SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Wünsche

Date of Birth: April 20, 1914

Awards:
Iron Cross 2nd class: May 26, 1940
Iron Cross 1st class: May 31, 1940
Bronze Infantry Assault Badge: October 30, 1940
Eastern Front Medal: July 6, 1942
German Cross in Gold: February 25, 1943
Knight's Cross: February 28, 1943
Silver Wound Badge: June 11, 1944
Oak Leaves: August 11, 1944 (548)

Officer ranks:
Officer: April 20, 1936
SS-Obersturmführer: September 11, 1938
SS-Hauptsturmführer: May 25, 1940
SS-Sturmbannführer: September 1, 1942
SS-Obersturmbannführer: January 30, 1944

Date of Death: April 17, 1995

Max Wünsche was born on April 20, 1915 in Kittlitz (Löbau/Oberlausitz county), Germany. He attended high school in Bautzen and in 1928, as he was studying in Mercantile school, he joined the Reichslandbund (an agricultural union). After working as a manager in a manor for a short time, Wünsche became the department leader of an accounting company. In November 1932 he joined the Hitlerjugend and in July 1933 the SS. After participating in a five-month NCO training camp in Jüterbog, Wünsche decided to become an officer and attended the SS-Junkerschule in Bad Tölz and graduated in 1936. On April 20, 1936 he became an officer and was soon promoted to SS-Untersturmführer and was appointed to the LAH, where he served as the 9th company troop leader.

At the end of the same month, he was transferred to the 17th company where he remained until October 1, 1938. Afterward he was appointed to Hitler's bodyguard team SS-Begleitkommando des Führers. He remained in that unit until the end of Poland's Campaign on January 24, 1940, as he was appointed back to the LAH where he became the leader of the second unit of the 15th Kradschützenkompanie and he worked under the command of Kurt Meyer. Wünsche was on that position until the French and Holland Campaigns, after which he returned to Hitler's bodyguard unit on June 1.

On December 5, 1940 Wünsche was transferred once again to the LAH, this time he became Sepp Dietrich's adjutant.

Although Wünsche served as Dietrich's adjutant during the Balkan Campaign, he remained unnoticed until the Operation Barbarossa. During the first days of the war the LAH was subordinated to Army Group Süd, more specifically to General Eberhard von Mackensen's third corps. On their part of the front, the enemy showed persistent resistance. By the end of July, the LAH passed the Russians defence line and captured many Russian divisions. During several data collecting trips Wünsche flew across the enemies' territory. The importance of these trips was revealed on July 31, when the gathered data became necessary to surround the Novo-Archelsk. This, on the other hand, closed the Uman pocket and decided the destiny of the captured Russian divisons.

As the LAH was moving deeper and deeper to Southern Russia and reached Crimea, Wünsche was called twice to substitute for the LAH regiment's I battalion SS-Hauptsturmführer Rudolf Lehmann. Later, during the battles of Berdyansk, Mariupol and Taganrog, Wünsche was the leader of different subunits, leading his men again and again to success. Nevertheless, all this time he was considered to be the adjutant of the Division.

On February 15, 1942, Wünsche was appointed to the Commander of the LAH's Sturmgeschützabeitlung position and had to defeat all soviets' attempts to break through. In March the same year, Wünsche was appointed to the Corps reserve where, under his guidance, they managed to defeat the Russians at the Muis bridgehead. The Russians' aim was to attack the 73rd Infantry Division and the 13th Panzer Division which were on the frontline. Wünsche left the front on June 1 and was sent to a military school in Berlin where he successfully graduated the three-month training course of the General headquarters and was promoted to the SS-Sturmbannführer. Continuing on September 1 as the leader of the LAH's Sturmgeschützabteilung, Wünsche was soon (on October 22, 1942) appointed to become the leader of the newly formed LAH's Panzerregiment 1st Abteilung. The formation of the Panzerregiment began in January 1942, the formation ended in mid-January 1943. Panzerregiment went to Kharkov at the beginning of February.

Right after the training, SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche and his men were sent to battle. The series of battles, which began fighting in icy conditions, has Wünsche later recalled as the toughest ones. On February 8 and 9 he used mobile protection, stopping the Russian troops which seemed unstoppable at that time, and had a serious fight in Merefa which meant big losses for the soviets. On February 10 the 1st Abteilung decided to attack with one aim: to open the supply and communication ways for Kurt Meyer and the surrounded Aufklärungsabteilung. Moving ahead along the enemies' defence line on February 11 and 12, the 1st  Abteilung received the honor of destroying the 16th antitank weapon in deep snow and with the coldest temperature. In the night of February 13, SS-Sturmbannführer Max Wünsche and his Panzerabteilung managed to open the ways of supply and communication for Kurt Meyer's surrounded units, and save them from certain death, despite the extreme weather conditions and difficult landscape. Wünsche's 1st Abteilung, which was now merged with Meyer's Aufklärungsabteilung, formed a fighting unit and continued to attack, helping to defeat the VI cavalry's protection corps on February 15. The same day they abandoned Kharkov. By February 22 the Germans had retaken what they had lost only a few weeks ago. On February 25, the same day when Wünsche received the German Cross in Gold for the aforementioned events, Wünsche once again stood out and this time his actions were worth the Knight's Cross.

Wünsche's battle unit's intelligence data revealed that strong enemies' columns were approaching the division from South. Wünsche gave his battle unit on his own initiative, without waiting for higher commands, an order to surround the enemy near Jeremejwka, towards North. This action was successful, 54 heavy weapons were destroyed (two 12,2 cm weapons by Wünsche) and the enemy lost more than 900 men. Wünsche received the Knight's Cross for this battle on February 28, 1943. On march 15 the battle over Kharkov ended, the Red square was renamed as the Leibstandarte square and the town was firmly in the hands of the II SS-Panzercorps. Many LAH men who outstood in the Kharkov battles received a short vacation in April, Max Wünsche was one of them. In June the same year Wünsche received an order to transfer to the newly formed division: 12th SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend, where Wünsche became the leader of the Panzerregiment.

On June 6 the allies launched a marine and airborne landing operation that was the biggest in the history. By attacking the beaches and bridgeheads, the allies aimed towards the inland. British and Canadian units invaded the inland, meeting the 12th SS-Panzerdivision Hitlerjugend on June 7. During the following battles, Wünsche and his regiment crushed 219 enemy's tanks until mid-July and for his decisive leadership he received the Oak Leaves for Knight's Cross on August 11, 1944. A few days later the allies' units surrounded German divisions into the Falaise Pocket.

In the night of August 20 Wünsche along with his adjutant SS-Hauptsturmführer Isecke, SS-Untersturmführer Freitag and one wounded medical officer, began to break out of the pocket. They were traveling on foot and soon met the enemy's outpost, the wounded officer was imprisoned and Wünsche leg got injured. On August 24 Isecke separated from the others and was imprisoned. Wünsche's group now had only two members. Soon after Wünsche and Frietag found a working German vehicle and drove through the flat ground of Saint-Lambert, where they saw a town occupied by the Canadians. However, they were captured the same day as they were waiting for darkness in the bushes.

Wünsche survived the war and became the manager of an industrial factory in Wuppertal, Germany. He died at the age of 80 in Munich on April 17, 1995.