An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 05 Jan 2022 21:58

Further reading from the above book best describes the function , creation and organisation of the Volkssturm.

Hitler’s Last Levy in East Prussia
Volkssturm Einsatz Bataillon Goldap (25/235) 1944-45

Originally published as Kriegstagebuch Volkssturm Einsatz Bataillon Goldap (25/

Bruno Just

This is the very personal war diary of the adjutant of Volkssturm Einsatz Bataillon Goldap (25/235), which was activated, with a strength of
400 men, on 17 October 1944. Inadequately armed with Russian infantry rifles lacking slings, light machine guns and Panzerfäuste, with no
uniforms, entrenching tools, identity discs, blankets or medical packets, the battalion was hastily thrown into action three days later, on
October 20, in the Goldap sector of the 4. Armee front, losing 76 killed and wounded in its first action.

Withdrawn on 23 October for urgently needed training and better armament, the battalion went back into action on 18 January in the Eichwald northeast of Insterburg, near Stobingen, and fought on, with hardly a break, falling back to the city of Königsberg and taking a valiant part in the bitter defense that enabled the escape of refugees and most of the surviving military units by sea. The 70 survivors of the battalion owed their personal survival to an order forged by their last battalion commander that led to their relief by a Wehrmacht division and enshipment for

There are very few personal accounts of Hitler’s last levy, the Volkssturm.

This document is uniquely valuable. Through the publication of Leutnant Just’s War Diary, that has been authorized by his heiress, we learn of
the fate of Volkssturm Bataillon Goldap. We have had only inadequate information regarding the bizarre project of the Volkssturm as the last
levy before final defeat. Because the Volkssturm was only activated shortly before the collapse of the Wehrmacht and the Reich, there is no complete information regarding the units in East Prussia, for the flight and forced exodus of millions of the civilian population of the eastern
region took place at the same time as the commitment of the Volkssturm battalions, most of whom fell into the hands of the Red Army soldiers
who had been whipped up into a frenzy for revenge, or were simply killed. The incitements of Ilja Ehrenburg still sound in the ears of the
generation that experienced those times, to whom memorials are still dedicated in Germany.

However, where and from whom will gratitude and remembrance come for the men of the Volkssturm, whose mission resulted in unparalleled sacrifices for which they were neither armed nor equipped, let alone trained. They were not even incorporated as units of the Wehrmacht, but, rather, were thrown into the fire in already hopeless hotspots as “Hilfstruppe”, auxiliaries, as were Volkssturm-Bataillone Goldap and Darkehmen. The men of the Volkssturm knew that their utterly futile commitment would be followed by a disorganized flight of their
relatives in an especially bitter winter, and that this would take place without any preparations for that flight. Such preparations would have
been punished as defeatism.

All of 70 men of the original 400 man strong battalion were released on 3 May in Flensburg, and they, too, would inevitably have been lost in
Königsberg, if the last commander of the battalion had not himself written orders withdrawing himself and the remnants of his battalion from
the front. 70 out of 400, and the 400 had been repeatedly replenished. In the first days of their commitment alone, between 20 and 22
October 1944, between Kiauten and Dakehnen, the battalion lost almost 100 men – the total loss amounted to about 90%.

According to Bruno Just, only 1,200 men survived from the approximately 130,000 men of the East Prussian Volkssturm, or less than 10%!

Even today one is still shocked by the horror aroused by these numbers and from the report.

Wolfang Rothe & Horst Rehagen
Essen & Wuppertal, April 2005

Attributes unique to the Volkssturm.

An aspect that will seem a bit strange to one familiar with German ranks, designations and military terms results from the very nature of
the Volkssturm.

It was originally conceived, not only as a desperate last resort that would save the homeland from the Bolshevik hordes by summoning up
fanaticism as only the Nazi Party could do, but also, from the personal viewpoint of the Nazi Gauleiter, as their own private armies. The plural
is no accident. Each Gauleiter felt possissive of his Volkssturm battalions. They shared Hitler’s distrust of the professional soldiers of the

Initially they wanted the Volkssturm to have no connection with the Wehrmacht, and, as the concept evolved, did their best to keep its
necessary involvement with the Wehrmacht to an irreducible minimum. This included nomenclature of positions and ranks. Therefore,
it is neither by accident nor ignorance that familiar roles may have slightly different titles. I preserved this in the translation by retaining the German title, with an equivalent in brackets. For example, The Gauleiter was responsible for activating the individual Volkssturm battalions,
each originating in a Kreis of his Gau, but the Gauleiter was a busy person. Therefore the Gauleiter were given the right to appoint an assistant
to help them, and he was called a Gaustabsführer, or, as the author abbreviates it, a Stabsführer. In practice, Bormann carefully reviewed all
such appointments. The Kreisleiter similarly, was assisted by a Kreisstabsführer.

In translating the usual unit history or campaign history, the Stabschef is usually translated as the “chief of staff”. The Volkssturm “Stabsführer” might translate, quite literally, as “chief of staff”, but the office is not identical, the duties differ, from the Wehrmacht chief of staff.

There were no colonels, majors, captains or lieutenants (Oberst, Major, Hauptmann, Leutnant). Instead, there were battalion leaders, company leaders, platoon leaders and squad leaders (Bataillonsführer, Kompanieführer, Zugführer, Gruppenführer). Where a Volkssturm officer held a
previous rank in the Wehrmacht, SS, or Party, in order to avoid confusion, all such markings had to be removed or, in the case of a party official
who still served in the Party and needed his rank markings while on Party duty, such markings had to be covered up.

Rank in the Volkssturm was indicated by silver stars embroidered on a black collar-patch. The Gruppenführer had a single star, the Zugführer
two silver-colored stars, the Kompanieführer three stars and the Bataillonsführer four stars. The collar-patches and stars were homemade of makeshift materials. So, in reading this account, you will find these and other instances that make it clear that this is an account of the
Volkssturm, not of the regular army, the Wehrmacht. It was written by a citizen called to defend his country, a man who was never given even
the training of an ordinary draftee. His language remains that of the man he was, and the Volkssturm that he describes, was emphatically not
the Wehrmacht.

The Volkssturm was a creation of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), the Nazi Party, evolving from a series of proposals
that ended up with dual primary responsibility for the Volkssturm. Although the original Führer Erlass of 26 September, 1944, stated that the Gauleiter were to take over the activation and command of the German Volkssturm in their Gaue, Martin Bormann, as Leader of the Party Chancellory (Leiter der Parteikanzlei) and Secretary to the Führer, assumed overall responsibility as leader of the Party Chancellery and, thus,
of the Gauleiter, for its political and organizational aspects, as well as its activation, organization and leadership. Heinrich Himmler,
Reichsführer -SS, head of police and Commander of the Replacement Army was responsible for the training, armament and equipping of the
German Volkssturm.

Until attached to a Wehrmacht unit for field service, the Volkssturm remained under the command of the Party, not the Wehrmacht, and the
Party was responsible for its supply and maintenance. The original intent was that the Volkssturm battalions would never be employed outside
of their home Gaue, but there were notable exceptions, as when, following a conference with Guderian, on 16 January, 1945, Bormann ordered
twenty of the internal Gaue to form special Volkssturm Bataillone z.b.V. (zur besondere Verwendung, for special service), to be equipped with German weapons for transport to reinforce the Wartheland Volkssturm that was crumbling under the Soviet onslaught.

Although, as Yelton reveals in his careful study, there was great variation in actual fact between various Kreise in the details, the following description, which follows the original concept as detailed in Hitler’s 25 September, 1944 Erlass, fits the Goldap battalion very closely, which is hardly surprising, since it was one of the earliest battalions formed and among the earliest committed to action. It was formed in border – Kreis Goldap on the eastern margin of East Prussia, activated on 17 October, and it went into action three days later, on 20 October, exceedingly ill equipped and totally untrained. After suffering heavy losses, 76 out of 400 men, it was withdrawn to a quiet area behind the front for a brief
period of basic training, reconstitution and equipping. It then fought alongside Wehrmacht units, largely in frontline positions, right up until it
was relieved and withdrawn on 12 April, 1945, for shipment back to Copenhagen and then the Reich s disbandment on 3 May, 1945, just four days before General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender documents for all German forces on the morning of 7 May at SHAEF headquarters in

The largest element of the German Volkssturm was the battalion. It was commanded by the Bataillonsführer, who was named by the Gauleiter.
The Kreisleiter had the right to name the Kompanieführer. The Bataillonsführer selected the Zugführer (platoon leaders) and the Kompanieführer selected the Gruppenführer (squad leaders). Selection criteria placed fanaticism and party loyalty ahead of military experience or

The Goldap battalion was fortunate in that all of its officers were genuine Wehrmacht reserve officers who had been selected for Volkssturm command positions.

The smallest element, the Gruppe, had an average strength of ten men, the leader and nine men. The Zug, or platoon, consisted of three to four Gruppen. A Kompanie consisted of three to four Zügen and a Bataillon of three to four Kompanien, the fourth company being a heavy weapons company.

Although the original concept of the Volkssturm was to minimize staff and trains, a staff consisting of “Gruppe Führer” soon appeared out of functional necessity. The Bataillonsführer generally was provided with a staff consisting of an adjutant, an Ordonnanzoffizier (special missions
staff officer), an Arzt ( surgeon), a Gerichtsoffizier (military justice), a Rechnungsführer (accountant and pay non-commissioned officer), a Schirrmeister (maintenance technical-sergeant), two Schreiber (clerks), a Sanitätsdienstgrad (medic) a groom or driver, a leader of the
messenger echelon and 16 messengers or communications men, eight of them on bicycles and/or motorcycles. Trains elements consisted of
horse-drawn farm wagons with civilian drivers.

For those interested in following up information presented in the translator’s footnotes, I have appended my own translator’s bibliography.
For those reading German, Seidler remains the indispensable basic reference, with Yelton’s study an equally indispensable supplement and
statistical analysis detailing the range of variations in actual practice. Kissel provides a clear, orderly brief summary accompanied by an
extensive series of appendices containing the essential basic documents. Those who do not read German can combine reading the English
translation of Kissel and Yelton.

Nevertheless, the Red Army now stood on German soil. In this clearly hopeless situation, on 18 October 1944, Hitler called for the activation of
the Volkssturm. All men who had previously been classified as “uk” (exempt) from 16 to 60 years that were fit for military service Kriegsverwendungsfähig, kv”] were drafted.

The Nazi Party, NSDAP, was responsible for the activation of the Volkssturm units, but was not prepared for it. Thus there were neither
uniforms nor foot-gear, no identity disks, blankets nor first-aid supplies for the first employment of the Volkssturm. Its initial armament
consisted of totally obsolete captured weapons. The power of command was initially reserved to the party.

Only after clarification of many conflicts of responsibility and differences with the Gauleiter Erich Koch was the Volkssturm committed as front-reserve to the division commanders responsible at that time.

At that point cooperation functioned between the Wehrmacht and Volkssturm.

The Goldap Volkssturm-Bataillon 25/235 was activated on 17 October 1944, with a strength of 400 men. Here, too, there were, initially, no
uniforms. The battalion was armed with captured Russian infantry rifles, light machine guns and Panzerfäuste. In this needy condition, and,
above all, completely untrained, on 20 October 1944, the battalion was precipitately thrown into the battle at Daken-Groß Waltersdorf. Its
first employment was, accordingly, costly. 76 men were wounded or killed. Only after this baptism of fire, which had grave consequences, did
the command recognize that further commitment was, for the time being, irresponsible. Accordingly, the Volkssturm battalion was pulled out of
the front for the urgently needed training and better armament. For that purpose it was transferred via Kulsen behind the great Heydtwallder
forest to Buddern, northeast of Angerburg.

The Goldap Volkssturn did not take part in either of these offensive operations, neither at Groß Waltersdorf nor in the recapture of Goldap.
When, on 12 January 1945, the Red Army launched its great offensive for the final conquest of East Prussia, it rapidly became obvious that the
region around Insterburg was especially exposed. Thereupon the army command called the Goldap Volkssturm from its rest area at Buddern and transported it precipitately into the acutely endangered Eichwald [oak forest] northeast of Insterburg, near Stobingen.

In the defense of the immediate homeland around Goldap, this troop, which had, in the meantime, been better armed and trained, had the advantage of familiarity with the area. Now, however, the command ignored the fact that the fighting was raging most intensely in the north.
The hastily introduced unit was immediately placed at the disposal of the fighting forces. In the ensuing heavy defensive fighting the tragedy
of the Goldap Volkssturm followed its further course.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 05 Jan 2022 22:10

Berlin Soldier: The Explosive Memoir of a 12 Year-old German Boy Called Up to Fight in the Last Weeks of the Second World War
By Helmut Altner

The Hitler Youth in Combat

The Hitler Youth organisation under the leadership of Reichs Youth Leader Artur Axmann was actively engaged in combat operations in 1945.
In an interview with Chronos-Film, Axmann stated:

The effects of the 20th July on the youth were such that seventy percent of the next age group [due for conscription] volunteered [for active service]…

The tank-crackers first came into play during the final weeks. This began at the time when the Russians stood on the East Prussian border.
Besides the many combat roles, too numerous to go into detail about now, there was also the digging of trenches and anti-tank ditches on our borders. And once the Russians had penetrated our home territory, the crucial question was how to deal with the tanks that broke through.

My guide line for this was: first, the enemy is in our homeland; second, the Youth must be adequately trained in combatting tanks at close
range; third, there must be no infantry commitment of the Youth. So in mid-February the first close tank engagement unit of the Hitler Youth
was established by my deputy and chief-of-staff, Helmut Möckel… The first close tank engagement brigade was nominally under me, but was
actually led by Hitler Youth Leader Oberbannführer Kern. Such a close tank engagement unit was set up in every area against tanks that broke through, that is tanks that had broken through the lines of our fighting troops.

For me the most crucial question in the establishment of close tank engagement units was that of motivation. And here we have to put
ourselves back to the time of the last weeks of the war. What did these close tank engagement units consist of?

They included many 16- and 17-year-olds who had not been absorbed by the emergency organisation of the army in the retreat from the east.
There were also youngsters who had lost their parents in the flight through death, or had become separated from them in the flight. A
considerably large number of these eastern youngsters were in the close tank engagement units.

There were many youngsters who had been in the bombing attack on Dresden, and many who had experienced the rape of their mothers and
sisters. So I can say that these youngsters were motivated. We did not have to motivate them. And thus they fought very bravely and destroyed many tanks.

Armin Lehmann, who as a 16-year-old was a member of the Combat Team ‘Gutschke’ fighting near Frankfurt on the Oder, was sent to Berlin to attend Hitler’s birthday parade in the Reichs Chancellery garden on 20 April, where he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for his earlier exploits with the unit when fighting near Breslau. After the parade Axmann retained him as one of his runners, in which capacity he remained
until severely wounded in the breakout attempt from the city centre on 2 May. Until Axmann moved his headquarters from the Kaiserdamm to
the Party Chancellery in Wilhelmstrasse on the night of 23/24 April, Lehmann was delivering despatches to Hitler Youth combat groups in
Spandau (HJ-Kampfgruppe Heissmeyer), at the Pichelsdorf bridges over the Havel (HJ-Regiment), and at the Olympic Stadium to the 5,000-strong
HJ-Kampfgruppe Hamann among others, including mixed Volkssturm/Hitler Youth units in various parts of the city. He also reports one Hitler
Youth combat group in the Propaganda Ministry off Wilhelmstrasse. In all, he reckons there must have been at least twenty Hitler Youth combat teams engaged in the city and elsewhere.

It seems that, because Lieutenant General Weidling had shown his opposition to using Hitler Youth units in combat, Axmann was bypassing
the military command and issuing orders directly to these units either in his own name or Hitler’s. On 26 April Hitler awarded Axmann the
Golden Cross of the German Order in recognition of the role played by the Hitler Youth.

Only the month before, Axmann had exhorted the children of the Reich with:

There is only victory or annihilation. Know no bounds in your love of your people; equally know no bounds in your hatred of the enemy. It is your
duty to watch when others tire, to stand when others weaken. Your greatest honour is your unshakeable fidelity to Adolf Hitler.

Another prominent person to have exhorted the Hitler Youth was Carl Diem, the Secretary of the German Olympic Committee, who had staged
the 1936 Games, ending the opening day with a dramatic presentation of heroic combat as an ideal of sacrifice for one’s country. Then in
February 1945 he addressed a mixed group of Hitler Youth and Volkssturm at the Reichs Sport School in a manner described by a witness as being similar to Goebbels’ appeal for total war at the Sportpalast two years earlier.


SS Gruppenführer (Major General) Heissmeyer, Inspector General of the Napolas, was in charge of the Hitler Youth Combat Group ‘Heissmeyer’
in Spandau but, according to Lehmann (see Appendix IV), after exhorting his charges to great deeds, he flew off to Gandau in the Alps to join his wife, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, who was famous as head of the Bund Deutsche Mädel, the female part of the Hitler Youth. This departure was without the knowledge of Reichs Youth Leader Artur Axman, to whom he was responsible for the combat group, and so amounted to desertion.

HJ-Units mentioned.


HJ-Kampfgruppe Hamann
HJ-Kampfgruppe Heissmeyer
Last edited by Germanicus on 06 Jan 2022 03:57, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 05 Jan 2022 23:05

A most interesting and fascinating observation on the Volkssturm in the book:

Battle Of Aschaffenburg: An Example Of Late World War II Urban Combat In Europe By Major Quentin W. Schillare

In addition to replacement and training unit personnel, and recuperating soldiers in the convalescent units, the single largest contingent of defenders came from the Volkssturm or People's Militia.

The Volkssturm was a home guard of over-aged and under-aged men in varying states of physical condition. It had been proposed early in the
war but had not been activated because Hitler viewed it as an admission of weakness. Its creation is an example of the desperate
measures seen necessary by Nazi Germany near the end of the war. According to some observers, although the Volkssturm demonstrated
weakness, It also showed a nation's willingness and ability to persist in the face of tremendous odds.

The acceptance of such a hopeless step by the German people is a tribute to their willingness to defend their nation so late in the war, and also a measure of the degree to which the secret police and the Party had cowed the people. It reminds us that no nation is defeated until its leaders
and the people believe as a whole that they are defeated.

After the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt Hitler had lost all confidence in the army leaders so he entrusted the mustering and training of the
Volkssturm to the Party. Himmler was responsible for the organization, training, arming and equipping of the force. Each Gau was to have a
Volkssturm organization, its size depending on the size of the Gau, under the leadership of the Gauleiter. Lists were compiled and recruits
directed to report, and most did so out of patriotism or fear of the secret police. All unattached men from 16 to 60 were to report for Induction.

Once mustered the units trained on Sundays to reduce the Impact on war production that absence from work would cause during the week. As an over simplification, the Volkssturm was under-equipped, inadequately trained, but perhaps most importantly, it was poorly led. "The Volkssturm
was being led, from beginning to end, by what amounted to officials, leadership was not by ability but by Party loyalty."

The Aschaffenburg Volkssturm was called to the colors on 12 November 1944. Initially all men from year groups 1884-1924 (ages 20-60) were
ordered to appear for registration and classification. They were organized into seven companies and designated Volkssturm 15/1
(1st Battalion, 15th Volkssturm). Six of the companies were assigned specific areas of the city, with the seventh being a reserve formation. They trained at Bois-Brule Kaserne under the direction of the 106th Replacement and Training Battalion on rifles, machineguns and the panzerfaust ("panzer fist", a shoulder fired anti-tank shape charge). They were under the leadership of Lorenz Junker, the High Inspector of the Finance Administration of Aschaffenburg, but were placed under the command of the combat commander on 17 March 1945.

While it may be easy to dismiss the Aschaffenburg Volkssturm as an ineffective organization, it probably contributed several hundred
combatants to the battle, and this added significantly to the combat power of KKA. Reports from American units, of armed civilians fighting in defense of Aschaffenburg probably arose from members of the Volkssturm justifying the faith placed in them by the Party leadership. But in the
end the Party gave the Volkssturm too much to do for the resources available, and as a force to save the Reich it failed.

When the battle started KKA consisted of the Replacement Army troops from the 106 Infantry Regiment, the 9th Engineer Battalion, the
15th Artillery Regiment, the convalescent units, Reserve Officer Aspirants, and the Volkssturm. These forces were assisted by armed civilians, including Hitler-jugend used in kriegeinsatz ("war employment") non-combatant positions such as lookouts and messengers.

They had no tanks, few artillery pieces or heavy weapons and in many respects were untrained and unfit for their task, but the 5000 men of KKA possessed combat multipliers that, when used in conjunction with the Field Army units of the Seventh (GE) Army, would stop the American
advance cold for over a week.

And what of the Volkssturm in Aschaffenburg

Major Lamberth, the Kampfkommandant, also issued a proclamation addressed to "Soldiers. Men of the Volkssturm, Comrades":

The fortress of Aschaffenburg will be defended to the last man. As long as the enemy gives us time we will prepare and employ our
troops to our best advantage. This means fight, build carriers, erect dugouts, get supplies! As of today, everyone is to give his [sic] to the

I order no one shall rest more than three hours out of twenty four. I forbid any sitting around or loafing. Our belief is that it is our mission
to give the cursed enemy the greatest resistance and to send as many as possible of them to the devil.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 05 Jan 2022 23:20

Further detailed Volkssturm observations from the Book:

From the Realm of a Dying Sun. Volume III: IV. SS-Panzerkorps from Budapest to Vienna, February–May 1945
By Douglas E. Nash

In addition to everything else that had occurred that day, another significant event took place when Alarmstufe I (Alert Level I – the highest)
was issued to all of the Volkssturm home guard units in Wehrkreis (Defence District) XVIII, which was responsible for the defense of the
lower Danube region of the Reichsschutzstellung.

The 14 Volkssturm-battalions activated on 25 March were made responsible for occupying and defending the portion of the “Eastern Wall” fortifications from Rechnitz to Radkersburg, a distance of roughly 160 kilometers. In all, they totaled approximately 5,000 men, or half the
strength of a Soviet rifle division. Poorly equipped and trained, and consisting primarily of Hitler Youth and older men, this force would be no
match for the approaching Red Army.

The most that could be expected of them was that they might delay the invaders long enough for regular troops to withdraw in time to establish
a proper defensive system.

Wehrkreise [Defense Districts, in this case General der Gebirgstruppe Ringel’s Wehrkreis XVIII based in Graz] as well as the Volkssturm units
deployed in the border positions will be subordinated to them.”

In regards to the IV. SS-Pz.Korps, which had been given the responsibility of defending the Raab and lower Lafnitz River valleys, it was to assume control of Volkssturm-Btl. Jennersdorf, as well as elements of Volkssturm-Btl. 31/26, Volkssturm-Btl. Feldbach, Volkssturm-Btl. 31/51, what remained of Volkssturm-Btl. Graz-Land (the few men who had not surrendered that day), and Volkssturm-Btl. Liezen. Volkssturm-Btl. Feldbach
and Volkssturm-Btl. Hanisch

Halfdan S.
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Halfdan S. » 05 Jan 2022 23:41

Germanicus wrote:
05 Jan 2022 22:10
Berlin Soldier: The Explosive Memoir of a 12 Year-old German Boy Called Up to Fight in the Last Weeks of the Second World War
By Helmut Altner


SS Gruppenführer (Major General) Heissmeyer, Inspector General of the Napolas, was in charge of the Hitler Youth Combat Group ‘Heissmeyer’
in Spandau but, according to Lehmann (see Appendix IV), after exhorting his charges to great deeds, he flew off to Gandau in the Alps to join his wife, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, who was famous as head of the Bund Deutsche Mädel, the female part of the Hitler Youth. This departure was without the knowledge of Reichs Youth Leader Artur Axmarin, to whom he was responsible for the combat group, and so amounted to desertion.
Might be wrong as I don't have the book, but as far as I remember Jochen von Lang in his book "Der Sekretär" (on Bormann) writes that he met Heissmeyer and Scholtz-Klink in Berlin during the Battle - anyway there wouldn't have been any flights out at the time that Heissmeyer left Berlin.

Halfdan S.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 00:48

Halfdan S. wrote:
05 Jan 2022 23:41
Germanicus wrote:
05 Jan 2022 22:10
Berlin Soldier: The Explosive Memoir of a 12 Year-old German Boy Called Up to Fight in the Last Weeks of the Second World War
By Helmut Altner


SS Gruppenführer (Major General) Heissmeyer, Inspector General of the Napolas, was in charge of the Hitler Youth Combat Group ‘Heissmeyer’
in Spandau but, according to Lehmann (see Appendix IV), after exhorting his charges to great deeds, he flew off to Gandau in the Alps to join his wife, Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, who was famous as head of the Bund Deutsche Mädel, the female part of the Hitler Youth. This departure was without the knowledge of Reichs Youth Leader Artur Axmarin, to whom he was responsible for the combat group, and so amounted to desertion.
Might be wrong as I don't have the book, but as far as I remember Jochen von Lang in his book "Der Sekretär" (on Bormann) writes that he met Heissmeyer and Scholtz-Klink in Berlin during the Battle - anyway there wouldn't have been any flights out at the time that Heissmeyer left Berlin.

Halfdan S.
Dear Halfdan S.

You maybe correct however I found these quotes: -

In April 1945, on the orders of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, he formed the Kampfgruppe Heissmayer from members of the Volkssturm and the Hitler Youth, which was entrusted with the defense of the Spandau fortress in Berlin as well as the task of protecting the Spandau airfield.

In May of 1945, the Allied forces defeated the Third Reich, and Gertrud and her husband fled Berlin. As they traveled, she was caught in the crossfire between German and American troops and wounded five times. The Soviets briefly held Gertrud and August in a prisoner of war camp, but they managed to escape and she and her husband picked up their youngest child and made their way to Nazi sympathizer Princess Pauline of Wurtemberg in Bebenhausen Castle. The Princess later said that she cared for Frau Heissmeyer “as one would help a wounded animal.” ... -life.html

Scholz-Klink and Heismeyer escaped from the capital during the assault on Berlin, but in the summer of 1945 were detained in a Soviet prisoner of war camp near Magdeburg, from where they soon escaped. ... 0%B4%D0%B0

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 07:17

Division z.b.V. 608

The Division z.b.V. 608 was formed 22 November 1944 from the staff of the disbanded 82. Infanterie-Division.

Generalmajor Fritz Becker (27 Nov 1944 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations
Poland & Eastern Germany (Nov 1944 - May 1945)

Order of battle

Brigade-Stab 100 (Berger)
Grenadier-Regiments-Stab Hellbach
Grenadier-Regiments-Stab Peter
Polizei-Regiment 1
Polizei-Regiment Krause
SS-Gendarmerie-Bataillon 6
3 x Alarm-Bataillon
6 x Volkssturm-Bataillon
Grenadier-(Alarm-) Regiment 83
Grenadier-(Alarm-) Regiment 92
Grenadier-(Alarm-) Regiment 95

Sources used
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945 ... on-zbv-608

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 07:26

Volksturm engineers/pioneers?

On paper the organisation was a battalion of 642 men based on the standard Heer (Army) triangular system – 3 sections to a platoon,
3 platoons to a company and 3 companies to a battalion with associated support platoons for engineer, medical, transport (bicycles were authorised), communication (civilian telephones), administration etc. The engineer platoon, when it existed, was often drawn from the
Technische Nothilfe (Technical Emergency Aid) organisation that provided rescue services after air raids. Each company of 150 men came from a small locality and the heavy weapons that would normally be in an army battalion’s Heavy Company were shared out to each of the companies.
This was because the battalions frequently had several companies from different locations and each company had a “slice” of any heavy weapons. Units were mostly composed of members of the Hitler Youth, invalids, the elderly, or men who had previously been considered unfit for military service.

The Volkssturm of Levy I and Levy II was supposed to be equipped with German Weapons but because this interfered with the availability of
weapons for the forming and replacement regular army this frequently was not possible. As a result many units were largely equipped with
foreign, often Italian, small arms with very little ammunition despite the intention to allocate a relatively generous number of weapons and
even this was seldom achieved. Levy III and IV had no specified allocation of weapons.

I know of one battalion with a Pionier Platoon, 3/115 (Siemensstadt) Battalion, which was one of the best equipped and it even had one flamethrower though I do not know if it had any fuel!

So yes there were Pionier Platoons in at least a few Volkssturm battalions.

3/115 had a single Einstoßflammenwerfer 46. Effective range a little over 20 meter , maximum 40 m. The burst was 0,75 seconds long.
It could be refilled but at Spandau Siemensstadt they did no refill. It was intended in Volkssturm for counter attack in urban area.
The men of the unit had been older workers from Siemens company, mostly WW I veterans.

The Volkssturm Pionier platoons did no special pioneer work like Bridge building, mine laying or removing. No tools for that. Main job was to
dig the latrinen and to clear roads after air raids. Some barbed wire laying was done if material was available.

Another unit with a Flamethrower was Volkssturm-Bataillon 16/69 at Wriezen, just 113 men. 14 ill, 32 away building defence works from earth
and wood.

invisible officer Participant states the following on this post:

In 1995 Berlin museums made a series of 50 years wars end exhibitions. Being a professional historian I was one of the Kuratoren. We did a lot of oral history interviews.

Among my “victims” was a guy that served as Hitlerjunge with the Siemens unit. His father was one of the old Siemens workers and fortunately
both survived the fights. My main research at that time was about the Zoo Bunker and Tiergarten and that boy soldier served as runner to Zoo Bunker HQ.

The 3/115 served with Gruppe Bärenfänger at Hellersdorf, some 10 km away. At first he used the S-Bahn, later a biciycle. Just over 10 kilometer it took a long time in the ruins.

He told about seeing the test firing of the Flamethrower, nobody in the unit ever used one of that type before. As far as he knew it was not
refilled following that test. It was no weapon for static defence, more to attack a bunker. The guy that was given charge of it had been in WW I
with the Garde Reservepionierregiment, a special flamethrower unit. At Siemens he was part of the company fire service but also working as a mechanic.

Unfortunately the HJ men did not remember his name. He gave some alternatives but — it was 50 years ago……… . Now he is dead too, he died in old age. He remembered the weapon well, for a boy it was impressive to see that burst. He himself got an Italian Carcano and 10 rounds.

Volkssturm-Bataillon 3/115 // Volkssturm-Bataillon Siemensstadt alias Volkssturm-Bataillon Krull


Berlin, Kreis Charlottenburg-Spandau (Siemensstadt)

Oktober 1944

CO Erich Krull

Adjudant: Dr. Gustav Adolf Pourroy

Stabskompanie: Gebhard

1. Kompanie: Schneehage
2. Kompanie: Dr. Weinhold
3. Kompanie: Treutner
schwere Kompanie: Ltn. Fleck
Geschützkomp.:Dr. Mahr

Ca. 770 VS-Soldaten.

Assembly room at Hellersdorf.. 21. April 1945: Fighting in Kaulsdorf,

22. April 1945: North of Kaulsdorf and Mahlsdorf (Abschnitt Kdr A). Evening to Friedrichsfelde-Ost (S-Bahn Bahnhof)
Front to North and East

24./25. April 1945: Samariterstraße

25. April – 2. May: Richthofen Str. and at Löwen Böhmische Brauerei (Corner Landsberger Allee, Friedrichstraße and Puffendorfstraße) Front to
East, South and West

Schönhauser Allee the remaining POW. (Father and son escaped before that, deserting the day before)

The unit got the weapons from Heereswaffenmeisterschule Treptow.

The French mortar was a wheeled 22-cm Mörser 531(f) , 7.910 kg. Not transported, it stayed at Treptow Helersdorf . 100,5 kg Grenade / V0 415m/s and range 10.860 m. At front a splinter proof shield.

In France known as Schneider Mortier m 16. In German Wehrmacht use normally drawn by a SdKfz 7. The one of the unit was used as training
gun at the school in Treptow. ... -pioneers/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 07:38

An interesting post on the Volkssturm units during the battle of the Ruhr pocket.

"Willi Mues and his book "Der große Kessel" (It is the best book for the Ruhr pocket campaign but I think there is no translated version at all).
He has numerous action reports for those adhoc Volkssturm units. Their combat value was limited. But like i said most of this Volkssturm units
were absorbed by army or ss formations to replace combat casualties.

Another example is the so called "Gambesheim cancer". During Operation Nordwind germans started a local offensive over the river Rhine at Gambsheim. Heeresgruppe Oberrhein had formed local Volkssturm units in late 44. Volkssturm-Bataillon 3 was raised and equipped by Hrg.
Oberrhein. VS 3 was part of Kampfgruppe Lüttichau. The Kampfgruppe was able to conquer and defend the Gambesheim pocket. Those units
were equipped with Panzerfäuste and Panzerschrecks. You can find more of this formations during the Operation Nordwind campaign.

To sum it up: Most of the Volkssturm units that were formed in 1944 in the west were dressed and equipped like regular units. Most of the political/adhoc formed Volkssturm units were those civil dressed units. The equipment depends on the local arsenal. Most (or any) Volkssturm
units had no heavy weapons. Machineguns, rifles and Panzerfäuste were the typical arsenal.

"Freikorps Sauerland". It a Weimar republic based unit that was organised and raised by the Volkssturm.
It was a special unit because beside most of the other "adhoc Volkssturm" unit the Freikorps Sauerland was a unit with solid moral.
The Sauerland soldiers were WW1 veterans who want to fight for the NS party and the Ruhrgebiet area.

Basing on "Der große Kessel" the Freikorps Sauerland took part in a number of small battles during the Ruhr pocket campaign like the battles
around Lippstadt and Soest. The Freikorps Sauerland units were mixed into adhoc combat groups of the 116. PzDiv to defend the area around Lippstadt and Soest. The Sauerland VS soldiers were ordered to defend the heavy anti air guns and batteries. They should fight together to defeat the US tank columns in the area in the area. The Kampfgruppe was reinforced by Landesschützen units (soldiers that were too young for the VS
but too old for the regular army units), rear units (medical and logistical units) and so called "Gehfähige" (wounded soldiers that were able to
walk and shot). It is one of those chaotic mixed units of the last days". ... ic=9684.75

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 21:20

Dietrich Wilhelm Bernhard von Jagow

In September 1944 he became leader of the Volkssturm-Bataillon 36/35 (Silesia) and suffered serious wounds on January 20, 1945, which
caused him to lose an eye. After the hospital stay, he reported for duty again and was used as a diplomatic courier.

Volkssturm-Bataillon 36/35

The Volkssturm-Bataillon 36/35 was set up on January 18, 1945 in Birnbaum, Reichsgau Wartheland for the final battle for Germany . Jagow's company commanders were Captain d. R. Erich Voss, Sergeant Ernst Otto Achatz von Kerssenbrock and Rittmeister d. R. Sigmund von Willich,
father-in-law of the young Bernhard von Humboldt-Dachröden, son of Major General Bernhard Wilhelm Alexander Constantin Freiherr von
Humboldt-Dachroeden . The reinforced battalion was crushed during the fighting. A large number of Volkssturm men were simply shot by
the Russians as alleged " partisans ".

Only 268 men formed the battalion, as part of it was deferred - the forest administration withheld its men. So only 206 men could move out. Identification tags could no longer be issued, only master rolls could be created. The men were armed with Russian booty rifles, sufficient
cartridges and 75 bazookas. They were dressed in soldiers' coats and hats, as well as with paddocks. As provided by martial law, they could be recognized as a Volkssturm through an armband. Loaded on the evening of January 18, 1945, the battalion arrived early on January 19, 1945 in Wilhelmsbrück an der Prosna. There it immediately came into combat contact with the Red Army . In a thin main line of battle , mixed with
soldiers of the army and men of theReich Labor Service , based on the Volkssturm-Bataillon No. 65 Kempen, the battalion defended itself for
three days. Immediately after the battalion was unloaded, Rittmeister d. R. von Willich from Gorschin went with two men on a scouting party
across the Prosna, from where he did not return. The last company commander, Ernst von Kerssenbrock from Kwiltsch / Lärchensee , remained in front of the enemy . On January 21, 1945 the Battalion was blown up and had to be taken back [??]. Captain of the reserve Erich Voss, who
had taken over the battalion after von Jagow's wound, reached the fortress of Breslau with 21 men. Seriously wounded there, he died at the
end of June 1945. Nothing is known about the total losses of the battalion. However, several men were killed, others executed by the Russians
in violation of international law and others taken prisoner by Russia , especially those who had reached Wroclaw. The gendarmerie had also
sent some stragglers home.,_Dietrich_von

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 22:17

Extracts of the Volkssturm in Küstrin

Küstrin's downfall in 1945

"On January 25 or 26, 1945, Küstrin was declared a fortress. That meant his defense to the utmost. The fortress commander initially had three main tasks:

The formation of a fortress garrison from the training and replacement units in the Küstriner garrison, vacationers, convalescents, retreating
units, displaced persons to be intercepted and the Volkssturm. Missing infantry had to be replaced by members of other branches of service.
The creation of defensive positions, which met with great difficulty due to the cold and the frozen ground.
The preparation for the enemy advancing into the Küstrin area.

The Volkssturm Battalion Hinz (head of the Küstriner vocational school) was alerted again on January 24th and, after the arrival of the companies from Neudamm and Königsberg, was transported by train to Trebisch, northwest of Schwerin. Unarmed! The weapons promised there
were not available. The proposed positions were already occupied elsewhere. Clear orders for the battalion were not received. Therefore the
battalion leader ordered at his own discretion on January 30th. the march back to Küstrin. It reached it on foot and by train on the evening of
January 31. back to his starting point via Sonnenburger Chaussee. [4]

In Küstrin, the bridges over Warthe and Oder were ready to be blown up. Additional guards filtered soldiers out of the streams of refugees at the
Oder Bridge and led them to reception centers in the artillery barracks, where they were integrated into units that were to be newly set up.
The few men among the civilians were also superficially checked for military capability or use in the Volkssturm.

The Soviets took possession of the height 63, "which gave a view of the entire fortress," they took the pulp mill, which was defended by a
Hungarian company and a Volkssturm platoon. The Hungarians put down their arms. Some of them were slain, others shot, others only disarmed.
The Volkssturm men, in civilian clothes with the armband "Deutscher Volkssturm - Wehrmacht", are said to have been shot by Red Army soldiers.

The incidents in the pulp mill at the beginning of the siege - the shooting of the captured Volkssturm men and the killing of part of the Hungarians - had got around among many defenders of the fortress.

The position made it almost impossible, and nobody wanted to go to the Russian.

The mayor of Küstrin, Hermann Körner, was also the district leader of the NSDAP district of Königsberg. He was responsible for the interests of the party, the Volkssturm (which was operationally subordinate to the fortress command) and the civilian population remaining in the city.

By February 4th, the commandant's office had collected the meager remnants of the "Woldenberg" division, which was retreating north of the
Warta, and integrated them into the fortress garrison. The district leader of the NSDAP later put their total strength at 11,000 soldiers and 900 artistic and non-artistic Volkssturm men. On February 22nd the Army Group Vistula noted a combat strength of 8,196 men for Küstrin.

The fortress commander himself made four particularly serious tactical mistakes that had serious consequences for the crew:

3. took place on March 28th, the first day of the general attack on the old town, the task of which was hastily and poorly organized, so that numerous soldiers and men of the Volkssturm were denied a possible retreat.

The German soldiers and Volkssturm men used bazookas to dig the foxholes in order to penetrate the deeply frozen ground.

Because of the high losses in men and Material (70 percent of the officers and all heavy weapons) the fight in the fortress is nearing its end.
"SS-Gruppenführer Reinefarth had ordered the abandonment of the old town for the evening of March 28th. Accordingly, around noon, the
combat commandant Altstadt, Major Kulla, informed the leader of the Volkssturm, captain of the Tamm reserve, (and probably other commanders as well) that the evacuation would take place in the evening and that the Volkssturm, as rearguard, would have to defend
the last escape route, the railway bridge over the Oder .

The withdrawal from the old town, which could no longer be stopped, was badly organized and chaotic. The exodus began slowly in the afternoon and steadily increased in the evening. There were no coordinated orders. Sometimes they did not reach the foremost security chains, groups and larger units, or not clearly, and those affected felt left alone.

Part of those who stayed on the east bank to cross the river by boat, rubber dinghy or by climbing and swimming. Because the Russians, who had meanwhile advanced to the bank of the Oder, shot at all visible targets on the river. The Volkssturm Battalion in Tamm was also left behind. When his retreat was finally allowed, it was too late; the bridge was blown up and the reserved rubber dinghies were used by others. His guide, Captain d. R. Gustav Rudolf Tamm, consulted with his men and surrendered in the first hours of March 29th. Only the members of his battalion
knew about this, or whoever happened to be with it. The remainder awaited the coming morning and the winners with an uneasy heart. A few
who still resisted lost their lives. Even those who surrendered were not always sure of it.

The von Hauptmann d. R. Tamm in the night of March 28-29, 1945 negotiated with the Russians surrender for the Volkssturm subordinate to him in the old town of Küstrin was presented as the surrender of the Küstrin fortress after the war. Not from the Soviet side! From Germans!
Captain d. R. Tamm had acted responsibly and correctly in a hopeless situation of the parts of the Volkssturm subordinate to him.

At 12.45 p.m., parallel to the final battle in Küstrin, the Chief of the General Staff of the 9th Army made a telephone request to the I a of the Vistula Army Group to authorize the fortress garrison to break out immediately, because otherwise it would be lost. At 12.55 p.m. the application was submitted to the chief of the operations department of the army. The final decision was made by Adolf Hitler. His refusal was: “The fortress must be held under all circumstances. Air supply is to be carried out. " Three hours after the application, the answer reached the fortress commanders in Küstrin.

[Of perhaps 7,000 defenders, an estimated 1,000 succeeded in retreating or escaping to the old town, around 3,000 are said to have been killed
or shot, according to Soviet statements, and around 3,000 were taken prisoner. FK ] The Hethey combat group, reinforced by the Volkssturm
(including the Hymmen company, field post number 18203 A-CC), recorded particularly large losses. The Russians advanced as far as the Warta
and the railway bridges were blown up.

Finally, members of the Waffen SS, the remnants of the Fusilier Battalion 303 and the 2nd Battalion of the Panzer Grenadier Regiment 1 as well
as Volkssturm men with the NSDAP district leader succeeded in throwing the attackers back over the Oderdammstrasse, in places only on
the other side of the dam '.


Volkssturm-Bataillon 16/186

'Our boss makes us happy with the news that we have to build our new throwing point on the peninsula point between the Oder and Warthe confluences, the Gorin. More precisely, in the allotment garden colony there. It promises to be a strange mission. The Volkssturm company
deployed there, which was assigned to the Volkssturm-Bataillon 16/186 of Hauptmann d. R. Rudolf Tamm belongs to, and is suffering from
the bombardment from the pulp mill opposite, needs our help. After a successful mission, the Volkssturm unit offers us a live pig, which it
currently keeps hidden in its position in a stable in the gardens. At night the wooden frames for projectiles are set up, accompanied by the
bombing of a Soviet double-decker ("sewing machine"). The pilot must have seen our flashlights. One of the larger bombs injured some
Volksstürmer; but luckily does not hit our ammunition. We set off about 20 grenades and set the factory on fire. The pig is kidnapped into
our bunker and every man gets some sausage and lard in the next few days. We're puzzling where the chops go? Strangely enough, none of the
officers can be seen. Still - we don't go hungry'. ... t1945.html
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 22:27

Infanterie-Division Pommernland

Regiment Karnkewitz (Alarm-Bataillon 2 + Volkssturm-Bataillon 5)
Regiment Jatzingen (Alarm-Bataillon 3 + Volkssturm-Bataillon 2)

Volkssturm-Bataillon 31/181


On March 29, Maundy Thursday in 1945, the Red Army crossed the border in several places. In the border town of Rechnitz , there was a brief
skirmish between a division of the Soviet 9th Guards Army and the hopelessly inferior Volkssturm-Bataillon 31/181 that a section of the
Southeastern Wall had occupied. Some Volkssturm men from Pinkafeld also fell during these battles.

Volkssturm-Bataillon 20/252

20-252.JPG ... 7c00aa915c

Volkssturm-Bataillon Meißner

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2022 23:04

Gau 29 Schleswig-Holstein

Volkssturm-Bataillon 29/5
Volkssturm-Bataillon 29/84
Volkssturm-Bataillon 29/412
Volkssturm-Bataillon 29/413

Volkssturm-Bataillon Schleswig-Holstein

Pionier-Bataillon 1060

Das Bataillon wurde im April 1945 aufgestellt. Das Bataillon wurde laut Tessin aus dem Volkssturm-Bataillon 412, nach der
Feldpostübersicht aber aus dem Volkssturm-Bataillon 413, aufgestellt. Nach der Aufstellung wurde das Bataillon der 160. Infanterie-Division
unterstellt. Unter dieser wurde das Bataillon in Südjütland bei Esbjerg eingesetzt. ... at1060.htm ... illon-413/ ... runde-ekm/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 07 Jan 2022 03:58

New Finds

Volkssturm-Bataillon 5/41 Erkelenz / Reichsgau Düsseldorf
Volkssturm-Bataillon 5/151 Neuss / Reichsgau Düsseldorf
Volkssturm-Bataillon 5/201 Viersen / Reichsgau Düsseldorf
Volkssturm-Bataillon 5/225 Krefeld / Reichsgau Düsseldorf

G2 Periodic Report Nr. 215 der 5. US Armored Division vom 03.03.1945. ... lkssturms/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 07 Jan 2022 06:18

The Volkssturms situation as described in the book - Battleground Prussia: The Assault on Germany's Eastern Front 1944–45 By Prit Buttar

Despite all its shortfalls, the East Prussian Defence Position was widely hailed as a great success, and Hitler declared Koch’s management of the project as the standard to which all Gauleiters should aspire. Even Goebbels, Koch’s old enemy, felt moved to record in his diary that Koch was undoubtedly the man of the hour.

It was one thing to construct a defensive line, even a poorly designed one; it was quite another to find the troops required to man it. Plans for offensive operations in the west, and as will be seen, the steady diversion of troops to Hungary, ensured that there would be inadequate reinforcements available for Army Group Centre. Koch, however, was not at all disheartened. If the Wehrmacht was unable to furnish the troops required, then the Party would have to do the task itself. On 21 July 1944, in a telegram to Martin Bormann, the Party Secretary, Koch pushed
for the creation of a new people’s militia, under Party control. After General von Yorck turned against Napoleon in the 19th century, the people of Prussia rose against the French, and provided the essential manpower for the rapid expansion of the Prussian forces deployed against the
French in 1813. The same thing could surely happen again, with the German people providing the manpower for a new force, led by a people’s general – in which role, of course, Koch cast himself.

Plans for a militia, or home guard, had been discussed at various levels of the Party throughout the war, and the Wehrmacht staff had also considered how such a militia might be used to garrison defensive positions. On 6 September 1944, Guderian and Hitler once more discussed
the matter, and the creation of this new force was officially sanctioned. Immediately, all of the rivals for power in Nazi Germany demanded
the right to lead the force. Determined to prevent Himmler from securing control of this new force, Bormann was able to announce on 26
September that Hitler had entrusted the organization and leadership of the Volkssturm, as it was to be called, to the Party.

The creation of the Volkssturm, to be mobilized if the enemy crossed the German frontier, was trumpeted loudly by the German press.
Immediately, it became clear that there were insufficient weapons and uniforms for the new units, and training opportunities were severely
limited. Despite the propaganda, most German people could see that the Volkssturm would have little fighting power. As leaders for the new
units, Koch appointed only trusted Party figures, who continued to believe in Hitler, the Party and final victory. Inevitably, almost all these figures had no military experience.

Once more Koch drew on his considerable energies, this time to seek out weapons for the East Prussian Volkssturm. Nearly 500,000 Reichsmarks
were spent to purchase weapons and uniforms, many of them on the black market in Italy, where some weapons were even purchased from
anti-Nazi Italian partisans. Despite this, the military value of the Volkssturm remained questionable. Koch and Himmler spoke in Leipzig shortly
after the creation of the Volkssturm, but were less than fulsome in the language that they used, perhaps because they did not wish the
inhabitants of areas that were still some distance from the frontline to be too alarmed by the need for such desperate measures.

For those who remained in East Prussia, there was no option other than to hope that the Wehrmacht and Volkssturm would be sufficient to
hold back Ivan. Many local civilians – invalids, the elderly and the Hitler Youth – had been mobilized in the ranks of the Volkssturm, and these inexperienced soldiers, occupying reserve positions behind those held by the regular army, endured the bombardment with varying degrees of stoicism. As daylight grew stronger, bombers also joined the assault. In the meantime, the last refugee columns from the Krottingen area
struggled into Memel, picking their way through the rubble-strewn streets. The city was engulfed in a dense cloud of smoke, lit by the
flashes of fresh explosions. For the refugees, it must have seemed like a vision of hell.

Soviet forces secured crossings over the Rominte at Grosswaltersdorf, and pressed on north and west into open ground between the Rominte
and the Angerapp. German alarm at the Soviet assault was widespread, and Gauleiter Koch had already issued orders for the Volkssturm in
Treuburg to be mobilized. The training of the Volkssturm was non-existent and their equipment patchy, despite Koch’s attempts to acquire
weapons. Even worse, there were often no uniforms for them, and consequently the Soviet forces treated them as irregular formations,
exempt from what passed for the normal rules regarding prisoners on the Ostfront. In keeping with his self-image as the people’s general, Koch explicitly forbade the Volkssturm commanders from communicating officially with local military commanders, with the result that regular units
had to rely on local, informal contacts to determine the exact locations and strengths of Volkssturm formations.

Now, Hitler authorized a more general mobilization of the Volkssturm:

While the enemy believes that we are approaching the end, we will make a second call on the strength of our people. We will and must
succeed, as we did in 1939–1940, relying on our strength not only to defeat the destructive will of the enemy but to expel them from the Reich
in such a way that the future of Germany, of our allies, and therefore of all Europe, is ensured and peace is secured.

The Goldap Battalion was a typical Volkssturm formation. It numbered about 400 men, and was organized in four companies. It was fortunate in
that the company commanders were reserve officers. Equipped with a mixture of Russian rifles, German light machine-guns and Panzerfaust
anti-tank weapons, these men now prepared to face the feared Bolsheviks. In all, perhaps 160,000 Volkssturm were mobilized, but despite
repeated requests from Reinhardt and his subordinates, Koch insisted on retaining control of these men. Only in a few locations were individual Volkssturm battalions attached to regular formations.

Reinforcements, in addition to the Volkssturm, were being organized. The Tilsit bridgehead was evacuated, releasing the 1st Paratroop-Panzer Division Hermann Göring and 5th Panzer Division. Meanwhile, the Soviet 11th Guards Army pushed on despite its growing casualties. Soviet
forces that had passed through Grosswaltersdorf reached Nemmersdorf on the Angerapp on 21 October. Three battalions from the Hermann
Göring division reached Gumbinnen on 19 October, where they were relieved to find that the division’s Panther tank battalion had also arrived.
On 21 October, in conjunction with some gun batteries from 18th Flak Division, the three battalions of ‘paratroopers’ – in reality, no more than ordinary infantry – were involved in running battles around Gumbinnen. The amalgamated forces formed themselves into five battle-groups,
and by the end of the day had accounted for nine Soviet tanks, including five Josef Stalins. Their own losses, though, had been heavy,
particularly when they came under air and artillery fire. Nevertheless, a swift Soviet seizure of Gumbinnen was prevented.

The local Volkssturm found themselves in the thick of the fighting. The Goldap Battalion took up defensive positions north of Goldap on 18 December, and went into action three days later, pounding advancing Soviet forces with its few mortars. The Red Army infantry pulled back,
but the following day there was a heavy Soviet artillery bombardment on the entire area, inflicting considerable casualties on the Volkssturm.
Now under Wehrmacht command, the battalion was ordered to withdraw to the west the following day, having lost 76 men killed or wounded out
of its original 400.

To the north, obdurate resistance by elements of Panzer Division Hermann Göring, the flak formations and Volkssturm had prevented the
Russians from penetrating to Gumbinnen. Near Gumbinnen, the arrival of 5th Panzer Division allowed Hossbach to reinforce defensive positions
north of Trakehnen with part of the Hermann Göring division, where it came under heavy attack. Amidst heavy casualties, the German infantry
were driven back, but a swift counter-attack by the division’s armour restored the front. From Gumbinnen, the front ran roughly northeast
through Ebenrode to Schlossberg, where 1st Infantry Division continued to beat off attacks by the Soviet 5th Army, which had taken over from
28th Army.

Local Volkssturm units from Goldap, Angerburg and Insterburg were then committed to the battle. With almost no heavy weapons, their
undoubted courage and resolve to defend their own homes was of no avail – the three rifle corps of 5th Army brushed them aside. A small
group of German assault guns launched a local counter-attack, but the forest line was untenable, and the defenders fell back to the Inster
and Insterburg itself.

Insterburg was lost on 21 January. The following day, 39th Army continued to exploit its breakthrough, driving 69th Infantry Division back to
Tapiau and seizing Wehlau. The 5th Panzer Division was ordered to restore the front. The River Alle flowed north through Wehlau to the Pregel,
and most of the town was on the east bank of the Alle; as Jaedtke’s battlegroup arrived, it found the local Volkssturm was still in control of the western parts of the town. Jaedtke swiftly pushed the Soviet infantrymen back across the river. An attack to clear the eastern parts of Wehlau
was unfeasible – Jaedtke lacked the infantry for such an operation. In any event, he had orders to secure a large segment of frontline,
and all he could do was blow the bridges across the Alle.

Back in the Pregel valley, Jaedtke found himself operating alongside a Volkssturm battalion, just south of Wehlau:

Braunsberg [on the East Prussian coast, southwest of Königsberg] was my last peacetime posting. The battalion leader was the secondary school teacher Krause, whom I knew from peacetime as an efficient, energetic man, who had lost his right arm in the First World War.

The battalion was deployed on the right flank of the armoured group, at the junction with other parts of the division. There were several farms there between Paterswalde and Richau, so that the elderly gentlemen could at least take turns at warming themselves up, as it was still bitterly cold, down to minus 15 degrees at night. In order to make the Volkssturm battalion commander mobile and to ensure better communications with the armoured group, we gave him a half-track with an experienced Feldwebel. Nevertheless, the use of this battalion was irresponsible.

Shortly after dusk (23 January) the Russians attacked along the entire division front, against the armoured group in Wehlau and Allenberg
[not to be confused with the nearby Allenburg] and east of Paterswalde. We generally held our positions, but the Russians infiltrated everywhere through the large gaps in the front. As a result, they ran rampage in the hinterland. At mid-night, the Volkssturm battalion was also attacked
on its left flank, and later its entire front. The men fired ammunition from their assorted weapons – about 20 rounds per man – and then
pulled out to the southwest. Oberstleutnant Herzog sent the battalion home.

The Soviet onslaught continued throughout these days. Whilst the southern and eastern approaches of Königsberg were well defended, 551st
Volks-grenadier Division couldn’t hold its positions. The Cranz road was cut on 27 January. A thrust towards the northeastern part of the city was beaten off by a mixture of units, including a Volkssturm formation commanded by Kreisleiter Wagner, who earned himself the Iron Cross for his actions. Later, in a characteristically petty gesture, Gauleiter Koch censured him for accepting his decoration from the Wehrmacht, instead of allowing Koch to present it to him.

On the Seythen estate near Osterode, Inspektor Romalm, the estate manager, was alerted to the Red Army’s imminent arrival by a messenger,
who arrived early on 19 January. The messenger came from the local Party hierarchy, and ordered Romalm to dispatch his Volkssturm unit to positions in the nearby village of Osterschau. To Romalm’s consternation, he added that the Red Army was not far away. Immediately, Romalm
awoke his platoon of 20 elderly men and youths and sent them marching down the road to Osterschau. He himself remained behind, with an
elderly man – he was reluctant to leave the estate, where 35 Russian and 14 French prisoners of war provided much of the workforce.

Marienburg was in a bend in the Nogat, with the river protecting the town to the west and north. In late 1944, the civilian population helped dig additional trenches and antitank ditches to defend the town from the south and east. These fortifications would require about a division of
infantry to be held properly, but by December 1944, the only forces allocated to Marienburg were four artillery batteries, equipped with Italian
and captured Russian guns, two battalions of replacement personnel, and a single battalion of Volkssturm.

Fortress commandant, Oberst von Koeller, raised doubts about the ability of these forces to hold the town, but the only result of this was his dismissal.


Of those who remained in Graudenz, some surrendered after a further approach by representatives of the NKFD. The rest laid down their
weapons shortly after. Despite all assurances, those who surrendered to the NKFD were treated exactly like all other German prisoners of war.
Few of them were able to return to Germany for several years. Members of the Volkssturm were gathered together in the inner courtyard of the
Courbiere Fortress, which had formed the heart of the defences, and were shot.

A small German Volkssturm garrison briefly held up the Soviet infantry at Gross-Tychow, but on 4 March 272nd Rifle Division reached the
outskirts of Köslin.

Only Kolberg, on the coast, continued to hold out. The town’s peacetime population of about 30,000 had more than tripled due to an influx of refugees and retreating soldiers, and Oberst Fritz Fullriede, the garrison commander, knew that his ragtag collection of stragglers, Hitler Youth
and Volkssturm could not possibly endure in the face of enemy attacks, particularly as almost no preparations had been made for the town’s defence. He requested permission to attempt a breakout, but was ordered to remain where he was. Nor was he given permission to dispatch
the many refugee trains that had gathered in the town towards the west: the exact location of the advancing Soviet forces made such a journey risky, and possibly fatal for the civilians aboard the trains. Fullriede had at his disposal a fortress regiment, an infantry regiment and an
artillery regiment, as well as a full regiment of Volkssturm.

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”