Soldbuch Grouping to Schirrunteroffizier (K) Johann Niedermeier.
Niedermeier’s career in the Wehrmacht began early, serving with Infanterie Regiment 61 (Munich) from 1935 till 1937.
His personal photo album details these early years in depth with an impressive array of photos covering:
- Pak 36 (Anti-tank gun) shooting in Grafenwöhr
- Trip to the Schwarzkopf Hütte in South Tyrol.
- Gas Room training
- On Exercise
- Photo of General Halder
- Very detailed photos of the Pak 36 and Vehicles
- Photos of the Base in Munich – Raising of the flag etc.
- Photo of R75 BMW jumping!
- Very nice photo of a Panzer 1 & Panzer 1’s in attack manoeuvre.
- Command Car with Pennant (Einheits-PKW)
Circa 70 photos – nearly all Military related!
It is clear from the range of photos that from an early stage of the war Niedermeier was a driver, which also happened to be his civilian career too!
Opened on the 15.10.1940, Niedermeier’s first rank was that of an Unteroffizier (NCO) it is unknown if he was serving from 1937 till 1940, although it is highly likely given the fact his Soldbuch was opened as a NCO.
Niedermeier was born in Munich in 1914 into a roman catholic family.
He would serve in the Stab/132 Infanterie Division as a driver.
As driver in the headquarters company of the division he was likely driving around the highest officers of the division on the frontline.
The 132 ID fought through the former Yugoslavia they took part in anti-partisan actions and security operations, advancing to Marburg/Drau-Cilli-Agram-Banja Luka to the area of Sarajevo. It was later relieved and an prepared for the Eastern Front operations.
Entering the Soviet Union the 132 ID advanced Lemberg,Ostrog/Rowno, Shitomir and other areas until it arrived in the area of Kiev. It took part in the fighting at Jusefowka, Berejaslaw and Jerkowzy, and later paused near the region of Cherson-Perekopat the start of the Crimea operations. After taking part in the advance into the Crimea in November of 1941.
It was here the 132 ID would have its baptism of fire, they were ear marked for the for the siege of the fortress Sevastapol. The siege of the city cost the division nearly 500 KIA, and three times that wounded, they did not stop at the siege but took part in the entry of the city and the destruction of the fortress. They were so badly destroyed after an amphibious landing and the fighting after that the division was pulled out in September 1942.
The actions of the 132 ID during the siege is covered in depth in the book:
‘Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44, By Robert Forczyk’
For taking part in the actions at Sevastapol: Niedermeier was awared the Iron Cross Second Class, on the 8th of July 1942 (Four days after the fortress fell!) his award document was hand signed by General of the Infantry Keitel in the Headquarters of the German High Command!
Niedermeier would also receive the Krimschild (Crimea Arm Shield) in December 1942, the award document has a facsimile signature of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein.
Niedermeier also received the Eastern Front Medal in September of 1942, his award document is signed by a Hauptmann who was the commander of the divisional headquarters unit.
After seeing action in the Crimea region, in September of 1942, the 132.Infanterie-Division was shifted to the Leningrad Front where it became a part of the 18.Armee which was attempting to break through the lines around the city. It fought in the positions, at Gaitolowoand Tschernaja. Supporting in the positions against the Pogostje Pocket, and fought at Smerdynia as well. Unlike Sevestapol, Leningrad held and in 1944 the 132.Infanterie-Division was eventually forced into a series of withdrawals and retreats, finally ending the War in the Kurland Pocket, trapped by the rapidly advancing Soviets until its surrender in May of 1945.
Interestingly, Niedermeier did not go down in Kurland with the rest of the division, in September 1944 when the division was in Latvia Niedermeier was sent back to the homefront for further training. Obtaining the specialist rank of Schirrunteroffizier (K) meaning Specialist Driver with the rank of a NCO. He would serve at the school until March 1945, then posted to the Gebirgs-Fla-Ersatz und Ausbildungs Bataillon 700 (Mountain Troop Replacement/Anti-Aircraft/Motorised) this unit would see action directly at the end of the war defending the Pass at Innsbruck. The Fla-Company commanded by Lieutenant Quintern took over the protection of the bridge in Reit near Seefeld. For three days Attack aircraft attacked this important railway bridge on the Brenner line. Under Lieutenant Stobba, a company was deployed on the Fernpass at the end of April 1945.
Niedermeier took part in these last actions, as his Soldbuch displays a full range of equipment including the issuing of a P38 Walther Pistol in April 1945.
Niedermeier was captured in 1945, and spent many years in a Soviet Gulag, (returning home with his Soldbuch!) he passed away with his family at his side.
This is an exceptional lot with a war story spanning from prewar through to Siege of Sevastapol and Leningrad, the last days of the war in Austria, then survival of Soviet Gulag.