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 account of Private Thomas Emyr Davies of Mortar Platoon, HQ & Support Company, 1st Parachute Battalion:

"Pushing our way slowly on to the next crossroads, we were confronted with the gruesome picture of an incident which must have happened only minutes previously. A German staff car, obviously caught up, whilst trying to escape back behind their own lines, in the crossfire from the company on our right flank was slewed across the road riddled with machine gun bullets, the windscreen completely shattered. The doors were flung wide open with bodies hanging out on either side, cut down in their in their bid to save themselves. One, with a foot still trapped in the car and dressed in resplendent uniform adorned with the red braid of a high-ranking German officer, was still tightly clutching a revolver. On the other side of the car was the driver, his lips kissing the dust from the road, his arms outstretched from his bullet-ridden body. In the back of the vehicle were two more passengers, their bodies huddled closely together as if frozen in mortal terror of the fate that had befallen them. The shiny patent-leather of the jack boots and the bright red gash on the side of the well-groomed head of the general, whose face was twisted into a devilish grin, gave a macabre feel to the whole scene."

(from: BBC HomeWW2 People's War)


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)


“Karel Margry in Operation Market-Garden Then and Now vol. 1, (publishers: Battle of Britain International Limited, 2002) described how these photos came to be:

"Above left: Later that morning, Smith made an excursion one mile down the road from Wolfheze to the junction of Wolfhezerweg and Utrechtseweg - (2) on the map on page 297 - to photograph the site where Generalmajor Friedrich Kussin had been ambushed in his car the previous day. Kussin, the commander of Feldkommandantur 642 (the military HQ in charge of the Arnhem area), was just returning from a vitit to the command post of SS-Sturmbannführer Sepp Krafft in Hotel Wolfheze when at 17:15 his Citroën staff car bumped into B Company of 3rd Para Battalion leading the advance to Arnhem down Utrechtseweg. As the car started to turn left in the direction of Arnhem, the front men of Lieutenant Jim Cleminson's No. 5 Platoon opened fire with Stens and rifles, riddling the car with bullets and killing the General, his driver, Gefreiter Josef Willeke, and his batman/interpreter, Unteroffizier Max Köster. (Smith, roll 2, frame 4.) Above right: While Smith was there taking his pictures, someone for some reason decided to pull the two corpses in front seats out of the car. Though this picture has been published countless times, no one has ever commented on the ugly image of war which this photo clearly shows, namely that the General has been scalped indian-style. Note also that his badges of rank have been removed from his collar. These were taken off by Dutch commando Lieutenant Maarten Knottenbelt, who passed the car just after the ambush. (They were found in Knottenbelt's pockets when he was hospitalised at Nijmegen after the battle.) On the 18th, Lance-Corporal Harry Wilce of No. 4 Section, 1st Airborne Provost Company, in addition cut thr shoulder epaulettes from the General's uniform, handing them in for identification to a group of officers in a nearby building. Captain Pare, the chaplain of No. 1 Wing of the Glider Pilot Regiment, had two German POWs burry the three dead by the side of the road on Tuesday. Command of Kussin's Feldkommandantur was taken over by his 1a, Major Ernst Schleifenbaum. (Smith, roll 2, frame 5.)

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:


The Airborne Museum in the former Hartenstein Hotel in Oosterbeek was scheduled to be refurbished and closed for that matter from 28OCT2019 to 01MAR2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the Netherlands in March 2020, the museum postponed its opening until 01JUN2020. This agency visited the newly decorated musuems with its new displays and rooms on 03JUN2020. In one of the display cases we found a small caliber pistol with an accompanying text which states that this weapon "probably" belonged to general Friedrich Kussin.
Why the museum assumes a certain amount of probability is beyond us because the provenance of the pistol has been described in the Newsletter of the Friends of the Airborne Museum, No. 101, February 2006, on page 2:

"General Kussin's pistol"
In September 2004 the Airborne Museum received a remarkable weapon out of the hands of Mr. T.J. Pieterse, chairman of the 'Lest We Forget' Committee. It is a 6.35 millimeter pistol, brand Orgies’ Patent [should be "Ortgies"; this agency] made in Erfurt in Germany. It originates from Sergeant K.B. Costello, 3rd Parachute Battalion, who supplied the following history with it.
'17 September 1944. At 10:30 we left England and arrived on Ginkel Heath at 1.30. We advanced through the woods alongside the road. In front of us there was gunfire. We reached the road to Oosterbeek. We heard a car approaching and took cover. When the car came into view B Company opened fire. A number of young soldiers was far too fanatic and they almost shot the car in half. The soldiers inside the car were dead and we moved on, passed Hartenstein and came to a crossroads. There we came under heavy mortar fire. Because we were unable to advance further, we received orders to pull back on Hartenstein. I was sent back to the car to see if there were useful documents still in it.
When I searched the body of the general he turned out to have a small automatic pistol in a shoulder holster under his left arm. I took the holster with the pistol and put it in my smock. I then took some papers and several other weapons with me to the headquarters. I kept the small pistol in my smock, because I knew that one of the officers would want to have it, if they saw it.
Later Kevin Costello was wounded during combat around the Old Church in Oosterbeek and as a wounded prisoner of war was taken to the Saint Elisabeths Hospital. He was not searched and therefore the pistol in his smock was not found. From the Saint Elisabeths Hospital he was taken to Apeldoorn and from there he was supposed to be transported to Germany by train. However, Costello managed to escape from the train and after three weeks, with the help of the resistance, joins friendly troops across the Rhine.
So far the (shortened) statement of Sergeant Costello. He kept the pistol as a souvenir for years and in 2003 gave it to Mr. Pieterse. He in turn handed it over to the museum.
We took these photos of the pistol inside a glass display case in the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek on 03JUN2020 and 29JUN2020:

(click to enlarge)


Female passenger in General Kussin’s car?

Through our contact form we received a message from Jim Plumstead on 19APR2023.
Jim wrote: "Reading the above. I have an eye witness account here in the UK that one of the four killed in the car was a German girl in her 20s. Have you heard this? I will send you a copy of the script....Jim ".
After asking Jim to tell us more he wrote on 20APR2023: "I have been there several times and i had read your account. Then I came across this account in a parish magazine. Ginger Wilson seems to have been there literally minutes after the event. Second paragraph second page. Might this have been his interpreter? But I thought all 4 were still in the car until the two front seat bodies were dragged out.
Thought you might be interested based on your detailed investigation?
Jim had attached two scanned pages of a story titled "PART THREE The memoirs of an Arnhem Veteran Billeted in Bardney, by Ginger Wilson".
It starts with a description of traveling to England by boat on page 14 and then skips to page 16 of the publication which describes an eventful march towards Arnhem:

"Our company (Coy) went straight away to cover the dropping zone for the Paras. [1] My Section Commander was made platoon Sgt And I was made Section Commander. I was then told to take a PIAT [2] and stop any trains coming from Arnhem, so Frank and I set up the PIAT in between the railway lines. Thank God no trains came! We had a grandstand view of the Paras dropping and it was a magnificent sight. After the ‘drop’ our company got ready to go to Renkum. [3] At the crossroads we a German General and his driver lying on the road. There was also a blonde girl in German uniform, about 20 years old, lying a few yards away. I said to my mate: "What a waste it is!" Everything went alright until we were going in single file down the main street into Renkum."

This story is from the booklet "From Woodhall Spa to Market Garden, The 1st Airlanding Brigade 1943-45", first published in 2010 by the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum, ISBN: 978-0-9546443-4-5.
After reading this, we replied back to Jim on 21APR2023:
"Thanks for sending me this. […] From what I read, the author/ first-person storyteller mistakes Oosterbeek for Renkum. He described that he saw a German general and his driver lying next to the road when he came at the crossroads. The blonde girl in German uniform was lying next to the road a few yards away from the scene with the General and his driver. There is no further narrative to connect the event that killed the girl with the shooting of the German general’s car and its occupants. So far all 4 occupants are accounted for. They were all male. It is also known that more fatalities occurred near the same crossroads, such as the actions that killed Fredrick Hopwood who had a field grave a few yards away from where the German general lay on the road top.
This is the first time I have read or heard about a female military casualty at the Wolfhezerweg-Utrechtseweg junction. Without more information I cannot make any conclusions about what the author saw.

From Frank Steer’s "Market Garden, Arnhem, The Landing Grounds and Oosterbeek" in the Battleground Europe series (Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2002 ISBN 0850528569) we know that Ginger Wilson was a Lance Corporal in 11 Platoon, "B" Company of the 1st (Airborne) Battalion the Border Regiment. It was with his PIAT-buddy Frank Aston that he had to cover the railway line at Renkum and stop any locomotive that might appear from either east or west. It would have been much better for their mood had they known at the time that a national strike by personnel of the Dutch Railways coincided with D-Day of Operation "Market Garden".

Female German Casualty in the Oosterbeek Perimeter
So far we have not found other evidence to confirm the story of a female German casualty in Oosterbeek. For instance, the film footage of paratroopers passing Kussin's car does not show another body on the road side.
The only event that is remotely connected to this would be the capture of Luftnachrichtenhelferin (girl in the service of the Luftwaffe signals) Irene Reimann who had been taken prisoner on 17SEP1944 in Wolfheze. She had just returned from leave in East Prussia to Wolfheze, where she occupied billets with a group of Helferinnen in one of the buildings of the psychiatric institution, "Neder-Veluwe" in Wolfheze.
On a still image from film footage she can been seen in what appears a uniform jacket and skirt.

(click to enlarge)

She was first taken to the school building of the J.P. Heije Stichting near Wolterbeekweg in Oosterbeek, where the POWs were allocated classrooms with Irene in a room by herself. Early in the morning of 19SEP1944, it was decided to concentrate all POWs in the tennis courts behind the Hartenstein Hotel, which had been occupied by Division HQ. Irene Reimann was put in a wooden shed, some 4 x 2 meters in size. Here British war-reporters took photos and filmed the extraordinary catch amongst the prisoners.

(click to enlarge)

Of significance is to note that here Irene Reimann no longer wears a skirt and jacket but a wool knit sweater and what appears to be German uniform trousers. Nevertheless Irene Reimann survived the war and could not have been the casualty that Ginger Wilson claims to have seen. As advised to Mr. Plumstead it is not possible to draw any conclusions about what the author saw without additional information.


Four passengers still in the car on 18SEP1944
In the 1 Airborne Division Intelligence Summary No.2 dated 19th Sep 1944. Part II Consolidated Interrogation Report we found this entry:

      Major General Kussin (?). Four corpses found riddled in a staff cat at cross roads 679785 on the 18th proved to be Major General Kussin (?), his batman driver and interpreter, all from the Feldkommandantur in Arnhem.
This suggests that all occupants were still in the vehicle including Unteroffiizier (Non Commissioned Officer) Willi Haupt described in the 16JUL2016 Update.

Apparently some investigation was conducted to establish the identity of the general because in 1 Airborne Division Intelligence Summary No.4 dated 22 Sep 1944. Part I we read:

"            FOOTNOTE.
      The identity of Major General KUSSIN and his appointment as Feldkommandant of ARNHEM, mentioned in Summary No. 1 have now been confirmed by his signature on a court of inquiry on the death of a sentry killed by a train on NIJMEGEN Bridge.

The Footnote erroneously refers to Summary No. 1 instead of No. 2 but it proves that at divisional level Intelligence had an interest in knowing about the Feldkommandant; at least posthumously.

Source: The Paradata website


Information about the Death of General Kussin from the research material for A Bridge Too Far
From the digital Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers we have studied many of the author’s research material for his book A Bridge Too Far. Most of this material can be retrieved digitally on the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.
It contains questionnaires completed by veterans who were solicited through ads placed in Reader’s Digest magazine during the 1950's and 1960's. Upon returning the completed questionnaires, some were invited to participate in interviews conducted by Ryan and his research team. These submissions were filed in coded, cross-referenced folders, one for each respondent, and organized by nationality and military formation.
The content of several folders sheds light on the incident on the T-Junction of Utrechtseweg and Wolfhezerweg on 17SEP1944.
Seven (7) folders contain information that was new to this agency, which will be presented here.

1. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 108 folder 07 Robert E Urquhart Pages 21 & 22
"Urquhart ran into the rear elements of the 3rd Battalion and was informed by a lieutenant that Lathbury had gone up front.
A few minutes later, he found him halted with battalion headquarters at a main junction on the Utrecht-Arnhem road.
"Almost on the corner was a German staff car – a Citroen, I believe - shot to pieces. Its windscreen was shattered and on the ground, half-in, half-out of the car, lay the body of a fairly high-ranking German officer. I learned later that it was General Kussin. His driver was hanging out of the other side and two others, whom I assume were his batman and interpreter, were dead in the backseat.
Conclusion: The Commanding General of 1st British Airborne Division during his personal inspection of the advance routes of his units, witnessed General Kussin's car with all four passengers still present but the general and his driver already placed beside the vehicle. At a later time he was informed of Kussin's rank and name.

2. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 111 folder 01 James Sims Page 32
"Another burst of fire nearer this time sent us scurrying for cover once again. We lay silent for a minute then we were off again. We passed a German Staff Car which had been badly shot up and all four occupants killed. One of the officers in the rear of the car had his hand on the shoulder of the driver as though he had seen our Bren gunner a fraction of a second too late. The other officer in the rear of the car turned out to be General Kussin, German General Officer Commanding Arnhem and District so that the enemy had suffered quite a blow in losing this car load. I paused for a moment to look at the dead Germans, I had no particular feeling for them, only curiosity as they were the first dead human beings I had ever seen in my life."
Conclusion: Private James W. Sims of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment seemed to have heard the shooting and came onto the scene when all occupants were still inside the vehicle. Although he erroneously places General Kussin in the back seat on the right, he describes that the person behind the driver still had his arm on the driver’s shoulder.

3. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 111 folder 12 Frederick Bennett Page 5

"We moved off down the road and soon met our first action. A German car came down the road and we shot it up. It tried to stop and back up, but we blasted it. It was a staff car of some sort with some high-ranking Jerry officers. I have since learned it was General Kussin."
Conclusion: Private Frederick C. Bennett of "A" Company 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment has fired on the vehicle during the incident.

4. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 111 folder 19 Stanley Heyes Pages 6 & 7
"About an hour or so after dropping, the 3rd. bn. were moving along a main road to Arnhem, when an enemy staff car containing some high ranking officers came from a side road. This car was shot up, and all the occupants killed. The cross roads immediately came under enemy fire, from a nearby hill."
"Signalman Stanley Heyes was moving along the main road to Arnhem with 3rd Bn. About an hour or so after dropping, when they were a few miles from the Dz, they reached some crossroads at Oosterbeek. Hayes saw a German staff car which had obviously been coming down a side road, sloping towards the crossroad, coming in on the north side of the main road. The car had been shot up and the occupants had all been killed. They were high ranking Officers. Heyes presumed that forward troops of 3rd Bn had shot them up. As Heyes etc. reached the crossroads they at once came under heavy fire, coming from a nearby hill from where the German car had come."
Conclusion: Signaler Stanley Heyes of 1st Parachute Brigade Signals, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment seems to have arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and came under fire when the enemy reacted to it.

5. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 111 folder 21 John Lord Page 9
"A short time later, they reached a crossroads and saw a car riddled with bullets. The driver was hanging out of the car on one side and the body of an officer was half-in, half-out of the car on the other. Lord didn’t stop to look at the officer closely and it was much later that he found out that it was the body of a German general, Kussin.
"I remember thinking," he says, “That kind of shooting was good for morale.
Conclusion: Sergeant-Major John C. Lord of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment came upon the scene with General Kussin and his driver already placed beside the vehicle. He describes a state of mind of the advancing Airborne troops in which it had never been the intention to stop the staff car and capture its occupants alive.

6. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 116 folder 09 Neville Hay Page 13
Hay also passed General Kussin’' staff car twice that day; the first time, when he was trying to find Urquhart, Kussin was in the back; later, while enroute to the Hartenstein, the German general was lying stretched out on the road.
Conclusion: Lieutenant Neville Hay of Phantom Net, General Headquarters Liaison Regiment also erroneously places General Kussin in the back seat at first but nonetheless inside the vehicle when he first came upon the scene. This indicates that he was there shortly after the incident while looking for Major-General Urquhart. Urquhart described General Kussin's body half-out the vehicle and that is how Lord found it when he was at the scene for the second time.
7. Cornelius Ryan WWII papers box 117 folder 01 GA Pare Pages 28 & 29
"On my return, Mr. Marlowe asked me to bury a German General, whose body was still leaning out of a car, where he had been shot about half a mile away along the main road towards Wolfheze. It had been arranged that prisoners should do the digging. A pilot arrived as escort, bringing two young S.S. soldiers aged 17 and 18, who were both wearing their camouflage smocks. They sat on the bonnet of the jeep, and we drove off. The body of the German General, [illegible] was certainly badly shot up, and with it were those of his batman and interpreter. His car had been ambushed on the Sunday, and was riddled with bullets. Near by their bodies was that of a young Dutch woman, which I did not touch. The two Nazis started to dig the grave at the roadside, for I decided to have a common burial for the three. The prisoners had received no food as they had been promised, so I gave them a bar of chocolate and cigarettes. I could not feel animosity towards them. While German planes came over, we moved into the shelter of some trees.
I obtained some white painted wood from the corner house and made crude crosses and posts. The General’s body had had all its papers taken by the intelligence people. The S.S. youths carried the bodies into the graves and as they filled in the soil, I crossed the road to a small mound where the remains of an Airborne soldier from Chester had been buried by the men guarding the road, and made the mound into a decent grave, and took away the effects."
Conclusion: On the request of Senior Chaplain to the Forces attached to Divisional H.Q. Major/Reverend A.H.W. Harlow, Chaplain Captain/Reverend G.A.F. Pare, attached to No 1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment, buried the bodies of General Kussin, driver Josef Willeke and interpreter Max Koester. The body of Willi Haupt had been removed from the scene and was buried elsewhere (see UPDATE 16JUL2016).
The chaplain described a nearby body of a woman as that of a Dutch civilian and not a blonde girl in a German uniform as described by as Ginger Wilson (see UPDATE 12MAY2023).
Lastly, the soldier from Chester buried across the road from the incident was that of Private Frederick Walter Hopwood from Mollington, County of Chester. Hopwood was buried in a field grave on the southern edge of the junction and now rests in grave 22.B.12 on the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek.

The original texts of the quotes can be found here.

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