Knights Cross Holder Biography

Dietrich  Steinhardt

18 Infanteriedivision
DetailsOlt. Dietrich Steinhardt, born 1911 in Glaubitz, district Risa, joined voluntarily the I.R.7 in 1932 and was promoted to Leutnant on 1.Okt.1934. At the beginning of the campaign, he performed great in battle at Racyszin.

Oberleutnant Dietrich Steinhardt, along with Leutnant Josef Stolz, both from Inf.Rgt.51 of the 18.Infanterie-Division, received the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross for bravery during the battle for Fort II near Warschau. They were the first Heer soldiers to be so awarded.

Olt. Steinhardt commander of 2.Kp. was ordered on the 25.Sept.1939 to find out the whereabouts of enemy positions. He found out that the poles secured their positions by wire-obstacles. In the morning of 26.Sept. 4.30 Olt.Steinhardt ordered his company to assemble for the attack on the Fort which was defended by about 120 men. At 4.30 the Fort was surrounded in the west, south, and east. The company was lying directly in front of the wire obstacle. Shortly before dawn the company was hit by heavy fire from polish infantry positions 20m away. At once Olt. Steinhardt attacked together with 10.Kp./I.R.51 led by Lt.Stolz and took the enemy positions.

Lt.Stolz reported voluntarily for this attack. Lt.Stolz lead his company forward and passed the Fort in the west. As he realized that the company of Steinhardt was under heavy fire and was not able to advance Stolz took two platoons and the light machine gun group and started a frontal attack on the fort. He cuts a passage through three heavy wire-obstacles advanced and was stopped by the water trench. Under heavy fire, he evades to the right encountering a polish AT-gun in position. The crew is captured and the gun is turned around. As the enemy resistance at the main entrance was broken by AT-gun fire Stolz attacks the fort again from behind across the bridge. Especially the Kompanietrupp under UO Scheel acts very bravely in this situation. Heavy enemy fire out of the fortification especially out of one room was going down on the attackers.

In the meantime, the remaining two platoons had heavy casualties by enemy fire from buildings around. To secure his back Lt.Stolz took his third platoon that cleared the houses with grenades, mortar, and bayonet. Under heavy fire from the fortification, Lt.Stolz finally reached the wall of the fort with one platoon and the light M.G.-group. Now the first polish soldiers surrendered while others continued to resist. The rest about 70 - 80 men surrendered after a short firefight. The 10.Kp. finally reached the east side of the Fort like ordered,

After the battle it was clear that this success was only possible because of the perfect teamwork of Stolz and Steinhardt. With the screen of Kompanie Steinhardt the 10.Kp. was able to advance and take the east side of the fort.

On the east side of the fort, the attacker again received heavy mortar-fire and again the company was showing great morale as they took a captured polish gramophone and played polish hits under fire.