Press notice for the award of the German Cross in Gold to Gerlach

    This is the press notice given to the state controlled newspapers in the Third Reich detailing Gerlach's achievement in winning the German Cross in Gold. It is interesting that this award is based on incidents that took place in Russia during February 1944 and yet was not awarded until July i.e. after the events in Oradour and during the Normandy battles. There is no mention of Oradour in this document. Comments below are in italics.

Press notice

SS-Untersturmführer Karl Gerlach, a section leader in the assault-gun detachment of the SS-Panzer division "Das Reich", has been distinguished with the German cross in gold.

    SS-Untersturmführer Gerlach was born 9. 12. 1914 in Hamburg. After being a bricklayer, he entered the Waffen-SS on the 15 October 1934 (he was not a bricklayer for very long). He was promoted twice due to bravery before the enemy. Beside other high awards, he wears the casualty-badge in gold (he had been shot in the lung in March 1944). As German units had been involved in the battles at the end of February 1944, SS-Untersturmführer Gerlach got the task to fight to clear a supply route, from which these units could be provided with ammunition and fuel. SS-Untersturmführer Gerlach was met with strong hostile resistance. In skilful and bold action, he attacked the dominating heights occupied by the adversary. Particularly, his own assault-guns were successful, with, numerous Pak (field-gun), anti-tank rifles and machine gun-positions steamrollered or fought down. After occupation of the heights, the enemy attacked four times with stronger forces. While SS-Untersturmführer Gerlach repulsed these counterattacks, the involved personnel were provided for on the cleared supply route.

    Home town: Eferding / Oberdonau

    21. 7. 44 (From the above date of February 1944 it is obvious that Gerlach was a part of 'Battle Group Das Reich' which stayed behind in Russia until April 1944. The date of this Press Notice means that the award was made after Adolf Diekmann was killed and when Gerlach was in Normandy).


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© Michael Williams minor revision November 2004