German capitulation on the Eastern Front

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German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 23 Sep 2016 10:48

The topic is to collect information on details of surrender of German Armed forces on the Eastern Front in May 1945.


On 7 May representatives of the German High Command signed the act of surrender in Reims, France. The next day the official ceremony with representatives of Allied Commands was held in Karlshorst, Berlin. The act of surrender demanded "all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945".

By that moment German forces in North-East Germany practically ceased to exist and the Western Allies and Soviet armies established a common line from the Baltic Sea to Saxony. The was still a large body of German forces opposite the Soviet Army in Czechia (Army Group Center), Austria (Army Group Ostmark, formerly Army Group South), and north Yugoslavia (High Command South-East or OB Sudost). Other pockets of resistance still existed along the Baltic coast. First the Army Group Courland in Latvia and a small enclave in the Danzig Bay and the mouth of Vistula known as Army East Prussia (formerly 2 Army).

Approximate map of areas under German control in May 1945 (blue ares):

Image

Another map with a situation on 8 May 1945, unlike the first one shows a German enclave in the Danzig Bay:
http://livelb.nationalarchives.gov.uk/c ... -272-b.jpg

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 23 Sep 2016 11:05

Estimates of the number of military personnel on the Eastern front as of 7 May 1945 made by the OKW's Organizational Department:

Image

The strength of the Army, Waffen-SS and ground elements of Luftwaffe was estimated as 1.58 - 1.73 million men. Of them 200-220 thousand in Kurland, 100-150 thousand in the Danzig Bay area, 1 230-1 330 in the main body (Czechia, Austria, Yugoslavia). The numbers for Army Group Courland also Army East Prussia include elements of German Navy and Air Force in their areas. A large part of German Air Force strength is not included in this estimate.

List of larger units on the Eastern Front, 7 May 1945:

Army Group Courland:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73006/zooms/6
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73012/zooms/6

Army East Prussia:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73017/zooms/6

Army Group Center:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73024/zooms/6
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73030/zooms/6
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73036/zooms/6

Army Group South (Ostmark):
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73042/zooms/6
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73047/zooms/6

Command South-East:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73052/zooms/6
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/73057/zooms/6

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 25 Sep 2016 11:22

A short account on the war end on the Eastern Front:

- Army Group Courland had forces of the Leningrad Front opposite to it. No major operations in early May other than firefights and recon activity. In the last days before surrender Germans try to evacuate as many men as possible by sea using all ships and vessels available. From 7 May a German withdrawal to Baltics ports starts, the Leningrad Front pursues with vanguards. From the second half of 8 May Germans stop resistance and start to surrender. In the following days the Leningrad Front fully occupies Courland and accepts prisoners and trophies. Most German personnel in Courland surrenders, a smaller part manages to escape by sea.

- Army East Prussia is blocked by elements of 3 Belorussian Front (48 Army) and 2 Belorussian Front (43 Army). In early May 48 Army is advancing with combat along Frische Nehrung, no major operations in other areas. From 9 May a German surrenders starts which follows the same pattern as in Courland. Most of Army East Prussia is processed to captivity

- a Danish Bornholm island in the Baltic Sea was occupied by German garrison. The island is bombed by Soviet air force in May 1945, on 10 May a regiment-strong force from 19 Army/2 Belorussian Front lands on the island, the garrison surrenders without resistance. In the next days the garrison is transported to the mainland by sea.

- In Czechia a major Soviet offensive by forces of 1, 2 and 4 Ukrainian Fronts is in full swing by 8 May. The Army Group Center offers a determined resistance trying to escape to the west and surrender to the American Army. The army group's commander field marshal Ferdinand Schörner refuses to follow the term of surrender under the pretext of having no communications to troops. However his forces are cut off by Soviet advance and mostly taken prisoners while offering some disjointed resistance on 9-11 May , a part managed to escape to the west and surrender to the US forces.

- In Austria no major actions between the Army Group Ostmark and 3 Ukrainian Front in early May. A German retreat starts on the night of 7/8 May with the obvious goal to surrender to American forces. 3 Ukrainian Front pursues to the west, a first contact is established with the elements of 3 US Army on 8 May. In the following days German forces in Austria are forced to surrender despite disjointed resistance, a part escapes and surrenders to US and British Forces.

- In north Yugoslavia Axis forces are rapidly retreating from Croatia and Slovenia pursued by Tito's Yugoslav army. The German forces of OB Sudost officially surrender on 9 May, yet some resistance continues to the middle of May.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 25 Sep 2016 14:24

Art wrote:on 10 May a regiment-strong force from 19 Army/2 Belorussian Front lands on the island
Correction: a first symbolic force of about 100 men (apparently belonging to marines) landed on the island of Bornholm on 9 May.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Pips » 26 Sep 2016 01:04

Fascinating. Many thanks for posting in such detail.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 26 Sep 2016 18:20

Chronologically the first source about German surrender on the Eastern Front were official press communiques. Reports on situation on the front were released by governmental media agency and published in newspapers or broadcasted on radio. Although subject to official censorship they still contained valuable information. The following summary can be made from reports beginning from 9 May and later

9 May 1945

- The German Courland Group completely stopped resistance at 23.00 8 May and started surrender to the forces of Leningrad Front. Several towns (including the port of Libava) were taken. By the evening of 8.05 more than 45 000 men surrendered to the front, reception of prisoners continues.

- German groups on Baltic coast at the Vistula mouth and on Hel Peninsula ceased resistance and started surrender from the morning of 9 May. By evening 3 Belorussian Front took 11 000 and 2 Belorussian Front - 10 000 prisoners. Surrender continues.

- In Czechoslovakia German troops avoid surrender and hastily retreat to the west. 1, 4 and 2 Ukrainian Fronts continues offensive, Prague is taken on 9 May.

- 3 Ukrainian Front advances in Austria, connection is established with American forces at Amstetten.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 26 Sep 2016 18:43

10 May 1945

- By 8 am 10.5 the Leningrad Front took 68 578 enlisted men, 1 982 officers and 13 generals belonging to the Courland Group including the army group commander and commanders of 16 and 18 Armies. Accounted trophies include 143 tanks and self-propelled guns, 68 airplanes, 532 field guns, 146 mortars, 1 421 machine guns, 8 870 rifles and machine-pistols, 50 armored carriers, 1 112 automobiles, 166 tractors and prime-movers, 164 radios, 470 wagons with military loads, 3 313 horses. Reception of prisoners and trophies continues. Several towns including the port of Vindava (Ventspils) taken.

- 3 Belorussian Front accepted more than 20 000 prisoners in the region of Vistula mouth. Accounted trophies - 50 airplanes, 20 tanks, 40 field guns, 30 armored carriers and 500 automobiles.

- 2 Belorussian Front by 11 am 1.05 took 30 500 prisoners in the mouth of Vistula and Hel Peninsula, including 2 Army commander. Hela Peninsula is fully occupied by the front.

- Forces commander by field marshal Schörner [Army Group Center] refused to surrender. 1 Ukrainian Front attacked Schörner's forces and made a considerable advance in Czechosolvakia. German troops were forced to start surrender in a disorganized fashion by a threat of encirclement. 35 000 prisoners were taken on 9 and 10 May.

- 4 Ukrainian Front took more than 20 000 prisoners belonging to the Schörner's group

- Against 2 Ukrainian Front German troops commanded by colonel general Wöhler (*) also refused to capitulate. As a result the front attacked them and advanced in Czechosolvakia. More than 8 000 prisoners taken on 9 and 10 May.

- Ukrainian Front made a contact with British forces at Gratz, Austria. More than 23 000 prisoners captured on 9-10 May including 4 generals.

* -must be the Army Group Ostmark (former Army Group South). That was a mistake - the army group was commanded by colonel general Rendulic.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 26 Sep 2016 19:20

11 May 1945

- Leningrad Front took 133 000 prisoners including 14 generals belonging to the Courland Group 9-11 May. Accounted trophies: 75 airplanes, 244 tanks and SP guns, 948 field guns, 323 mortars, 2 932 machine guns, 41 310 rifles and machine-pistols, 130 armored carriers, 3 478 automobiles, 215 tractors and prime-movers, 222 radios, 3 332 wagons with military load, 11 280 horses. Courland peninsula is fully occupied by the front.

- 3 Belorussian Front completed reception of surrendering German troops at the mouth of Vistula, >20 000 prisoners, including 3 generals were taken. Accounted trophies: 50 airplanes, 20 tanks and SP guns, 300 field guns, 134 mortars, 2 500 machine guns, 15 000 rifles and machine-pistols, 53 armored carriers, 5 912 automobiles, 30 radios, 1 570 horses

- 2 Belorussian Front took 35 000 prisoners, including 7 generals at the Vistula mouth and Hela Peninsula on 9-11 May. In addition 12 000 prisoners were taken on the Island of Bornholm including the garrison commander general Wuthmann. Total number of prisoners - 47 000. The Island of Bornholm is fully occupied by Soviet troops.

- 1 Ukrainian Front continued to pursue field marshal Schörner's forces. Connection with American troops is established at Pilsen. 121 660 enlisted men and officers and 7 generals were taken from 9 to 11 May. 272 airplanes were captured on 5 airfields.

- 4 Ukrainian Front continued pursuit of Schörner's forces. From 9 to 11 May 35 000 men surrendered disorderly. Trophies: 127 tanks and SP guns, 820 field guns, 510 mortars, 1 700 machine guns, 15 000 rifles and machine-pistols, 1 500 automobiles, 6 000 wagons with military load , 53 locomotives, 3 700 rail cars, 500 horses.

- 2 Ukrainian Front continued pursuit of field marshal Schörner's and colonel general Wöhler forces in Czechoslovakia and Austria and met American forces at Linz. On 9-11 May 98 000 prisoners including 8 generals were taken, also 40 airplanes, 107 tanks and SP guns, 175 field guns, 468 automobiles, 1 560 wagons with military loads, 430 rail cars.

- 3 Ukrainian Front forces the most part of opposing German forces to surrender on 11 May. By a preliminary count 106 000 soldiers and officers and 6 generals were taken from 9 to 11 May. Trophies: 28 airplanes, 214 tanks and SP guns, 1 252 field guns, 212 mortars, 12 000 machine guns, 25 000 rifles and machine-pistols, 5 600 automobiles, 214 locomotives, 9 260 rail cars, 2 570 wagons with military load, 2 690 horses.

On all fronts more than 560 000 German soldiers and officers and 45 generals were captured in three days 9-11 May.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2016 07:35

12 May 1945

On the Leningrad Front 140 408 enlisted men, 5 083 officers and 28 generals surrendered 9-12 May. Accounted trophies: 75 airplanes, 307 tanks and SP guns, 1 427 field guns, 557 mortars, 3 879 machine guns, 52 887 rifles and machine guns, 219 armored carriers, 310 radios, 4 281 automobiles, 240 tractors and prime-movers, 3 442 wagons with military load, 14 056 horses.

2 Belorussian Front was completing accepting prisoners at the mouth of Vistula, Hela Peninsula and Bornholm. From 9 to 12 May 59 106 enlisted men, 1 728 officers and 12 generals surrendered.

1, 4, 2, and 3 Ukrainian Fronts were mopping up areas of Czechoslovakia and Austria from disjointed groups belonging to Schörner's and Wöhler's army groups.

1 Ukrainian Front took 168 000 prisoners including 7 generals during 9-12 May

4 Ukrainian Front took 56 280 prisoners from 9 to 12 May.

2 Ukrainian Front
took 135 000 prisoners including 8 generals from 9 to 12 May. Trophies included 50 airplanes, 291 tanks and SP guns, 658 field guns, 269 armored carriers, 2 100 automobiles.

3 Ukrainian Front took 114 766 soldiers and officers and 8 generals 9-12 May.

Total more than 700 000 soldiers and officers and 63 generals were captured on all fronts from 9 to 12 May including a group that surrendered to 3 Belorussian Front on 11 May.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2016 07:52

13 May 1945

On the Leningrad Front 181 032 enlisted men, 8 038 officers and 42 generals surrendered from 9 to 13 May. Trophies accounted by 13 May: 136 airplanes, 325 tanks and SP guns, 1 548 field guns, 557 mortars, 4 363 machine guns, 57 646 rifles and machine-pistols, 5 825 automobiles, 240 tractors and prime-movers, 224 armored carriers, 310 radioes, 3 442 wagons with military load, 16 543 horses.

2 Belorussian Front was completing reception of prisoners at the Vistula mouth, Hela Peninsula and Island of Bornholm. From 9 to 13 May 74 939 soldiers and officers and 12 generals surrendered. The following trophies were taken: 10 tanks and SP guns, 498 field guns, 46 mortars, 3 400 machine guns, 28 000 rifles and machine-pistols, 13 armored carriers, 210 radios, 1 500 horses, 23 cutters and barges.

1 Ukrainian Front took 213 355 soldiers and officers and 14 generals belonging from 9 to 11 [?probably 13] May. Trophies: 780 airplanes, 640 tanks and SP guns 3 100 field guns, 1 400 mortars, 6 700 machine guns, 480 armored carriers, 120 000 rifles and machine guns, more than 30 000 automobiles, 954 tractors and prime-movers.

4 Ukrainian Front - from 9 to 13 May 71 738 soldiers and officers, 127 tanks and SP guns, 900 fied guns, 510 mortars, 1 700 machine guns, 15 300 rifles and machine-pistols, 1 480 automobiles, 100 radios, 2 000 horses, 5 000 wagons with military loads.

2 Ukrainian Front from 9 to 13 May took 369 459 soldiers and officers and 16 generals, 59 airplanes, 596 tanks and SP guns, 1 348 field guns, 1 115 machine guns, 40 570 rifles and machine-pistols, 422 armored carriers, 16 154 automobiles, 4 615 wagons, 12 000 horses

3 Ukrainian Front 9-13 May - 126 070 soldiers and officers and 5 generals. Trophies: 284 airplanes, 235 tanks and SP guns, 1 224 field guns, 530 mortars, 12 473 machine guns, 36 268 rifles and machine-pistols, 195 armored carriers, 4 296 automobiles, 5 335 wagons, 9 9914 horses.

On all fronts more than 1 060 000 soldiers and officers and 91 generals were captured from 9 to 13 May including a group that surrendered to the 3 Belorussian Front on 11 May.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2016 07:57

14 May 1945

On all fronts 170 000 soldiers and 10 generals were additionally counted on 14 May. Thus a total number of prisoners taken on all fronts from 9 to 14 May is 1 230 000 including 101 generals.

15 May 1945

Reception of German prisoners is completed on all fronts.

No reports were issued after this day.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 27 Sep 2016 08:13

So on a basis of press communiques a minimal number of 1 230 thousand German military personnel taken prisoners after the capitulation can be established. No complete breakdown of this number by regions and commands was provided. From incomplete report of 13 May 1945 one can take the following minimal numbers:

- German Army Group Courland - 189 112 prisoners to the Leningrad Front
- Army East Prussia - about 20 000 prisoners to 3 Belorussian and 63 000 to 2 Belorussian Fronts
- Island of Bornholm - about 12 000 prisoners to 2 Belorussian Front
- Army Groups Center and Ostmark, part of OB Sudost - 213 369 POWs to 1 Ukrainian Front, 71 738 to 4 Ukrainian, 369 475 to 2 Ukrainian, 126 075 to 3 Ukrainian Front, total 780 657.
- no info on prisoners taken by Tito's forces.

It must be mentioned that what remained of OKW used this officially reported info trying to establish what part of German personnel avoided Soviet captivity, although, it must be repeated again, these figures were not complete:

Image

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Max Payload » 29 Sep 2016 12:04

Art wrote:Estimates of the number of military personnel on the Eastern front as of 7 May 1945 made by the OKW's Organizational Department:

Image

The strength of the Army, Waffen-SS and ground elements of Luftwaffe was estimated as 1.58 - 1.73 million men. Of them 200-220 thousand in Kurland, 100-150 thousand in the Danzig Bay area, 1 230-1 330 in the main body (Czechia, Austria, Yugoslavia). The numbers for Army Group Courland also Army East Prussia include elements of German Navy and Air Force in their areas. A large part of German Air Force strength is not included in this estimate.
Ziemke 'Stalingrad to Berlin' page 498 quotes 430,000 and 100,000 for AG Austria and AoEP respectively, "at the hour the surrender went into effect". The figures he quotes for the other theatres match the lower end of the 9. Mai 1945 document posted (200,000 AG Courland, 600,000 AG Centre, and 180,000 SE Theatre). Noting that ration strengths, which includes various auxiliaries, were in most case substantially higher, he quotes two sources:-
Beilage 1 su Anlagen 4 OKW, WFSt, Ia Nr. 010840/45, Straerken der Ostfront, Schaetzung Stand 8.5.45, 0000 Uhr, 11.5.45, OKW/1887 file; and
OKW Gen. Qu., An die Ueberwachungskommissiom beim OKW, 22.5.45, OKW/9 file.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 29 Sep 2016 19:36

Max Payload wrote: Ziemke 'Stalingrad to Berlin' page 498 quotes 430,000 and 100,000 for AG Austria and AoEP respectively, "at the hour the surrender went into effect". The figures he quotes for the other theatres match the lower end of the 9. Mai 1945 document posted (200,000 AG Courland, 600,000 AG Centre, and 180,000 SE Theatre).
That must be this doc:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/17005/zooms/8
That was almost the same estimate as before but taken at the lower ebb. Contrary to what Ziemke says the doc only counts Luftwaffe elements engaged in ground combat, except Army Group Courland and Army East Prussia.
For a count of a ration strength at the end of the war see:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/46165/zooms/8
The "true" number of military personnel must be somewhere in between

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Max Payload » 29 Sep 2016 20:33

Probably, even though the details don't match Ziemke's quoted source exactly (dates 24 hours apart, Ia Nr, Anlagen 4 not 6).
Art wrote: For a count of a ration strength at the end of the war see:
http://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/46165/zooms/8
The "true" number of military personnel must be somewhere in between
The 11.5.45 document is certainly an estimate, the author has even rounded down the total from 1.51 million to 1.5 million (either that or his mental arithmetic needs work); but 'somewhere in between' 600,000 and 1.291 million for AG Centre, and 'somewhere in between' 200,000 and 405,379 for AG Courland? Surely the ration strength figures are meaningless.
Last edited by Max Payload on 30 Sep 2016 08:41, edited 1 time in total.

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