Erwin Kressmann was in the German Wehrmacht since 1937. He fought in the assault on Poland as company commander and Platoon leader. After that he was involved in the Western campaign and was promoted to Staff Sergeant. In June 1941 he was transferred to Russia and saw action in the Demjansk pocket. In May 1942, Kressmann was sent to Panzerjaeger Abt. 24 which was at the Crimea. He participated in the assault on Sewastopol. Kressmann and the Panzerjaeger Abteilung 24 was sent to the northern Russian front – the Battle of Leningrad as well as trench warfare at the Wolchow.
In July 1943, Kressmann became the commander of 1st company of the new heavy Panzerjaeger Abteilung 519, equipped with Hornisse (Hornet) tankhunter who had the feared 88 mm gun. From December 13 to February 18, 1944, Kressmann was part of two Battles of Witebsk under the 3rd Panzerarmee. Kressmann was decorated with the German Cross in Gold for bravery on January 25, 1844. On June 22, 1944 the 3rd Battle was fought and during this action, the outfit of Kressmann was almost wiped out.
In August/September 1944, the Heavy Panzerjaeger Abteilung 519 was refitted with the new Jagdpanther Tankhunter. The 1st Company got 14 Jagdpanther and the 2nd and 3rd Company got 14 Sturmgeschuetz III self-propelled guns each. He fought in the Huertgenwald Battle in the Stolberg area and got the Knightscross for actions in Schmidt and Kommerscheidt from November 4 to November 7, 1944. After that Kressmann fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
At the beginning of May 1945 and after he destroyed two T-34 Russian tanks with T-mines, Kresmmann was severely wounded by mortar. He was able to cross the Elbe river and became a US P.O.W. He escaped later from a German hospital in a reserve hospital in Helmstedt. Kressmann was released in February 1946 and is still alive today.
Photos above left to right:
Major Wolf Horst Hoppe – commander of schw. Pz.Jg.Abt 519 / Eric Bansen gets his KC from General Jordan on March 15, 1944 / Erich Bansen the new knight's cross holder in the middle with Erwin Kressmann on the right.