An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

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Germanicus
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:11

Volkssturm-Bataillon Hermann

1. Kompanie: Hauptmann Horst Ohlerich, vermisst 00.02.1945 / Leutnant Karl-Joachim Jäger, vermisst 00.04.1945 /
Oberfähnrich Günter Sievert, vermisst 00.03.1945
2. Kompanie: Leutnant Walter Schnellbach, vermisst 00.02.1945
3. Kompanie: Leutnant Helmut Mankiewicz, vermisst 1945
4. Kompanie: Hauptmann Helmut Schmidt, vermisst 00.02.1945 /Leutnant Rudolf Knust, vermisst 00.02.1945

Einsatz:
Februar im Raum Schneidemühl, Neustettin, Tempelburg

Besonderheiten / Vermerk:
FPN 04976 Stab III u. 7.-10. Kompanie

Verbleib:
in Regiment 1 Division Bärwalde eingegliedert (nach FpN u. VBL)

Source

FPÜ III
VBL (Band CJ 266)

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... n-hermann/
Last edited by Germanicus on 14 Jan 2022 08:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:20

Volkssturm-Bataillon Degenkolb

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:

Btl.-Kdr. Degenkolb / Major Udo Witt, vermisst 00.02.1945 / 3. Kompanie Hauptmann Dorwin Berlin, vermisst 00.02.1945

Einsatz:
Raum Neustettin, Groß-Born, Deutsch Krone

Besonderheiten / Vermerk:
Gliederung: Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie
Feldpostnummer: 05737, am 06.03.1945 zugewiesen

Stab - Fpn 05737 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 05737 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 05737 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 05737 D
4. Kompanie - Fpn 05737 E

Verbleib:

ab 21.03.1945 Stab III u. 8.-10. Kompanie Regiment 2 Bärwalde.

Quelle:

FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... degenkolb/
Last edited by Germanicus on 14 Jan 2022 08:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:21

Volkssturm-Bataillon Teßmann

Gliederung:
Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
20504, am 06.03.1945 zugewiesen
Stab - Fpn 20504 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 20504 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 20504 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 20504 D
4. Kompanie - Fpn 20504 E

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:
Btl.-Kdr. Teßmann
1. Kompanie:
Rittmeister Karl-Jens Hansen, vermisst 00.02.1945

Einsatz:
Raum Neustettin, Groß-Born, Bad Polzin

Verbleib:
Ab 21.03.1945 Kommandeur Divisions-Nachschub-Trupp Division Bärenwalde u. Nachschub-Einheit.

Quelle:
FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... C3%9Fmann/
Last edited by Germanicus on 14 Jan 2022 08:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:23

Volkssturm-Bataillon Sontowski

Gliederung:
Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
11776, am 06.03.1945 zugewiesen

Stab - Fpn 11776 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 11776 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 11776 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 11776 D
4. Kompanie - Fpn 11776 E

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:
Btl.-Kdr. Sontowski

Einsatz:
Raum Neustettin, Groß-Born, Bad Polzin

Verbleib:
Ab 21.03.1945 Stab.1.-3. Kompanie u. 1. Batterie Feldersatz-Bataillon, Division Bärwalde.

Quelle:

FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... sontowski/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:26

Volkssturm-Bataillon Vecera

Aufstellungszeitpunkt:
vor dem 22.11.1944

Gliederung:
Stab u. 1.-3. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
08468, am 22.11.1944 zugewiesen und am 12.02.1945 getrichen

Stab - Fpn 08468 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 08468 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 08468 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 08468 D

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:
Btl.-Kdr. Vecera

Einsatz:
Februar 1945, Schivelbein, Schneidemühl

Verbleib:
Ab 21.03.1945 in Stab I u. 1.-5. Kompanie Division Leifheit (Division 402) aufgegangen.

Quelle:
FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... on-vecera/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:29

Volkssturm-Bataillon 26/40 // Volkssturm-Bataillon Kessler

Aufstellungsort:
Reichsgau Pommern

Gliederung:
Stab u. 1. bis 3. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
27621, am 04.12.1944zugewiesen, am 06.03.1945 gestrichen
Stab - Fpn 43634 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 27621 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 27621 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 27621 D

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:
Btl.Führer: Kessler

Einsatz:
Februar 1945 Raum Welchenburg, Dramburg, Neustettin

Verbleib:
21.3.1945 Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie Feldersatz-Bataillon 402.

Quelle:

FpÜ III
VBL (Band AU 539)

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... n-kessler/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:30

Volkssturm-Bataillon Peters

Gliederung:
Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
10054, am 06.03.1945 zugewiesen

Stab - Fpn 10054 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 10054 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 10054 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 10054 D
4. Kompanie - Fpn 10054 E

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:
Btl.-Kdr. Peters
Stab: Hauptmann Erich Scholz, vermisst 00.02.1945
Stab: Leutnant Heinz Tischer, vermisst 00.02.1945

Einsatz:
Raum Neustettin, Groß-Born, Deutsch Krone

Verbleib:
Ab 21.03.1945 Stab II u. 5.-8. Kompanie Regiment 4 Bärwalde.

Quelle:

FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... on-peters/

Germanicus
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:32

Volkssturm-Bataillon 40/59

Aufstellungsort:
Reichsgau Westmark

4.Kompanie:

Hauptfeldwebel: Hugo Knoll
Zugführer: August Gehring
Zugführer: Heinrich Güllich
Gruppenführer: August Sterf
Gruppenführer: Albrecht Himmler
Gruppenführer: Adam Knoll (III)
Gruppenführer: Karl Mechnig
Gruppenführer: Ludwig Lamb
Gruppenführer: Franz Dick (Zugl. Stellv. Zugführer)
Sanitäts-Uffz.: Julius Oesterreich

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... lon-40-59/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:35

II. Volkssturm-Bataillon Potsdam / Volkssturm-Bataillon Potsdam

Aufstellungsort:

Potsdam / Reichsgau Mark Brandenburg

Einsatz:
beim XI.SS.Pz.Korps, hier beim Div.Stab „Kurmarck“ im Bereich zwischen Küstrin und Frankfurt/Oder mind. Anfang Februar 1945 bis
13.03.1945

Besonderheiten / Vermerk:
Stärke: durchschnittlich / FPN 44925 (25.11.1944-8.5.1945) zugewiesen am 23.3.1945 für Stab Volkssturm-Bataillon II/Potsdam

FPN ist iFeldpostnummer 44925, am 23.3.1945 zugewiesen.

Stab Fpn - 44925 (nur)

Quelle FPÜ III

Verbleib:

ab dem 09.03.1945 wurde dem Btl. wahrscheinlich das I. Volkssturm-Bataillon Potsdam zugeführt, Umbenennung ab dem 09.03.195 in
Volkssturm-Bataillon Potsdam

Quelle:

Lagekarten der HGr.Weichsel

Potsdamer Volkssturm-Bataillon war schon Anfang Februar 1945 mit der Division Raegener in Klessin im Einsatz.

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... n-potsdam/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:37

Volkssturm-Bau-Bataillon XX/I

Aufstellungsort:
vermutlich Danzig / Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreußen

Aufstellungszeitpunkt:
vor dem 27.02.1945

Gliederung:

Stab und 1. bis 3. Kompanie

Feldpostnummer:
32032, am 27.2.1945 zugewiesen

Stab - Fpn 32032 A
1. Kompanie - Fpn 32032 B
2. Kompanie - Fpn 32032 C
3. Kompanie - Fpn 32032 D

Einheitsführer/Offiziere:

3. Kompanie

Leutnant Leonhard Scheider, vermisst 00.01.1945

Besonderheiten / Vermerk:
27.2.1945 Volkssturm-Bau-Bataillon XX/I, umbenannt am 28.3.1945 in Stab u. 1.-4. Kompanie Bau-Bataillon XX/I.

Quelle:

FpÜ III, VBL

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... llon-xx-i/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:52

Kampfgruppe "Leipzig"

(combat commander with eight Volkssturm battalions, a reserve battalion and a motor reserve detachment)

there is a possible connection to HJ-Volkssturm-Bataillon Leipzig , Volkssturm-Bataillon 27/267 // Volkssturm-Bataillon 267 or
Volkssturm-Bataillon 27/XIV // Volkssturm-Bataillon XIV Leipzig , since these were most likely deployed in Leipzig at the time .

Quelle:

Kampf um Leipzig: Blutiges Kriegsende an der Pleiße

https://www.mdr.de/zeitreise/schwerpunk ... e-100.html

Stadt Leipzig

https://www.leipzig.de/buergerservice-u ... -leipzigs/

XXXVIII. Panzerkorps

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gli ... zKorps.htm

VBL (Band VC 105)

"... On April 18, 1945, white flags waved in Leipzig, signaling the end of the war and the end of the National Socialist dictatorship to the city's residents. Luckily, Leipzig was not declared a fortress and was thus saved from senseless destruction, even if the Volkssturm - and Wehrmacht
units had entrenched themselves in several places in the city area and fought last battles with the invading American troops, which lasted
until the night of April 20th at the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. ..."

With the capitulation of the last German defenders around Poncet on April 20, 1945, at 2:00 a.m., the battle for Leipzig ends. Around 200
German soldiers, Volkssturm men and Hitler Youth, as well as 20 US soldiers paid for it with their lives. However, the Second World War in
Germany is not over yet. In the greater Berlin area and in eastern Saxony, the bloody climax is yet to come. It will cost tens of thousands more
lives. ..."

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... eipzig-ii/

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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 08:58

Volkssturm-Bataillon 1/289

Aufstellungsort:
Triberg / Reichssgau Baden-Elsaß

Aufstellungszeitpunkt:
Anfangs December 1944

Einheitsführer :

Btl.Kdr. Hauptmann d.R. (und SA-Sturmbannführer) Reinhold Seeber (bis Mitte Dec.1944)
Btl.Kdr. August Blum (Jahrgang 1900, Gefreiter im 1wk) (ab Febr.1945)
6.Kompanieführer: Hauptmann d.R. Ludwig Schmidt (Dec.1944 bis 1945 (Krank))
6.Kompanieführer: Josef Burger (ab Febr.1945)
6.Kompanie, Zugführer Wilhelm Haug

Mission:

he 6th company from the city of Triberg was alerted on April 20, 1945 at 18:00. Command post in the Martin brewery. The company was
reinforced with Volkssturm Battalion Trollinger (from Karlsruhe) and Panzerjägerzug (Lieutenant) Collet. In the early morning of April 21, the Volkssturm Battalion Trollinger received orders to advance to Königsfeld via Sommerau-St.Georgen. The 6th company was relieved on April 22 at
1 p.m. The few weapons (rifles and bazookas) collected, and the men sent home. / 200 French civilian workers and 100 male Russians came to Triberg from the direction of St.Georgen. On April 23, Battalion Commander Blum gave Company Commander Burger an order to have these
people transported further. Since the Volkssturm soldiers had already (Sunday, April 22) been sent home, this assignment was difficult. Blum
and Burger put together about fifty Volkssturm men who were to accompany and guard the transport to Furtwangen. Around 3 p.m. another 134 Russians (from the Hirzwald area) were brought in. This meant that Triberg had about 700 to 800 foreigners within its walls shortly before the
enemy occupation. 300 Russian prisoners of war were forwarded to Furtwangen in the evening by 18 Volkssturm men
(with platoon commander Wilhelm Haug). The French civilian workers and Polish prisoners of war were left in Triberg.

Besonderheiten / Vermerk:
A Kompanie aufgestellt aus Stadt Triberg (6.Kompanie)
A Kompanie aufgestellt aus Schonach-Schönwald
A Kompanie aufgestellt aus St. Georgen-Stadt
A Kompanie aufgestellt aus St. Georgen-Land

Ab Mitte April 1945 noch zwei extra Kompanien und ein Panzerjagdzug (Leutnant Collet)

Verbleib:
6.Kompanie in Triberg.

Quelle:
"Ausweglos" - Hermann Riedel (Seite 145-150)

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... lon-1-289/

Germanicus
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 09:04

Volkssturm-Bataillon St.Georgen

Aufstellungsort:
St. Georgen (Schwarzwald)

Einheitsführer:
Bataillonsführer: SS-Sturmführer Wilhelm Schmidt
Kompanieführer: Christian Trautwein
Kompanieführer: Kilian Baumann (ehem. Feldwebel)
Kompanieführer: Dr. Otto Schnitzer
Kompanieführer: ???

Mission:

"The Ortskommandant was of the opinion that, given the threatening situation as a result of the advance of enemy troops, the Volkssturm
had to be called up. The Volkssturm leaders pointed out that the Volkssturm men had no ID cards, no weapons, apart from a few Panzerfäusten.
The call of the Volkssturm is therefore useless."

"Retired Mayor Riemensperger was summoned to the town hall on Sunday morning (April 22). Among other things, German officers demanded
food for the German soldiers. These were mainly people from the Volkssturm from Karlsruhe. Lunch was cooked and served for them in the
"Deutschen Haus". "In addition, it was demanded that the mayor call on the St.Georgen Volkssturm men to join the German troops.
However, due to the precipitating events, the required announcement was not made."

"... he went out into the street and met the St.Georgen watchmaker Willi Kraft, who was armed as a soldier. He said to Glenz that St.Georgen
would now be recaptured. After that came individual German soldiers and finally a German officer on horseback..."

"On the way out of town, Glenz and Stockburger met Fritz Aberle, a citizen of St. Georgen, who was pulling a cart loaded with ten
Panzerfäusten in the direction of the "Sonne" inn. He said "we're about to start now".

Quelle:
"Ausweglos" - Hermann Riedel (Seite 197, 211-212)

https://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/inde ... t-georgen/

Germanicus
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 10:29

« Metz 1944 » THE GREAT WHAT IF.

On October 4, 1944, at the Bayernkaserne, Franz Schubert, Kreisleiter of Metz, requisitioned navvies or Schanzarbeiter to dig anti-tank trenches. Refractory civilians are considered deserters and incur the death penalty. Some of these Schanzarbeiters will be forcibly conscripted into the Volkssturm, and will be forced to bear arms. On October 6, the troops of the 11th Infantry Regiment, still besieging the fortified group Driant,
were relieved by the first battalion of the 10th Infantry regiment. Faced with these fresh and well-armed troops, the German soldiers, supervised
by junkers with iron discipline, held their positions as best they could. With the wounded and dead now counting in the dozens in the fort, morale
is at its lowest. Believing to benefit from an overwhelming material superiority, the American troops launched a new attack on October 7.

The fighting is fierce, the German soldiers defending themselves step by step, with the energy of despair. In a last effort, they repel the
American attack on the surface and take prisoners in the communication tunnels. Faced with this new bitter failure, General Gay decided to abandon the offensive on the fortified group Driant and cautiously evacuate his troops on the night of October 12 to 13, after trapping the
entrances with 3,000 kg of explosives.

A number of Wehrmacht soldiers withdrew in good order from Metz towards the Saar. Following this new deployment, the American XII Corps
decides to launch a new attack, an attack hard fought by the German defenders. For his commitment during these battles, Colonel Siegroth
obtained the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on October 18, 1944. Shortly after, he had the arm badge "Metz 1944" created to "recall the heroic defense of the fortress of Metz, against an adversary superior in number and in material". On October 19, Hitler's decree of September 25, 1944 calling for the mass levying of men aged 16 to 60 comes into force in the "CdZ-Gebiet Lothringen". The institution of the Deutscher Volkssturm is applicable two days later, on October 21. SA-Gruppenführer Caspary's mission is to raise 12 battalions in the Gau Westmark. Placed under the authority of Vollrath Lübbe, these battalions must in particular reinforce the 462nd Volks-Grenadier-Division engaged in the battle.
The incorporation will take place at the Bayern-kasern of Metz, from November 1, 1944.

On October 27, 1944, the old town hall was taken. On October 28 and 29, the last pockets of resistance fell. On October 30, General Patton can
visit the ruins of Maizières and savor his victory. The northern and southern locks of Metz having fallen, the American command decided to attack
the rear line of Metz, bypassing the city from the east. November 1944. A battalion of Volkssturmmänner, numbering about 400 men, is integrated into the defense system of the city. This battalion is mainly made up of former police officers and 14-18 veterans aged over 45, but also young
Hitler judges aged under 18, and refractory German army. The combat capacity of this battalion being considered, by the German command, as
nil and its loyalty very reduced, the men of the Volksturm "Metz" were placed under the authority of a Major of the Ordnungspolizei and
relegated to maintenance tasks.

https://daao.forumactif.fr/t13-le-volkssturm

CdZ-Gebiet Lothringen

The CdZ area of Lorraine existed from 1940 to 1944 and is spatially identical to the Department of Moselle,but not to Lorraine,of which it
comprises only a part.

It was French territory, which was under a German head of the civil administration (CdZ) and was intended for integration into the German Reich
as part of the Reichsgau Westmark.

Kreise in Lothringen

1. Diedenhofen
2. Forbach, Verwaltungsbezirk
3. Metz, Stadtkreis
4. Metz, Landkreis
5. Saarburg (Westmark)
6. Saargemünd
7. Salzburgen
8. Sankt Avold

lothkr44.jpg

http://www.territorial.de/lothring/lothkr44.htm

(1977) War Monthly, Issue No.46 **

{BBE4F8A9-595D-4AA0-97FA-D50E7D2B32E2}_dui-metz_00135p.jpg

'"See you in METZ predicted Patton on 6 December.

But the last of 37 forts held out until 9 December, the battle itself began in September 1944"!!

The vital actions towards the end of World War II in Europe have been exhaustively described - the breakout from the Cotentin Peninsula
and the race across France the Ardennes battles and the crossing of the Rhine. In all these the US Third Army comnanded by the almost
legendary George S Patton played its part. But few chronicles of the period have devoted more than a few lines to the activities
of that Army between September and November 1944 when one of its corps was engaged in crossing the Moselle and reducing the city of Metz.

The only account of the struggle is tucked away in the pages of the official history of the Lorraine campaign while the publicists of the
immediate Post war era tended to gloss over Patton first real setback.
**

The quality of the German resistance was due initially to the presence of elite troops. But after these had been withdrawn the remainder
continued to fight bravely some 14 000 men holding up an entire Army Corps by 40 and 70 years old. The forts themselves proved
that permanent fortifications still had a role to play in modern warfare, and could probably only have been neutralized by earthquake bombs.

They fulfilled their basic purpose on that they enabled a comparatively small body of men to hold a large amount of territory. Had the Germans
managed to hang on for another month Patton would have been unable to respond quite so flexibly to the threat posed by the Ardennes
offensive and the whole timetable for ending the war might well have been thrown out of gear.


Metz.JPG

Nov. 20, 1944

https://www.nytimes.com/1944/11/20/arch ... -as-a.html

Allied Propoganda Leaflet

DQ219BFa-1300x1200.jpg

The first front service of the Volkssturm in the West occurred in Metz. in Metz it was shown what theVolkssturm can accomplish in a battle of material. In Metz it was also shown what the chances of a volkssturm man are to get home from the front alive. -One battalion of Volkssturm
was quickly thrown together and thrown into battle when the Americans had broken through. Solders of the Wehrmacht asked “If we cannot
prevail against a superior enemy, what then can you hope to accomplish?” The VS-men asked the same. Their weapons: Italien Carbines and
french Lebel rifles, vintage 1886. -The party bosses of Metz like Kreisleiter Schubert and Obersturmführer Langkitsch sent the VS-men into
battle at 1 a.m. when the situation had already become desperate. The fall of Metz was imminent. But ir was still time enough for the
Volkssturm to die.


The party bosses stayed behind in Metz. -About 400 VS-men were supposed thus to die for the party in the last hour. But they knew the score themselves. They were split up and immediately took cover as best they could, in cellars and shelters. Then, when the Americans approached,
the VS-men immediately surrendered to the mass of their opponents. for the outer forts had already fallen. Any resistance would have meant suicide. In this manner 95% of the volkssturm men saved themselves along with the thousands of soldiers of the Wehrmacht. The handful of
zealots who tried fighting tanks with rifles perished in the battle of material, along with those who didn’t know how to take cover. that is the
story of the first action of the volkssturm in the west.


https://www.marshallfoundation.org/libr ... in-action/
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Germanicus
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Re: An extensive list of Volkssturm-Bataillons?

Post by Germanicus » 14 Jan 2022 21:46

FORTRESS 108 Osprey Publishing

GERMANY’S EAST WALL IN WORLD WAR II


Küstrin

The fortress garrison eventually comprised members of all arms of the army and Waffen-SS mixed with Flak, police and gendarmerie units. By the end of February [1945] it had reached its maximum ration strength of about 16,800, of which only about 10,000 were actually combatants [including two fortress regiments]. These numbers included 900 Volkssturm [made up of two battalions – one from Küstrin and one from Luneburg]

Volkssturm

By September 1944 the Allies were pressing on Germany’s eastern and western borders. Desperate circumstances called for desperate measures
and the idea of creating a home guard was floated. However, in the culture of mistrust that existed in the period after the 20 July plot, the idea
of creating such a force and placing it under the army’s control was not acceptable. Instead, the Volkssturm, or people’s militia, was
created and placed under the control of the party (Directive 278/44 issued by the Party Chancellery on 27 September 1944 ).

The plan was to create a force of 6 million men by conscripting males in the age range 16 to 60 who were capable of bearing arms and who were
not already serving in some military unit, or engaged in vital war work. Each Gauleiter was charged with the leadership, enrolment, and
organisation of the Volkssturm in their district. Gauleiter and their deputies, the Kreisleiter, were also responsible for selecting officers. Initially they tended to select party men, but later the emphasis changed and officers were selected on the basis of military experience.
Himmler, as commander of the Replacement Army, was responsible for training and arming the Volkssturm.

Training was necessarily brief because of a lack of instructors and the perilous situation of the war, with only a brief introduction to firing a rifle
and Panzerfaust. Weaponry was similarly limited. The Volkssturm were issued with whatever weapons were available; some were older
models and others were from Belgium, France, Italy and the Soviet Union which had been captured by German forces during the war. Others
had no weapons at all and were only armed when they reached the front.

The primary task of the Volkssturm was to support the Wehrmacht. Thus, if the German border was threatened and regular units could
not cope then Volkssturm units could be deployed to meet the threat. Their deployment was to be temporary until regular units were able
to be moved to meet the incursion. In combing through the available manpower, men were allocated to different groups depending on whether
their work was vital to the war effort. Those in the first and second levy were available to fight. However, while the battalions in the first levy
could be used anywhere in the Gaue (regions), battalions from the second levy could only be deployed in an absolute emergency and only in their immediate locality, because their work was deemed of critical importance to the war effort. In fortress cities regular units would form the
skeleton of a larger unit which would be filled by men from the Volkssturm when the city was under threat. The Volkssturm personnel
would work as normal and would train in the evening and at weekends and would only mobilise when the threat of any enemy attack was imminent.

The decree signed by Hitler ordering the creation of the Volkssturm was sent to Gauleiter at the end of September and this was not a
moment too soon. On 10 October Gauleiter Koch ordered the first battalions to man the defences, and as early as 20 October seven battalions
were fighting in East Prussia. They acquitted themselves well and helped repel the Soviet attack.

From the middle of December 1944 15 battalions of the Volkssturm manned the Pommern Stellung (and Festung Schneidemühl)
fortifications
.

‘The men were deployed for a 14 day period and received military training. Winter clothing was also provided on site but was returned at the
end of the deployment period and passed on to the next batch of men’ (Noble 2010, p.159). Men of the Volkssturm and 433rd and 463rd Reserve Infantry divisions of Wehrkreis (Military District) III were deployed along the OderWarthe-Bogen position. But these regular troops and
militia men were not familiar with, nor trained to man, the permanent defences. Thus, ‘For sophisticated defences such as those of the
Oder-Warthe-Bogen fortified front there was insufficient technical support and a lack of … troops with specialised training to operate the
defensive installations’ (Noble 2010, p.212). General Werner Kienitz of Wehrkreis II concluded: ‘the thought that a poorly armed mass levy of
old men and boys would turn around the fate of Germany in the struggle against massed Soviet tank armies was totally unprofessional not to say criminal. This material was unsuitable’ (Noble 2010, p.159).

Oder-Warthe-Bogen

Facing the might of the Red Army were a series of incomplete defensive lines that had been thrown up across Poland (a to d Stellungen) and where the positions had been finished there were insufficient troops to man them. Army Group A had only six battalions of fortress infantry to man the
a1 Stellung, while the commander of Wehrkreis (Military District) XXI (Posen) had just 21 battalions of Volkssturm to hold his sector of the
b1 Stellung. Ian Kershaw, in his book The End, describes how ‘The speed and savagery of the assault swept away German defences’ (Kershaw 2011, p.174) and just five days after the start of the offensive Warsaw was captured without a fight, much to Hitler’s dismay.

This was the first success in an ambitious plan which envisaged Soviet forces reaching the Oder in 15 days and ending the war in 45.

However, all was not lost for the Germans. Troops of the 433rd and 463rd Reserve Infantry divisions of Wehrkreis (Military District) III, along with
Volkssturm battalions, were rushed to the front. If Gusakovskii’s force could be eliminated and the defences could be fully manned by a
well-armed and motivated force, there was hope. Sadly, in January 1945 this was not feasible. The permanent defences were manned, but by
troops who were not familiar with the defences, lacked leadership, and were often without uniforms and weapons.

On 24 January a Volkssturm battalion from Küstrin was brought by railway to Trebitsch to man a section of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen. A
member of the unit noted: ‘While I was in Trebitsch, I honestly tried to get weapons. It was no use. When, in the early morning of 30 January, I received a report that the Soviets were crossing the Obra, I went to the combat position, where, in the “Ludendorff” bunker, I tried once again to get weapons or orders. The Gefreiter manning the telephone told me that the last officer had left and was not coming back. So then – still with
only two rifles for the whole battalion – I gave orders to withdraw in the direction of Küstrin’ (Kissel 2010, p.89).

Another Volkssturm battalion, this time from the Sternberg district, was mobilised on 21 January and was ordered to occupy the
Burschen–Starpel sector of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen: ‘The men of the battalion were still almost all in civilian clothing. Three machine guns,
17 rifles and 12 Panzerfäuste formed the total armament for one company of the battalion’ (Kissel 2010, p.89). On the same day yet another Volkssturm battalion, this time from Landsberg/Warthe, was ordered to mobilise and man the defences: ‘The men of the battalion were mostly wearing civilian clothing. In the position, training was carried out with Italian rifles, light machine guns, on built in heavy mortars and
Czech anti-tank guns’ (Kissel 2010, p.89).

Unused to combat, the Volkssturm units were to man the concrete bunkers while units from the regular army were to occupy the areas between. But the regular troops who were to provide backbone to the militiamen were not fresh troops, rather they were the shattered remnants
of the German Ninth Army. In the face of the Soviet onslaught they had fallen back in disarray, seemingly unaware of the defences to their rear.
They took up their positions but it was clear that discipline was breaking down and in the night before the Soviet attack the regulars melted away,
which understandably discomfited the Volkssturm troops in their concrete bunkers.

Some left their positions, but others fought on, including Friedrich Helmigk, a member of a Volkssturm company which was manning
positions in the central section of the OWB. His experiences are detailed in the colour artwork commentary on Page 53. [see below] **

Chuikov later conceded that the defenders ‘fought with determination but were lacking in skill. Of course, if the German divisional
command had had just two days to study the situation and organise the fire system and cooperation with other German forces, it is difficult to say how the events would have developed. I am inclined to think that in that case we would have had to fight a long battle and sustain heavy losses’
(Duffy 1991, p.380).


Pommern Stellung

Those regular troops that had fallen back towards the Pommern Stellung were deployed in front of the line and were quickly overrun, while
others had been senselessly left to defend Festung Schneidemühl. Troops of the Volkssturm were mobilised, but many were unarmed and those that did possess a weapon had little ammunition.

The district administrator of Deutsch Krone wrote: ‘For many people, the fact that the Pommern-Stellung was so swiftly and completely overrun
was incomprehensible. It had been disarmed after the war in Poland. But the positions could not be manned because there was a lack of personnel and weapons. As far as personnel were concerned there was only the Volkssturm, who were almost entirely unarmed. There were no
weapons’ (Kissel 2010, p.102).

Having smashed through the Pommern Stellung, the right wing of Zhukov’s 1st Belorussian Front now wheeled towards the coast. By the beginning
of March they had reached Kolberg (Kołobrzeg) on the Baltic, and a fortnight later the city was taken.

Fortress cities

Posen

By 20 January lead elements of 1st Belorussian Front had reached Posen (Poznań) and three days later the city was surrounded. Chuikov’s
Eighth Guards Army was given the job of reducing the fortress. Chuikov was incensed that he had been given this unglamorous task rather than advancing towards the Oder. He later noted that Soviet intelligence had failed to identify the fact that ‘there’s a first-class fortress at Posen.
One of the strongest in Europe. We thought it was just a town which we could take off the march, and now we’re really in for it’ (Beevor 2002, p.66). His sarcasm was directed at Zhukov, but his comment was not without foundation. Posen was defended by a mishmash of regular units,
officer cadets, Volkssturm and police – some 25,000 men in total. Completely lacking artillery or anti-aircraft weapons and with few tanks, the defenders held out for five weeks until 23 February 1945, when the fortress was finally overrun.

While Chuikov fought to capture Posen, the rest of 1st Belorussian Front advanced towards Berlin and by the end of January they had reached
the eastern edge of Küstrin – a strategically important city which sat on the Oder and which Hitler had designated a fortress. Armoured units
pushed into the city on 31 January in the hope of taking the defenders by surprise. The attack was repulsed by Volkssturm units and it was now clear that the city would only be taken by a set-piece attack.

SOVIET ATTACK ON THE CENTRAL SECTION OF THE ODER-WARTHE-BOGEN **

By the end of January 1945 the Red Army stood in front of the Oder-Warthe-Bogen defences. The majority of these defences had been constructed
in the 1930s and still looked impressive. However, there were few troops to man the defences and these tended to be Volkssturm units
who had no experience of fighting in such prepared positions, nor indeed much experience of fighting at all. One such was Friedrich Helmigk, a member of a Volkssturm company which was manning positions in the central section of the OWB. He later wrote about his experience.

Towards 9 o’clock we sight the first Soviet tanks, 13 fairly heavy tanks rolling up from Calau [Kalawa] to our anti-tank barriers …
Now the first tank comes out of the sunken road, then the second, and third. They stop in front of the barrier … The leading tank
opens its hatch and some Soviets clamber out. A fat officer with a walking stick goes with two men to the barrier and inspects the
obstacles. The fellows behave as if it was deepest peacetime. A couple of words with the Feldwebel, then I get the officer in my
sights, pull the trigger and fire. The man folds up like a penknife … When they hear my shot the Soviets shoot apart. Our machine
gun is now hammering away.

Our mortar peppers a series of 10 to 12 rounds on to the tanks. We both slide quickly as we can into our foxhole. Scarcely are we back in there
again and the armoured turrets are bolted shut than we get five to six 15cm shells planted against our doors. Our machine gun falls silent.
The gun is completely shot up, one man’s slightly wounded …

Soon we see infantry approaching; not very many of them, but still at least a good 100 men. They are firing from all the bushes and from the
small area of woodland which lies in front of us in the direction of Calau. At last our own machine gun has been changed and we’re
able to fire with it. To and from our little mortar shoots out a series of rounds. The Soviets then disappear immediately from the place
where they fall. In return, we get a few shells on the turret, so that the whole bunker shakes, but the Soviets can do us no serious damage …

And so the hours pass … At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the tanks suddenly start moving and roll back the way that they came. We’re beside
ourselves with joy that the Soviets are retreating’ (Kissel 2010, p.195) .The men of the bunker were engaged in a number of further skirmishes
with the enemy, but held on for a month, before breaking out of the position and making their way to the German lines.

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