Werner Krüger

Werner Krüger was a German soldier serving with the 9th SS-Panzerdivision Hohenstaufen. In September 1944 he and his tank crew were involved in the fighting around Arnhem and Oosterbeek during Operation Market Garden.  

In January 1944 Werner volunteered for the Waffen-SS and was trained in a tank hunter unit stationed at Rastenburg (Ketrzyn). Just 18 years old, Sturmmann (corporal) Krüger was trained as a gunner on a Jagdpanzer IV (tank hunter IV). After his training was completed Werner and the rest of his unit were send to the Belgian city of Mons to cover the German retreat from Normandy. The Allied advance, however, was moving at such a pace that soon Werner’s unit also had to retreat.  

After the retreat his unit was moved to Arnhem where it arrived on the 15 September 1944. Coincidentally two days before the start of Operation Market Garden, the biggest Allied airborne operation ever.  

On the 23 September, Werner and his crew tried to attack the Hartenstein-Hotel which was the headquarters of the British troops fighting in Arnhem. During this attack their tank was hit twelve times and he and his comrades had to abandon their vehicle. After the battle was over, Werner saw the many wounded British paratroopers at the Tafelberg Hotel. One of them, badly wounded, gave him his diary moments before he died.  

Werner later saw action at the Eastern Front and was eventually captured by the American army. He was released, returned to his home in the Soviet occupied zone but fled after the secret police targeted him. After the war, he was active in politics for his community. He participated in a documentary about the last German survivors of the Battle of Arnhem and his story is also involved in the book ‘Weggemoffeld’ by Ingrid Maan.