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* 15.11.1911 Stetten bei Hechingen/Hohenzollern
+ 18.06.1998 Hechingen-Stetten

Awarded Knights Cross: 08.05.1942 as: Sturmbannführer Kommandeur III./SS-Totenkopf-InfRgt 3

Awarded Oakleaves ( 227th Recipient) : 22.08.1943 as Obersturmbannführ Kommandeur SS-PzGrenRgt "Totenkopf"

Awarded Swords (95th Recipient): 02.09.1944 as Standartenführer
Kommandeur 2.SS-PzDiv "Das Reich"

Signed 4 1/4” x 5 1/2” postwar photo

Early life and career with ssvt

Otto Baum was born in Stetten on 15. Nov. 1911.
Baum was born in 1911 in Stetten. During his educational period in Hohenheim he became a part-time member of the Allgemeine-SS on 1.11.1933.

Like all students of the period became more involved and concerned with the political events and situations and events in his country.

Assigned to the 3./I/13.SS-Standarte based in Stuttgart until early March.1934, on 6.3.1934, Otto Baum enlisted in the Politische Bereitschaft (Political Readiness Detachment) in Ellwangen which would develop into several eventual SS-Verfügungstruppe units.

He served first as an SS-Antwärter until becoming an SS-Mann 14.9.1934. With opportunities and advancement were more available to SS-Verfügungstruppe than the class structured Army of that period, Baum decided on a military career and became a full time SS member in Dec.1934, his SS number 237 056.

In March, 1938, the new SS-Standarte 3 was created and Baum was reassigned to this unit, which became SS-Regiment “Der Führer” , on 1.5.1938. He was posted at the Klagenfurt-based III.Battalion of SS-Sturmbannführer Hilmar Wäckle, serving as a Zugführer with 12.Kompanie. Baum and other junior officers were transferred to begin training the primary Austrian cadets. In addition to their own training, further instruction was given to the SS-Verfügungstruppe as the regiment was one of the few fully motorized units of the Wehrmacht.

As part of the Army and SS-Verfügungstruppe training exchange program initiated, Baum was temporarily assigned to the Ersatz Battalion (replacement battalion) of Infanterie Regiment 56 from 9.24 to 24.12.1938. There he served as a Zugfhrer in the 2.Kompanie and later led the 4.Kompanie until completion of the exchange program. His Army superiors were impressed, stating in his evaluations the values of his “prudent and resolute leadership with a reliably steady and self assured personality.” Aside from impressing his superiors with his energy and practical abilities, Baum proved a passionate and skilled horseman as well. The Army requested permission from Himmler to offer Baum a commission in the army. He returned to “Der Führer” with the recommendation he be given command of a company.

“Der Führer” regimental commander Georg Keppler confirmed his own opinion of Baum’s skill by giving him command of the 10.Kompanie effective 15.11.1938, and he held this command for his duration of his service with “Der Führer.” The Practical training with forming a motorized unit was of value for his next assignment. In the start of June, 1939, Baum received orders transferring him to the Infanterie Regiment (motorized) “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.”

lah and early wartime career

Baum arrived at his new unit on 1.6.1939, and was assigned as 7.Kompanie commander in the II. Battalion led by Carl von Oberkamp who also arrived the same month. Within a week Baum was leading his new command in exercises at the Glau drill grounds. He only trained with his new unit for two months before the start of the Second World War and his first campaign.

The “LSSAH,” as a fully motorized unit, was heavily involved in the capture of Gola and areas along the Vistula. In the last week of the campaign Baum’s Kompanie fought against the fortifications in the Modlin area. It was for these combats from Sept. 21-25 that Baum was awarded the Eisen Kreuz.2 on 25.9.1939, by Sepp Dietrich. The Regiment was relieved of their positions on Sept. 28 and Baum led his unit to the assembly area until they departed to Prague, where they served along with the rest of the Regiment in securing the Protectorate of Bohemia/Moravia. on 9.11.1939 Baum was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer.

Baum and his command participated in the capture of Rotterdam and the Hauge during mid May, 1940, then pursued the retreating British towards Dunkirk. While engaged with crossing the Marne,Baum was awarded the Eisen Kreuz.1 on 15.6.1940. On 3.10.1940, he was awarded the Infantry Assault Badge.

SS-Sturmbannführer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commander of 11. Battalion, recorded his impression of Baum in an evaluation. In this, Mohnke described Baum as “a first rate company leader whose abilities were especially made evident in the Polish and Western campaigns where his methodical leadership in all situations produced an exemplary attitude in his troops and proved his ability beyond the degree expected.” In addition, notice was made of of the short training time he had with his command before entering combat, a fact that made his successes even more noticed. His impression resulted in another transfer to a larger command

Service with totenkopf

On 3.3.1941, Baum was promoted to SS-Strumbannführer and transferred to the “Totenkopf” Division as commander of III./SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment 3. Actually arriving in April, he commanded this battalion until 9.11.1942. In April Baum and his unit moved through East Prussia towards Russia by rail where they saw heavy combat in Latvia while fighting toward Demjansk.
Engaged in continuous combat from the early stages of the campaign, Baum was among the first “Totenkopf” men awarded the German Cross in Gold for his initial battalion command on 26.12.1941. That award, given for combat at Lake Ilmen and Waldi Hill areas, also allowed him a rare leave to return home in December.

Returning to the front, Baum was heavily engaged in the Demjansk Poecket fighting, which he feels is two of the most difficult combat periods of his service. Baum’s bravery and his skill denying the potential supply line for enemy troops around the Demjansk Pocket resulted in his being recommended for the Knight’s Cross by the commander of “Totenkopf,” SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke.

knight's cross

Theodor Eicke’s recommendation of awarding of the Knight’s Cross to Otto Baum for his leadership during the Demjansk Pocket, with the following report:


SS-Sturmbannführer Baum defended his sector near Salutschje and has activly participated in the fighting against the attacks by superior Soviet forces since 23.2.1942. On 7.2.1942, at 0020 hrs. the Russians attacked after barraging positions of Baum’s Battalion with heavy artillery and grenade launchers after boxing in Baum’s unit along the line connecting the villages of Schumilkino and Salutschje. The Russian infantry was also supported by tanks. The following enemy units engaged in the attack

20th Regiment of the Soviet 7th Guard Division
NCO Class (battalion sized) and platoon leaders class of the 7th Guards Division
42nd Soviet Brigade

Due to heavy casualties of the weakening battalion, the Russians were able to penetrate the northern sector of Schumilkoino and the southern area of Salutschje. These penetrations only took place after the bitter night fighting. In response to the situation, SS Sturmbannführer Baum gathered several of his men and part of a platoon sent up to reinforce his units. On his own initiative and without regard to his own life, he accompanied these men in a counter-attack and annihilated the enemy troops that had penetrated his positions in both Schumilkino and Salutschje.

At 0630 hrs. on the same day, the main fighting line was secured. All enemy attacks collapsed under the heavy defensive fire along the main fighting line. After the conclusion of the fighting, Baum’s unit counted 300 dead Russians lying in front of their positions. The holding of the position of Baum’s battalion was of decisive importance , since a Russian breakthrough would have put our positions in the North and East in danger of being overrun. In addition to that, it would have given the Russians the opportunity to take control of the highway between Kobylkino and Schubina. Control of this highway would have given the enemy the ability to supply materials as well as additional troops to their positions in the northern, western, and southern fronts in Bicke. I request that SS-Standartenführer Baum be awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in recognition of his bravery and decisive success of his actions.


Eicke personally presented Baum with the Knight’s Cross in a brief ceremony less than a mile from the front. Following a brief celebration with cognac, Baum returned to his command and the fighting. Eicke, probably the most difficult Waffen-SS divisional commander to impress, was always a hard commander and cautious of new man under his command, preferring to make his own evaluations instead of accepting those of prior commanders. He considered Baum among his best commanders for his dash and distinctive bravery.


• Wound Badge in Silver (21 August 1943)
• Iron Cross (1939)
• 2nd Class (25 September 1939)
• 1st Class (15 June 1940)
• Eastern Front Medal
• Tank Destruction Badge
• Infantry Assault Badge (3 October 1940)
• German Cross in Gold (26 December 1941)
• Demyansk Shield (31 December 1943)
• Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
• Knight's Cross (8 May 1942)
• Oak Leaves (22 August 1943)
• Swords (2 September 1944)
• Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht (29 July
• 1944)



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