* 11.06.1919 Ceyzeriat/Departement Ain
Awarded Knights Cross: 29.04.1945
as Hauptsturmführer Kommandeur SturmBtl 33. Freiw.GrenDiv "Charlemagne" for actions in the Battle of Berlin
Fenet was born on 11 July 1919 in France. Prior to World War II he studied literature at the University of Paris. At the outbreak of war he volunteered for the French Army and was commissioned as an officer with the rank of lieutenant. He was taken prisoner. Upon his release in November 1942, he joined the Milice, a collaborationist paramilitary force.
In October 1943, Fenet volunteered for service in the Elite and was sent to the SS school at Bad Tölz. In March 1944 he received the rank of Obersturmführer and was given command of a company of the newly formed 8th Assault Brigade Frankreich.
In September 1944, Fenet and his company were sent to Konitz, West Prussia, where they joined other French recruits to form a new brigade-sized formation, later known as the SS Division Charlemagne. Joining them were French collaborators fleeing the Allied advance in the west, as well as Frenchmen from the German Navy, the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK), the Organisation Todt and the detested Milice security police. In February 1945, the unit was officially upgraded to a division. At this time it had a strength of 7,340 men. Fenet was named the commander of a battalion, which he led until April 1945.
The unit was sent to fight the Red Army in Poland, but on 25 February it was attacked at Hammerstein (present day Czarne) in Pomerania, by troops of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front. The Soviet forces split the French force into three pockets. Fenet's battalion was one of the groups which was able to break out and return to the German lines.
On 23 April 1945, the Reich Chancellery in Berlin ordered Brigadeführer Gustav Krukenberg to proceed to the capital. About 350 men from the remains of the Charlemagne division chose to go to Berlin. The men had been reorganized as Sturmbataillon ("assault battalion") "Charlemagne" and was attached to the SS Division Nordland.
In the days which followed, fighting was very heavy and by 28 April, one-hundred eight Soviet tanks had been destroyed in the southeast of Berlin within the S-Bahn. The French squads under the command of Fenet accounted for "about half" of the tanks. Fenet, who was now wounded in the foot, withdrew with the battalion to the vicinity of the Reich Aviation Ministry in the central government district under the command of Wilhelm Mohnke. For the success of the battalion during the Battle of Berlin Fenet was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 April 1945 by Mohnke. On 2 May 1945, the surviving Frenchmen in Berlin surrendered to the Soviet Red Army. The rest, including Fenet, surrendered to British forces at Bad Kleinen and Wismar. Fenet was handed over to the French government.
On the 10 December 1949, Fenet was convicted of being a collaborator and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment with hard labour. He was released in 1959.
After Fenet was released, he appeared in several documentary films and television programmes. He also ran a small independent auto business. Henri Joseph Fenet died in Paris on 14 September 2002.
Postwar signed photo measuring 4" x 5 3/4"
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