The Devil's General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz - the

The Devil's General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz - the "Panzer Graf"

by Raymond Bagdonas
     
 

This is the story of the most highly decorated German regimental commander of World War II, known as the “Panzer Graf” (Armored Count). An aristocratic Silesian, whose ancestors had faced the Mongols at Leipzig, Strachwitz first won the Iron Cross in the Great War. After fighting with the Freikorps and in between the wars, he was serving with the 1st

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Overview

This is the story of the most highly decorated German regimental commander of World War II, known as the “Panzer Graf” (Armored Count). An aristocratic Silesian, whose ancestors had faced the Mongols at Leipzig, Strachwitz first won the Iron Cross in the Great War. After fighting with the Freikorps and in between the wars, he was serving with the 1st Panzer Division when the Polish campaign inaugurated World War II.

Leading from the front, his exploits as commander of a panzer battalion earned him further decorations during the French campaign. Transferred to the newly formed 16th Panzer Division, he participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia and then Operation Barbarossa where he earned the Knight’s Cross. The following year, during the advance on Stalingrad, he won the Oak Leaves for destroying 270 Soviet tanks at Kalach. Now commander of a regiment, he reached the Volga and fought ferociously on the northern rim of Sixth Army’s perimeter. Severely wounded during the battles, he was flown out of the Stalingrad pocket and was thus spared the fate of the rest of Sixth Army.

Upon recuperation, he was named commander of the Grossdeutschland Division’s panzer regiment, and won the Swords to the Knight’s Cross during Manstein’s counteroffensive at Kharkov. After fighting through Kursk and the ensuing defensive battles, he was transferred the next year to Army Group North where he won the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross at Narva.

For the rest of the war, sandwiched around a stay in hospital, he commanded ad hoc battlegroups, and pioneered the formation of “tank hunter brigades,” consisting of deep-penetration infantry armed with panzerfausts and other demolitions who would ambush Soviet tanks. Wounded 12 times during the war, and barely surviving a lethal car crash, he was finally able to surrender to the Americans in May 1945.

Australian author/researcher Raymond Bagdonas, though impaired by the disappearance of 16th Panzer Division’s official records at Stalingrad, and the fact that many of the Panzer Graf’s later battlegroups never kept them, has nevertheless written an intensely detailed account of this combat leader’s life, as well as ferocious armored warfare in World War II.

Ray Bagdonas a retired businessman and former local Government Councilor, has had a decades long interest in WW2 particularly with the Russian Front. His other interest lies in the Military Orders and he is a Knight Commander of both the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a Knight of the Order of Mercy and the Military Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. He lives in Brisbane on the Brisbane River with his wife Gail and two dogs Plato and Anouk, a Maltese and Bichon Frise, who sat in the study with him while he wrote.

REVIEWS

"... full of interesting aspects of WWII armored combat, and a look into an extraordinary panzer commander's career....a nice cross section of photos of various notables who crossed paths or fought alongside the Graf...I enjoyed this book quite a bit."
AMPS

Despite his fanciful first name, this Silesian nobleman’s little-known career is a suggestive one-man slice of World War II, the Freikorps, and the Eastern Front, where the Soviets learned to fear his tank commands
World War II Magazine

During both world wars, Germany set a very high standard for tactical leadership. This was especially true in the Soviet-German conflict, where German commanders used maneuver and coordination skills to defeat more numerous opponents. Most accounts of such victories focus on the achievements of senior leaders such as Heinz Guderian or Erich von Manstein. Except for a number of divisional histories, however, this literature is short on details about how Germans operated at tactical levels from company through regiment. Raymond Bagdonas, a self-taught Australian historian, helps fill this gap with a biography of Lt. Gen. Hyazinth, Graf von Strachwitz, the subject of at least two previous studies in German...The Devil's General provides a well written, interesting account of German tank combat against the Soviets
Michigan War Studies 10/2015

takes the reader from Hyazinth Strachwitz’s early family history, education World War I, the interwar years to the invasion of Poland, to France and then Romania and Yugoslavia are just prelude to World War II on the Eastern Front....an important work that documents his actions and gives great insights into the use of the panzers on the eastern front.
Kepler's Military History

Bagdonas’ writing and flow are very good and the reader is easily engaged with his informative style. Additionally, he provides numerous anecdotal information that add depth to the commentary. ... his use of appendices added greatly to the provision of information surrounding von Strachwitz’s accomplishments. The bibliography that he provides is very useful in identifying additional sources to the reader on the various engagements in which the Panzer Graf was engaged.Bagdonas notes that von Strachwitz left no memoirs or notes; so gathering and drafting a comprehensive biography was extremely difficult...he has done a commendable job and that the book may serve future generations as an example of an individual who responded to the call of his nation twice and served in an honorable and selfless way throughout. As a leader, commander and officer, von Strachwitz was an individual to emulate.... recommend this book for its publication quality, its photo/map inserts and the information that the author provides about this noteworthy historical figure
The Military History Reviewer

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781612002224
Publisher:
Casemate Publishers
Publication date:
02/02/2014
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
770,092
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Australian author/researcher Raymond Bagdonas, though impaired by the disappearance of 16th Panzer Division’s official records at Stalingrad, and the fact that many of the Panzer Graf’s later battlegroups never kept them, has nevertheless written an intensely detailed account of this combat leader’s life, as well as ferocious armored warfare in World War II.

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