General Hans Hube
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Original WW2 postcard of Oakleaves and Swords winner “Generalmajor Hans Hube” who commanded the “16th Infantry Division”. The postcard is in very good condition. It is approx. 5 and 1/2 inches high by 3 and 1/2 inches across.
Hans-Valentin Hube (29 October 1890 – 21 April 1944) was a German General who served in the German Army during the First and Second World Wars. He was one of 27 people to be awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten).
The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He died in an airplane crash in April 1944. Hube was nicknamed der Mensch (“The Man”) by his troops during the Second World War.
In September 1939, Hube’s regiment saw action in Fall Weiss, the invasion of Poland. The regiment was then transferred west and took part in Fall Gelb, the invasion of France and the Low Countries.
On 1 June 1940, Hube was promoted to Generalmajor and given command of 16th Infantry Division. In early August, the 16th was split into two divisions, one motorised infantry, one Panzer. Hube oversaw the formation of the 16.Panzer Division, and then led the division as a part of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt’s Army Group South during Operation Barbarossa.
On 7 July, near Starokonstantinov, Hube’s 16th halted an enemy counterattack. For this action, Hube got the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. On 16 January 1942, he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross for his actions near Nikolajew during the Battles around Kiev. Hube then led the 16th during Fall Blau, the attack to capture Stalingrad.
The 16th Panzer Division was to form one of the armoured divisions to assault the city itself. In September 1942, Hube was given command of XIV Panzerkorps, the parent formation of the 16th Panzer. Hube commanded the XIVth during the disaster at Stalingrad. He was promoted to Generalleutnant and received the Swords to the Knight’s Cross from Adolf Hitler personally on 21 December 1942. During his time at the Führer-Headquarters in Rastenburg, Hube argued strongly, but to no avail, for Hitler to allow 6th Army to attempt a breakout.
Hube continued in command of the XIVth during the encirclement. On 18 January, Hitler ordered him to be flown out of the pocket. Despite his protests, Hube was flown out from the snow-covered Gumrak Airfield on the 19th in a Focke-Wulf 200C transport flown by the ace Leutnant Hans Gilbert. Hube was promoted to General der Panzertruppe.
After the destruction of Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus’ Sixth Army, and with it the XIVth Panzerkorps, Hube was given the task of reforming the XIVth from scratch. After the completion of this task, Hube was sent to the Mediterranean front. In Sicily, he was charged with setting up its defence. He created Gruppe Hube, an army-sized formation whose task it was to defend the island.
With the advent of Operation Husky on 10 July, Hube commanded the overall German defence. To make this task easier, on 17 July 1943 Hube was given command of all army and Flak troops on the island. Hube commanded the German forces’ fighting retreat, and organised the evacuation to the Italian peninsula. Hube had prepared a strong defensive line, the ‘Etna Line’ around Messina, that would enable Germans to make a progressive retreat while evacuating large parts of his army to the mainland.
Patton began his assault on the line at Troina, but it was a linchpin of the defense and stubbornly held. Despite three ‘end run’ amphibious landings the Germans managed to keep the bulk of their forces beyond reach of capture, and maintain their evacuation plans. Rescuing such a large number of troops from the threat of capture on Sicily represented a major success for the Axis. Hube was later involved in the battles defending Salerno from the Allied invasion.
Hube was moved back to Germany to take command of the Führer-Reserve OKH. On 23 October 1943, Hube was delegated as commander of the 200,000 man 1.Panzer Army, then serving with Army Group South under Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein.
In February 1944, Hube was officially confirmed as commander of 1.Panzer Army. Shortly after, III.Panzerkorps, one of Hube’s units, was required to assist German forces breaking out of the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket. Soon after this, Hube’s entire force was trapped in a pocket near Kamenets-Podolsky.
Hube and Manstein managed to extricate the formation and avoid disaster. The breakout lasted from 27 March 1944 until 15 April 1944, during which time Hube’s forces destroyed 350 Russian tanks and 40 assault guns.
On 20 April 1944, Hube returned to Germany where Adolf Hitler personally awarded him the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross and promoted him to Generaloberst for his actions in Sicily, Salerno and in the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket.
Hans-Valentin Hube was killed when the Heinkel He 111 which was shuttling him to Berlin crashed shortly after takeoff in Salzburg at Ainring on 21 April 1944. Only his black metal hand was recovered from the wreckage. He received a full state funeral.
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