Member of the Waffen SSDied when: 65 years 194 days (786 months)
Star Sign: Aries
Erich Göstl (17 April 1925 – 28 October 1990) was a member of the Waffen SS who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.Göstl was born in Vienna on April 17, 1925.
In World War II, he was a member of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during the Normandy Campaign where he was in the 6th Company, 1st SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, deployed near the French town of Tilly, a few kilometers from Caen.Then a 19-year-old, Göstl was a machine gunner, manning an MG-42, defending his position against a British (possibly Canadian) attack.
During heavy fighting he was shot in his left eye.Shrapnel then wounded him in his upper left arm.Undaunted he continued to fire and was then hit in the other eye, which "almost tore his head off".
Even then, completely blinded, he continued to return fire from his machine gun post, alone and shooting at what he could hear, as he was completely unable to see anything.
He continued to hold out behind his machine gun and received another hit in his right cheek and nose area of his torn-up face.
Göstl held until the enemy attack was ultimately repelled, but it is believed that only because of a jam in the machine gun was Göstl's machine gun silenced.
His friend Elmar Bonn worked his way forward to him and with the help of some other men was able to bring him back to a safe position, while under fire.
Throughout, he "was suffering horrible pain" and was bleeding heavily from the face.Göstl survived and was sent to a field hospital before being evacuated to Germany.
He was in the school for the War Blind in Cerninpalast, Prague when he was awarded the Knight's Cross on 11.November 1944.
Göstl's story was not used, or selected for propaganda purposes in Nazi Germany; it has been speculated that this was due to the severity of his injuries, but this has never been substantiated by documentation.
As a result the account was not widely known during the final years of the war.His regimental commander, Standartenfuhrer Albert Frey described awarding him the Cross and his action as follows (translated from German);Göstl later described his actions as, "only doing my duty".
He would also say of staying at his position, "I couldn't do anything else at the time".Along with all Axis military personnel at the end of hostilities, he became a prisoner of war and was released in April 1946.
He went on, with great assistance from his wife, to earn a Doctorate Law Degree from the University of Vienna.
He died, at the age of 65, on October 28, 1990, in Sankt Jakob, Austria.