Helmuth von Pannwitz

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Helmuth von Pannwitz
(14 October 1898 – 16 January 1947)

The Last Knight of Europe

Pannwitz surrendered on May 11, 1945, to British forces near Völkermarkt in Carinthia, Austria, and made every effort to ensure that his men would remain in the custody of the Western powers. But by mid-May it was becoming obvious that the Cossacks would be handed over to their deadly enemies, the SMERSH, an action often referred to as The Betrayal of Cossacks. The same fate overtook the members of the Kazachi Stan at Lienz, another 30,000 old folk, women, and children. All were executed, were sent to GULAG prison camps, or committed suicide to avoid being repatriated.
Pannwitz was a German national, and under the provision of the Geneva Convention not subject to repatriation to the SMERSH. But on May 26, he was deprived of his command and placed under arrest while the forceable loading of the Cossacks into trucks began and continued through the following days.
Although many escaped from their camps following these actions, General von Pannwitz and many of his German officer cadre did not want to leave their men alone and shared the uncertain fate of the Cossacks who had been comrades in combat for more than two years, so these Germans surrendered with the Cossacks to the NKVD at Judenburg and were mostly all killed cold-bloodedly, women and children raped or sent to the Gulag.
Almost fifty years later, on April 23, 1996, during the Russian presidency of Boris Yeltsin, members of the Pannwitz family petitioned for a posthumous verdict of acquittal of the 1946 conviction. The Military High Prosecutor in Moscow subsequently determined that Von Pannwitz was eligible for rehabilitation as a victim of Stalin-era repression.

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Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  

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