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Info:Maj.Gen. Oskar Ritter von Neidermeyer
Old 09-20-2002, 02:23 PM   #1
Landy Hardy
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Default Info:Maj.Gen. Oskar Ritter von Neidermeyer

I have had in my collection a Generals tunic that belonged to Maj. General Oskar Ritter von Neidermeyer. I have his basic history from joining the Imperial Army July 1905..serving under Gen. von Seeckt in Special Group R formed in the Truppenamt to negotiate the training of German pilots in secret in Lipetsk, Russia in the 20s. He was a professor of Geopolitics in Berlin for a time in 1935. He was commander of the 162 Turkish Inf. Osttruppen 703 in 1942-45. He was in action with this unit in Italy 43-45. In 1943 he was personally chosen by Gen. von Kleist to help set policy toward the Russians as German forces advanced across Russia. He was an outspoken proponent of good treatment and assimilation of the conquered Russian people. This was in direct conflict with Hitler's policy of ruthless reprisal and brutal treatment. He capitulated with his unit sometime in Mar.-April of 45 near Balogna, Italy. One source has him listed as missing during the Battle of Berlin. If anyone can point me to any photos of Gen von Neidermeyer from any point in his career and what might have happened to him and his family and any further detailed information on his life and his unit in action in Italy I would be very grateful. Thanks, Landy
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Ritter von Niedermayer
Old 09-20-2002, 03:16 PM   #2
Glenn2438
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Default Ritter von Niedermayer

Landy,

Ritter von Niedermayer handed over command of the 162nd Infantry Division to Generalmajor Ralph von Heygendorff on 21 May 1944 and then assumed command of Osttruppen 703. According to his entry in the history of the Military Max Joseph Order he was interned in the Wehrmacht prison at Torgau in August 1944 and then went into Soviet captivity where he died on the 25th of September 1948 at Wladimir.

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Glenn
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Old 09-20-2002, 04:33 PM   #3
Landy Hardy
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Hi Glenn, thanks very much for that information. I see you spelled his name "mayer" instead of "meyer" I will record your information with the rest of the research. Any idea how I could locate a photo of him? Again, my thanks...Landy
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Old 09-20-2002, 05:19 PM   #4
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I just took a look at the nametag in the tunic and realize I totally spelled his name wrong. That is a sign of having something too long and not double checking before posting. The correct spelling is Niedermayer. The date next to the name is Sept 10 1939. Landy
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Old 09-22-2002, 05:38 PM   #5
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This photo of Generalmajor Ritter von Nidermayer © Jakob Kersten, "The Secret of Torgau: Why the Plot to Kill Hitler Failed," London: 1982.

The buttonhole ribbon is not the black, white and orange-red edged KVK2, but the black, white-paleblue-white edged ribbon of his Knight's Cross of the Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order, which made him "Ritter von," and was awarded in 1916 as he embarked on his career as "the German Lawrence."

Kersten's book is preposterous garbage, written by a man claiming to have been a teenaged courier for Soviet intelligence who "worked" for Niedermayer. Riddled with absurd assertions and demonstrably false facts.

Ritter von Niedermayer's military career was, of course, of far more importance in the FIRST World War, as his biography by his fellow Max Joseph knights in the 1960s shows.
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Old 09-22-2002, 05:42 PM   #6
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:30 PM   #7
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Hello Rick, I was absolutely thrilled to receive your information re: Kersten's book, which I will try to find and especially a photograph of MGen von Niedermayer! It looks very much like the same tunic that I have. Now I will have to find a KC of the Max Joseph order! Do you have any idea how I might find the 1960s history of the MJ order holders you referred to? I want to find any detailed references to his WW1 career period(and later). Any other recommendations? Was he involved in the secret planning for the assasination attempt on Hitler? They certainly had conflicting views on Russian policy. I just found this site and have not gone thru the process to be able to post pictures yet. If you or anyone else here is interesting in seeing the tunic please email me and I will send as attachments. Thanks for taking the time to help me with this project. Landy
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Old 09-23-2002, 09:37 AM   #8
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Since the MMJO is three times rarer than a Pour le Merite, I'd stay with a buttonhole ribbon!

The book is "Virtuti Pro Patria: Der königlich bayerische Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden, Kriegstaten und Ehrenbuch 1914-1918," published by the MMJO holders association in Munich, 1966. I've got it, of course.

There may be books on Ritter von Niedermayer's WW1 exploits in German and English, but I can't think of any titles I've seen, beyond mentions in the Bund der Asienkämpfer magazines 1920s-30s.

Niedermayer joined the Bavarian army as an officer candidate in Field Artillery Regiment 10 on 15.7.05. Leutnant 8.3.07. A precocious military-political traveller, he was off on an expedition through Persia, Russia, and India on leave from 1912-14. Promoted Oberleutnant 7.1.14 and Hauptmann 17.8.16.

Originally a deputy battery commander in Bav Feldart Rgt 10, it was soon realized that his special background suited him to more unusual postings in the war, and he was dispatched back to Persia at the end of 1914. (He was technically attached to the General Staff from 1917, but apparently without ever going through the Staff courses, based solely on his unusual background experience in the Middle East.) In 1915 he was in Mesopotamia and into Afghanistan, and began his legendary exploits as "the German Lawrence" wandering about far in the rear, attempting to bring in neutral Persia and Afghanistan on the side of the Central Powers.

For his actions in the rear of Russian Turkistan, breaking through the Russian lines at Hamadan with valuable information, he was awarded the MMJO and personal lifetime nobility as "Ritter von" Niedermayer to date 5 September 1916.

In 1917 he perambulated through western Persia, Iraq, Palestine, and led a counter-force against Lawrence to Tafile on the Hejaz rail line.

Reaching the Persian Gulf, Ritter von Niedermayer's "private expeditionary force" of 140 men in local dress and 236 pack animals eventually regained the Turkish lines with only 37 men (among them his sidekick, the German Consul and political officer Wasmuss--who I believe later wrote memoirs). Niedermayer is given some credit for convincing the Afghans to eventually take on the British--but only in 1919, after all the Germans were gone!

Like his "opposite number" Lawrence, Niedermayer tied down vast numbers of enemy troops fruitlessly seeking him across vast areas, wild goose chases that accomplished as much as entire divisions, without the cost or risk.

Although sought for political arrest by the British at the end of the war, he slipped through and got safely back to Germany, participating in the Freikorps Epp liberation of Munich from the Reds in May 1919. Attending classes at the University of Munich, Ritter von Niedermayer remained in the army until 1921, serving as an Adjutant of the Reichswehrminister and on the liaison staff with the Allied Armistice Commission. He received the brevet rank of Major, Retired in 1922.

According to his VPP biography, from 1921-31 he was "employed by the armed forces on special missions abroad," i.e. for "Black Reichswehr" illegal training, and on Abwehr business. From 1928 to 1932 he was director of cooperative training in Russia for flying, armor, and chemical weapons development--and THAT is what got him (and all the other German personnel involved) in post-WW2 trouble with the Soviets: Stalin wanted no "witnesses," having purged most of his own military who were involved 1937-38.

He was reactivated nominally 1932-33 (German rearmament started BEFORE Hitler took power), being discharged as an Oberstleutnant with seniority of 1 October 1932.

He taught "Defense Geography" as a Professor at the University of Berlin 1933-39, from 1937 as Director of the Institute for General Military Studies.

Reactivated for WW2 with rank of a recalled ("(E)") Oberst, seniority 1.10.38, he was placed on the active list in 1942 and commissioned Generalmajor 1 September 1942. You already know about his service as CO of the 162nd Turkistan Division. On 21 May 1944 he was named Commander of all "East Troops" under control of OB West.

He was NOT-- Kersten's wild pubescent "recollections" to the contrary, involved in the 20 July 1944 plot to kill Hitler--

what he was arrested for (on charge of "defeatism") was an unwise comment to his staff in August 1944 that following the Soviet summer offensive and the Allied landings in Normandy, there was NOW utterly no hope for Germany to salvage anything from the war. He was arrested and placed in the military fortress prison at Torgau, where virtually all the "anti-Nazi" prisoners-- whether involved in 20 July or not, were summarily executed in April 1945 out of simple revenge and malice.

Ritter von Niedermayer survived that, against all the odds, and did, apparently, voluntarily place himself in Soviet hands, apparently in the naive belief that his earlier "collaboration" in the 1920s would make him of use in the post-war "peace process." He had, apparently, "forgotten" that all his Soviet co-workers already had been shot before the war even started. Stalin wanted no evidence of this inconvenient proof of joint military work (funny, wasn't it, that nobody ever mentioned the JOINT German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 that started the war.... hmmmmmmmm......)

Ritter von Niedermayer died in Vladimir prison of abuse and hopelessness. Any suggestion that he was EVER a "Soviet agent" or an active ember of the German Resistance is romanticized fantasy. His REAL adventures were "Hollywood" enough!
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Old 09-23-2002, 12:40 PM   #9
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Probably hard if not impossible to find, but at least I can let you know they're out there:

  • Renate Vogel, Die Persien- und Afghanistanexpedition Oskar Ritter von Niedermayers 1915-1916 (Osnabruck, 1976)
  • Franz W. Seidler, "Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer in Zweiten Weltkrieg," Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 20 (1970), 168-74, 193-208.
  • Dr. Christoph Jahr, "Generalmajor Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer," Hitlers militärische Elite, Bd. 1: Von den Anfängen des Regimes bis Kriegsbeginn, Gerd Ueberschär (Hg.), Darmstadt 1998, 178-184
This one you might be able to find in a library: Hussein, Haji Mirza (Oscar Von Niedermeyer) and Simpich, Frederick. "Every-Day Life in Afghanistan," National Geographic (January 1921), 85-110.

Dave
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Old 09-23-2002, 01:01 PM   #10
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A peculiarity of the Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order was, although it bestowed personal lifetime nobility rather like a British knighthood, most of the awards were made AFTER the war, AFTER the abdication of the Wittelsbach dynasty, so that "noblemen" were created by-- the private association of MMJO members themselves! Niedermayer was a case in point-- although granted "as of" 1916, he actually RECEIVED the MMJO on 21 February... 1919.

Given that delay, the Crown to his Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th Class with Swords was QUITE belated, on 25 May 1918!
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:15 PM   #11
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Guys, I really so much appreciate your great help with this project. Rick, it was spellbinding for me to read your detailed account of his career. Hollywood worthy indeed.( I work in the film industry and immediately started thinking of a script!) I still need to get more on the his WW2 command. Thank you Dave for pointing me in the right direction re: those hard to find books. If I find out more I will post here. I will be looking for the buttonhole ribbon for the MMJO for the tunic. It is missing. Take care fellows. Landy
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