Sunday, May 31, 2015

SS-Untersturmführer Franz-Josef Kneipp in Normandy Front

SS-Untersturmführer Franz-Josef "Franzl" Kneipp (19 September 1911 - 12 October 2002) in Normandy front, June 1944. He was a signal officer (Nachrichtenoffizier) in the III.Bataillon / SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 25 / 12.SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend". The picture was taken by Wilfried Woscidlo. Kneipp was originally a signaler in the police on the staff of the High SS and Police Leader Rhein in Wiesbaden until he joined the Aufklärungs-Abteilung of the Totenkopf division in 1939. He was a signal platoon NCO as an Oberscharführer in the SS-Flak Abteilung “Ost” from August 1941 thru April 1943. Despite being kicked out of the officer course at the signal school in Metz near graduation for an affair with a French girl, he was promoted to Untersturmführer in April 1944 upon the recommendation of his regimental commander, Kurt Meyer. He was wounded on July 8, 1944 as signal officer of III./SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 25 in Normandy. He was sent out on a reconnaissance mission in a tank to look for the enemy. He was standing in the tank turret looking through his binoculars and the next thing he remembers is waking up while some Canadian soldiers were pulling him out of the tank with his arms streaming blood. His tank had taken a hit from a Canadian tank and he had been wounded in both arms. Following a brief hospitalization in Scotland, Kneipp was handed over to the Americans and transported by ship to the United States where he was brought to Washington, D.C. for questioning about his knowledge of German code machines. He had also been interrogated by the British about code machines and threatened with being shot if he did not tell what he knew. Kneipp refused. After his return to Germany Kneipp ended up on the staff of the US Air Force Wiesbaden air base commander. For many years Kneipp was the chairman of the Wiesbaden HIAG veterans association.

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