Bruno Bräuer (4 February 1893 – 20 May 1947) was a German paratrooper from Willmannsdorf, Prussian Silesia. In 1905 started his military career, receiving the Iron Cross first and second class during World War I. After joining the Reichswehr, he took command of the first Battalion, General Göring regiment. By 1938 he was in command of the first Fallschirmjäger regiment. He commanded the unit through Poland, France, the Netherlands and the Balkans. Later he became commander on Crete and then commanded the 9th Paratroopers division as a Major General. After the war, Bräuer was convicted of war crimes and executed.
World War II
Bräuer led the regiment in Poland, France and the Low Countries, receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Bräuer's regiment participated in the Battle of Crete, which started on 20 May 1941 when Nazi Germany launched its airborne attack on Crete.
Commander on Crete
In November 1942 Bräuer replaced General Alexander Andrae as commander on Crete. On 25 March, Greek National Day, he released 100 Cretan prisoners from jail. One prisoner, Constantinos Mitsotakis, later became Prime Minister of Greece. After German failures at Stalingrad and El Alamein, Bräuer ordered the construction of underground command bunkers, more defenses around Suda Bay and increased ammunition stocks. Bräuer was replaced by General Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller in 1944.
In January 1945 the German 9th Parachute Division was formed under Bräuer, mostly made up of Luftwaffe ground forces. In January 1945 two of his battalions were encircled by the 1st Ukrainian Front in Breslau, where they were destroyed. The rest of the division retreated back to the Seelow Heights. Many of the troops fled when the Soviet barrage began. Before long, the line had nearly completely collapsed and many of Bräuer’s men began to desert. Bräuer suffered a nervous collapse and was relieved of his command.
Conviction and execution
Along with General Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, Brauer was charged with war crimes by a Greek military court. He stood trial in Athens for atrocities on Crete. He was accused of the deaths of 3,000 Cretans, massacres, systematic terrorism, deportation, pillage, wanton destruction, torture and ill treatment. Brauer was convicted and sentenced to death on 9 December 1946. He was executed by firing squad at 5 o'clock on 20 May 1947, the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete. The historian Antony Beevor describes him as 'a truly unfortunate man' having been executed for crimes 'committed under another general'.
Three years later, the Association of German Airborne troops requested that Brauer's remains be moved to Crete and reinterred on hill 107, with German troops killed on the island during the invasion and the occupation. His remains were buried by George Psychoundakis, resistance fighter and author of The Cretan Runner. Brauer's grave can be found in the far left corner of the cemetery next to an unknown soldier.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- 2nd Class (14 October 1914)
- 1st Class (1 April 1917)
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class (20 October 1939)
- 1st Class (23 May 1940)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 24 May 1940 as commander of Fallschjäger-Regiment 1
- German Cross in Gold on 31 March 1942 as commander of Fallschjäger-Regiment 1
- Mentioned in Wehrmachtbericht on 9 June 1941
- ^ Thomas & Wegmann 1986, p. 33.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 238.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 57.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 555.