Question on 133. Festungs-Division

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twassmuth
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Location: Finland

Question on 133. Festungs-Division

Post by twassmuth » 25 Jun 2021 23:51

Dear all,

I'm looking for data on my father's (corporal Bernd Assmuth's) units in the later part of WW2 in the Balkans. He was initially enrolled as nr. 683 in the Infanterie Nachrichten (=Communications) Ersatz Kompanie 208, trained in Berlin-Döberitz from Nov. 1940 and served first in Afrika-Korps (Libya and Tunis) in Infanterie Regiment zur speziellen Verwendung (motorisiert) 200, from Febr. 1941 until 7. June 1942. While also the events in this African stage are interesting, I'm mainly concerned with the events during his later service in Crete, elsewhere in Greece and the Balkans.
I know from German army records which I received that from June 1942 he was in the 133. Festungsdivision originally stationed in Crete (East Aegian) - no more specific information on the units, locations and times of service was available.
However, I assume he was captured in mainland Balkans, since he was in a POW camp (name unknown) in Serbia from at least 1945 (if not before) until his release in early 1947.
I understand from some discussion thread in AHF that 133. Festungsdivision was disbanded and some of its units seem to have been moved to the Balkans and even participated in the Battle for Belgrad in 1944. Could it be that he was also in that area at that time, and taken prisoner there, as the Serbian camp suggests? And what in general did the 133. Festungsdivision do and where, before that, in the Balkans (including Greece)? Who were the commanding officers, and what were they like? Any short-biographies?
Especially interesting to me, did translators of the division, such as he, regularly witness or participate in atrocities against prisoners or, even worse, against suspected partisans and other civilians (which were fairly common on Crete, in Greece and the Balkans), and if so, what cases are known, from where and when?
Do you have any sources/links on these questions, and is there anything written specifically on 133. Festungsdivision? That would be extremely valuable!!

Thanking you most warmly for all your answers and responses,
Timo/Finland

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G. Trifkovic
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Re: Question on 133. Festungs-Division

Post by G. Trifkovic » 26 Jun 2021 10:37

twassmuth wrote:
25 Jun 2021 23:51
Dear all,

I'm looking for data on my father's (corporal Bernd Assmuth's) units in the later part of WW2 in the Balkans. He was initially enrolled as nr. 683 in the Infanterie Nachrichten (=Communications) Ersatz Kompanie 208, trained in Berlin-Döberitz from Nov. 1940 and served first in Afrika-Korps (Libya and Tunis) in Infanterie Regiment zur speziellen Verwendung (motorisiert) 200, from Febr. 1941 until 7. June 1942. While also the events in this African stage are interesting, I'm mainly concerned with the events during his later service in Crete, elsewhere in Greece and the Balkans.
I know from German army records which I received that from June 1942 he was in the 133. Festungsdivision originally stationed in Crete (East Aegian) - no more specific information on the units, locations and times of service was available.
However, I assume he was captured in mainland Balkans, since he was in a POW camp (name unknown) in Serbia from at least 1945 (if not before) until his release in early 1947.
I understand from some discussion thread in AHF that 133. Festungsdivision was disbanded and some of its units seem to have been moved to the Balkans and even participated in the Battle for Belgrad in 1944. Could it be that he was also in that area at that time, and taken prisoner there, as the Serbian camp suggests? And what in general did the 133. Festungsdivision do and where, before that, in the Balkans (including Greece)? Who were the commanding officers, and what were they like? Any short-biographies?
Especially interesting to me, did translators of the division, such as he, regularly witness or participate in atrocities against prisoners or, even worse, against suspected partisans and other civilians (which were fairly common on Crete, in Greece and the Balkans), and if so, what cases are known, from where and when?
Do you have any sources/links on these questions, and is there anything written specifically on 133. Festungsdivision? That would be extremely valuable!!

Thanking you most warmly for all your answers and responses,
Timo/Finland
Hi Timo, and :welcome:

With the info provided in the first post, it is virtually impossible even to guess about your father's wartime career past June 1942. As a specialist, he was obviously flown out of Crete, probably in September/October 1944 (however, there is a slight possibility this took place later on, as the Luftwaffe maintained courier service well into 1945). Once on the mainland, he was probably attached to some unit/HQ and participated in the Wehrmacht's great trek northwest, which ended in May 1945 in Slovenia. Along the way, he could have been captured on numerous occasions: in Macedonia, Kosovo, Belgrade (as you suggested), Sarajevo, Mostar, Kraljevo Bridgehead, Syrmian Front, Drava Bridgeheads etc., etc. The fact that he ultimately ended in a POW camp located in Serbia does not necessarily mean he was captured there; such camps existed in every Yugoslav republic.

Regarding your question on atrocities, which foreign language(s) did he speak? If he was an English interpreter, he dealt with British/Commonwealth prisoners, and would consequently not witness much (if any) violence. If he spoke Serbo-Croatian, the situation would have been different. However, it should be born in mind, that, by this time, the Germans de-facto recognized the Yugoslav Partisan Movement as a belligerent. Consequently, the prisoners had a much better chance of surviving the capture than it was the case in the years 1941-1943, when they were routinely shot after a brief interrogation. The same goes for the civilians: by the late 1944, the Germans were still not above burning down a problematic village, but would not necessarily put everyone to death (seizing livestock was one form of reprisals).

As far as I know, there are no books on the 133rd, but a significant part of the original German documentation pertaining to the occupation of Crete has survived the war and can be found in the US National Archives and Germany's Military Archive.

Best regards,

Gaius

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