Original German WWII Dr. Heinrich Schultheis 5th Mountain Division Chaplain Visor Cap and Photo Document Collection with EKII Award Certificate Signed by General Kurt Student after Battle of Crete 1941
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. To write that this is a rare or incredible German WWII Wehrmachtspfarrer/Kriegspfarrer (Wehrmacht Champlain/Wartime Chaplain) visor cap with original photos, hundreds of original documents, insignia and dog tag is a massive understatement.
This extensive grouping belonged to Dr. Heinrich Schultheis a German Kriegspfarrer or wartime chaplain who served the 5th Mountain Division (5. Gebirgsdivision) during World War Two. He began his service in 1940 and his original "Im Namen der Deutschen Volkes” – an appointment document naming Schultheis as a Wehrmacht chaplain. This is the equivalent of an officer commission and appears to have a facsimile "Der Führer" signature. Also of particular note is that Dr. Schultheis participated in the Battle of Crete. The Battle of Crete, codenamed Operation Mercury was a major Axis airborne and amphibious operation during World War II to capture the island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941 and ended on June 1st. Amazingly include with this collection is an original Iron Cross 2nd Class award document named to Dr. Heinrich Schultheis and signed by no other than General Kurt Student. An early pioneer of airborne forces, Student was in overall command of developing a paratrooper force to be known as the Fallschirmjäger, and as the most senior member of the Fallschirmjäger, commanded it throughout the war. This award document is dated June 24th, 1941. Multiple original wartime photos that included with this grouping show Dr. Heinrich Schultheis wearing this very visor cap!
The collection consists of Visor cap, photos, dog tag, one Chaplain Collar Tab (Litzen), award documents and paperwork that all belonged to Dr. Heinrich Schultheis, as follows:
- German Officer’s Schirmmütze Visor Cap in approximate size 59 with a fantastic and iconic saddle shape. This is a near excellent condition early-war example of a very high quality manufactured visor. Fabricated in light field-grey doeskin wool, with wide dark green wool cap band, plus three rows of purple (Chaplain) wool piping around the circumference. The peak visor cap retains matching, early-quality, silver-aluminum hand-embroidered oak leaves with a metal cockade and a red felt center. The eagle badge is aluminum as is the Chaplains cross mounted underneath. Moving the cross lightly to the side reveals shows darker fabric beneath indicating that it has been in place for decades and never removed. The cap is lined with deep golden-yellow silk and shows a full-celluloid diamond bearing the logo and name for Holters-Uniformes Berlin W.50. The leather sweatband with a ventilated front is in good condone with signs of wear and use. The visor is the fiber type, with correct officer chinstrap and pebbled aluminum buttons. The peak visor is offered in excellent condition with no evidence or moth or staining.
- 10 original photos (3 featuring Dr. Schultheis wearing this very visor cap). All photos have handwriting on the reverse side with pre-war and wartime dates and locations. All photos feature Dr. Heinrich Schultheis. Of particular note is Dr. Schultheis marching in procession with General Kurt Student next to him this photo is August 13th, 1941.
- Dog Tag which reads Stab d. 5, Geb. Div.
- German WWII Officer Chaplain Litzen (One Collar Tab)
- The extensive grouping of paperwork from Dr. Heinrich Schultheis paints a full picture of his service as a chaplain in the 5th Mountain Division (5. Gebirgsdivision). The paperwork was translated for IMA by the fluent German speaker and historian John Capasso.
Numerous reports spanning his service from 1940 through 1943 offer a candid look into the life of a Lutheran chaplain serving in the Wehrmacht. His service begins with ministering to French and British prisoners of war. When he is assigned to the 5th Mountain Division in late 1940, he writes about the difficulties he experiences in his job as a Lutheran priest in a division dominated by a vast majority of Catholic soldiers from Bavaria and Austria. His difficulties did not end with the differences in denomination. Schultheis also writes in his official reports about the pushback and skepticism he meets from some division officers, including the division commander, Gen. Julius Ringel. As a devout National Socialist, Ringel is not convinced of the importance of the church or religion in a new National Socialist culture. Letters and reports often recount the professional sparing that takes place between Ringel (and like-minded officers) and Schultheis. The disagreements culminate in a letter penned by Schultheis to the commander of Army Group North expressing his dissatisfaction with Ringel and his lack of support for an official order regarding the work of chaplains from the German Army High Command. (See the page-by-page breakdown for more details)
In his pastoral reports (“Seelsorgeberichte”), Schultheis also discusses relationships with officers and men. Each quarterly report includes breakdown of the number of church services, communion services, meetings, and funeral/burial services. As the “Gräberoffizier” (graves registration officer) for the 5th Mountain Division, not only was Schultheis responsible for conducting funeral services, he also had to organize unit cemeteries and document burials for official records. He discusses this role and its responsibilities at length from both the religious and practical perspectives. In one report from mid- 1942, he mentions that the number of dead for the division surpassed 1000 and will likely increase by 300 when final accounting of war dead is concluded.
Schultheis’ military career exploits are well-documented. His first combat was in the invasion of Greece in April 1941. He was also part of the “Luftlande” (air transported) element of Mountain Troops who landed on Crete under fire. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for his involvement in the operation, and the document is signed by famous German paratrooper Gen. Kurt Student. During his service in Greece, he was promoted to the divisional Lutheran chaplain. Leaving Greece in early 1942, Schultheis rejoined his division near Leningrad on the “Newa-Front” (along the Neva River) in a long, drawn-out static warfare, reminiscent of the trenches of World War I. Reports end in 1943 while he still in Russia. He also received the War Merit Cross 2nd Class for his service on the Eastern Front. Schultheis continued his religious service after the war, visiting German military cemeteries on behalf of the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) in the 1950s.
Included in the grouping are an official appointment to the position of “kommissarischen Wehrmachtpfarrer” – the equivalent of an chaplain officer rank with AH facsimile signature; various sets of orders for his assignments as chaplain; 1938 discharge papers from his service as a private in the German Army; Geneva Convention non-combatant ID paperwork, Wehrmacht driver’s license; Iron Cross award document signed by Kurt Student; personal photographs; numerous reports spanning 1940 to 1943; roster of soldier burials from 1943; and postwar letters and a veteran award document.
Page-by-page Summary of Documents
- “Im Namen der Deutschen Volkes” (p.1) – appointment document naming Schultheis as a Wehrmacht chaplain. This is the equivalent of an officer appointment or promotion. Appears to have facsimile AH signature.
- “D. Dohrmann” (p.3) – Letter from retired Lutheran Field Bishop Dohrmann from 1952 expressing thanks and honoring the Lutheran chaplains who served in the Wehrmacht from Bishop F. K. Otto Dibelius
- “H. Schultheis” (p.4) – Letter from Schultheis to “Herr Propst” from 1951. Schultheis is going to visit a German soldier cemetery for good Friday in Pomezia, near Rome, Italy at the request of the German war graves commission. He also mentions that he established soldier cemeteries in his work as 5. Gebirgsdivision (Mountain Division) chaplain in 1943-44.
- “Certificate of Discharge” (p.5) – official document releasing Schultheis from POW status
- “Bei Executionen” (p.6) – Part of another report: paraphrased – “In the case of executions, parents must also receive appropriate notification – similar to a killed in action letter. It is important for the chaplain to be present at court proceedings, and to be present when a death sentence is handed down. Only the chaplain can communicate what God has planned and offers to the condemned. Even at the post (to which the condemned is tied for the firing squad), the last comforting words cannot be forgotten; here again God’s Word which we discussed earlier in the cell. An Our Father should be avoided at the point if it isn’t wanted, as it often the case at these times.”
- “Der Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres” (p.7) – Orders to official assignment as Wehrmacht Chaplain in Frankfurt am Main
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.8-9) – Pastoral Report for January 1, 1941 to April 5, 1941. Mentions difficulty in his duties as chaplain due to the 5. Geb. Div. commander (Julius Ringel) being the former head of the National Socialist Soldiers Association in Austria. Ringel is a former Catholic, but skeptical of Christian ideas and of the church. Ringel does prefer the Lutheran chaplains for the Catholic chaplains, describing them as “weiter fortgeschritten” (more sophisticated). The religious breakdown of the Division is 75-85% Catholic, 10-20% Lutheran, 3-5% believe in God (no denomination) as most are from Bavaria and Austria.
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.10, pages out of order) - Report for April 6, 1941 to June 30, 1941. Entered combat on April 6th (at the Rupel Pass in Macedonia). Came under MG fire, and later helped wounded soldiers in the field aid station. After the advance into Greece continued, he ministered to wounded in the field hospitals and also conducted burials of war dead. He could not conduct as many field services as he wanted, as his car (P.K.W.) was in need of repair.
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.11) – first page of July 1 to September 30, 1941 report. Includes summary of church services, burials, etc. Schultheis says that his work is going well, soldiers/units are mostly voluntarily taking part in religious services. He is having some difficulty with his ministry because units are spread out in the mountains of Crete, and he does not have enough gas for his vehicle.
- “Evang. Divisionspfarrer” (p.12) – first page of April 1 to June 30, 1943 report. Includes summary of church services, burials, etc. Static warfare on the “Newafront” (along the Neva River near Leningrad), trench and bunker systems are improving.
- “Ev. Divisionspfarrer” (p.12) – first page of October 1 to December 31, 1941 report. Includes summary of church services, burials, etc. Mentions good relations with the Greek Orthodox church. Units of the division are split amongst Crete, mainland Greece, and in mounted units. He works with Heer, Kriegsmarine, and Luftwaffe units. His job is difficult because he no longer has a vehicle.
- “Blatt 2” (p.14-15) – random portion of report, probably 1942 in Russia. Discusses church services with artillery and light infantry (Jäger) units. His most demanding work during this period was conducting burials of soldiers killed in action. Although they are in “calm” static warfare, casualties occur regularly.
- “Ev. Divisionspfarrer” (p.16-18) – July 1 to September 30, 1942 report, first page. The unit was in its hardest and most costly combat up to this point during this period. He recounts sitting with dying men and praying with them as they pass away. He also describes increasing difficulties within the division regarding his work as chaplain. The division command is not interested in supporting his work, and, in his opinion, this goes against an order from the High Command on field duties of the chaplains. Second page is a copy of a complaint written by Schultheis and sent to the command of Army Group North (Heeresgruppe Nord). Third page is a copy of the commanding general’s request for clarification to his commanders on this issue. Ringel is convinced that National Socialism is more important than the church.
- “Evang. Divisionspfarrer” (p.19) – January 1 to March 31, 1942 report, first page. Includes summary of church services, etc. Returned from Greece to Germany and Austria.
- “Evang. Div. Pfarrer” (p.20) – April 1 to to June 30, 1942 report, first page. Leaves Germany and reaches his unit outside of Leningrad on May 1, 1942. Includes summary of church services, burials, etc. Warfare has changed to “Stellungskrieg” (static warfare). He found an ideal location to establish a unit cemetery in “Szablino-Uljanowka.”
- “An den Herrn Evangelischen Feldbischof der Wehrmacht” (p.21) – Report from January 1, 1942 to March 31, 1942. The situation of the chaplains in the unit is difficult because the new divisional adjutant has no interest in supporting them or their mission.
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.24-26) Report for July 1 to September 30, 1941 (on Crete). Schultheis discusses the religious make-up of the unit and officers. Mentions strong relationship with Catholic chaplains. Discusses the morality situation on Crete, to include soldiers with venereal diseases in the hospital who likely contracted their illnesses at a bordello.
- “Ev. Divisions-Pfarrer” (p.27-30) – Report from April 1, 1942 to June 30, 1942 (Russia, Pavlovsk near Leningrad).. He is now listed as Divisional Lutheran chaplain. Discusses hie request for a transfer to a Panzer division or Luftwaffe unit, as he would like to be assigned to a unit with a higher percentage of Lutheran soldiers. Combat has settled into static positions and trench warfare. He has buried 57 soldiers. Morality of the soldiers is better than in Greece, but he still mentions relationships between Russian women and German soldiers for goods and special treatment. Also mentions another bordello opening in the area.
- “II. Teil des Protokolls” (p.32) – Program for a conference of military chaplains of the 2nd Army which took place in February 1941. Discusses roles of chaplains behind the line, in combat operations, and on a military base.
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.33-36) Report for April 1 to June 30, 1942. Expresses concerns about the importance of the presence of a chaplain at the “almost daily” burial services. There seems to be a waning interest in having a chaplain present. He relates a situation in which a company commander he became acquainted with and believed to be a good Lutheran, was killed in combat and beforehand expressly made his wishes known that he did not want a chaplain present at a funeral. Later, Schultheis found out this officer was a HJ leader before his Army service. Most commanders in the division – except for the young artillery commander – are supportive of his work. Also mentions another bordello opening, but most of the soldiers in his division steer clear.
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.37) – December 15 to December 31, 1940 report, first page. Remarks on the unsupportive nature of the division commander, as he is not religious. Discusses church services for Christmas and New Years (Silvester).
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer” (p.38-39) – October 1 to December 15, 1940. Schultheis is still in Germany at this time. His primary work mentioned in the report is ministering to French and English prisoners of war in Germany.
- “Evang. Divisionspfarrer” (p.40-41) – July 1 to September 30, 1942 report. In Russia. Text is very difficult to read.
- PHOTOS pages 42 to 52., page 44 is Julius Ringel, 5. Gebirgsdivision Commander
- “Personalausweis” (p.53) – Personal ID card issued by the Lutheran Field Bishop of the Wehrmacht for Schultheis securing his status as a non-combatant as defined by the Geneva Convention.
- “Führungszeugnis” (p.54) – discharge from Army service as a private on July 9, 1938.
- “Wehrmachtfahrschein (p. 55) Wehrmacht train ticket to Gnesen in Posen (formerly part of Prussia)
- “Wehrmacht-Führerschein (p.56-57) Military Drivers License
- “Im Namen der Führers...” (p.58) – Iron Cross 2nd Class Award document signed by General der
Flieger Kurt Student
- “Evang. Kriegspfarrer“(p.59-60) – Report for April 6, 1941 to June 30, 1941. Schultheis mentions the divisional commander Julius Ringel as gracious and also acknowledged for his letter congratulating him on his Knight’s Cross. (Like a thank you note for a congratulations letter... very German) “Dear Mr. Schultheis, heartfelt thanks for your kind congratulatory wishes for the Knight’s Cross. I passed your wishes on to my staff, as I have their loyal service to thank for my award. Heil Hiter Yours, Ringel.”
- “Blatt 3” (p.62) – part of a report, out of order. He participated as chaplain in an execution of a soldier who was sentenced to death for stealing 39 “Feldpost” packages mailed to other soldiers. He prayed and gave the sacrament to the soldier before his execution.
- “Verzeichnis der Beerdigten” (p. 63-66) - roster of German soldiers who were interred by Schultheis between April 1 and June 30, 1943. Schultheis served as the “grave officer” in his role as Lutheran chaplain for the division. This list was part of his 2nd Quarter 1943 report.
- “Evang. Divisionspfarrer” (p.67-72) - Report to the Lutheran Field-Bishop of the Wehrmacht for October 1, 1942 to December 31, 1942. A Catholic chaplain held graveside services for an officer killed in action. The officers and men were unhappy with the service because of the lack of patriotism, and some left in protest while others voiced their displeasure afterward. He also mentions a “pastoral gap” as an SS Division is positioned on their left flank.
- “Tätigkeitsbericht vom 1.10.42 bis 31.12.42” (p.73-76) - Another quarterly report of pastoral duties for 4th Quarter 1942. He mentions difficulty traveling via vehicle at the front due to muddy conditions. He visits men in forward positions of the Division. Schultheis also expresses his dissatisfaction with splitting different battalions of the same regiment, as they will sometimes be ordered to a different unit/location while in the rear. Splitting the units piecemeal makes his job of ministering to the men difficult. He discusses Christmas services being held in the artillery firing positions, singing Christmas songs, and a Christmas tree. The number of graves for the Division reached 1000 in March 1942 and there are likely 300 to be added.
- “Urkunde” (p.78) – Certificate for Gold Badge or Medal of Comradeship from the Gebirgsjäger (Mountain Troops) veterans’ association.
- This product is available for international shipping.
- Not eligible for payment with Paypal or Amazon