Rudolf Witzig entered the history books as the heroic captor of Belgium’s supposedly impregnable fortress Eben Emael in May 1940 – the first time that glider-borne troops were used in the war. To many people, he is also known as the commander of the battle group that fired the first shots of the Tunisian campaign.
Remarkably, next to nothing has been written about him as an individual. This biography, completed with the full support of Witzig’s widow and son, is a comprehensive history of the man and also provides important new detail on the German parachute arm that he served.
In the course of his service, he was awarded the coveted Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He could not be awarded the decoration because he had not yet earned the Iron’s Crosses 2nd and 1st class – to resolve the problem he was awarded all three on the spot.
Witzig was involved in Operation Mercury, the invasion of Crete, but was injured during the fighting. After his recovery, he was sent to Tunisia where he was credited with several successful defensive actions. He ended the war in captivity, surrendering to the Allies on 8 May 1945, the day after his name was placed on the Honor Roll of the Luftwaffe.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a meticulously researched biography of Rudolf Witzig, a well-known and highly decorated member of Germany's parachute forces: the Fallschirmjäger.
In this book Colonel Villahermosa presents Witzig's entire life story from his childhood and pre-war training to his battles during the Second World War and post-war service in the Federal German Army.
Using interviews both with surviving wartime comrades of Witzig and his family, as well as unpublished material written by Witzig himself, the author has produced a comprehensive and well written narrative of his subject's eventful life. It is sure to appeal to everyone with an interest in the history of the Fallschirmjäger in particular and airborne forces in general.
Although I favour the use of original (in this case, German) rank, unit names and military terminology etc. in works of serious military history such as this; this is only a personal preference and should not be seen as a...
Why another book on the wartime experiences of a junior ranking German parachute engineer officer? The author explains, "When I started this book I was struck by how little was available in either English or German on Rudolf Witzig, a German paratrooper of great distinction. This is in stark contrast to many histories and accounts of Fallschirmjager and individual German paratroopers in the Second World War. Yet even well-known English-language accounts of the capture of the [Belgian] fortress of Eban Emael, Witzig's greatest triump, provide only cursory information on the young lieutenant responsible not only for planning the operation that led to the capture of a mutli-billion pound fortress (if built today), the last word in steel and ballistic concrete of its day, but also pioneering the tactics, techniques and procedures for the loading and combat use of gliders and shaped charges. It is as though the conquest of Eben Emael somehow had no connection with the man and the men...
Though I've had previous introductions to Rudolf Witzig by reading about his two biggest accomplishments of the war: assisting in the planning with Capt Koch of and the capture of Eben Emael. Eben Emael was the new Belgain strongpoint in northeast Belguim that was intended to stop the Germans from attacking in the manner of their WWI invasion. Germany wanted that fortress complex just for that reason. It would clear the way for their northern pincer when invading the west. The attack also had the benefit of deceiving the Allies into looking to the north while Rommel's panzers attacked through the Ardennes into northern France. The other major accomplishment dealt with his contribution in the hard fought battle for the island of Crete. Being in the lead of a number of operations his men suffered heavy casualties; Witzig was wounded as well during Operation Mercury.
This biography of this accomplished young officer, who was involved in key battles during WWII, by Mr...
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