30 November 1897|
Borntin, district of Neustettin, Pomerania
21 April 1945
German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany (to 1945)
|Years of service||1914–45|
|Rank||General der Panzertruppe|
5th Panzer Division
XXXIX Panzer Korps
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (posthumous)|
Karl Gustav Adolf Decker (30 November 1897 – 21 April 1945) was a German general in the infantry, serving during World War II. Trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Karl Decker was born on 30 November 1897 as son to an officer in Borntin in Pomerania. In the beginning of World War I he initially served in the Infanterieregiment 54 as an Unteroffizier. 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. He then served as Zugführer (Zugführer (platoon leader)) of a machine gun unit after he was transferred to the Feldkriegsschule of the 8. Armee in 1916. He then held the position of battalion adjutant. During 1918, he was assigned to the Infanterieschule in Döberitz as a weapons instructor.
After the capitulation of the German Empire, Decker was accepted into the Reichswehr and served with the Reserve-Jägerregiment 29, the Jägerregiment 5 and the Reiterregiment 6. He was promoted to Oberleutnant and Hauptmann during these assignments. As a major, he was transferred to the Stab of the Kavellerieregiment 15 together with Horst Niemack. Shortly afterwards, he was reassigned again, this time to the Panzerabwehrabteilung 38 in Mühlhausen. He later became the commanding officer of this unit.
During the Battle of France, Decker commanded the I. Abteilung of the Panzerregiment 3 in the 2. Panzerdivision. This unit fought at the Maas, near Sedan, St. Quentin and Abbeville. Decker was awarded both clasps to the Iron Cross (1939) for his personal bravery and was also promoted to Oberstleutnant.
In Balkans Campaign, his regiment fought its way through Yugoslavia, northern Greece, occupied Athens and crossed the Corinth Canal. Karl Decker was always leading his unit from the front. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 13 June 1941 for his personal bravery and for his success.
Karl Decker was put in command of Panzerregiment 3 before Operation Barbarossa began. His regiment fought hard in the battles at Wjasma, Brjansk and near Moscow. Decker was promoted to Oberst on 1 February 1942. A few months later, he was transferred to the Stab of the 9. Armee. In April 1943, he again was ordered to the front as commander of the 5. Panzerdivision. Decker distinguished himself multiple times, for instance at Shisdra, in the relief of the cauldron of Kowel and at Operation Zitadelle and was promoted to Generalmajor on 1 December 1943. Decker also distinguished himself many times during the retreat of Heeresgruppe Mitte. He became the 466th soldier to receive the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 4 May 1944 and promoted to Generalleutnant.
For his leadership capabilities, Decker was made commanding general of the XXXIX. Panzerkorps. Decker's corps fought successfully as part of the 3. Panzerarmee in multiple defensive and retreating battles. Decker was promoted to General der Panzertruppen on 1 January 1945.
General der Panzertruppen Karl Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945 after the total defeat and encirclement of the Heeresgruppe in the Ruhr Pocket in April. Decker was posthumously awarded the 149th Swords to the Knight's Cross on 26 April 1945.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg (20 December 1917)
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black (26 June 1940)
- Eastern Front Medal (15 July 1942)
- Panzer Badge in Silver (1 June 1940)
- German Cross in Gold on 1 August 1942 as Oberst in the Panzer-Regiment 3
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 13 June 1941 and Oberstleutnant and commander of the I./Panzer-Regiment 3
- 466th Oak Leaves on 4 May 1944 as Generalmajor and commander of the 5. Panzer-Division
- 149th Swords on 26 April 1945 (posthumous) as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXIX Panzerkorps[Notes 1]
- Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht on 11 December 1943, 2 March 1944, 5 August 1944 and 12 October 1944
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|11 December 1943||Die im mittleren Frontabschnitt eingesetzte pommerisch-mecklenburgische 292. Infanteriedivision unter Generalmajor John und die schlesische 5. Panzerdivision unter Generalmajor Decker haben hervorragenden Anteil an den in den letzten Wochen im mittleren Frontabschnitt erzielten Abwehrerfolgen.||The Mecklenburg-Pomeranian 292nd Infantry Division under Major General John and the Silesian 5th Panzer Division under Major General Decker deployed in the middle front sector of have played a prominent part in the defensive successes achieved on the middle sector of the front during the last few weeks.|
|2 March 1944||... In diesen Kämpfen hat sich die schlesische 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung des Generalmajors Decker zusammen mit den ihr unterstellten Infanterie-, Panzer-, und Flakartillerieverbänden hervorragend bewährt.||... The Silesian 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Major General Decker along with its subordinated infantry, armor, and anti aircraft artillery detachments have proven themselves exceptionally in these battles.|
|5 August 1944 (Addendum)||Im Kampfraum südwestlich von Kauen zeichnete sich die schlesisch-sudetendeutsche 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Decker durch hervorragenden Angriffsgeist aus.||The Silesian-Sudeten 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Lieutenant General Decker distinguished itself by showing excellent attacking spirit in the battle area southwest of Kaunas.|
|12 October 1944 (Addendum)||In den schweren Abwehrkämpfen nördlich der Memel hat sich die schlesisch-sudetendeutsche 5. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Decker durch beispielhaften Kampfgeist erneut hervorgetan.||The Silesian-Sudeten 5th Panzer Division under the leadership of Lieutenant General Decker distinguished itself again by showing excellent fighting spirit in the heavy defensive fighting north of the Memel.|
- The German Federal Archives hold no records for the presentation of the Swords. The Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR) assumes that the presentation fell into the timeframe 20 April 1945 to 29 April 1945. It is assumed that the nomination was approved on 26 April 1945. Scherzer states that the assumption is based on a statement from Decker's widow. She claimed that she had been informed that her husband had received the award. The date and sequential number "149" were assigned by the AKCR.
- Berger 1999, p. 52.
- Thomas 1997, p. 110.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 80.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 267.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 158.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 82.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 48.
- Fellgiebell 2000, pp. 49–50.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 125.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 625.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 48.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 191.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 287.
Generalleutnant Ernst Felix Fäckenstedt
Commander of 5. Panzer-Division
7 September 1943 – 16 October 1944
Generalmajor Rolf Lippert
General der Panzertruppen Dietrich von Saucken
Commander of XXXIX. Panzer-Korps
15 October 1944 – 21 April 1945
Generalleutnant Karl Arndt