Erhard Raus

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Erhard Raus
File:Erhard Raus.jpg
A view of Raus showing his Knights Cross with Oak Leaves
Born 8 January 1889
Wolframitz, Margraviate of Moravia, Austria-Hungary now Olbramovice, South Moravian Region, Czech Republic
Died 3 April 1956(1956-04-03) (aged 67)
Vienna, Austria
Allegiance  Austria-Hungary (to 1918)
Austria First Austrian Republic (to 1938)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1909–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held 6th Panzer Division
XI Corps
3rd Panzer Army
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Erhard Raus (8 January 1889 – 3 April 1956) was an Austrian Generaloberst (Colonel General) during World War II. He commanded the 6th Panzer Division during the early years of the war on the Eastern Front before taking Army and Army Group commands. Raus was one of three Austrians who rose to the rank of Colonel General within the German Wehrmacht. The other two were Alexander Löhr and Lothar Rendulic.

Early life

Born in Wolframitz (Moravia), then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he entered the Austro-Hungarian Army Cadet School at Koenigsfeld on 1 October 1905 and was commissioned as an officer on 18 August 1909. He fought throughout World War I with the Bicycle Light-Infantry, becoming highly decorated, rising to the rank of Hauptmann (Captain) and eventually commanded the 1st Battalion the Bicycle Light-Infantry.

He married Anna Morsani on 17 August 1918.

On 18 January 1919 he was selected for retention in the Austrian Army following the end of the war, eventually rising to the rank of Oberst (Colonel) in 1936. He spent these years in a number of staff and training posts before being absorbed into the Wehrmacht during the Anschluss in 1938, following which he continued with several other staff roles.

World War II

Raus was appointed chief of staff to XVII Corps a few months before the war started but due to his staff role, he did not see any combat with these units. They first attacked Poland and then headed west in 1940.

Following the practice of sending staff officers into the line, he took command of the 243rd Infantry Regiment in June 1940, then the 4th Motorised Infantry Regiment in July. In May 1941 he took command of the 6th Motorised Infantry Brigade of the 6th Panzer Division. However, he had never led any of these formations into any sort of battle prior to Operation Barbarossa, which commenced on 22 June 1941. His previous combat experience had been in World War I.

Operation Barbarossa

On 22 June 1941, Kampfgruppe Raus (the 6th Panzer Division was operating with two KampfgruppenRaus and von Seckendorff, under his leadership), launched into the Baltic States and by August 20 had crossed through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It broke through the Stalin Line and had arrived at the outskirts of Leningrad.

On 7 September 1941, Raus was appointed the acting commander of the 6th Panzer Division. On 15 September, the 6th Panzer Division, minus its artillery, was transferred to Army Group Centre to take part in Operation Typhoon – the attempt to capture Moscow.[1] On 11 October he was awarded the Knights Cross.[2]

Moscow and the winter fighting

Raus's unit was transferred to the LVI Panzer Corps and formed part of the spearhead striking for Moscow. During this drive, his men working in combination with other panzer divisions, helped close the Vyazma encirclement. At the beginning of December, they stood only 14 km from the outskirts of Moscow.[3]

During the beginning of January 1942, Soviet counterattacks were threatening to cut off the Fourth and Ninth armies. General Walter Model, (commanding the Ninth Army), issued orders that all rear area personnel would be placed under the command of Raus and he was given the job of organizing these men to protect the lines of communications and stop any encircling operation by the Soviets.[4]

Stalingrad

In early April, the 6th Panzer Division was transferred to France to refit and rest; Raus was appointed the commander of the division on 29 April.[2]

In mid-November 1942, the division left France for the Soviet Union.[5] By the end of November, the division was detrained to take part in Operation Winter Storm – breaking into Stalingrad to relieve the encircled Sixth Army; the operation was ultimately a failure.

Kharkov and Kursk

With the collapse of the front following the Battle of Stalingrad, Raus was placed in command of a newly formed XI Corps known until midsummer as Provisional Corps Raus;[6] he was promoted to General of Panzer Troops.[2] He was now under the command of Army Detachment Kempf and was himself commanding the 168th, 298th and 320th Infantry Divisions.

His units took part in the counterattack during the Third Battle of Kharkov; they crossed the Donets River during the Battle of Kursk (Raus now commanding the 106th, 168th and 320th Divisions), their mission being to screen the Fourth Panzer Army while it broke through the Soviet defenses and drove on for Kursk to complete the encirclement.

In late July, following the failure of Operation Citadel (the Kursk offensive), Raus's Corps fought a rearguard action towards the Donets while the rest of the Army crossed the river, before it too, finally crossed over.

The Wehrmacht attempted to establish defensive positions on the Panther-Wotan Line, which was only partially completed at the time. Raus's Corps fell back on Kharkov where they took part in the final battle for the city.

For his leadership during the defensive fighting from Belgorod to Kharkov Raus was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross.[2] Raus's Corps retreated from Kharkov to the Dnieper River; it reached the bridgehead at the river on 20 September.

The Dnieper and beyond

After his arrival, 8th Army gave Raus the mission of organizing the withdrawal of all Axis units in its sector (13 divisions) from the east side of the river to the west.[7]

Following these events, Raus spent the rest of the year fighting in the Ukraine. On 10 December 1943 he was appointed acting commander of the Fourth Panzer Army. Several days later after setting up effective administration and improvising whatever craft he could lay his hands on, he had succeeded in his mission, pulling all divisions back across the river as well as thousands of cattle and horses.[8]

In May 1944, Raus took command of the First Panzer Army. A few months later, he transferred to the Third Panzer Army. In February 1945, Hitler transferred Raus to command the XI SS Panzer Corps in the Pomeranian area. When the Soviet forces crossed the German border, Hitler dismissed Raus from command of the Panzer Army.

Later life

After his release from American captivity, Raus lived in Bad Gastein. He subsequently wrote and co-wrote a number of books and publications focusing on strategic analysis of the tank tactics used by his forces on the Eastern Front. Raus spent the last year of his life in Vienna General Hospital, where he died of lung disease on 3 April 1956. He was buried there with full military honors on 6 April.[9]

Awards

  • Bronze Military Defence Medal of the Military Defence Cross with War Decoration and Swords (6 February 1915)
  • Military Defence Cross, 3rd Class, with War Decorations and Swords (5 October 1915)
  • Charles Troop Cross (15 March 1917)
  • Silver Military Defence Medal of the Military Defence Cross with War Decoration and Swords (2 July 1917)
  • Hungarian War Service Medal (9 March 1931)
  • Austrian War Service Medal with Swords (15 May 1933)
  • Silver Honors Badge (21 April 1934)
  • Military Service Badge, 2nd Class (8 October 1934)
  • Honors Decorations, 4th through 1st Classes (1 December 1939, dated to 1 January 1939)
  • War Service Cross, 2nd Class (20 November 1940)
  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (29 June 1941)[10]
    • 1st Class (6 July 1941)[10]
  • Armoured Combat Badge (1 September 1941)
  • Eastern Campaign Medal (1 August 1942)
  • German Cross in Gold on 14 February 1943 as Generalmajor and commander of the 6. Panzer-Division[11]
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Works

  • Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941–1945 (with Steven H. Newton), ISBN 978-0-306-81247-7
  • Peculiarities of Russian warfare (German report series, 1949), OCLC 38291522
  • Tactics in unusual situations (Small unit tactics, 1951), OCLC 37669938
  • Improvisations and field expedients: Their use as instruments of command (1951), OCLC 38373401
  • Effects of climate on combat in European Russia (German Report Series, CMH Pub 104-6, 1952)
  • The Pomeranian battle and the command in the east (1952) OCLC 14445144
  • Strategic deceptions (Deceptions & Cover Plans Project # 29, 1948), OCLC 37161255

Commands

Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Franz Landgraf
Commander of 6th Panzer Division
29 April 1942–7 February 1943[2]
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Walther von Hünersdorff
Preceded by
Commander of XI Corps (known as Provisional Corps Raus until 10 May 1943)
10 February 1943–5 November 1943[2]
Succeeded by
Preceded by
General of Panzer Troops Heinrich Eberbach
Commander of XLVII Panzer Corps
5 November 1943–30 November 1943[2]
Succeeded by
General of Panzer Troops Hermann Balck
Preceded by
Generaloberst Hermann Hoth
Commander of 4. Panzer-Armee
10 November 1943–21 April 1944][2]
Succeeded by
General of Panzer Troops Walter Nehring
Preceded by
Generalorberst Hans Hube
Commander of 1. Panzerarmee
21 April 1944–July, 1944[15]
Succeeded by
Preceded by
General of Panzer Troops Erhard Raus
Commander of Armeegruppe Raus
July, 1944–August, 1944[15]
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici
Preceded by
Generaloberst Georg-Hans Reinhardt
Commander of 3. Panzer-Armee
16 August 1944–10 March 1945[15]
Succeeded by
General Hasso-Eccard von Manteuffel

References

Citations

  1. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 84
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 352
  3. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 93
  4. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 98
  5. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 138
  6. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 187
  7. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 249
  8. Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 254
  9. Heuer 1988, p. 157
  10. 10.0 10.1 Thomas 1998, p. 184.
  11. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 367.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 615.
  13. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 350.
  14. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 71.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Raus, Erhard. Panzer Operations p. 353

Bibliography

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Heuer, Gerd F.: Die Generalobersten des Heeres. Inhaber höchster deutscher Kommandostellen 1933–1945. Rattstatt: Moewig 1988. ISBN 3-8118-1408-7
  • Tsouras, Peter G. Panzers on the Eastern Front: General Erhard Raus and His Panzer Divisions in Russia, 1941–1945.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch - Zwernemann (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941–1945 (with Steven H. Newton)