The Führer-Begleit-Brigade in the Ardennes
- Published: 29 December 2011 29 December 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
(MS #B-592 and MS #B-383, 1954)
Otto Ernst Fritz Adolf Remer
Date of Birth: 18 August 1912
Place of Birth: NEUBRANDENBURG/MECKLENBURG
Remer joined the Army as an officer candidate in 1933 and was assigned to the 4th regiment at as a second lieutenant of infantry in 1935; in 1938 he was promoted to first lieutenant in place in command of the company of the same regiment.
In the 1939 campaign in Poland Remer commanded the infantry howitzer company of the 478th Regiment; in the 1940 campaign in France and in the Balkan campaign of 1941 he was in command of the motorized infantry howitzer company of the 701st regiment.
In 1941 he was promoted Captain and in February 1942 was assigned as acting commander of the battalion in Russia. Later in 1942 he was given command of an armored infantry Battalion of panzer grenadier regiment Grossdeutschland, an elite unit from which panzer division gross Deutschland was formed in May of this same year.
Promoted Major in January 1943, Remer was transferred as a battalion commander to Guard Regiment Grossdeutschland in BERLIN in May 1944. It was while serving in this assignment that he played a major role in putting down the uprising which followed the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20th 1944. In recognition of his action on this occasion, Remer was promoted to colonel, with rank dated 1 July 1944, and assigned as a combat commander RASTENBERG on 1 September 1944. Three months later he was placed in command of the Hitler escort Brigade, with which he took part in the Ardennes offensive. In February 1945 he was promoted Generalmajor and transferred to the eastern front together with his brigade, which at the same time was upgraded to the status of the panzer division. On 22 May 1945 the General was taken into custody by U.S. forces at Bamberg, Bavaria.
During the first part of September, 1944,
I was detained by an order of Hitler from his headquarters in Rastenburg while on my way to the front to take over the Fusilierregiment with the "Greater Germany" "Division. I was ordered by him to organize a combat force, later known as the Fuehrer-Begleit-Brigade Hitler's Escort Brigade, the purpose of which was to take over the defense of headquarters which was located about 100 km behind the front. At this time, it was supposed that an air landing of two to three airborne divisions on the part of the Allies was planned against the head-quarters. The Fuehrer Begleit-Brigade existing at that time was too weak for such a task. Besides, my force, which was to be organized, was to be used as a mobile operational reserve within the so-called fortress of LOETZEN, EAST PRUSSIA for engagements outside the limits of the fortress.
To this end, I enlarged and formed my force as follows, taking into consideration the units already available there:
1. Brigade Staff
2. Fuehrer according to Mueller, this refers to the Fuehrer Begleit-Brigade signal Battalion (primarily intended for the internal operations of the headquarters).
3. Fuehrer Air Signal Battalion (aircraft warning services).
Fuehrer antiaircraft regiment Hermann Goering, with 14 batteries ( for active air defense and ground artillery fighting ).
Fuehrer Escort Regiment with three battalions.
a. One armored personnel carrier battalion (five companies equipped with armored personnel carriers)
b. one mobile battalion (four light and one heavy company loaded on amphibian Volkswagens and Steyr command cars)
c. One heavy battalion with one tank company
one assault gun company
one antiaircraft company
one combat engineer company
one armored reconnaissance company
6. 828 Battalion, on special assignment) Both battalions con-
7. 829 Battalion, on special assignment) consisted of-rather old men (Landeschuetzen) and had originally been intended for guarding headquarters premises which could not yet been used.
8. Medical company
This unusual array was the result of the special task on which this combined-arms unit was based. The various units were
Equipped with the most modern arms and ammunition and brought up to strength with experienced front-lines soldiers.
When Hitler moved his headquarters to BERLIN during the second half of November 1944, my mission was completed. I then stayed several more days with my Brigade in the area of RASTENBERG. At the end of November, 1944, my Brigade was transported by train for commitment on the western front on orders from Hitler.
For this purpose, the brigade had to be right reorganized in great haste, with the extraction of units it further needed in the headquarters and the addition of new units.
At the beginning of December, the following elements of the Brigade listed above arrived in the area of DAUN (EIFEL):
1. Brigade staff
2. Fuehrer antiaircraft regiment with eight batteries
3. The entire Fuehrer escort regiment
4. The 828 battalion on special assignment (the 829 remained for some time in Rastenburg, and later came to the Fuehrer-Begleit brigade.
5. The Medical company
6. A Signal Company formed out of the Fuehrer Signal Battalion. Moreover, the following were added:
1) Staff of the panzer regiment
2) A panzer battalion from the “Greater Germany” panzer regiment
3) One assault gun Battalion I believe they 120 Battalion,
which it previously fought in France and had been reorganized).
4. One light artillery battalion from the 120 Regiment with two light batteries
( five guns each ) and one heavy battery.
5. One OT (Organization Todt) column and one Army supply column. Both of these already only ready for commitment up to 1/5 strength.
6. One horse-drawn bakery and butchery company.
7. One army post office in one workshop company.
All recently added elements were insufficiently equipped, in respect to personnel and material, except for weapons and tanks. This was especially true in respect to equipment with vehicles and signal equipment. The staff of the panzer Regiment did not arrive until two days before the offensive and was so defectively the symbol that it could not be used for the time being. The 828 battalion on special assignment did not receive the bicycles designated Fort until the day prior to the offensive.
The brigade was organized as follows increased assignment:
1. Brigade staff of general staff officer
2. One Signal Co. (1/2 telephone, 1/2 radio)
One military police detachment
One armored reconnaissance company
One motorcycle messenger Detachment
3. Three independent battalions with one armored personnel carrier battalion of five companies
One mobile battalion of four companies
The 828 Bicycle battalion on special assignment with four companies
4. One panzer Regiment with
One battalion of tanks parentheses four companies of Mark IV tanks (and one battalion of assault guns of four batteries)
5. One artillery Battalion
6. One antiaircraft regiment with two battalions
a. One light battalion with three batteries (self-propelled)
(One company of 20 mm, 1 bar. guns One company of 20 mm for barrel guns, one company with 37 mm guns)
b. One heavy battalion with four batteries of six guns at each of 105 mm caliber.
7. Two transportation columns
One Medical company
One bakery in butcher company
Army post office
One workshop company
8. Feldersatz replacement training battalion with 1400 men, which had been organized on orders from army. It had about 20% strength with respect to personnel and material.
The shortcomings of this organization are attributed to the fact that I received their original staff for the panzer regiment and for that reason the brigade had command three independent battalions which had been armed organized and very different ways. The means of Signal communications of the Brigade were not sufficient for this increased command load. The military police detachment of about 12 men was to weak for and effectual regulation of traffic, especially in difficult terrain. The relation of the heavy weapons the infantry was exaggerated. Engineer unit was completely lacking. However the capacity of the columns, which was enhanced by taking usable vehicle from the rest of the force, was by no means sufficient for well functioning supply service. The small amount of artillery available had no vehicles capable of cross-country travel was also a shortcoming.
The few days left before the offensive were intensively used to organize and reorganize the brigade. In addition, the force was trained every day at company level and officers of all ranks were prepared for their coming tasks by discussions about the terrain and map exercises. Naturally, the time at our disposal for these purposes was quite limited, especially inasmuch as a part of the added units did not arrive until the day prior to the offensive. Instead, the Feldersatz battalion was excellently equipped with respect to personnel and equipment in order to guarantee a good, continuous training.
The brigade subordinated to the 66 Korps:
The Fuehrer-Begleit-Brigade was assembled in the area around Daun during 17 Dec 44. Since the beginning of the offensive , I was at the forward command post of the Fifth Army in DACHSCHEID, northeast of WACHSWEILER.
18 Dec 44
About 1600 of 18 Dec 44, I received the order to take the brigade to the front from the area of Daun by way of GEROLSTEIN, BUEDESHEIM, PRUEM, SCHNEEFIELFORSTHAUS, POTH and AUW in the direction of ST VITH.
Mission: to thrust forward nine in a generally westerly direction by way of ST VITH within the framework of the LXVI Korps, and subordinated to this court.
The brigade was set on the march by telephone, with the organization ordered. Organization of the brigade:
One. Advanced attachment: one armored reconnaissance Battalion
1. Light Company on Volkswagens
One assault gun company
Balance of the 2nd battalion
Medium Infantry gun company
2. brigade staff with reconnaissance company armored regiment
2nd battalion (armored personnel carriers)
3. Antiaircraft regiment
4. Third Battalion (828, on special assignment) on bicycles.
What a Brigade set out under the command of the one-day, I traveled the command post of the LXVI korps, which I encountered in WEINSHEIM (5 Km. northeast of PRUEM). I found out about the situation there and I found out that I was to set out with the Brigade by way of roads, AUW, WISCHEID, ANDLER, SCHOENBERG, and HEEUEM the direction of ST VITH. For the time being, I was not ordered to attack ST VITH, but I was given to understand it the intention existed, now as before, to thrust through further to the west with the Brigade toward the Maas after the fall of ST VITH. At any rate, the brigade was not to tie itself up with a battle For ST VITH. As for myself, I drove ahead on the designated road and did not reach the Fort command post of the 18th VGD in WALLERRODER MUHLE until about morning. The road of the advance ordered was completely jammed in bad condition. Traveling of the road was impossible, even for track-laying vehicles. I therefore reckoned with considerable delay of the march movement and reported this fact to the Korps.
19 Dec 44
At the command post of the 18 VGD, I learned that resistance east of ST VITH had become considerably stronger. Besides, I saw that this division was still not very extensively spread put along the front. During the afternoon, I commenced road reconnaissance for the purpose of finding out if there were possibilities of circumventing ST VITH. Because I got unfavorable results from this reconnaissance, I resolved to support the attack of the 18 VGD, set for about noon, with my advance detachment by a thrust on both sides of the road.
The advance detachment began to arrive in WALLERRODER MUHLE about 1200. The attack of the 18 VGD, which was commenced with only weak artillery, did not lead to any success. The armored point of my advance detachment, which had, during this, advanced approximately to the bend in the road north of PRUEMERBERG, received rather strong anti- tank fire. The Company attacking through the it's south of the road was repelled with heavy losses by very well-placed enemy artillery fire.
My impression was that the enemy had already made himself so strong east of ST VITH that this place could not he taken from the east by an attack emanating from the march movement without a sufficient assembly of heavy weapons. Moreover there were is the fact that only the terrain north of the road appeared to be suited for tank attack, but with an unfavorable assembly area west of the woods “auf der Hoehe” “On the Heights”, especially inasmuch as the road could be reached only under enemy observation from the bottleneck of the road. Besides the street was so badly Jan said Vance of the armored group would have been extremely difficult.
During the time falling, I repeatedly received contradicting orders from Heersgruppe, the Fifth Army, and the LXVI Korps, which part lease spoke of an attack against or a capture of ST VITH, partly of a certain subvention of the city any further threats to the west.
I decided to circumvent ST VITH to the north, although the road from WALLERRODER MUHLE to MAYERODE had been reported to me as being passable only under certain conditions. It was still the most favorable.
At the onset of darkness, the advance detachment set out to MEDELL by way of MAYERODE. The assault gun company, along with the grenadier Company on foot, which were with the advanced Detachment, were sent out from WALLERRODER MUHLE to WALLERRODE. The armored group had begun to reach as Roth at this time, but was very badly waged in with vehicles of other divisions over to east of AUW. Inasmuch as this road was also used by elements of the 6 SS army and was further war molested by elements of the American units and circled in the SCHNEEIFFEL that were breaking out, a traffic jam had come into being that could hardly be disentangled and which the little force of military police belonging to the brigade was not in a position to disentangle.
The attack of the elements of the Brigade order to WALLERRODE (all together one assault gun company into grenadier companies) launched at midnight by way of the fork in the road west of WALLERRODE and then by way of KNINELSBERG towards ST VITH had no success. Therefore, I ordered a continued march by way of Miguel and born in the direction of NIEDER-EMMELS.
20 Dec 44
The attack launched during the dawn of 20 Dec by the armored personnel carrier battalion together with an assault gun company, which had arrived in the meantime, lead, after a hasty assembly in the woods north of NIEDER-EMMELS, to the capture of NIEDER-EMMELS and OBER-EMMELS and thereby to the effect of blocking of the road from LIGNEUVILLE to ST VITH. A further thrust in the southern direction aimed at taking SARD-LEZ-ST VITH bogged down in well-placed enemy artillery fire to the three battalions and anti-tank fire. I decided to wait for the deployment of the brigade. All attempts to accelerate this deployment were frustrated by the extremely difficult road conditions in the woods south of NEURODE, where, in part, one vehicle after another had vetoed through one at the time. In addition there was the fact that the lack of motor fuel result from the road difficulties and traffic jams in the case of the armored group. (An amount was already consumed that was threefold as great as that which would was estimated for normal conditions). During the entire day, NIEDER-EMMELS was under heavy artillery fire.
21 Dec 44
I was ordered by LXVI Korps to attack along the road to ST VITH from the NIEDER-EMMELS area on December 21, 44 I had to decline to make this attack as long as the high terrain south of NIEDER-EMMELS was not in our possession. Otherwise I would have to lead an attack with enemy flanking interference. I therefore decided in favor of an attack in a southerly direction for the purpose of taking SARD-LEZ-ST VITH in order to block office last important supply route and in order to have a solid under our feet again for a further thrust because up to this time eroded terrain conditions had been my worst foe.
The assembly of the II battalion, which had been brought forward into the hollow just west of the in NIEDER-EMMELS during the darkness, was harassed for such a long time shortly before daylight by suddenly launched, well-placed enemy artillery fire that this battalion was not in the position to move up and thereby take it vantage of the dawn. Because my heavy weapons, the bulk of the tanks and artillery battalion had still not been brought up because of the catastrophic reconditions and because the brigade, moreover, that no support whatsoever, Korps, I called off the attack in view of the superiority of the enemy artillery.
I reckoned that the brigade could be deployed by about evening. In order not to let the day slip away on used, I put the II battalion to blocking the road from ST VITH to VIELSALM by taking the advantage of the forests west of SARD-LEZ-ST VITH. Moreover, this time was to send other strong reconnaissance Ford to the southwest and the general direction of SALMCHATEAU and to report the information found out about the forest roads leading in this direction.
As for myself, I prepared the attack of the brigade against SARD-LEZ-ST VITH from the road from the north and northwest of the night of 21/22 Dec 1944. My plan was the following:
The armored troop was to attack by way of OBER--EMMELS on both sides of the road to SARD-LEZ-ST VITH, will set the III battalion was to penetrate into this locality SARD-LEZ-ST VITH from the area including TOMM and BERG from the northwest, and if possible, to take to the artillery positions presumed to be northwest of the locality by surprise. The attack was to be conducted by surprise and without any artillery preparation, however the artillery was to be ready to fire on demand. Distribution of a sufficient number of forward observers to both combat teams.(sic) As I see. The II battalion, which had been assigned to block the road, was provided as a possible reserve.
Shortly before darkness, we were able to bring the artillery battalion into position, after the guns had been towed with vehicles having cross-country ability. The III battalion likewise arrived with its bicycles pulling them along; they are completely covered with mud. The bicycles remained in BORN and, moreover, were not used thereafter during the entire offensive.
The II battalion had reported the blocking of the road from ST VITH to the VIELSALM during the afternoon in a very boldly conducted undertaking, moreover further advance in a southerly and southwesterly direction, and an engagement with enemy artillery positions and isolated tanks in the area north of COMMANSTER and HINTERHAUSEN.
The result of the road reconnaissance did not sound favorable. Furthermore, captured in the commanders of the 7 Armored Division (U.S.) were reported to have apparently come from a discussion.
22 December 44
The armored group (the II Battalion, two armored companies and to assault Gun companies) was assembled at 2400 in the area of NIEDER-EMMELSER-HEIDE. The III battalion reported completed assembly in the vicinity of TOMMBERG at about 0100. I led the armored group myself. I set out a powerful reconnaissance along the road from OBER-EMMELS to SARD-LEZ-ST VITH at once, which reported northern edge of the patch of woods south of OBER-EMMELS was rather heavily occupied and that enemy armored cars had been sighted. It was for the reported that the terrain off of the road was not passable at night and that several tanks have already stuck fast.
I therefore led the armored group through the bare places in the woods in the direction of TOMMBERG. Up until daylight, I move it forward to the southern edge of the forest north of SARD-LEZ-ST VITH with a tedious effort. This was very difficult undertaking because tanks were sticking fast that every moment in the softening terrain in because the woods were very thick and parts. At times, one tank after another had to be guided in by scouts on foot.
As a result of the continuous noise of the motors, the element of surprise loss. During the night, the artillery battalion shelled the enemy artillery positions spotted west of SARD-LEZ-ST VITH with artillery fire observed by Forward observers of the III. battalion. By taking advantage of the darkness and the snowstorm, the III battalion worked its way even closer to a locality. The moving force of the armored group during the dawn was delayed by the fact that the four tanks ran into mines along the edge of the woods which first had to be cleared. In the meantime, the III battalion broke into locality in fought head from house to house. The locality was stubbornly defended by enemy tanks. Individual combat teams for then stopped by enemy tanks and were temporarily taken into captivity, even the battalion commander. It was not until the attack all lunging from the edge of the woods of on a broad front was made that the locality was taken in this situation restored. The III battalion had considerable losses, especially in as much as enemy tanks concentrated fire at close range on the many wounded men who were in several sellers. At about noon SARD-LEZ-ST VITH was fully cleared and in our firm possession. In toto, about 20 American tanks were put out of action or captured, the number was abandoned and was still completely intact and about 50 prisoners were taken. During the day, and during the following night, the locale the itself was under constant enemy artillery fire. In the direction of St. Vincent, contact was made with the 18 and 62 VGD.
During the afternoon, the units were put in order and the many tanks that were had struck fast for pulled out. During the night, the II battalion, which was able to block a road leading to the VIELSALM only temporarily, was brought in the change of position of the artillery was carried out. The abandoned vehicles of the brigade had to be drawn along the way of ST VITH during the night because the roads leading from BORN and to SARD-LEZ-ST VITH were not passable.
23 December 44
At about 0800 of December 23, 1944, the brigade set out with the Harvard group by way of BIRKELER toward HINTERHAUSEN. In this locality several enemy tanks responded, apparently regards. HINTERHAUSEN was taken with the loss of two of our tanks. Four enemy tanks for shot out of action. The further Vance on a broad front on both sides of the KAPELLENBUSCH towards KAPELLE led to the capture of More tanks which had got stuck in the marshy area east of KAPELLE. During the advance still more tanks which had not which had got stock fell into our hands.
In order to take advantage of the success and in order to prevent the enemy from effecting a lodgment, the mobile II battalion was brought up and it took over the advance guard point after having been given an assault gun company. It immediately went on to ROGERY by way of FM KRETOLZ-COMMANSTER, whilst the armored group assembled and organized itself behind the artillery Battalion, which was following the II battalion. BEHO was free of enemy forces. Road conditions from the COMMANSTER ROGERY were understandably bad. Despite that fact, the direct road was ordered because the bridge one km northeast of BEHO was destroyed.
East of ROGERY, enemy entrenchments were reported. For this reason, the artillery battalion was ordered into a position west of COMMANSTER for the purpose of guarding the advance. After Reese short struggle before darkness, ROGERY was taken, one hour later, cero. Week enemy artillery harassing fire was directed against both localities.
I ordered the prompt continuation of the march in a westerly direction of the main road. Next March objective: the road crossing 3.5 camp west of REGENE’. During the entire day, I did not receive any report of all cancer in the enemy situation and location of the adjacent units.
The advance guard reported enemy column traffic in a northerly direction on the road from the BEOVIEGNY to SALMCHATEAU. I ordered the blocking of the road to the south, South the mill at CIERREUX in details to follow just behind the enemy columns in order to gain as much ground as possible without fighting in this manner. However, this following was soon notice and resulted in the fact that the tank at the end of open fire. I myself witnessed how the to advance so assault guns, one after another, put five enemy tanks into coupled guns out of action one after another by driving 50 m ahead each time in shooting off peace ground signal in such a manner that the enemy tank was completely lighted up each time and could be destroyed with the first shot, in the majority of cases. Because the enemy, and was apparently stopped by the demolition of the bridge, about 12 tanks and 20 vehicles could be captured in addition. The crew scattered into the train during the darkness.
24 Dec 44
The advance continued by way of PROVEDROUX, OTTRE and BIHAIN. At the break of the day the brigade was located about in the area mentioned above. The reaching of this high terrain was difficult for the tanks and vehicles as a result of the icy roads because the winter equipment requested had not arrive. I was very much astonished to meet up already with SS units in this area.
A further movement during the day was not possible because of enemy air activities, which were increasing because of weather conditions.
temporary subordination to the sixth SS panzer Army
The brigade was temporarily subordinated to the sixth SS army. A thrust in a northerly direction by way of LIERNEUX was intended. I want to leave this attack astride the road from REGNE’ to LIERNEUX (by-passing the latter locality to the right) and to reach the road in the direction of HABIEMONT by way of LANSIBAL. To this end, I secured REGNE’ for myself with a week are group. Reconnaissance in force thrust ahead toward FRAITURE.
25 Dec 44
Subordinated to the LVIII Korps
Shortly before the beginning of this thrust, I received the order from here sector but to reach a MONIENES by way of SAMREE and DOCHAMPS at the onset of darkness in order to put the brigade at the disposal of the LVIII Panzer Korps. This order was changed at the time of the departure and an advance of the brigade in the direction of HAMPTEAU by way of SAMREE’ and LAROCHE was ordered. The Ia of the brigade, traveling to head toward WARIZY to the LVIII korps was guided in there. The Fuehrer-Begleit-Brigade was supposed to take the HOTTON and the bridge during the 26 Dec 44 and to attack further in the direction of NOISEAUX. To this end, the various units of the brigade received individual orders for the march into the assembly area see sketch and specifically at approximately in the order of the attack planned for the following day. It was important in this connection to clear the road as soon as possible in order that units coming up to travel into their respective assembly areas, if at all possible, in order to save time. Above all, it was important to get the III battalion, which had been divided up onto all kinds of vehicles and which had already left its bicycles behind in born, of four during the night.
The plan of attack was following:
The II battalion was to attack to the right along road from RENDEUX-BAS to HAMPTEUX with the support of an assault gun company and to take the locality. The I II battalion was to for thrust to left through the BOIS DE HAMPTEUX and to take possession of the heights west of HAMPTEUX. The armored group, at the disposal of the brigade in RENDEUX-BAS, was, after the success of the initial phase of the attack, to thrust through, by way of HAMPTEUX, either along the road or further on to HOTTON between HAMPTEUX and MENIL, according to a situation and terrain, in order to take possession of this locality [HOTTON] and the crossing site. The artillery battalion was to go into position in such a manner that it to support the various phases of battle by means of observe fire in very close coordination with the individual combat teams. The bulk of the antiaircraft regiment was employed for air defense because there was no possibility of Artillery effect for the heavy anti-aircraft battalion on account of its flat trajectory. During the progress of the attack, elements of the antiaircraft regiment were to eliminate enemy flanking pressure from the northern flank northern bank of the zero arty, especially in the area of WERPIN, and to keep themselves in readiness after the capture of HOTTON in order to be used to block the road of approach.
26 Dec 44
The first elements of the brigade arrived in the assembly area about midnight. At of 930 ending of the Assembly and beginning of the attack. Despite the extremely difficult terrain, the attack was successful. Will's the battalion the right to the BOIS DE HAMPTEUX [sic!] the battalion to less thrust through the BOIS DE HAMPTEUX. I have already given the order to move ahead to the armored group when the court gave me the ordered to suspend the attack it once and to disengage the brigade for the purpose of another assignment. My protest to the effect of this would be possible during the day only at the price of heavy losses at this stage of the battle was rejected twice. The cessation of the attack and the disengagement from the enemy was ordered. This engagement cost quite a few losses because the enemy went over to the attack at once. Week elements of the 116 panzer grenadier division took over the protection of a line of departure.
At the onset of darkness, the first element of the Brigade or on the march by way of HALLEUX, BEUCHEMPAY(?), the intersection of the roads [lit., “road spider”] west of the CHAMPLON and ORTHEUVILLE. Motor fuel was so scarce that almost half of the vehicles had to be towed.
27 Dec 44
Considering the enemy air activities, the brigade was supposed to take shelter for the day in the BOISE DE HERBAINONT. The medical company, traveling during the day, was shot up in flames the extent of 40% by a fighter-bomber attack lasting 35 minutes, although all vehicles are painted white and bore the Red Cross. The number of wounded men were thereby killed. During the course of the night, the brigade was to take over the sector of the 26 Volks Gren Div, which was located approximately in the line from MORHET to SIBRET. It was the intention of higher headquarters to use the Brigade for the purpose of closing the broken ring of encirclement around Bastogne by means of attack in a southerly direction in order to close this gap again.
The personally found out that the 26 Volks Gren Div was very weak and was without armor piercing weapons. It would therefore have to be taken into account that would be pressed back even further to the north during the day. Terrain reconnaissance showed, moreover that the sector from PINSAMONT to HOUMONT and the high terrain south of CHENOGNE any would have to be held under all circumstances if the conditions for attack to the south were to remain favorable. I therefore decided to commit a 105mm antiaircraft battery and a light anti-aircraft battery at once in the area of CHENOGNE in such a manner that they could command the higher terrain west and south of this locality in order to prevent the enemy tank penetration. Likewise ordered the armored personnel carrier battalion with several assault guns, which was traveling in a great distance between units, because of the danger from the air to proceed into the BOIS DE VALET. The bulk of the antiaircraft regiment was committed for the air defense around TRONLE and west of FLAMIERGE. This measure proved good because during the course of the afternoon 10 cargo carrying gliders, committed for the purpose of bringing supplies to Bastogne, could be shot down. SIBROT was lost during the course of the day, as was expected. CHENOGNE was likewise temporarily lost because it was taken right back again in a counter thrust by elements of the Brigade located in the BOIS DE VALET. During the morning the artillery battalion took a firing positions in the area of FLAMIERGE. Brigade command post and TRONLE.
28 Dec 44
During the night, the brigade was assembled, according to orders, in the area of CHENOGNE in need for the attack against SIBRET and, together with the II battalion, took over the guarding of the sector from the southern edge of the forest north of MAGEROTE to MAGERY to LAVASELLE to the sector south and south east of BRUL. Formation shown on the sketch. According to the expectations, the attack launched during the morning did not get very far beyond the patch of woods one km south of CHENOGNE because the brigade was the only attacking unit area, against which the unit the entire enemy artillery and anti-aircraft fire of the enemy forces located in south of SIBRET was concentrated. The flanking fire from VILLEROUX had especially unpleasant effect. A little later, the enemy forces located in the area of SIBRET went over to the attack. Hard fighting went on during the entire day, during which the patch of woods south of CHENOGNE changed hands a number of times during this fighting a 105mm antiaircraft gun distinguished itself especially. During the entire day, this gun and its crew put enemy tanks at action, which were under heavy fire, and very close range along the southern edge of this patch of woods. The crew of the gun defended the gun in close infantry combat. It was not until 30 Dec 44 that this gun was rammed by an enemy tank while fighting.
That evening the Brigade reported that it was too weak to be able to carry out the attack order against SIBRET alone and that a concentrated artillery support it on our part would be, at least, necessary to eliminate the enemy artillery. I was also especially bothered by the BOIS DE HAIES DE MAGERY, which had only been blocked hastily by an engineer company [26 VGD] under my command with roadblocks and a few minds.
I knew that only weak forces of the adjacent unit on my right, the 3 Pz Gren Div, had arrived.
29 Dec 44
The 29 Dec 44 was characterized by repeated enemy attacks on CHENOGNE from a southerly and southwesterly direction which was carried forward with a strong Artillery support. Penetrations which often got as far as a locale they were mopped up by counter thrust. At evening, the situation was about the same as that of the previous day. During the night, very bravely and skillfully carried out reconnaissance as far as into the patches of forest south and southwest of SIBRET reported the assembly of tanks and vehicles. The brigade calculated that 30 Dec 44 would bring rather strong enemy attacks supported by tanks.
Nevertheless, a renewed attack by the 3 Pz Gren div and the brigade in a southerly direction was ordered for 30 Dec 44. Specifically, the 3 Pz Gren Div was supposed to take VILLEROUX and to thrust onto ASSENOIS in order to affect a closing of the ring of encirclement around BASTOGNE and there with the I SS Pz Div. The Fuehrer-Begleit-brigade, subordinated to the 3 Pz Gren div, was to take SIBRET.
(Subordinated to the 3 Pz Gren Division)
And then to block off the road south of SIBRET leading onto Bastogne to the west.
For the brigade, this attack had the disadvantage that, firstly, it meant a repetition of the attack attempted on 28 DEC 44 and would therefore have to meet up against a strengthen the defense and, secondly, that no notable artillery support of any kind could be promise to me besides that of my own battalion. In addition, the III Battalion, which was still located in the old line of security, was not my disposal for this attack. Only an elimination of the flanking pressure from VILLEROUX the row was to be counted on.
The plan of attack (see sketch) was as follows:
After the assembly had been completed during the night in the area of CHENOGNE, The II Battalion, together with an assault gun company, was to attack and take SIBRET from the northwest, was the woods south of CHENOGNE (circumventing this woods because of enemy artillery fire) with the right wing pressed along the BRUL sector and thereby open the crossings on the northern edge of SIBRET for the armored group thrusting afterwards. The armored group(armored battalion and mounted armored personnel carrier battalion) was to divide itself near FLOHAMONT and if necessary to support the attack of the II battalion on both sides of the BRUL Brook and then, however, to thrust through SIBRET in order to block the road leading from the stone to the southwest in the region of BELLE-EAU to the west and likewise the road leading to CLOCHIMONT. The gap arising between MANDE ST MARI E and SIBRET during the course of the attack was to be stopped up by assault gun battery and a light anti-aircraft battery. The artillery Battalion, which had previously been committed in the area of FLAMIERGE, changed its position into the hollow south east of RECHRIVAL and was to support the attack with its foreign observers accompanying both combat teams by observed fire on SIBRET. No artillery preparation, but rather fire after the beginning of the attack on request. The battalion had already adjusted its fire on SIBRET. The heavy anti-aircraft Italian was likewise support the attack on SIBRET with airbursts and to combat targets which present themselves on the right flank. ( in addition, the heavy anti-aircraft battalion actually had the assignment of putting tanks out of action which had broken through in a sort of antitank position. )
The III battalion was to go on defending itself in the same sector as previously. A light anti-aircraft Anti-Tank battery was subordinated. An assault gun battery was kept back from the brigade in order to be committed with the III battalion in case of an enemy tank attack. The heavy infantry gun battery likewise had observation posts with the III battalion.
30 Dec 44
The attack was set for 0730 in order to steal the march on the enemy attack to be expected. According to experience, the enemy never attacked before 0900. The II Battalion, located in an advanced position, had, shortly before, captured the enemy security detachment just ahead of it (half way between CHENOGNE and FLOHAMONT). Forward brigade command post south of CHENOGE. Brigade command at RENUAMONT.
At the break of daylight, the II Battalion started out, will stop the armored group expanded toward the south, gaining ground south of CHENOGE. For the time being, the II battalion made good progress, however it gets stuck on the BRUL ditch just before SIBRET in infantry fire and well-placed artillery fire from SIBRET. The brave commander (Oakley cluster bearer, Major Mikley) was so badly wounded it that he died a short time later when he tried to pull his battalion forward again. (The commander of the I battalion was likewise put out of action by a traffic (?) during the previous night). As the fog lifted, the armored group, which was advancing on to FLOHAMONT, recognized two armored groups of about 30 tanks each advancing to the north. As far as I recall, the one was located in the area of MORHET, while the other was traveling in the direction of JODENVILLE. The armored group of the Brigade opened fire at once and put a number tanks at of action at once. Because it to our group was located on a slope and was very soon under heavy tank fire and concentrated, well-placed artillery fire, it disengage itself from the enemy, taking the II battalion with it, and continued to carry on the tank battle provide terrain between MAND ST MARIE and the patch of woods to the east, including the latter. The II Battalion, disengaging itself, alas, among the tanks(rather than to the side), at considerable losses. Four of our tanks were thereby put out of action. This tank battle, led inexorably on both sides, lasted about two to three hours.
I learned from an estimation of situation that our attack had been started at the same time as a very strong enemy attack, which apparently was supposed to lead to a retirement of our divisions fighting toward the west. The reinforced, concentrated enemy artillery fire, as well as a continuous bombing attacks and fighter-bomber attacks also indicated this.
I myself had thus far been with the armored group. When I noticed that an enemy task force was advancing to the north by way of LAVASELLE in the direction of RECHRIVAL, i.e., in the direction of our portly man line of security, I immediately drove with my command armored personnel carrier at through the BOIS DE VALLET to RANUAMONT, whether my Brigade staff had moved during the morning. During a short assessed discussion about commitment with my eye A, the first enemy tank already drove past my house, while the second covered at the church in HUBERMONT. The first was wiped out by an anti-tank grenade, while the second was forced to turn away to the south by fire. The assault gun company, which was still available, together with a few netted grenadiers, was sent out from MILLOMONT toward the southwest in order to block the road south of RECHRIVAL and likewise the sector between this road and the Bois de ballet. The artillery battalion located southeast of RECHRIVAL defended itself stubbornly with direct fire against attacking tanks. Three enemy tanks were thereby put that action. The successful assault gun company in the antiaircraft guns located on the edge of the body of a lag enabled the formation of a strong point light front by the II battalion by way of the southern edge of GERIMONT, ACUL, the hills south east of RECHRIVAL and the southern edge of the northwestern extension of the BOIS DE VALLET.
What I believe the danger point in the sector to have been cleared up, I drew back again to CHENOGNE. In the meantime, that locality had been turned into a pile of stones by continuous bombing attacks in concentrated artillery fire. I had just arrived in the southern most
House when a strong enemy tank attack by way of MANDE-ST MARIE against CHENOGNE, with flanking pressure against the northern hollow, was carried out. Because I encountered only a few of our damaged tanks and a few grenadiers' in the locality itself, which had affected a lodgment in the cellars in ruins of the locality, I considered the situation extremely critical. I was paralyzed myself for quite some time, as far as commanding was concerned, because an enemy tanks stopped a few meters from my house. It was nevertheless possible to send off to radio messages from the command armored personnel carrier, which was located in the dead space of the House. These messages were sent to the armored group: locality to be held to last man and the request for support to be sent to the 3 Pz Gren Div.
I wondered why and the enemy tanks and armored personnel carriers, which were manned by crews, did not take a locality, although they were hardly fired upon and all from the locality. As I later found out, are armored group had taken up the tank battle, standing around CHENOGNE in a semicircle and skillfully taking advantage of the terrain, because of the previous continuous bombing attacks on the locality, what the same time the tanks located on the northern edge of the woods south of CHENOGNE, as well as the heavy anti-aircraft battery located on the southern edge of the BOIS DE VALLET, were very effective. This battle is one of the toughest that the brigade experienced during the Ardennes offensive. The attack was repelled during the afternoon and CHENOGNE remained in our possession. In my opinion, the locality could have been taken by dismounted infantry company because a locality itself was hardly occupied.
Our losses of men during the day were heavy, because the brigade had to organize itself for the defense from attack position under strong enemy pressure. Nevertheless, this day lead to the to the complete Defenses success to the will to fight in the bravery of the German soldier.
This success resulted in the enemy is losing about 30 tanks.
In my opinion, the enemy attack was set too rigidly against. It would no doubt have been had more success if the point of main effort of the attack had been with the combat Team advancing on RECHRIVAL, because this combat Team at practically thrust through the defense of the brigade near RECHRIVAL with its advance guard point while the bulk of the brigade was tied up in the battle around CHENOGNE. In addition, there was the fact that, as so often, the brigade was given time during the night to form a new defensive front without any disturbance. The oft-said sentence: “Lord let the evening come, then is the battle won,” proved true, even in this critical situation. The American force could have saved a lot of blood if had continued to exploit the successes of the day during the night. This and the proverbial dread of fighting in the woods were to certain factors which could be taken into account in formulating tactical measures. Both were things which astonished us Eastern-front warriors vary greatly.
The evening report of the brigade to 3 Panzer Gren Div expressed the fact that a repetition of attack on SIBRET could not be made with the means at our disposal, and that, on the other hand, all the forces the brigade would have to be concentrated in order to be able to hold the front in case of further enemy attacks.
31 Dec 44
Subordinated to the XLVII Panzer Korps
During the night, the brigade was regrouped (see sketch). The three P's the Grand Division took over CHENOGNE. The boundary line ran about as follows: from the road crossing south of the BOIS DE HERBAIMONT to the eastern edge of RENUAMONT to the western edge of the BOIS DE VALLET to FLOHAMONT. Left boundary with the panzer layer Division: western edge of LAVACHERIE to the road fork east of the I ROMPRE to REMAGNE, not including the last.
Because all three battalions were equally exhausted from fighting in the relief of the badly hit II battalion could no longer be achieved on time, the decided to leave the front from GERIMONT to NISUAMONT to RECHRIVAL to the western tip of the BOIS DE VALLET, which was occupied only as a series of strong points, in its present grouping, despite the attack expected on the next day. The II battalion was reinforced with about 100 men. To this end, I credit for myself too strong tactical reserves with the mission of clearing up possible enemy penetrations by immediate counter thrust. For this purpose, the I battalion Anti-Tank Battalion were considered for the Eastern are RECHRIVAL sector, the sector including the point of main effort, and the II battalion and the assault gun battalion for the western sector. A heavy anti-aircraft battery was committed in the patches of woods north of REMUAMONT for a defense against enemy tanks which might break through to the north onto the main road. The heavy anti-aircraft battery committed in the area north of SPRIMONT was likewise ordered into such a position that it could fire on enemy tanks that had made penetrations, in addition to its air defense.
The II battalion was to send forth continuous reconnaissance in force in the direction of REMAGNE and into the BOIS DES HAIES DE MAGERY. Brigade command post and LAVASELLE, the forward command post near the armored group in FOSSET.
The relief in CHENOGNE was not ended until daylight. Enemy forces affecting a temporary penetration were turned back by tanks that were already advancing. During the course of the day, a number of attacks, which did not have the force of attacks on RECHRIVAL and PINSAMONT on the previous day, were repelled by the brave III battalion and by concentrated artillery fire.
1 Jan 45
During the night, the II battalion took over the sector from GERIMONT to PINSAMONT, together with the tactical reserve end TILLET, to which a battery of the assault gun battalion was brought up from AUDERLOUP. Reconnaissance in force the southeast was ordered sent out from TILLET.
The III battalion was reinforced by the company located in PINSAMONT. The extremely critical motor fuel situation (During the following day, the tanks had only enough motor fuel for a distance of 15 to 20 km at a times ) compelled the armored vehicles to keep close together. After counter thrusts had taken place, the tanks often had to be left up front in order not to use up motor fuel unnecessarily. All vehicles which were not combat vehicles were parked north of CURTHE.
After 0900, the enemy attack continuously with could tank support. Several enemy tanks which had broken into HUBERMONT and RECHRIVAL were put out of action in close combat by the brave men of the II battalion.
More tanks (about 8 ) were put out of action by the antiaircraft battery located in the patches of woods northeast of RENUAMONT. In HUBERMONT, the brave commander of the II battalion was killed in close combat. The toughly in except inexorably lead battle of this battalion, which had been facing the enemy without interruption since 19 Dec 44, created favorable conditions for the participation of the armored group, which through the enemy back into the jump-off positions.
PINSAMONT was lost. The company that was thrown out of that locale the belonging to the II battalion took up the fight anew on the ridge between ACUL and RECHARIVAL with its front to the southeast. A counter-thrust did not take place because PISAMONT was located far out from the general course of the front. A weak attack on GERIMONT was repelled.
In the sector of the adjacent unit to left, CHENOGNE was lost at one o’clock. As a result, the left wing of the II battalion was withdrawn in the evening hours to the hills south of MILLOMONT.
2 Jan 45
The withdrawal of the badly battered III battalion and its relief by the I battalion was ordered for the night. The III battalion was supposed to rest up in AMBERLOUP in order to occupy the right sector of the brigade, the southern part of the BOIS LA CHENAIE, on the following morning. By doing this, I wanted have the left sector of the brigade defended by the II Battalion, which was the most powerful. I knowingly forewent a rather strong tactical reserve commanded by the brigade in doing so, but ordered all Battalions to set aside at least 1/3 of their fighting strength as local reserves for immediate counter thrust. A part of the armored group was also committed within the framework of the I battalion in such a manner that enemy tanks could be put out of action even before reaching the main line of resistance. In order to save blood, the heavy weapons thus became the mainstays of the defensive battle. At this time, the battalion had a fighting strength of about 150 men. Generally speaking, the rifle companies were 25 to 30 men strong during the course of the day all attacks on the left were successfully repelled without the occurrence of any penetrations. Several enemy tanks for put out of action north of the BOIS DE VALLET.
In the case of the II Battalion, GERIMONT was lost after a second attack. A further advance to the north was averted by the participation of an assault gun company.
3 Jan 45
On 3 Jan 45, no attacks worthy of mention took place. After 1000, the III battalion was in the position ordered. During the night, the expose elements of the II battalion in ACUL were withdrawn to CHENOGNE. The rumble of motors reported south of RECHRIVAL and the night was enter carpeted as the preparation of attack for the following day. ( relief of the 11th armored Division( US) by the seven Airborne Division).
At evening, the brigade had about 25 tanks and assault guns ready for action, 15 in repair, and about 15 to 20 tanks which were located on our road of advance, for the most part, with mechanical damages. The bulk of them could not be towed off as yet because no motor fuel was available for that purpose
4 Jan 45
On 4 Jan 45, there was only enemy patrol activity in the right sector of the brigade. To the left, there was the successful defense against several attacks against HUBERMONT by means of antitank fire from the heavy anti-aircraft battery located in the patches of woods northeast of RENUAMONT. Taking into consideration the temporary enemy penetration in FLAMIERGE in the case of the adjacent unit to left, our own left flank was covered. Furthermore, and assault gun battery was temporarily given to the 3 Pz Gren Division. The antiaircraft battery mentioned above, which is known to have been under continuous enemy artillery fire, change position during the evening to the region of the southern edge of the BOIS DE HERBAIMONT. The Brigade command post was moved, according to orders, to ROUMONT. The forward command post remained in FOSSET.
5 Jan 45
On 5 Jan 45, an attack was made in the right sector on the III battalion. After all attacks had been repel during the day, the two companies located in the southern part of the BOIS LA CHENAMIL were captured, with about 60 men, during the evening hours. Only a few M.G. bursts were heard in the position was later found empty. Apparently, these companies had been attacked from the rear. Remains enigmatic why the enemy did not march further to the north through the forest. He could have hardly met up against any resistance there.
In this connection, it must be said that the enemy forces (in this case, the 87 Inf Div (US) fought very skillfully, as far as infantry was concerned. It was the only force for which we had respect, even during the night. In the area of TILLET, patrols were encountered behind our lines which shouted to our post, relief detachments, etc. in German and thereby cause so many a surprise.
6 Jan 45
During the day, a number of attacks were made on TILLET in the sector of the II Battalion, the locality was held and hard fighting. East of TILLET, the enemy was able to gain several hundred meters. The brigade forewent counter thrusts south of the road from TILLET to LAVALLE, taking into consideration the enemy artillery superiority in fighter bomber attacks, which shattered every movement during the day in the open terrain. On the other hand, enemy forces which had temporarily advanced in TILLET and across the road from TILLET to LAVALLE were thrown back by counter thrust.
In order to save blood, the brigade ordered the II battalion, which was located in the open terrain, to take up reverse-slope positions if possible, in order to break up enemy attacks in front of our main line resistance by the fire of heavy weapons from the low ground. This also had the advantage that the enemy artillery could not hit our forward lines with observed fire. The experience of the last several days have shown that the enemy did not begin his attacks, as a rule, until after a rather long artillery preparation. Then, if the attack following it ran up against resistance, it was broken off at once. Then an artillery preparation began again, followed by an infantry attack. That was repeated a number of times during the day. It was not until almost no resistance took place from the MLR (main line of resistance) it that the enemy infantry went forward. Paralysis of our heavy weapons, especially of the artillery, was hardly brought about, however, except temporarily bite fighter-bombers. In view of Shortage of ammunition of our artillery, the enemy infantry was supposed to be repelled with heavy losses by a battle from a reverse-slope position with Infantry and machine gun fire commencing suddenly at the last moment. The prerequisite for such a conduct of battle is, naturally, that the heavy weapons, especially the artillery, have good possibilities for observation into the terrain ahead from commanding points in the rear terrain.
Moreover, the command of the brigade was struck by the fact, during the last several days, that the enemy attacks were led in quite disorganized manner in suspect to time in place. For the most part, the sector of only one battalion was attacked. The explanation for this fact was to be found in the statements from prisoners of war, from which it was learned that the brigade had to enemy decisions before it which war apparently not under one command.
7 Jan 45
The 7 Jan 45 was again a very difficult day for the brigade. TILLET and the sector from RECHRIVAL to HUBERMONT to MILLOMONT were alternately attack. The attacks are again introduced by strong artillery and fighter-bombers attacks. All attacks on TILET and to the east of that locality were readily repelled. Toward evening, the enemy succeeded in penetrating into MILLOMONT from a southeasterly direction. In RENUAMONT, into which the enemy thrust immediately thereafter, a weak company about 20 men was put together and was on two farms. Although surrounded and repeatedly attacked, it was still fighting stubbornly and bravely at 0300. The entire armored group was in combat and did have any more reserves at all. A company of about 25 men, which was quickly thrown together by the brigade, was set out during the night for the purpose of counterattacking. A detachment of the small unit, thrusting through the middle of the village, which was occupied by the enemy, succeeded in blocking off the village to the rear in an energetic night attack, while the rest of the company took one house after another, thereby relieving the company which was bravely holding out. Moreover, about a hundred and 40 prisoners were brought in. Despite the fact that the unshaken young company commander lost his right hand in close combat at the beginning, he led this undertaking to a full success in did not take leave from the Brigade until the following morning.
Apparently, this nocturnal attack must have caused a very great panic, because we were able to occupy HUBERMONT and MILLOMONT again almost without a fight. Taking the contact with the adjacent unit to the left into consideration, Korps permitted the MLR to be moved to a line from the southern edge of RENUAMONT to RECHIMONT to the southern edge of the patch of woods west of RECHIMONT. Weak outposts were left in from LAVALLE to HUBERMONT to MILLOMONT. This position meant a shortening of front and had better possibilities of the effect into the terrain ahead.
8 Jan 45
On a Jan 45, unsuccessful attacks are made on TILLET and positions east of it. In the area from MILLOMONT to HUBERMONT, only weak enemy scatting rates. A heavy anti-aircraft battery went into such a position north of OURTHE for the support of the artillery battalion, which was suffering from a lack of ammunition, that its artillery could fire into the area of the II battalion.
9 Jan 45
On 9 Jan 45, no attacks in the sector of the I and II Battalions. In the case of the III Battalion, the situation demanded a withdrawal of the front to the road from PIROMPRE to TILLET. ( reasons no longer remembered. ) during the night, the fighting strength of the rifle companies were brought up to 30 men, those of the heavy weapons companies to 80 men. Brigade found out that a withdrawal of the front was planned. The following lines are required and, according to orders, were improved by supply personnel that moved up:
1) TONNY to the southern edge of AMBERLOUP to FOSSET and toward MACRAVIVIER.
2) The hill northeast of the RAU sector to the road forked act the southern tip of the BOI SE DE HERBAIMONT.
10 Jan 45
Renewed attack on TILLET. During the evening, the locality was lost after a tough battle. In view of the withdrawal plan, no counter-attack was ordered. No attacks at all and the other sectors.
11 Jan 45
No special happenings. During the night, the brigade disengage itself from the enemy without interference and reached the area around WIMBAY to CENS to BERGUEME. The I battalion occupied the line from east of LAVACHERIE to AVISCOURT to the road forks south of the BOIS DE HERBAIMONT with a few tanks.
During the night of 11/12 Jan 45, the brigade was released from the XLVII Pz Korps and became an Army reserve.
By General a. D. Erich Brandenberger
This study by Generalmajor Remer on the Ardennes operations of the Fuehrer Escort Brigade is the continuation in conclusion of MS #B-592. The present work describes the last commitment of the Fuehrer Escort Brigade in the Western theater, on the left wing of the fifth panzer Army, before its transfer to the east near the end of January. This commitment occurred during the retreat of the fifth panzer army from the Bastogne area toward the West Wall, and was intended to facilitate a withdrawal of our hard struggling units. Events said higher level are described in MS #B-322 (LVIII Panzer corps).
The second section of this study furnishes the answers to a number of questions asked of Generalmajor Remer in ALLENDORF.
I. The course of battle
1. 13 January 1945.
During the night of 12 January 1945 the Fuehrer escort Brigade marched through the ORTHO-NISRAMOND-FILLY-NADRINE-WIBRIN-HOUFFALIZE-TABIGNY-LABILETTE-TRIONE area into the WINERONGE-BOEBANGE-DONNANGE-DEIFFELT area. The bulk of the brigade arrived about noon of the next day. The brigade was subordinated to the XXXIX Corps as Army Reserve. Its command post was that DEIFFELT. The Flak and regiment was immediately employed in the assembly area for air defense. During the late afternoon a combat team consisting of the 1st Battalion, assault gun battalion and artillery battalion was advanced to MOINET to take part in a counterattack southeastward from MICHAMPS. The team was to assist the heavily decimated 167th Volksgrenadier division under Colonel Theodor Tolsdorff. TP PT
Beginning at dawn, the attack was to lead from MICHAMPS through OUBOURCY, clear the forest patches 1-1/2 km southwest of OUBOURCY and restore the old mainline of the division(see sketch). At the same time the 9th Panzer division was to attack on the right of the combat Team, north of the railroad line, from the OUBOURCY area. During the night artillery battalion moved into a decision east of MOINET. This battalion, along with the artillery of the 167th Division, was to support the attack. It was planned to carry the attack, on horseback if possible, at least as far as the patches of forest southwest of OUBOURCY during the dawn hours. After reaching the old mainline the 167th division was to take over its sector again. After a conference of the division commander, it was learned that the contemplated infantry support by the 167th division could hardly be expected, for the Division at that time had a trench strength of only a few dozen men. Preparations were made for a surprise, lightning-like attack without preliminary artillery fire. If possible, the old line was to be reached before the ruinous enemy artillery fire could set an. Necessary reconnaissance had to be carried out during the light. Repeated requests for the 9th Panzer division to begin its advance simultaneously with the combat team was granted by the court. The assembly was completed without casualties under harassing enemy fire. Our own harassing fire was intended to conceal the noise of our armored vehicles being driven into the assembly positions.
2. 14 January 1945.
The attack began at dawn according to plan. In one-the combat team reach the patches of forest, dismounted and pushed gleefully southwestward through the woods. During the morning it was learned that, for reasons still unknown today, the ninth panzer division had not begun to attack. As a result the combat Team met infantry fire and increasingly well-aimed artillery fire from the deep right flank and had to defend itself against flanking counter thrusts. Thus the attack had become few futile had to be determined. The combat Team retreated from the forest after suffering considerable losses from shells detonated in the treetops. Throughout the day and established defense positions southwest of OUBOURCY against enemy counterattacks.
During these operations the brigade came under the command of the LVIII panzer corps. This Corps ordered another combat team consisting of the 2nd battalion into panzer companies to DERENBACH as reserves for the 1st SS Panzer division. The panzer battalion of the brigade was drawn up to HAMIBILLES Corps reserve. Since the separation threat to dissolve the brigade, I visited Field Marshal Model to point out my personal written order from the Fuehrer which stated that my Brigade was to be employed only as a whole unit. I was assured this would be done.
3. 15 January 1945.
In the afternoon the brigade received orders from the LIII panzer corps to prepare for Defense in the sector bounded by the crossroads 1 km southwest of MOINET, the height east of LONGVILLY, and the western edge of OBERWAMP. The brigade was to establish an effective block on the road from Bastogne to CLERBAUX. During the night the 1st battalion deployed north of the road, the 2nd battalion south of the road. ( the 3rd battalion had been disbanded after heavy losses in personnel. ) the artillery battalion moved into position in the CREMDAL area; the Flak regiment was committed for both air and ground defense on both sides of the road east of ALLERBORN. The bulk of the panzer regiment was and HAMIVILLE, with elements and ALLERBORN. Assault Gun Company had been attached to each of the battalions committed at the front. The advance command post of the brigade was that BARAQUES DE TROINE, 1 km northeast of ALLERBORN. On the right was the 167th Division, on the left the 5th Airborne Division. Reconnaissance during the night reported contact with the enemy at LONGVILLY.
4. 16-18 January 1945.
These days are marked by numerous enemy attacks on both sides of the road. On the whole, these were successfully countered. The main burden was borne by the infantry in panzer troops, who often had to counter-attack several times a day. Almost superhuman performances were demanded particularly of the infantry Man Who in his foxhole day and night without relief, was wet to the skin from the almost continuous snow drifts. 2nd third degree frostbites increased alarmingly. With reconnaissance reports indicating U.S. forces opposite us, the customarily for the night was impossible because of lack of reserves. The trench strength of the country companies fluctuated at that time between 10 and 15 men each
Assembly of enemy tanks just north of LONGVILLY was observed at dawn on 16 January. It was crushed by to assault guns, which during the fuelling had been moved up the firing range about being noticed.11 of the enemy tanks for put out of action. This blow, which caused panic in the enemy camp could not be exploited because the battalion the area was still occupied with establishing a defense position and no other forces were available at that time. An enemy attack which temporarily reached a crossroads south of MOINET collapsed under combined heavy flak and artillery fire.
A particular source of concern to the brigade was the contact with its left neighbor, though weak 5th Airborne Division, Which had relieved the 1st SS panzer division on 15 January. Whenever the enemy penetrated at OBERWAMPACH, part of the panzer regiment attacked either via ALLERBORN or DERENBACH. Here, too, the situation could frequently be improved. The part of the flak regiment employed in air defense reported two to three down enemy airplanes daily. Consequently the frequency of low-ranged air attacks over the Brigade area began to drop substantially. This occurred repeatedly during the Ardennes offensive.
5. 19-20 January 1945.
Front was retracted approximately 2-1/2 km as a result of enemy penetrations against the unit on the left. The new position roughly along the old Tank intercepting position: international frontier west of TROINE-western edge of BARAQUES DE TROI NE-western edge of the woods east of ALLERBORN-alignment of the road to DERENBACH. In addition, elements of the Fuehrer Grenadier brigade and about 10 Tiger tanks of the 9th panzer division were given to the brigade. The brigades mission was to block the road effectively under all circumstances to ensure a smooth withdrawal by the units of the Army committed farther north.
In the all dispensable soldiers the Brigade supply trains and all dispensable gunners of the flak regiment were given Infantry assignments. The completely exhausted elements of the 1st and 2nd Battalions were transferred to the DEIFFELT-DONNANGE-LULLANGE area for 24 hours to sleep in dry their clothes. The artillery battalion moved into position in the DONNANGE area, the panzer group transferred to WINERARGE. The units from the Fuehrer Grenadier brigade and the 9th Panzer division were detached again. Enemy attacks on 19 and 20 January were readily repulsed; often observed assemblies and the ALLERBORN who were fired upon by the artillery.
6. 21 January 1945.
A new line of resistance was now occupied, running from the western edge of the woods east of CRENTALS via the western edge of WINERANGE and the western edge of BOEVANGE to the Hill belt south of BOEVANGE. All enemy attacks here were also repulsed without the assistance of the armored group and the DONANGE area. The Brigade command post was that ESELBORN.
7. 22 January 1945.
The Fuehrer escort brigade moved into a bridgehead position around the ELSENBORN and WEICHERDANGE to cover the withdrawal of the divisions of the LVIII Panzer Korps east of the CLERF section. The artillery battalion was ordered into the REUTER area east of CLERVAUX for guard duty. The heavy battalion of the flak regiment was committed in the MARNACH area; the light battalion was stationed at the crossing points of the CLERF RIVER for air defense. The bulk of the panzer regiment was transferred east of the CLERF sector. To each of the Battalions committed in ELSENBORN and WEICHERDANGE and assault gun battery was assigned. The roads leading to the CLERF sector were prepared for demolition.
8. 23 January 1945.
Orders from the army group transferred the brigade at as Army reserve. The brigade moved into the area south of ARZFELD via CLERBAUX-MARBOURY-DASBURG-DALEIDEN. On 24 January alerted a visit by the Fuehrer's Adjutant that the brigade was to be expanded rapidly into a panzer division. The additional units have already been assembled. I received orders to get to Berlin, first report to the Fuehrer, and secondly to manage the rehabilitation and reassembly of the brigade as a division. Within a short time the brigade was to be shipped by train for commitment in the east. The newly attached units were to be conducted into the unloading area.
II. Details of the offensive
1. Preparation for the offensive. At the end of November 1944 the Fuehrer escort brigade, which had been guarding Hitler's headquarters in RASTENBERG, was transferred by rail to the west and to be employed in the field. No one new the purpose and exact destination. Upon my final report to Hitler and Field Marshal Keitel, the Wehrmacht Chief of Staff, in BERLIN I was merely told that in the assembly area in the EIFEL region my brigade would still have a few days for reorganization and training. As explicitly ordered to take care that neither my unit nor elements of it were prematurely thrown into local operations as had been previously done with other units. In addition received the basic written order that my Brigade was to be employed only as a whole unit. I was to send a direct report daily through and assigned radio station on the condition and potential commitment of the brigade. In this way Hitler wish to have an unbalanced report, as he put it, on the condition of the unit in order to obtain a clear picture of the extent and speed of decrease in combat effectiveness of an intact unit and a large-scale combat. From these reports, the fact that other units have already been employed, and from other indications of large-scale combat, I inferred that Supreme Headquarters was apparently planning a major offensive. I obtained no precise information of the type of employment contemplated for my Brigade.
Upon my arrival at the Brigade assembly area at DAUN (EIFEL) in the beginning of December, I saw from the orders issued there at apparently major assembly was under way. By day only single vehicles were allowed to pass along their roads. By night traffic routes for occupied more heavily. Everywhere there was one-way roads, on which the traffic from various units proceeded according to precise time schedules. If columns did not reach their destinations they had to clear the road immediately upon the coming of daylight and camouflage themselves against visibility from the air. The villages were occupied, camouflage had to be particularly careful to prevent enemy a reconnaissance from observing changes in the normal occupation of these villages. Exercise of large units are also prohibited. Small units had to suspend trading in the presence of enemy aircraft and seek cover in addition, postal communication had been totally suspended. This measure was carried to such to the extent of the continuous checking of civilian post offices. No command post for permitted to be marked by signs. Complete radio silence had been post, which rendered training, especially in a newly-assembled unit, very difficult. Tactical terrain discussions and training projects were designed to exercise the following: crossing a river, fight for defiles and roadblocks, night attacks on a company, scale in the fashion of assault patrol advances, we penetration of force in villages, at its center.
The conspicuous concentrations were explained to the troops by the deceptive information that we were in the Eiffel region in order to counter the enemy attacks, particularly in the AACHEN area, with effective flanking moves. A few kilometers behind the front line was designated an was to be crossed only on foot, 4 was feared that the enemy's attention would be aroused by excessive motor noise. Enreliable(sic) Soldiers, such as Alsatians, Lorrainians, and members of Volksliste IIITP PT, who might desert to the enemy, were pulled out of the front. Additional care was taken to keep soldiers in the field from learning of the preparations in the rear area. Necessary reconnaissance, for example, was performed under the code word “relief.” It carefully elaborated time should schedule with the army group regulated the initiation of the various command organs in such a manner that the absolutely necessary commander of Chief of Staff Assistant was initiated at the latest possible date. I was informed of my cast relatively early, about 10 days before the beginning of the offensive, because my Brigade, as army group reserve, was to be committed originally as an element of the seventh, and later of the Fifth Army. It map exercise of Corps of the seventh Army brigade was originally scheduled to screen the attack of the Fifth Army on the left flank. I also took part in all map of the exercises of the Fifth Army. Here was expected to my Brigade would first be detained by Supreme Headquarters and I would begin advancing only after penetration had been successful in the main thrust was discernible. Field Marshal Model told me that perhaps my unit could even be committed as an element of the Sixth SS army. I orientated only my operations officer and the planned offensive and, relatively later, my supply officer to the extent that I considered it necessary for the performance of the supply functions. Other officers were informed until the day proceeding the beginning of the offensive, the troops only on the day it began.
2. Organization and equipment of the Brigade. As indicated above, my Brigade was reorganized upon its arrival at the assembly area. In weapons, tanks, and the guns the unit was brought up to its full authorized strength, though part of the equipment didn't arrive until the beginning of the offensive. That part of the brigade and I had brought from the headquarters could be regarded as excellent as far as the composition, education, training, and armament of the personnel was concerned. Of the newly-added units only the panzer battalion U“Grossdeutschland” Uhad battle experience and was well equipped. The staff of the panzer regiment could not be committed at the time because of its equipment and composition. The assault gun battalion was also a newly assembled unit. It's guns were new, though some were left damaged on the road between each station in the assembly area because drivers were inadequately trained. Workshop facilities and wrecker service, however, were completely inadequate. For camouflage reasons and because of fuel difficulties, most of the tanks and assault guns had to be used in combat without having been broken-in; guns were first suggested by trial fire only two days proceeding offensive.
The flak regiment Hermann Goering was probably one of the best-equipped and best-trained regiments of its kind. But within the framework of the relatively small brigade, containing only one grenadier regiment, the regiment was hard to use in the tax because it was to Mobile. The 12-contractors, and 10, 5-ton guns were too heavy. Ammunition had to be procured from Germany, for none was available for this special type at the army group. The heavy guns could be moved only on relatively firm soil; in the difficult EIFEL terrain they frequently blocked the advance routes. For artillery combat the guns are limited because of their flat trajectory—a 21 km range. Particularly, for countering tank assaults because tanks could be put out of action at a distance of 3 km.
The light flak battalion with self-propelled mounts or rendered excellent service both in ground and air defense. The brigade was protected, particularly from low-range air attacks and assemblies, offense and defense. Moreover, the other units of the brigade were equipped with a good air defense. Repeatedly over the Brigade area, attacks by low-flying planes and fighter planes stopped after initial attempts.
As to artillery, the brigade was provided with only one light battalion, these tractors could not get across country only to a limited extent. In the place of the heavy flak battalion I would rather have had a second artillery battalion with self-propelled mounts. During difficult offensive operations the deficient artillery equipment proved costly.
A further disadvantage in the organization and equipment of the brigade was the absence of sufficient means of communication. I had only one signal Company, 50 percent wire and the to% with radio. With that I had to conduct the operations of three independent battalions. The requisition regimental staff was not received. Moreover, the brigade had no Engineer unit and hence always depended on Corps or Army engineers. Since throughout the offensive no engineer units were assigned to us, we had to get along with our own means. The transportation space allotted was also insufficient, especially since only one-fifth of the allocated vehicles could be used. As a result the units had carried the larger part of their supplies with them. In the vehicles of the units were always assembled for supply runs for the brigade and employed at the main thrust.
3. Replacements and Reserves. Before the offensive about 20 percent of the personnel and material was placed into the field replacement battalion. By attaching it to the ablest officers and noncommissioned officers a good training was insured. I attach particular value to the training of subordinate commanders. There were lacking especially in the units that had newly joined the brigade.
On the basis of experience gained in the east it had been ordered that the combat strength of rifle companies must not exceed 40 men, of heavy Companies 60 men. Stronger companies could hardly be led in combat, particularly by young company commanders available, and only caused unnecessary concentrations and resulting losses. The combat strength of large companies, especially in experience, useful units, dropped to about a third of the original strength after the first battles in the news remained on this level for some time. It was especially advisable to man the First armored personnel carriers only to the extent necessary for handling the weapons, four direct hits to lead cause a loss of the entire crew. Equally as important as reserves was the retention of unneeded weapons such as machine guns and mortars, for the weapons, after the cruise had been killed or injured, usually remain on the battlefield and were lost.
A panzer grenadier Company, with 18 light machine guns, 4 heavy machine guns, four mortars in four 20mm antiaircraft guns, carried with it 30% to 40% of its arms, depending on locations and mission. In general, a unit needs more weapons on defense than it does on offense. One reason is that in offensive the transportation of the heavy infantry ammunition is always a problem. The same amount of ammunition, for example, is often possible to achieve the same results with one mortar as with four. Defence differs in that it is possible to have available enough in addition, the remaining 50 or 70 percent of the arms retained a decrease in numbers by the supply trains of the companies, battalions, regiments, and the brigade. It was important that the companies were in position to replace immediately damage or destroy weapons. For this reason weapon repair services belonging with the fighting troops at the front. Similar economies and stocking of reserves is necessary with precious radio sets. There should also be only as many non-armored combat vehicles on the scene of operations as a required for the transport of troops. Maintenance of the prescribed maximum strength of material reserve stocks was continuously controlled and supervised by the Brigade. Inexperienced company and battalion commanders are often inclined to live from hand to mouth.
During the Ardennes offensive replacements reached the front three times from the field replacement battalion, which in turn drew its personnel from the replacement army. These replacements were always distributed by the staff assistance of the brigade according to latest strength reports. In this manner the brigade, which had considerable losses during the continuous, hard days of combat was always ready for new commitments, and was able to expand into a panzer division only two weeks after the offensive. Additional personnel reserve existed in the number of men on regularly. As usual, personnel were sent home on leave continuously, regardless of events in the field.
4. The brigade Losses. The loss of personnel amounted to almost 2000 men, about 450 of which were killed. A large number of the wounded recuperated in return to the answering and immediately after the offensive. About 60 to 70 percent of the casualties were the result of a grenade splinters. The concentrated, flexible artillery fire of the enemy was most feared by the troops. About 15% to 20% a losses were caused by bombs and low altitude air attacks. These losses were inflicted on supply trains and reserves rather than the fighting troops. The brigade could be successfully protect itself from air attacks by its own strong anti-aircraft forces. Of the slight losses among the fighting troops 5 percent were missing in action, approximately 10 percent were caused by tank fire, and the rest by Infantry fire. Of nine commanding officers three were killed in for injured.
Of the approximately 100 tanks and assault guns originally available, the brigade had 25 to 30 in usable condition after the offensive. 12 underwent short-term repairs and about 15 long-term repairs making a total of 55 to 60%.10 to 12 tanks were put out of action by enemy antitank guns or tanks, 5 to 10 ran into mines, and the rest had to be destroyed during the fighting either because they lack fuel or they were not sufficient wreckers, there's no notable help from the army or army group.
The Artillery lost two of its 10 light guns: one was run over by Tank, the other was hit directly by artillery fire. Of the four heavy guns one dropped out as a result of a direct bomb hit during the march. The heavy flak battalion lost three of its 24 heavy guns, 23 Tank Action, 13 bombing. Of the 135 armored personnel carriers about 45 lost, mostly as a result of Artillery action. In large number had to be demolished for lack of records. In the rear area the brigade lost their relatively high number of supply trucks as a result of fighter-bomber attacks.
5. The Enemy’s LossesU A total of 140 to 150 enemy tanks for put out of action or captured. Before we had to destroy our own tanks only abandon the territory we had gained, the ratio losses to the enemy's was one to eight. The striking feature was a relatively large number of vehicles and captured in unimpaired condition. In all the brigade captured 67 the Jeeps and about the same number trucks. But the joy with short-lived because these vehicles consumed too much fuel. The were either destroyed by us or turned over to other units. Of sixteen downed planes thirteen were credited to the flak Battalion, three to the infantry units.
About 400 to 500 prisoners were taken.20 to 30 guns for capture destroyed. No notable enemy fuel stocks fell into our hands to fuel finding details always accompanied the fighting troops. On the other hand, considerable amounts of food, clothing and all kinds of equipment were secured. The Brigade lived almost exclusively on captured items.
6. Fuel Situation As far as I remember, 4.2 daily issues PT of fuel were planned. When the brigade began its advance out of the DAUN area on the third day of the offensive, it had only two daily issues. At that time the entire transportation section had been dispatched four days previously to receive the allocated fuel. I believe that that time the fuel had to be picked up far in the rear in the vicinity of the Rhine river. All the allocated fuel was probably never received. Throughout the defense of individual vehicles arrive sporadically at the front, but never whole convoys.
The brigade had continuous fuel difficulties after 20 December and most of the tactical decisions were dependent on the fuel situation. Furthermore, because of road congestion in bad road in terrain conditions the troops needed far more fuel than was usually allocated under normal circumstances. During transfers, for examples from LARCOCHE to BASTOGNE, occasionally 50 percent of the vehicles had to be towed.
Since the distance and the fuel issuing points of the field units were always very great, continual delays and losses of vehicles had been anticipated as a result of fighter-bomber attacks and congestion. On some days as many as half of all fuel vehicles were set aflame even though they could not be recognized as such vehicles. Another drawback was their seizure, carried out in considerably by some agencies, of approaching fuel for allegedly decisive purposes. Enemy fuel depots are captured, but they provided only temporary supply. It was established procedure to pump fuel from the tanks of captured vehicles.
7. Reasons for the failure of the offensive. The beginning of the Ardennes offensive was chosen for it. When an overcast sky was expected. This was done to eliminate as far as possible enemy action from the air in view Of our own aerial inferiority. This factor was even more important because the supreme command had selected the EIFEL region, which was, as the assembly in combat area, presented the difficulty of channeling heavy traffic through relatively few roads. Contrary to all weather forecast, the sky cleared after the first week, at a time when the fighting divisions and those following close behind were dependent on the pour road network. Road conditions, particularly in the already snow-covered areas, worsened as a result of new snowfall. A majority of the divisions, as well as the Fuehrer escort Brigade, had no winter equipment for their vehicles, particularly for the tanks.
As an example, at ST VITH the chaotic traffic conditions in the snow-covered terrain made it impossible to commit a mobile panzer units such as the Fuehrer escort brigade in time, even allowing for the deficient technical driving experience of a young unit. Aside from bad road conditions, it was impossible from the command you point to launch a panzer unit on a road which at places could be used only in single file. Moreover, the entire road was required by the horse-drawn 18th Volksgrenadier division, which was just moving up toward the front. Columns of the sixth SS army were also using it. Yet I was ordered to advance along this road for from ROTH via AUW and SCHOENBERG to ST VITH. At least one of the higher headquarters should have or the roads to be clear temporarily by military police forces. Or the delay necessary to allow the 18th Volksgrenadier division to move up should have been accepted and the Fuehrer Escort Brigade order to delay its advance until afterward. In either case considerable time would have been saved.
Regarding the ST VITH episode, I believe that enemy resistance at a time when the brigade started dancing was considerably underestimated. The brigade began to move as ordered and in the formation or, that it was light units in front as the advanced attachment. This formation was intended for the expansion of an of an operational breakthrough, for such a breakthrough was the main objective of the mission has issued by Army in corps. I was told to avoid a battle for ST VITH, and again shown on a map to the various advance routes leading to the MEUSE RIVER. If after the arrival of the first units of my Brigade at noon of the 19th, I had been I had my arm I had had my armored group instead of the Advanced attachment, I would have made a tank assault on ST VITH. In spite of the adverse terrain west of WALLERODE MILL, 4 km east of ST VITH. This was impossible because the armored group was hence I decided to bypass the ST VITH on the north despite the unfavorable road conditions. It was soon made clear that the enemy knew how to exploit the events around ST VITH during this delay.
In addition to the adverse weather conditions entering difficulties the brigade was to set as early as the third day with a lack of fuel. This is even more detrimental because the only way to get fuel vehicles to the front was to have been towed by track vehicles. The fuel ran short at so soon owing to the road conditions; twice as much expected had been used. As I noted above, the brigade had to start its advance with half the allocated fuel. Another reason for the late arrival of fuel supplies landed distance which the supply columns had to cover. Still another factor was the activity of enemy aircraft, which provided more and more movement by day. Not enough distance could be covered by night. The fuel depots were not moved forward as the field units advance. It was reported that for reasons of secrecy the agencies in charge of supplies had been notified too late to procure the supplies west of the RHINE RIVER, but I cannot comment on this report.
After Christmas, except for a few days, the enemy air activities prevented almost every movement of whole units on the roads. Assemblies in major operations were also attacked with increasing severity. Units had been directed to do their marching, transferring, and part of their fighting by night. Experience all showed that little enemy action could be expected for one to two hours after daybreak in one hour before sunset.
There were three other essential factors which caused the failure of the Ardennes offensive:
a. A smaller number of combat units were available that had been planned. Some units originally provide were probably needed at other endangered sectors of the front; other probably were not dispatched at all after the command realize that the MEUSE RIVER would not be reached and crossed in the period of 45 days planned.
b. The personnel and material status of many and said that reached the anticipated standards. The panzer divisions were all short of tanks. Some of the Volksgrenadier divisions and the Volks artillery Corps were short of horses. Consequently there is no substantial support by Corps or Army artillery at the focal points of fighting, for example as ST VITH and BASTOGNE. The Brigade never received additional Artillery support and always depended on its own single battalion. The extremely flexible enemy artillery, on the other hand, with its large expenditure of ammunition, was always superior to ours. This cost us much blood in difficult attacks. For the more must be considered that a number of divisions and partial units and had been newly activated and had no combat experience and experience with a team-work.
c. There is no notable support by our Luftwaffe. The complete lack of their support on the one hand in the continuous enemy air activity on the other had considerable effect on morale of our troops.
Every officer in every soldier to part in this operation knew of its significance. Through a lightning-like advance across the Meuse River in 45 days, to Antwerp in about 14 days, it was to lead to the destruction of about half of the invasion armies and the elimination of the import supply port of Antwerp. Hitler's warning, that we would either take ANTWERP or in 1945 faced with a war of material, which we would not be equal to, clearly define the stakes. The Supreme Commands goal, to induce the West through a clear offensive victory to step out of war or agree to negotiations which would allow a free hand and east, had failed.
Another reason for a speedy success, and also a reason for the early beginning on 16 December even though preparations had not yet been completed, was that the date of the beginning of the Russian offensive out of the BARANOV bridgehead was known. By the state the Eastern front, which according to Hitler had been weakened to limit in favor of the Ardennes offensive, was to be furnished the bulk of the panzer divisions the longer needed in the west. Instead, the departure of the divisions earmarked for the east was delayed by weeks after the failure of the offensive for lack of fuel.
It was further hope that this offensive would diminish the tax on Germany and her paralyzed key industries. The industries could again attain their full capacity output of armaments in the construction of new types of airplanes, production of synthetic gasoline, its center. But these hopes were also frustrated.
The optimism wakened by the for success of the Ardennes offensive both at home and with the men at the eastern front turned into dejection. Among the unit's participating in the offensive the initially excellent psychological attitude of the soldiers profoundly shocked. When I reported to Hitler on 30 January 1945 I frankly restated that the frustration of hope had had paralyzing effect on the troops, that with the decimated units I had seen everywhere after the offensive, the race could no longer be one. With the great hopes of the offensive abandoned, we all now hoped that the government would find a political solution for ending the war.
If the German officer, like any soldier, continue to do is to be true to his oath and resigned himself to the fight on in compliance orders, he did so in the belief that in the hour a political solution would come. On the eastern front, however, he fought with the knowledge that every guarded German soil trodden and a vial by Bolshevism signified the annihilation destruction German and Occidental culture.
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