IX SS Mountain Corps

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The IX Waffen Mountain Corps of the SS (Croatian) (German: IX. Waffen-Gebirgskorps der SS (Kroatisches)), later simply IX SS Mountain Corps, was a German Waffen-SS alpine corps which saw action on the Eastern Front during World War II.

History[edit]

The IX Waffen Mountain Corps of the SS (Croatian) was raised on 21 June 1944 in Bácsalmás, Hungary as a command formation for the 13th SS Mountain Division Handschar and the 23rd SS Mountain Division Kama. The corps was moved to the Bačka region (in Hungary at the time) to complete formation and training. The Handschar was not initially transferred to the corps, being involved in fighting against Tito's partisan forces in occupied Yugoslavia.

By September 1944, the Red Army had advanced to the border of Hungary, which placed the corps training area dangerously close to the front lines. When it was realised that the Kama would not be ready for combat, the division was disbanded and its volunteers went to strengthen the Handschar and the 31st SS Panzergrenadier Division. In mid-September, the corps was strengthened by several combat divisions, including the Handschar and went into action against Tito's forces.

In October, the corps was moved into the line in Hungary, where it took command of four new combat divisions, the 13th Panzer Division, 60th Panzergrenadier Division Feldherrnhalle, 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer and the 22nd SS Cavalry Division Maria Theresa. All these divisions had been involved in the recent heavy fighting around Debrecen, and were badly in need of a rest. Between them, the divisions could barely muster 60 Panzers.

As all subordinate units were now Germanic, the corps was redesignated as IX SS Mountain Corps. The renamed corps was ordered to form a part of the 6th Army, defending the approaches to Budapest.

On 24 November, 1944, the corps staff arrived in Budapest, the combat divisions already in action against the advancing Soviets. After a month's ferocious fighting, the corps was encircled in the city. The corps was placed in command of all encircled German units, and SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch was placed in command. Having spent his career as a police commander, Pfeffer-Wildenbruch lacked even a basic military understanding, and as the 6.Armee commander, General der Panzertruppen Hermann Balck said,

At best, one could say that Budapest was being led by a politician.

Pfeffer-Wildenbruch established his corps command centre on Castle Hill, in the centre of the Hungarian Government District, and began ordering the encircled forces to attempt breakouts. After only a few weeks, the corps had exhausted itself in its efforts to escape the encirclement. A rescue effort was being assembled by Balck's Armeegruppe.

On 1 January, 1945, the IV SS Panzer Corps launched Operation Konrad I, the first in a series of relief attempts. After initial gains, the assault stalled. Konrad II followed, which reached to within sight of the city before being halted by stubborn Soviet defence.

By 17 January, the remainder of the corps along with the Hungarian I Corps, commanded by General Iván Hindy, were evacuated across the Danube to Buda. The final relief effort, Konrad III, was halted on 28 January. By this stage, the axis forces in Buda had been pushed into a one square kilometer kessel. On 11 February 1945, the corps was ordered to attempt a breakout. While over 5,000 men managed to break through the Soviet cordon, only 785 finally were able to reach German lines. Only 170 Waffen-SS men escaped. On 12 February, the remainder of the corps was annihilated in the fighting, with small groups of men, including Pfeffer-Wildenbruch and his staff, surrendering to the Soviets.

Commanders[edit]

Orders Of Battle[edit]

16 September 1944 - Croatia[edit]

26 December 1944 - Budapest[edit]

External links[edit]