Travel Times in the Greater Reich

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Volyn
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Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Volyn » 03 Sep 2020 15:07

I read somewhere once that if a Roman citizen made use of every form of transport available to them (horseback, foot, chariot, carriages and ships), they could cross the entirety of the Roman Empire, from end to end, in about 6 weeks assuming they traveled everyday.

When the war began Germany made effective use of their transportation system to quickly conquer and occupy Europe. As the war progressed and damage to European infrastructure became more common and severe, it obviously had an adverse affect on maintaining consistent travel schedules. However, the Germans were able to adapt very well to the wartime destruction and continued to move large numbers of soldiers, materiel, prisoners, loot and civilians around the Reich until the war ended.

Does anyone know what the expected travel times were for military units and resources transported throughout the Reich and its occupied territories? For example, if a division is supposed to deploy to the front, how long would it reasonably take for them to arrive?

When military units received orders for redeployment how long did it take to move them from the Eastern Front to the Balkans, North Africa, France, Italy, etc.?

If individual soldiers were going home on leave what was the expected travel time, and what percent of their leave was spent traveling back and forth (25/75%)?

I have also heard stories about both Göring's treasure trains and the Holocaust trains receiving higher priority for use of engines and tracks ahead of the troop transports, thus causing significant delays for units to travel, is this accurate?


Below are comparative maps for both the Roman and German Empires at their greatest expanse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Empire
Roman Empire 117AD.png
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-oc ... tered%20by
Reich and Occupied Territories.png
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GregSingh
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by GregSingh » 04 Sep 2020 08:51

You will find many answers already on this Forum.

German Railways in the East
Did Hitler prioritize the Jewish trains over military trains ?

I have timetables for most of trains during 1939-45, including special trains for military personnel on leave and lot's of military transports for troops deployments. Can have a look if you are interested in particular line/date.
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

Volyn
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Volyn » 04 Sep 2020 17:14

GregSingh wrote:
04 Sep 2020 08:51
You will find many answers already on this Forum.

German Railways in the East
Did Hitler prioritize the Jewish trains over military trains ?

I have timetables for most of trains during 1939-45, including special trains for military personnel on leave and lot's of military transports for troops deployments. Can have a look if you are interested in particular line/date.
Thank you GregSingh for the links they are informative and they answer a couple of the questions in my original post, however, after reading through them I did not find anything that specifically discussed the expected and actual travel times to move anything around (livestock, soldiers, materiel); if it's there I missed it, but I did a search on the links also and nothing came up.

If you can please share whatever portions of your timetables you feel are helpful it would be appreciated, if notations for all of the German trains departures and arrivals from 39-45 are avialable that would be amazing, my interest is in the following:

1. How long was it expected to move whole units (Battalion, Regiment, Division) and individual personnel around the Reich? Was it just 3-5 days of loading, travel and unloading, or could it be expected to take longer? Trains are not the only method to move units to or from the front, so travel by road using vehicles or marching would need be considered as well.

2. Was it simply measured by the calculated km per day required to travel, or were there other factors considered in their movements, especially as the war progressed?

3. Do you know how long it took to move roughly 45 Divisions from the Eastern Front in 1943 to the Balkans and Italy? Also, how long was the travel time from USSR to France for units to rest and rearm?

4. In the German build up for the Battle of the Bulge during the Fall/Winter of 1944 is it known how long it took to reposition a Division from the East to the Ardennes?

5. Personnel on leave required passes with strict dates for how long it would last; I have read in personal accounts and heard of other instances where German soldiers would simply give up trying to get home on leave because it was taking too long, otherwise it would have been impossible for them to return to their unit on time, therefore they made do with whatever location they were presently in. Considering the conditions of the railways from 1943-1945, and the effect that the refugees had with the volume of people jamming into stations later in the war, the actual travel time for a soldier on leave must have consumed increasingly higher percentages of the time that was allotted to them. Is there any information related to this and what the real effects were on the Wehrmacht?

GregSingh
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by GregSingh » 05 Sep 2020 04:55

At the railways link you will find two documents:
- travel time from Smolensk to Warsaw in December 1941, which was close to the the worst possible time to travel, and
- travel time from Berlin to Hitler's HQ in Ukraine (ca. 1330 km) from mid-1942
That will give some idea to start with.

In NARA T354 roll 606 you will find lots of info about moving 2nd SS Panzer Corps from Russia to Italy in mid-1943.
http://znaci.net/NARA/T316.php
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

RandJS
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by RandJS » 06 Sep 2020 00:34

Hi,

An example: 12 ID, in a fast transport situation, began loading at Gruppa Training area, Poland 00:01 hrs September 14, 1944 with first unit arriving Julich, 02:30 hrs, September 16th, traveling some 750 miles in thirty one and a half hours. Forty four trains in all, last one arriving 05:05 hrs, September 18, 1944.

Cheers,
RandJS

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Yuri
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Yuri » 06 Sep 2020 12:39

Routes Movement of European forces to various sections of the Soviet-European front.
Moving of the Force of Europians.jpg
In the direction from East to West, soldiers and officers moved mainly in ambulance trains. The essence of the movement of divisions from East to West was as follows: the division headquarters, the communications battalion and the division's rear services, the regimental and battalion commanders, as well as 10% of the soldiers "to preserve the tradition". The remaining number of soldiers and officers were distributed among the divisions that remained in place.
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Volyn
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Volyn » 06 Sep 2020 15:24

GregSingh wrote:
05 Sep 2020 04:55
At the railways link you will find two documents:
- travel time from Smolensk to Warsaw in December 1941, which was close to the the worst possible time to travel, and
- travel time from Berlin to Hitler's HQ in Ukraine (ca. 1330 km) from mid-1942
That will give some idea to start with.

In NARA T354 roll 606 you will find lots of info about moving 2nd SS Panzer Corps from Russia to Italy in mid-1943.
http://znaci.net/NARA/T316.php
Thank you GregSingh for the link to the rolls! I will need to study this further and probably end up writing a new thread :lol:
RandJS wrote:
06 Sep 2020 00:34
An example: 12 ID, in a fast transport situation, began loading at Gruppa Training area, Poland 00:01 hrs September 14, 1944 with first unit arriving Julich, 02:30 hrs, September 16th, traveling some 750 miles in thirty one and a half hours. Forty four trains in all, last one arriving 05:05 hrs, September 18, 1944.
Thank you RandJS this is exactly the kind of data I was looking for! Now we can see that by this point in the war it was still very reliable to move 44 trains, apx. 12,800 soldiers* and their materiel within the central Reich boundaries over 5 days, and they probably needed 1 day to march 17km to Eschweiler which was their first staging area. Since the Division arrived in a staggered fashion over 3 days we can assume the first staging area was not filled until at least September 19.

Was the Warthelager training camp in Biedrusko, Poland the Gruppa Training area you are referencing, if not do you know its location?

*Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). German Order of Battle: 1st-290th Infantry divisions in World War II. Stackpole Books. pp. 50–53.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12th_Infa ... Mitcham1-1
Yuri wrote:
06 Sep 2020 12:39
In the direction from East to West, soldiers and officers moved mainly in ambulance trains. The essence of the movement of divisions from East to West was as follows: the division headquarters, the communications battalion and the division's rear services, the regimental and battalion commanders, as well as 10% of the soldiers "to preserve the tradition". The remaining number of soldiers and officers were distributed among the divisions that remained in place.
Thank you Yuri this is new information for me as well! Was this standard practice for all units moving West? Were the remaining cadre of soldiers expected to drill new recruits or did they receive a mix of veterans and recruits when they replenished the troops?

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Yuri
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Yuri » 06 Sep 2020 17:14

Volyn wrote:
06 Sep 2020 15:24
Yuri wrote:
06 Sep 2020 12:39
In the direction from East to West, soldiers and officers moved mainly in ambulance trains. The essence of the movement of divisions from East to West was as follows: the division headquarters, the communications battalion and the division's rear services, the regimental and battalion commanders, as well as 10% of the soldiers "to preserve the tradition". The remaining number of soldiers and officers were distributed among the divisions that remained in place.
Thank you Yuri this is new information for me as well! Was this standard practice for all units moving West? Were the remaining cadre of soldiers expected to drill new recruits or did they receive a mix of veterans and recruits when they replenished the troops?
Yes, this is a typical situation. There were very few exceptions. The transfer of the SS-LSAH to Italy in August 1943 is one of these exceptions.

Let's assume that the number of remaining soldiers and infantry officers was more than two battalions, as well as one artillery abteilug, platoon or sapper company. In this case, a Kamfgruppe was created, which received No division. (For example: KG.18.ID.).
For this Kampfgruppe, the division left a platoon or a communications company, as well as two or three transport columns. The commander of the Kampfgruppen was the commander of one of the division's infantry regiments. Soldiers of the division returning from the hospital or from vacation were included in the Kampfgruppe. The Kampfgruppe was either directly subordinate to an army corps or a any division.

If the number of infantrymen, gunners and sappers was less than described above, then the regiment's Kampfgruppe was created. (For example: KG.IR.580.). No 580 of the Kampfgruppe was set by the number of the regiment whose commander was appointed commander of the Kampfgruppe. (In our case, it will be the commander of the IR.580). KG.IR was included in any division.
Returning from leave or hospital, soldiers and officers of the division were sent to this regimental Kampfgruppe, regardless of which regiment they had previously been in.

About other cases next time.

RandJS
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by RandJS » 06 Sep 2020 17:45

Hi,
Volyn wote: Was the Warthelager training camp in Biedrusko, Poland the Gruppa Training area you are referencing, if not do you know its location?
It's known as Grupa now, 20kms away from Schwetz, Westpreußen. (with thanks to Jan-Hendrik!)

Regards,
Rand JS

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Yuri
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Yuri » 07 Sep 2020 10:12

Some routes.
A) 8th Italian army (from Italy to the Don river): Italy-Third Reich-Warsaw-Minsk-Kursk and then to the Don river.
The return route for the most part was as follows:
I_Gerasoli_.jpg
Sunflower.jpg
https://www.kinopoisk.ru/film/26818/.

B) 3rd Romanian army: from Romania to the Dnieper river (Dnepropetrovsk) by rail, from the Dnieper river to the Don river (section of the upper course of the river Chir-Serafimovich-Kletskaya) on foot. The duration of the walk from the Dnieper river to the Don river is one month. Reason: railway traffic congestion.

C)
6th Panzer division (for operation Winter storm) on the route France-Kotelnikovo: rail transport (103 echelons) - two weeks.
At the same time, the 1st tank company of the 301st tank battalion moved in two echelons: the journey time from Leningrad to the Chir river is about two weeks (from 17.11. to 30.11.42).
At the same time, the 11th tank division moved in a combined March (on its own and by rail) from the area of the 4th army (Roslavl) to the Chir river: the journey time is also two weeks.
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GregSingh
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by GregSingh » 07 Sep 2020 10:38

I have read in personal accounts and heard of other instances where German soldiers would simply give up trying to get home on leave because it was taking too long, otherwise it would have been impossible for them to return to their unit on time, therefore they made do with whatever location they were presently in.
It all really depended on individual situation, but usually it took several days (3-6) to get home to Germany from East front during 1942/43. So on two weeks leave you would spend 2-5 days max with your folks at home. Special trains for military on leave only slightly improved overall situation when comparing with express trains with separate carriages for military personnel which were usually slower, but more widely available.
Is there any information related to this and what the real effects were on the Wehrmacht?
1944/45 was really difficult for everyone. Talking about 1942/43 perhaps less commonly-known fact was that large number of East front soldiers on shorter leaves ended up in the GG, where good quality various services (both discretionary and non-discretionary) could be obtained for the fraction of price of these in the Reich, providing maximum anonymity.
If we become increasingly humble about how little we know, we may be more eager to search.

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Yuri
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Yuri » 07 Sep 2020 10:56

GregSingh wrote:
07 Sep 2020 10:38
I have read in personal accounts and heard of other instances where German soldiers would simply give up trying to get home on leave because it was taking too long, otherwise it would have been impossible for them to return to their unit on time, therefore they made do with whatever location they were presently in.
It all really depended on individual situation, but usually it took several days (3-6) to get home to Germany from East front during 1942/43. So on two weeks leave you would spend 2-5 days max with your folks at home. Special trains for military on leave only slightly improved overall situation when comparing with express trains with separate carriages for military personnel which were usually slower, but more widely available.
This is incorrect.
On the way home and back, 10 days were allocated in each direction, plus one day for crossing the Reich border. In total, 21 days were allocated for the road.

For comparison, I was given 7 days on the road from Prague (or rather from Pardubice/Hradec Kralov) to Tashkent/Uzbekistan (a distance of 4 500 km) in each direction. The duration of the vacation is 10 days. After paying a small amount, you get on a plane and as a result, instead of 10 days, you rest at home for 22 days.

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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by GregSingh » 07 Sep 2020 13:10

On the way home and back, 10 days were allocated in each direction, plus one day for crossing the Reich border. In total, 21 days were allocated for the road.
Hardly the case during 1942/43 or later. Such long leaves were seldom approved even for family reasons.
Didn't this regulation apply to Knight's Cross recipients?
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Yuri
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Yuri » 07 Sep 2020 13:32

GregSingh wrote:
07 Sep 2020 13:10
On the way home and back, 10 days were allocated in each direction, plus one day for crossing the Reich border. In total, 21 days were allocated for the road.
Hardly the case during 1942/43 or later. Such long leaves were seldom approved even for family reasons.
Didn't this regulation apply to Knight's Cross recipients?
This instruction was in action/effect in October 1942.
I read the German vacation instructions. In addition, I learned about this kind of information in captured letters and diaries of German soldiers and officers. I have a clear understanding of this issue. Instructions changed depending on the situation on the front line and the position of this line relative to the borders of the Reich.
I must say that in the Third Reich holidays were given a lot of attention (in a good way).

Volyn
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Re: Travel Times in the Greater Reich

Post by Volyn » 07 Sep 2020 16:19

Thank you Yuri and GregSingh, this is great information to review!

Are these roughly the same expectations for the soldiers of the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine?

I am not familiar enough with how these two branches would have allocated time for their personnel to go on leave. They could cover wider areas of operation over varying and irregular periods of time (both ships and aircraft); how did that affect their travel times in and out of the different theaters of operation and for the sailors and airmen to use their leave time?
Yuri wrote:
07 Sep 2020 10:12
Some routes.
A) 8th Italian army (from Italy to the Don river): Italy-Third Reich-Warsaw-Minsk-Kursk and then to the Don river.

B) 3rd Romanian army: from Romania to the Dnieper river (Dnepropetrovsk) by rail, from the Dnieper river to the Don river (section of the upper course of the river Chir-Serafimovich-Kletskaya) on foot. The duration of the walk from the Dnieper river to the Don river is one month. Reason: railway traffic congestion.

C) 6th Panzer division (for operation Winter storm) on the route France-Kotelnikovo: rail transport (103 echelons) - two weeks.
At the same time, the 1st tank company of the 301st tank battalion moved in two echelons: the journey time from Leningrad to the Chir river is about two weeks (from 17.11. to 30.11.42).
At the same time, the 11th tank division moved in a combined March (on its own and by rail) from the area of the 4th army (Roslavl) to the Chir river: the journey time is also two weeks.
Great examples to work with, if the OKW recognized that up to 2 weeks could be expected to move troops into position in the East how did they schedule the start date for their operations? Was it based on a predetermined date when all forces were expected to be available, or was the date selected when everyone had finally arrived?

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