Eberhard von Oetinger

May 25, 1892, Iserholhn - February 15, 1945, near Budapest

Eberhard von Oetinger, born on 25 May 1892 in Iserlohn, died on 15 February 1945 near Budapest, came from a notable family of German imperial knights. He began military service in the Prussian cavalry, being wounded five times in the First World War. In 1930, he was appointed an honorary knight of the Order of St John. His wounds left him in a weaker state that affected his military service. At the start of the Second World War he was placed in a territorial cavalry battalion, but soon put in charge of the Hohnsalza garrison. In December 1940, he headed the 9th army orderly forces in occupied France. Then on 16 January 1943 he took command of the 26th Army policing service in Hungary, which controlled the railways and in general of local hinterland forces and major rail junctions. It had a strength of 200 men, most of them older officers and non-commissioned officers, or those unsuited healthwise for front-line service.

Oetinger’s tasks long continued after the occupation of Hungary in March 1944. Fellow officers remember him having a little dog that he treated as a lapdog. After the city was surrounded, the fighting force was split up and Oetinger posted to the headquarters of the 9th SS hill corps. In principle he would also have joined the Breakout section covering the Ördögárok, but for unknown reasons he chose the riskier Széna tér section instead.

Oetinger’s fate is known only from indirect sources. Not long after 1945, his family raised a cross to him in the famous Garnison Cemetery of Central Berlin. It is unclear if this merely symbolizes his memory or marks his remains. Nor is it clear how his relatives came to know where he was buried – the office in charge of Wehrmacht losses offers no sign. The cross bears the date of his death as 15 February 1945. This must also mean that Oetinger escaped from the city, as one of only four from the 26th unit who broke through. The only name known is that of Captain Rommel, who set off towards Svábhegy. Oetinger’s commander last saw him in Széna square.

Oetinger története másokhoz hasonlóan példa arra, hogy egy család számára mennyire fontos emléket állítani az elesettnek. Családja annak ellenére gondoskodott róla, hogy halálakor felesége már nem élt és leszármazottai sem voltak.