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Ludwig Crüwell

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Title: Ludwig Crüwell  
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Subject: Walther Nehring, Erwin Rommel, Afrika Korps, General der Panzertruppe, 11th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)
Collection: 1892 Births, 1958 Deaths, German Military Personnel of World War I, German Prisoners of War, Military Personnel Referenced in the Wehrmachtbericht, People from Dortmund, People from the Province of Westphalia, Prussian Army Personnel, Recipients of the Clasp to the Iron Cross, 1St Class, Recipients of the Hanseatic Cross (Hamburg), Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Silver Medal of Military Valor, Wehrmacht Generals, World War II Prisoners of War Held by the United Kingdom
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Ludwig Crüwell

Ludwig Crüwell
Born (1892-03-20)20 March 1892
Dortmund, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 25 September 1958(1958-09-25) (aged 66)
Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1911–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held Panzer-Regiment 6
11. Panzer Division
Afrika Korps

World War I
World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Ludwig Crüwell (20 March 1892 – 25 September 1958), was a German general known for his involvement with the Afrika Korps. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Legally it was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Ludwig Crüwell.[Note 1] Crüwell was captured by the British on 29 May 1942, after his plane was forced to land.


  • Career 1
  • Awards 2
    • Wehrmachtbericht reference 2.1
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
    • Citations 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2
  • External links 5


Crüwell joined the German Army in 1911 as a Cadet in the 9th (1st Hanoveranian) Regiment of Dragoons. Being promoted to Lieutenant in 1912 he and his regiment went to the front in World War I. Besides serving as Company Commander and Regimental Adjutant in the 450th Infantry Regimentand, Crüwell also was detached to the staff of the 233rd Division. In 1918, shortly before the war ended, he was appointed Adjutant of the 19th Landwehr Brigade. After the war ended he stays in the Reichswehr, and for the next years is constantly shifted from one staff position to the next. In 1928, by now a Rittmeister, he is transferred to the 12th Cavalry Regiment. Utilized in several staff positions Crüwell was posted in the anti-tank troops in 1936, being promoted to Oberst, and in the same year he took over command of the 6th Panzer Regiment.

In the looming of the Invasion of Poland he was posted in the general staff, and, after becoming a Generalmajor on 2 December 1939, during the Battle of France he was Quartermaster of the 16th Army. Crüwell became commander of the 11th Panzer Division in August 1940 and led it into the Balkan Campaign. For his conspicuous services during the Invasion of Yugoslavia, which was a highly successful blitzkrieg due to Crüwell's division, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Then the division took part in Operation Barbarossa. In early 1941 the division was surrounded by 12 division near Beritchev, and Crüwell narrowly managed to get his bated division out. For this he was promoted to Generalleutnant and received the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross.

Crüwell became commander of the Afrika Korps on 31 July 1941, answering to General Erwin Rommel, who on the same day took command of Panzer Army Africa, consisting of one infantry and two panzer divisions. Due to health reasons he took actual command on 15 September, and was promoted to General der Panzertruppe on 17 December 1941. Known to argue and differ heavily about strategy with Rommel, Crüwell and the Afrika Korps had to clear the Cyrenaica. On 29 May 1942, Crüwell was inspecting operations by air in Libya. His Fieseler Fi 156 pilot mistook British troops for Italian soldiers and landed. Although the pilot was fatally wounded, Crüwell survived and was taken prisoner.[1] General Crüwell remained a prisoner and on March 22, 1943, was intentionally placed with another POW, General Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma (captured in November 1942 while in temporary command of the Afrika Korps), who during the meeting disclosed intelligence regarding the V-2 rocket, i.e. surprise that London was not yet in ruins from German rockets being tested at a "special ground near Kummersdorf" he had visited. This led to the British investigating Peenemünde and following confirmation, carried out a bombing raid on the Peenemünde facilities[2]

After the war Crüwell settled in Essen. He became Chairman of the Verband ehemaliger Angehöriger Deutsches Afrika Korps (Veterans Association of the Germany Africa Corps) and died on 25 September 1958.


Wehrmachtbericht reference

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Tuesday, 2 June 1942 Bei einem Erkundungsflug über den feindlichen Linien wurde General der Panzertruppen Crüwell abgeschossen und geriet in britische Gefangenschaft.[5] On a reconnaissance flight over enemy lines General of Panzer Troops Crüwell was shot down and fell into British captivity.


  1. ^ Until late September 1941, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves as highest military order was officially surpassed on 28 September 1941 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern), however the first presentation of the Swords to Adolf Galland was made prior to this date on 21 June 1941.



  1. ^ "A Pilot's Error Leads to Capture," Chillicothe Daily Tribune, June 2, 1942, p.6
  2. ^ von Braun and Ordway III 1975, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas 1997, p. 106.
  4. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 263.
  5. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 148.


  • Alman, Karl (1998). Ritterkreuzträger des Afrikakorps [Knight's Cross Bearers of the Afrika Korps] (in German). Rastatt, Germany: VPM Verlagsunion Pabel Moewig.  
  • 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 [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag.  
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag.  
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985.  

External links

  • "Luwig Crüwell". Lexikon der Wehrmacht (in German). Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  • "Luwig Crüwell". Ritterkreuzträger 1939–45 (in German). Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  • "Rommel: Dieser Räuberhauptmann!". Der Spiegel (in German) 49. 1976. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 11. Panzer Division
1 August 1940 – 15 August 1941
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Günther Angern
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Philipp Müller-Gebhard
Commander of Afrika Korps
15 September 1941 – 8 March 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Commander of Afrika Korps
19 March 1942 – 28 May 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
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