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Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp and his awards

Franz Xaver Epp, the son of the painter Rudolf Epp (30.07.1834-08.08.1910) and Katharina Streibel (died in 1912) was born on October 16, 1868 in Munich. Having left public school in Augsburg and humanitarian gymnasium in Munich, Epp joined Royal Bavarian army as Fahnenjunker of the Königlich Bayerisches 9.Infanterie-Regiment “Wrede” on August 16, 1887. He entered the military school in Munich (Kriegsschule München) and was awarded a rank of Fähnrich on March 09, 1888 and Sekondelieutenant upon graduation, on October 30, 1889. Epp spent three years in the Bavarian military academy (Kriegsakademie München), from October 01, 1896 to September 30, 1899, having been promoted to the rank of Premierlieutenant (renamed Oberleutnant on 01.01.1899) right from the start, on October 13, 1896. 

His subsequent service record was as follows.

10.07.1900 – 17.08.1901 – 8th company commander of the 4.Ostasiatische Infanterie-Regiment from the Ostasiatische Expeditionskorps, and took part in suppression of the Boxer rebellion in China.

01.09.1901 – 11.12.1901 – Königlich Bayerisches Infanterie-Regiment “König Viktor Emanuel III von Italien” Nr.19.

11.12.1901 – 01.02.1904 – adjutant, 5.Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Brigade.

02.02.1904 – 14.12.1906 – assigned to German South-West Africa Protection Troops (Schutztruppen), and took part in suppression of Herero and Namaqua rebellion. Promoted to Hauptmann on July 11, 1904 and appointed 11th company commander of the 1.Feldregiment der Schutztruppe.

14.12.1906 – 16.10.1908 – company commander, Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Leibregiment.

16.10.1908 – 21.06.1912 – adjutant, 3.Königlich Bayerische Division. Promoted to Major on October 30, 1909.

22.06.1912 – 26.12.1914 – 2nd battalion commander, Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Leibregiment. He entered the Great War on the Western front and subsequently fought on the Southern front. Promoted to Oberstleutnant on November 30, 1914.

26.12.1914 –  16.04.1917 – commander of the Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Leibregiment. Being decorated with the Ritterkreuz des Militär-Max-Joseph-Ordens on June 23, 1916, Epp was granted with honorary, though nonheritable nobility and added title “Ritter von” to his name.

17.04.1917 – 15.10.1918 – commander of the 1.Königlich Bayerische Jäger-Brigade, that was a part of the Alpenkorps. Promoted to Oberst on December 14, 1917.

15.10.1918 – 18.11.1918 – the last commander of the Königlich Bayerische Infanterie-Leibregiment.

After the Great War von Epp raised and commanded Freikorps von Epp (beginning of February-October 01, 1919), the famous volunteer anti-communist unit that was particularly responsible for complete defeat of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic formally proclaimed on April 06, 1919 in Munich by communists and anarchists. The same year von Epp joined the conservative Bavarian People’s Party (Bayerische Volkspartei). On October 01, 1919 he was enlisted in the Provisional Reichswehr and was appointed commander of the Reichswehr-Schützen-Brigade 21 with the rank of Oberst. He subsequently led Bavarian infantry unit codenamed “Infanterieführer VII”, and was promoted to Generalmajor on October 01, 1922. He turned over command and retired on October 31, 1923 being promoted to honorary Lieutenant-General (Charakterisiert Generalleutnant).

Having declined an offer of the then Bavarian Prime Minister Eugen von Knilling to fill a post of the State Commissar of Bavaria (November 10, 1923), von Epp accepted to lead “Deutsche Notbann” on January 03, 1924. That paramilitary organization, raised on January 18, 1924 with the support of the Bavarian government, was responsible for consolidation of local radical forces in the guise of police reserve. It was disbanded in March 1926. Come 1928, von Epp was appointed to the Stab der SA-Führung. In spring 1928 he left Bayerische Volkspartei and entered NSDAP instead (April 01, 1928). He then became a member of the Reichstag for NSDAP, being delegated as a deputy from the Upper Bavaria and held that position until the very end of the Third Reich. 

Von Epp headed the Defense policy section of the Imperial Leadership of NSDAP (Reichsleitung der NSDAP) (1928-1931), Defense policy office of the Imperial Leadership of NSDAP, or Wehrpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (since Autumn 1932) as well as Defense policy department of the SA Leadership. Within a year and a half he was also the head of the Colonial division (Kolonialreferat) of the NSDAP Defense policy office, and Leiter des Kolonialpolitischen Amtes der NSDAP (05.05.1934 – 17.02.1943). As an observer appointed by NSDAP, von Epp took part in the Second Geneva Conference (1932). In early 1930s von Epp was promoted to SA-Gruppenführer (December 18, 1931), NSKK-Obergruppenführer (July 01, 1932) and SA-Obergruppenführer (January 01, 1933).

After NSDAP assumed power, von Epp was made Reichskommissar of Bavaria (March 1933), Reichsstatthalter of Bavaria (April 10, 1933) and Reichsleiter (August 03, 1933), positions he secured until the end of the WWII. At the end of the August 1934 von Epp, an avid hunter, was appointed Bayerischen Landesjägermeister. His military career was resumed as well. Thus, on July 25, 1935 he was promoted to honorary Infantry General (Charakterisiert General der Infanterie) and was made regimental commander-in-chief of the Infanterie-Regiment 61 on the day of his 70th jubilee, i.e. on October 16, 1938. Since the end of 1939, von Epp secured executive posts in National defense committees of the VII and XIII military districts. Moreover, on June 13, 1936 he was appointed the head of the Imperial Colonial Union (Bundesführer des Reichskolonialbundes).

Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp neither played any significant role in the Third Reich nor had any real influence, enjoying the status of an “official hero” and emphasized social esteem together with numerous honorary positions and ranks.

At the closing stage of the WWII, on April 28, 1945 von Epp was arrested on order of Gauleiter Paul Giesler, Ministerpräsident of Bavaria, being associated with the defeatist anti-state movement “Freiheitsaktion Bayern”. He was released from custody before long thanks to mediation of Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring. Von Epp was captured by Americans in spring 1945 and died in detention on December 31, 1946 in US military hospital in Munich. Ritter von Epp was buried in the old part of the Waldfriedhof (Munich), but the gravestone was removed for political reasons. 

Barracks of the 1st battalion of the 99.Gebirgsjäger-Regiment that bore honorary name “Ritter-von-Epp-Kaserne” since 1936, were renamed “Artillerie-Kaserne” in summer 1945.

Decoratons of Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp

- Preussen. Zentenarmedaille

- Preussen. Kronen-Orden Kreuz 4.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Bayern. Militärverdienstorden, Ritterkreuz II.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Bayern. Prinzregent Luitpold Medaille mit der Krone

- Preussen. China-Denkmünze für Kämpfer

- Preussen. Roter Adler Orden 4.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Bayern. Militärverdienstorden III.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Preussen. Südwest-Afrika Denkmünze für Kämpfer

- Bayern. Militärverdienstorden 3.Klasse mit Krone und Schwertern /11.09.1914/

- Preussen. Eisernes Kreuz 2.Klasse /22.12.1914/

- Preussen. Eisernes Kreuz 1.Klasse /12.03.1915/

- Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Militärverdienstkreuz 2.Klasse

- Oldenburg. Haus-und Verdienstorden des Herzogs Peter Friedrich Ludwig, Ritterkreuz 1.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Bayern. Militärverdienstorden, Offizierskreuz mit Schwertern /05.02.1916/

- Bayern. Ritterkreuz des Militär-Max-Joseph-Ordens /23.06.1916/

- Preussen. Königliche Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern /05.05.1917/

- Preussen. Königlich Preußischer Johanniter Orden, Kreuz des Rechtsritters

- Österreich-Ungarn. Österreichische Militärverdienstkreuz 3.Klasse mit Kriegsdekoration /19.07.1917/

- Österreich-Ungarn. Österreichische Orden der Eisernen Krone 3.Klasse mit Kriegsdekoration /26.09.1917/

- Preussen. Pour le mérite /29.05.1918, No.5179/

- Bayern. Militär Dienstauszeichnung 1.Klasse für 40 Jahre

- Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914/1918 für Frontkämpfer /1934/

- Magyar Királyság. Haborús Emlékérem kardokkal és sisakkal (Kingdom of Hungary. Commemorative War Medal for Frontline Soldiers)

- Goldenes Ehrenzeichen der NSDAP

- Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 13 März 1938

- Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1 Oktober 1938

- Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Kriegsverdienstkreuz 1.Klasse mit Schwertern

- Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern /1943/

- Dienstauszeichnung der NSDAP III.Stufe

- Dienstauszeichnung der NSDAP II.Stufe

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