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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • #91
    Thanks for that. So you didn't learn that much more about Targos Frumos? I have Glantz's book on it coming up in reading list #2.

    The book (Red Storm over the Balkans) itself extensively quotes Spaeter's history along with the Red Army unit histories, and makes a play by play comparison.

    The Spaeter trilogy has so much information.

    GD armor hunter/killer unit:

    270 men on bicycles, separated in detachments of 7 men. Weapons: Assault rifle, panzerfausts, explosives, and grenades. Deployed like a 'spiders' web' and 'chessboard-style.

    "The objective of this unit was to attack advancing Soviet armored spearheads and destroy them!"
    Last edited by Cult Icon; 04 Nov 14, 00:00.


    • #92
      There wasn't any "new" information about Targos Frumos that isn't in the unit histories. I have to read Red Storm over the Balkans, it's on my list.


      • #93
        I like reading combat accounts, but they have to be good ones that illuminate the combat environment/combat tactics rather than the generic ones that could be any place, any battle.

        I'm going to take your word for it..I may buy and read it in the future but I am currently moving on to other material.

        Glantz's book on the Rzhev meatgrinder also sources much from Spaeter.


        • #94
          I have read up to that part. It is difficult for me to tell due to the lack of information I have on it. In the history, on Jan 27th 1945 the brigades are moved to the East Front. The FBB is 7,000 men (after reinforcement and refitting) and the FGB is only ~4,300 plus. Hitler interviews both commanders, gives them crucial roles in Operation Solstice, and then expands both into 10,000 men pzg divisions, but there is simply no resources and time to strengthen them to that level. They do this attack with many panzer divisions, and then make the attacks at Lauban.

          The attacks at Lauban come across as pretty straightforward affairs, slugfests..

          The FBD gets mauled in both manpower and armor compared to FGD at Lauban. The link has a person who did much work on the armor aspect.

          I wish I knew the source of this.

          I only know of tank battles at Lauban from this book and the thread below that I found.

          Here is some research done by others about Lauban. It is basically the Prokovoka that nobody knows about...with the 3rd GTA taking the place of the 5th GTA. This link has an except from 3rd GTA's unit history:

          It looks like this apocalyptic speech at Gorlitz is done right after the victory at Lauban. March, 1945. "I believe that we will win the war.."

          The source of Goebbel's Lauban propaganda is revealed in GD III: 100 Fuhrer Grenadiers are transported by truck to the town center, and Hitler youth & Volksturm get pinned awards by Goebbels.

          Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
          FGB was worn out very quickly due to the heavy fighting with the Russians earlier in October. They never were able to perform as well as they might have been able to, especially as they had the brunt of their actions, I believe, in the south against the main American counterattacks. However, Maeder always made very pragmatic tactical decisions, in order to minimize loses as best as he could, and had much more experience at higher command than Remer. Yes, FBB in the bulge actually performed very well, especially around St. Vith, it was afterwards in 1945 during Operation Gemse at Lauban, when Remer made a number of bold yet detrimental decisions that reflected in unusual heavy loses for the FBD. On the other hand Maeder and FGD performed well and had to make a number of difficult off the cuff decisions at Lauban. Remer was an excellent battalion commander, and definitely deserved his awards. However he was promoted to quickly to higher command he had no training for. It isn't his fault, and I still feel overall he was an excellent soldier. Honestly, when I think about it, the main fault Remer is usually placed with is his decisions at Lauban. Other than that I can't think of any other "bad" decisions he might have made, though I'm probably wrong. I think a lot of the real negative opinions about him have to do more with July 20th and his post war activities. Either way both FBB/D and FGB/D performed very well considering the circumstances, and are two of my "favorite" units. Another "Grossdeutshland" unit that performed pretty well, was Langkeit's Kurmark division in front of Berlin.
          The replacements for FBB and FGD are 16 and 17 year olds. The Fuhrer-Grenadiers are the ones with the camo coats. The History also mentions the idea of a "Panzer Army GD" being often talked about and suggested to Hitler. This would include all the GD formations in one Army. Hitler prefers having the forces spread out, but having his Fuhrer divisions to attack together.

          Last edited by Cult Icon; 06 Nov 14, 01:44.


          • #95
            Thanks for the maps .


            • #96
              Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
              You're right about the close combat clasp, especially in silver and gold. Those awards really showed that you were truly "in it!"
              Yep, they made good booty for the bloke that killed the bastard wearing it.
              The long toll of the brave
              Is not lost in darkness
              Over the fruitful earth
              And athwart the seas
              Hath passed the light of noble deeds
              Unquenchable forever.


              • #97
                You're welcome.

                p. 280 PzK GD III:

                The Reich Propaganda Minister was able to convince the 12. SS Korps that the Panzer-Grenadier Division Kurmark should launch another attack on Lebus. The reason for this was the East-Asia collection of the Kaiser Fredrich Museum that was stored in Lebus. This fact was not known to the division command and the attack was scheduled for 22 February


                • #98
                  Too bad those Brits that were killed didn't have such "good booty..." Such a waste...


                  • #99
                    Out of curiosity, how do you appraise the SS DR compared to the GD and others?

                    It seems like gefreiter is the lowest rank in the GD and Brandenburg- due to the wehrmacht manpower creaming (at least until the end of 44) there are no privates. I have heard of this from another source, but am still not 100% sure. I have noticed that there are no privates being mentioned throughout the history.
                    Last edited by Cult Icon; 08 Nov 14, 00:49.


                    • Of all the WSS divisions, the only ones I think that could compare at certain times with GD are DR and Wiking. They both came out of the SSVT under Hausser, and had more "professional" military leaders such as Bittrich and Steiner. Overall both were very good, definitely above average. In fact other than 12SS somewhat fanatical defense at Caen, DR was the only WSS unit that actually performed well in Normandy. DR and Wiking's personnel also seemed more "professional" than Totenkopf's or Leibstandarte's, the later being one big soap opera. Now TK and LSSAH were very good at certain times, but in my opinion they never reached the level of DR or Wiking, which are the only WSS divisions that I would put on a par with GD, or some of the top Panzer divisons, such as the 4th.


                      • That's interesting, thanks. DR and SSLAH seem to have considerably less experience than the other divisions. SS VT was a serious combat institution, although I do not know how good they actually were.

                        With the SS, the Wiking division does stand out in the Caucasus 42'. The Das Reich was with the spearhead towards Moscow. The other high profile action would be 1943 Kharkov-Kursk-Mius. Then it fights in a weakened state in the south for the rest of the year.

                        However, I looked at their history and they have a lot of very prolonged 'break' periods. This is good for them in a way that they have more time, but too much break removes a unit away from contemporary experience against a rapidly evolving enemy like the Soviets. In 1942 especially they are off the line much more than other mobile units.

                        But, I have not studied these SS divisions to a higher level so I don't have definite opinions as to the true implications of this. The TK had a reputation for taking excessively high casualties in operations. It also received a lot of low quality replacements like the other SS divisions.

                        The GD is continuously fighting after their 3 month pre-Kursk prep period and doesn't get a break. But as an elite, it gets lots of quality reinforcements/field refittings.

                        I might buy Das Reich III (1941-1943) next month and read it. I have a copy of 'Viking panzers' but I have no plans on reading it.

                        I am currently reading Zetterling's Korsun pocket, and then will do 'Last Victory in Russia' , 'Decision in the Ukraine', and 'Red Storm over the Balkans'.

                        I am done with 360/507 on GD III. From what I gather:

                        Panzerkorps GD by 1945 was composed of 5 small mechanized divisions (5 x 10,000 men establishment) each with lowered offensive capability. Of these, GD fought hard and it was torn up twice in the baltics.

                        Brandenburg comes across as being inserted into poor circumstances and was deployed in fighting retreats along with GD. It didn't achieve much in 1945 and the history gives it the least attention (ironically, as the pre-1945 history of brandenburg takes a full 100 pages...).

                        'Kurmark' performed well as the cornerstone of the defense of the oder, directly east of Berlin...while fighting side by side with one pzg and one infantry division & facing 3 soviet armies. They resist between Feb- early April 1945. The core of their defense, according to the history, was good artillery use. The division only had 2 medium-small battalions of infantry organic. The 1,000 man KS Dresden infantry regiment attached to them (bringing their trench strength to 4 small-medium battalions) was composed entirely of motivated officer candidates and fought hard. Kurmark was refitted twice.

                        The 2 heavily equipped Fuhrer divisions performed reasonably well and were deployed in offensive operations. I am of the view that offense is more difficult than defense, and the divisions need to be very well-oiled machines to do well in the strategic offensive.

                        The best military performance from these divisions I studied in the Eastern front were:

                        24th Panzer in 1942. 23rd Panzer in 1942. 3rd Panzer under Model in 1941. 3rd in 1942. I find FM Model to have been a very good commander and leader, even though he was not specialized in panzers but rather infantry. Bayerlein also commanded 3rd Panzer for a period of time, and commanded it well. Breith was also a good commander of 3rd Panzer. Of the three, Model was probably the 3rd Panzer division's best commander.

                        GD was consistently very good in offense and mobile defense, but not brilliant at 'military epic' levels. Its high point was probably Targos Frumos 1944 while being commanded by Manteuffel. I think Manteuffel was the division's most effective general.

                        An exerpt from the 'Devils' General'. The author considers GD to be competently lead but not brilliant when its superior resources are factored into consideration.

                        Newton, who edited Raus' materials and 'Kursk: The German View' also says offhand that Papa Ho's tactical leadership skills were closer to that of Sepp Dietrich than a panzer expert.:

                        From German view of Kursk, Analysis and Critique, Newton:

                        The unwieldy organization of the attack in the sector of III Battalion,
                        Fusiliers, must be ascribed to the division commander, Lieutenant General
                        Walter Hoernlein, and operations officer Colonel Oldwig von
                        Natzmer. Hoernlein was a beloved figure within the division, but his tactical
                        skills more closely resembled those of Sepp Dietrich than those of
                        Hermann Balck. To cite only a single, telling example: On the morning of
                        5 July Hoernlein was not even aware of the extent of the division's ammunition
                        shortage. Colonel von Natzmer demonstrated outstanding tactical
                        and operational qualifications throughout the war, yet during the
                        preparations for Operation Citadel he appeared strangely detached from
                        the entire planning process.
                        Even after reading several histories, I have no idea what gave the author this strong opinion of Papa Ho (myself am not familiar with an in-depth study of other formations). He seems to be appraising based on GD's and its panther brigades performance at Kursk rather than the division's entire history.

                        The Devil's General's opinion:

                        I agree with this more, but am unclear as to why one could make such a strong opinion.

                        Last edited by Cult Icon; 09 Nov 14, 19:11.


                        • This is a collection of GD photos I accumulated during the course of my reading. Many are from the German army archives and the dates appear to be correct:



                          • Keep in mind that LSAH did not perform impressively n Normandy because they had so many replacements that were not trained up. They had also provided some officer and NCO cadres to 12th SS HJ.

                            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


                            • DR and LSSAH took most of 42 off, while LSSAH also took off the rest of 43 (in Italy) after Kursk. Wiking however, was much more similar to GD, in that it fought (almost) completely on the Eastern Front and never had such a long period of relief as the other two SS divisions. Yet, it still performed very well. I still subscribe to the fact that Wiking and DR performed "better" because of the officer material they had, compared to LSSAH and TK, with some exceptions of course (Ulrich, Baum, Kumm,,,) DR's only major break was in 42, other than that they had a few months in the beginning of 44, after they fought the very difficult post Kursk battles while LSSAH was "relaxing" in Italy. The fact that DR performed as well as they did in Normandy, in defense, (not offense as no German division really did well, eg. Mortain), still surprises me. DR and Wiking along with the WSS divisions/Brigades under the III SS panzer korps to me are the most interesting and the subjective "best" the WSS had.
                              Brandenburg had a raw deal in 45, sitting if front of Konev's (?) army, without a Heinrici around. Kurmark performed brilliantly. The Fuhrer divisions performed as best as could be expected....
                              3rd is a great PZ division. If you want to read more about how brilliant Model was you should get Newton's bio on him.
                              Germany had a lot of excellent divisional and korps level PZ commanders, from Manteuffel, Model, Breith, Nehring, Balck, ext....Army level and above though was more difficult....
                              Hoernlein wasn't a bad commander, he was a very good divisional commander, though no military genius. I think most of his "bad" reputation comes from Kursk, when GD did not perform that well, and from his clash with the Panzergraf, who himself, made a mess of things at Kursk, depending who you believe, Strachwtiz or any book by George Nipe, they are excellent, especially Blood Steel and Myth...
                              Last edited by krichter33; 10 Nov 14, 19:06.


                              • I finished Panzergrenadier division Brandenburg. The division in 1945 is in a state of desperate fighting retreat especially in April. To its credit it does not dis-integrate during these fighting retreats and counterattacks.

                                Ironically enough, its most successful employment identified was April 20-30th 1945...(lol). Hitler kills himself on the 30th.

                                There are four successful counterattacks with the division that secure villages and gain booty. The first have 50 tanks and 100 vehicles. The second is a surprise division sized attack that captures 1,500 Soviet vehicles. The third attack captures 600 prisoners. The fourth attack with 20th PzD ejects the 22nd Guards Tank Brigade from a town, leaving 15 soviet tanks.

                                After Hitler's death, the still intact BR gets sent to Army Group Schorner in Czechoslovakia. The chief of staff form AG Shorner is Gen Lt. von Natzmer, Ia of Pzg Division GD in 1942-1943. Germany surrenders on May 8th.


                                Fuhrer Begleit division is enveloped, and breaks out with 400 survivors from the 'meadow of death'- a shooting gallery which parts them with their tanks and vehicles. They reach german forces at the end.


                                Replacement and Training Brigade GD is deployed against British forces with 15th Panzergrenadier division, and surrenders to them at the end of April.


                                PzG Division Kurmark experiences a terrifying breakout attempt during the last days of the war. Much of the division is destroyed in desperate fighting at Halbe, remnants escape to the Elbe and are taken prisoner by the Americans on May 6th 1945.

                                Interesting bit: [we were almost all carrying assault rifles, which failed frequently, being prone to jamming..] (Stg43/44 prone to jamming?)


                                What is left of Panzergrenadier division GD: 4,000 men and their commander with almost no equipment except for their mgs and assault rifles evacuate to Pillau on 29th March 1945. They are joined with a mass of heterogeneous stragglers, the greatly weakened 95 ID and 5th Panzer on a mission to hold long enough to evacuate as many civilians as possible by sea.

                                Soviets advance cautiously and steadily, preferring to annihilate and push them back with artillery fire throughout April 1945. On 30th April, 800 GD men, including division commander Lorenz, evacuate Pillau and sail to British POW camps.
                                Last edited by Cult Icon; 11 Nov 14, 22:28.


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