Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle
Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle insignia.svg
Divisional insignia of Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle
Active 1944 - 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch SA-Logo.svg SA
Type Panzer
Panzergrenadier
Infantry
Size 2 division, 4 regiments and 8 battalions (peak c.1944)
Part of Third Reich
Garrison/HQ HQ Berlin
Engagements Battle of Debrecen
Siege of Budapest
Operation Spring Awakening
Commanders
June 1943 – April 3, 1944 Generalleutnant Otto Kohlermann
April 3, 1944 – July 8, 1944 Generalmajor Friedrich-Carl von Steinkeller
July 8, 1944 – November 1944
November 27, 1944 – May 8, 1945
Generalmajor Günther Pape

General der Panzertruppen Ulrich Kleemann

The Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle was a German panzer corps formed in October 1944 from the remaining troops of the IV. Armeekorps, the Storm Division Rhodos and Panzer-Grenadier-Brigade 17[1] formed mostly of SA recruits[citation needed].

The Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle fought on the Eastern Front during the Second World War.

Concept[edit]

The Feldherrnhalle units were the combat formations which drew manpower from the SA, a Nazi organization that traced its history back to the days of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. The corps was named after the Feldherrnhalle in Munich where the attempted coup was crushed by the German state.

The initial unit, the SA-Standarte Feldherrnhalle (a Standarte was an organization of regimental size) was formed after the death of Ernst Röhm on Night of the Long Knives, when the SA's position as the major paramilitary formation of the NSDAP was taken over by the SS. It was made up of the most promising SA men drawn from SA units all over Germany. The Standarte was a not a combat unit. Its role was to provide guard units for SA government offices around Nazi Germany. The Feldherrnhalle Regiment is captioned as the "Old Guard SA Feldherrnhalle Regiment" in the massive revue parade from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will.

In March 1938, men from the Standarte were among the first units which marched into Austria during the Anschluss. In September 1938, the Feldherrnhalle was placed under the control of the Wehrmacht, and the cadre of the unit was transferred to the Luftwaffe, forming the Luftlande-Regiment (glider infantry regiment) Feldherrnhalle, a part of the 7. Flieger-Division. The remainder of the regiment was transferred to the Heer, forming the 120. Infanterie-Regiment (mot) of the 60. Infanterie-Division (mot) and 271. Infanterie-Regiment of the 93. Infanterie-Division.

Early campaigns[edit]

60. Infanterie-Division[edit]

The cadre for the 60. Infanterie-Division came from Gruppe Eberhardt (also known as Sonderverband Danzig). The Gruppe was a unit of Ordnungspolizei and SA men, commanded by Major General Friedrich-Georg Eberhardt.[2] During the Invasion of Poland, Gruppe Eberhardt was responsible for the capture of the Danzig Post Office, defended by the Polish postal workers commanded by a reserve officer. After fierce fighting, the Polish militia retreated to the cellar, however the Gruppe Eberhardt could not capture the building. The Gruppe finally defeated the Poles and secured the building by forcing the Danzig Fire Brigade to flood the cellar of the building with gasoline. When the militia surrendered, they were subjected to several days of continuous torture and humiliation and then executed.

After the Polish campaign, Gruppe Eberhardt was dissolved and the members were used to form the 60. Infanterie-Division (mot), the majority of SA men joining the 120. Infanterie-Regiment (mot). The division was not ready for the campaign in the West, and formed a part of the OKH Reserve during this period, being based in Lorraine (Lothringen).

In January 1941, the division was moved to Romania. In April, the 60th took part in Operation Marita, the invasion of the Balkans and Greece. The formation acquitted itself well in the fighting in Serbia, and at the end of the campaign was moved back into Romania to join Army Group South, which was preparing for Operation Barbarossa. On June 1941, the division crossed the Soviet border and began the advance towards Crimea and eventually Rostov on Don. During the blitzkrieg campaign, the division again performed superbly, advancing as a part of Panzergruppe 1. By the end of the campaign, the division had taken part in the capture of Rostov-on-Don before the Army Group was ordered to abandon the city and form defensive lines for the winter. Over the winter of 1941–1942 the division managed to hold its position despite terrible conditions and ceaseless Soviet counterattacks.

In 1942, the division took part in Fall Blau, the advance through the Don Basin towards Stalingrad. As a part of Generaloberst Paulus' 6. Armee, the division was involved in heavy fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad. When Soviet offensives encircled Paulus' Army, the division continued resisting the Soviets until the final collapse of the German defense in February 1943.

The remnants of the division which had been on leave or convalescing were ordered to the south of France to begin reforming the division, to be upgraded as a Panzergrenadier division and redesignated 60. Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle.

271. Infanterie-Regiment[edit]

The 271st Regiment fought with distinction during the Battle of France, taking part in the assaults on the Maginot Line and advancing south, crossing the rivers Seille and Meurthe in Alsace-Lorraine. The regiment ended the campaign on the Moselle between Nancy and Epinal, advancing south where it ended near the region of the River Moselle between Nancy and Epinal on June 25, 1940. The 93. Infanterie-Division was stationed on the French Coast after the capitulation of France.

In March 1941, the regiment, along with the rest of the 93. Infanterie-Division, was ordered to the east to take part in Operation Barbarossa. The division was to form a part of Army Group North, tasked with advancing on Leningrad. After the launch of the offensive on June 22, 1941, the regiment distinguished itself in heavy fighting during the advance. At the end of the campaign, the division was stationed near Leningrad, and over the winter of 1941–1942 saw heavy fighting against fierce Soviet counterattacks.

The division remained in combat near Leningrad throughout 1942. In August, the regiment was granted the title Feldherrnhalle in honour of the outstanding performance it had shown during the battles in France and Russia. The regiment was redesignated 271. Grenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle. The regiment remained in action on the Northern front, fighting at the siege of Cholm and the Battle of Velikiye Luki. In the summer of 1943, the Feldherrnhalle regiment was withdrawn from the division and sent back to Southern France to form join the remnants of the 120. Infanterie-Regiment (mot) which were in the process of reforming the 60. Infanterie-Division (mot) as the 60. Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle.

Eastern Front[edit]

The new division spent the rest of the year forming and training in Southern France. In November, all the divisional units had their numbers removed and were granted the title Feldherrnhalle. The 271. Grenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle formed the Grenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle and the reformed 120. Grenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle became Füsilier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle. In December, the division was ordered back to the eastern front, to join the Third Panzer Army which was involved in heavy fighting near Vitebsk in Belorussia. Arriving in early January 1944, the division fought exceptionally during the fierce battles around the city.

After executing a fighting withdrawal through Belorussia, the division was air-lifted via Tartu airport to the Narva front, where the III. SS Panzerkorps was involved in heavy fighting for the bridgehead over the Narva river. The division remained in combat on the Narva front, distinguishing itself in what would be known as the Battle of Narva (1944).

In May, the division was ordered south to bolster the forces of Army Group Centre, engaged near Mogilev and Orsha. With the launch of the Soviet Operation Bagration in June 1944, the division was pushed back towards Minsk, where it was encircled. In late July, after heavy resistance and several failed breakout attempts, the division was annihilated near the city.

Reformed[edit]

The remnants of the division, along with other units such as the 26th Infantry Division, were refitted near Warthelager near Poznań in September 1944. The formation of several new Feldherrnhalle formations began at the same time.

106. Panzer-Brigade Feldherrnhalle[edit]

The 106. Panzer-Brigade Feldherrnhalle was formed from a cadre of SA men. The 106th boasted a strong consignment of the latest Panther ausf. G tanks, a fully mechanized Panzergrenadier battalion and a company of the brand new Jagdpanzer IV/70s. The brigade was sent into action in Alsace-Lorraine against the American forces of General Patton's US Third Army. The 106th fought well during the withdrawal into Germany. On April 6, 1945, the remnants of the brigade were assigned to the ad-hoc Panzer-Division Clausewitz. The brigade's survivors surrendered to the Americans on May 8, 1945.

110. Panzer-Brigade Feldherrnhalle[edit]

The 110. Panzer-Brigade Feldherrnhalle was the second Feldherrnhalle panzer brigade. Formed from a cadre of SA men, the 110th was strongly equipped with a battalion of Panthers and a battalion of mechanized infantry. The 110th was sent to Romania, where it supported the forces of Army Group South Ukraine during the withdrawal into Hungary. The brigade, along with the reformed Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle took part in the Battle of Debrecen in October 1944, acquitting itself well. During these battles, the 110th fought alongside the 13. Panzer-Division. In November 1944, the brigade was disbanded and absorbed into the 13. Panzer-Division. As a result, the 13. Panzer-Division was renamed 13.Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle.

Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle[edit]

The Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle was only partially formed by September 1944, when it was ordered to the front in Hungary to strengthen Armeegruppe Fretter-Pico, which was threatening to collapse in the face of a major soviet offensive near Oradea and Debrecen. The division, in truth only the size of a brigade, was committed to battle in mid-October, and ordered to hold a major crossing point on the Tisza River. When the Soviet spearhead threatened to encircle several panzer divisions near Debrecen, the division participated in an operation to encircle part of the Soviet force which was ultimately forced to abandon most of its equipment and retreated after significant losses. During the following battle, the division fought alongside both the 13. Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle and schwere-Panzer-Abteilung 503 (sPzAbt 503) for the first time.

After enjoying some success in the Battle of Debrecen, the division fought in co-operation with sPzAbt 503 and was soon involved in the withdrawal towards Budapest. The Panzergrenadier Division, sPzAbt 503 and the 13. Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle, by now exhausted and dangerously understrength, were pushed back into the city. On December 21, 1944, sPzAbt 503 was renamed schwere-Panzer-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle (abbreviated s.Pz.Abt. Feldherrnhalle).

On December 31, the three formations were encircled along with IX. SS-Gebirgskorps. For the next month, the Feldherrnhalle units desperately held out for rescue. After the failure of Operation Konrad, Armeegruppe Balck's rescue attempts, the pocket collapsed and the divisions were destroyed on February 12, 1945. Among those to escape the pocket was a group of several hundred Feldherrnhalle men.

Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle[edit]

After the annihilation of three Feldherrnhalle units in Budapest, plans were made to not only reform the three units, but also for the creation of a Panzer Corps, along the lines of the Panzerkorps Großdeutschland or the Fallschirm-Panzerkorps Hermann Göring.

The survivors of the encirclement, along with large numbers of new SA recruits, were formed into three new units. The remnants of the Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle became Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle 1. Although not a full strength division, the unit was equipped with the latest equipment and well trained.

The 13. Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle became Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle 2. This division was virtually identical to the Feldherrnhalle 1. It was commanded by the ace panzer commander Generalmajor Dr. Franz Bäke.

The remnants of the sPzAbt Feldherrnhalle were reformed, although the detachment never reached its former strength.

The corps was activated at the end of February, with most of the combat units being sent into action at the end of March 1945. The corps executed a fighting withdrawal towards Vienna and then into southern Austria. Over the last months of the war, the corps saw heavy fighting and acquitted itself well. By the beginning of May 1945, the shattered remnants of the corps broke up and attempted to reach the American lines, where they surrendered on May 9, 1945.

Commanders[edit]

Orders of Battle[edit]

Battle of Debrecen, Hungary, October 1944[edit]

60. Panzergrenadier-Division Feldherrnhalle

  • Division Stab
  • Füsilier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Grenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzer-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
  • Artillerie Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • FlaK-Bataillon Feldherrnhalle
  • Pionier-Bataillon Feldherrnhalle
  • Nachrichten-Kompanie Feldherrnhalle

Budapest, Hungary, February 1945,[edit]

Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle 1

  • Division Stab
  • Panzer-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzer-Battalion
  • Panzergrenadier-Battalion (half-track)
  • schwere Panzer-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzergrenadier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzerjäger-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
  • Pionier-Bataillon Feldherrnhalle
  • Artillerie-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Nachrichten-Kompanie Feldherrnhalle

Operation Spring Awakening, Hungary, March 1945[edit]

Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle

  • Korps Stab
    • Korps-Füsilier-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
    • Schwere-Panzer-Abteilung Feldherrnhalle
    • 404. Artillerie-Regiment
    • 404. Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon
    • 44. Panzer-Nachrichten-Bataillon
    • Panzer-Feldersatz-Regiment Feldherrnhalle
  • Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle 1
  • Panzer-Division Feldherrnhalle 2

References[edit]