Army Group North
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation, commanding a grouping of field armies during World War II. The German Army Group was subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres, the German army high command, coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics, including the Army Group North Rear Area; the Army Group North was created on the 2 September 1939 by reorganization of the 2nd Army Headquarters. Commander in Chief as of 27 August 1939 was Field Marshal Fedor von Bock; the first employment of Army Group North was in the invasion of Poland of 1939, where in September it controlled: 3rd Army 4th Army a reserve of four divisions 10th Panzer Division 73rd Infantry Division 206th Infantry Division 208th Infantry Division. The Army Group was commanded by Fedor von Bock for the operation. After the end of the campaign, it was transferred to the Western Theatre and on the 10 October 1939 was renamed as the Army Group B, consisted of: 6th Army 4th Army In preparation for Operation Barbarossa, Army Group North was reformed from Army Group C on 22 June 1941.
Army Group North staged in East Prussia. Its strategic goal was Leningrad, with operational objectives being the territories of the Baltic republics and securing the northern flank of Army Group Centre in Northern Russia between Western Dvina River and Daugavpils-Kholm Army Group boundary. On commencement of the Wehrmacht's Baltic offensive operation the army group deployed into Lithuania and northern Belorussia, it served in Baltic territories and north Russia until 1944. Commander in Chief 22 June 1941: Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, its subordinate armies were deployed with the following immediate objectives: 18th Army - from Koenigsberg to Ventspils - Jelgava 4th Panzer Group - Pskov 16th Army - Kaunas, Daugavpils Army Group troops Army-Group signals regiment 537 Army-Group signals regiment 639 All operational objectives such as Tallinn were achieved despite stubborn Red Army resistance and several unsuccessful counter-offensives such as the Battle of Raseiniai, the army group approached Leningrad, commencing the Siege of Leningrad.
However, while the Baltic states were overrun, the Siege of Leningrad continued until 1944, when it was lifted as a result of the Red Army Leningrad-Novgorod strategic offensive operation. In September 1941, the Spanish Blue Division was assigned to Army Group North. Composition: October 1941 16th Army 18th ArmyNevsky PyatachokOperation Nordlicht Commander in Chief 17 January 1942: GFM Georg von Küchler Composition: September 1942 11th Army 16th Army 18th ArmyDecember 1942 16th Army 18th ArmyDemyansk PocketKholm Pocket Soviet Toropets-Kholm OperationBattle of Velikiye LukiBattle of Krasny Bor Commander in Chief 9 January 1944: Field marshal Walter Model Commander in Chief 31 March 1944: Generaloberst Georg Lindemann Commander in Chief 4 July 1944: Generaloberst Johannes Frießner Commander in Chief 23 July 1944: GFM Ferdinand Schörner March 1944 Army detachment "Narwa" 16th Army 18th ArmyBattle of Narva, consisting of: Battle for Narva Bridgehead and Battle of Tannenberg LineCombat in South Estonia, 1944 Soviet Baltic OffensiveBattle of PorkuniBattle of Vilnius Battle of Memel After becoming trapped in the Courland Cauldron after 25 January 1945, the Army Group was renamed Army Group Courland.
On the same day, in East Prussia, a new Army Group North was created by renaming Army Group Center. On the 2 April 1945, the army group was dissolved, the staff formed the 12th Army headquarters. Army Group North, was driven into an smaller pocket around Königsberg in East Prussia. On April 9, 1945 Königsberg fell to the Red Army, although remnants of Army Group units continued to resist on the Heiligenbeil & Danzig beachheads until the end of the war in Europe. October 1944 16th Army Armee-Abteilung Grasser 18th ArmyNovember 1944 16th Army Armee-Abteilung Kleffel 18 ArmeeDecember 1944 16th Army 18th ArmySoviet East Prussian OffensiveBattle of KönigsbergHeiligenbeil pocket Commander in Chief 27 January 1945: Generaloberst Dr. Lothar Rendulic Commander in Chief 12 March 1945: Walter Weiss Composition: February 1945 Armee-Abteilung Samland 4th ArmySoviet East Pomeranian OffensiveBattle of KolbergCourland Pocket On the 25 January 1945 Hitler renamed three army groups. Army Group North became Army Group Courland, more appropriate as it had been isolated from Army Group Centre and was trapped in Courland, Latvia.
German order of battle for Operation Fall Weiss Police Regiment North Frieser, Karl-Heinz. Die Ostfront 1943/44 – Der Krieg im Osten und an den Nebenfronten. Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg. VIII. München: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. ISBN 978-3-421-06235-2
Army Group D
Army Group D was a German Army Group which saw action during World War II. Army Group D was formed on 26 October 1940 in France, its initial cadre coming from the disbanded Army Group C. On 15 April 1941, the status of Army Group D was upgraded. From that date on, the commander of Army Group D was to be considered Oberbefehlshaber West; as a result of this, Army Group D is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Army Group West. May 1941 Seventh Army First Army Fifteenth Army Commander of all German troops of Occupation in the NetherlandsMay 1944 Army Group G Army Group B Panzer Group West First Fallschirm ArmyDecember 1944 Army Group G Army Group B Army Group H Sixth SS Panzer Army Tessin, Georg. Die Landstreitkräfte: Namensverbände / Die Luftstreitkräfte / Flakeinsatz im Reich 1943–1945. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen–SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939–1945. 14. Osnabrück: Biblio. ISBN 3-7648-1111-0
Army Group G
The German Army Group G fought on the Western Front of World War II and was a component of OB West. When the Allied invasion of Southern France took place, Army Group G had eleven divisions with which to hold France south of the Loire. Between August 17 and 18, the German Armed Forces High Command ordered Army Group G to abandon southern France; the German LXIV Corps, in charge of troops in the southwest since First Army had been withdrawn a few weeks earlier to hold the line on the River Seine southeast of Paris, formed three march groups and withdrew eastward toward Dijon. At the same time, the German Nineteenth Army, retreated northward through the Rhône valley toward the Plateau de Langres where it was joined by the German Fifth Panzer Army, assigned to Army Group G so that a counter-attack could be delivered against the United States Third Army; the retreat did not go according to plan, as the Nineteenth Army retreated many personnel of Army Group G were taken prisoner by the Sixth United States Army Group.
By the time the retreat was over General Johannes Blaskowitz had lost about half his force and was relieved on 21 September by General Hermann Balck. By mid September the Fifth were in position on the left wing of the German line north of the Swiss border. From there the Fifth Panzer with elements of the First attacked the United States Third Army, while the much reduced German 19th Army opposed the French First Army and the U. S. Seventh Army under General Alexander M. Patch. Army Group G fought in the Vosges Mountains during November 1944 and retreated through Lorraine and north Alsace during December. In late November 1944, Army Group G temporarily lost responsibility for the German troops in the Colmar Pocket and on the Rhine River south of the Bienwald to the short-lived Army Group Oberrhein. In January 1945 the Army Group attacked in Operation Nordwind, the last big German counter-attack on the Western Front. With the failure of Nordwind and the ejection of the Germans from the Colmar Pocket, Army Group Oberrhein was dissolved and Army Group G reassumed responsibility for the defense of southwestern Germany.
Unable to halt the offensive by Allied troops that cleared the Rhineland-Palatinate and subsequently assaulted over the Rhine River, Army Group G's troops fought to defend the cities of Heilbronn, Crailsheim and Munich during April 1945. Army Group G surrendered to U. S. forces at Haar, in Bavaria, in Germany on May 5, 1945. Cole, Hugh M. UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR: The European Theater of Operations THE ARDENNES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE Pogue, Forrest C. United States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations: The Supreme Command Tessin, Georg. Die Landstreitkräfte: Namensverbände / Die Luftstreitkräfte / Flakeinsatz im Reich 1943–1945. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen–SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939–1945. 14. Osnabrück: Biblio. ISBN 3-7648-1111-0; the German View website of the 100th Infantry Division Association
Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula was an Army Group of the Wehrmacht, formed on 24 January 1945. It was put together from elements of Army Group A, Army Group Centre, a variety of new or ad hoc formations, it was formed to protect Berlin from the Soviet armies advancing from the Vistula River. Heinz Guderian had urged the creation of a new army group as an defensive measure to fill the gap opening in German defences between the lower Vistula and the lower Oder; the new Army Group Vistula was duly formed from an assortment of rebuilt and existing units. Guderian intended to propose Field-Marshal Maximilian von Weichs as commander. However, in a reflection of Hitler's desire to transfer control of the conflict from the Wehrmacht to the SS, Heinrich Himmler was appointed. Himmler, who lacked any real military knowledge, proved inadequate to the task. Other than Operation Solstice, the Army Group's only offensive action was a disastrous attempt to relieve the fortress of Kustrin late in March 1945, during which the subordinate XXXIX Panzer Corps took heavy casualties.
Under the command of Heinrici, parts of the army group fought through the Battle of Berlin and Battle of Halbe, with some of its elements not surrendering until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945. Army Group Vistula's strength was in the region of 500,000 troops. Indeed, when first set up it was found that the army group lacked many essential facilities, such as proper maps or a headquarters signals detachment—the sole means of communication being Himmler's private telephone; the Army Group was formed from: The Ninth Army of General Theodor Busse, part of Army Group A and had been shattered around Warsaw during the Vistula-Oder Offensive. This now was progressively rebuilt; the Second Army of Colonel-General Walter Weiss, which as part of Army Group Centre had been defending the line of the Narew river on the borders of East Prussia. The East Prussian Offensive had cut it off from the remnants of its parent formation, by late January it defended a long sector from Elbing in the east running westwards through Pomerania.
It therefore formed the new army group's eastern flank. The Eleventh SS Panzer Army was a'new' formation, assembled in western Pomerania. Soon after its formation it received the staff of the Third Panzer Army, destroyed in East Prussia. During the East Pomeranian Offensive, the Second Army was cut off from the remainder of the army group and withdrew into Danzig, where it was destroyed; the rest of Army Group Vistula was forced west of the Oder, though the Third Panzer Army retained a small bridgehead at Altdamm until the middle of March. Towards the end of April, the Twenty-First Army was added to Army Group Vistula. German Third Panzer Army III SS Panzer Corps CI Corps XXVII Corps XXXII Corps XXXXVI Panzer Corps Verteidigungsbereich Swinemünde German Twenty-First Army III SS Panzer Corps CI Corps XXVII Corps German Ninth Army CI Corps LVI Panzer Corps XI SS Panzer Corps V SS Mountain Corps Battle for Berlin
Bombing of Stalingrad
Stalingrad, a Soviet city and industrial centre on the river Volga, was bombed by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. German land forces comprising the 6th Army had advanced to the suburbs of Stalingrad by August 1942; the city was firebombed with 1,000 tons of high explosives and incendiaries in 1,600 sorties on 23 August. The destruction was monumental and complete, turning Stalingrad into a sea of fire and killing thousands of civilians and soldiers. Further fire-attacks were mounted against the ruined city for the next two days, enveloping it in dense volcano-like black smoke clouds that stretched 3.5 kilometers into the sky. In accordance with Adolf Hitler's demand to exterminate all traces of Soviet resistance, Soviet forces hiding in the rubble were subjected to nonstop German airstrikes until the Soviet counteroffensive in late November 1942. Luftflotte 4 flew 1,000 sorties per day on average from 23 August to 22 November, the bulk of which were directed at Stalingrad.
Luftwaffe General Martin Fiebig's Fliegerkorps VIII was tasked in July 1942 with providing air support for the German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army as they captured Stalingrad and secured the northern flank of the German advance to the Caucasus oilfields. Fiebig's superior's, Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen’s Luftflotte 4 held a 1,600 kilometer eastern frontage in July and concentrated its efforts on Stalingrad, with the air support missions in the Caucasus under Kurt Pflugbeil's Fliegerkorps IV and at the Voronezh battle being given a lower priority. Logistics for Fliegerkorps VIII received the highest preference, as Richthofen saw the capture of Stalingrad as the key to German success on the entire Eastern Front. Richthofen requested additional Junkers Ju 52 transport groups from Oberkommando der Luftwaffe and transferred Pflugbeil's groups, as well as his road transport companies, to the administrative authority of a new, specially created, "Stalingrad transport region", he ordered better procedures and greater efforts to maximize efficiency.
His activities bore fruit as the Luftwaffe lifted ammunition and fuel to the front. The army implemented its own initiatives to increase supply effectiveness, the insufficient perfection of which had undermined the speed of the German advance since the beginning of Case Blue in June. By the third week of August, the 6th Army and Fliegerkorps VIII were receiving sufficient supplies to undertake without undue difficulties their primary mission of capturing Stalingrad. During the Battle of Kalach, Fliegerkorps VIII provided the German XIV and XXIV Panzer Corps' with decisive air support as the Soviet 62nd Army was encircled and destroyed west of Kalach from 8–11 August through the application of superior German firepower from all sides and from above. 50,000 prisoners were taken by the Germans, 1,100 Soviet tanks were destroyed or captured and the road to Stalingrad was laid bare. LI Army Corps penetrated across the Don north of Kalach on 21 August, forcing the surprised and helpless Red Army formations to the south to fall back on Stalingrad.
XIV Panzer Corps crossed the Don the next morning across two enormous pontoon bridges created by German engineers. Fiebig's air corps shot down 139 Red aircraft in three days and inflicted massive damage on Soviet ground forces. On 21 August Richthofen flew across the Don in his Fieseler Fi 156 and was shocked at the carnage of dead Soviet bodies and destroyed tanks. Hours after Richthofen's sightseeing, Kampfgeschwader 76's Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers exterminated two surprised Soviet reserve divisions on open fields 150 kilometers east of Stalingrad. Richthofen was excited and delighted by the one-sided massacre and wrote in his diary: "Blood flowed!"Within two days of crossing the Don, Gustav Anton von Wietersheim's XIV Panzer Corps rolled forth to reach the Volga river at Spartanovka in the northern suburbs of Stalingrad at 1600 hours on 23 August. Stavka, the Soviet supreme command, was shocked by the speed of Wietersheim's advance, it was accomplished thanks to an overwhelming deluge of German airpower.
Fliegerkorps VIII flew 1,600 unbroken sorties, blasting a path for the Panzer spearheads by dropping 1,000 tons of bombs on 23 August. Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, Focke-Wulf Fw 190 ground attack aircraft and Heinkel He 111 and Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers bombed and strafed the paralyzed Soviets, refueled, restocked their ordnance and flew more missions as the German aircraft never broke the cycle. Fliegerkorps VIII lost only three aircraft that day, while destroying 91 Soviet aircraft in a single day and inflicting immeasurable damage on the Soviet soldiers and civilians on the ground, it was only the first half of Fliegerkorps VIII's attacks that day as the second great air offensive of 23 August was carried out against the city of Stalingrad itself. From 3:18 pm on 23 August 1942 and through the night into 24 August units of Generaloberst von Richthofen’s Luftflotte 4 attacked the city. Medium Bomber strength employed included elements of KG 27, KG 51, KG 55, KG 76, I/KG 100.` During 23 August Luftflotte 4 flew 1,600 sorties and dropped 1,000 tons of bombs on the city destroying it, while three aircraft were lost.
Buildings crumbled under the blast effects of high explosives, while the extensive use of incendiaries torched factories and houses. Wooden houses were incinerated, leaving only their chimneys on the surface. In the first few hours of bombing, the headquarters of the city's air defenses were bombed. Stalingrad was enveloped in dense, volcano-like black clouds of smoke that stretched 3,500 meters into the sky; the destruction was monumental and complete as the entire city was put on fire and Soviet families either
Army Group H
Army Group H was a German army group in the Netherlands and in Nordrhein-Westfalen during World War II. Army Group H was activated on 11 November 1944 in the Netherlands, it contained the 15th Army. It garrisoned the Netherlands with twelve divisions. In March 1945 the army group became Heeresgruppe Nordwest under Ernst Busch the "Oberbefehlshaber Nordwest". After being pushed from the Rhine by Operation Varsity, on 4 May 1945 OB Nordwest capitulated on the Lüneburger Heide to Field Marshal Montgomery. 1st Parachute Army 15th Army 1st Parachute Army 25th Army Tessin, Georg. Die Landstreitkräfte: Namensverbände / Die Luftstreitkräfte / Flakeinsatz im Reich 1943–1945. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen–SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939–1945. 14. Osnabrück: Biblio. ISBN 3-7648-1111-0