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Erich Göstl

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Dr. jur.
Erich Göstl
Born17 April 1925
Vienna, Austria
Died28 October 1990 (1990-10-29) (aged 65)
Sankt Jakob, Austria
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Years of service1943–45
RankSchütze
Unit1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross 1st Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
Other workEarned a doctorate in law (Dr. jur.)[Note 1] from the University of Vienna

Erich Göstl (17 April 1925 – 28 October 1990) was a member of the Waffen SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Göstl was born in Vienna on April 17, 1925. In World War II, he was a member of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during the Normandy Campaign where he was in the 6th Company, 1st SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, deployed near the French town of Tilly, a few kilometers from Caen.

Then a 19-year-old, Göstl was a machine gunner, manning an MG-42, defending his position against a British (possibly Canadian) attack. During heavy fighting he was shot in his left eye. Shrapnel then wounded him in his upper left arm. Undaunted he continued to fire and was then hit in the other eye, which "almost tore his head off". Even then, completely blinded, he continued to return fire from his machine gun post, alone and shooting at what he could hear, as he was completely unable to see anything. He continued to hold out behind his machine gun and received another hit in his right cheek and nose area of his torn-up face. Göstl held until the enemy attack was ultimately repelled, but it is believed that only because of a jam in the machine gun was Göstl's machine gun silenced. His friend Elmar Bonn worked his way forward to him and with the help of some other men was able to bring him back to a safe position, while under fire. Throughout, he "was suffering horrible pain" and was bleeding heavily from the face.[1][2]

Göstl survived and was sent to a field hospital before being evacuated to Germany. He was in the school for the War Blind in Cerninpalast, Prague when he was awarded the Knight's Cross on 11.November 1944. Göstl's story was not used, or selected for propaganda purposes in Nazi Germany; it has been speculated[according to whom?] that this was due to the severity of his injuries, but this has never been substantiated by documentation. As a result the account was not widely known during the final years of the war.

His regimental commander, Standartenfuhrer Albert Frey described awarding him the Cross and his action as follows (translated from German);

Göstl later described his actions as, "only doing my duty". He would also say of staying at his position, "I couldn't do anything else at the time".[2] Along with all Axis military personnel at the end of hostilities, he became a prisoner of war and was released in April 1946. He went on, with great assistance from his wife, to earn a Doctorate Law Degree from the University of Vienna.[3] He died, at the age of 65, on October 28, 1990, in Sankt Jakob, Austria.

Awards[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. In German a Doctor of Law is abbreviated as Dr. iur. (Doctor iuris) or Dr. jur. (Doctor juris).

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. Elite of the Third Reich By Walther-Peer Fellgiebel p.165
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Second World War Books: Review". stonebooks.com. 27 January 2000. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "SS Knights Cross Recipients". angelfire.com. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 198.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  • Huß, Jürgen (2009). Ritterkreuzträger im Mannschaftsstand 1941 - 1945. Zweibrücken: VDM Nickel. ISBN 978-3-86619-042-9.


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