Fritz Klingenberg (17 December 1912 – 23 March 1945) was a German officer in the Waffen-SS who served with the SS Division Das Reich and was a commander of the SS Division Götz von Berlichingen. He was best known for his role in the capture of the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade with just 6 men, for which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Klingenberg in 1943
|Born||17 December 1912|
Rövershagen, German Empire
|Died||23 March 1945 (aged 32)|
Herxheim, Nazi Germany
|Years of service||1935–1945|
|Unit||SS Division Das Reich|
|Commands held||SS Division Götz von Berlichingen|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
In April 1941, the German Army invaded Yugoslavia and then Greece. Klingenberg, a company commander in the Das Reich division, led his unit to the capital, Belgrade, where a small group in the vanguard accepted the surrender of the city on 13 April. A few days later Yugoslavia surrendered.
Capture of BelgradeEdit
In early 1941 Klingenberg was with SS troops taking part in the invasion of Yugoslavia. The objective was to push into Yugoslavia quickly, to then attack Greece. Klingenberg disobeyed orders, and decided to reconnitor Belgrade, with his units far ahead of the main German army. Finding a boat, he made across the river, with the intention of ferrying a sizable force across; however, the boat sank, and he was left with just six men. Klingenberg then encountered some Yugoslav troops, who had captured a drunk German tourist, whom they in turn captured.
After a number of firefights the six Germans, having sustained no casualties but capturing a number of Yugoslav soldiers, made it to the centre of Belgrade with the tourist and their prisoners. There they raised a German flag. The Mayor came out to meet them, after Klingenberg bluffed, telling him there was an incoming artillery barrage and an impending Luftwaffe attack. The Mayor, and some garrison troops surrendered the city to them on 13 April.
At this point a few more of Klingenberg's men arrived the same way he had, and made a show of their presence, pretending that there was more of them than there were.  The German army eventually arrived, dumbfounded at the situation, having made a complex plan to take the city that was no longer needed, and was expected to cost thousands of lives. A few days later Yugoslavia surrendered. Klingenberg was awarded the Knight’s Cross for capturing the city, in effect capturing Belgrade with just 6 men.
European theatre against US forcesEdit
On 21 December 1944, Fritz Klingenberg was promoted to SS-Standartenführer and two weeks later (on 12 January 1945) was appointed to command the SS Division Götz von Berlichingen. The division was attached to XIII SS Corps, defending southeast of Saarbrücken against the XV Corps of the Seventh United States Army. On 23 March 1945, Klingenberg was killed by a tank shell during a firefight on the western edge of Herxheim and is buried at the German War Cemetery in Andilly, France.
- Flaherty 2004, pp. 162, 163.
- Weale 2012, p. 297.
- By Robert J. Edwards "Tip of the Spear: German Armored Reconnaissance in Action in World War II" p 172
- Plowman, Jeffrey "War in the Balkans: The Battle for Greece and Crete 1940-1941" p 24
- "Invasion of Yugoslavia: Waffen SS Captain Fritz Klingenberg and the Capture of Belgrade During World War II". www.historynet.com.
- "Invasion of Yugoslavia: Waffen SS Captain Fritz Klingenberg and the Capture of Belgrade During World War II - HistoryNet". www.historynet.com.
- Günther 1991, p. 168.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 448.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 234.
- Flaherty, T. H. (2004) . The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life. ISBN 1-84447-073-3.
- Günther, Helmut (1991). Die Sturmflut und das Ende – Band 3, Mit dem Rücken zur Wand – Geschichte der 17.SS-Panzergrenadierdivision "Götz von Berlichingen". Schild Verlag. ISBN 3-88014-103-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Weale, Adrian (2012). Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York: Caliber Printing. ISBN 978-0-451-23791-0.