Wilhelm Mohnke’s first job was in a glass and porcelain manufacturing company. Over a period of time he was promoted to a management position.
In 1931, he joined the Nazi Party, and two months later, he became a member of the SS Staff Guard. He was part of the 4thStandarte Lubeck unit.
In 1932, he became part of the newly formed Berlin’s SS-Headquarters’ Guard. It had 117 members at that time. The infamous Leibstandarte eventually grew out of this SS Guard.
The Polish Campaign in September 1939 was a significant turning point in Wilhelm Mohnke’s career. He was wounded in the campaign and received the Wound Badge in Black. He was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class in September 1939 for his role in this campaign. In November of the same year he was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.
In 1940, Wilhelm Mohnke was given the command of the 5th Company of the Second Battalion of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. The 5th Company took part in the Battle of France in 1940. It was during this battle that the commander of the 2nd Battalion was wounded. Mohnke was then given command of the 2nd Battalion.
This 2nd Battalion under the commandership of Mohnke took part in the Balkans Campaign in 1941. It was during this campaign that Mohnke was grievously wounded in an airstrike. His injury was so severe that medics recommended amputating the leg. However, Mohnke did not allow the amputation. A part of his foot still had to be amputated to save his leg.
On December 26, 1941, Wilhelm Mohnke received the German Cross in Gold for his service during the Balkans Campaign.
It was during this time that Mohnke conceived the idea of the formation of LSSAH (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler) Panzerabeitlung. Ralf Tiemann was given the charge of finding men for this new unit. However, due to the unexpected developments in the ongoing war, LSSAH Panzerwaffe was not formed at that time.
His injury led to his morphine addiction. In 1943, when his constant pain had subsided significantly, he was given charge of the 26th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment by Kurt Meyer, who was a SS Obersturmbannfuhrer.
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This division was given the charge of the main attack against the advancing Allied forces in June 1944. Wilhelm Mohnke was awarded the Knight’s Cross for providing strong resistance against the advancing army.
In 1944, Hitler ordered the Operation Watch on the Rhine and Operation Nordwind. Both these operations were conducted on the Western Front with the aim to split the Allies forces. Mohnke’s SS Division Leibstandarte was in charge of both these operations.
On 17 December 1944, Joachim Peiper’s Kampfgruppe managed to take control of an American fueling station at Bullingen. The very same day, over 68 American POWs were shot and killed near Malmedy. Mohnke and Peiper were blamed for this infamous Malmedy Massacre.
After these operations ended in January 1945, and Wilhelm Mohnke was promoted to the rank of SS-Brigadefuhrer. The same year, LSSAH and SS Panzer Corps were given the task of improving Germany’s defenses in Hungary. Mohnke was in charge. He was injured in an air raid and had to be removed from the front line.
Once he recovered from his injuries, Hitler gave him the post of battle commander and tasked him with defending Berlin, which was the main government center. The army men were given the task of tackling the Russian Army, which consisted of 1.5 million men. Mohnke’s and General Helmuth Weidling’s forces consisted of roughly 85,000 men.
The battle was fierce, and on 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. It was already decided that after Hitler’s death, the remaining generals and staff would escape to the western side or to the north.
After realizing that they could not escape, Wilhelm Mohnke and his group surrendered to the Russian Army.
He spent six years in solitary confinement at the Lubjanka Prison in Russia. He was then transferred to General’s Prison Camp, which was located in Voikovo, and remained there till 1955.
After Wilhelm Mohnke was released from prison, he settled down in Barsbuttel, West Germany. There he earned his living as a truck and trailer dealer.
The Balkans Campaign, in which Wilhelm Mohnke was in charge of the 2nd Battalion, was one of his major achievements. He was grievously wounded in the campaign and was awarded the German Cross in Gold in 1941.
The formation of LSSAH Panzerabeitlung in 1942 is credited to Wilhelm Mohnke because it was his brain child.
Mohnke’s Kampfgruppe Mohnke, which was formed from nine SS battalions, is known for giving the Russian army, which consisted of 1.5 million men, a very tough fight in 1945.
Family & Personal Life
Wilhelm Mohnke shared his name with his father. Unfortunately, nothing much is known about his family or personal life.
After his release from prison, he settled in West Germany. A campaign was led by Jeff Rooker, who was an MP in British Parliament, to hold Mohnke accountable for the alleged war crimes.
It is not known whether he was married or if he had any children. He died on 6 August 2001, in Barsbuttel, Germany.