Germany / Biography
Wilhelm Mohnke was an SS general. He commanded the SS guard units that protected the city centre and the government district during the Battle of Berlin.
Wilhelm Mohnke was born on 15 March 1911 in Lübeck to a carpenter family. After receiving his education and working shortly as a salesman, he joined the SS in 1931. Two years later, Mohnke was transferred to a new SS unit in Berlin, which would later become the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s infamous bodyguard unit. He became a company commander and took part in the Polish and French campaign, where he was involved in the murder of British and French prisoners of war near Wormhout. On the first day of the Balkan campaign, Mohnke suffered a severe leg wound from a Yugoslavian air attack. Part of his foot had to be removed, which led to him not returning to service until 1942. In 1943, Mohnke was named commander of the later SS Panzergrenadier Regiment 26 of the newly established SS Division Hitlerjugend.
His unit suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of Normandy and was again involved in war atrocities, this time against the Canadian troops. In August 1944, he was named commander of the Leibstandarte and lead it during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. However, he was forced to give up his position after being wounded in the head in February 1945. After recovering, Wilhelm Mohnke was appointed commander of the Berlin Central Defence Area Z on 23 April 1945. He led a small battle group, Kampfgruppe Mohnke, which consisted of 2,000 men from various Leibstandarte guards of the Reich Chancellery. The group was involved in heavy fighting against the Red Army.
On the day of Hitler’s suicide, 30 April 1945, Mohnke was granted permission to break out from the city centre. His group, including Hitler’s personal adjutant Otto Günsche and personal secretary Traudl Junge, followed a complicated route towards the Friedrichstraße Station and avoided the main breakout point on the Weidendammer Bridge. On 2 May 1945, Mohnke’s group was discovered and arrested by the Soviet troops. After spending ten years in Soviet prisons and camps, he returned to West Germany in 1955 and settled in Hamburg. Wilhelm Mohnke died on 6 August 2001.