Hellmuth Becker

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Hellmuth Becker
46972283 bekker big.gif
Born (1902-08-12)12 August 1902
Neuruppin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 28 February 1953(1953-02-28) (aged 50)
Prisoner-of-War Camp 337 near Sverdlovsk, Russian SSR, Soviet Union now Sverdlovsk, Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine
Allegiance  Weimar Republic 1920–33
 Nazi Germany 1934–45
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht 1920–33
Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS 1934–45
Years of service 1920–45
Rank Brigadeführer
Unit 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
German Cross in Gold
Iron Cross 1st Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
Wound Badge in Silver
Demyansk Shield
Sudetenland Medal
Eastern Front Medal

Hellmuth Becker (12 August 1902 – 28 February 1953) was a German SS-Brigadeführer (brigadier general) and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. He was also the commander of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf.

"The personification of the brutal landknechts who formed the high-ranking officers of the Waffen-SS",[1] he was tried by Soviet authorities twice, for war crimes and sabotage, and was executed in 1952.

Early life

Becker was born on 12 August 1902 in Neuruppin, Brandenburg.

In August 1920, he joined the Army and was assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment at Angermunde. At the end of his service in 1933, he joined the SS and met Wilhelm Bittrich and Hermann Prieß. In 1935, Becker was transferred to the SS Totenkopf association "Bavaria". In 1937, Becker was promoted to Sturmbannführer (Storm Unit Leader/major) and in 1938 to Obersturmbannführer (Senior Storm Unit Leader/lieutenant colonel). Becker's unit was involved in the Anschluss of Austria and the Occupation of Czechoslovakia.

World War II

With the beginning of World War II, the 1st SS Totenkopf Infantry Regiment was upgraded into the new motorized division the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. After the Battle of France, Becker was promoted to Standartenführer (Regiment Leader/colonel) and given command of a battalion in Totenkopf. He was appointed regimental commander in August 1941. He was awarded the German Cross in gold.

With the conversion of the division to an armoured division in the autumn of 1942, Becker was made commander of the 6th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment. On 7 September 1943, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. In October, he was given command of the division, until in March 1944, he assumed command of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer-SS in Italy and was promoted to Oberführer (Senior Leader/brigadier general). After Prieß was given the task of forming the XIII SS Army Corps, Becker was again in July 1944 given command of the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf. In September 1944, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross for the division's actions in Romania and the fighting around Grodno. He was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer (brigadier general) und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS.

Becker was twice mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht, OKW's daily propaganda communique, on 1 and 2 January 1945. In the next weeks, the division was involved in fighting to the east of Warsaw and Modlin. In December, it was moved to Hungary for the battles around Budapest. The division crossed the Danube River to Vienna, shortly before the surrender of German forces. The unit then attempted to surrender to the Americans, but the local U.S. commanders refused to accept the surrender and handed the men over to the Red Army.

Trial and execution

In November 1947, he was put on trial before a Soviet military court in Poltava and sentenced to 25 years forced labor for war crimes. While serving his sentence, Becker "tried his jailers' patience" by attempting to manufacture explosives, leading to his retrial. He was convicted and executed in February 1952.[1]

Awards

Notes

  1. According to Scherzer as commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "Theodor Eicke".[5]

References

Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 Parrish 1996, p. 128.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas 1997, p. 31.
  3. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 31.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 126.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 209.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 89.

Bibliography

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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>
  • Parrish, Michael (1996). The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939–1953. Praeger Press. ISBN 978-0-275-95113-9.<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>
  • 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>
  • Sydnor, Charles W. (1990) [1977]. Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933–1945. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00853-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>