Germany - Third Reich: A Russian Front 22nd July 1941 Dniepr River Casualty group of award documents to Obergefreiter Helmut Minarsch, 7th Company, 487th Infantry Regiment, 267th Infantry Division, who having taken part in the campaign in France i...

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Germany - Third Reich: A Russian Front 22nd July 1941 Dniepr River Casualty group of award documents to Obergefreiter Helmut Minarsch, 7th Company, 487th Infantry Regiment, 267th Infantry Division, who having taken part in the campaign in France in 1940, then took part in Operation Barbarossa and the invasion of Russia before being severely wounded in action on 22nd July 1941, near Alexandroff in the Rogachev-Shlobin area at the Dniepr River, his whole body was hit by shrapnel - though one medical reports also states, a shot wound to the left wrist. Evacuated to the rear and then to hospital in Germany, he was initially treated at the Reserve Hospital Berlin Wannsee, and his wound, whilst serious, was initially not deemed too serious, as he was awarded the Wound Badge in Black ‘in the field’ on 12th September 1941. This was subsequently amended to the award of the Wound Badge in Silver back on 18th May 1942, this being for his original wound received on 22nd July 1941, he having suffered subsequent amputation and nerve damaged, and as a result then qualified for the award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 22nd July 1942. Whilst in hospital he was borne on the books of the Recuperation Company, 487th Infantry Replacement Battalion at Quedlinburg, when on 15th May 1942 he received news of his promotion to Obergefreiter, but he never saw active service again, and received treatment in various convalescence homes through to late 1943, being eventually discharged from the German Army medically unfit on 22nd February 1944.

Comprising in order of award:

1) Wound Badge in Black Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Gfr. Helmut Minarsch, 7./I.R.487’, issued in the field on 12th September 1941, for a wound received on 22nd July 1941, signed in ink ‘Höcker’ for Hanskurt Höcker, as Oberst and Commanding Officer, later Generalleutnant and recipient of the Knight’s Cross on 14th April 1943 and the German Cross in Gold on 26th December 1941.

2) Wound Badge in Silver Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Gefreiten Helmut Minarsch 7./I.R.487’, issued at Berlin-Nikolasee on 18th May 1942 for a wound received on 22nd July 1941. Signed in ink ‘Dr Kühnel’, as a Stabsarzt on behalf of the Hospital Chief Doctor. This is scarce large format A4 size variant of the award document with the National Emblem printed at the top of the document.

3) Iron Cross 2nd Class Award Certificate, issued to: ‘Gefreiten Helmut Minarsch, 7./I.R.487’, issued at Berlin on 22nd June 1942, signed in ink ‘Frhr von Dalwig zu Lichtenfels’ for Franz Maria Friedrich Clemens Freiherr von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels, General of the Cavalry and C-in-C Wehrkreis III, recipient of the German Cross in Silver.

Together with the following:

4) Wehrpass, issued to recipient at Stendal on 19th July 1939, with good id photograph of Minarsch, contains details of his units, decorations, including the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver, awarded to him on 20th March 1942, sadly no award certificate survives with the group, and confirms the campaigns he served in, namely the West on the Siegfried Line in 1939, France 1940, and further detail up to his participation in Operation Barbarossa during the invasion of Russia on 22nd June 1941. His wound entry confirms that his whole body was hit by shrapnel, as a result of which he was discharged from the German Army on 22nd February 1944 ‘unfit for duty’.

5) Membership Card for 1936 for the local sports organisation in Tangermünde on the Elbe River in north eastern Saxony-Anhalt, issued to Stendal, with membership stamps for January to April 1936, having having been a member of his local sports organisation since 1st February 1935.

6) A short letter from his Hauptfeldwebel to Minarsch, written in the field on 18th September 1941, and enclosing his Wound Badge in Black with award certificate for his wounding sustained near Alexandroff. The Company wished him the best of luck in the hope of his speedy recovery, and the Hauptfeldwebel extorts him to “wear the decoration with pride”.

7) A letter from his Recuperation Company Commander in the 487th Infantry Replacement Battalion enclosing his notification of promotion to Obergefreiter with the Company’s congratulations, issued at Quedlinburg on 15th May 1942.

8) A short letter from the CO of the 487th Infantry Replacement Battalion with the following notification: “I promote Gefreiter Minarsch, at the time at the Reserve Hospital Berlin Wannsee, to the rank of Obergefreiter with effect from 1st February 1942’. The Commanding Officer has written his own personal congratulations to Minarsch at the bottom of the letter. Issued at Quedlinburg on 15th May 1942.

9) Document recording dates of his treatment at the Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin-Nikolassee (Section Haveleck II) in mid 1943, the covered date with his admission to the hospital on 14th March 1942. On the inside are handwritten details concerning the diagnosis - shot wound to the left wrist, and treatment of the problem, period covered April to July 1942.

10) Armed Forces Medical Certificate issued through the Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin on 2nd July 1943, stating: “Obergefreiter Helmut Minarsch, because of war wounding on 22nd July 1941, belongs to the Disabled Class II and probably dated 1st October 1943, signed in ink by ‘Dr Ossenkopf’ as a Stabsarzt.

11) Wartime Leave Pass issued by Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin on 21st July 1943 doe a period of leave in his home town of Tangermünde from 24th July to 14th August 1943.

12) Pass, Issue No.84 and valid until 31st August 1943, issued by the Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin on 1st August 1943, and issued to Minarsch whilst he was at the Haveleck II Convalescence Home.

13) Three Armed Forces Rail Tickets issued to Minarsch on 24th August 1943 for the purposes of going on leave - 1) for a single journey from Berlin-Wansee to Tangermünde, 2) for a single journey from Tangermünde to Berlin-Wansee, 3) for another single journey from Berlin-Wansee to Tangermünde.

14) Notification form the Magdeburg Pensions Office concerning the former Obergefreiter Helmut Minarsch of Tangermünde, and noting the special pay of RM180 for the period 1st February 1944 to 31st May 1944, in accordance with various quoted regulations, and in particular the following injuries - “Left side Ulna (thinner and larger bone in the forearm on the side opposite the thumb) and to a large extent central nuro-paralysis with complete loss of the use of left hand. Movement limitation to a small degree in the left wrist due to scar tissue. Amputated end joint of the left 4th finger and wasting away of the end joint of the left 5th finger.” Issued at Magdeburg on 29th April 1944.

15) National Socialist League for Disabled Veterans Benefit Association (NSKOV) Membership Card No.2920450, dated 1st June 1944, he being a paid up member of the Tangermünde Kameradschaft as from June 1944 until June 1945.

16) A short handwritten letter to Minarsch from Dr Ossenkopf as a Stabsarzt and Section Doctor in the Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin, detailing an ‘effort to obtain documents about the surgical success with the injuries to your nerves, we must ask you to undergo a specialist neurological follow-up examination. Although this might be some inconvenience for you, we ask you to go to the Reserve Military Hospital IV at Magdeburg ‘Marienstift’ Section, and hand over the enclosed document to the Doctor in charge.’ Issued at Berlin on 25th August 1944.

Helmut Minarsch was born on 29th August 1914 at Tangermünde in Kreis Stendal, on the Elbe River in north eastern Saxony-Anhalt. Having worked as a factory worker, he was a member of his local sports club in 1936, and married on 2nd December 1938. With the outbreak of the Second World War he was mobilised on 30th August 1939, and then saw active service on the Siegfried Line in the West in 1939, and then during the campaign in France in 1940. As a Gefreiter with the 7th Company, 487th Infantry Regiment, 267th Infantry Division, to which unit he transferred from 31st January 1940, he then took part in Operation Barbarossa and the invasion of Russia from 22nd June 1941.

Minarsch was severely wounded in action on 22nd July 1941, near Alexandroff in the Rogachev-Shlobin area at the Dniepr River, his whole body was hit by shrapnel - though one medical reports also states, a shot wound to the left wrist. Evacuated to the rear and then to hospital in Germany, he was initially treated at the Reserve Hospital Berlin Wannsee, and his wound, whilst serious, was initially not deemed too serious, as he was awarded the Wound Badge in Black ‘in the field’ on 12th September 1941, and the award and certificate was then sent to him in hospital by his Hauptfeldwebel on 18th September 1941, who extorts him to “wear the decoration with pride”. Minarsch was also awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver on 20th March 1942.

However complications then began to occur, and he was then treated at the Reserve Hospital 103 Berlin-Nikolassee. being admitted there on 14th March 1942 and treatment of the problem occurred there from April to July 1942 initially at the at the Haveleck III Convalescence Home, he was then moved to the Haveleck II Convalescence Home, where he was as of August 1943. A Medical Report issued at Magdeburg on 29th April 1944 states “Left side Ulna (thinner and larger bone in the forearm on the side opposite the thumb) and to a large extent central nuro-paralysis with complete loss of the use of left hand. Movement limitation to a small degree in the left wrist due to scar tissue. Amputated end joint of the left 4th finger and wasting away of the end joint of the left 5th finger.”

As can be seen he had suffered extended complications from his initial injuries, with amputation, nerve damage etc. This was the reason for the seriousness of his wounding being upgraded, and as a result he was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver back on 18th May 1942, this being for his original wound received on 22nd July 1941, and as a result then qualified for the award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 22nd July 1942. Whilst he had been convalescing with the Recuperation Company, 487th Infantry Replacement Battalion, he had received promotion to Obergefreiter at Quedlinburg on 15th May 1942, but despite being borne on the books of the Recuperation Company, he never clearly joined the unit, as news of his promotion came through whilst he was still under treatment at the Reserve Hospital Berlin Wannsee, the promotion being backdated to 1st February 1942. As a result of his wounds, Minarsch was eventually discharged unfit for further service on 22nd February 1944, and returned to his home town of Tangermünde