Germany, Luftwaffe. The Oak Leaves, Knight’s Cross Document With Presentation Folder to Generalleutnant Rainer Stahel

Item #G44045



A silver oakleaf cluster with three leaves, Type I by Gebrüder Godet & Co., Berlin., the reverse had the original loop removed and replaced by a horizontal pinback, of the markings (“900”, “SiLBER”, and “L/50”) only L/50 is still visible below the pinback, measuring 20.08 mm (w) x 19.05 mm (h), weighing 7.2 grams, pinback measuring 44 mm, in extremely fine condition.

A large Knight’s Cross award document, dated to the Führerhauptquartier on January 18, 1942, with a facsimile signature by AH, measuring 330 mm (w) x 410 mm (h), presenting intermittent warping of the paper, remaining very fine. Accompanied by document folder in red leather with golden eagle imprint, measuring 345 mm (w) x 455 mm (h), presenting noticeable scuffing and fraying, especially of the edges, remaining in better than fine condition.

A notebook outlining the life and military career of Stahel, including several photos. It was written by a man named Willi Schütte for Stahel’s mother in 1946. Measuring 150 mm (w) x 210 mm (h), presenting light scuffing of the cover, remaining extremely fine.

A large period photograph of Stahel in uniform wearing the Knight’s Cross. The Oak Leaves and Swords were subsequently edited into the photo. The photo was taken by A. Pieperhoff in Leipzig. Measuring 285 mm (w) x 385 mm (h), presenting light scuffing of the edges, remaining very fine.

An obituary for Stahel, dated to January 1956, measuring 175 mm (w) x 227 mm (h), remains near mint.


Footnote: Rainer (sometimes spelled Reiner) Stahel was born on January 15, 1892 in Bielefeld (western Germany). He grew up as the oldest of six siblings. His brother Heinrich died during the First War in the rank of lieutenant in 1918, and his brother Friedrich Karl was killed in action on September 13, 1942, serving as a regiment commander on the Eastern Front. His third brother Helmut was allegedly taken prisoner in Russia during the Second War; his fate is unknown.

Stahel joined the Imperial German army in 1911 as an officer cadet. By 1912, he had been promoted to lieutenant. With the beginning of the First War, Stahel was stationed on the Western Front where he was wounded twice. He received the Iron Cross 1st Class by March of 1915. In 1916, he was redeployed to the Eastern Front to serve as a company leader with the 27th Royal Prussian Hunters Battalion, the so-called “Finnish Hunters”. The men serving in this battalion, mostly volunteers from Finland, would later become the core of the Finnish army. After the First War, Stahel relocated to Finland to fight in the Finnish Civil War. He reached the rank of Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) and became a regiment commander. In 1920, Stahel joined the Finnish border police with which he served for five years. He was awarded the Order of the White Rose of Finland. His two children were born in Finland.

Upon his return to Germany in 1925, Stahel resumed the life of a civilian. He re-entered the German Wehrmacht in 1934, and joined the Luftwaffe in 1935. He was promoted to major in 1936 and to lieutenant colonel in 1939. Stahel did not see action in Poland or France, but was stationed in Germany and, later, France (since August 1940). With the attack on Russia, Stahel was sent to the front as commander of Flak regiment 34. For defending an important airbase against strong Russian opposition for several days, Stahel was awarded the Knight’s Cross on January 18, 1942. He was promoted to Oberst (colonel) in March. On January 4, 1943 he received the Oak Leaves and was then promoted to Major General on January 21. In early summer of 1943, Stahel was made commander of occupied Rome, as well as tasked with securing access to Sicily. A year later, his next assignment took him to Vilnius in Lithuania, being tasked with commanding the defense of the city. After several days of heavy fighting, the German troops had to withdraw. Stahel was awarded the Swords for his leadership role in this undertaking on July 18, 1944 and was promoted to Generalleutnant (lieutenant general). In late July, he was tasked to defend the city of Warsaw during the Warsaw Uprising, and in late August he was sent to Bucharest (Romania) to prevent a similar uprising. Here, he was captured and became a POW in Russia. The date of Stahel’s death is uncertain, however most sources claim that he died of a heart attack on November 30, 1955 in the Voikovo prison camp, shortly before he was supposed to be released.

Provenance: Andreas Thies Auction - Auction No.60 Page 289-320