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Thread: A forgotten German Hero

  1. #1
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    Default A forgotten German Hero

    Trani town, Apulia, Italy, September 16 1943: as a result of an ambush by Canadian soldiers and Italian soldiers, lurking behind a wall near the cemetery of Trani, there were five Germans dead and ten wounded. Two days later, the German troops, in retaliation, rounded up fifty civilian hostages, including even a 10 year old boy, and piled them in a square to shoot them publicly.

    Monsignor Petronelli, bishop of the city, called by the hostages relatives, with his vicar Monsignor Raffaele Perrone, which by the way was in bed sick, showed up in that square.
    There he found the commander, an Austrian lieutenant, and tried to intercede for the hostages, but without great results.
    Due to the futility of his verbal request, the archbishop, after having blessed with his cross the hostages, offered in exchange for the citizens himself and his life, putting himself in front of the firing squad.
    Meanwhile, he was joined in front of the German machine guns by the secretary of the local Fascist Party Antonio Bassi and by the podestà (fascist mayor) of Trani Giuseppe Pappolla, they also saying that the civilians had no guilt.
    After a negotiation of eight hours, from six in the morning until two in the afternoon, lieutenant Wagner became convinced and released the fifty prisoners, after the archbishop had already imparted his final blessing to the onlookers.

    Monsignor Petronelli, that is, the church, and the mayor and the secretary of the Fascio, that is, the local fascist political structure, asked and obtained the release of hostages by the Germans, thus avoiding a sort of "littler" Trani's Fosse Ardeatine.

    But the story does not end here. It sounds like a fairy tale with a happy ending, but it is not so.

    The young German lieutenant whose full name was Jelo Webl Will Wagner, was accused by his superiors for not having executed the order, ie the killing, for having received the gift of the gold ring of the archbishop of Trani; which, however, had wanted to give him because, as a Catholic, reminded him of the noble gesture made. Wagner, however, as every German soldier, was well aware of how the Wehrmacht is used to punish "insubordination"... But inside his Catholic consciousness, he knew also he had received an inhuman and unjust order.
    The German officer was forced to dig a grave with his own hands and, after demonstrating a more than decent demeanor, he was shot. The body was then transferred to the German cemetery of Monte Cassino.

    Now a question: is he still listed as insubordination guilty, isn't he? I hope he was finally recognized for what he was, an honest man forced to become an hero.
    Last edited by DVX; 04-17-2015 at 11:10 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Well, this is definitely a very fanciful way to describe what may have happened back then.
    First of all, the officer was German, not Austrian. His name was Friedrich Kurtz, not Jelo Webl Will Wagner (there's no way an individual in a German-speaking country bears a name like "Jelo Webl Will Wagner" which actually sounds like a cartoon character).
    Most importantly, the officer in question was not executed after "he dug his grave with his own hands" but he did not receive any promotions for the rest of the war. He died at old age in south-western in Germany in 1993.
    Oh my...
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    Well, this is definitely a very fanciful way to describe what may have happened back then.
    First of all, the officer was German, not Austrian. His name was Friedrich Kurtz, not Jelo Webl Will Wagner (there's no way an individual in a German-speaking country bears a name like "Jelo Webl Will Wagner" which actually sounds like a cartoon character).
    Most importantly, the officer in question was not executed after "he dug his grave with his own hands" but he did not receive any promotions for the rest of the war. He died at old age in south-western in Germany in 1993.
    Oh my...
    Great Flamer... actually you are right; I wanted to make an ambush... to see if anyone knew the story and... you did. You stopped immediately the game.
    But this is not an "invention".
    In Trani people told the story of this Wagner executed (actually it seems that a German leutnant with this name was buried in Barletta, near Trani, but some days before the facts, where it happened another massacre of civilians) and it became a... legend. Until 10 years ago, when a group of historical researchers wanted to find... the true story, that was more prosaic and less romantic.
    A still living witness was found: Heino Niehaus, member of the firing platoon. He gave the name of the true commander in the real history: leutnant Friedrich Kurtz.
    Historically, probably Kurtz was forced (he was already dead) to give up the order due to some problems: 1) the action that caused the German deads was a regular action of war, so the retaliation was unjust and outlaw; 2) the Allies were very near and approaching, and the German troops were risking to be captured. In this case, after having killed over 50 civilians, they surely would be judged as war criminals; 3) the execution of 54 civilians, and among them an archbishop, would have caused a terrible setbeck for German propaganda.
    That's why at last he freeded the hostages. And he was not executed by his superiors for this choice.
    But this story, in its historical truth, was revealed just 10 years ago: for over 60 years Trani people has been sincerely believing in the legend of Willy Wagner. 3 or 4 years ago a German TV was in Trani to document this story.

    I didn't think you know this story, the historical truth and the legend, because it's almost unkwnoun outside Trani and even there.
    Last edited by DVX; 04-17-2015 at 06:28 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Quote Originally Posted by DVX View Post
    Great Flamer... actually you are right; I wanted to make an ambush... to see if anyone knew the story and... you did. You stopped immediately the game.
    bah...I hate that. purposely fooling people on a serious forum.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankly Dude Really View Post
    bah...I hate that. purposely fooling people on a serious forum.
    We are not all starched Collars, and raised pinky's here FDR, humor is certainly allowed (within reason) Something you will see after you've been here awhile.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    Well, this is definitely a very fanciful way to describe what may have happened back then.
    First of all, the officer was German, not Austrian. His name was Friedrich Kurtz, not Jelo Webl Will Wagner (there's no way an individual in a German-speaking country bears a name like "Jelo Webl Will Wagner" which actually sounds like a cartoon character).
    Most importantly, the officer in question was not executed after "he dug his grave with his own hands" but he did not receive any promotions for the rest of the war. He died at old age in south-western in Germany in 1993.
    Oh my...
    nah,. i dont trust you,. i prefer the poster's story
    that would be a next hollywood war movie and not your 'correct' story.
    "My rule is: If you meet the weakest vessel, attack. If it is a vessel equal to yours, attack. And if it is stronger than yours, also attack."

    — Stepan O. Makarov, Russian Admiral

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    Anymore stories of German soldiers? Ill love to read more of them, thanks.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: A forgotten German Hero

    In World War 2 Gerhard Schmidhuber Generalmajor der Wehrmacht, also save 70.000 jew from the deportation from the jewish ghetto of Budapest
    Later Schmidhuber fallen in the outbreak from the Red Army enclosured circle of Budapest, but sadly he didn't receive any merit or plaque for this act
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Schmidhuber
    Last edited by imi; 06-01-2015 at 05:09 AM.
    "The consciousness that I am alive, makes me wild dreams every day"
    (Helmut Wolff lieutenant colonel, one who survived the breakout of Budapest)

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