When a grandaunt of mine on the maternal side died recently, I took a collection of documents on the life of her brother from her effects which she probably kept ever since his wife died, having always been the family genealogist. It offered an absolutely fascinating view into the personal life of a senior Wehrmacht officer, supplemented last weekend by letters written and pictures taken during his posting as a staff officer with 73rd Infantry Division at the Kuban in 1943 and surrounding his going MIA as commander of Grenadier Regiment 1 near Königsberg in early 1945, handed over by my uncle and aunt. Dave Clark helpfully supplied translations of some Italian and Romanian documents in the collection, courtesy of his multinational colleagues at the European Patent Office.
What follows is a summary of the picture that emerged. It will take several posts due to translated excerpts and several scans.
Friedrich Kutzbach is born on 31 March 1909 at Pfalzburg (Phalsbourg), Lorraine, as the son to a captain in the Upper Rhineian Infantry Regiment No. 99 (Prussian Army). He is duely innoculated (presumably against smallpox) in 1911, and again in 1919. From 1915, he attends the Royal Kaiser-Wilhelms-Gymnasium at Aachen, which is not so Royal anymore in 1919 when he leaves there because the family moves to Kassel. His academic exploits are modest according to his report cards, and he seems to have a particularly reluctant relationship with writing which leads to him failing grade and changing schools in 1922. He eventually manages a solid C exam in 1929, though he was always good at sports (getting the basic rescue swimmer certification of the German Lifesaving Society at age 16 upon which he later improves to become an instructor in 1932) and music - obvious army material!
Sure enough, he joins Infantry Regiment 3 in Eastern Prussia as a officer candidate the same year and graduates as an ensign from Infantry School at Dresden with overall "quite good" results on 8 August 1931 (though he's good at engineer classes, air protection and camoflage, and still "very good" at athletics). Same-same for the officer course from which he graduates as a senior ensign on 6 August 1932 (though his achievements in tactics are merely "almost sufficient" ). He then extends his term to a total of 30 years on 23 August 1932.
He gets his commission as a second lieutenant with seniority from 1 May 1933 (40), spelled out "In the Name of the Reich" and signed by Reichswehr Minister von Blomberg, same as with his promotion to first lieutenant with seniority from 1 December 1934 (135); when he is promoted captain on 1 January 1939 (106) it will be in the name of the Führer and Reich Chancellor, and signed by von Brauchitsch, the German Eagle imprint in the document replaced by the Third Reich eagle and swastika.
There are other signs of the times such as an "Ancestry Passport" which everybody is required to prove his "Aryan" descendancy at least three generations down with. Other more innocuous documents include an account book and checkbook, pay slips, bills from the Wehrmacht uniform store, various insurance papers (including a painstakenly detailed list of his earthly possessions, rather short by modern standards) and the testament of his granduncle Admiral Friedrich Ingenohl, former commander of the High Seas Fleet at the start of WW I, from which he inherits a golden watch, sapphire cufflinks and tie pin in 1934. There is a passport issued in 1937, with no visa entries - he will subsequently travel lots of Europe without those.
Meanwhile, he has been transferred to Infantry Regiment Marienburg in 1934 where he served as a battalion adjutant. According to his evaluations, his personality was initially considered not yet fully matured, but developed excellently, if sometimes still too good-natured with other soldiers. He is popular with his comrades, and free and unrestrained towards superiors "with his own firm opinion". Apparently he could improve in knowledge of regulations, military correspondence, horseriding and "feeling the pulse of the troops and bringing up their wishes in time" though. Overall, "he fills his post".
In 1936, serving with III. Battalion of Infantry Regiment 24, he got a "been there" Service Commendation IVth Class for "four years of faithful service". By 1937 he seemed to have overcome his earlier deficits and even become a passionated horseman, though his posture is still judged to be "in need of improvement". However, he is considered fit for command of a company. Instead, he becomes an aide-de-camp on the regimental staff and trains for the War Academy exam which he passes in early 1939. He then is made regimental adjutant on 1 April 1939 and in that capacity takes part in the attack on Poland in September that year.
On 29 September 1939 he is awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class by the commander of 21st Division. There is no citation, but an evaluation by his regimental commander from 4 December describes him as "fully proven before the enemy" and fit for general staff service. This time the recommendation is followed through, and he is attached to the general staff on 30 January 1940. Subsequently he becomes transport commander for the Warsaw area, where we still find him, ever the avid sportsman, passing tests for the Reich Sports Badge held by 1st SS Cavalry Regiment in April 1941. On 17 October, he is permanently posted with the general staff and can henceforth call himself a Hauptmann im Generalstab.
For some reason though he then ends up in a reserve hospital at Bad Wildungen, from whence he is provisionally commanded to fill the slot of Ia (first general staff officer) at Wehrmacht Transport Command Center effective 1 January 1942. On 25 February 1942, he is tasked with holding transport classes for the 5th General Staff Officer Course. He is promoted Major i. G. effective 1 April 1942 (92), getting bumped up in seniority to 1 February (51 B) retroactively three weeks later. Effective 10 August 1942, he is ordered to take over as Ia for Wehrmacht Transport Command Paris. He seems to expect some adventures there, since on 6 August he buys a personal Beretta 7.65 mm pistol at a Berlin hardware store for 47.20 Reichsmark, its original Italian proving certificate dated 12 July 1941.
Effective 15 January 1943 he is again transferred to become Ia for Wehrmacht Transport Command West and promoted Lieutenant Colonel i. G. with seniority from 1 May 1943 (16). While he has a cushy position, he seems to feel that the real war is passing him by, as evidenced by the joy expressed in letters written to his wive when he gets his next posting with 73rd Infantry Division. Fortunately she typed down excerpts, thus preserving his writings for future generations in a legible form. Translated excerpts from those excerpts will make up the next post.
Edited by BansheeOne, 25 November 2011 - 1219 PM.