Anti-partisan units

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wustesoldat
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Anti-partisan units

Post by wustesoldat » 13 Jan 2005 11:09

Does anyone have any info or organistation on German specalist Anti Partisan units or jsut units used for Anti-partisan work? I did a search but found nothing.

Cheers,
Peter

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 13 Jan 2005 13:31

There weren't any, not in the sense of units specially trained or formed with a view to giving them an unusually high capacity for combating irregular forces. The Sicherungs-divisionen were specifically formed to perform rear area security duties, but this simply meant that they had personnel of lower quality, weaker strength and less and worse equipment than normal infantry units did. They were not so much specialist units as simply second rate units. Unlike today, combating irregulars was apparently at the time, at least in the German army, not considered as something that required any special capabilities, on the contrary it was considered as something that could generally be left to units that weren't capable of much else.

cheers

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Miha Grcar
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Post by Miha Grcar » 13 Jan 2005 15:51

Still Qvist, Prinz Eugen or Handschar were quite large for such operations - although (as I hear) not so good equipt. A point that speaks for your claim would definetelly the Jager divisions in Yugoslavia (118. JD and such).

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Nibelung

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G. Trifkovic
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Post by G. Trifkovic » 13 Jan 2005 16:07

I read somewhere that later in the war germans formed the so-called "Jagdkommandos" for anti-partisan sweeps. Nothing of a permanent type,I think,merely a new tactical approach. I recently read Vladimir Dedijer's diary (most interesting read-he was a member of Tito's inner circle,walked trough most of Yugoslavia,lived trough most of offensives and wrote it down) in which he points out how germans changed their tactics in "Operation Schwarz".He writes that they don't rely on roads and communications as much as in "Opearton Weiss" , but rather fight the partisan way-go through thickest forests in columnes to outflank the partisans,climb the highest crests,throwing out small,well armed scout teams to find the opponent and rely almost exclusively on horse and mule transport with local guides.
Jäger divisions in the Balkans were certainly 2nd rate by german standards,but did their job qiute well-we have to presume that in 1944,after three years of occupational duties,these units were well versed in anti-guerilla tactics.

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Gaius

Mark V.
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Post by Mark V. » 13 Jan 2005 20:05

As the experiences with combating partisans show that the latter always tried to avoid set piece battles and managed to escape any attempts by German forces in encircling/destroying them with their superior mobility in the difficult mountain/forest terrain.

Divisions thus formed highly mobile groups armed with mostly automatic weapons and were known as Jagdkommandos. These were mainly company sized formations formed around experienced and highly trained personnel and to increase their mobility only carried what little supplies they needed. First attempts in creating such units were already in early 1942 but more regularly in the second half of 1943 especially after Operation Schwarz. Especially effective groups were the Jagdkommandos from Prinz Eugen and 1.Gebirgs Division. At this point further units were employed in anti-partisan operation with Brandenburgs and SS-Karstjägers definitely leaving the biggest impact in anti partisan warfare. Brandenburgers frequently operated in special operations disguised as partisans and creating great havoc and especially fear in the partisan held areas. One of the leading Yugoslav communists Djilas for example called one such Brandenburg unit - 3rd Serbian Brigade :) . As for the SS-Karstjägers, the record speaks for themselves, constantly engaged in anti-partisan sweeps from summer 1943 till May 1945, all recipients of the coveted Anti-partisan badge in Gold came from this unit :) .

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wustesoldat
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Post by wustesoldat » 13 Jan 2005 23:08

Thankyou everyone i think i have a pretty good idea now, so units which fought them were mainly Prinz eugen, 1 Gebrigsjäger, brandenburg and Handschar?

Cheer,
Peter

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 13 Jan 2005 23:36

wustesoldat wrote:Thankyou everyone i think i have a pretty good idea now, so units which fought them were mainly Prinz eugen, 1 Gebrigsjäger, brandenburg and Handschar?

Cheer,
Peter
I'd say 7.SS,369.inf.div and 717. and 718. inf. divisions (later 117. and 118. Jäger) did most of the job in Yugoslavia. 1.Gebirgsjäger took part in two major actions ("Schwarz" and "Kugelblitz",5th and 6th offensives),Handschar was used in several actions in the northern Bosnia ( in Yugoslav history not classified as "offensives" ) in 1944.

Mark V.,could you elaborate a bit on Brandenburg and Karstjäger in Yugoslavia?

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by General » 17 Jan 2005 20:41

I think 4th Regiment of Brandenburg did anti-Partisan operations.

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Post by Mark V. » 19 Jan 2005 15:12

Unfortunately there's not much detailed info on actions of both units, especially about the so-called "Volltarnung" actions (members dressed in partisan uniforms).

Nevertheless here's a short chronology of Brandenburgers on the Balkans. I would also appreciate any additional info and correction of any errors. Larry, Allen, Klemen, Ivan?).

After the initial attack on Yugoslavia in April 1941, where three companies took part, only one (7th) remained behind with orders to guard the Djerdap Strait. Due to worsening situation in Serbia the company eventually also became involved in anti-partisan operations. From 31 May till 4 June 1942 it participated in "Operation Forstrat", with the objective of capturing the leader of Chetnik resistance Draža Mihajlović. Due to poor intelligence, lack of prior experiences the operation failed but nevertheless forces Mihajlović to move his HQ to Montenegro. During this period the 7th company was also accused of unnecessary retaliatory measures against civilian population. Afterwards the company was sent to the Eastern Front.

In 1943 Brandenburgers were upgraded to division Division Brandenburg (with 4 regiments: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) this subsequently also meant that Brandenburgers were relegated to perform normal infantry duties. The division was thus subordinated to OKW/WFSt. The only BR unit to remain under Abwehr command was Lehr-Regiment Kurfürst.

The first reorganized BR-unit to come to the Balkans was 4.Rgt. This was in April 1943 and was made of only its Stab and II./4, in May the regiment was reinforced with II./1.

The BR battalions were motorized Inf.Btl. equipped with great abundance of automatic weapons, every company had a Sturmpionier platoon or company and the heavy company had 1 sMG platoon, 1 sGrW platoon, and also equipped with 10,5-cm lG, 7,5-cm PAK and 2-cm Flak.

Till the summer 1943 further BR units were sent to Balkans-Greece: 2nd Rgt.(with all 3 btl.), I./4, III./1, Küstenjägerabteilung BR (Stab, 2./KJA and 3./KJA in Šibenik, 1./KJA in Greece) and Falschm.Jg.Kp. BR (Kraljevo - Serbia).

All these units were used in anti-partisan operation except for the paratroop company which was still in training.

4.Rgt. (II./4& II./1) was subordinated to 1.Geb.Div. in the anticipation of Operation Schwarz. (not sure if both battalions took part in the operation). Just prior to the start of it Brandenburgers once again launched a raid on Mihajlović's HQ, which was once more repeated in mid July 1943 (Operation Morgenluft). Both failed as did apparently a similar Volltarnung operation to destroy Tito's HQ at Žabljak during Operation Schwarz.

The goal of Volltarnung operations was to locate partisan HQs, admistrative cetres, attack partisan units and their supply lines and demoralize their supporters. These BR commandos used mostly captured weapons, were dressed in partisan uniforms and spoke fluently Croat. Usually groups for these actions numbered 40 men, they were also supported by interpreters and local guides (Chetniks or Muslims). According to Vladmir Velebit the partisan HQ saw bigger threat in this type of operations then the large-scale operations.

With the fall of Italy in September 1943 BR units also had to take part in disarming Italian units.
In November/December 1943 the situation on the Balkans was as follows:
In Yugoslavia: Div.Stab, 2nd Rgt. (Montenegro), 4th Rgt. (Sarajevo), II./1 (Banja Luka) and KJA (Sibenik) Dalmatia;
In Greece: 1st Rgt (minus II.Btl.), 1./KJA.

4th Rgt. takes in Decemeber part in Operation Ziethen (Knin). Afterwards the regiment stays in this area and is tasked with securing the area around Split.

The newly transferred 2nd Rgt. is attached to 1.Geb.Div. and takes part in what is going to be one of the most successful Brandenburg anti-partisan operations (or rather best known). On the first day of Operation Kugelblitz, 4 December 1943, I./2 breaks through the partisan lines, storms the bridge in Prijepolje and prevents its destruction, establishes a bridgehead in the town and holds it till relieved and in the process (and with the support of other units) basically destroys 2 partisan brigades (2nd Proletar and 2nd Šumadija Brigades). Djilas names this unit as "3rd Serbian Brigade". The battalion's commander, Hauptmann Kurt Steidl, received the Knight's Cross for this action. During the next days of operation the battalion is supported by Muslim militia.

In fall 1943 Banja Luka became the center for anti-partisan operations. During this period Pz.AOK2 (from August 1943 in charge of operations in central Yugoslavia) formed so-called Bandenjägerlehrgänge in Banja Luka for German and Croat troops. The training focused mostly on Volltarnung operations. The head of this partisan hunter training course was Hauptmann Konopacki while the specialist/instructors were Brandenburgers.

Furthermore two special units were moved in this sector. The first one is known as Einheit Kirchner (Leutnant Kirchner) also referred to as Sonderkommando Kirchner. Unit was apparently formed for a paratroop action in Kurdistan?! The situation on the front changed and the unit ended on the Balkans. It was composed from Germans from Palestina and Iran, language specialists, radio operators and Azeiberdzani and Kurdish contact personnel. Once in Bosnia it was re equipped and received additional personnel. It was stationed in the outskirts of Banja Luka (in a heavily fortified Trapist Monastery) from where it operated in partisan held Territories.
In late November it was joined by Einheit Böckl (Oberleutnant Böckl). The unit was part of I./4 and was formed in Greece earlier that year for action in Bosnia (it also had some 80 Bosnian Muslims in its ranks). Both units were merged and formed two companies with the battalions staff, Böckl became the commander and the battalions mission was to devise a plan for an attack on Tito's HQ. Unit's strength was around 200 men. In February 1944 Böckl was, due to lack of progress, replaced with another BR anti-partisan specialist Major Benesh.

Brandenburgers first task was to secure the area around Banja Luka. In this process they refrained from any support to the Ustase. Instead they cooperated with Chetnik leaders, with Croat mayors and priests, police officials, etc. in creating a »safe environment«.

On the field, Brandenburgers worked mainly with Uroš Drenović's Chetniks. Together they formed small-sized long-range reconnaissance groups. In combat operations Brandenburgers were camouflaged in partisan, Chetnik or British uniforms, among others these operations also involved blowing up »partisan railway« in free-partisan territory.

Furthermore they organized defenses of endangered villages from village population.
On the New Year's Night 1944 partisans attack Banja Luka, mainly in order to distract German forces engaged in Operation Schneesturm in E Bosnia. Brandenburgers vigorously defended their HQ against attacks from 11th Partisan Division (roughly 3,000 men), nevertheless by the second day of the battles they had to retreat across river Vrbas, where they held firm and prevented the complete encirclement of Banja Luka, until relieved by Pz.Gren.Lehr.901.

Another similar unit was also formed by 4th Regiment in Kraljevo. This was Verband Wildschütz (Major Benesch) and had similar objectives as Böckl's group, but focused more on reconnaissance duties.

Both units (Böckl and Wildschütz) were merged in February when Benesch replaced Böckl. The whole unit was now known as Verband Wildschütz. The group increased its cooperation with Chetniks and emphasis on reconnaissance&diversion operations and gathering of intelligence from free-partisan territory. Their activities further increased just before Operation Rösselspung (SS-Falschirm.Jg.Abt.500's attack on Tito's HQ in Drvar). Individual reconnaissance parties operated far in partisan held territories up to 7 days and were constantly resupplied by Luftwaffe.

In the Operation Rösselspung itself, Brandenburgers had different missions. One group from Verband Wildschütz jumped with SS-Falschirmjägers in Drvar, they were accompanied by an Abwehr special team from Abwehr section II - Frontauklärungstrupp 216 or FAT 216. FAT216 was also composed from former Brandenburgers, who received extensive training at Lehr-Regiment Kurfürst (formerly part of Brandenburg) and the group's commander was leutnant Walter Zawadil. While Benesch's men (supported by several Chetniks) were trying to locate important command posts and partisan VIPs, FAT216 was primarily interested in recovering partisan radio station, deciphering codes. Further Brandenburgers were involved in operation - 1st Regiment and additional groups from Verband Wildschütz (these groups were attached to other units taking part in operation). 1st Regiment was to advance from Knin towards Drvar, it was to break partisan lines and then send small mobile groups of men dressed in partisan clothes (Volltarnung) to disrupt partisan movements and their retreat. Furthermore this groups were to cooperate with similar groups from Prinz Eugen in case Tito manages to escape the initial Falschirmjäger attack. Nothing came of it. The regiment just arrived from Greece and didn't yet have enough interpreters and contact personnel and was thus forced to abandon Volltarnung operations. Furthermore the regiment advanced very slowly and failed to reach it's objectives on schedule and was heavily criticized in the after action report (like most of the other units taking part in operation).

After the operation 1st Regiment was mainly tasked with securing the Dalmatian coastland until late September when transferred to Serbia (Belgrade). 4th Regiment was in the mean time taking part in Operation Margarethe (German occupation of Hungary). In April it returned to Serbia and participated in Operation Maibaum (together with 7.SS, 13.SS, etc. defeating partisan advance in Serbia), afterwards it was sent again to W Bosnia, where it remained until late September - transfer to Belgrade. After the winter operations 2nd Regiment remained in Prijepolje and conducted small scale actions (supported by Muslim militia) against partisans. In July it took part in the last large scale antipartisan operation in central Yugoslavia - Operation Rübezahl. Once again subordinated to 1.Geb.Div. and together with Prinz Eugen, Falsch.Jg.Btl.BR and some other units attempted to destroy partisan trying again to advance in Serbia. Due to the collapse of Army Group South Ukraine's front in Romania the operation was prematurely called off and the units sent to intercept Russian forces approaching Serbia. 2nd Regiment was sent to Belgrade and Falschm.Jg.Btl.BR to Budapest.
All three regiments suffered heavy losses in defense of Belgrade and were in late 1944 used to create Pz.Gren.Div. Brandenburg.

In early 1944 another Brandenburg unit was sent to Yugoslavia - Lehr Regiment Brandenburg (training and replacement unit for Division Brandenburg), it was first employed in Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland (E Italy, Istria and W Slovenia) and also used in anti-partisan operations. In May 1944 it was moved to Ljubljana (Slovenia) and replaced by 3rd Regiment.

The only remaining Brandenburg unit Küstenjägerbattalion was used in securing Adriatic islands.

Hopefully this gave you a good enough overview of Brandenburgers operations in Yugoslavia, for Karstjägers do a forum search :) .

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Post by tom_deba » 19 Jan 2005 18:21

SS-Wiking took part in 1944 in antipartisan operations in Lublin land.

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 19 Jan 2005 18:36

Thanks very much Mark.

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by Larry D. » 19 Jan 2005 23:12

Mark V -

That's an outstanding summary! Did you use one of the several books on Brandenburg (Spaeter, Kurowski, etc.) or did you find all of that in another book published in Ljubljana, Zagreb or Belgrade? My notes on Brandenburg in Yugoslavia taken from the microfilmed German records are very, very sparse compared to what you have in your summary.

--Larry

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Post by streljko1 » 20 Jan 2005 11:27

I have read in yugoslavian literature that during raids on Korčula and Mljet Island(19-26.04.1944.) germans suffered 1197 killed and 523 captured from units of 26 dalmatian division, most of german casualties were from 118 jager division, but some were from Brandenburg unit,can anybody confirm what unit it was,and its casualties?

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Post by Larry D. » 20 Jan 2005 13:18

Brandenburg Units Operating in Dalmatia, April 1944

Regiment 1 Brandenburg: Rgt. HQ in Sibenik (21.3.44) and two months later in Skradin (24.5.44) with 9 of its 14 companies in a strength of 824. Generally at that time, I. Bn./Rgt. 1 was in Split and Vrlika, and II. Bn./Rgt. 1 was in Benkovac.

Küstenjäger-Abt. Brandenburg: arrived in Dalmatia on 12.11.43. In April 1944 it was operating in the Split-Sibenik area under its Kdr., Rittmeister von Leipzig. It was equipped with assault boats and was very active in operations along the coast and on the islands off shore. It definitely took part in the Korčula and Mljet raids, but I do not know its casualties.

--Larry

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Post by Mark V. » 20 Jan 2005 16:58

Thanks, Larry. Yes, most of the info comes from Spaeter, supplemented by Schmider and Piekalkiewicz. Will Borcher's Krieg ohne Menschlichkeit (memories of a Brandenburger) also proved very usefull. Otherwise there is very little Yugo-literature on the Brandenburgers, mainly materiel covering individual campaigns (especially detailed are for exemple for Operation Rösselsprung).

As for the operations on Mljet and Korčula, like Larry wrote, Küstenjägerabteilung most definately took part. Together with Landungs-Pionier-Btl.771 they transported and supported infantry forces on different Adriatic islands. No casualty numbers :( .

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