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Battle for Kurland 1944-1945

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe February 1943 to End of War' started by Kai-Petri, Apr 9, 2003.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    [​IMG]

    In the middle of October 1944, about 500,000 soldiers -- 32 German divisions and the 20,000 men of the Latvian Nineteenth Division of the Waffen–SS -- were cut off from the rest of the German army and encircled. To the east and the south was the Soviet army, to the north and the west -- the Baltic Sea. The Latvians called it Kurzemes katls, the Kurland kettle; the Germans called it Festung Kurland, Fortress Kurland.

    For the Nineteenth Division Kurland was truly the last stand. They took part in six major battles between October 12, 1944, and April 3, 1945. Together with the German army units they on the whole held the front line, keeping the Bolsheviks out of Kurland, until May 8, 1945, when Germany capitulated. These soldiers remained undefeated until the final moments of the war, im Felde unbesiegt, as the Germans say. In one of the last battles, Captain Miervaldis Adamsons' company in a single 24-hour period repelled seven attacks by the Russians, and after the battle the bodies of 400 fallen Soviet soldiers could be counted in front of the Latvians' unconquered positions.

    The Soviet High Command asked the commanders of the First and Second Baltic Fronts to take forceful action in Kurland, in order to drive the enemy from the northern sector of the Baltic Sea and free their units for more important positions on the Soviet-German front. The first attempt occurred on October 16, 1944, but was stopped in the area around Tukums. The next Soviet offensive took place on October 27, but met with strong resistance from the outset and did not result in any gains. November 20 saw another offensive, but the Germans and Latvians stabilized their defensive line, utilizing favorable geographic features. Equally unsuccessful were the final attempts of the First and Second Baltic Front Armies to liquidate the German Army Group "Kurland" in December of 1944 and February and April of 1945.

    Soviet documents show that Stalin threw division after division into the Kurland inferno, disregarding the appallingly high losses. According to German estimates , the Soviet army lost 320,000 soldiers -- including those fallen, wounded, and taken prisoner -- and 2388 tanks, 659 planes, 900 cannons, and 1440 machine-guns.


    http://www.aeronautics.ru/archive/wwii/books/panzertruppen/web_gallery/pages/color_015.htm

    Generaloberst ( later Field Marshall ) Ferdinand Schorner , commander of Kurland pocket troops (?!)

    http://vip.latnet.lv/LPRA/fg_Kurland.htm
     
  2. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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  3. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    That's even a larger force that had to surrender to the Russians in 1945, then the Wehrmacht in and around Stalingrad in 1943.

    Just as I thought that I saw every information kai had, suddenly the map became visible.

    :eek: :eek:
     
  4. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    a side note......Ju 88G-6's from NJG 100 and NJG 5 were supposed to do night ground attack missions in which I may add they were very successful and as a last resort evacuated military personell from the Cauldron.

    An excellent read is Bridgehead Kurland about the 6 battles by Franz Kurowski. JJF publication from Canada, ISBN # 0-921991-66-5 Although open-ended at times he covers some very nice first person accounts. The pics should of been laser scanned as they have come out dark. Some good materials on JG 54 and the Kriegsmarine small boats ops.

    E
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Otto Kittel-FW 190 expert´s death

    http://fw190.hobbyvista.com/Kittel.htm

    [​IMG]

    At 12:06 hours on 16 February 1945 four FW 190 A-8s led by Oberleutnant Otto Kittel of 2./J.G.54 took off from an airbase in the Kurland pocket. The mission was free hunting over the frontline area near Dzukste. This was Kittel’s 583rd combat sortie. After only seven minutes the German fighters spotted fourteen Il-2s that were bombing and shooting rockets at German ground troops from an altitude of 150 metres. Oberleutnant Kittel radioed an attack order. The Il-2 Shturmoviks were flying in a row, one after another, and Kittel attacked from the right hand side. His wingman Oberfähnrich Renner wrote:


    "Flying at a distance of about 100 metres from Oblt. Kittel I saw him dive beneath and behind an Il-2 and attack it. Behind us two other Il-2s pulled up sharply. In the next moment an explosion was seen in his cockpit and the aircraft started to descend".

    Kittel's FW 190 tore into the ground with its starboard wing, caught fire, and then exploded. Otto Kittel, victor in 267 aerial combats and the highest scoring fighter pilot to fall prey to an enemy, had no chance whatsoever of surviving. He was buried in Sabile/Lithuania. Otto Kittel was the top FW 190 ace of the war, followed closely by another member of the Grünherz Geschwader, Walter Nowotny.

    http://www.pilotenbunker.de/Jagdflieger/Luftwaffe/KittelOtto/Otto-Kittel.htm

    http://www.luftwaffe-experten.com/pilots_day/O_Kittel.html
     
  6. Schmidt

    Schmidt Member

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    How easy would it of been to evacute those men by ship back to Germany? If Hitler would of allowed it?
     
  7. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    There were a lot of ships when soldiers from Eastern Prusia had to be evacuated and that worked.

    but still such a huge amount of troops would have been difficult, but it could have worked.
     
  8. Heartland

    Heartland Member

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    Some units were indeed evacuated by ship, such as the 11th Waffen SS "Nordland" which was brought out and next saw action around Berlin, if memory serves.

    As a side note, Soviet aircraft such as the naval version of the Il-2 and Pe-2 used "skip-bombing" techniques against German shipping in the Baltic during this time.
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    not all of the 11th SS was evacuated by boat. Much of the Panzer element equipped with the Stug III/Panthers and with the Heavy Panzer Abt. SS 503 had been fighting in the Pommerania and then towards Danzig. A slow retreat to just east of Berlin and then dying within Berlin itself and some elements escaping to US forces to the west.

    ~E
     
  10. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    My friends, my friends, you are all forgetting the greatest heroes in the battle for Kurland!!! The men of the Kriegsmarine!!! Could you tell me what in the German arsenal can destroy 5 T-34/85 with a single shot? Prinz Eugen's 8-inch guns!!! Many German recoinassence men describe the situation: "we suddenly heard a very strong and horrible noise over our heads, like a locomotive and then: BAM! 5 T-34s flying on the skies! You could actually see the 25-tons tank 12 metres above from the ground!!!" :eek: :eek:

    I have an essay about this, I'll post it later.
     
  11. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    have to check through my Kriegsmarine friends log buch but I thought he mentioned besides the smaller craft doing shore bombardment also two destroyers (Z25 and Z35 plus later the Z 28), the Prinz, and the Lützow.

    ~E
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    December 1944.

    To Great Admiral Dönitz, Commander in Chief of the German Navy:

    After the battle of Sworbe, I feel I have to express how thanked I am, as the whole Eastern Army is to all the members of the Navy for their heroic efforts, sacrifices and decision in helping us. I am convinced that our struggle against an enemy immensely superior has strengthened in great shape the brotherhood liaisons between the German Army and the German Navy.

    Colonel general Heinz Guderian, Chief of Staff of the Army.
     
  13. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    I've not read much on Kurland,that's why I'm asking.Were they supplied by sea or air?Was it not as cold there as Stalingrad?They had to have known they were cut off with no possibility of help just like Stalingrad.At least the navy was backing them up.Was it better leadership;Paulas vs Schorner?I read Schorner spent more time behind the lines "shooting deserters" then at the front.Than at war's end,disguise himself so's not to be captured by the Russians.A what if: if Rommel was commanding 6th Army,would he have broken out?Or do you think Hitler would've had him flown out? FramerT.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Framert,

    if you wish to know more on the Kurland battles read the texts above on the thread.

    I think it was not as cold as in Stalingrad but I´m sure they were desperate on the supply situation, and I think they did starve as well as had to count their ammunition how much they could use per day. I think most of the supplies came by ship but some planes did fly to Kurland pocket as well.

    Some more info:

    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/campaign_awards/cufftitles/Kurland/campaign/kurtland_campaign.htm

    http://vip.latnet.lv/LPRA/fg_kurland.htm

    I think if Rommel had been in the Kurland pocket Hitler would have flown him away like from North Africa.
     
  15. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Most of the supplies came by ship, Flamert.

    And I don't think it's worth to compare a leader who cares about their men like Rommel with some other nazified paranoid like Schörner. Paulus was a much better general in my opinion.
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think it was Schörner´s driver who had two uniforms with him as they travelled around. Schörner had a habbit of lowering his driver´s grade if he made a mistake and once he did something good Schörner upgraded him again...

    :confused:
     
  17. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    I was'nt trying to compare Schorner with Rommel or Paulus.Rommel dis-obeyed Hitler's no retreat in Africa but did'nt get in too much trouble[favorite?].He was flown out back to Germany.Say he was then flown to Stalingrad to take over,do you think Hitler would have expected the same from him? IE. Fight to the last bullet/no surrender.Paulus was a no name to the German people compared to Rommel.Case in point,Hitler had to make up a story to tell the people when he had Rommel commit suicide.Without dragging up the debate whether"if,when, why Paulus did'nt break out,at least the guys at Kurland knew someone[Navy] was looking out for their rear-ends.The guys at Stalingrad were surrounded with NO help coming.FramerT.
     
  18. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Goebbels' press did actually mention Friedrich Paulus quite often. Simply because he was in command of the greatest battle of 1942 "where the war would be decided".

    Rommel, in Paulus' place would have broken out from the pocket with disastrous consequences - I'm talking about the moment when Hoth's panzers were 40 kilometres from Stalingrad. Only a miracle could have saved the situation.

    But maybe Hitler would have tolerated such a thing from his 'favourite' general.
     
  19. Helwik

    Helwik Member

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    I am wondering if you have any info on the Soviet Armies involved in Kurland.

    I am designing a "scenario" for an online game based on the events in Kurland. It’s primarily based on the air combat aspects. I have been trying to develop the Soviet OOB but unfortunately outside of some very basic general information I haven't had much luck.

    I am particular interested in specific squadron / group designations that made up the Soviet Air Armies. The same for Soviet Tanks Armies.

    We are also building a map/terrain. I have Kurowski's book, Bridgehead Kurland. It has several maps but they lack some of the detail in regards to unit placement and names.

    Any answers you could provide or if you could point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Helwik
     
  20. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Welcome aboard, Helwik! Hope you like it in here! ;)

    I'm afraid I don't have enough sources to help you with your question, but I think Kai or someone else can. [​IMG]
     

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