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MS # A-871

31st Panzer Division in Combat against American Troops

in Prance and Germany

Edgar Feuchtinger, Generalleutnant a. D.

Translator: A.E. Chrigtensen.

Historical Division

MS # A-871
Report on the Engagements of the 21st Panzer Division
against American Troops in France and Germany.

Although I still have a good knowledge of all engagements of

my division, I mast initially establish the fact that it is not possible
for me to write my report in such form as I should like to, so that in
the paragraphs in question it will give an indisputable picture of the
daily engagements. Above all I lack a knowledge of the situation of the
enemy, my own war diary, and the corresponding maps in the scales
1:50.000, 1:80.000 or 1:100.000. Inevitable blanks and also many mistakes
must be taken into consideration. I, coiripletely avoid, therefore naming
the American divisions which fought opposite to us. Due to the frequent
changes in the arrangement of the chain of conmand, the numbers of our
own corps headquarters will not all be correct. Likewise, mistakes in
the dates given will often be unavoidable.
But I have made my report according to the best of my knowledge.
Should it not also contribute to the heroism of a fine division which
had always done its duty, and which was recognized by the enemy as a
division of fair and excellent fighting qualities? Scumany captured
American officers and enlisted men personally told me.
Concerning the historical evaluation of the division, its fighting
power,-armament, and eouipment, the following is initially to be said:
After the completion of the entire German campaign in Al©rice the
21st Panzer Division was torn to pieces in !TuniF,ia. The new

MS # A-871 -3-

21st Panzer Division was constituted in France on 6 May 1943. Assigned

to it were former members of the 21st Panzer Division who had been in
Germany on account of wounds or illness, on leave, or with the replacement

units at the time of the surrender of Tunisia. Altogether, about 3,000

officers and enlisted men. The mobile 936th Brigade which originated
from the only armored artillery brigade (self-propelled) was ordered
to constitute the cadre of the formation. Our own construction staff
had to assemble all armored and unarmorea vehicles only from spare parts

found in the salvage dumps of the campaign in the west 1940. Only the
tanks for the Panzer Begiment were supplied. All weapons were allotted
from German stocks, but we had to build the installations (self-propelled)
and the towing mediums ourselves. Even after 6 June 1944 the division
had no replacements for vehicles, but had to build up everything even in
the most difficult situations. As the only division or the German
Western Army the division had to go on fighting continuously at the
most difficult points. On the first day of the invasion it was
employed at Caen as first reserve division, and at the beginning of

February 1945 evacuated to the Oder front.

Organization and Commanding Instances of the Division.

Division commander: Maj Gen Peuchtinger

G 3: until the end of August 1944 Lt Col Frhr v. Berlichingen,
then Major Scharnhorst.

G 4: Major Frhr. v. Luedinghausen.

MS # A-S71

G 2: Capt Vorster.

& 1: Major Heeringer.

1/Lt: 1/Lt Ehode.

21st Reconnaissance Battalion.

Commander: Major Brandt.

l.,2. companies armored reconnaissance companies.

3.,4. " reconnaissance companies.

5. company heavy armored company.

125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

Commander: Lt Col v. Luck.

First Battalion;
l.,2.,3. companies armored troop carriers
4. company armored troop carrier with four 7.5 cm antitank
guns, self-propelled.
armored troop carrier with three 2 cm flat
trajectory csnnon, self-propelled.
armored troop carrier with four heavy rocket
Second Battalion;
5.,6.,7. companies personnel carriers.
8. company like the 4th company.
MS # A-871 -4-

(strength and armament of the 1.-3. companies and the 5 .-7.

companies according to the organization of the 4-1 th Panzer Division,

y. company infantry Howitzer company with six heavy

field Howitzers "13" (cal 15 cm) on armored

self-propelled carriage.

10. company four multi-tarrelled shell mortars with 24

muzzles each, eight 14 cm mortars self-propelled

with 360 carriage.

11. company regimental headquarters company with sapper

and engineering units, signals and communication

antitank artillery, alarm and assault platoon.

l.,2.,3. supply companies.

1921 - Panzer grenadier Regiment.

Coniaander; Col Seuch.

Organization like that of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment.

22d Panzer Regiment.

Commander: Col v. Oppeln-Bronikovski.

First Battalion;

l.,2.,3.,4. Companies with each 17 tanks type "IT", 7.5 cm cannon


Second Battalion;

5.,6.,7.,8. companies with each 12 tanks type "IT1 , 7.5 cm cannon

US # A-871 -5-

155th. Panzer Artillery Hegiment.

Commander: Col Euehne.

First Battalion;

1. battery with four 10 cm guns

2. and 3. "batteries with, each four 12.2 cm horse-drawn Howitzers.

Second Battalion;
4., 5. batteries \/ith each six light field Howitzers type "18"

10.5 cm gun on armored self-propelled carriage.

6. battery with six heavy field Howitzers type "IS", 15 cm gun

on armored self-propelled carriages.

Third Battalion;

7.,8.,9. betteries like those of the second battalion.

10. battery was a rocket-launcher battery with four rocket launchers
of 48 muzzles on armored self-propelled.

carriage (cal 8)

200th Assault Gun Battalion.

Commander; Maj Becker.

l.,S.,3,,4. batteries with each ten armored self-uropelled

carriages, namely, four with 7.5 cm antitank guns,

and six with 10.5 cm light field Howitzers type "18".
5. battery a coirpany with multi-barrelled shell mortars like those

of the 10th company of the 125th and 192d Panzer Grenadier

MS # A-871 -6-

200th Armored Engineer Battalion.

Commanderi Major HoegL.

l.,2. companies with armored troop carriers.

3. company with personnel carriers, bridging-column with material

for 60 t bridge, light engineer column.

800th Antitank Battalion.

Commander: Maj Frhr. r. Synker.

l.,2.,3. companies with each eight 8 cm motor-drawn antitank


305th Army (Heeres) Antiaircraft Battalion.

Commander: Major Ohlendorf.

1 "battery with twelve 2 cm single-muzzled guns, two 3.7 cm two-

muzzled guns ana two 2 cm four-muzzled guns (sell-propelled).

2., 3. batteries with each four motor-drawn 8.8 can antiaircraft

guns and three 3.7 cm single-muzzled guns.

Searchlight platoon, light antiaircraft column.

200th Armored Signal Battalion.

Commander: Major Huehnlich.

1. company: telephone company

2. company: radio company

Light signal column.

MS # A-871 -7-

800th Armored Supply Detachment.

Commander: Haj v. Streit.

1.,2.,3.,4.,5.,6.,7. companies each 120 t.

200th Medical Battalion.

Conunander: changed frequently.

Divisional Surgeon: Oberstabsarzt Dr. Altmeyer.

l.,2. medical companies.

l.,2.,3. motorized ambulance platoons.

l.,2. first-aid stations.

Technical Services.

Commander: Divisional Engineer Major.

l.,2.,3. workshop Qowpenie^.

Service Troops.

Commander: changed frequently.

Chief Supt>ly Officer: Oberstabsintendant Goeris.

Administration company.

Bakery company.

Butcher company,.

G- 3 subordinate to division escort company.

Military Police detachment.
MS # A-871 -8-

American Csropai^ in IToraandy 6 Jun - 24 Jul 1S44.

The division was not engaged here, as it was already employed in

the area of Caen on the first day of the invasion and held its

position here until 5 July. As of 8 July it was engaged in the area

south and eest of Caen.

American Campaign in Horthern _France 25 Jul - 14 Sept 1944.

On 10 August the division had its first contact here with American
forces. At that time the division was still involved in engagements

in the area of 7ire-Conde. Information about the American advance

east of Rennes was very unsatisfactory. All the supply of the division
came from the area west of Paris. In order to guard the supply columns
against surprise the division employed the First Panzer Reconnaissance

Company on the northward road, north of St. Mans, and was in this vray
constantly aware of the position of the American armored speaipoiots. .

Only with small units was the division engaged in fights with the
Americans in the pocket south of Falaise. Under the leadership of the
First SS Corps the "bulk of the division fought its way tack to Dimontier
and the Tocruet sector.

Subordinate to the Second SS Corps the division fought between

Lisieux and Orbec from 20 August - 22 August, and on 22 August at about

17.30 hours orders came from the Second SS Corps that the division had to
MS # A-371 ~9-

be employed at once without relief in order to occupy a covering

position south and east of le leubourg, to prevent the American armored
forces from advancing from the Evreux district in the direction of the
Seine near Elbenf, Eouen, BouiShevoulde. The division was subordinate
to the 81st Corps (lit Sen Kuntzen) in this mission. Command post of the
corps was placed near Molineaux on the Seine.
Due to the continued engagements as of 6 July the division had
suffered quite serious casualties. Although two personnel replacement
battalions had come to the division, the strengths of the companies of
the Panzer Grenadier Regiments were only 40 - 50 men on 62, August. In
July the second battalion of the Panzer Grenadier Regiment had been
transferred to the drill ground of Grafenwoehr for reconversion to
Panther tank armor. The tank type "IV" available at that time had been
taken over by the first battalion. The unit had taken eight tanks into
tne pocket of Falaise, and returned without a single one. Ko replacements
were assigned. As of 22 August artillery, assault gun units, antitank
units and anticraft units had lost 2/3 of their weapons owing to the fire
of the enemy. So far no replacements had been assigned here either.
Consequently, the division was about 70^ below authorized strength, its
striking power is to be estimated correspondingly or still lower.
During the envening of 22 August things took a different turn. As
of 19.00 tne division hsd left its positions and was marching into the
new sector. Prom Brionne all roads leading eastward were blocked to such
a degree that it was only possible to advance stet> by step. When I motored
MS # A~871 -10-

in advance through la Hage du Theil tov/ard Foqueville I was able to

ascertain the presence of American tanks. Rapidly I turned the marching

division aside, and had the terrain to the north of La Hage and a
wood north of it occupied.
The task assigned to me fey Lt Gen Kuntzen early on the morning of

23 August was to contain the enemy in the area south of Bourgthevoulde

as long as possible, and to take all equipment and vehicles to the

opposite "bank of the Seine. On S3 August the weather i/as unfavorable for

the air force, but it could not be utilized for the crossing of the
Seine by the numerous German infantry end armored divisions as no bridges

were available, and consequently the crossing could only teke place by
ferry. The third company of my engineer battalion had orders to build

a bridge at Houen. On 24 August the bridge was finished, but the weather

changed for the better, and two hours after having been set into working
order the bridge was attacked by bombing planes and destroyed. The

defensive actions south of Sourgthevoulde vere carried out successfully.

Until the 2y August the weak forces of the division managed to keep the

enemy away from the Seine. This was an enormous success for the German
crossing of the Seine. Although an immense amount of material especially

of the infantry divisions was taken by the enemy, owing to the gain
in time it was still possible to tske at lerst double the amount
(especially material of the motorized divisions) to the opnosite
bank. A successful break-through of the American forces to the Seine be

tween Rouen and Yrille on 24 August enormously impeded, if not making

nearly impossible, the reformation of the following divisions, to such a

degree that they vere unable to put up any resistance at the 1/estwall:
MS # A-371 -11-

2.,9., 21., 116., units of the Panzer Lehrdivision, Panzer Division of

the Army (Heer), 1., 2., 9., 10., 12., 17., SS Panzer Divisions, and

about nine infantry divisions of the array.

The roads were "blocked beyond description, especially the roads

to Rouen which led to the Seine. The weather having changed for the

better some "bombing raids took place; they caused heavy losses, but I was

surprised that the losses were not still heavier considering the immense

mass of material.

Yrille was the crossing-point of the division. By day-and especially

by night-work the engineer battalion succeeded in taking most of the

vehicles of the division to the opposite bank. The ferrying site was

not attacked by the air force, probably because it v/as not discovered.

On 26 August the division with all units which had crossed the

Seine was ordered to march to the vicinity of Creil (north of Paris) for

a short refreshening. On 27 August the order previously given out for

the division to move first cf all to Helms, and then to the vicinity of

Vesone the same evening x-ras rescinded, and a combat group was also

ordered to go to the Plateau of Lsngres.

On 27 August I was ordered to Eparnay, to the First Army. Until the

crossing of the Seine on 28/29 August the combat group or the division

wes commanded by Lt Col v. Luck, and, corresponding to the new situation

after the crossing of the Seine, the group was led into the new area

of combat.
On my march to Epernay on 28 August at 01.00 I was engaged by
American armored reconnaissance vehicles at St. Grilles south of Fismes.
MS # A-871 -12-

In the meantime the First Army had made further changes of position;
the new situation made an immediate change of the route of msrch
necessary, which x;as much impeded by the fact that the division was
only able to inarch in small groups, and was spread all over the road
from Reims to Rouen.
According to a new order of the Army Group "G" to which the division
was now subordinate, Molsheim - Schirmeck was chosen to serve as a new
concentration area. Ihe movements of the division into the new area
were now led through Uancy. About the 6 September the first units
arrived in the new area. The units which had crossed the Seine on
29 August also arrived in the area of Molsheim by 9 and 10 September.
A new phase of combat started when the division came to Alsace. At
the outset it was subordinate to the Army Group "G" (Gen Blaskowitz) in
Gerardiner, and e.s of 8 September to the 66th Corps under Lt Gen Lucht
in Bainles Bains. The first task \ms to occupy blocking positions on
the Moselle north of iflpinal using a combat group consisting of: Staff
of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment under Col Rauch, the first
battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the second battalion
of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 200th replacement Training
Battalion, 220th Panzer Engineer Battalion and 155th Panzer Artillery
Regiment. Command post of the division was at Grandriller and as of
10 September at Peuconcourt. After having arrived in the area of Mols
heim the units were as fsr as possible equipped there, and by 10 Sept
marched into the sector with a company strength of about bO men. At
MS # A-871 -13-

that time no other portions of the division could be moved forward,

as armament and equipment were missing. The fighting value of the

troops employed can "be regarded as satisfactory.

During the night of 11 September the combat group was ordered to

move to the area west of Epinal, and in co-operation with the newly

constituted 113d Panzer Brigade commanded "by Col v. Usedom, carry out

a relief attack for the benifit of the sorely pressed and almost quite
encircled 16th Infantry Division commanded "by Maj Gen Heckel in the

north-western vicinity of Dompaire. AS Col Eauch fell ill, Lt.Col

v. Luck took over the leadership of the combat group of the division,

which on 12 September x^as subordinated to the 112d Panzer Brigade.

13 August passed most unfavorably for the Panzer Brigade, because both
its Panzer battalions were attacked by fighter-bombers in the area

of Hennesomt - Darnbus. On this occasion the Panther battalion lost

nearly all its Panthers necessary for employment, while the battalion
equipped with tanks type "IV" lost about 30$. The first battalion of

the 192th Panzer Grenadier Begiment had also to endure a heavy air raid

and suffered considerable losses. On. 13 and 14 September the thus

weakened brigade was no longer able to rescue the 16th Division, because

the American forces were too strong and the 16th Division was already

torn to pieces on 13 and 14 Sept. The arrangement of the chain of

command was changed on 14 September. As of 14 September the 112d Pan

zer Brigade tras nlaced subordinate to the 21st Panzer Division.

KS # A-871 -14-

American Campaign in the Bhipela.nd 15 Sep « «& March 1945.

As a logical conseauence of our new missions I moved Divisional

Headquarters to Epinal on 15 September. Together with the combat

group available for employment, ny own division was engaged vest and

north of Epinal, the greater part of the division (about 6000 - 7000 men)

was placed in the vicinity of iHoleheim and was not ready for action

owing to the lack of the most important weapons, ?.s for instance rifles,

machine guns, guns of all sorts, spades etc. The G 4 of the division

was located in the area of Holsheim, and was ordered to eo.uip company
after company and to send off at once to the combat group equipped

coiSDanies according to the amount of weapons supplied. As of 20 Sept

new companies came up, and on 28 Sept the whole division v/ss employed once
again. The Panzer Regiment, of which the second battalion was in Grafen

woehr for reconversion of armament and retraining, \-/as, with its first
battalion, pieced in the vicinity of Xaiserslautera, and was e.t the

Panzer strong point, waiting for new tanks of type "I?". But time

passed, and not until about 10 Oct did the battalion come bsck to the

division vith about 24 tanks of type "17".

The ll£thpanzer Brigade subordinpte to me disposed of the ll-rfth Panzer

Grenadier P.egiment. Both battalions of the brigade nad suffered heavily.

After the first refitting on 16 September about 8-10 Panther tanks of

the Panther Battalion were ready for action, and in the tank type "17"
battalion about 20 tanks. In addition, the brigade had one reconnaissance
MS # A-871 -15-

company, one engineer company, and two columns. lo artillery was

available; for its signal cojnjau.nics.tions it had a mixed company. She
composition of the brigade was incorrect, despite its great number of
tanks it \ms not able to manage a Isrge independent operation. If

the valuable material had "been given to the old division from the outset,

the leadership might have achieved quite other results. As of 14 Sept

the division was subordinate to the XLVII Panzer Corps commanded "by
Lt G-en Frhr. v. Funck; as of 15 Sept by Lt Gen Frhr. v. Luettwitz.

Command post of the corps until 14 September was in Bain les Bains, as

of 15 Sept in Grandviller. The corps WETS subordinate to the 5th Panzer

Army, which arrived on 11 September, command, post Hochwald, which had

been taken over by Lt Gen v. Manteuffel. By 17 September the lllst and

113d Panzer Brigades were transferred to the 41st Panzer Corps.

Our mission west of Epinal was to prevent the enemy from advancing

on that place, a.nd to establish contact with the portions of the 16th

Infantry Division which had escaped from the pocket.

Both tasks were fulfilled on 15 and 16 September. The weak portions

of the 10th Division which had been withdrawn to the Moselle were
attacked from west and also from north by American troops which had
already crossed the Moselle. Here I had to employ my available reserves,
and in counteratta,cks throw the enemy back on Tharn-Girmont. On 16 Sept

a lateral threat from the woods east of Begreville had to be removed.

On 16/17 Sept about 30CO men from the Luftwaffe arrived at Epinal.
They were subordinated to the commander (Brig Gen v. Zirchbach), who was
MS # A-371 -Ito-

later killed in action there. AS of 14 September, moreover, the command

post of the 16th Infantry Division (Kaj G-en Heckel) was in that place.

Cn 17 September the forces subordinate to me were relieved from the

positions west of Epinpl by the troops just arrived, and during the

night of 17/18 September made ready for a new task in the area south of

Bambervillers. On 17 Sept in the command post in Grandviller the corps

verbally ordered an attack on Luneville. For the operation the lllth

and 112th Panzer Brigades were subordinated to the corps, and my combat

groun consisted of portions of my division and the llktth Panzer Brigade.

When I reported to the corps on IS September ObOO in Bertrichrop,

I was ordered to keep the combat group ready on the road Rarabervillers -

Baccarat, with the advance guard point vest of Baccarat, so that it

might follow the llltH rnd llc^Panzer brigades on the roads Baccarat -

Lunevillo, or should be able to attack Luneville from south-west through

the Montague sector. Provisionally,©Baccarat was the command post of

the division. At 10.30 I xms there informed, that the 111*^ Panzer

.Brigade had met with resistance on the road alon£j the river Meurthe and

from the Hondon wood, end that the brigade had been compelled to envelop

and attack nortn ol" the Hondon wood. My combat group was orderd to

attack Luneville through the Montpgne sector. At 11.00 I fell in, the

first resistance i/as made at Fontenoy. From there the group had to fight

its way through Domptail - Hoyen - Gerbiviller. Gerbiviller was taken

at about 15.00, then we penetrated to the railway bridges south of

Luneville through Xerminil, and by 18.00 tne combat group had taken the
MS # A-8Y1 -17-

Montagne sector and the Meurthe sector south of Luneville. The fact

that the western part of the ixiontagne sector was occupied and that the

enemy grew ever more lively, made the situation difficult. Consequently

the sector had to remain occupied in order to prevent the enemy from

advancing eastward through the tontagne sector, and in this way split

the combat group and overpower the shattered portions. For the task

which they had to perform the combat group was fax too weak, but despite

this orders came to continue the attack on the southern edge of Luneville.

The resistance increased every hour, the Montagne sector was under heavy

machine-gun and artillery fire, which centered especially on the

villages end above all on Gerbeviller and Xerxerainil.

On the morning of the 19 Sept the positions of the third Panzer

Engineer Battalion placed on the hills west of Gerbeviller were attacked,

but the attack vas repulsed. The development of the situation made a

regrouping necessary. I placed the troops in the following order: the

first battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment with a fighting

strength of about 100 men in the vicinity of Xerxaminil, the 220th Engineer
Battalion with a fighting strength of about 200 men in the vicinity of
Gerbiviller, the second battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Reginent,

fighting strength about 140 men, near Koyen: south of Luneville I placed
the 112th Panzer Brigade, the vehicles of which \.rere placed in the woods

of Moncel. The three batteries of the second, battalion of the 155th

panzer Artillery Eegiment had been emplaced so rapidly that from the
center of the sector they could command the ground in all directions with
KS # A-tf71 -18-

their fire. She command post of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment
was in Gerbiviller, that of the 112th Panzer Brigade in Xerxaznil.
At the outset the command post of the division was placed in Moyen,

later on in Fontenoy. On the forenoon of 19 Sept in Gerbiviller I

conceived the situation as follows: it MS.S inpossible a) to take
Luneville, "b) to repulse the ever increasing attacks on the Montegne

sector with Gerbiviller e.s the main point of effort. A -oenetration

into the Montagne sector cut off everything, because all bridges across

the river lieurthe had been destroyed. At once I had the 220th Engineer
Bsttalion build &n emergency bridge across the Meurthe near Frambois.

In this way all troops which might hsve been cut off managed to pass
across the river during the night of 19/20 September. The 112th
Panzer Brigade lost part of their vehicles in the woods south of
Luneville. The engagements both south of Luneville snd in the Montagne
sector developed in such a vay during the afternoon and the night of

19 September that the weak forces \/ere attacked by forces©so superior

that the battalions were gradually withdrawn to the Meurthe and during
the night of 19/20 September to the hills west of Fontenoy. The command
post of the division remained in Fontenoy, on the 20 September it was

first of all moved to Badminit end then to Baccf.rat.

neither the German nor the Allied air forces took much pert in
the engagements. The weather uas not very favorable. As the lllth
and 11ZtfeBrigades did not reach their goals and also suffered heavy
losses, orders to withdraw Onto the Meurthe river came from a higher
MS # A-S71 -19-

instance on 20 ©September. On the 20 September there were heavy fights

at the crossing points at the Meurthe river and in and around the wood
of Wondon. On 18 September the wood had already "been occupied ©by-
American troops, which kept in hiding there, and the fact caused much
trouble in the fights of the 20 September and the following days. The
enemy had "been brought to a, standstill in the sector of Glonville -
Fontenoy - Domptait. Here a main line of resistance could "be built
up during the days following. As of 20 Sept the divisional commend
post was pieced in Baccarat, and that of the 112th Panzer Brigade in
Thiebsuraesser (?).
Practically no reserves could be built up, as the large combat
sectors end the small forces claimed the employment of all available
The situation at the northern flank of the division was difficult,
as the two Panzer brigades 111 end 113 had to extend to the north c,nd
the point of junction with the lllth Brigade xr^.s as fer away as north
of the Vesonze sector. Both brigades also suffered heavy losses. The
few available tanks were used as mobile antitank artillery or PS the
backbone for counterattacks. In delaying actions the weak forces
succeeded in holding the wood of Mondon until orders were given to the
effect that new positions hod to be occupied north of the Vesonze
sector, which, however, did not take pl?ce until a, satisfactory join-
up at the right hp.d been achieved, as the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division
arrived. This took place about the 22 September. Owing to these fights
MS $ A-371 -20-

it was rendered po- sible to keep the enemy away from the "bank of the

Meurthe north-vest of Baccarat and to consolidate positions at

Arerailies. On the 22 September the co>iciend post of the

was moved to Chazeller (west of Blamont).

In the wood of liondon no join-up \ts,s ordered or in existence and

so the division group had to fight nearly on all sides, but after the

capture of the Vesonze sector Domjgvin became the point of contact with

the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division. During the days following the

Panzer Brigades were disbanded. The greater part of the 112t&panzer

Brigade was united with the 21st Panzer Division. The units of the

brigade \;ere assigned to the existing battalions of the 21st Panzer

Division. In .the meantime weapons had been supplied to other units in

the district of fc©olsheim and these come to the division for employment.

The division had to hold the following front; Domjevin - St. Martin

west of Herbeviller west of Hablainville Azerviller - Meurthe

western edge of the wood west of Baccarat Menunnont - Kossoncourt -

Anglemont - Bru - Legarainil - Homsern - Font de Rambervillers.

While the right sector across the Meurthe south of Fontenoy and

the vicinity of Xaferviller were engaged from the outset, the situation
developed only gradually in the vicinity of Rambervillers end in the
Kontagne valley south of Rambervillers, and v;hen the positions were
occupied as of 25 - 28 September no contact wfes established with the
enemy UD till then. For the mission the division was subordinated to the
combat commander of Baccarat (Lt Col Brueckner) and the combat Conmrnder
MS # A_371 ..jgi..

of Eambervillers (Col v. Streilbl). Further a security "battalion no ?

in the vicinity of Bambervillers and north of it and a combat group

vith about 150 men from a former signal regiment (Luftwaffe), conraanded

by Col Oelker and forming part of the Ottenbacher combat group. These
portions csrried 0n delaying tactics in the wood of Padoux and south
of it. Their withdrawal behind the Montagne resulted in the advance

on Rambervillers.
For the combat mission the division MU.S organized in the following

Division command post as of 23 September in Pexonne.

Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the Yeson# sector with

command post in St. Martin.

The 125th Panzer Grenadier Begiment placed west of Herbeviller
and north-west of Badroenil ,

Command post of the Begiment pieced vrpst of Vsrgneville.

To the right, the Second Battalion with command post in Vaxainville.

To the left, the First Battalion with command post in Badmenil.

The 19ad Panzer Grenadier Begiment adjoining the 135th Panzer

Grenadier Begiment tdth command post in St. Barbe. In the
same place was also the advanced divisional command post for the

left sector of the division.

To the right, the First Battalion to the left the Second Batt.
(command post in Kenarmont) (Henit)
Coi©imand post of the security battalion in
MS # A-871 -22-

Coramand post of the group of Ool Oelker was located in a

sawmill east of Fraipernas.
Of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment the second battalion was
placed in the Vesongesector east of Kablaiville - Merviller,
the first battalion in the vicinity of Baccarat - St. Barbe, the
third "battalion in the vicinity of Foret de St. Barbe - Bru
Foret de Rambervillers. Command post of the regiment in Pexonne.
The 2<Jd Panzer Regiment had not yet arrived. Of tanks about four
"Panthers" and five type "IV" were available. They belonged to the former
112&Brigade and were kept as a mobile reserve behind the right sector
of the division. The antitank-gun equipment was very defective. Only
three 8.8 cm antitank guns were available, not until October were old
Russian antitank guns assigned as replacements, but they were worn out
and consequently useless.
The Panzer Engineer Battalion was placed in Pexonne, the companies
being distributed to the regiments for the building of barriers.
The point of main effort of the engagements was in the northern
sector of the division, here daily attempts at penetration hsd to be
Here, it is impossible for me to comment on the daily battles, but
on the basis of further documents many interesting operations might be
elucidated. Through repeated day and night reconnaissance in the wood
of Kondon, partly also carried out across the Meurthe river, valuable
reconnaissance results were procured. Through questioning of prisoners
MS f A-871 -23-

captured on such occasions the divisions opposite to ours could always

be ascertained; they oxten changed. At the beginning of October the
main point of effort of the American attacks centered on the Parroy
wood, and increasing combat activity began in the vicinity of
lambervillers and south of it. It would be possible to compile an
interesting and detailed monograph on the battles there which were
carried out with increasing ferocity supposing there was a demand
for such a work. The tattles are worthy of notice on account of the
characteristic strategy practiced in a rocky and wooded terrain, in
which, nevertheless, the tank weapon played an important part.
The division got into a position which grew more and more
difficult task of defense was not only impeded by the broadness of
the front (about 52 km in length) ana the rapid destruction of units
which did not belong to the division but whose loss had to be taken into
account (by higher instances), but also by tne intentions, changing
daily of the enemy. In the north and the south sectors the mode of
attach of the enemy changed almost every day. At the beginning of
October the main point of effort of the American attacks obviously
moved to the south sector; accordingly, the command post of the division
was moved to Etton 1©Etupe on about the 5 September. After the seizure
of Eambervillers heavy and costly defensive combats developed in the
direction of east and northeast. In these, we succeeded in repulsing
all attempts at penetration. But the vast and wooaed terrain required
many troops, and they were not available for the division. She companies
MS # A-871 -24-

had a combat strength of only 50 * 60 men, and they were constantly

engaged in combat, without shelter, and the weatner became more and
more chilly and rainy. The division was put in a very difficult
situation when the Americans succeeded in penetrating ever deeper into the
ranks of two adjoining divisions to the left (16th and 706th Divisions).
The result of this, for the 21st Panzer Division was, that it got orders
to constitute about 10 companies during tne month of October, and to give
them up to the two adjoining divisions to the left as reinforcements;
further, the left wing had to be extended ever more, and the few tank
reserves had often to be diverted to tne left. In the rocky and
wooded terrain the tank type "17" was still more inferior to the Snerraan
tank than under normal circumstances. At the beginning of October the first
battalion of the <slst Panzer Regiment and the regimental staff came
back to the division. They brought with them about 26 tanks, type
"IV", ready for action, but 1/3 of them were always under repair. The
tanks of the former 112th Brigade had to be given up to other units by
the division. From the 200th Assault-gun Battalion a company with
ten guns had arrived by the division in the meantime. They were
assigned to the antitank battalion, hence the term H company."
During the period of 1 October - 11 November 1944 the division
nad at its disposal, on an average each day, in the combat area of
the Vosges, the following number of heavy weapons: 15 tanks type "IV",
4-5 light field Howitzers with self-propelled carriage, 9 batteries
of 3 guns, among them 3 batteries with heavy field howitzers type "18 ,
MS f 4-871 -25-

2 batteries with 8.8 cm antiaircraft guns, about 6-8 antitank guns

(8.8 cm), 10-antitanK guns (7.5 cm). Tne number of weapons was never
greater than this but often considerably longer owing to losses. On
the 52 km-broad front employment always had to be carried out as at
points of main effort. The lighting power ox the infantry grew ever
smaller on account of losses ana especially on account of the giving
up of aoout ten companies to the left. Despite orders of tne higher
leadership the engineer battalion had to be employed as infantry and,
furthermore, permanent alarm companies. The alarm companies generally
consisted of personnel of rather older age classes, taken from supply
troops. They were not supposed, to nave a full infantry fignting power,
and yet they performed much more than could be expected, and many
defensive successes were due to tnem.
After the capture of Hambervillers at the beginning of October
the left wing of tne division was placed in Jeopardy. Tne division
formed a small combat group consisting of 2 ^ companies of the first
(self-propelled) battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment,
| company of the 200 antitank battalion -|- of the third battalion of
tne 155tn Panz er Artillery Eegiment. Tneir task was, first, to
prevent the enemy, who ftad reacned or even passed Bra - Jeameril -
Autrey, from advancing turtner eastward ana, second, to defend tne
wood of Ramberviliers. Tne combat group was subordinated to the
sector of Col Oelker. The command post was placed east of Praipernas.
MS # A-871 -26-

After the decrease of engagements in the wood of Pauroy, the ever

increasing attacks on the whole front of the 21st Panzer Division, and
the a"bove mentioned giving up of ten conpanies to the left adjoining
divisions the sector of the division on the right wing (Vesonz^ sector)
Was taken over "by the right adjoining division so that the right wing
of the 21st Panzer Division was now in the vicinity of Herbeviller.
In this way the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion was disengaged. On
the left wing it had to relieve the first battalion of the 125th Panzer
Grenadier Regiment and take over the leadership of the left wing troops
because the staff of Col Oelker had been assigned a new mission. How
the first battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment again took
over the area northwest snd west of Baccarat. The artillery battalion
was kept as it was except that the third battalion of the 155th Panzer
Artillery Regiment was instructed to co-operate with the 21st
Reconnaissance Battalion. The infantry fighting power of the 21st
Reconnaissance Battalion was not very great, as only two reconnaissance
companies of about 60 - 70 men each, reinforced with about 150 men of
the former combat group of Col Oelker were available as infantry.
Composed and organized in this way the whole sector of the division was
attacked more and more during the month of October. The width of the
secto* and the weakness of the forces seemed to make the formation of
reserves nearly impossible. They were, indeed, formed with only a
few tanks. The casualties increased ever more, surprisingly small was
the number of cases of illness, though the season was advanced, the
MS # A-871 -27~

nights already very chilly, and much rain fell, for months the fighting
troops had had no roof over their heads and only opportunities for the

most necessary care of the tody.

Under such circumstances three distinct points of attack developed

during the month of October.

1. From the wood of Mondon toward Badonviller - Blamont;

a. from the vicinity east of Baraberviller toward Eaon I 1 Etupe;

3. from the Montagne sector south of Bambervillers toward the

road St. Die - Etival.

The tattles in each individual sector were all equally ferocious. We
were mucft surprised by the maneuvering ability of the American tanks in
the wood. Speaking generally the large numerical superiority which

they enjoyed proved very advantageous to the American division. By

the eastward penetration of the enemy through the Montagne sector south
of the division it left wing was jeopardized and the front had to "be

extended ever more eastward. The daily tattles south of the road
Jeamleit - La Jalle - later on, the "battles of this road cleAned our
utmost efforts confronted as we were with a very superior enemy. Hie
situation was rendered extremely difficult "by the circumstance that the

division had to fight with its left wing unprotected. Hew makeshifts
had to "be devised day lay day and reserves arrived a platoon at a time.
Troops of all arms had constantly to be constituted into single

infantry groups. Under such circumstances the division was frequently

subordinated to new command headquarters. In the middle of October
MS # A-871 -H8~

the 41st Panzer Corps was transferred to the Lover Ehine, the 89th
Corps £oming from Holland and under command of Lt Gen v. Gilsa
took over the command, only to "be relieved by the 64th Corps under
Lt Gen f humm on the 31 October.
In October the right wing of the battalion had to endure two
extremely heavy attacks, The first one was clearly revealed in time
by means of the eneny©s extended adjustment fire, increased patrol
activity, and a great noise of vehicles and voices in the night and
measures could be takent so that no success at all v?as achieved^
whereas the methods of the enemy in the second one on 31 October were
quite different. The division disposed of very good reconnaissance
patrols which every nigfct reconnoitered far into the terrain of the
enemy, and through them and their prisoners the division was at
least to a certain degree rather well informed as to the intentions
of the enemy. On the 31 October ab about 08.15 an excellent
reconnaissance.patrol, which had been in the wood of Hondon and at the
Meurthe river, returned and reported that no changes had taken place
in the enemy forces. At OB.30 artillery fire started surprisingly, and
increased in intensity in the course of a very short time. Owing to
the artillery fire no other noises could be noticed, The Second Free
French Tank Division took advantage of the noise and occupied the
nearest jump-off position without being heard. After the barrage
had died down the enemy moved in concentrated attack and rushed through
the foremost line o © sentries. Only the fifth and seventh companies
MS # A-871 -29-

of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, with a few heavy weapons "belonging
to the eighth and ninth companies, were placed in the attack sector and
the headquarters company which was employed as reserve with a few tanks.
For support the fourth, fifth, and sixth "batteries of the 155th
Artillery Hegiment were also in position in the sector. Apprt from one
antitank gun (cal 8.8) only Bussian antiaircraft guns were available as
replacements for antiaircraft combat troops. The guns, however, had
a dispersion of several hundreds of meters and were quite unsuitable for
the task set. Consequently they did not put one single tank out of
action. The combined efforts of the antitank defense, of the tank
fighting weapons, and the artillery, in directed fire and in addition
to that, the four available tanks of type "I?" had been successful,
however, in bringing the enemy attack to a standstill shortly after it
had got started, knocking out more than 40 enemy tanks very speedily.
The attack did not pass the line Merviller - Migneville - Ancerville.
Our own losses were small.In the evening of the same day I moved the
command post of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiment to Fenneviller. The
-| company to the west of Baccarat was over-run, on the SI October
Baccarat was t&ken by American and French troops. On the next day and
the day after (1 and 2 November) a new line was built on the right
wing. It led through Domeore west of Ancerviller - Vacgneville -
Bertrichamps, St. Barte La Bourgence - Foret de Montagne. We were not
allowed to occupy the Meurthe position further back as this position was
not to "be improved. Instead of that some special oonvic*. field
MS # A-871 -30-

battalions (German soldiers) were employed, they had, however, nothing

to do with the division. At the same time a rehabilitation "battalion

of about 300 men was subordinated to the division, on the 29 October

they were employed in the vicinity of Foret de Montagne. Though some

achievements could be credited to the unit its total fighting power

was very slight. After two or three days the battalion was no more to

be seen. On the 1 November I employed a fortress machine gun battalion

in the Foret de Bertrichamp. It consisted of elderly men, quite

insufficiently armed. Each of the three companies had six machine guns

type "08". They did their best, but were not equal to the task.

Originally they had been intended to occupy the West Wall, a task which

would have been more suitable for them. Very shortly only shattered

portions were to be seen of the battalions.

The third point of attack of the Americans was against Eaon

1© Btape. Surprisingly, American and French units succeeded in taking

Eambervillers. As already mentioned, this was due to the fact that

the weak combat group of Oelker which fought on a broad front south
of Eambervillers had withdrawn to the eastern bank of the Montagne

river, and in this way Bambervillers was taken from the south. The

weak garrison one company of the ? Security Battalion without heavy

weapons was not able to resist the American tank attack. The result
of the fall of Eambervillers \ ras that the security battalion, weak
and completely without combat experience, x/as put in a very herd
pressed situation in the area of Doncienes - Eoville - Anglemont. On
MS # A-871 -31-

about 3 November the security units were expelled and pressed back to
the area of Nossoncourt - Henil, bat the advancing American troops
(French divisions) were repelled by the security detachments of the
I92d Panzer Grenadier Regiment employed in this area. On the following
morning the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment carried out a counter
attack with two weak battalions (reinforced, witn the 15th Panzer
Grenadier Division) ana recaptured the area west of Hossoncourt <-
Anglemont, which was necessary for the defense. It was possible to
hold the entire sector nearly the whole of October. At the beginning of
October the pressure of the enemy grew strongest in the area north of
Bru - St. Benor and gradually in the Poret de St. Barbe. Not until
the beginning of November did the enemy succeed in passing through the
Toret ae St. Barbe. For some days the iiith company of the 19<jd Panzer
Grenadier Begiment delayed the attack west or Tnierville until orders
came to occupy tne Meurthe position on the 4 November. The defense of
the whole sector was carried out by the second oattalion of the 192d
Panzer Grenadier Begioent and an alarm company from 28 September »
4 November. Tne average fighting strength of the battalion was about
150 men, that of tne alarm company about 60 - 80 men. The
200th Panzer Engineer Battalion was the right adjoining battalion
in the area east of Menarmont - Barien. Or heavy weapons the
combat group of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiment had the first
battalion of the 155th Artillery Begiment with two light batteries
and one heavy one, one platoon with antitank guns cal 8.8 cm,
one assault gun company with tour - six guns ready for action. The
MS # A-871 -32-

f irst "battalion of the 192d Panzer G-renadier Regiment and the sixth
company of the second battalion were assigned to the two adjoining
With the capture of the Meurthe position on 4 November 1944, one
phase of the "battle had come end since we, by delaying tactics,
succeeded in detaining the enemy as long as t>ossi©ble. It v/as the
intention of the higher leadership to gain as much time as possible in
order to build up the important rearward positions, of which the
Meurthe position was the first in this sector, and make them as strong
as possible. In different conferences with the commander of the army
groups, the Commander-in-Chief of the 19th Aray to whom the division
ned. again been subordinated on about 12 October efter the extraction of
the 5th Panzer Army, and those corps, to which the division vas
subordinate, I gave expression to the main troubles of ray sector, the
northern one, and my apprehensions of new attacks through Badonviller -
Element auf Zabern - Strassburg. I pronounced my opinion thct it would
be a dangerous mistake to relieve the Panzer divisions just now and
employ instead of them an infantry division without much combat
experience, and v;hich, moreover, would not be able to keep its reserves
so mobile that even the weakest might be employed at different points
of main effort, on critical days and at decisive moments. In addition
to excellent morale in the Panzergrenadiers, and artillery easily
moved, this was of decisive importance for successful defense in such
MS # A-871 -33-

By higher instances an engineer battalion of the army (Heeres)

was ordered to be employed in the vicinity of Raon 1* Etape at the end
of October with the mission of constructing obstacles for the Meurthe
position and blasting the "bridges across the river. Devastation and
blasting in Eaon 1* Etape could oe avoided.
In the miaole of October the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division,
which was the left adjoining division, was relieved by the 553d Division.
It was not difficult to transport the assigned supply of all
sorts to the zront. G7he food supply was adequate, ammunition supplies
were also up to requirements, gasoline and lubricant supplies were
insufficient, but, nevertheless, enough for the carrying out of all
necessary movements* supplies of arms and particularly of tanks were
very poor and so were clothing supplies. Ho supplies of vehicle at
all were assigned to the division and it had to make both ends meet
by means of its own construction staff and the workshop companies.
But the state of affairs was still such that all movements, even future
larger ones, could be carried out without assistance from others.
In October the activity of the German and the American air forces
was not strong. But as soon as the weather permitted the Allied
air force was on the spot. Hie German Luitwaffe was hardly to be
seen in the skies. In November the activity 01 the Allied Air Force
constantly increased.
Haturally, it would be possible for me to give many details of
the battles, and the strategy employed in the individual engagements.
MS # A-ovl -34-

But perhaps such, reports would "be of no reel interest , and I should not

be able to compile such appropriately without having at my disposal the

documents necessary for the compilation of & retrospective diary of

this sort.

After the capture of tne Meurthe position the sector of the division

grew considerably smaller. The right boundary of the division to the

553d Division was north of Ancervillcr, and the left one to-the 716th

Division "by this time east of Etival. On the 3 November the command

post of the division was moved to Celles, to the same place es those

posts of the 155th Panzer Regiment, the 200th Signal Battalion and the
SOOth Engineer Battalion. The Command post of the 125th Panzer

Grenadier Regiment v/as in Badonviller, and that of the 192d Panzer

Grenadier Regiment in La Tronche.
The situation was rather quiet, the occupation of the new positions

occurred without enemy action. Bear guards and reconnaissance patrols

of good fighting quality remained in contact with the enemy with the

object of delaying a pursuit by him. The bridges across the Meurthe

having been blasted, ferry communication had to be established across

the river, which had risen due to high water, and even tanks were

taken to the eastern bank.

On the 5 Hovember the division got orders that it be rested for

about 14 days as of the 12 Eovember in the area of Molsheim - Scnirmeck -

Pfalzburg. At the same time tne division had to be ready as array
group reserve at the line of demarcation "between, the 1st 8nd the
MS # A-871 -35-

19tli Armies and be available at any time, particularly in the area, of

Badonviller - Blamont and Pl©alzburg - Saarburg. Preliminary reconnaissance
was to "be started at once. On the 9 November at 12.00 the division got
orders to march one armored group and the first "battalion of the l<J5th
Panzer Grenadier Regiment to the 13th SS Corps on the French Hied in
the vicinity of Ham sur Nied. Partly on the 9 November ana t>artly
during the night of the 9/10 November the group had to be extracted and
at once marched off.
As of the 7 November the advanced detachments of the 708th Division
which were to relieve the division had come to the command post of the
division. Belief was to take place after the arrival of the trans~
portation trains of the division from Slovakia and be finished by the
14 November. Early in the morning of 10 November orders came through
that the relief had to be carried out very speedily, as the divisional
headquarters of the 708th Division, which had arrived on the y November,
had to take over©the command of the sector not later than the 10 Novem
ber end that the 21st Panzer Division with its lest portions had to
give up its positions during the night of the 10 November, if the
combat sector was much smaller and the 708th Division arrived at full
strength tne relief caused no difficulties, and the ?08th Division
had to be rapidly loaded and moved. The greatest difficulty in the
relief and deps.rture of the 21st Panzer Division was caused by the
weather, as snow had fallen in the Vosges on the 9 November and the
Danube Pass Road was blocked by snov; and ice. But the air force of the
MS t JU871 -36.
enemy could not go into action.
According to instructions I departed daring the night of the
10 November and on the 11 November, in the morning, I reported to the
13th SS Corps in Many, east of Ham sur Hied (Trench ^ied).
The 13th SS Corps was commanded by Obergruppenfuehrer Pries, Chief
of Staff was Ooerfuehrer v. Einem. The situation, as I found it there,
was as follows: Apart from the llth Panzer Division all divisions
subordinate to the corps were badly mauled, the armored spear-
point 8 of the enemy had reached Moerchingen and part of them crossed
the Nied river; no reserves were available to prevent the enemy from
advancing across the Hied against Falkenberg - St. Arnold. The first
Army, with its command post in St. Arnold, its Commander in chief
It Oen v. Knobelsdorff, its Chief of Staff, Col Manthey, expected
the arrival of the division as early as 10 November. She army
also expected the Panzer division to be brought up to strength and not
just such small units as the division already had.
She mission of the division, which arrived on 11 November, was
to defend the Hied sector south of Bazancourt - Ham sur Hied and
the wood east of Hied, as the enemy was already advancing by 11 Novem
ber through Ham, eastward. The adjoining divisions were without
support. The division on the right flank was the 17th SS Panzer
Grenadier Division; left flank units were combat groups of the llth
Panzer Division and several infantry alarm units.
MS # A-871 -37-

The comraand post of the 13th SS Corps was moved on the afternoon
of the 11 November to the garden-city in the vicinity of the Falken-

berg mine, the command post of the 21st Panzer Division was moved to

The strengths of the divisions had not been changed. The promised
freshening-up did not take place, and thus everything remained as it

was. The division neither received personnel replacement? nor

replacement of arms or equipment, as was promised. But things turned
out still worse, because the arms and equipment promised for the
refreshing had already been sent from Germany to the place of refreshing.

They were there unloaded oh the transportation trains when the penetration

by assault against Strassbourg took place, and were taken by the enemy.

As usual the evaluation of the enemy denoted that he was

numerically and materially superior. By the fall of M;etz, too,
reserves were made available. At .this time his intention mist have been:
as speedily as possible to cross the French Hied, the last natural

obstacle before the old Maginot line, in order to occupy the Maginot
line in advance of the withdrawing German troops and by implication

get a spring-board for the attack on the West Wall. At that moment
the American leadership did not succeed in carrying out its intention,
I think, but, conversely that, it no doubt succeeded in carrying out
its main intention, which was to attack the German positions on as

broad a front as possible, to take particular advantage of weak points,

to compel the German leadership to let go off its reserves, and then to
MS # A-871 -38-

make the main attack.

The previous intention of the army group to defend the Nied could

not "be carried out after the arrival of the division, "because the
enemy, as I have already mentioned, had crossed the Hied at Ham and

north of it. I now employed the division so that.the left sector of

the division, being most jeopardized, got the 125th Panzer Grenadier

Division, which had come first and the first "battalion of which could

"be employed some hours previously. The "battalion had at once to

occupy the western and southern edges of the wood of Hemilly. Contact

to the left x;ss particularly difficult to maintain as the enemy advanced

eastward and for the time "beingnone of our own troops had contact. By

means©; of the use of numerous assault troops and a few tanks the enemy
could be deceived as to our weakness for some time, until the division

was able to extend to the left.

At the outset the 193d Panzer Grenadier Beginent vas employed to

the right, as reserve, the reconnaissance "battalion was assigned. But

even on tne 12 Hoveiaber I nad to have the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment

extend already its left wing and in the course of the 12 and 13 Hovember
occupy tne southern edge of the wood of Heniltz up to the railway line

south of the wood. The 31st Reconnaissance Battalion and portions of

the 220th Engineer Battalion took over the northern sector. South of

the railway-line connection was established with an infantry regiment

which had been diverted from the 553d Division. Counterattacks of

the 17th S3 Panzer Grenadier Division fixed for the 13 and 14 Eoverober
MS # A-871 -39-

and which were to take place north of the sector of the division were
The 21st Panzer Division succeeded in containing the enemy. Snail
enemy groups which penetrated into the wood of Remilly were repulsed.
On the 15 November the situation of the left adjacent units grew
ever more critical. The enemy had succeeded in advancing from Many
eastward and in taking Thiecourt«*Mainvillers. A further extension
of the southern flank had been necessary. Due to this, portions of the
engineer battalion had to be employed as infantry on the south wing.
Tne pressure of the enemy increased more and more, fhe artillery fire
of the enemy covered the positions and villages unceasingly behind the
front. Likewise, the rearward roaas were constantly under artillery
fire. As soon as the weather cleared up there was strong fighter
bomber activity, ou^ own aircraft did not appear. The command post
of the division in Elvinge was hit by artillery fire several times.
On the 16 November the positions were withdrawn to Viller - Stoncourt -
Chanville and later on to the road Chanville - Arcience. The enemy, who
outflanked both our flanks more and more and penetrated into the wood
of Remilly, Aad to be evaded on the 17 November so that a connected line
again could be established, but in doing so our weak forces were still more
and unnecessarily split up. The plateau west of the German Nied was
occupied on the 17 November and in this way a new, firm line was
established. The movement of the rear guards were not carried out until
the 18 November, the change of position of the artillery to the area east
MS # A-871 -40-

of the German Hied was carried out during the night of the 17 - 18 Novem

ber. On the 18 November the command post of the division was moved to
the former command post of the corps in the vicinity of the Falkenberg

mine. The instruction of the corps were to the effect that we had to

withdraw slowly to the Maginot line using delaying tacties. This was not,

however, to be carried out by the division. On the 18 November at

20,00 in the new command post I got orders to extract the division

immediately. During the 19 November the division was to arrive in the

area of Saarlsutern - Wallerfaagen and would there be subordinated to

the 82d Corps (Lt Gen Hoernlein). According to instructions the command

post of the division was to be located in the palace of V/allerfangen.

After the relief during the. night of the 18 November the march was

carried out in the morning of the 19 November. Despite good flying

weather the m?rch was carried out without incident, we managed to take

the whole division to the new sector, ready for action by the 19 Novem

ber in the afternoon. Of course the forces grew ever weaker because

no raising to strength had as yet taken place. On the 20 November a

personnel replacement transfer battalion from Germany came to the

division. The situation of the 82d Corps was such that the 19th
Infantry Division and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division were engaged

with a superior enemy in the sector west of Herzig and Saarlautern.

The old boundary of the "Belch" was in our hands as a whole. -The

division was assigned two missions.

MS # A-871 -41-

1. Close gape in the area of the two divisions.

2. In any case nola the old boundary of the "Belch" in order to

prevent the enemy from penetrating into the valley of the
Saar river.
We were instructed to intervene in the area of the 19th Division
on the 20 November. The command post of the division was requested
to be moved to Gisingen. Immediately I got into touch with the 19th
Division, which had its command post west of Gisingen, and ascertained that
the division only consisted of weak combat groups which were engaged in
the area of the French Hied. The first mission of the division was to
bar the crossing of the Hied river at Niedaltdorf and then to relieve
an encircled combat group in Waldbuechen east of Piltstnoff. Tne
192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment (command post of the regiment in
Niedaltdorf) employed there rescued the group and two assault guns
of the 19th Division. The stream-crossing was held. An armored assault
of the enemy at about 13.00 from the west on Gerstlingen was repulsed
by two tanks type "IV" and one company of the la2d Panzer Grenadier
Eegiment. So the tasks set for the day were done, and in the evening
preparations for new attacks west 01 the Hied were made. In the night
orders came from the corps that the division had to intervene in the
area of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division in the early morning of the
21st November. After having been reorganized in the training camp of
Baumholder individual units of this division were employed in defensive
combat west of Merzig, situated west of the former boundary of the "Helen."
MS # A-871 . -43-
These units were employed as of the 16 November. The organization of
the division had not yet been finished, heavy weapons, particularly
artillery, were not yet complete. Command post of the division was in
Hilbringen west of Merzig. On the 20 November the situation in the
25th Panzer Grenadier Division was dangerous. Of the very few
batteries the division had, two had been captured by the enemy, the
same thing happened with some tanks type "Y" which could not drive
back, partly due to engine troubles and difficult terrain, partly
to damage caused by direct hits. The mission of the 21st Panzer
Division was to remedy this state of affairs. AS of 21 November at
06.00 tne new command post of the division was in Mechern. One
battalion of the 192d panzer Grenadier Hegiment and the 21st Artillery
Battalion stayed in the combat area of Kiedraltdorf for defensive
tasks, the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the first battalion
of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment with two battalions of the
155th Panzer Artillery Hegiment were moved to the new sector. On the
21 November at 07.00 the troops were ready for action there. Only six
tanks type "IYU of the 22d Panzer Segiment were available. The tank
battalion of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division had about six tanks
ready for action. Thanks to replacements the Panzer Grenadier
companies agpd& had a combat strength of about 50 men to each company.
The attack was launched through Silwingen into the wood south of
Budingen and east of Waldwisse and was successful. We managed to
rescue the two batteries and some encircled combat groups of the
MS # A-871 -43-
25th Panzer Grenadier Division and to recapture the Panther tanks which
had not been able to move. At the moment of towing off the accident
happened that the Panther tanks of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment
which vere placed rearward about 500 m south of the wood to the south
of Budingen, were taken for enemy tanks and four of them were destroyed
by our own fire.
Tor the 22 November the division had orders to let the point of
main effort remain in the sector of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division
and to try and get into contact with scattered portions of this division
in the forward terrain. Further, the attack was at all points to reach
the old boundary of the "Belch." For this mission I had an advanced
command post of the division located in Sllwingen.
The advancing companies met with strong resistance from armored
groups. They succeeded in occupying Lannstroff and Waldwieae. In the
afternoon the division was instructed to continue the attack northward
against Wehingen - Eft as strong enemy forces were advancing on Borg.
Toward evening orders came to withdraw from the enemy and in the
morning of the 23 ^ovember transfer the division to the Orscholz oblique
front for support of the 4th Division. On the 23 November as of 05.00
the division marched through Merzig - Hettlach - Taben - Both into the
area of ?rendenburg - Weiten - Saha - Menrich - Kissingen - Huenslnger -
Beuwen. By the 23 November at noon weak portions were ordered into the
West Wall positions of the Orscholz oblique front, the bulk was to
follow on the 23 and early on the 24 November. On the 23 November
the situation of the 416th Division had
US % A-871 -44-

become critical. In the vicinity of Oberlenken - Tettingen the

Americans had taken some forts, along the road Borg - Muenzingen very
valuable installations had been occupied, reserves were not available
and nothing impeded the American tanks in their advance through
Muenzingen to Saarburg. In this situation the division got orders on
the 24 November to close the gap at Orscholz. She command post of the
416th Division was in Trassen, divisional commander was Maj G-en Pflieger,
connection was immediately established with the command post but in this
situation the 21st Panzer Division could not exoect any support from a
division which was already fighting \rith its last reserves. I established
the command post of the division in Meurich. Under its new coriander,
iwaj Spreu, the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment was employed on the west
in the vicinity of the road Muenzingen - Borg incl., the 125th Panzer
Grenadier Regiment was employed to the last. Regimental command -oost
of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment was in i-luenzingen, that of the
125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiment in Faha. 5?he command post of the
155th Panzer Artillery Hegiment was in the vicinity of the division in
Meurich, in the same place, the third battalion; the first battalion
was in the vicinity of Beuren, the second battalion north of Faha. The
reconnaissance company and the division escort company were employed
in the area of Tettingen.
From the 24 to the 26 November there were heavy engagements in
the sector of the division. We succeeded in recapturing most of the
forts and, likewise, Oberlenken and Settingen. Sven the 10th American
MS # A-871 -45-

Tank Division employed to support the attack could not enable to gain

headway. It was ferocious hand to hand fight involving casualties

and prisoners on "both sides. On the 26 November the whole sector from
Oberleuken through Tettingen - Nennig and the Moselle sector up to

the line of demarcation of the 2lato Division was assigned to the

division. A fortress machine gun company employed on the Moselle was
subordinated to tne division. AS of tne 25 November the 416th Division
took over the Orscholz sector east of Oberlenken. Then the command post
of this division was transferred to Taben - Roth. A change took place
in the leadership of the 82d Corps on the 25 November. Lt Gen Hahm
came to replace Lt Gen Hoernlein. A change of the chief of the corps
had taken place shortly before.

The division was now reorganized. On the 26 November the ferocity

of the battle diminished and calmed down still more on the 2? November.

The 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment took over the sector Oberlehken -

Tettingen, the command post remained in Muenzingen, while the 125th

Panzer Grenedier Regiment, reinforced by a fortress machine gun

battalion, took over the rest of the divisional sector. The 21st
Reconnaissance Battalion and the Division Escort Company, divisional
reserve, end command post of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment were
all in Zorwig.

A new commend post was established in Niederlenken, and Heurich

remained as advanced command post of the Orscholz oblique front, a
point of main effort. The reorganization was carried out on the
MS # A-871 -46-

28 Movember. This being done the division got instructions of a new

change of positions at about 22.00. That same night the sector had to
be given up again to the 4th Division. The 21st Division was subordinated
to the 13th SS Corps in Scheldt north of Saarbruecken. © The corps was
commanded by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Simon. On the 29 lovember by 09.00 hrs
I had to renort there.I ordered the commanders of the division to report
in Tuettlingen at 11.00 hrs.
By the 13th SS Corps I was instructed to support the two divisions
(the 340th Division commanded by Major Gen Trierenbcrg and the 559th
Division commanded by Lt Gen v. tiUehlen) heavily engaged on the hills
west of the Sear river between Voelkingen and Dillingen. First of all
it was necessary to take action immediately for the benefit of the
division of Lt Gen v. Muehlen. (Command x>ost in Wallerfangen).
Accordingly, I gave orders in Tuettlingen and got the troops first
arriving started off. They were the following: the Second B&ttslion
of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the Third Battalion of the
155th Panzer©Artillery Regiment, and six tanks type "IY". The rest of
the division followed, the First Battrlion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier
Regiment hgd to stay for the time being southeast of the Orscholz front.
When I arrived at the post of the 559th Division in the school building
of Vsllerfangen, I was confronted with e very difficult situation
(at about 14.30). The terrain on the French Bled end west of it, until
the 22 November held by the 21st Panzer Division, had been lost; on the
29 November American units had succeeded in pushing through Gisingen
MS # A-371 -47-

on Wallerfangen (in the Valley of the Saar) and since 14.00 hrs

St. Barbara was in the possession of the Americajis. This meant that

the enemy controlled the plateau there and with it the Valley of the

Saar in this sector. Consequently, the first arriving combat group

of the division was launched against St. Barbara in order to repulse

the enemy there. The attack succeeded, at 16.00 hrs St. Barbara was

recaptured. Considering the plateau on which St. Barbara is situated,

this was a real success, which enabled the division to enjoy a breathing-

space. After their arrival, the other portions of the division vere

employed. As the First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier

Begiment had remained in the Orscholz front, only three battalions

of an average combat strength of 120 - 125, men could be taken into

consideration. The 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, with its regimentsl

command post in Wallerfangen, was employed in the area of Wall erf angen -

St. Barbara, and the rest of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment, with

its command post in Farm Ober Loenberg, was employed in the v/ooded
district north of St. Barbara - Wallerfangen. The artillery was
placed east of the Sas.r.( Divisional command post in the pelace of
Wallerfangen). Eight adjoining division was the 19th and left adjoining
division the 559th Division. As of the 29 November the road-net in
and about fallerfangen - Saarlautern and the bridge Dillingen -
Wallerfangen were under very heavy American fire.
MS # A-871 -48- the Vest ©.Jell positions were situated east of the Ssn.r river,

we had to continue fighting against a. great superiority with, what ©:ss

left of the division and in unfavorable terrain. Ap-oarently the

pillboxes of the West Wall would "be occupied by fortification units

Volkssturm and police troops. But as a matter of fact all uniformity

in the occupation was not attained. Some pillboxes were occupied, but

by no means the tactically iiaportant ones; generally the most spacious

and best constructed ones, but most of them were not occupied at all.

To us the whole meaning of the combe, t was to be that every day gained

west of the West Wall relieved the situation, contained the enemy, and

inflicted losses on him, and, on the occupation of the ",,*est Y/all,

enabled the divisions arriving to take it over entirely. But the

contrary was the case, & fact which was again and again stressed by

the division. By the combats in the open terrain against an enemy

numerically and materially absolutely superior the divisions v/ere

completely torn to shreds and melted together in the true sense of

the words. The success aimed at could never be proportionate to the

losses. No more *"as done at the West Wall, no field positions dug

between the pillboxes either. But the troops which leter on had to

occupy the \/est VJa.ll were so badly mauled that they were not able to
occupy it, and it also often happened that the enemy was already in
the pillboxes of the 1/est tfell before our troops arrived. The

engagements of the 30 November and 1 December were carried out on

this background. Outflanked from north and south the division was
MS # A-871 -49-

attacked in its positions. On the 30 Hbvember and. 1 December the

Americans repeatedly attacked St. Barbara, employing great quantities
of material, fights around each house developed, nor did the American
forces on the evening of the 1 December, quite succeeded in recapturing
the whole village. On the 1 December the 19th Division placed to the
right of the division with its remaining weak forces withdrew to the
pillboxes east of the Saar river; thus the northern wing of the
125th Panzer Grenadier Division was outflsnked south of Itzebart through
the wood and the last reserves of the division escort company had to
be employed there in order to prevent the division from being out
flanked and isolated. The situation being so, orders came at 18.00
that the division had to withdraw unobserved by the enemy and to
occupy the West Wall positions as far as both sides of Dillingen. The
First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment was again
assigned to the division. The withdrawal from the enemy v/as not
observed by him; it was carried out from 20.00 to 22.00. Only rear
guards which reached the eastern bank early in the morning of the
2 December, remained in contact with the enemy. Despite the
circumstances that tfallerfangen was constantly under heavy artillery
fire, tha,t the division command post in the palace received a
number of direct hits, that the bridge to Dillingen and the corresponding
roads were also under constant fire, the fire of the enemy happened
to decrease just during the withdrawal and the crossing of the Ssar
river. Thus the movements could be carried out without losses.
MS # A-S71 -50-

Divisional headquarters ( G 3 section) left Wallerfangen at 22.00 hrs.

On the 2 December at 01.00 hrs the movement was brought to an end.

The 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiment was transferred to the area

east of Nalbach. The divisional command post was in Piesbaeh. Hesitatingly

the enemy followed on to the Saar river on the 2 December. No attempts

were made at crossing the river. In the meantime the situation south

west of Saarlautern became critical. On the ©60 Kovember the division

was again subordinated to the 82d Corps (Lt Gen Hahm), the sector of

which extended to Voelkingen. Considering the threat to the Saar river

in the vicinity of Saarlautem - Toelkingen, where a withdrawal to the

West Wall was not yet allowed in order not to lose contact with other
corps Of the First Army, which in part was still engagend in the
vicinity of the Maginot line, I was instructed on the 2 December at
18.00 hrs to advance, with a combet- group as strong as possible, from
the patch of woodland south-west of vlaldga.ssen on Lisdorf - Saarlautern

and thus intercept the attack of the enemy against Saarlautern. Inis

was to take place on the 3 December.

For the carrying out of the mission I gathered together everything

that was available: The Staff of the I92d Panzer Grenadier Begiment

with the First and tne Second Battalions, each with a fignting strength
of about 150 men, the Eeconnaissance Battalion with a fighting strength
of about 100 raen, the First Engineer Company with about 60 men. An

artillery staff was placed with the combat group, the artillery regained
in its positions as it had to do justice to both the missions assigned
MS # JU871

the division. Contact was established with the 341st Division (Kaj Gen
Trierenberg), which was engaged in the sector, the artillery of this
division was employed as support for the attack. Eight tanks type "IV"
of the 22d Panzer Regiment were available for the mission. On the
2 December the division was informed that a company of the Second
Battalion of the 22d Panzer Regiment, which was still in Orafenwoehr
for reconversion of armament, had arrived at Kaiserslautern and it would
immediately be started off to the division with 17 tanks of type "V",
Bat the company unfortunately, was not able to be employed on the
3 December.
OB the 3 December at 06.30 hrs the combat preparation of forces
was finished. She division command post with <S 3 sector for the mission
had been transferred to the vicinity of Bass. Reconnaissance showed
that the northwestern part of the large wood west of Waldgassen was
already occupied by the enemy and the presence of tanks could also be
ascertained. The plateau whieh completely controlled the Valley of the
Saar was occupied by the enemy, defensive weapons of all sorts were in
position there. An attack on the valley with the weak group meant certain
death to the detachment and the impossibility of reaching the goal set.
As all reconnaissance results were missing more exact reconnaissance had
to be carried out. The preliminary condition for an attack was the
possession of the wood of Waldgassen and the possibility of neutralizing
the enemy on the adjacent plateau, and these task had first of all to
be accomplished. In attacks parts of the wood were cleared, but it was
MS # A-871 -52-

not possible also to take the northwestern edge as the tanks type "IVn
could not make their way through the deep soil of the wood but had to
be towed out with great effort. All visible targets outside the
wood in the direction of northwest were immediately raked with very
heavy artillery fire. An attack by day was consequently impossible.
Under such circumstances I did not order an attack carried out but
postponed it until that night. It was ordered that the attack was to take
place at 05.00 nrs along narrow strips and our own minefields nad
particularly to be considered. The attack t/as not carried out. At
19.00 hrs orders carae that the division was to occupy Sas.rlautern on
the 4 December with sll available forces and prevent the town from being
tpken by the enemy. The former task was cancelled.
The following forces were employed in the defense of Saarlautern:
the Staff of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the Second Battalion
of the 125d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the First Battalion of the 192d
Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion with the
Third and Pourth Co©rapanies and eight tanks type "IV" of the 22d Panzer
Regiment. The Panther tank company, which had been started off, had not
yet arrived. The total strength of the companies was et the most 50 men.
The Second Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment h&d suffered
so severely in the preceding engagements that it was to have some hours
rest, and needed reorganization. Consequently, it could not be
employed until two days later. The Third Battalion of the Artillery
Regiment was able to support the attack, advance observers of all
MS # A-8V1 -53-

"battalions were placed with the foremost defense troops. The 125th
Panzer Grenadier Regiment hed occupied,with its first "battalion and
regimental units, the Vest Wall positions Dillingen up to Saarlautera
Command posts: Of the division, in Piesbach, of the 125thPanzer
Grenadier Regiment, in Dieffeln, of the I92d Panzer Grenadier Regiment,
northeast of Saarlautern, of the Artillery Regiment, in Piesbach.
At 06.00 hrs the battalions were gathered together southeast of
Saarlautern and moved forward at 07.00 hrs to occupy the lines of
pillboxes. Just "behind the first of the "blasted "bridges over the Saar
river the First Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment was
encountered ©by the enemy, and it was ascertained that rather large
American forces had penetrated into Saarlautern, which the German
leadership did not know of till then. Further advance was now very
difficult as a num"ber of pillboxes were occupied and being defended
"by the enemy and some tanks were already in Saarlautern. By
reconnaissance patrols and from prisoners it was ascertained that the
so-called suspension "bridge had fallen into the hands of the enemy
undamaged on the 3 December at noon and that forces were led across
it into the city.
This was the start of days of battle, they were extremely hard,
and called for the utmost efforts of leadership and of men. The
higher leadership ordered us to clear Saarlautern by assault, but made
no trooris available. Street-fighting, fend in addition to that,
MS # A-871 -54-

pillbox fighting demand large reserves of men end large number of

troops. The 400 - 500 men employed "by the division were like a drop
in the ocean, and they would not have teen able to -prevent the enemy
from pushing through Saerlautern very speedily. Consequently the
division escort company was immediately sent in, and an el arm company
of two battrlions formed, consisting of all arms of the division,
particularly supply troops, workshop companies, combat, trains etc. Of
course, only a. limited fighting power could "be attributed to the conroany,
"but, nevertheless, they fought excellently in Saarlautern between 5
and 11 December, and it was partly due to them that the American units
did not succeed in occupying and pushing through Saarleutern and the
West V/all. As, on the 4 December, the situation uas clearly perceived,
an attempt at recapturing the bridge had to be made. The First
Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiuent with one engineer
company end six tanks type "IV" were thrown in. First of all the
pillboxes (300, 301, 302, 305 etc.) in the center of the town in
the neighborhood of the Sas.r river had to be taken, then the old
fortification, a factory on the Sear, and a bridge. For artillery
support the corps artillery (one Howitzer end one 15 cm cannon),
a battery with the division artillery commander Col Bebinger, likewise
were employed. As a result of the attack we succeeded in recapturing a
number of pillboxes, among them the important pillbox 305, the
fortification, and the factory. The task of the engineers; to blast
the bridge, could not be carried out since it was protected by several
MS # JU871 -55-
tanks to which our own tanks type "IV were inferior both in number
and approach. During the following days the situation of the portions
of the division employed in Saarlautern grew more and more difficult.
The only reinforcements the division got was one company of Panther
tanks, tut they could not alter the situation, In view of the heavy
losses suffered day by day. On the 5 and 6 December the battles of
the pillboxes 300 « 305 were particularly ferocious and the latter
changed hands several times. The staff of the First Battalion of
the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the artillery observer, and
others, were for a long time confined in pillbox 305 but at long last
and with great effort we succeeded in delivering them on the 6 December.
On the 6, 7 and 8 December the battles inside the town were very
heavy, particularly In the neighborhood of the railway station, the
rails behind it and the rearward situated line of pillboxes. She
great advantage of the American troops was that again and again they
brought up new troops, while the units of the 21st Panzer Division
simply melted away. Hot one single replacement came. I believe that
the war history of this city calls for particulars appreciation as
both sides fought to the bitter end. An exact report on the events
of each individual day can only be compiled by means of pertinent
documents. The mission assigned to the division by a higher instance
to prevent a break-through of the Vest Wall was able to be accomplished.
The first mission of the 4 December to prevent the enemy from
penetrating into Saarlautern across the Saar river could not be
MS # A-871 -56-

fulfilled es the enemy had already crossed the Saar river 18 hours
prior to the arrival of the division on the 4 December.
As of the b December the combat activity in the area of Dillingen
increased day "by day. In the sector of the right adjoining division
(the 19th Division) the enemy had already crossed the Saer river
about the 4 or 5 December. The American units had already worked
their way up through the wooded terrain east of the Saar "between
Beckingen and Dillingen end were threatening the -unprotected north
flank of the division. Toward off the danger new reserves hsd to "be
made available. Alarm units had once more to be formed. This time
they were taken from the 305th Antiaircraft Battalion of the Army
(Heeres) and the 200th Antitank Battalion for the supnort of the weak
groups of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Begiment. A few armored patrol
cars end three tanks were supplied. With this reinforcement an
attack was launched through Dieffel into the wooded district northwest
of the Pachener Hills. The enemy, who had advanced in the direction
of epst and south, was pushed "beck to the Pachener Hills, and weak
portions of the First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Begiment
sealed off the Pachener Hills from the south. The 19th Division
launched an attack from north and northeast on the 9 December "but
neither vas successful. On the 10 December the ? Infantry Division
nad arrived. They attacked the position on hills from the east but
it was not successful either.
MS # A-871 -57-

As of the 7 December the group of pillboxes at the northwest edge

of Dillingen became the scene of very heavy engagements in which the
division was involved. These pillboxes were either not occupied at
all, or they were occupied by police troops or Volkssturm. They had
fallen into the hsndg of the Americans and served as e spring

board for a further advance to the north as no fortifications existed

eastward. The last tanks and reserves, this time from the First
Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiinent and the 220th Engineer

Battalion, were employed to neutralize the new enemy. Heavy battles

followed around individual pillboxes in the neighborhood.of the
slaughter-house of Dillingen, of the northwest edge of the city and
along the road Diiiingen northward. On the whole, Dillingen was held,
some pillboxes, for instance 72 and 73, remained in the possession of
the Americans. The tanks type "IV" were employed on the road leading
to the north and turned out to be valuable for pillbox-warfare.

Food and ammunition supplies were up to requirements. The division

got no reinforcements.

These engagements were not supported by the German Air Force. The
combat activity of the Allied Air Force depended likewise on the weather.
On the 11 December at 18.00 hrs orders came that the division had to
march out of the area Dillingen - Sa&rlautern on the 12 December, portions

starting already during the night of the 11 - 12 December. The relieving

division had already arrived.
MS # A-871 -58-

The 21st Panzer Division was transferred to the vicinity of

Weissenburg (Alsace). The commander of the division went on in
advance to the 89th Corps near tfeissenburg on the morning of the 13 Decem

ber. The relief was accomplished without difficulty. On the morning

of the 12 December the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the Panzer

Artillery Eegiment were started off. The 125th Panzer Grenadier

Segiment with the Third Battalion of the 15t>th Panzer Artillery Eegiment

and the Panzer Eegiment, which only disposed of 20 tanks ready for

action, had to remain in their old positions until the 14 December.

Likewise, the alarm regiment had to stay in Saarlautern until the

14 December.
The artillery positions were taken over by the division artillery
of the engineers, just arrived, and by two battalions of a Volks-

artillery corps. The march through Neunkirchen - Pirmasens - Weissen-

burg to the new area took place without activity of the air force of
the Allied.

At 11.00 hrs I reported to the commanding general of the 89th Corps -

with command post in t/eiler west of V/eissenburg and WPS instructed

by Lt Gen Hoehne Chief of Statt Lt Col Eoesner to take action

in the district south of Leiubach for the support of the 245th Division
(Lt Gen Kegler) as soon as the first portions of my division arrived.
On the 12 December the first portions were able to be employed south

of Lembach, the first end second battalions of the Artillery Eegiment

v/ere employed in the area of Ifingen - Lembach and to the south of
MS $ A-371 -59-

Zleinbach. Support was necessary for the 245th Division because the
division was fighting in scattered groups, yrithout contact \;ith other

troops. On the 13 December the division was subordinated to the


21st Panzer Division, and the staff of the 245th Division employed as

reconnaissance staff in the West I-Jall sector. The portions of the

245th Division and the portions arriving of the 31st Panzer Division

were put together in the sector of Lembach - Klein"bach « Rott - Weissen-

burg. The 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment did not come to be

employed any more. On the 13 December the division took over the

command post in Ueiler, and the corps v;as transferred to Otterbach. The

left adjoining division was the 356th, (It Gen Franz), which was slowly

v;ithdr?ving to the Lauter sector to the east of Veissenburg. The

advance of the American troops on "feissenburg through Kleeburg -

Steinselz became dangerous to the division, as Rott was occupied by the

enemy on the 14 December, and from here he advanced in a northerly direction

on Vfeiler and- threatened the east flank of the division. A counter

attack drove him from the hills north of Rott; there were heavy battles

on the road Kleinbach - Weissenburg. On the right flank Lembach had to

be surrendered and a retreat was undertaken in the direction of Wingen.

But an uninterrupted front had been established, snd a breakthrough by

surprise had been made impossible for the enemy. The defense of the
city of "I©/eissenburg was carried out in such a way that the city remained
MS # A-871 -60-

On the 14 December orders came from the corps that the division had
to disengage itself from the enemy during the night end occupy the
sector of the V/est Wall from Bunderthal to Nieder Ottenbach on the
15 December. Strong rear guards were to remain in contact with the
enemy and to delay his following up. The rear guards were veak, otherwise
the division should not have been able to occupy the sector assigned. !The
divisional comr.iand post WPS transferred to Birkenhoerdt on the 15 Decem
ber. On that day the 125th Panzer Grenadier Hegiment and the best
portions of the division -arrived in the new sector from the Saar sector.
The organization was carried out as follows! on the right flank
the S45th Division, in the center the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment,
on the left flank the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. ©The artillery
was placed with one battalion in the vicinity of Birkenhoerdt, two
battalions east of Bergzabern, and the artillery of the 245th Division
in the area of Busenberg - Vord. Weidenthal. The tanks were x>ut in
rea.diness behind the left flank. The positions of the ©,/est t/all having
been occupied, the division commend stand was transferred to Gleis-
rellen (G 3 section) on the 1? December. In the divisional sector of
the West !7all two Panzer Grenadier Replacement Training Battalions
were already enroloyed. These two battalions were assigned to the division,
and in this way its strength was enhanced. The Replacement Training
Battalion of the division, which vras in Kaiser si autern at the time,
had been brought up to a strength of 600 men by means of replacements.
During the following days battles around individual pillboxes and at
MS # A-8V1 -61-

Nieder Schlettenbach took place. Tne city VIES not occupied by the
combat group of the 245th Division "but "by American troot>s. As,
additionnally, three pillboxes along the rosd Hieder Schlettenbach -
Bobentp-1 vere occupied "by the enen^, these had to "be taken, too,

as they controlled Kieder Schlettenbsch and the valley leading to

iSrlenbach. Reconnaissance had "been carried through but the operation

hed to "be put off owing to the fact that an American attach had "been

started in the wood of Bien at the same time, and to the fact that
the trnks of the Panzer Reginent and the 125th Panzer Grenadier
Eegiment were already employed. The attack ns.s repulsed "by the
256th Division, "but PS a new one uas expected the tanks hs.d to stay

behind the 256th Division. But the attack on Kfieder Schlettenbach

was not carried out at ell in the end "because on the 23 Decenber

orders came to give up all positions to the 245th Division, which had

been reinforced, and on the 23 - 24 December to march off to the

area of Landau - Anveiler for a short refreshing. Artillery and

tanks had to remain in their positions.

The freshening up was carried out very speedily. The strength of

the Panzer Grenadier Companies vas brought up to 80 - 90 nen, the
light machine gun companies and the heavy raacnine gun companies un to
75$ of authorized strength. The second battalion of the Panzer
fiegiment did not appear, but one company of this unit with 1? tanks

type "7" arrived on the <J3 December. The tanks were speedily repaired
or rebuilt, so that the situation with regsrd to tanks of the regiment
MS # A-371 -62-

(first ©battalion)© was the following:

2 companies of Panther tanks with 17 - 34 tanks

type "V" (Panther)

2 companies of tanks type "IV" with 20-40 tanks
type" "I?".

The antitank battalion was to get 20 tanks "IV". But they

did not come to the division until the 8 January 1945. On the 27 Decem

ber at 23.00 hrs a special missions officer of the Army Group came

to the division command post in Moerzheim. He ordered the commander

of the division to remort unaccompanied to the Coramander-in-Chief of

the Army Group Gen Blaskowitz, in Wachenheim on the 28 December at

11.00 hrs. Tne following persons were present there: Comuander-

in-Chief of the First Army, Lt G-en Obstfelder, Commanding General

of the 89th Corps, Lt Gen Hoehne, of the 90th Corps, Lt Gen Petersen,

of the 13th SS Corps, SS Obergruppenfuehr-er Simon, the division

commanders of ten infantry divisions, the 25th Panzer Grenadier

Division, the l?th SS Panzer Grenadier Division and the alst Panzer

Division. We were informed that we vere to report to the Comaander-

in-Chief Vest, Gen of Army v. Eundstedt, and we proceeded by Car

immediately to his command post at Nauheim. There it was revealed to

us that Hitler wanted to spe?k to us at 17.00 hrs. Eae conference

took pla.ce in the Fuehrer Headquarters at Nauheim. Besides the above-
mentioned, the following persons tsrere present: Gen of Army v. Rundstedt,
MS # A-871 -63-
Gen of Army Keitel, Gen Jodl, Lt Gen Burgdorf, It Gen Bohle, Lt Gen
Scherff, Himmler, Bormann, Jegeleln and Lt Gen Thomale. The object of
the conference, which I suppose is well known by now, was to show the
mistakes of the offensive in the Ardennes and to issue orders to the
effect that, in the night of the 31 December - 1 January, we start a
new offensive in the Vosges, further, the object was to inform us that
sufflcent divisions and weapons were available, so that each fortnight
we could start a new offensive at a different point and could finally
move forward with 45 divisions and in the end recapture the territory
lost. She object of the operation was to be that the enemy be induced
to transfer divisions from the Ardennes to Alsace, and, if possible
a recapture of Alsace by the German armies. Finally, Gen of the Army
v. Bondstedt made a speech declaring loyal!ty to Hitler. With each
divisional commander Hitler discussed the condition of his division
and issued corresponding orders to Gen of the Army v. Bondstedt,
Lt Gen Buhle, or Thomale. The attack was to start without artillery
preparation ae a surprise one, in order to exploit the allegedly
festive mood of the New Tear.
For the mission the division was transferred to the area between
Eft sen and the road Zweibruecken - Plrmasens on the 31 December. Orders
were given to move into position on the 1 January. The division was to
follow the SS Division on the right flank of the attack. The S3
Division was assigned the task of pushing through Bohrbach In one
assault, and stand there, whereas the 21st Panzer Division was to push
KS $ A-871 -64-

forvard, prst the l?th S3 Division, through Pfslzburg to the road

Saarburg - Zabern and then "block the depression of Zabern. But

things never came thus far. Already, on the 31 December, the

division had to lend one Panther tank company to the 17th SS Division
as no replacement tanks had arrived so far. Hot until 8 January did the

21st Panzer Division get its 20 tanks type "IV". On the 2 January the
diverted Panther tenk company returned to the division with only four
tanks out of 17. Until the 5 January the division regained in its

position of rep dine ss. On the 2 and. 3 January, after the failure of

the 17th SS Division, the leadership hoped to "be able to launch the

division through Baerenthsl on Zinsweiler or through Phillipsburg on

Niederbronn, and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division through Wingen on

Ingweiler. But the small initial achievements vere brought to neught

by the 5 January. On the 5 January at 1900 hrs orders from Lt Gen

Staedke, Chief of the Army Group, xrere brought to me b,y Col ^est, that
the division was to be transferred to the district north of Veissenburg

during the night, and, on the 6 January, was to push forward through

tfeissenburg betvreen Hocht/ald and the forest of Hrgenau up to Zabern and

block the depression of Zabern. It uas knovm about the enemy that he
had evacuated the district of "Jeissenburg. For the carrying out of
this task, the division got no further support, reinforcemer: s in
artillery or planes. Despite roads blocked by ice and the rocky terrain,
the division was moved into the district ordered on the 6 January at
09.CO hrs. 2?he attack was launched so that the division advanced in
MS # A-871 -65-

two groups. To the rights One group consisting of the 192d Panzer
Grenadier Regiment, 21. Reconnaissance Battalion, these already
moving ahead, the First Engineer Company, the First Battalion of the

155th Artillery Regiment. To the left: One group consisting of the

125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the First Battalion of the 22d Panzer

Regiment vith a"bout 14 tanks type "V11 and 20 tanks tyr?e "IV", the
Engineer Bettglion \rithout its First Company, antitank units of the

First and Second Battalions of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment. Path
of advance to the right: I/eissenburg - Siedsetz - Sulz - V/oerth -
Gundershoffen etc., to the left: Ober Seebach - Hofen - Honweiler -
Surbach - Gimstett - Griesbach etc. Maps of the Maginot line were not
available to the company, and higher instances declared them a mere
trifle. On the 6 January the division was subordinated to the newly

arrived 34th Panzer Corps (Lt Gen Decker). Despite the reports on the
resistance being offered the carrying out of the task was ordered.

A battery had been assigned to the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion, they

managed to break the resistance at Riedselz and advanced to the
neighborhood of Indolsheim. Here they met with a new and stronger
resistance v.©iiieh could not be broken by the 21st Reconnaissance
Battalion. The First Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment
with the First Battalion of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment vere

assigned as reinforcements. During the afternoon Indolsheim was taken

after heavy battles, r-nd a bridge rs.s built in the night of the 6 -
7 January. The cemetery situated a few hundred meters south of the
MS I A-871 .66-

village was still toeing strongly defended,in the hands of the

On the 6 January the left combat group encountered the enemy and
captured Ober Seebach - Hieder Seebach. At the outset the division
command post was in Bledselz, as of the 7 January, in Ober Selzbach.
The attacks of both combat groups launched on Schoenenberg - Aschbach -
Oberroedera - Buhl were not very successful on the 7 and 8 January.
Owing to fog the radius of visibility was only some hundred meters.
But reconnaissance and engagements made it clear that the division
was standing in front of a strongly fortified and mined position which
was being fiercely defended. The artillery activity of the enemy, which
on the 6 January had been weak, increased in strength and weight. The
actions of the 6, 7 and 8 January clearly showed that one Panzer Division
was not able to storm the Magi not line, for the position had finally
become such. Without documents it is Impossible to describe the numerous
battles of these days. On the 8 January at noon I reported that
continued attempts at attacks here would be absurd and only incur
unnecessary casualties. The division had to repulse other attempts, and
proposed an attack, on the following day, through Hieder Boedern
northern edge of the wood of Hagenau - Hatten in order to launch a
flank attack on the system of positions which existed until then. The
proposal was accepted, and in the night of 8 - 9 January the division
and combat groups of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment were transferred
to the district of Nieder Hoedern for preparation for the attack. The
MS # A-871 -6?-

advanced divisional command post us.s ©or?nsferred to the sajae place.

On the 9 Janusry st 05.00 the attack "began through the wood south
and southwest of Eieder Roedern with combat grou-os of the Panzer Grenadier
Begiiaent. Pillboxes at Sela Buch were token, and at 11.00 hrs the
attack had advanced to the pilltox positions east of Hatten. In heavy
individual actions and tank attacks the pillboxes i^ere taken during the
day. The tattles of Hatten - Tittersdorf, pilltox positions south of
Buehl end Ober Roedern, which now developed in this sector, were
particularly heavy and ferocious.
A "breakthrough here, which wasinnfact achieved to a certain degree,
would have meant a "breakthrough of the Kaginot line. Eut the American
leadership uss minded to hold this line. !Ehe American reserves in
creased from day to day. Very small sectors, which we had to attack
with weak companies were able to be defended "by the enemy with
"battalions up to 1000 men. The ultimate result of these "battles could
be foreseen if German reinforcements did not arrive.
The attacks on Saffelheirn - Drusenheiin - Ol©fendorf launched
across the Ehine, did not "bring any notatle or even perceptible relief
during the week of the 14 - 21 January. A parachute regiment of the
7th Parachute Division came to the division as reinforcements for tnree
clays, out on the 18 January it was moved "back to its division, then
employed at Sai©l©elheim. On the 12 January the 39th Pan?er Corps had
surrendered the command to the 89th Corps; the 39th Corps was employed
in the sector of the Ehine. On the 31- January the division was

MS # A-8V1 -G8-

informed that it would "be relieved by the ? Infantry Division, which

had been brought up to full strength, and was commanded by Lt©Gen
Bork. The surrender of command took place on the & January, on the
23d division was subordinated to the Army Group "Upper Hhine"
(SS Oberstgruppenfuehrer Hauser). It was assigned to the 14th SS
Corps (Gen der SS und Polizei v.d. Bach-Zelewski). fhe command post
was situated southeast of Schwarzhacn. On the 24 January the corps
was transferred to the east. The 39th Panzer Corps took its place.
In the sector of Bischweiler the task of the division WPS to
support the attacks of the 7th Parachute Division (Gen Lt ^rdmann) and
those of the 10th SS Panzer Division, which hs.d. come to a standstill
epst of Bischweiler. In the evening of the 23 January and during the
day of the 24 January the positions west of the rord Drusenheim -
Kerlisheim were occupied. First of all the result of the attack of
the 7th Division on on the 35 January had to be axmited, and . .
then we hnd to push through to the west, south of Hagenau. This was
never carried through "because as of the 26th January the 10th SS Panzer
Division was transferred to the east owing to the development of
events on the eastern front, and further attacks were cancelled. On
the 31 January the division was withdrawn from its positions and
transferred to the area of Landau. But after three days it too was
transferred to the eastern front (Kuestrin).
I have described in the foregoing the engagements of the division in
general, and pointed out in what sectors end at what datee it vras Tseen

KS # A-871
U i. * ^ **- _69-.


Clear combat reports with regard to each day with precise figures

for numbers, modes of employment, and strengths are "beyond asy pov;er to

furnish with a map having only s. scale of 1 : 250.000. As stated

Elready at the beginning, the documents mentioned would ©be necessary.

With these documents e. consecutive report OL. the combats could be

compiled < if more shouidbe recuired.

3 Dfl31 0177611 D


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