Walter Koch (10 September 1910 – 23 October 1943) was a highly decorated commander of the Fallschirmjäger during World War II who died in mysterious circumstances after openly criticising Adolf Hitler. Koch, who was the recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for his actions during the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael in May 1940, had publicly denounced the Führer’s infamous Commando Order, which ordered that all captured enemy commandos were to be executed. Shortly afterwards the Oberstleutnant and commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 5 died in Berlin from injuries allegedly resulting from a motor vehicle collision.
Koch’s group was responsible for spearheading the assault into Belgium to capture three bridges and the fortress of Eben Emael. The operation was a success and Koch was awarded the Knight’s Cross. His next assignment would be another airborne mission, Operation Merkur, the Invasion of Crete. Within minutes of landing Koch received a serious head wound and had to be evacuated to Greece. He spent several months recovering before rejoining his battalion as they deployed to the Eastern front. Koch and his men would be involved in bitterly fought actions around Vyazma, Mius and Leningrad. In early 1942, the newly promoted Oberstleutnant Koch returned to France to assume command of 5. Fallschirmjägerregiment. By November the regiment was being airlanded in Tunis and scrambling to hold off the Allied invasion of Tunisia. In fighting near Depienne, the Fallschirmjäger captured a number of British paratroopers. These prisoners, many of whom were wounded, were put into the custody of a Wehrmacht unit. When Koch learned of the Wehrmacht intentions to execute the paratroopers in accordance with Hitler’s order regarding Allied commandos he returned and secured their safety. Koch was again wounded at the beginning of 1943 and returned to Germany for treatment and recuperation. He died in Berlin on 27 October 1943 as a result of serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.
More background information on Walter Koch on World War II Gravestone: https://ww2gravestone.com/people/koch-walter/
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