Matthäus Hetzenauer, Austrian sniper with 345 confirmed kills

Matthäus Hetzenauer - Austrian sniper with 345 confirmed kills

Matthäus Hetzenauer was an Austrian sniper in the 3rd Mountain Division on the Eastern Front of the World War II, who was credited with 345 kills. His longest confirmed kill was reported at 1100 meters. Hetzenauer was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

He could have been the inspiration for that sniper in Inglorious Basterds: Frederick Zoller. The most successful sniper in world war 2 was a Finnish man with over 500 confirmed kills with iron sights.

The Knight’s Cross is the highest award but it was fairly common through out the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. To be mentioned among the highest decorated this fellow needs at least Swords and Diamonds to the Knights Cross. 7365 awards among a total of of 20,000,000 men served in the Wehrmacht (Luftwaffe, Heer, Kriegsmarine, SS) of which only 890 were awarded Oak Leaves, a further 160 Swords and only 27 Diamonds.

On 6 November 1944 he suffered head trauma from artillery fire, and was awarded the Verwundeten-Abzeichen three days later. On multiple occasions he served with fellow sniper Josef Allerberger. They were able to inflict heavy casualties on Soviet infantry. Hetzenauer was captured by Soviet troops the following month, and served 5 years in routinely appalling conditions in a Soviet prison camp. He died on 3 October 2004 after several years of deteriorating health.

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