The Heeres-Gebirgsjäger-Bataillon 201 [also called : Hochgebirgsjäger-Bataillon 201 (award documents, Feldpost files)] was formed on 9 October 1944 in WK VII. It was made up of convalescent veterans of the Russian front (mainly men from the 1. Gebirgs-Division and the 4. Gebirgs-Division) and young recruits from WK VII. The formation of a battalion only instead of a regiment was primarily done to have quickly available a mountain troops component for the reinforcement of 19. Armee, which was retreating from Southern France and reached the terrain of the High Vosges mountains in Eastern France this autumn 1944. After having been hastily trained and equipped in Garmisch, Mittenwald and Sonthofen, the Heerestruppe battalion was transfered to the West and was put under direct command of AOK 19.
The command was given to Major Franz Seebacher, an Austrian from Graz. This former officer of the 4. Gebirgs-Division had very much combat experience. In one of his prior posts he served as the commanding officer of the III./Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 91 from August 1943 – May 1944 on the Eastern Front (awarded with the German Cross in Gold).
Soon after arriving on the spot still in October 1944 the unit was thrown into combat. The battlefield situation and tactical circumstances on the German side towards the end of October can be characterized with confusion and desperate attempts of taking defensive measures to stop the Americans. Trying to hold the positions in the Vosges mountains and to avoid the advance of the US forces towards Colmar and Strassbourg and to finally reach the Reich’s border through the Alsatian Plain, the fightings of the much under-strength forces of 19. Armee were fierce. 16. Volksgrenadier-Division (Gen. Haeckel) had virtually ceased to exist as an infantry unit, whereas Panzer-Brigade 106 “Feldherrnhalle” on his right had failed to stop the US 3rd Division. Also General Egdar Feuchtinger’s 21. Panzer-Division was preparing to pull back from Baccarat. With a twenty-mile gap in the german main defense line, the only card left to play was that of Geb.Jg.Btl. 201.
To complicate the situation, the sister unit of the btl. – Heeres-Gebirgsjäger-Bataillon 202 – had been cut off behind the frontline in the Foret Domaniale de Champ eastward from Belmont [greater Saint-Dié region] and the Army and Korps headquarters were near to count it as lost. So, Geb.Jg.Btl. 201, what had arrived only a few days earlier, started a desperate rescue mission around 26 October 1944. That ended successfully, although the own and the casualties of the sister unit were very high.
The memory and the description about these days by the battalions Adjutant Vitus Kolbinger :
It was a senseless fight. In the days to follow [= after 26 October], our battalion was left completely in the dark about ist hopeless situation, and resupply was almost nonexistent, while the enemy bombarded us ceaselessly with artillery, mortars, tanks, and aircraft.

During the next weeks the 19. Armee was pushed backed towards the Alsatian Plain and with the Upper Rhine in the back the struggle for Geb.Jg.Btl. 201 went on. One of the hardest fightings took place in the Kientzheim / Sigolsheim area in mid December 1944.
As part of the german counter-attack to re-occupy the last Vosges moutain positions in front of the Plain, the battalion as part of 19. Armee was involved in Unternehmen "Habicht", which was ordered mainly on initiative by Himmler. This was meant to be a diversion in the Upper Alsace, a few days prior to the last German main strike, the "Ardennenoffensive". Operation "Habicht" did bring a series of the most violent and desperate fightings in autumn/winter 1944 at this theatre of war. After the US 36th Division had attacked Riquewihr on 12 December, the counter-attack was started to stop and throw out the US troops from the area KAYSERBERG - KIENTZHEIM - SIGOLSHEIM. Le Mont de Sigolsheim [Sigolsheimer Berg] changed hands numerous times and was called "Blutberg" - Bloody Hill, by the participants. The term of the Alsacian inhabitants for the hill was "Blutbuckel". Directly nearby, at Kientzheim, the Führer of the 2./201, Leutnant Krebs, was KIA on 14 December.

The few-months history of the battalion ended in February 1945, when it was disbanded and the personnel was absorbed by I./Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 137 of 2. Gebirgs-Division.

Commanders

Major Franz Seebacher (9 Oct 1944 - 2 Nov 1944) (WIA)
Oberleutnant Franz Kapfer (2 Nov 1944 - Feb 1945) [m.d.F.b.]

Operations Officers

Btls-Adjutant Vitus Kolbinger

Area of operations

Western Front (High Vosges, Alsace / France) (Oct 1944 – Dec 1944)
Western Front (Alsace , Oberrhein) (Jan 1945 – Feb 1945)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Knight's Cross (1)
- Krebs, Günther-Wolfgang 26.12.1944 Leutnant Fhr 2./Hochgeb.Jäg.Btl 201 [posthumous]

Order of battle

Stab
Stabskompanie (Olt. Hans Gessler, 29 Oct 44 [POW])
1. Kompanie (Olt. Karl Hiller, 29 Oct 44 [WIA])
2. Kompanie (Olt. Höss ; Lt. Günther-Wolfgang Krebs [Fhr.] [KIA] (1))
3. Kompanie (Olt Franz Kapfer)
4. Kompanie

Ersatz / Replacement
Geb.Jg.Ers.- und Ausb.Btl. 98, Mittenwald, WK VII

Footnotes

1. Leutnant Krebs was killed in action at Kinzheim [Kientzheim] / Elsaß on 14 Dec 1944

Sources used

Kriegsgliederung 19. Armee (Oct 1944 – Feb 1945)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945
Franz Steidl - Lost Battalions: Going for Broke in the Vosges, Autumn 1944 (Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1997)

Reference material on this unit

Franz Steidl - Lost Battalions: Going for Broke in the Vosges, Autumn 1944 (Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1997)

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