Battle of Nuremberg (1945)

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Battle of Nuremberg
Part of the Western Allied invasion of Germany during World War II
3. US Inf.-Div. in Nürnberg, 20.04.1945.jpg
American soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division walk through a devastated Nuremberg.
Date 16–20 April 1945
Location Nuremberg, Germany
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
United States United States Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders and leaders
United States Wade H. Haislip Nazi Germany Karl Holz [2]
Strength
45,000 troops[1] 2 divisions,
2 regiments
Several ad-hoc units of
Luftwaffe and Volkssturm[3]

The Battle of Nuremberg was a five-day battle between the forces of the United States 7th Army on one side, and Nazi Germany and Russian volunteers on the other during World War II. The battle saw some of the fiercest urban combat during the war and it took four days for the United States to capture the city. The battle was a blow to Nazi Germany as Nuremberg was a center of the Nazi regime. Many rallies took place in the city and to lose the city to the Americans took a heavy toll on already low German morale.[2] Even though American forces heavily outnumbered the German forces,[1] it wasn't until 20 April, that the 7th Army took the city center. The battle devastated the city.

Background[edit]

The United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada jointly invaded Germany from the west on 8 February 1945. The German Army took heavy losses as the allied armies crossed the Rhine, surrounded the Ruhr area and as the Red and Polish armies pushed from the east. By April the US and Red armies were closing in on each other, which was closing an already narrow gap of German-controlled territory, running from Berlin to Munich and including Nuremberg. As the 12th Army Group continued to push east towards Berlin, the 6th Army Group was ordered to push into southern Germany and into Austria.[4] Despite the heavier resistance from the German Army in the south as compared to the North, the US 7th Army broke out of its bridgehead on the Rhine south of Frankfurt on 28 March. After fierce fighting, the 7th Army captured Aschaffenburg on 3 April and Heilbronn on 12 April, which left Nuremberg wide open for an American attack. On 12 April, the German high command ordered the unconditional defense of all cities and Hitler placed Reich Defense Commissioner and fanatical Nazi Karl Holz in charge of the German Army around Nuremberg.[2] On 15 April the 7th Army advanced towards Nuremberg, rapidly capturing Bamberg in the process.[4] As the 7th Army neared to Nuremberg, Holz ordered anti-tank barriers be set up as well as anti-aircraft guns around the old city. Even though Holz was heavily outnumbered, he still believed that "the Americans would break sooner or later".[2]

The Battle[edit]

By 16 April, the 7th Army had began its assault on Nuremberg—not from the west as Holz expected, but from the east and northeast. By the end of the day, the Americans had captured the outskirts of Erlenstegen and Buch. Arthur Schoeddert, a constable of anti-aircraft artillery, failed to execute Hitler's orders to blow up electricity, gas and water plants in the city. By 17 April, the 7th Army captured the marshaling yard and the surrounding area as well as the Veilhofstrasse and Woehrd neighborhoods. By evening, the airport to the north was captured and US artillery began to shell the old city. American troops met fierce resistance around the old city on 18 April, which destroyed and damaged many buildings around the old city, including the historic city castle. On 18 April, as American artillery continued to shell the old city, U.S. troops reached the old city via the Burgschmietstrasse. On 20 April, the 3rd Infantry Division under the command of Major General John W. O'Daniel and the 45th Infantry Division under Major General Robert T. Frederick laid siege to the old city. German resistance was so great that American heavy artillery and air support was deployed. Holz ordered his men to continue to fight. Holz himself was trapped in the police station in the old city, but continued to resist. After American troops gave him four chances for a peaceful surrender, he was killed while American troops overran the building. After Holz's death, second-in-command Colonel Wolf realized that the city could no longer be held. At 11:00 he ordered all German troops in the area to surrender. On the evening of 20 April, the American flag was hoisted at Adolf Hitler Platz, formally ending the battle.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Unequal battle - Battle for Nuremberg
  2. ^ a b c d End of the War in Nuremberg - The US takes a symbolic Nazi German city.
  3. ^ MacDonald, Charles B., The Last Offensive, p. 423, GPO: Washington D.C., 1993.
  4. ^ a b Bedessem, Edward M. (1996). Central Europe, 22 March – 11 May 1945. CMH Online bookshelves: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II. Washington: US Army Center of Military History. ISBN 0160481368. CMH Pub 72-36. 
  5. ^ Battle for Nuremberg - Timeline of the battle