Our new ten week series by Derek Taylor honours Jewish veterans of the Great War. The first of our ten Jewish WW1 heroes is Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann, who was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class.
The German Iron Cross for valour was created in 1813. It was the Jewish Lieutenant Hugo Gutmann who recommended Adolf Hitler for the award, 1st Class, in 1918.
Gutmann himself won the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes during the war. He had joined the Bavarian Army in 1902 but was put on the Reserve till 1914. He eventually became a company commander and adjutant to the artillery battalion of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment which fought at Ypres, the Somme and Passchaendele.
The casualties were so severe at Ypres in 1914 that one company of 250 was reduced to 42 men. Hitler served directly under Gutmann in 1918.
After the war Gutmann married and ran an office-furniture shop, but he was arrested by the Gestapo after the Nuremburg Laws were promulgated in 1935.
His old army friends got him released and he had a cordial reunion with Hitler in 1936. Gutmann obtained an exit visa from Hitler in 1939 and reached America via France and Portugal.
Hitler ensured that he received an army pension throughout the war. Gutmann was married with two children and died in San Diego in 1962, at the age of 82.