The Combat Performance of the Fallschirmjäger

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
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AirborneAllTheWay
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The Combat Performance of the Fallschirmjäger

Post by AirborneAllTheWay » 18 Jul 2002 19:58

I am currently doing a PhD on the combat performance of the Fallschirmjäger during WWII and the reasons behind their elite status.

What do you all think?[/b]

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Starinov
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Post by Starinov » 18 Jul 2002 20:00

The elite status was provided by the fact that there was no many jägers in thew Wehrmacht. About the same think about the Panzertruppen. The harder it is to get to a unit, the more elite it is considered.

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Post by AirborneAllTheWay » 18 Jul 2002 20:04

Not too sure about that point of view. Just because a unit is hard to get into does not make it elite. I would not consider the panzertruppen difficult to get into, nor on the whole an elite force. I was thinking more in terms of training, selection and the bond produced by the unique expirience of jumping from an aircraft.

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Starinov
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Post by Starinov » 18 Jul 2002 20:35

Let me put it in other words. If you have a regiment in an army to which it is hard to get cause of the selection criteria, training, and the limited places available, this regiment is considered an elite troop.

The bond between men will be created later. It does not exist in the first place. You can have a very strong bond between men in every regiment of an army. It does not make it an elite troop.

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 18 Jul 2002 20:44

I think that their elite status is comprised of 4 things:

1] Pre-war PR. The units were really promoted, IMO. If you promote anything, you'll get lots of good response from the masses, and it also provided a lot of good 'raw material'.

2] It was new - new things are always considered either good or bad - and they performed quite well, so they were considered good.

3] Early war-years successes. When thinking about incidents like Eben Emael, it is hard not to appreciate the courage and quality of the troops. Also, in other cases, the Fallschirmjäger performed very well, and fought good.

4] Sheer quality. It can't be denied that the Fallschirmjäger were better than the standart German soldier. They fought better and more intense, and kept on doing so even with very high casualties.

Hope this helps, and good luck on your PhD

Christian

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Christoph Awender
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Fallschirmjäger

Post by Christoph Awender » 18 Jul 2002 22:36

Hi!

I think that the actions of so called elite forces are often (not always) exagerated.
Many people interested in the Wehrmacht study the Waffen-SS, Fallschirmjäger, Großdeutschland etc.... There are hundreds of real experts out there for these branches and units. Actions of them are well known and documented.
Ever met a 79.Inf.Div. expert?
For my site I study Kriegstagebücher over and over and I must say that the so called "average" Wehrmacht divisions performed great in many situations no one ever heard of. Starting in the Poland campaign ending in the last hours.

Christoph

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Lawrence Tandy
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Post by Lawrence Tandy » 18 Jul 2002 23:47

Just making a quick post. Recently read that the last Fallschirmjäger unit raised in ww2 fought at Seelöwe hieghts and destroyed something like 30 t34s in the battle. U unit must have some sort of elan or mistique about it to fight so hard so consistantly. I would not know, but by 1945, this unit must have had very few original paratroops left in it's ranks. Of course could be chalked up to desperation as all units on the hieghts fought stubbornly. Will find you a source if you need it.

Cheers LT

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Benoit Douville
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Post by Benoit Douville » 19 Jul 2002 01:12

I think it's a great idea to make a serious research about the Fallshirmjäger. Here is some fact:

-General Kurt Student was the innovator of vertical envelopment and was awarded the Knight Cross with Oakleaves.

-The Germans Airborne Forces were awarded a total of 134 Knights Crosses during World War II.

-The first encounter between British Para's and Fallshirmjäger took place on november 20 1942 in North Africa.

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Christoph Awender
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where, when, how...

Post by Christoph Awender » 19 Jul 2002 02:17

I would be interested in examples where Fallschirmjägers performed better or achieved things other units wouldn´t have achieved.

Christoph

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Lawrence Tandy
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Post by Lawrence Tandy » 19 Jul 2002 04:25

There are some at the beginning of the war, when they jumped out of planes of course. :D But as a rule I believe that they always fought hard, no matter what, Ortana and Monte Cassino are a couple of examples, but I won't say in all honesty that other units couldn't have achieved the same thing. In combat I believe that they were equal to their British and US. counterparts, but could not match their mobility (due to planes of course). I was also wondering, was the Herman Göring division classified as FJ, Luftwaffe or Panzer-Grenadier? I know for all intents and purposes it was a Panzergrenadier-Division, just wondering about official classification. Thanks
L.Tandy

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dmsdbo
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Post by dmsdbo » 20 Jul 2002 14:37

The question largely depends on the divisions involved. The paratroopers deployed to Eben-Emael and Crete were of the highest calibre, but as you probably know, the high casualties during the later operation largely dissuaded Hitler from launching any further attacks with paratroops. Yet I believe that the idea of them still appealed to him.

In Italy, the 1st and 4th Fallschirmjäger-Divisions were deployed against the Allied advance, along with the semi-Fallschirmjäger "HG" Panzer-Division. They were most certainly better than standard Wehrmacht units. A perfect example is when a single regiment held up the crack 1st Canadian Division for a month in Ortona, inflicting 3000+ casualties on it.

In France, the 2/3/5/8 Fallschirmjäger-Divisions all fought very well, but suffered tremendous casualties, and most had to be completely reformed at least once. Still, they were seen as elite troops.

Then we come to the 9th Fallschirmjäger-Division that fought along the Oder River. It was described, by Heinrici and others, as a deplorable unit that had a great tendency to break and run under even the lightest fire. Obviously not prepared for this type of fighting, they could not be considered an elite unit.

Tolga Alkan
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Post by Tolga Alkan » 20 Jul 2002 14:57

I can say, Fallschirmjäger units were elite. But don't forget,heavy casualties,divisions destroyed and rebuild, age coverage is 17 in late war etc etc.

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Wolfkin
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Post by Wolfkin » 21 Jul 2002 23:02

This link might prove interesting to y'all! :)

Lots of stuff about the Fallschirmjäger!

http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/index.html

Wolfkin

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Erich
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Fallshirmjäger

Post by Erich » 22 Jul 2002 02:21

The only event I can come to think of is the last 2 battles of Cassino. Who else could have defended the dreaded hump with so much daring ?

E

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Lehr Division
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Re:Website

Post by Lehr Division » 22 Jul 2002 05:55

Wow a very nice site , i love the part about the veterans.

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