Kurt Himer, Soldier and Diplomat

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Kurt Himer, Soldier and Diplomat

Post by Wueggertz » Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:57 pm

Dear Forum

Please give feedback on this, my first posting.
I have been reading your posts for the last years so here is my first humble try for this forum.

Yours truly,

Kurt Himer was born in Cottbus, some 120 km south east of Berlin. He was 19 years old when he enlisted as Fahnenjunker in the 157th Infanterie Regiment of the Imperial army in 1908.
Kurt stayed with the 157th Infanterie Regiment until the middle of October 1916 serving as both adjutant and Kompanie Offizier. In the meantime he was promoted to Oberleutnant. For the next half year he served as Adjutant in 233rd Infanterie Brigade and in March 1917 Kurt Himer was promoted to Hauptmann.
In the following two years Kurt mainly served as a general staff officer in different major formations. And he probably won both classes of the Iron Cross.

At the 20th of February 1919 Kurt was appointed to his first official military diplomatic post when he became the Distrikt Komissar in Tilsit (Sovetsk in Kaliningrad Oblast since 1946). This posting ended after eight months.

He remained in the Reichsheer after the Treaty of Versailles, being one of the 4000 allowed officers.
Serving in such different posts as Kompanie Chef, in General Stab of a division, Regiments Adjutant and in two Kommando-Büro, Kurt was promoted Major on the first of February 1930.
A Kommando-Büro, command office, is under normal conditions the only permanent mechanism of a large formation.

He was posted to the Reichswehr Ministerium from 01.04.1931 to 01.12.1934 when he was made an Oberstleutnant at 01.04.1934. This could have been General Staff training.

After that Kurt moved to the Infanterie Regiment München and became its commander after only nine months. He served for three years as commander of Infanterie Regiment München which became 19 (Bayer.) Infanterie Regiment when the Wehrmacht was officially announced on 15th of October 1935. He became a full Oberst at New Year’s Day 1936

At the tenth of November 1938 Kurt was appointed to his second official military diplomatic post when he became the Military Attaché in Warsaw, Poland. He held this posting until nine days after the German attack on that country.

The same day, ninth of September 1939, Kurt became the Chef des Generalstabs, Chief of the General Staff, under the ten year older General der Flieger Leonard Kaupisch. The two of them would serve together for the next nine months. The unit evolved and changed name from Grenzschutz Kommandos 1 to Korps Kaupisch and eventually became XXXI. Korps. (Border-Protection-Command 1, Corps Kaupisch and XXXI. Corps.) Korps Kaupisch (207 Infanterie Division, Brigade Eberhardt, 32nd and 42nd Grenzschutz Regiments) was directed to capture Gdynia at the polish coast.

After the major battles was over in Poland Kurt Himer was made Generalmajor together with numerous other promotions bestowed upon the victorious German officers on the first of October 1939.

In the spring of 1940 during Operation Weserübung XXXI. Korps was tasked with conquering Denmark.

Generalmajor Kurt Himer, Chief of Staff, XXXI Corps, was assigned to advise and assist Cecil von Renthe-Fink, the German Minister in Copenhagen, as Plenipotentiary of the Wehrmacht. On the seventh of April Himer traveled to Copenhagen in civilian clothes, his uniforms going as courier luggage, accompanied by a legation secretary from the Foreign Ministry. The mission of Group 8 was predominantly political and psychological. Hitler had ordered the landing of a "representative" force at Copenhagen to give emphasis to the diplomatic negotiations.

The next day, eight of April, Denmark’s last day as a free nation for more than five years, Kurt Himer performed a last-minute reconnaissance and reported in coded messages to the XXXI Corps the harbor ice-free and confirmed the fact that the weak point of the Citadel was at its southeast corner.
At 2300 on eight of April Minister von Renthe-Fink received his instructions from General Himer.

At approximately 0500 on 9 April Minister Cecil von Renthe-Fink as Plenipotentiary of the German Reich informed the Danish government of the German action and demand immediate submission.

A short while afterwards the German infantry battalion landed in the harbor from the M/S Hansestadt Danzig and assaulted the Citadel, the old fortress overlooking the harbor, and took the guards regiment quartered there prisoner. At 0735 the German commander reported the Citadel occupied without resistance.

“For an hour after the landing, Himer was able to keep open a direct telephone connection to the headquarters of the XXXI Corps at Hamburg and give a running account of the capture of the Citadel and the progress of negotiations. The Danish Government capitulated at 0720, after Himer, to speed up the deliberations of the Ministerial Council, had told Renthe-Fink to inform it that, unless an immediate decision were forthcoming, Copenhagen would be bombed. Later in the day Himer requested an audience with the king in order to ascertain his attitude and to be able if necessary to prevent his leaving the country. At 1000, negotiations regarding demobilization of the Danish armed forces began.”

Kurt Himer recorded in his diary that King Christian X of Denmark had said to him: "General, may I, as an old soldier, tell you something? As soldier to soldier? You Germans have done the incredible again! One must admit that it is magnificent work."

Shortly afterwards Kurt Himer left the post as Generalstabs Chef for Korps XXXI. Probably he attended a course for Divisional Commander and maybe even had time for some leave. He was made Kommandeur for the 216th Infanterie Division on 08.9.1940 and stayed with the division in northern France until April the next year. The 216th was a third Welle (wave) Division and served as the main occupation force on the British Channel Islands and “In the meantime its age structure was made normal.”

His next assignment, and at least the fourth diplomatic one, which started in April 1940 was as General der Ungarischen Truppen (German General with the High Command of the Royal Hungarian Armed Forces).

It was a very turbulent time for the Hungarian leadership. Operation 25, the German invasion of Yugoslavia started on the sixth of April 1941. But the actual first discussion to start preparations had been done on the 27th of March. When first approached Pal Teleki, the prime minister of Hungary, strongly objected to Hungarian participation in the invasion of Yugoslavia. The Hungarians made no immediate military preparations, but gave their permission for the assembly of one German corps near the western Hungarian border southwest of Lake Balaton. On the third of April Pal Teleki committed suicide and further three days hence German, Italian and Hungarian forces begin the invasion of Yugoslavia with the Hungarian 3rd Army, driving southward into Yugoslavia.

The German “Second Army assembled in Austria and Hungary within days. Its rapid concentration was almost unprecedented in its speed, flexibility, and efficiency. Three of its divisions were moved from Germany, four from France, one from Czechoslovakia, and one from the Soviet frontier. They moved by rail and road, but, despite a brilliant logistical effort, icy roads delayed several units and some divisions went into action in piecemeal fashion. Others could not arrive at their assembly areas until after the invasion began, which is why the Vienna staff conference decided to stagger the offensive of the 2nd Army.”

After the conclusion of the Balkan Campaign on the 17th of April, Kurt Himer could use his diplomatic skills to influence the Hungarian leadership into a more pro-German stance.

On the 23rd of June Generalmajor Kurt Himer, Wehrmacht's representative in Hungary, informed the Hungarian Chief of General Staff Henrik Werth that the German military would welcome a Hungarian offer of cooperation in the war, and that the offer would have to be "voluntary," as the German government did not wish to make a formal request. When the new premier minister László Bárdossy learned of the message he called upon the German Ambassador to Hungary, Otto Erdmannsdorff, asking about the statement of Generalmajor Kurt Himer. Premier Bárdossy stressed that such questions should be asked through proper civilian diplomatic channels. This was a diplomatic protest against Kurt Himers performance as Liaison Officer of the German High Command at Budapest.
The Hungarian cabinet once again it decided against making such an offer, though they suspended diplomatic relations with Moscow on the 24th.

On the 26th of June the city of Kassa (today's Kosice) in northeastern Hungary was bombed. To this day no one knows for sure who had done this bombing, but the Hungarian command of the time blamed the attack on Soviet Russia. Hungary promptly declared war on the Soviet Union June 27th 1941.

The “Carpathian Army Group” was ordered into the Soviet-occupied zone of southern Poland. In July the reorganized Hungarian forces was committed and participated in the great encirclement at Uman.

After the fall of Nikolayev on the 16th of August the civilian Hungarian leadership under the new premier minister László Bárdossy, wanted to withdraw its forces and the Hungarian Chief of General Staff Henrik Werth pressed for full commitment to the German war effort.

Kurt Himer assignment ended before Henrik Werth, the pro-German Chief of Staff, was replaced on 5th of September 1941 by Colonel-General Ferenc Szombathelyi. Szombathelyi held the conviction that Hungarian troops should be employed only for the defense of Hungarian frontiers.

While Generalmajor Kurt Himer was available for new tasks in the Führer Reserve General der Infanterie Karl Kriebel, commander of the 46th Infanterie Division probably fell ill. Kurt Himer replaced him and was delegated with the Leadership of the division. Kurt led it through the forcing of the great Tartar Ditch at the approaches to the Perekop peninsula on the Crimea. He was promoted to Generalleutnant at the first of October 1941, exactly two years after his latest promotion.

Kerch was captured 15th of November and was soon occupied by the 46th Infanterie Division. Generalleutnant Kurt Himer was made acting commander on the 25th of December 1941. Early next day the Soviet 51st Army landed almost 5,000 soldiers near Kerch which was speedily contained by the 46th Infanterie Division. Three days later the Soviet 44th Army captured Feodosiya treating the supply line of XLII Korps and later to cut off Eleventh Army from its supplies.

As told in ”HITLER MOVES EAST 1941-1943”
The commander of XLII Korps General Count Sponeck acted swiftly;
““At 0800 hours on 29th December Count Sponeck ordered 46th Infantry Division to disengage itself from the enemy at Kerch, to proceed to the Parpach Isthmus by forced marches, and "to attack the enemy at Feodosiya and throw him into the sea." He sent a signal to Army informing it of his move, and then ordered his wireless station to be dismantled.””

“In a temperature of 40 degrees below zero Centigrade, in an icy blizzard, the battalions of 46th Infantry Division, the anti-aircraft units, the sappers, and the gunners moved off. The distance they had to move was 75 miles. Only occasionally was a fifteen-minute halt called to issue hot coffee to the troops. They marched for forty-six hours. Many were frost-bitten in their fingertips, toes, and noses. Most of the horses were not shod for the winter and were emaciated. They collapsed exhausted. Guns were abandoned on the icy roads.”

“In the morning of 31st December 1941 the leading battalions of 46th Infantry Division reached the Isthmus of Parpach. However, the forward detachments of the Soviet 63rd Rifle Division had got there before them, holding Vladislavovka, north of Feodosiya. Was the division's disengagement maneuver to have been in vain after all?
"Attack, break through, and take Vladislavovka!" was General Himer's order to 46th Infantry Division. The troops quickly lined up for attack on the flat, snow-covered plateau. The icy wind blowing down from the Caucasus cut through their thin coats and chilled them to the marrow. The tears of impotent fury froze on their cheeks before they had run as far as their moustaches. The exhausted regiments punched their way forward over another four miles. Then they ground to a halt. The men simply collapsed. Under cover of darkness the battalions eventually skirted round the Russian lines on their right, pushed through the still open part of the isthmus, and presently "took up position" on the frozen ground, facing to the south and the east. The last rearguards arriving in that hurriedly improvised line belonged to 1st Company, Engineers Battalion 88. The following noon the Russians attacked. But the German troops held them.”
Von Manstein relieved Hans Graf von Sponeck from his command and Feldmarschall von Reichenau sent him to Germany where he was imprisoned for disobeying orders and later executed.
“Early in January 1942 its four regimental commanders were summoned to divisional headquarters. Pale and hoarse with emotion, Lieutenant-General Himer, the divisional commander, acquainted them with a teleprinter signal from Army Group. It ran: "Because of its slack reaction to the Russian landing on the Kerch Peninsula, as well as its precipitate withdrawal from the peninsula, I hereby declare 46th Division forfeit of soldierly honour. Decorations and promotions are in abeyance until countermanded. Signed: von Reichenau, Field-Marshal."
Stony silence met this death sentence upon a gallant division. What had been its crime? It had carried out an order by its commanding general. It had passed through extreme hardships and, at the end of them, had still fought bravely and prevented the enemy from breaking through to the Crimea. This now was its reward. A cruel humiliation which assumed criminal responsibility where none existed, which used exaggerated concepts of honour to conceal the excessive demands made on the troops, and which disregarded all true yardsticks.”
“At the end of January 1942 Reichenau's successor, Field-Marshal von Bock, had the following Order of the Day read out to the division: "For its outstanding performance in the defensive fighting in the Isthmus since the beginning of January I express my very special commendation to 46th Division and shall be looking forward to recommendations for promotion and decorations." The 46th Infantry Division had regained its honour.”

During the spring of 1942 the Soviet forces of 44th and 51th Armies made numerous attempts to break through the Isthmus of Parpach but the 46th Infanterie Division as well as the other Axis units held.

On 26th of March 1942 Generalleutnant Kurt Himer was attacked and wounded by naval gunfire

Lieutenant General Kurt Himer, the conqueror of Copenhagen and commander of the 46th Infantry Division, mortally wounded on March 26th and died at the age of fifty-three in the hospital at Simferopol in Crimea on April 4th 1942. Kurt Himer received the German Cross in Gold on the 23rd of March 1942, the same day as he was mortally wounded by naval gunfire. He was one out of only 110 German Division Commanders lost in combat during WWII.

Kurt Himer has even been characterized in a novel, Denmark Rising, from 2010 by Barry A Clemson.

Generalleutnant Kurt Himer *21.12.1888 in Cottbus
Eintritt in die Armee am 21.April 1908.
Fahnenjunker im 157 Inf.Rgt. vonm 21.4.1908-01.07.1912
Adjutant I.Btl. des 157 Inf.Rgt. von 01.07.1912-27.03.1915
MG Kompanie Offizier im 157 Inf.Rgt. vom 27.03.1915-20.05.1916
Regiments Adjutant 157 Inf.Rgt. von 20.5.1916-16.10.1916
Adjutant 233 Inf.Brigade vom 16.10.1916-16.05.1917
General Stab XXXI. Reserve Korps vom 16.05.1917-22.08.1917
General Stab 81.Res.Div. 22.08.1917-16.03.1918
General Stab 34.Inf.Div. von 16.03.1918-28.03.1918
General Stab vom 28.03.1918-22.06.1918
V. Reserve Korps vom 22.06.1918-03.07.1918
General Kommando 3.Armee vom 03.07.1918-29.07.1918
General Stab 7.Landwehr Division vom 29.07.1918-06.01.1919
General Stab XXII.Reserve Korps vom 06.01.1919-06.02.1919
General Stab Armee Gruppe Kiew vom 06.02.1919-10.02.1919
General Stab I.Armee Korps vom 10.02.1919-20.02.1919
Distrikt Komissar in Tilsit vom 20.02.1919-08.10.1919
Stab 20.Infanterie vom 08.10.1919-16.10.1919
41.Reichswehr Brigade vom 16.10.1919-06.02.1920
General Stab 20.Infanterie vom 06.02.1920-01.10.1920
40.Reichswehr Regiment vom 01.10.1920-07.11.1920
Regiments Adjutant 2.Inf.regt. vom 07.11.1920-01.10.1921
Kompanie Chef 2.Inf.Rgt. vom 01.10.1921-01.01.1923
Stab 6.Division vom 01.01.1923-01.04.1927
Stab Infanterie VI. vom 01.04.1927-01.10.1928
versetzt ins 6.Gebirgs Rgt. & versetzt zur Marine Basis der baltischen See in Kiel vom 01.10.1928-01.06.1929
Kommando Büro cuxhaven 01.06.1929-01.08.1930
Kommando Büro Hannover 01.08.1930-01.04.1931
Reichswehr Ministerium von 01.04.1931-01.12.1934
Kommandeur I.Btl. Infanterie Regiment München vom 01.12.1934-01.08.1935
Kommandeur Infanterie Regiment München vom 01.08.1935-15.10.1935
Kommandeur 19.Infanterie Regiment vom 15.10.1935-01.08.1938
Generalstabsoffizier vom 01.06.1938-10.11.1938
Millitär Attache in Warschau vom 10.11.1938-09.9.1939
Generalstabs Chef des Grenzschutz Kommandos 1 vom 09.09.1939-15.09.1939
Generalstabs Chef Korps Kaupisch vom 15.09.1939-19.09.1939
Militär Kommandeur Danzig-Westpreußen vom 19.09.1939-22.10.1939
Generalstabs Chef XXXI. vom 07.11.1939- Mai 1940
Kommandeur der 216 Inf.Division vom 08.9.1940-01.04.1941
Führer Reserve OKH April 1941
General der Ungarischen Truppen vom April 1941-18.8.1941
Führer Reserve vom 19.08.1941-17.12.1941
Führung der 46.Infanterie Division vom 17.12.1941-25.12.1941
Kommandeur 46.Infanterie Division vom 25.12.1941-26.03.1942
verwundet Führer Reserve vom 26.3.1942-04.04.1942
verstorben an Verwundung am 04.04.1942 im Hospital Simferopol/Russland

Letnant am 19.08.1909
Oberleutnant am 27.01.1915
Hauptmann am 22.03.1917
Major am 01.02.1930
Oberstleutnant am 01.04.1934
Oberst am 01.01.1936
Generalmajor am 01.10.1939
Generalleutnant am 01.10.1941

Deutsches Kreuz in Gold am 23.03.1942

Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-271 - The German Northern Theater of Operations 1940-1945 - 1959 part 1 of 2
“THE RISE OF THE WEHRMACHT” 2008 Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. ISBN: 978-0-275-99641-3
”German order of Battle” Stackpole Military History Series 2007, Samuel W. Mitcham Jr,

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Re: Kurt Himer, Soldier and Diplomat

Post by Hans » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:40 am

Although Himer lost a leg by amputation as a result of being wounded by ship artillery bombardment at Wladislawowka on 21.3.1942 his wounds were not life threatening. He died in Kriegslazarett 2./610 in Simferopol on 4.4.1942 because he simply lost the will to live resulting from depression as a result of his & his 46.ID treatment following the unauthorised withdrawal from Kerch.

- Hans
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Du deutsches Vaterland?
- H Gehr IR 21./17.ID