Kampfgruppe 1001 Nights
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Kampfgruppe 1001 Nights (German: 1001 Nacht) was a German Kampfgruppe formed on the Oder front during the final German offensive of the Second World War, taking part in the failed attack on Genschmar on 27 March 1945. During the attack, it was all but annihilated losing twenty-five of its forty-three panzerjägers and being reduced to fifty men. The formation is most notable for its unusual title, referring to the medieval Persian book of 1001 Nights, a collection of tales and fables.
During the later parts of the war, the task of guarding the V-2 launch sites was seen as vital. To perform this task, the best and most experienced soldiers were 'gleaned' from the German panzer divisions. However, by March 1945, the V-2s were all but gone, and every available combat soldier was needed to halt the Red Army drive on Berlin.
Three companies of V-2 guards arrived at the German Ninth Army HQ on the Oder river in early March, 1945. Simultaneously, three companies of Hetzer panzerjägers from the 560th SS Tank Destroyer Battalion, which had been used for training purposes, were sent to join Army Group Vistula on the Oder front. The crewmen were some of the best-trained and most-experienced tank destroyer crews left in the Wehrmacht. General Theodor Busse, Ninth Army's commander, decided to form these veteran troops into a kampfgruppe which could be used as a mobile fire-brigade to halt enemy breakthroughs.
Veteran panzer leader Gustav-Adolf Blancbois was placed in command. Unusually, the kampfgruppe was not named after its commander, instead receiving the peculiar title Kampfgruppe 1001 Nights. The reason for this is unknown. Soon after its formation, a motorcycle company and several anti-tank guns, armoured cars and a depleted company of StuG III assault guns from the 27th SS Volunteer Division Langemarck were added to the kampfgruppe. The kampfgruppe's strength was about 500 infantry and forty-three serviceable armoured vehicles.
The kampfgruppe was divided into three combat formations, named Suleika, Harem and Sultan.
On 27 March, the kampfgruppe was ordered into action near the town of Genschmar, in an attempt to reduce the Red Army's bridgehead over the Oder. The attack was repulsed, and the kampfgruppe suffered heavy losses. Despite this, many of the Hetzers were repaired, and the arrival of a company from the 600th SS Parachute Battalion rebuilt the kampfgruppe's strength.
On 16 April, the battle of Seelow Heights began as the Red Army assaulted the German defensive lines on the Oder. The kampfgruppe was sent with the 25th Panzergrenadier Division and 111th StuG-Lehr Brigade to support the 606th Infantry Division near the town of Wriezen. In the ensuing battle, it inflicted heavy losses on the attacking Soviet 47th Army and 9th Guards Tank Corps. After severe fighting the Germans were eventually driven back, with the kampfgruppe being reduced to only eighteen functioning armoured vehicles and fifty men.
The kampfgruppe was eventually dissolved near Müncheberg during the withdrawal to Berlin. Its remnants were encircled and destroyed in the Halbe pocket; few of its men survived the war. One exception was Blancbois himself, who, along with a small number of his men, escaped to the west and surrendered to the Americans on the Elbe.
- Oberstleutnant Gustav-Adolf Blancbois
Order of battle
- Kampfgruppe HQ
- Element Suleika - 560th SS Tank Destroyer Battalion (SS-Sturmbannführer Wöst)
- Element Harem - Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung Speer
- Element Sultan - Marschregiment 2
- 3 x Schutzen-Kompanie