The Fall of East Prussia

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Jacky Kingsley
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The Fall of East Prussia

Post by Jacky Kingsley » 13 Sep 2004 19:07

This may not be the correct site for this question so please move it to the correct one.

I am trying to get the invasion of East Prussia into some sort of order both mentally and in writing. I know the Russians fought their way into Gumbinnen and Goldap before retreating but Martin Gilbert in 'The Second World War' (page 606) said they were halted at Insterburg, just forth five miles from Wolfsschanze on October 22 and pushed back with Gumbinnen being recaptured on the 24 October.

As Insterburg is further inside Prussia they reached far into the region. Was there ever a danger of their taking the whole kreis with more troops or was it just to probe defences? What was the aim of it all? Please can I have references?

Thank you

Jacky

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Prit
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Post by Prit » 14 Sep 2004 13:37

Dieckert and Grossmann describe the assault as two-pronged. One thrust into Goldap on 19 October, the other crossed the Rominte river further north, between Tellrode and Grünweiden, and advanced directly west. The main thrust crossed the Angerapp at Nemmersdorf on 22 October, but moved no further west. Forces on the flanks of this thrust threatened Gumbinnen from the south, and attempted to advance towards Angerapp, but made little headway.

Both assaults were pushed back. The southern attack on Goldap was defeated by elements of 5 Pz Div and 50 Inf Div. The northern penetration was much larger, and the forces arrayed along its northern flank were, from east to west: elements of Division Hermann Goering; elements of 5 Pz Div; Flak-Regiment 16; further elements of Division Hermann Goering; Flak-Abteilung 802; I/Flak-Regiment 5; and Volkssturm units west of the Angerapp river. The southern side of this Soviet penetration was attacked by the Führer-Grenadier-Brigade.

The Russians were therefore stopped at least 20 km short of Insterburg.

HTH!

Prit

Jacky Kingsley
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Post by Jacky Kingsley » 14 Sep 2004 18:36

Hi Prit

Thanks a lot.

Jacky

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 16 Sep 2004 04:35

ah not quite true, As a good friend told me who was part of the 1st Infantrie Division the primary battle during October was Ebenröde where the Soviet's lost over 400 tanks.

Insterburg (his home town) was not captured until 1945, and was home to staffeln of JG 1 when they fought off Soviet a/c and performed ground attack missions against MT and infantry before the retreat

v/r

Erich ~

20/20 vision
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Post by 20/20 vision » 16 Sep 2004 15:46

its a good question, and an often neglected episode of the eastern front campaign.

ive tried many places tryin to find out about the battles in east prussia in octber 44 without much sucess.

all i know 3 soviet armies drove across the boder in october 44 captured goldap and threatend gumbinnen, reinhardt diverted forces from other sectors halted the russian at gumbinnen and recaptured goldap but didnt force the russians out of east prussia when fighting stopped in early november they still heldabout 750 sq miles of eastern east prussia.

from which they laucned their winter offensive on 14th jan 45

Jacky Kingsley
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Post by Jacky Kingsley » 16 Sep 2004 16:05

Thank you very much. I found a website that is supposed to be written by David Glantz and he lists four units attacking Eat Prussia.

http://rhino.shef.ac.uk3001/mr-home/rzhev/rzhev2.html

The Gumbinnen or Goldap Operation (16-27 October 1944) as he calls it is the last bit before the conclusion. He mentions a map (16) which I would like but cannot get so if anyone does please could they send it to me.

Jacky

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Prit
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Post by Prit » 16 Sep 2004 17:59

Patience, Jacky

:)

I'll have something special to send to you by the end of the weekend.

Prit

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 16 Sep 2004 18:41

As I tried to say Ebenröde was the stopping point in the fall for advancing Soviet forces. Have talked with several Ost Preussian vets and they all mentioned the slaughter at Ebenröde

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Prit
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Post by Prit » 16 Sep 2004 18:44

Erich,

I'm using the Dieckert/Grossman book, and he describes the defence of the front at Ebenrode by 1 Inf Div, rightly praising the division for its performance. The crisis came further south, though, in the attack that passed just south of Gumbinnen and crossed the Angerapp.

I hope to have more for everyone on this in a day or two.

Prit

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 16 Sep 2004 18:49

Prit, yes an excellent book. I just bring up Ebenröde because of the mass of Soviet tanks destroyed many of them got stuck in the marshes and soft earth and got picked off. That whole eastern side of Prussia was a flaming wasteland. I even have some old Deutsche Wochenschau footage of the battle............pretty grim

menel
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Post by menel » 17 Sep 2004 12:15

This could be interesting for you
http://fortyfikacje_pw.webpark.pl/#

Jacky Kingsley
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Post by Jacky Kingsley » 17 Sep 2004 15:27

Hi Menel

How do I get the English version that is advertised at the bottom of my screen?

Thanks

Jacky

Eugene (J. Baker)
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Post by Eugene (J. Baker) » 23 Sep 2004 12:27

:)

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ToKu
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Post by ToKu » 25 Jan 2006 18:14

Gołdap (Goldap) – Gumbinnen – autumn 1944


First opportunity to put their forces on German soil occurred for Soviet HQ in autumn 1944, when after successful Bagration offensive front line stopped near (some 35 km east of it) pre war border of Eastern Prussia. Germans were seriously weakened by constant Russian pressure, and long withdrawal.

At this time Gauleiter of Eastern Prussia – Erich Koch was granted Hitler’s approval on beginning of works on province’s fortifications. First line of these fortifications was built on pre war border, behind the frontline which was: Kowno (Kaunas) – Mariampol – Szypliszki –Wiatrołuża River – Wigry Lake – Czarna Hańcza River – Augustowski Channel, since August. Frontline stabilized for three months This precious time was used by Koch to create a solid defensive line on province’s borders. Existing strongholds of: Ostpreussenschutzstellung were connected with lines of trenches, artillery positions, mg nests, etc. In Koch’s plans it was a dam that was to hold red flood. Russians were to lose lots of blood in front of this line, and after their offensive was stopped, fortifications were to be base of large scale German counterattack, to regain lands in the east. Mirage, mirage…

On 16th of October 1944 3rd Bollorussian Front started its first Eastern Prussia Operation. The goal was to enter the province. Events were significant much more for propaganda , then actual military situation. As it was soon turned out, propaganda warfare was carried out by both sides, the difference was that Russians, from the beginning planned to play propaganda tune: The time for revenge is NOW! Foots of Russian solders are now stands on German soil! While Germans used the outcome of battle (Nemmersdorf massacre).

In Goldap – Gummbinen area Russians gathered 11th Guards Army (8th, 16th and 36th Guards Corpses), 31st Army (36th, 44th, 71st Corpses) and Oslikowski’s cavalry men from 3rd Cavalry Guards Corps. 28th Army was also present in the area, but it had not take important part in operation.
In front of these forces stood German 4th Army, weakened by Soviet’s summer blows (same as whole Wehrmacht). In opinion of its commander, Army was unable to hold its front, plans for withdrawal were made. On the other hand he was still counting on some fresh forces transferred from Italy, Balkans or anywhere else to defend the Reich. He also conducted major anti – partisan operations in occupied parts of Poland that were under his control (Suwałki – Grajewo – northern Nerew bank.). Battle of Grzędy (near Rajgród and Woźnawieś on Biebrza River marshes) on 8th of September 1944 was the culmination of this operation. Polish AK 9th Cavalry Regiment was forced to cross Biebrza, to be held by Russians.
4th Army had XXVII Corps (56th and 1st Infantry Divisions, plus 349th People Grenadiers Division), XXXXI Panzer Corps (170th Infantry Division, 558th People Grenadiers Division and 3rd Cavalry Brigade) and VI Corps (286th, 50th, 203rd Infantry Divisions and Polzei Gruppe “Hannibal”). In reserves 1st Panzer “Hoermann Goring” Division was available for action, and what is important 3rd Panzer Army had in its reserves 5th Panzer Division and 505th Heavy Tanks Battalion, those units were used by Germans to counterattack.

As I said before Russians started their offensive on 16th of October. German armies were attacked by 3rd Bellorussian Front. Russians were successful from the beginning. After three days of fights it became clear that Wermacht is unable of stopping Russians before border. What is worse Red Army was moving faster then retreating Germans, so they were reaching fortification lines before German units, which in this circumstances couldn’t establish new defensive lines, based on prepared fortifications. Evacuation order for civilians was given.

Soviets achieved major break through in Ebenrode – Gummbinen direction. It was done by 11th Guards Army. Both towns were taken on 22nd of October. South of 11th Guards, 31st Army was advancing, but attacks on Suwałki were successfully held by German 170th Infantry. In this circumstances Russian commander decided to bypass the city from the north. On 21st of October he took Przerośl. Russians were standing on Eastern Prussia border, in front of them road to Goldap was open. Goldap was taken on 22nd of October. In the town orgy of violence and destruction begun. Russian Solders took propaganda’s advices literally. They were repaying German civilians for horrors of war. On 23rd of October Russians expanded the gap to the south, Filipów, town west of Suwałki was taken. Situation was getting worse for Germans with every passing hour. South of Suwałki, Augustów was taken by units of 3rd Cavalry Guards. Russians get as far west as Nemmersdorf, but there they were to be stopped. Most important reason was probably that Panzer Brigades (25th and 26th) leading the advance took very heavy losses (defenders had many 88’s because they were supported by 18th Flak Division). Without support of tanks Russian infantry was unable to move any further.
OKH decided to switch “Hoermann Goering” and 5th Panzer divisions to seal the gap. They were supported by many smaller units (most important were 505th Heavy Tanks Battalion and Fuhrer Grenadiers Brigade). First counterattacks were lunched on 22nd of October in Gummbinen direction, by “Hoermann Goering”. By 24th they were supported with units of 5th Panzer and 505th Heavy Tanks equipped with Konig Tigers, Gummbinen was retaken before end of this day. On Goldap 50th Infantry supported by FGB was advancing. Town was taken on 25th of October after heavy fights. Main German goal was to cut off as many Russians as possible, and push rest of them behind the “Koch’s Wall” fortifications. This task was achieved by 25th of October. I battalion of FGB proved to be reliable unit, after they held Daken against superior Russian forces and this way seal the gap. In the north 505th Heavy Tanks was the most busy battalion. Attacks were usually led by this unit. On 22nd of October, tank crews of 505th destroyed 10 Russian tanks, on 23rd – 9. Front line between Goldap and Gummbinen was stabilized. It was time to destroy Russian forces cut off in Nemmersdorf – Grosswalltersdorf – Daken area. This job was done before 29th of October, but the fights were heavy so FGB was switched form Goldap area to support this operation. Russian 31st Army took advantage of this move. On 28th of October they lunched surprise attack, pulled back 50th Infantry, and taking control over Goldap once again. Germans were surprised, because they thought, that 31st was tired after heavy fights in Suwałki and on Goldap approaches, and unable of taking any serious offensive action. Germans moved 5th Panzer to retake the town. Goldap soon was encircled, and on 3rd November liberated after heavy street to street fighting.

Losses of both sides were heavy, but Russians bigger, as always. It is estimated they lost some 30 – 40 % of their troops and some 80 % tanks. 31st Russian Army suffered heaviest losses.

New front line was Schlossberg – Kussen – Grosswalltersdorf, Galwiecie (?), Jarka (Goldap?) River – Rospuda (?) Lake – Filipów – Zusno – Żubrynek –Augustów.

Image

This is one of articles presented by A. Jędrzejczak here:

http://www.panzer24.prv.pl/ translation is mine, surely not perfect.

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AMVAS
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Re: The Fall of East Prussia

Post by AMVAS » 26 Jan 2006 10:45

Jacky Kingsley wrote:This may not be the correct site for this question so please move it to the correct one.

I am trying to get the invasion of East Prussia into some sort of order both mentally and in writing. I know the Russians fought their way into Gumbinnen and Goldap before retreating but Martin Gilbert in 'The Second World War' (page 606) said they were halted at Insterburg, just forth five miles from Wolfsschanze on October 22 and pushed back with Gumbinnen being recaptured on the 24 October.

As Insterburg is further inside Prussia they reached far into the region. Was there ever a danger of their taking the whole kreis with more troops or was it just to probe defences? What was the aim of it all? Please can I have references?

Thank you

Jacky
http://militera.lib.ru/h/sb_vi_6/title.html
Schemas
http://militera.lib.ru/h/sb_vi_6/ill.html

You can find fulltext book describing operation against Instenburg and Gumbinnen (IN RUSSIAN)
In February I'll upload that schemes on my site with English captions

Regards,
Alex

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