Karl Decker

Karl Decker (30 November 1897 – 21 April 1945) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who committed suicide in the Ruhr Pocket on 21 April 1945. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Karl Decker
Karl Decker taken by anon in World War II.jpg
Born(1897-11-30)30 November 1897
Borntin, Farther Pomerania
Died21 April 1945(1945-04-21) (aged 47)
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Years of service1914–45
RankGeneral (Wehrmacht) 1.svg General der Panzertruppe
Commands held5th Panzer Division
XXXIX Panzer Korps
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Military careerEdit

Karl Decker was born on 30 November 1897 as son to an officer in Borntin in Pomerania. He joined the military service on 3 August 1914 and first saw action in East Prussia.[1] He was promoted to an officer candidate for bravery before the enemy and also was awarded the Iron Cross (1914) 2nd Class. Decker was again promoted in 1915 to Leutnant and shortly afterwards received the Iron Cross 1st Class. That same year, he fought in Poland, Russia and Courland (now Latvia) He then served as Zugführer (platoon leader) of a machine gun unit after he was transferred to the Feldkriegsschule[clarification needed] of the German 8th Army in 1916. He was transferred to the Western Front in the spring of 1917 and fought in the Battle of Lys where his division suffered heavy casualties. He then held the position of battalion adjutant. During 1918, he was assigned to the Infantry School in Döberitz as a weapons instructor.[2]

After the capitulation of the German Empire, Decker was accepted into the Reichswehr in 1920 and served with the 29th Reserve Jäger Regiment, the 5th Jäger Regiment and the 6th cavalry Regiment. He was promoted to Oberleutnant and Rittmeister during these assignments. As a major, he was transferred to the staff of the 5th Cavalry Regiment together with Horst Niemack. Shortly afterwards, he was reassigned again, this time to the 38th Armoured Detachment in Mühlhausen. He later became the commanding officer of this unit.[2]

This unit was subordinated to the 2nd Panzer division during the Invasion of Poland and fought under the command of Decker near Kraków and the Jablonka Pass. During the Battle of France, Decker commanded a battalion of the 3rd Panzer regiment in the 2nd Panzer division. This unit fought at the Maas, near Sedan, St. Quentin and Abbeville.

In Balkans Campaign, his regiment fought in Yugoslavia, northern Greece, occupied Athens and crossed the Corinth Canal. Decker was put in command of 3rd Panzer regiment before Operation Barbarossa began. In the spring of 1942, he was transferred to the staff of the 9th Army. In April 1943, he appointed commander of the 5th Panzer Division. He received the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 4 May 1944 and promoted to Generalleutnant.

Decker was appointed commander of the XXXIX Panzer Corps that was attached to the 3rd Panzer Army and promoted to General der Panzertruppe on 1 January 1945. After his unit was relocated to the Western Front, his corps fought the Americans at Uelzen and in the Alsace. Here the 5th Panzer Army was subordinated to Army Group B. Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945 after the defeat and encirclement of the Army Group in the Ruhr Pocket in April.



  1. ^ The German Federal Archives hold no records for the presentation of the Swords. Scherzer states Decker's widow claimed that she had been informed that her husband had received the award. The date was assigned by the AKCR.[6]



  1. ^ Wegmann 2004, p. 308.
  2. ^ a b Berger 1999, p. 52.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Wegmann 2004, p. 311.
  4. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 80.
  5. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 267.
  6. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 125.


  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (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 [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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Wegmann, Günter (2004). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 1: A–E [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VIIIa: Panzer Force Volume 1: A–E] (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2322-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hitler's Commanders. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-1152-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Ernst Felix Fäckenstedt
Commander of 5. Panzer-Division
7 September 1943 – 16 October 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Rolf Lippert
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Dietrich von Saucken
Commander of XXXIX. Panzer-Korps
15 October 1944 – 21 April 1945
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Karl Arndt