The Knight"s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Witzig is most well known for his action against the Belgian fortress Fort Eben-Emael. Rudolf Witzig joined the 16th Pioneer Battalion in Höxter on 1 April 1935, as an officer candidate.
Two years later, on 20 April 1937, he was promoted to Leutnant and served as a Zugführer (platoon leader) in the 31st Pioneer Battalion.
Witzig volunteered for service in the Fallschirmjäger on 1 August 1938, and joined the Parachute Infantry Battalion under the command of Major Richard Heidrich. A year later, after transferring to the Luftwaffe and then holding the rank of Oberleutnant, he was leader of the Sturmabteilung Koch pioneer platoon.
This unit was named after Hauptmann Walter Koch. On 16 May, Witzig was further honored by an early promotion to Hauptmann.
Rudolf Witzig led the 9th Company of the Parachute Assault Regiment during the Invasion of Crete.
Wounded in the course of the battle, he was transferred from the Luftwaffe hospital in Athens to several other hospitals. On 10 May 1942, Witzig was placed in command of the Corps Parachute Pioneer Battalion. He received promotion to Major on 24 August 1942.
From November 1942, he and his battalion served in Tunisia under the command of Oberst Hasso von Manteuffel, General Friedrich Freiherr von Broich, and General Alfred Bülowius, incorporated into the Barenthin Luftwaffe Regiment.
The defensive successes in the northern sector of the Tunisian Front are closely linked with Rudolf Witzig. Witzig served as the commanding officer of I Battalion, 21st Parachute Pioneer Regiment, from 15 June 1944, and simultaneously as commanding officer of the regiment.
Witzig and his unit were mentioned a second time in the Wehrmachtbericht on 8 August 1944, after the destruction of 27 enemy tanks near Kumele. His last service in World World War II was as commanding officer of the 18th Parachute Regiment, from 16 December 1944.
He was captured by the British on 8 May 1945 along with his regiment, and went into captivity.
Witzig"s last honor of the war had come the previous day, when his name was placed on the Honor Roll of the Luftwaffe. Rudolf Witzig re-joined the military service in the newly created Bundeswehr of the Federal Republic of Germany on 16 January 1956. He retired on 30 September 1974 holding the rank of Oberst.
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