Friedrich Lengfeld was a German officer in the Wehrmacht who died in November 1944 during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest (“Hürtgenwald”) whilst trying to save the life of a U.S. soldier. Notably, he may also be the only German soldier whom received a monument from former U.S. soldiers to honor an act of bravery by the enemy.
Leutnant Friedrich Lengfeld was born on September 29, 1921 in Grunwald and succumbed of his wounds on November 12, 1944 in Froitzheim. At the time of his death, he was the Kompanieführer of 2. Kompanie/ Divisions-Füsilier-Bataillon 275. Little is known about his prior service, although his Erkennungsmarke bears the unit initials: – 1406 – 1. Geb.Jäg.Ers.Btl. 98, meaning he likely started his career in a mountain service training unit.
His final story is told by Hubert Gees, a former comrade and soldier of his Kompanie:
“On November 12, 1944, when the Americans (12th US Infantry Regiment) had re-taken the forester’s house in the night just to lose it again in the forenoon, our company suffered a severe loss south of mine field “Wilde Sau”. In the early forenoon an obviously heavy wounded G.I. in no mans land was crying for help. He was lying at the edge of the embankment on the eastern side of the road. My CO Leutnant Lengfeld did sent me to our MG position covering the mine free zones to deliver the order not to shoot if american corpsmen would show up to salvage the seriously injured. After several hours of heartrending cries and no U.S. rescue parties came, Ltn. Lengfeld ordered our corpsmen to put together a rescue squad.
Leutnant Lengfeld went on top of the rescue squad on our side of the road, which was secured with anti-tank mines, whose positions were relatively easy to locate. In the vicinity of the severely wounded American, when he was about to cross the side of the road, he was taken down by a S-mine (anti-personnel mine). In a great hurry he was taken back to our command post to be given First Aid. Two holes in his back with the size of a coin suggested severe internal injuries. Leutnant Lengfeld moaned in great pain. Led by a lightly wounded NCO he was brought back to casualty station Lukasmühle. The same evening he died from his severe injuries on the main casualty station at Froitzheim.
With Leutnant Lengfeld I lost the best superior I ever had. In the previous hard weeks he meant much to me and gave me a lot of inner strength. He was an exemplary company leader and he claimed never more from us as he was willing to give by himself. Led by him I was on patrol straight into the american forward outposts. When the american observation ammunition detonated on trees with a flogging bang and we got the impression that the enemy broke into our positions he never said “Go and check” but “Follow me”.”
Several days later the 2nd Company received its new Company Commander, Leutnant Heer. As most units during the Battle for the Hürtgen Forest, it suffered many losses. Another loss that the 2. Kompanie sustained on the infamous minefield “Wilde Sau” – just a few days later on November 17 – was a young soldier named Alfons Bösl. Also Bösl was a good comrade of Hubert Gees. Gees himself managed to survive the war.
Friedrich Lengfeld is buried in Kriegsgräberstätte Düren-Rolsdorf, grave no. 38, however his monument (which was erected by former U.S. Soldier) is placed on the Kriegsgräbertätte (German Military Cemetery) Hürtgenwald.
His monument reads:
No man hath greater love than he who
layeth down his life for his enemy.
LIEUTENANT FRIEDRICH LENGFELD
Here in Huertgen Forest on November 12, 1944,
Lt. Lengfeld, a German officer, gave his life
while trying to save the life of an American
soldier lying severly wounded in the “Wilde
Sau” minefield and appealing for medical aid.
PLACED AT THIS SITE ON OCTOBER 7, 1994
TWENTY SECOND UNITED STATES
SOCIETY – WORLD WAR II
“Deeds Not Words”
The fate of the U.S. soldier is not known but most presumably he didn’t make it.
Friedrich Lengfeld is the second German soldier whom received a memorial by his former enemies, although Karl-Heinz Rosch’s memorial was funded by citizens (while saving citizens). You can read Karl-Heinz Rosch’s story here.