Herbstnebel or Wacht am Rhein?

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Herbstnebel or Wacht am Rhein?

Post by Ostfront Enthusiast » 17 Feb 2005 07:03

Hello Gentlemen,

Could somebody please inform me as to the difference between the operations "Herbstnebel" and "Wacht am Rhein"? I have read that the latter involved only the planning for the Ardennes Offensive, however I am unsure if this is true.

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 17 Feb 2005 10:20

As far as I remember Hitler ordered Rundstedt and Model to make their versions of the offensive.
Rundstedt's plan was called "Martin" and Model's "Herbstenebel". The final version became "Wacht am Rhein", but it's a long time since I learned about that, so I might be mistaken. On the other hand whenever and wherever I was confronted with the Ardennes offensive it was labeled as "Wacht am Rhein".

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Post by Jeremy Chan » 18 Feb 2005 15:47

Ost, I've heard of the launching of Wacht am Rhein so it couldn't have just been the planning of the offensive, rather the actual offensive itself, if not, then the initial stages of the battle. You're sure that you're not confusing Herbstnebel as 'Spring Awakening', the offensives around Lake Balaton in Hungary, in early 1945, involving the 6 SS Armoured Army?
Ost, whereabouts in Australia are you from?

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Post by Ostfront Enthusiast » 19 Feb 2005 02:01

Hello Gentlemen,

Firstly, thank you Lt.-Colonel for that you very much for that information, it is most interesting. If anyone else could verify that information I would be most appreciative.

To Jeremy Chan, I too have always thought that "Wacht am Rhein" referred to the codename for the Ardennes offensive, and it was only recently that I read that this may not be the case. I simply wanted to verify what the truth of the matter was, and find out exactly what Herbstenbel denotes.

In any case, I was under the impression that “Herbstnebel” meant Autumn Mist and not Spring Awakening. Certainly I am not confusing the Ardennes offensive with that of "Spring Awakening" in April 1945.

Finally, to answer your question, I come from Melbourne.

Regards to all

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 19 Feb 2005 11:17

I made some digging through my Officer School classes' papers and a few books*, but still, there are 2-3 blank spaces which I would like to fill, if possible.


G.von Rundstedt's plan for the Winter offensive:

-codname:Martin
-Schwerpunkt: 40km wide front, in the vicinity of Simmerath (NE of Monschau)
-additional attack: SW of Roermond which has to be bypassed, link with the other grupation near Liege
-forces: 4 armies, 2 of them Panzer

Model's plan for the W. offensive:

-codname: Herbstenebel
-Schwerpunkt: 60 km wide front, between Hurtgenwald and Lutzkampen
-additional attack: ???
-forces: 2 Armoured armies, back up forces=???

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally both commanders agreed to GvR's plan, sinco both had the same ultimate goal-destructionof all American forces east of Liege-Dinant-Sedan axis. OKH eventually changed it into megalomaniac unrealistic offensive called "Wacht am Rhein" with the ultimate goal of retaking Antwerpen and pocketing 21st army group north of Albert-channel.
------------------------------------------------------------------
*a group of authors: Drugi sv. rat
W.Churchill: 2nd WW
W.B.Breuer: Storming Hitler's Rhine
N.Cawthorne: Steel fist
+some military magazines
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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 19 Feb 2005 11:48

I hope the moderator will allow a little off-topic.

My favourite pic from the Ardennes offensive:
Image
source:B.Alkin, Dr.J.Bank, C.Bauer, et al.:Drugi svjetski rat, Zagreb: IKRO "Mladost", 1980.
I call that book "ww2 picture-book".

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Post by Ostfront Enthusiast » 20 Feb 2005 08:53

Thank you very much Lt.-Colonel for the effort you have put into your post (especially the sources), it is most helpful to me!

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 20 Feb 2005 12:49

I only regret not having a book that deals with Ardennes in particular, so I had to check a piece of info. there, piece here... So my infos are compiled from various sources, neither one of them dealing directly with the Ardennes.

Sorry I couldn't have been of more help sir.

Lt.Col.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 22 Feb 2005 21:08

Ostfront Enthusiast wrote:In any case, I was under the impression that “Herbstnebel” meant Autumn Mist...


That is in fact precisely how it translates.

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Post by Dessek Warrior » 22 Feb 2005 22:47

Herbstnebel was the earlier codename for the same operation as Wacht am Rhein. The first name belonged to the plans that were apporved by Hitler in late september, the second name was given to the offensive somewhere very near to its actual starting point (I don't know the exact date but it could be as late of December 12th) in order to further shield the preparations from the eyes of the Allied intelligence. While Herbstnebel indeed means "Autumn Mist" (or Autumn Fog - of war), Wacht am Rhein means "Guard on the Rhine" or the more commonly used "Watch on the Rhine" which implies a defensive operation.

Lt. Colonel, allow me to fill the gaps in your otherwise excellent lineup:
Additional attack: either the moves of 15th Army that were supposed to take place north of Monschau, or the later operation Nordwind in the Alsace could be considered the additional attacks made to back up the offensive as it happened. I think Model's plans would originally involve the northern shoulder attacks as the secondary push, since he intended to use the units eventually thrown into the Alsace for the Ardennes. He wouldn't have approved Nordwind had he been in charge.
Forces: From north to south, 15th Army (von Zangen) was supposed to guard the north flank of the main offensive by moving north of Monschau and holding a "shoulder" line from there to Liège. This never happened. 6th Panzer Army (Dietrich) was supposed to cross the Meuse at Huy and advance on Antwerp. 5th Panzer Army (von Manteuffel) was supposed to cross the Meuse (IIRC) at Andenne and move on Brussels, guarding the deep flank of the 6th. 7th Army (Brandenberg) was supposed to guard the south flank of the offensive by holding a "shoulder" line from Luxembourg to Givet.

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 23 Feb 2005 10:28

Thank you Dessek Warrior for filling those blank spaces. I made some additional digging in the crates and found several more notes of mine on Ardennes offensive.

Attack:

On 1st November 1944 Jodl issued the order for the offensive "Wacht am Rhein" (the name of old German hymn). The goal of this new offensive was destruction of the enemy north of the line Antwerpen-Bruxelles-Bastogne. The task fell on army group B. AGB had 3 armies on disposal for breaching the American front.

6th SS Pz. army (Dietriech) had to capture the bridges across Maas river on both sides of Liege and to set up strong defensive front faced north on Vesdra river east of Liege. The next task was taking the areas between Maastricht and Antwerpen along the Albert-kanaal and taking the areas north of Antwerpen in order to dominate the Schelde river estuary.

5th Pz. army (Manteuffel) had to act simoultaneously with 6thSSarmy and to capture Maas crossings between Fumay and Namur. Manteuffel had to protect Dietrich's left flank against the counterattack from the west along the line Antwerpen-Bruxelles-Namur-Dinant.

7th army (Brandenberger) had to protect southern and sout-western flank. Seventh's task was to reach rivers Maas and Semois and to connect with the Mosel front in the area east of Luxembourg.

The breakthrough of AGB had to be concluded with 1.Fallschirm.army (Student) which would join the operations in areas between Ruhr and Maas, or in area of Albet-kanaal.

Diversion:

The German command created "25th army" in Aachen area. That "army's" HQs were really busy in radio-traffic so the Allies thought that if any attack is to take place it would be in the Aachen area.

That's all I know about planning the "Wacht am Rhein".

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Post by Dessek Warrior » 23 Feb 2005 22:19

Seeing as 15th Army is again missing in this lineup, I think it would be safe to consider this group of units as the support attack for the offensive. In most planning descriptions this army is not included, but it did indeed take part; initially it was supposed to hold the shoulder line, like I said, in the north like 7th Army did in the south (thanks for the name correction - he was indeed General der Infanterie Brandenberger). This is probably the "strong defensive front" you are referring to in your post. In the event, the advance of the northernmost corps of 6th Army was so slow that the northern shoulder operation was soon abandoned altogether and the units for 15th Army were engaged along the lines established by the other armies of the offensive to strengthen the more and more defensive position of the Germans in the emerging Bulge. For example, 15th Panzergrenadier Division was sent to aid the 47th Panzer Corps (Von Lüttwitz) in the assaults on Bastogne; 9th Panzer Division was sent to cover the northern flank of the most advanced unit of the offensive (2nd Panzer Division/47th XXX - 5th XXXX). Generally speaking, therefore, 15th Army never operated as such.

There may be a mixup of language here but which river are you referring to by the name of "Vesdra"?

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 23 Feb 2005 23:24

"Strong defensive front" was the one 6thSSPzA should've held froem Liege due east along that ???* river. Not complete army, just some elements, while the rest of it should have operated as described in my previous post. That defensive front should have been turned north against pocketed 21stAG. Of course,all of that was planned for the time period AFTER that expected (in SF minds of GROFAZ&Co.Ltd.,Wolfsschanze, 1944 ;) ) magnificent brekthrough is done. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough.

For Brandenberger's army I do not have a precise planned layout, but in the vicinity of Luxembourg 7th should have connected with the German troops holding the Mosel front,. That line should have reached west as far as Dinant in order to connect with 5thPzA's left (southern) flank.

I really haven't found anything about 15th Army, but I believe you, bcs simple logic tells us that the troops north of Dietrich's army should have been used in reducing of Monty's pocket.
--------------
*I will consultate my fried geographist tomorrow and I am sure he will suply me with the correct info, so I'll post it ASAP
-------------

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 24 Feb 2005 08:48

The river would be Wesder, eastern tributary of Maas, east of Liege, as stated before.
Sorry for lingo error sir.

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Post by Dessek Warrior » 24 Feb 2005 23:09

The reason why 15th Army is important here is that would 6th Panzer Army itself be expected to take care of its north flank, it would be stripped of infantry support entirely to man such a line. The troops it had available on its north flank were 67th Corps (two Volksgrenadier divisions, rather exhausted from fighting in the Hürtgenwald) and two divisions belonging to the 1st SS Panzer Corps, namely 12th and 277th Volksgrenadier. These last two divisions themselves were required to support the attacks of the 1st Panzer Corps, while the 67th Corps may indeed have been made free to hold the north flank. Regardless, it could never hold the 50 kilometers of Vesdre (Wesder, thanks) all by itself, which was why 15th Army was supposed to play a major part in the plans. Most of its armour was probably reserved to fight the 21st CW Army Group once it got encircled (blame GroFaZ for this one).

It is likely that 15th Army cannot be found as a unit in your sources because it never operated as one in the actual offensive, but it was definitely there as an organizational unit under General der Infanterie Gustav von Zangen.

Re Herbstnebel/Wacht am Rhein, I'm seeing more and more different reports on it as I search more sources. Some say the original name was Wacht am Rhein, given to the operation on October 9th by Von Rundstedt himself, and was later swapped for the codename Herbstnebel which was stolen from Model's more modest plans. In any case, the two names both were attached to the same operation, which should be the answer to Ostrfront Enthusiast's question.

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