The Cross of Iron by Willi Heinrich
I was pleased to find some information on The Cross of Iron on the internet, posted by Hardy Huber to the message board at www.feldgrau.com He has graciously given permission for this information to be reproduced here, as well as new information regarding his uncle.
|THE CROSS OF IRON
by Willi Heinrich
The Cross of Iron is a very well known book, originally by Bobbs-Merrill in 1956 and republished many times since then. In 1977, in a rare international co-operative effort, the book was made into a major motion picture, released in both Germany and the United States, starring James Coburn, Maximillian Schell and James Mason.
There has been speculation over the years as to how much of the story is true, or if the characters in the book and film represent real people. The author's biography of the 12th printing states that the author, Willi Heinrich, "...came by his competence (as a writer) honestly and bitterly as an infantry officer in a fearfully mauled German division that bit deep into Russia and withdrew its remnants in broken retreat."
Hardy Huber, the nephew of a soldier who fought and gave his life on the Russian Front, shares with us the following:
A while ago I read some questions ... about the unit Heinrich is referring to, in his book "The Cross of Iron. One of my relatives served in the 229. Jäger Regiment of the 101.Jäger Division and by researching his service I came across Willi Heinrich. Heinrich was born in 1920 in Heidelberg and served during the war in the First Battalion, 228th Jäger Regiment (I./228.Jg.Rgt.), part of 101 Jäger Division. He was wounded five times. Willi Heinrich is still alive and lives in Karlsruhe.
There are several clues in the book that will identify the 228 Jäger Regiment of the 101.Jg. Division as Steiner's unit.
My Uncle, after only six weeks on the eastern front was killed in a small village 3km east of Izyum on June 22nd 1942. He was nineteen years old. I tried over the last thirty years to find out more about his fate.
Jäger Willi Maier
Jägerregiment 229, 101. le. Division (Jägerdivision)
Born: 29 August 1922, Langensteinbach, Karlsruhe
Died: 22 June 1942
Location of Death: Rossochowatij bei Isium.
According to the official letter my Grandmother received, he was with a small reconnaissance group of the 7.Komp., Jägerregiment 229, 101.le.ID. Upon entering the small village of Rossochowatij near Isium (Ukraine) the group was met by retreating Russians incl. a T34 tank and annihilated. A comrade and school mate of my uncle who was not part of the recce group that day, told my Grandmother later, that the reconnaissance group, let by a young Leutnant, was to find out if there was enemy activity in Rossochowatij, but they were under orders not to enter the village. The Leutnant, against orders and the advice of the accompanying Unteroffizier, decided to capture two light trucks and their crews, that he believed were the only enemies in and around the little village. Only a few of the group got out alive, amongst them the Leutnant who was subsequently degraded to an NCO rank. The comrade told the story to my Grandmother when he was on home leave in the fall of 1942.
Gefreiter Ludwig Augenstein
Feldpostnummer: 27453 C,
7 Kompanie, Jäger Regiment 229
Born:4 August 1922 in Langensteinbach, Karlsruhe
Went Missing in Action: 26 May 1943, Krymskaya
This was the day that Hill 121.4 was stormed by the 101st Division.
Recruited to Infantry Regiment 109 (35th Division) Sep 1941 (Karlsruhe)
Transferred to 101 Leichte Division in Ulm for advanced training.
Early May 1942 sent to Slaviansk.
Killed in Action 22 June 1942
His Jäger cap badge and Infantry Assault Badge are just visible in this photo.
Special thanks to Hardy Huber
for making this page possible.
Hardy also has a page devoted to his father, Oberjäger Gerhard Huber: http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/huber.htm