Eugen Rothenhofer

While Eugene had an uneventful start to his war, the inevitable took place; he was sent to the eastern front.  He was wounded during the battles on that first horrible winter, and received both the Wound Badge and the Eastern Winter Campaign Medal.  After battling through two more brutal winters, he was sent to the west only to participate in battles following the landings in Normandy and the long retreat into the Fatherland. 


Eugen was born on March 10, 1914 in Heilbronn Germany, amd married on October 27, 1939.    His draft/enlistment date is unknown it at this time and the earliest known date of any Military activity is December 22, 1939 when he was with 1./ Inf.Rgt. Ers. Btl. 34.  Eugen stayed with Ers. Btl. 34 until July 12, 1940.  From June 12 1941 to January 6, 1942 Eugen was with 1./ Inf.Rgt. 725 of the 715th Infantry Division, which was formed in April 1941, with personnel from Wehrkreis V. at this time the 725th Div. was sent to southwestern France.  The Deutsche Dienststelle shows them being along the Atlantic coast.  On July 9, 1941 Eugen became a member of 4./ Inf.Rgt.306 0f the 211th Infantry Division which was also in southwestern France on occupation duty.

In January 1942, the 211th Infantry Division was sent to Russia, Army group central.  The division arrived in the combat zone on January 17th 1942, and was immediately rushed to the area around Zhisdra and Belev.  Here the Russians had separated the 4th Army from the 2nd Panzer Army and created a large gap and were hoping to expand it and sweep behind Army group center.  The area where the 211th Inf. Div. was committed was on the southern side (2nd Panzer Army) of the breakthrough.  In extremely heavy defensive fighting, continuing to the end of February, this division along with others prevented the expansion of the breakthrough sector and helped thwart the Russian operation.

Sometime around July 9, 1942, Eugen was wounded.  He received the Black wound badge and according to the field post number, 29182 E, he was with the 306th Infantry Regiment/ 211th Infantry Division.  He would later receive the Eastern Campaign Medal.  After recuperating from his injuries, he returned to his division which remained in defensive positions at Zhisdra operating as part of the 24th Korps, and 47th Panzer Korps, 2nd Panzer Army until the summer of 1943. (Information received from the Dienststelle has the 211th I.D. in January of 1942 in Bretagne (in the west) and starting in February in the “mitte osten” (middle east), at Brjansk with the 2nd Panzer Army until July of 1943).

Eugen Rothenhofer (foreground, notice the Eastern Campaing Medal Ribbon)

Eugen Rothenhofer 
standing guard

In August of 43, the 211th was attached first to the 2nd Panzer Army then with the 9th Army in Dorogobusch, where they remained until November of that same year. In December, now attached to the 3rd Panzer army at Newel and onto Witebsk until February of 1944. In the next few months the Division would move often; March saw the 211th in Bobruisk, April through June with the 2nd Army in Kowel , July with the 4th Panzer Army at Kowel and in August back with the 2nd Army in Bug.

On September 22, 1944, Eugen was transferred to the 1./Gren.Rgt. 1052 of the 84th Infantry Division.  This division had been formed in February of 1944 in Poland. Commanded by General Erwin Menny it initially had only 2 grenadier regiments, the 1051st and 1052nd.  Sent to France to await the Allied invasion, in August the 84th found itself in Normandy and fought in the battles of Mortain and Vire before being encircled at Falaise with most of the 5th Panzer and 7th Armies. In a breakout attempt only about one regiment escaped.  The divisional commander did not escape and was captured.

The 84th was then sent to the Somme River area in the rear to reform and be reinforced.  In September, attached to the II Parachute Corps, 1st Parachute Army, the 84th fought against the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division in the Nijmegen area during operation Market-Garden.  This was the Allies first attempt to break through the Rhine defenses.  The 84th suffered heavy casualties in the fighting and remained on the front lines in the Western Front. In January of 1945, the 84th was fighting in the Kleve area of the Netherlands and in late March was finally smashed by heavy British air and ground attacks.  Many of the division’s officers were captured along with most of the LXXXVI corps.  It is believed Eugen was captured here on March 24, 1945 by the British, who held him in captivity until March 2, 1946.

In addition to the story, here is information received from the Deutsche Dienststelle about the 84th;  In September of 1944 the 84th was attached to the 1st Fs. Army in Venlo in the west. Sometime around November of 1944 it moved to Kleve, where it remained until Feb./March and then they show the 84th in the Wesel area.  An alternative theory is that the 82nd Airborne Division landed nearly on top of the 84th/1st Fs. Army near Nijmegan close to Germany.  After intense fighting, they fell back to Germany and fought the Canadian and British Army.  As resistance started to crumble they retreated through Wesel, Munster and Hamburg.

According to his family Eugene spoke little of the war, and carried the emotional and physical scars throughout his life.  Of the horrible conditions during that first winter on the Eastern front, his family only remembers his tales of having to eat rats in order to stay alive.

Upon his return to Germany, Eugene returned home to his wife and worked for NSU (A major German car maker).   He would eventually have have 5 children. The physical scars of the war would manifest themselves later in his life.  In the late 1970’s, he lost one of his legs due to poor circulation as a result of his war injury and in the mid 1980’s he lost the other one for the same reason.  Eugene passed away in 1994, in his German homeland, at the age of eighty. 


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