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Papas, Fred

Date of birth:
May 15th, 1921 (Ludwigshafen/Palatinate, Germany)
Date of death:
December 2nd, 1984 (Neustadt/Rhineland Palatinate, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
March 14th, 1942
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
December 12th, 1944
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant)
Unit:
Kompanieführer Abteilung 17(Panzer-Aufklärungs) / 17.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Götz von Berlichingen” / XIII. SS-Armeekorps / Heeresgruppe West
Awarded on:
December 27th, 1944
Untersturmführer Papas was initially recommended for the Knight’s Cross via telex. A formal recommendation was written shortly after he received the award, and it reads as follows…

“During the early morning hours of the 12.12.1944 the enemy, attacking from the Bauer forest, succeeded in crossing the Blies river south of Habkirchen (near the destroyed bridge Frauenberg-Habkirchen). Their goal was to take control of Habkirchen and advance towards the Westwall via the ridges along both sides of the Habkirchen-Bebelsheim road.

The SS-Pz.A.A. 17, heavily weakened by the previous fighting was deployed under this sector under the command of its young adjutant, SS-Untersturmführer Papas, as the commander had fallen out due to injuries sustained in battle. Through the skillful use of the handful of heavy infantry weapons, as well holding fire until the best possible moment, Papas and his men succeeded in repulsing the enemy attack south of Habkirchen while inflicting heavy losses.

During this defensive battle south of Habkirchen the opponent had been able to significantly reinforce his forces at the crossroads, and had severed the connection between the SS-Pz.A.A. 17 and its right neighbour (the II./37). They now attacked towards the southeast into the right flank of the SS-Pz.A.A. 17 along the village road in Habkirchen, while also repeating their attack against the village from the south.

Papas, whose command post was in Habkirchen itself, had only 20 men at his disposal and no means of communication via either wire links or radio. He understood that by capturing Habkirchen the enemy would be able to expand their break-in into a proper breakthrough towards Bebelsheim. Thus he decided to establish an all-round defense in Habkirchen.

With his small force he defended the village against the much numerically superior foe. The enemy repeated their attack four times, but were on each occasion thrown back. At various locations they succeeded in establishing themselves in houses along the village edge, however every time Papas would eliminate the broken-in enemy with a handful of his own troops in bitter close combat. He was the soul of the defensive battle, being present everywhere to direct and encourage his men. His exemplary bravery inspired the troops to maintain an unfailing defensive spirit.

After six hours of bitter struggle the attacking power of the enemy finally subsided. Now Papas launched a counterthrust of his own that threw the enemy back across the Blies river. In the process 120 prisoners were taken (including 4 officers), and 40 men of the Division that had temporarily been captured were freed.

Through his heroic courage, decisiveness, bravery and willingness to fight, Papas succeeded in preventing a certain breakthrough by the enemy.

The Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross for SS-Untersturmführer Fred Papas was requested via telex on the 26.12.1944, and awarded to him on the 17.12.1944.” [dating error present in original document]
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

  • Photo 1: Willi Schumacher Collection
  • Photo: Willi Schumacher Collection
  • - Fellgiebel W.P., Elite of the Third Reich, The recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945: A Reference, Helion & Company Limited, Solihull, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-46-9
    - Schneider J.W., Their Honor was Loyalty!, R. James Bender Publishing, 1977
    - Microfilm Publication A3343. US National Archives.

Photo