Unteroffizier Goohs - Panzer Aufklärungs Abt. 26 - 26 Panzer Division (Tied to war crimes)
Soldbuch for Unteroffizier Goohs - Panzer Aufklärungs Abt. 26 - 26 Panzer Division
Unteroffizier Johannes Goohs spent his entire military career with the 23 Infanterie Division which subsequently became the 26 Panzer Division. Unfortunately, his photo is missing from the soldbuch so we don’t know what he looked like, but he was 5’7” tall, had a medium build, oval face, dark blonde hair, and brown eyes. He was born in 1910 in Kaiserslautern.
Before the war, he worked as a butcher and he was a Protestant.
He started his active service on 11 September 1939 with the 1/Artillerie Ersatz Abteilung 23 which was set up in Potsdam. He was promoted to Oberkanonier to Gefreiter to Obergefreiter with this unit.
Sometime between Jan and Jun 1942, he was transferred to the Radfahr Abteilung 23 which was a bicycle scout unit in the 23 Infantry Division in Army Group Center on the Eastern Front. He received his final promotion to Unteroffizier with this unit.
The bicycle unit was redesignated as Kradschutzen Battailon 6 on 15 Sep 42 when the 23 Infanterie Division was sent to France and Belgium for refitting; this change in name indicates they moved from bicylces to motorcycles.
The division itself was redesignated as the 26 Panzer Division and was moved to occupation and coastal defense duty in France. Johannes’ unit became the Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilung 26 on 1 Apr 43 and was mechanized. During that time, on 20 April 1943 (Hitler’s birthday), Johannes was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords.
Unfortunately why he got the award is lost to history.
In July 1943, the Division was hastily shipped to Italy due to the country’s quick exit from the war. The unit fought in many of the most notable battles in Italy: Salerno (Sep 43), Cassino (Nov-Dec 43), Anzio (Jan-Jun 44), etc.
Johannes was admitted to the hospital on 21 Jun 44 for malaria and stayed there until 2 Aug 44. He went on leave from 5-22 Aug 44 to visit his wife Rosa in Berlin. Immediately upon returning to his unit, a dark chapter occurred….
In response to a partisan attack on 23 Aug 44, Panzer Aufklärungs Abtailung 26 exectued 162 (some sources say 176) civilians at Padule di Fucecchio near Florence. Divisional commander Eduard Crasemann and the battalion commander Josef Strauch were convicted of this crime post-war.
From reading the command assessments of the 26 Panzer Division during these months, there are repeated statements that the reconnaissance unit was fairly undisciplined and that many of the senior NCOs had been killed or wounded which resulted in a lack of leadership. That could help explain the atrocity.
The unit continued to fight in Northern Italy for the remainder of the war and eventually surrendered to the British at Bologna in May 1945.
An interesting sidenote: the original 23 Infanterie Division was known as “Grenadierkopf” and had a distinctive badge worn on their caps. When the 23rd became the 26th Panzer, the soldiers continued to wear the badge. Confusingly, a new 23rd Infantrie Division was set up on 23 Oct 42. Subsequently, that new division wanted to wear the distinctive cap device and prevent the 26th Panzer soldiers from wearing it.
Surprisingly, this controversy went to the Fuhrer himself who decided that the 26th Panzer could continue wearing it, but added a panzer wheel to the background.
There are two entries in Johannes’ soldbuch authorizing him to wear this “grenadierkopf” badge by order of the OKH!
Additionally, Johannes was issued an MP40 machinepistol near war’s end on 15 Apr 45. Johannes apparently survived the war. It appears that his POW number was entered on page 1 of the soldbuch – 1.584.735.
All work above was put together and researched by Jason Karlen. Thank you for allowing your work to be shared on Freedom2collect.
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