IX SS Mountain Corps

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IX SS Mountain Corps
Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Ege-237-06A, Karl von Pfeffer-Wildenbruch.jpg
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch commanded IX SS Mountain Corps during its last months fighting in and around Budapest
Active 21 June 1944 – 12 February 1945
Country  Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Type mountain corps
Role mountain warfare
Size Corps
Engagements

World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
SS-Gruppenführer Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch

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 Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) and the 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama (2nd Croatian) under the command of SS-Gruppenführer Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig.[1] The 13th SS Division was not initially transferred to the corps, being involved in fighting against Yugoslav Partisans in the Independent State of Croatia.[2] In August, due to high rates of desertion from 13th SS Division, Sauberzweig proposed to disarm the Bosnians in both 13th SS Division and 23rd SS Division, but Heinrich Himmler instead opted to transport the 2,000 Bosnians of 23rd SS Division from Hungary to Bosnia and re-organise the remaining troops of both divisions there, with key support units from 13th SS Division centralised under IX SS Mountain Corps, which would also move to Bosnia from Hungary.[3]

By September 1944, the Red Army had advanced to the border of Hungary, which placed the corps training area close to the front lines.Kama was not ready for combat and was disbanded; 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 Yugoslav partisans.

In October, the corps was moved to the frontline in Hungary, where it took command of four 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. Between them, the divisions barely had 60 tanks.

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 Soviet forces. After a month's heavy fighting, the corps was encircled in the city. The corps was placed in command of all encircled German units, and 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 6th Army commander Hermann Balck said "At best, one could say that Budapest was being led by a politician".[citation needed] Pfeffer-Wildenbruch established his corps command centre on Castle Hill, in the centre of the Hungarian Government District, and ordered the encircled forces to attempt breakouts, which they were unable to accomplish. A rescue effort was being assembled by Balck's army group.

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 pocket. On 11 February 1945, the corps was ordered to attempt a breakout. Only 785 troops were able to reach German lines, including 170 Waffen-SS men. On 12 February, the remainder of the corps was destroyed, with small groups of men, including Pfeffer-Wildenbruch and his staff, surrendering to the Soviet forces.

Commanders[edit]

Orders Of Battle[edit]

16 September 1944 – Croatia

26 December 1944 – Budapest

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Lepre 1997, p. 228.
  2. ^ Lepre 1997, p. 231.
  3. ^ Lepre 1997, pp. 256–257.

References[edit]

  • Lepre, George (1997). Himmler's Bosnian Division: The Waffen-SS Handschar Division 1943–1945. Atglen, Philadelphia: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-76430-134-6.