Part of the Anti-Partisan Operations in Croatia series by H.L. deZeng IV

Dates: 10 – 17 May 1944. (1)

Objective: To destroy Partisan units, camps, supply dumps and airfields located on and around the Krbavsko Polje plain lying 26 km NE of Gospić.

Enemy Forces
: 8th, 13th and 35th Divisions NOVJ and the Plaščanski NOP Detachment.

Axis Forces
:
German
373. Infanterie-Div. (kroat.) (elements)
392. Infanterie-Div. (kroat.) (main force)
Grenadier-Rgt. (mot.) 92
1. Regiment “Brandenburg”
Croatian
XIX Ustasha Bn.
XXXI Ustasha Bn.
XXXII Ustasha Bn.
XXXIV Ustasha Bn.
I Bn./3d Garrison Brigade

Conduct of Operations and Results
: The plain was surrounded from all sides and then squeezed toward the center. Although they lost a great deal of material assets, the Partisans managed to avoid a major confrontation and to withdraw from the area with 200 of their wounded and some 12,000 civilian sympathizers. The fate of the latter would have been grim had they not been evacuated from the area. The German after-action report claimed 297 Partisan killed, 384 estimated killed, 118 captured and 39 defectors. Destroyed or captured were 22 field guns, 16 mortars, 124 machine guns, 53 trucks, 4 Italian tanks, 225 wagons and large quantities of ammunition, livestock and other equipment and supplies. German and Croatian losses were 8 killed and 65 wounded. Although many Partisans slipped through the cordon, “Morgenstern” was one of the more successful anti-partisan operations carried out in Yugoslavia.

Footnotes
1. [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945 (Belgrade, 1964), p.760; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, 2 Vols (Belgrade: 1965), pp.144-46; Schraml, Franz - Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien (Neckargemünd: Kurt Vowinckel Verlag , 1962), pp.186 and 251-52; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-314 roll 563/237-40, 283 and 302).

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