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Vinzenz Kaiser (February 28 1904 – April 20 1945).

Kaiser joined the Austrian SS in


1931 and in 1934 the II./SS1, which later became SS-Standarte Deutschland. With
Kaiser´s regiment frequently in the lead, the SS-Division Reich proved itself in the
rapid campaigning of Operation Barbarossa and, by the winter 1941, advanced in the
middle sector of the front to the area of Moscow. Kaiser showed himself to be a
terrific front-line soldier, a brilliant tactician. In the Third Battle of Kharkov 1943
Kaiser ordered an immediate counterattack by his battalion into an enemy attack.
Kaiser´s SS-Panzergrenadiers pushed the Soviets back and enabled the rapid retaking
of Kharkov as a result of his risky decision. Over and over again, Kaiser´s men broke
through the positions of the enemy in the buildings and along the streets as the
result of frontal attacks, well-directed thrusts to the flanks and in raids. It was noted
that during these attacks Kaiser destroyed four Soviet tanks by hand, being the only
regimental commander in the Waffen-SS to do so at this time. For these
achievements he was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and awarded the Knight's
Cross of the Iron Cross in April 1943. Vinzenz Kaiser also received the Close Combat
Clasp in Gold for his 50th day of close combat. At 40 years of age, he was one of the
oldest recipients of that award. In June 1944, the hard frontline veteran and his men
were transferred to 17.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Götz von Berlichingen on the
Western Front. Kaiser took part in the battles of Normandy and the retreat across
the Rhine. In the course of defensive operations in the very outskirts of Nürnberg in
April 1945, the experienced SS-Obersturmführer Kaiser and father of three wanted
to observe American movements for himself. Together with his adjutant, SS-
Hauptsturmführer Franz Kukala, he headed out to conduct reconnaissance. This
inappropriate action for an acting division commander – but quite typical for
a Waffen-SS veteran of Kaiser´s type – cost him his life. Neither of the officers
returned and were considered as missing for a long time. It was not until decades
after World War II ended that the gravesite of the adjutant was found. Signs of
beating and shot to the back of the head were found. Vinzenz "Zenz" Kaiser, holder
of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross awarded to recognize his battlefield bravery, is
presumed to have died on the night of April 19 – 20 1945 in American captivity.