 6x telescopic sight and a Gewehr 43 with ZF4 4x telescopic sight. He saw action against Soviet forces in the Carpathians, Hungary and Slovakia.

On 6 November 1944 he suffered head trauma from artillery fire, and was awarded the Verwundeten-Abzeichen three days later.

On multiple occasions he served with fellow sniper Josef Allerberger. They were able to inflict heavy casualties on Soviet infantry.

Gefreiter Hetzenauer received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 17 April 1945. Generalleutnant and Divisions commander Paul Klatt had recommended Hetzenauer because of his numerous sniper kills, which totalled two enemy companies, without fear for his own safety under artillery fire and enemy attacks. This recommendation was approved by General der Gebirgstruppe Karl von Le Suire and General der Panzertruppe Walter Nehring.[1]

Hetzenauer was captured by Soviet troops the following month, and served 5 years in routinely appalling conditions in a Soviet prison camp.

He died on 3 October 2004 after several years of deteriorating health.



  1. Thomas & Wegmann 1994, p. 305.
  2. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 225.
  3. Scherzer 2007, p. 388.
  • 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 & Wegmann, Günter. Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 - Teil IV: Die Gebirgstruppe (in German). Band 2: L-Z, Biblio Verlag, 1994. ISBN 3-7648-2430-1.

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