Feldkommandantur 642 "Arnheim"

During the occupation by Nazi Germany, the Netherlands were divided into districts, each with a Feldkommandantur (Field Command; FK) leading them. Pending the occupation the layout changed, and with it the number and locations of the Feldkommandanturen. In the summer of 1943 a new Arnhem FK was added to the list. From then on, the Northern and Eastern regions of the Netherlands were led by the FK 642 'Arnheim'.
Generalmajor Friedrich Kussin (1895-1944) became its commander. Under his command was a small, administrative unit of the Heer (Army) consisting of several officers and female Stabshelferinnen (typists, telephone operators, et cetera). The FK was stationed in a villa named Heselbergh on Apeldoornse Weg in the outskirts of Arnhem.
When Operation "Market Garden" started on Sunday 17SEP1944, the staff of the Feldkommandantur remained on its posts. This was in contrast with the local Ortskommandantur, stationed on Nieuwe Plein in downtown Arnhem which was redeployed to the village of Dieren immediately. A Feldkommandantur typically was responsible for the coordination of the available units in its sector. This explains why Generalmajor Kussin went out to check in with the SS training unit under the command of SS-Obersturmbahnführer Sepp Krafft. This unit had moved into position in between Oosterbeek and Wolfheze in the early hours of the start of the operation. Here, they caused the advancing British troops on 'Tiger Route' (Utrechtse Weg) some delay.

Generalmajor der Infanterie Friedrich Kussin
Born on the 1st of March 1895
in Aurich, Niedersachsen, Germany

On that Sunday September 17th General Kussin had heard about the airborne landings North West of the city for which he was responsible. He and his driver Gefreiter (corporal) Jozef Willeke , his aide Unteroffizier (NCO) Max Koster and bodyguard Unteroffizier Wilhelm 'Willi' Haupt drove in their staff car, a camouflage painted Citroen, probably confiscated in France, to the Head Quarters of "SS-Haupsturmführer" (Major) Josef 'Sepp' Krafft, commanding the SS-Panzer Grenadier Depot und Reserve Battaljon 16, an armored-infantry battalion. He arrived at Krafft's HQ in the Hotel Wolfheze at 17.15 hours. Krafft gave Kussin the latest intelligence and the Feldkommandant asked of Krafft's Battalion to show all endurance possible for the upcoming battle. Kussin left via the same way he came, much to the reluctance of Krafft's staff.

Coming onto the junction of Wolfhezer Weg and Utrechtse Weg he and his staff ran into advancing British paratroopers.
This is the account of the officer in charge of the leading British platoon, Lieutenant James Arthur Stacey Cleminson
of No.5 Platoon, "B" Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion:


"The platoon had been selected to lead the 3rd Battalion's march to Arnhem, and for the first two hours they made good progress, scouting ahead of the main force. As they approached Battalion Krafft's blocking line east of Wolfheze, a German Citroen staff car suddenly appeared at a junction in between the platoon's positions, prompting these units to open fire with rifles and sten guns, killing all inside. So enthusiastic had been the firing that both vehicle and passengers were riddled with bullets and it took Cleminson's intervention to get his men to cease fire. This prize put the platoon on a high. Cleminson did not discover until after the war that his men had killed General Friedrich Kussin, the German commander of the Arnhem area. He had been visiting Krafft when he unwisely decided to return to the town and his own headquarters."

The account of another eye-witness, Staff-Sergeant John Oliver McGeough, a glider pilot with "C" Squadron, No.2 Wing:


"The following morning [Monday, September 18th 1944, Battle Detective.com]we continued towards Oosterbeek and at the junction of Wolfheze Weg and Utrechtseweg saw the first German dead. A staff car (a camouflaged Citroen) had come down the road from Wolfheze and had been shot up by men of the 2nd Parachute Btn at about 1600 hrs on Sunday afternoon. Major General Kussin, German field commander at Arnhem and three others in the car were on a reconnaissance mission and were unlucky to be spotted by the parachutists. Shortly after leaving the scene of the ambush we reached the Hartenstein Hotel at Oosterbeek and there I was to remain for the rest of the battle."

The four staff members of FK 642 killed on the Wolfhezer Weg junction, were registered as missing in action by the Germans. That same evening the command was transferred to the 47 year old Major Ernst Schleiffenbaum who was already on Kussin’s staff.


The next day, Monday 18SEP1944, the shot-up car of the Feldkommandant Arnheim was filmed by members of the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU):

AFPU Unit photographer Dennis Smith took the following three photos at the ambush site.
While Smith was there taking his pictures, someone decided to pull the two corpses in the front seat out of the car.

(click on the images to enlarge)


A closer look at the ambush scene photos
The photos only show general Kussin and his driver Willeke. His aide Koster, a born Dutchman, is nowhere to be seen and bodyguard Haupt had at this time been removed from the scene as he had survived the ambush only to die of his wounds on a later moment
Knowing that both Willeke and Kussin had been removed from the vehicle post-mortem, it is safe to assume that the rifles seen on and under Willeke's legs have been placed there after the incident. We consulted a weapons expert who identified both rifles as Dutch Mannlicher M95 No. 4 bicycle riders carbines produced in the Hembrug factories in Zaandam, the Netherlands.
See the diagram below.
Of interest, aside from the many bullet impacts in the vehicle and the blood stains on the driver's seat and the rifle sling, is the location of the headgear worn by the general and his driver. In the first photo, Willeke is seen still with his M43 Feldmütze (field cap) on his head. In the photo showing him next to the vehicle, this cap is seen on the driver's seat. The skin of Willeke's head shows a ring-shaped indentation were the rim of the Feldmütze had been until just before the photo was taken.
On Willeke's right arm is an object of which we are fairly certain that it is a German officer's Schirmmütze (peaked cap); most likely the general's headgear. It is seen from the top of the cap and it shows an alteration on the top right side consistent with the high velocity impact of a bullet ripping though the outer cloth of the cap and its lining. The damage is similar to the tear in the general's tunic next to his right breast pocket which is also likely to be caused by a bullet.
In light of the "scalp theory" to be described below in the 27AUG2018 update, it is our theory that the general wore his peaked cap when he was hit by one of the British bullets. This projectile tore through the cloth of the cap and subsequently through the flesh on the top right side of the general's head disconnecting ("skinning") a portion of it from the skull up to the rim of his cap where the skin was held in place.
Again see the diagram below.
Our theory leaves no room for a deliberate scalping by Allied servicemen just before the photos were taken.

(click to enlarge)

Location of the incident
This is the junction on a period map:

In the Netherlands Institute for Military History in The Hague we found the Allied Intelligence translation of the 16th SS Armored Grenadier Reserve Battalion and Depot's "Kriegstagesbuch" (War Diary, or After Action Report).
On page 8 the violent death of the Feldkommandant is described:

(click on the images to enlarge)

This is what the junction looked like in 1973, when reporters of After The Battle Magazine; visited the scene:

(click to enlarge)

Page 14 of After The Battle Magazine, Battle of Arnhem Special Edition

This is what the junction looks like today. The orange pylons in the middle of the junction indicate approximately where General Kussin's car was stopped in a hail of bullets:


(click on the images to enlarge)

Who dunnit?
The shooting up of Generalmajor Friedrich Kussin's staff car and its occupants has always been attributed to
men of No.5 Platoon, "B" Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion. Individual shooters have never been identified although an attempt was made in this September 6th, 1979 article by author Chris Jongboer in the Oosterbeek periodical "Hoog en Laag" which is still published and circulated today:

"What was is with that German general?
In the memories of the airborne landing near Wolfheze which you could have read in "Hoog en Laag" of the past weeks, is described how the lieutenant Knottenbelt finds a German general, shot dead, at the corner of Wolfherzerweg and Utrechtseweg. It is interesting how a fact can start leading a life of its own and how certain affairs can be “claimed” by various people. Aside from Mr. Knottenbelt still others have been involved in the shootout and various people are known to me who claimed to have shot and killed the general.
During a visit to Scotland Yard in London I met Chief Inspector Percy Browne who had jumped into Arnhem as an Airborne trooper in 1944. He told me that he had taken part in the shootout.
A young soldier who, on the evening of the day of the landing, had come to my girlfriend on the Buunderkamp told there, that he had helped a German general to Kingdom come.
Meanwhile he showed a small kind of swagger stick decorated with gems that he had taken off the victim.
That adds up to three who has been involved.
Several years later I met an elderly Englishman in Wolfheze, accompanied by his wife.
As an Airborne-officer he had been dropped near Wolfheze, was now writing a book about his wartime
and visited the battlefields where he had fought. He also knew something about the shooting of a German general and liked to go to the place where it had happened. When we set off, his wife whispered to me: "
he doesn’t want to know it, but he has killed that general". That makes four.
With a foreign reporter, who wanted to write a story on crime in the Netherlands, but who made a special study of the Battle of Arnhem as a hobby, I visited the battlefields near Wolfheze, the cemetery and Arnhem Bridge.
In hotel Hartenstein we went for a cup of coffee.
A couple sat there, speaking English with each other, the man apparently of the age of a former Airborne trooper.
I asked him if he was an Airborne trooper and this seemed to be the fact. On my question if he knew about the general and who had etcetera, etcetera,……the story gets boring, he replied: Yes Sir, that was corporal …. (unfortunately I lost the name). He was killed in action and you can find his grave at the Airborne-cemetery”.
And that was the fifth.
It is very well possible, that they were all involved. In all likelihood even, who knows.
But dead he was; that general!

                                                                                                                 C.A. Jongboer"

From the Gelders Archief, Arnhem, Collection 2867 "Collectie L.P.J. Vroemen"
Item B5-324; article "Hoe zat het nou met die Duitse generaal?" in "Hoog en Laag"
of Thursday September 6th 1979, 49th year, number 36.

Significance of the incident
In 2014 computer scientists Marten Düring and Antal van den Bosch used the incident on "Kussin Junction" to describe multi-perspective event detection in texts by linking narratives referring to the same event based on references to location names.
On page 207 of their chapter 'Multi-perspective Event Detection in Texts Documenting the 1944 Battle of Arnhem" (in: "Text Mining. Theory and Applications of Natural Language Processing", Chris Biemann, Alexander Mehler (eds). Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-319-12654-8/978-3-319-12655-5)
they bring the essence of the event forward as follows:

"Consider the example depicted in Fig. 1. Each of the four source snippets 7 contains enough hints to group them together as referring to the same event: mentions of the location, the “Utrechtseweg” (Utrecht Road) near the village of “Wolfheze”, the date and time (as noted in a German war diary, translated to English by Allied Intelligence), and an annotated photo taken by an Allied photographer. Rather than merely providing parts of a story that can simply be concatenated, the aggregation of resources from different perspectives and a close look at what they depict helps us to reconstruct what happened. A key question with regard to this particular event is, why there was no attempt to arrest the high ranking Generalmajor Friedrich Kussin, who was in charge of all German troops in the Arnhem area. Additional research has revealed that Lieutenant Cleminson had simply failed to recognize Kussin.

7 The sources surrounding this example were researched by amateur historian Tom Timmermans (www.battledetective.com/Kussin_Junction.html) .
The event has also been described by professional historians in most historical reconstructions of Operation Market Garden including [4,263] (Cornelius Ryan (1995) A bridge too far, 1st edn. Simon & Schuster, New York)
The Dutch municipality of Renkum (Oosterbeek is within its jurisdiction) decided recently to refurbish "Kussin Junction" and install traffic lights.
This is what the crossroads of Wolfhezer Weg and Utrechtse Weg looks like today:

(click on the images to enlarge)

Most publications have it that General Kussin had only two other passengers in his staff car on that fateful Sunday in 1944.
Historian Scott Revell has, however, established that next to the General, his driver Josef Willeke and interpreter Max Koester (himself born in Arnhem on 20OCT1903), another passenger rode along in the Citroen when it was shot up by British paras.
In "Airborne Magazine", the publication of the Association of Friends of the Airborne Museum Oosterbeek, Volume 3, No. 1, in the accompanying "Ministory 123", Part 2 of Revell's report titled "The death of a German General during the Battle of Arnhem" is published.
In it, Revell describes how he was able to purchase an obituary or "prayer card" of Unteroffiizier (Non Commissioned Officer) Willi Haupt who, according to the text on the card, had been the fourth occupant of the car.

(click on the image to enlarge)

Front of the obituary card of NCO Willi Haupt

Pertaining to Haupt's military service and him being killed in action at Arnhem, the text on the card translates to:
"In the end he was deployed near Arnhem. Accompanying his commanding General he rode out on a reconnaissance mission together with two other comrades on the 17th of September 1944. He would not return from this journey. It was here where the deadly bullet hit him. The comrades succeeded in recovering the mortal remains and then they buried him with the General and both other soldiers on the Heroes Cemetery at Arnhem."
After World War Two ended, the bodies of "Generalmajor" (Major General) Friedrich Kussin, his driver "Gefreiter" (Corporal) Josef Willeke and interpreter "Unteroffiizier" (Non Commissioned Officer) Max Koester were reburied from the German "Heroes Cemetery" on the Zypendaal estate at Arnhem, alongside each other on the German Soldiers Cemetery in Ysselsteyn, The Netherlands.
Their remains rest in the graves 143, 144 and 144 on Row 6 in Plot BL.

(click on the images to enlarge)

Unteroffiizier (Non Commissioned Officer) Willi Haupt was buried at this same cemetery in grave 079 on Row 4
in Plot M.
In Ministory 123 Revell presents the most likely scenarios which caused the confusion about the number of passengers in the General's car and about the burial of Willi Haupt away from the other occupants.
Over 30.000 Germans are buried in the Ysselsteyn cemetery.
This is an impression of their graves.
The General has the same headstone as any other German soldier ("Deutscher Soldat" in their language):

Grave BL 6 143

Grave BL 6 144

Grave BL 6 145

Grave M 4 79

Generalmajor Friedrich KUSSIN, born on 1MAR1895 in Aurich (Germany).
KIA at Oosterbeek 17SEP1944.
Unit: Feldkommandantur 642.
Text on identification disk: Stab.P1.80-2-

Gefreiter Josef WILLEKE born on 4JUL1902 in Atteln (Germany).
KIA at Oosterbeek 17SEP1944.
Unit: Feldkommandantur 642.
Text on identification disk:

Unteroffizier Max KOESTER, born on 20OCT1903 in Arnhem (the Netherlands).
KIA at Oosterbeek 17SEP1944.
Unit: Feldkommandantur 642.
Text on identification disk: 1.Br.Bau.E.Btl2 -5595-

Unteroffizier Wilhelm HAUPT, born on 25JUN1900 in Muelheim (Germany).
KIA at Oosterbeek 17SEP1944.
Unit: Feldkommandantur 642.
Text on identification disk: Gr.Kw.Kol.f.Betr.25

It is often suggested on online platforms as well as in books that General Kussin's mortal remains had been mutilated and that the General was 'scalped indian-style' as written on page 299 of Karel Margry's "Market Garden, then and now".
We started an investigation into the trauma sustained by General Kussin on 17SEP1944 in Wolfheze in which we were only partly successful. Beforehand, we deemed scalping fairly unlikely because it wasn't in the nature of British troops in World War Two to mutilate enemy bodies in that fashion, there was no motive for it, and the General's scalp is still attached to his skull in the post mortem photos taken on the scene:

This agency obtained disinterment and reburial records from not open sources and is not at liberty to publish them here entirely.
We have analyzed them and found them only to contain dental records; albeit elaborate ones.
From the description of the General's teeth by members of the Royal Netherlands Army's Identification and Recovery Service on 13OCT1948 we "charted" the dental trauma as follows:

(click on the images to enlarge)

This trauma suggests a high velocity impact from a bullet entering Kussin's head at the left cheek, which then traveled through his mouth to exit through the right side of the face shattering several teeth in its path.
The bullet was fired from a position slightly higher than where Kussin sat.
This at least explains the wound on the General's face as seen in the photos.
On an actual three-dimensional model these gunshot wounds and the trajectory of the bullet look like this:

(click on the images to enlarge)
Gunshot trajectory from upper left to lower right  through face.
Teeth marked red indicate shattering.
Damage to the pink tooth in the upper left jaw by gun shot is tentative
as the record states that only fragments of the root remain in the jaw bone.

These wounds wouldn't necessarily be fatal and it is this agency's theory that the General died from other trauma suffered during the same incident. The records describe no other trauma and do not contain diagrams, drawings or photos. It describes the remains as in an "advanced state of decomposition" which made it impossible to find evidence of other wounds.
Lastly, the disinterment report has this entry: meaning "blonde hair of the head" indicating that whatever caused the remarkable cut in the General's cranium, did not keep him from taking at least part of his scalp into his grave:

General-Major Friedrich Kussin's grave in Ysselsteyn on 22AUG2018.

Mission: occupy the Ortskommandantur

The question why the General wasn't arrested but killed instead is even more significant in light of the tasks attributed to "C" Company of the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment for the first day of Operation "Market Garden". Parts of the order "2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment - O.O. No.1.", dated 16SEP1944 reads:
"12. PHASE III Move into town and seize WATERLOO br and hold certain bldgs as under:- (Town Plan refers)
(iv) 'C' Coy - (less 1 Pl) to remain in area CHARING X br. To be prepared, if necessary to move SOUTH or NORTH of river to assist remainder of Bn, otherwise, on orders from Bn H.Q. to move in behind remainder of Bn to bldg 39 and 43, to be known as 'VICTOR'.
All bldgs will be made as strong as possible and will be held at all costs. All Ranks will be warned NOT to move NORTH of rly.

'WATERLOO' bridge was the codename for the main Arnhem road bridge and 'CHARING X' (Cross) referred to the railway bridge at Oosterbeek.
Therefore "C" Coy was to first capture the railway bridge and then proceed toward the center of Arnhem and occupy several buildings there; objective 'VICTOR'. There may have been multiple reasons for this task, one being the protection of the perimeter of the other units of 2nd Battalion around the main objective: 'WATERLOO'; the road bridge. Another reason could have been the gathering of intelligence in the building on No. 37 Nieuwe Plein in Arnhem.

According to Dutch historian Marcel Anker in his book "The Lost Company, C Company 2nd Parachute Battalion in Oosterbeek and Arnhem, September 1944", ISBN 9789082571509, published in 2017, it was "C" Company's task to occupy this address.
In Chapter 4 "Advance into Arnhem" we read: "... the buildings that had to be occupied were marked as No.'s 39 and 43 and according to the map of Arnhem used to brief the troops, No. 39 was the Parkhotel and No. 43 was an office building used by the Germans. In reality the Ortskommandant of Arnhem had his office at Nieuwe Plein No. 37, a building opposite those marked on the map.
Lieutenant David Russell:
We were not to move straight on to VICTOR, our company objective in Arnhem, a block of buildings just south of the main station.

Photographic evidence presented in the book shows that the Ortskommandantur was stationed in the building on Nieuwe Plein No. 37.

(click to enlarge)
Left: traffic signs in Westervoort near Arnhem, along the main route into central Holland from Germany,
One of the German signs shows that the Ortskommandantur is in No. 37 Nieuwe Plein in Arnhem.
Right: The Ortskommandantur in the center of Arnhem.

This agency asked Marcel Anker what made him conclude that, although the 2nd Bn's plan described objective 'VICTOR' as the buildings on No.'s 39 and 43 on Nieuwe Plein, the objective was in reality the local Ortskommandantur on No. 37. Anker stated that he had heard this from several veterans he had interviewed in the past.
Unfortunately "C" Coy never reached 'VICTOR' as the unit got in contact with the enemy on Utrechtse Straat and remained engaged until it became combat ineffective; hence Anker's book title.
Not that the paratroopers would have found the general on Nieuwe Plein as the Ortskommandatur (garrison commander) is a completely different organization than Feldkommandantur (field headquarters) 642 in Villa Heselbergh outside of Arnhem. Nonetheless, the operational plans of 2nd Battalion are an indication that British intelligence did have an interest in the Ortskommandant; preferably alive.
No reference to the Feldkommandatur was found in the operational plans so far.
Ground survey for infrastructural improvement of Kussin Junction in 2015
On page 9 of BAAC Archeology and history of construction: “Doorwerth, Utrechtse Weg, Archeological support of search for explosives”, BAAC-report A-14.0081 October 2015 we read:
"The archeological support took place in various levels of intensity in the period of April 7th to May 21st 2014 […]”.
The conclusions of the survey are described in Chapter 4, Conclusion and Appraisal on page 45:
"Remarkable was […] the almost complete lack of ammunition near the location where Kussin was shot and killed. The latter could have to do with the activities of treasure hunters".
In conclusion the report in Chapter 5 gives "Answers to research questions" and on page 51 it is asked:
"8. Does the archeological research to remnants of World War Two yield additional information in relation to what is known from historical sources? If so; what additional information would that be?
which is answered by:
"Much is known about the Battle of Arnhem and the months that followed until the liberation
[...] results meet the expectations, but produced no extra information. In the vicinity of the assumed execution site of Kussin no direct clues were found. [...]"
What was found during the survey on and around the junction of Wolfhezer Weg and Utrechtse Weg,  is plotted on the following diagrams.



Explosive ordnance:


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