Kurt Adolph Wilhelm “Panzermeyer” Meyer

Kurt Adolph Wilhelm “Panzermeyer” Meyer

Birth
Hanover, Region Hannover, Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany
Death 23 Dec 1961 (aged 51)
Hagen, Stadtkreis Hagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Burial Hagen, Stadtkreis Hagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Plot Block 16, grave 16
Memorial ID 54456942 · View Source
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War Criminal - SS-Brigadefuhrer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Meyer was born in Jerxheim in Lower Saxony. He came from a lower class working family and his father had served in World War I, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major before returning home due to wounds he had received in France that would soon claim his life. After obtaining his education, Meyer went to work in a factory, then worked as a miner before he started a career as a police officer in Mecklenburg on October 1, 1929. Meyer joined the NSDAP on September 1, 1930, three years before Adolf Hitler would become the Chancellor of Germany. Upon joining the Nazi party Meyer was given Nazi Party membership number 316714. He applied to join the Schutzstaffel, soon to be known simply as the SS, and was accepted on October 15, 1931, being given SS membership number 17559. Meyer was assigned to the 22nd SS-Standarte based in Schwerin. He was commissioned a SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant) in 1932. In May of 1934 he was transferred to Adolf Hitler's bodyguard service, soon to be known as the "Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler", or "LSSAH", in Berlin. By September of 1936, Meyer had been promoted to SS-Obersturmführer (1st Lieutenant), and had also taken command of the LSSAH's Anti-Tank unit, the 14th Panzerabwehrkompanie. He and the LSSAH took part in the annexation of Austria and in the occupation of Czechoslovakia. On September 9, 1939 during the Polish campaign, he was shot through the shoulder but continued to command his anti-tank unit and received the Iron Cross 2nd Class. In October, there reportedly was a war crime committed by his orders, wherein Meyer was alleged to have ordered the shooting of fifty Polish Jews as a reprisal, and to have court-martialed a platoon commander who refused to carry out his instructions. The Russians wanted to try Meyer for this crime after the war but it was never done. The LSSAH fought their way through the Occupation of France, where Meyer earned the Iron Cross 1st Class, then Yugoslavia and into Greece by the early part of 1941. Meyer's leadership during these campaigns was inspiring and caught the attention of his commanders. His leadership was largely responsible for defeating the Greek resistance at Lake Castoria. Because of his habit of being at the front with his men and working with his reconnaissance unit, he was nicknamed "Schnell Meyer" (or "Speedy Meyer") but also he was considered to be somewhat reckless in his style. Due to his leadership, courage under fire and continuing to getting the job done through his reconnaissance work, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, roughly equivalent to the United States award of the Medal of Honor, on May 18, 1941. His unit was sent to the Russian Front. His superior performance and achievements of his reconnaissance unit earned him the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. He accomplished many of his accomplishments while riding a motorcycle with his reconnaissance unit. In October of 1941 Meyer became ill and was sent home to Berlin to get well. He returned to his command in Russia in January of 1942 and soon after he was awarded the German Cross in Gold for bravery in combat. Meyer's battalion captured the entire command staff of a Soviet division near Jeremejewka and Aleksandrowka, as well as rescuing captured German troops. The actions of the SS divisions Leibstandarte, 2nd SS Das Reich and 3rd SS Totenkopf, along with the Army's elite Grossdeutschland division, resulted in the shutting down of Soviet General Nikolai Vatutin's offensive. For his actions in this campaign, Meyer became the 195th man to be awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross. Even in the face of glory, Meyer was shadowed by allegations of war crimes. He was alleged to have ordered the destruction of a Russian village during the fighting around Kharkov, leading to the murder of all its inhabitants. He was never brought to trial for this reported crime and it is unknown if he did in fact order the deaths. Meyer was promoted to SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) on June 21, 1943 and was soon transferred from his beloved Leibstandarte and took command of his own regiment, the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25, in the 12th SS-Panzer Division, "Hitlerjugend". On June 16, 1944, the division commander, his friend Brigadefuhrer Fritz Witt, was killed by Allied naval gunfire. Meyer assumed command of the division and though he was lauded for his performance and counter attacks, the division was incapable of stopping the allied invasion of France. His division was on the verge of being annihilated due to the constant attacks they were receiving from allied units. Meyer decided to save what was left of his division by violating Hitler's "No Retreat" order and move his men back towards the Orne River. After a month of continuous fighting, the Hitlerjugend had been reduced from 22,000 men to under 5,000. In less than a month of further fighting in the area known as the Falaise Pocket, his unit would be down to approximately 1500 men capable of fighting. Though he was in the face of defeat at this time, his leadership and bravery earned him a promotion to Major General and the Swords device to his Knight's Cross, becoming the 91st recipient of that highly desired and prestigious award. At that time, he was one of the youngest divisional commanders in the German Army during the World War II. On September 6, 1944, "Panzermeyer" was severely wounded and on November 17th he was captured at Durnal, Belgium (some researchers/historians say it was in Amiens, France) by Belgium partisans. American Army forces took control of Meyer, dressed him in the uniform of a German Army Oberst (Colonel) and subsequently turned him over to the British. They too, had to disguise him as it was felt that if the locals discovered who he was they would have murdered him. After Meyer recovered somewhat from his wounds, he was sent to England as a Prisoner of War. Because he was missing and presumed dead, he was retroactively promoted to Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen SS effective from September 1 in honor of his service and sacrifice. After the war ended, he was sent to Aurich in the Lower Saxony region of Germany to face a Canadian military court for the war crime charges of the murder of Canadian prisoners at Caen by SS troopers who were under his command. Reportedly, this killing occurred at his headquarters at Abbey Ardennes. He was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. However, his sentence was commuted and he was given a sentence of life in prison instead and was taken to Canada for imprisonment. Meyer served five years in Dorchester Penitentiary, New Brunswick, Canada. He formally petitioned for clemency in late 1950 and even offered to serve in a Canadian or United Nations military force if released. The government was willing to let him return to a German prison but not to release him outright or accept his offer of military service. He was then transferred to a British military prison in Werl, West Germany. On September 6, 1954 he was released from custody. For the next six years of his life, he diligently worked to help his former SS comrades. But his war wounds, bad kidneys, mini strokes, a failing heart and his prison time had taken a great toll on him and on his 51st birthday, he collapsed with a heart attack and died in Hagen, Westphalia, Germany. It should be noted that Meyer suffered eighteen broken bones and four concussions during his military career, in addition to his wounds from battle, testament to his daredevil personality.He was a Brigadeführer in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany who commanded SS Division Hitlerjugend during World War II. He participated in the Battle of France, Operation Barbarossa, and the Battle of Normandy. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. He was later convicted of war crimes for his role in the Ardenne Abbey massacre where Canadian prisoners of war in Normandy were killed.
He served five years in Dorchester Penitentiary, in New Brunswick, Canada. He was transferred to a British military prison in Werl, West Germany in 1951. He was released from prison on September 7, 1954 after the German government reduced his sentence for good behavior.

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  • Created by: Rick Lawrence
  • Added: 3 Jul 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 54456942
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Kurt Adolph Wilhelm “Panzermeyer” Meyer (23 Dec 1910–23 Dec 1961), Find a Grave Memorial no. 54456942, citing Friedhof Delstern, Hagen, Stadtkreis Hagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany ; Maintained by Rick Lawrence (contributor 47207615) .