Operation Knight’s Move: German Airborne Raid Against Tito, 25 May 1944 by

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Isbn 160911400
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Year 2011
Pages 82
Language English
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StudieS in Battle OPERATION German Airborne Raid Against Tito, 25 May 1944 Charles D. Melson Studies in Battle The Studies in Battle series from Marine Corps University Press presents cases for analysis from across the military spectrum that have relevance for current operations and professional military education, particularly for junior leaders. The books also tell a good story that can be read with interest by all. The series draws on cases from American, foreign, and nonstate/irregular militaries. Studies specifically about Marine operations are part of the U.S. Marines in Battle series published by the U.S. Marine Corps History Division. Published by Marine Corps University Press 3078 Upshur Avenue Quantico, VA 22134 1st Printing, 2011 Text © 2011 Charles D. Melson. All rights reserved. Aircraft illustrations © 2011 James M. Caiella. All rights reserved. ii P T reface and Acknowledgments his narrative began as a staff study of the use of a Marine force reconnaissance company as an airborne raiding force and took form as a conference paper for the Society of Military History. Most direct quotes in this book are from wartime Axis reporters or documents, with a resulting German viewpoint. References were in English, German, and Serbo-Croatian with the predicaments in spelling and expression this entailed— my usage was for clarity rather than technical accuracy. Maps and pictures are credited with their source and the primary records are held by the institutions named. Specific documentation is found in the articles and books cited in the notes. The story is the result of research over the last 35 years with obligations to individuals and institutions to include: T. C. Charman and James S. Lucas, Imperial War Museum; James N. Eastman Jr., Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center; Mark Evans, Naval Historical Center; F. O. Finzel, Bund der Deustsche Fallschirmjaeger; Dr. Haupt and Herr Meyer, Bundesarchiv; Andrew Mollo, Historical Research Unit; James E. Mrazek, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired); George A. Petersen, National Capital Historical Sales; Agnes F. Peterson, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; Ruzica Popovitch, Library of Congress; John J. Slonaker, U.S. Army History Research Collection; Paul Sofranak, Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Marine Corps; Dieter Stenger, U.S. Marine Corps Museum; Dianne S. Tapley, U.S. Army Infantry School Library; H. L. Theobald, Cabinet Office Historical Section; Barbara P. Vandegrift, George C. Marshall Research Foundation Library; Milan Vego, U.S. Naval War College; Gene F. Wilson, Central Intelligence Agency; Robert Wolfe and William H. Cunliffe, National Archives and Records Service; Bruce I. Gudmundsson, Marine Corps University; and the Vojni Istoriski Institut of the former Yugoslavia. The Director of Marine Corps History, Dr. Charles P. Neimeyer, encouraged this project from its origins as a conference paper. Credit for the excellent editing and layout goes to senior editor Kenneth H. Williams, acquisitions editor Dr. Stephen S. Evans, manuscript editor James M. Caiella, and visual information specialist W. Stephen Hill. iii C ontents Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction Knight’s Move Origins of the Raid The Plan The Airborne Raid Partisan Picture iii 1 2 11 14 16 25 Execution, X-Day 0700—Airborne assault wave reaches the objective 0930—Drvar occupied, main attempt to capture Tito 1000—Battle group moves to the southwest 1200—The second wave arrives 1800—Battalion withdraws to cemetery 2130—Cemetery position occupied 27 31 39 44 46 47 49 Execution, X-Day plus 1 0330—Enemy attacks repulsed 0600—Direct air support resumes 0700 to 1000—Link-up with ground forces 50 51 51 52 Analysis 54 Appendix: 500/600th SS–Parachute Battalion Chronology Notes Additional Readings About the Author 63 65 71 73 v I I ntroduction n Croatia troops of the Army and Armed-SS commanded by General [Lothar] Rendulic, supported by strong German bomber and ground attack plane formations, raided the center of Tito’s bandit groups and smashed it after a heavy struggle lasting for days. According to preliminary reports, the enemy lost 6,240 men. In addition, numerous weapons of all kinds and many supply installations were captured. In this fighting the 7th SS-Mountain Division ‘Prinz Eugen,’ under the command of SS-General [Otto] Kumm, and the 500th SS-Parachute Battalion, commanded by SS-Captain [Kurt] Rybka, excellently proved themselves. So announced the German Supreme High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht [OKW]), but whatever headlines this generated were lost in the news of the Allied D-Day invasion of France and the opening of the second front in Europe.1 A unique operation, both for obscurity and daring, was the effort to oust Balkan guerrilla chief Josip Broz, “Marshal Tito.” With Unternehmen Rösselsprung (Operation Knight’s Move), the late Yugoslav president’s career might have been ended by the Germans on his 52d birthday, 25 May 1944. On that day, Axis forces executed an airborne raid on the Yugoslav Partisan (communist-led anti-fascist resistance movement) high command at Drvar, Bosnia, that almost succeeded in eliminating Tito. M. J. Slade (Imperial War Museum) The hunted: Josip Broz “Tito” in 1944. This photograph of the Partisan leader with his dog “Tiger” at the Drvar, Bosnia, headquarters was taken by British combat cameraman Sergeant M. J. Slade, who was captured during the German raid shortly after the picture was taken. Today, it provides an example of using light infantry in low-intensity or special operations, with unforeseen consequences similar to those experienced by others against irregular opponents. German airborne employment after the large-scale invasion of Crete in 1941 was confined to small-scale actions for limited objectives. These took place using parachutists and gliders as reinforcements on the island of Sicily, seizing the island of Elba, at Monte Rotondo to capture the Italian general headquarters, a raid at Gran Sasso to free former Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, an airborne assault to 1 1943. It was broken into various zones of occupation and puppet states benefitting the bordering nations of Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. The province of Slovenia was annexed by Germany, Serbia was occupied by the Germans with a collaborationist government, Italy annexed Dalmatia while also occupying Albania, and an independent Croatia existed under a fascist government. In addition, Greece and its islands were subjugated by both Italy and Germany. For the Germans, the Balkans—known as the Southeast Theater—was a backwater of secondary importance to the conduct of war against the major Allied powers. Their goal was to ensure the security of rail, river, and road routes of strategic minerals and oil flowing to Germany and maintain access to African and Eastern Fronts. Like most campaigns not handled speedily, the Southeast became a steady drain on military resources contributing to the final Axis defeat. Second-rate troops, new formations, reservists, and various police forces were employed in the theater with no ultimate goal except exploitation and maintaining order. As the war progressed, incipient revolt and internal politics became more of a factor causing increasing—but never enough—numbers of Axis forces to be devoted to internal security. This was made worse by savage reprisals, the lack of any enlightened occupation policy, and the need to shore up local collaborators in Croatia and Serbia. The danger from internal resistance was not acknowledged until 1943, brought on by defeats in Africa and Russia and Italy’s defection from the Axis. By 1944, German resident forces in the Balkans were faced with the dual problem of Allied invasion seize the island of Leros, the raid in Bosnia to capture guerrilla leadership, and for advance force operations behind the lines during the Ardennes offensive. A U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College paper noted that some seven parachute and glider combat operations were mounted from 1943 until 1945, but only one was greater than reinforced battalion strength. The author concluded: “none of them had any real significance to the course of the war.”2 What follows is the story behind the missed OKW headline of 6 June 1944.3 K night’s Move The Balkan countries of Yugoslavia and Greece were beaten by conventional attack that followed a stalled Italian invasion of Greece and German leader Adolf Hitler’s perceived betrayal of a non-aggression agreement by Yugoslavia to secure the flanks for the subsequent German invasion of the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis in 1941, and occupied primarily by Italy and other Axis partners through The cabinet and supreme command of the Partisans included those pictured here. Front, left to right: Dr. Ribnikar, Minister of Information; Col Kardelj, Tito. Back, left to right: MajGen Yovanovich, Chief of Staff; Radonja, Tito’s aide; Cholakovich, Secretary of the Anti-Fascist Council; Kocbek, Minister of Education; and LtGen Zujevich. M. J. Slade (Imperial War Museum) 2 GERMAN DIVISIONS IN YUGOSLAVIA, MID-1944* (see map p. 4) Heer (Army) Divisions 1st Cossack Division: “Composed of Russian Cossacks. Apparently performed well. Fought to the end. Members captured by the Soviets and executed after the war.” 1st Mountain Division: “The premier German division in Yugoslavia. Part of German prewar army, made up of Bavarians from mountain regions. Very mobile in rough terrain. It provided the mobile force in all the anti-partisan operations.” 98th Division: “An excellent division but worn out in Russia. Sent to Yugoslavia for rebuilding.” 118th Light or Jaeger Division : “A division of Austrians, originally the 718th Division, redesigned and upgraded for anti-partisan warfare in April 1943 as the Germans became more serious about the partisan war. Served virtually the entire war in Yugoslavia. Good quality.” 181st Division: “A solid division. Raised in 1940.” 264th Division: “A second-class unit. Served in Yugoslavia for most of war.” 369th Division: “Consisted mainly of Croatians with German cadres. Successor in name but not in quality of the 369th Croatian Infantry Regiment. Unreliable. (The original regiment was the ‘Croatian Army Legion’ consisting of Croatian volunteers in the German army. It was attached to the 100th Jaeger Division and was destroyed at Stalingrad.) 373d Division: “Another division of Croatians with German cadre. Poor performance.” 392d Division: “Yet another division of Croatians with German cadre, but this one performed well.” Schutzstaffel Divisions (Waffen or Armed–SS) 7th Prinz Eugen: “A mountain division made up of ethnic Germans from the Balkans. Established in 1942 specifically for partisan warfare. Fought well but committed many atrocities.” 13th Handschar: “Composed of Croatian and Bosnian Moslems (!). Unreliable and committed many atrocities. Transformed into a battle group of ethnic Germans later in the war and fought to the end.” 21st Skanderbeg: “Composed of Albanians. Unreliable. Disbanded and folded into 7th SS.” * Quoted from Cancian, Parameters, Table 2, page 80: “The higher the division number in the German army, generally, the lower quality. High numbered divisions were either raised late in the war when resources were scarce or were designed for limited purposes. One insight from this table is that observers of the current civil war should be cautious when talking about the ‘good’ Croats and Bosnians and the ‘bad’ Serbians as if these were eternal verities. This may be today’s perspective, but World War II looks very different. (Note the number of collaborationist Croat and Bosnian units.) These Balkan conflicts have been going on for centuries. Rather than characterizing the good guys and bad guys, observers should focus on good and bad behavior.” from the Eastern and Western Fronts and full-fledged guerrilla war in the rear against their bases and communications lines. At the same time, the Germans were no longer able to mount offensive antiguerrilla operations although some six major efforts, by communist count, had been undertaken to date. Large-scale winter offensives were not possible because of the shortage of trained units and the Partisan’s skill at evading these sweeps. Instead, the Germans had to change their tactics from “search and destroy” efforts to surprise “attack and pursuit” operations.4 German antiguerrilla doctrine had evolved from ad hoc beginnings to a more established doctrinal structure. 3 U.S. Army 4 Defensive efforts, or police measures, were oriented on lines of communications—railways and rail traffic, roadways and road traffic, waterways and water traffic; administrative and communications facilities; and agriculture or natural resources. In this, all “troops must be able to conduct actions against bands, even supply units, technical units, and security units.”5 A proviso from field service regulations qualified that “no more manpower than is absolutely necessary” was committed to the rear areas, and particularly cited protection against Partisan bands: “All troops, troop billets, traffic and economic installations as well as war important plants have to protect themselves and to be protected against attacks by bands through security measures.”6 A note of caution was added: “The securing and guarding of the land and of all important installations . . . makes careful reconnaissance and planning for all guerilla actions, but does not make the actions impossible. There is no countermeasure . . . that cannot be rendered useless through skillful adaption to it.”7 In fact, a majority of the defensive effort was involved with rear area security.8 Offensive efforts, or military operations, needed the aggressive deployment of “hunter” units, surprise attacks or pursuit, and encirclements by major commands.9 a) Reconnaissance-strike operations represented the most common action engagements. Deployment of patrols against bands: “Small, but especially effective units, composed and armed as jagdkommandos [hunter or combat patrols], are especially suitable to impede the formation of bands and to disrupt band communications.”10 Hunter patrols were formed with local assets from the army rear area, security, and other divisions endangered by guerrillas. These were platoon to company size. Internal structure called for four squads each with an officer in charge, one local scout in civilian clothes, and all armed liberally with light machine gun, semi-automatic and automatic rifles, sniper rifles, and grenades. Mobility was by foot, draft animals, skis, and sledges. Provided with radios, hunter units were intended to operate for up to two weeks without resupply.11 A post-war German special forces officer described hunter or ranger units as “men who knew every possible ruse and tactic of guerrilla warfare. They had gone through the hell of combat against the crafty partisans in the endless swamps and forests of Russia.”12 It was a kind of warfare that could not be rushed and required time to develop opportunities to defeat the guerrilla. b) Attack-pursuit operations were used as opportunity offered, specifically destruction through surprise attack and hunt: “If forces or time are not sufficient for encirclement or difficult ground makes it impossible, the bands, even without previous encirclement, have to be attacked, defeated and hunted until they are completely destroyed.”13 Two approaches were used, one where reconnaissance was possible before hand allowing the placement of blocking forces and the other where a frontal attack had to be launched because of a lack of time or restricted terrain.14 The goal was to surprise the guerrillas while on the march or before constructing base camps. A quick attack would cause them to fight or flee and then to be hunted down and destroyed as a splinter group (“One has to put up with the es- 5 cape of individual isolated groups”). The hunt was a more elaborate version of the attack-pursuit, with the goal of overtaking the guerrillas carried out by fast moving forces. The primary target was guerrilla leadership.15 c) Encircle-annihilation operations were preferred but the most demanding in terms of material and personnel. “This is the main battle technique and at the same time the most efficient means for eliminating the band menace. It requires larger forces, but leads most decisively to success.”16 The Germans believed that this maneuver was the most comprehensive and should be attempted in all cases, even against small guerrilla groups: “The basic maxim of this technique is: To cut off every escape route and to annihilate all parts of the band.”17 According to Peter Lieb, this tactic needed first rate units such as the 7th SS or 1st Mountain Divisions to carry out in broken terrain.18 To accomplish this, a number of variations were analyzed to insure success. Preparations and preliminary movements were needed to bring forces in place. Each had to move from assembly areas at different rates to arrive at the encirclement line at the same time. Ground had to be occupied and positions prepared without revealing the intent of the maneuver to the guerrillas. Thin lines were not sufficient, conventional defense arrangements were needed to include advance outposts, main lines of resistance, adequate artillery, and mobile reserves. Air support was of more limited value because of the fleeting nature of the target or the possibility of compromising surprise.19 Critical to this was an accurate picture of the “Bandit” or “Red” situation from Wehrmacht (Unified Armed Forces) and Shutzstaffel (SS) and police intelligence and security agencies in the Southeast. Conflicts within German military, police, and civilian intelligence communities made this difficult at times with competing resources and priorities. “Who, what, when, where, and Allied missions in 1944 at Drvar included visiting journalists to publicize to the outside world the little-known Partisan effort. Interviewing the minister of information are, from right to left, Fowler, Slade, Pribichevich, and Talbot. Note the arms and uniforms of the escort. M. J. Slade (Imperial War Museum) Vojnoizdavaki Zavod While lacking facts, over time the Germans built up a picture of the ever-changing opposition. Of the two major guerrilla movements in Yugoslavia, the communist Partisans were considered the major threat. They were now seen by the Germans as the main insurgent force with the recognition of how” were the essential elements of information sought by these diverse organizations through special patrols, infiltrators, radio intercept, and air reconnaissance. At the same time the Yugoslav Resistance and Allies were engaged in a similar effort to divine Axis intentions. 7 Tito by the Allies at the Tehran Conference the previous year. Royalist Serbian Chetniks maintained an uneasy accord with the Axis and Allies while the Partisans grew to a size able to survive in large areas by themselves, including transportation and communications facilities. German estimates of total numbers varied (possibly 120,000 Partisans by 1944, the majority being in Croatia, with another 60,000–70,000 Chetniks, mainly in Serbia), not all of which were communist and few were armed. Partisan organization had matured from armed small groups to people’s liberation army units of battalion size, and then into mixed “proletarian” brigades with the goal of division-size commands. Communist commissars were paired with leaders of units down to the company level emphasizing the political as well as military nature of the resistance. The SS and police minimized these developments, reporting the Partisans have “the cheek to call a battalion a brigade, and we fall for it straight away. A brigade? In Heaven’s name. The military mind at once imagines a group of six or eight thousand men. A thousand vagabonds who have been herded together suddenly become a brigade. Divisions and corps are knocked to pieces by us, and the man [Tito] forms them up again every time.”20 By German standards, the laws of war did not apply to guerrilla combatants or supporters. Reprisal killings were the norm rather than exception although treatment of prisoners varied with the situation. Partisan uniforms and weapons were mixed, with an active effort being made to supply them by the Allies by this time (although a communist movement, no material support arrived from the Soviet Union). Yugoslav, Italian, German, British, or civilian clothing was in use with Yugoslav national colors, Soviet stars and rank stripes being reported. All could quickly be discarded to blend in with the local population if required. Communist combat methods were diverse, conforming to the principles of guerrilla fighting faced since the war’s beginning. Guerrilla actions were at night, with the daytime spent hidden below ground or under tree cover. The Germans experienced three main types of combat actions: ambush by small groups to acquire arms and ammunition, open attacks by larger forces to wipe out smaller Axis units for prestige and plunder, and the occupation of remote base areas for Tito’s cave quarters outside of Drvar. Well hidden, it was guarded by a select Partisan bodyguard. The Germans did not have this precise location and underestimated the resistance they encountered. M. J. Slade (Imperial War Museum) 8 M. J. Slade (Imperial War Museum) Partisans located in Drvar at the time of the German raid included anti-fascist youth congress members shown here. Note the mix of uniforms and weapons from varied sources. political and logistical support. When struck or surrounded by German forces, the normal Partisan response was to break up and disperse. Scattered, the groups returned to hit-and-run tactics. As such, some German estimates felt the “combat effectiveness of the Red formations is limited” in one-on-one encounters. Read one report, “The masses are composed of farmers and workers who were misled by propaganda and or fled to the woods for fear of reprisals and extermination measures.”21 The Supreme Commander, Southeast intelligence staff held a more ominous view of the situation in 1944: “The classification of the enemy as bandits and fighting against them as bandit warfare is entirely incorrect.”22 A detailed look at the Partisan movement by German Luftwaffe Kriegsberichter (war correspondent) Heinz Schwitzke, concluded the Partisan “state consisted of an impressive number of minister-presidents, cabinets and marshals, although it was not as vast as the exaggerating enemy press would like us to believe. These bandits, who played so carelessly with the fate of the people, have always excelled in making the most of circumstances which were not clear cut.”23 This referred to Partisan efforts in exploiting the differences within the Axis camp that allowed them to survive despite previous efforts to wipe them out. The communist leadership remained a cipher to the Germans, who did not know if Tito was an acronym, a committee, or even a woman! “Tito” was the cover name used by Josip Broz, the general secretary of the Yugoslav Communist Party. A metal worker, AustroHungarian World War veteran, and long-time communist, he worked against the royal Yugoslav government until the German invasion of Russia and Stalin’s Communist International call to arms 9 SIGNIFICANT PARTICIPANTS Josip Broz “Tito”: Born in 1892 at Kumrovec, Croatia-Slavonia. A machinist, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I. Wounded, he was captured by the Russians, and joined the Bolsheviks during the revolution. Returning to Yugoslavia, he was an active communist in the inter-war years. From 1941 until 1945 he led the Yugoslav people’s army, the national committee of liberation, as well as a provisional “democratic” government. Wartime leaders with him in 1944 included Vladimir Bakaric, Milovan Dilas, Edvard Kardelj, Ivan Milutinovic, Aleksandar Rankovic, and Svetozar Vukmanovic. Tito ended the war a Marshal of Yugoslavia and was the post-war Prime Minister, President, and Secretary General of the Non-aligned Movement. He held some 119 awards or decorations from 60 countries. He died in 1980. Lieutenant General Ernst von Leyser: Born in 1889 at Steglitz, Germany. An army officer from 1909, he served in World War I, then as a policeman. He held regimental through corpslevel assignments in the West and East. A general officer from 1941, he commanded the XV and XXI Mountain Corps in the Southeast Theater from November 1943 until April 1945. Awarded the Iron Cross I and II class, German Cross, and Knight’s Cross. Convicted of charges at Nuremberg, he died in 1962. General Lothar Rendulic: Born in 1887 at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. An AustroHungarian army officer from 1910, he served in World War I, and earned a doctor of law degree. A general officer from 1939, he held division and higher postings in the West and East. He was appointed commander of the 2d Panzer Army from July 1943 through January 1945. He commanded forces in Finland and Norway until 1945. Awarded the Austrian War Merit Cross and Medal, Wound Badge, Iron Cross I and II class, German Cross, and Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Convicted of charges at Nuremberg, he died in 1971. SS-Captain Kurt Max Rybka: Born in 1917 at Darmstadt, Germany. Rybka was an officer of the Armed-SS. A second lieutenant in 1940, he served in a motorcycle reconnaissance replacement unit and was then assigned Battle Group “North” in 1941. Wounded, he returned to the reconnaissance replacement unit until returning as a first lieutenant to SS-Division “North” in 1942. Promoted to captain and appointed to command the SS–parachute battalion in 1944. Wounded severely during Knight’s Move, his injuries kept him in training duties thereafter. Awarded the Finnish Cross of Liberty, Wound Badge, Iron Cross I and II class, and Honor Roll Clasp. He died in 1959. Field Marshal Maximilian von Weichs: Born in 1881 at Dessau, Germany. An army officer from 1901, he served in the cavalry and on staff in World War I. A general officer from 1933, he distinguished himself in campaigns in Poland, the West, the Balkans, and the East. Promoted to field marshal, he was appointed to command all German forces in the Southeast Theater (Army Groups E and F) from August 1943 until March 1945. Awarded the Iron Cross I and II class, and the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves. Too ill to stand trial at Nuremberg, he died in 1954. 10 against the Germans. With his role in the resistance now becoming known to the Axis and Allies, the key part he played was recognized. He was described by SSReichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler as “a consistent man. . . . He has really earned his title of marshal. When we catch him we shall kill him at once. You can be sure of that. He is our enemy.”24 Zagreb, and Mostar; and the Kriegsmarine (Navy) operating a small fleet of patrol craft from Trieste. The Germans had sought to eliminate Tito personally from January 1944 under Hitler’s orders. Efforts were made by Brandenburg special forces with the 2d Panzer Army that focused on infiltrating turncoats into Tito’s headquarters to lead in German units or to assassinate him themselves. Among the scenarios considered were booby-trapped documents or supplies left on the bodies of dead “Allied” operatives. The use of an airborne raiding force had been brought up against locations at Jajce and Vis in January and February. This planning led to the prospect of seizing Tito with an airborne coup that had apparently been hatching at OKW for some time, spurred by the example of the release of Mussolini the year before. To date, nothing had come of the schemes. These efforts were often at odds with the internal structure of the Abwehr (military intelligence) that split intelligence and special operations functions, its Brandenburg special forces now coming directly under OKW, and the similar confused authority within Himmler’s SS and police special forces under then SS-Major Otto Skorzeny who pursued parallel tasks.25 Facing well-armed and numerous guerrillas, Army Group F remained all but on the defensive by the opening months of 1944. Two of its German divisions had been moved to Italy and another four had been dispatched to Hungary. Von Weichs was presented with the dual problem of Allied invasion and full-fledged guerrilla attacks against his rear areas, including strategic lines of communications to Germany. Local O rigins of the Raid By January 1944, the German military structure in the Balkans was singular. As Supreme Commander, Southeast, Field Marshal Maximilian Baron von Weichs’ Army Group F controlled all German forces in Yugoslavia and Albania. He also controlled Army Group E in Greece; in effect placing Army Group F in the position of being the headquarters to which all German forces in the Balkans answered. As subordinates in Yugoslavia and Albania, Army Group F had the 2d Panzer (Armored) Army headquartered in Kraljevo and Military Commander, Southeast in Belgrade. Both commands were misnamed, since the 2d Panzer Army had no armored divisions and should have been more properly titled the 2d Mountain Army. Military Commander, Southeast was the area commander for Serbia with the dual role of Army Commander, Serbia. Available tactical units included a Bulgarian corps of 4 divisions, 4 German (Heer and Waffen-SS) corps with 11 infantry, 1 cavalry, and 2 mountain divisions as well as headquarters troops. In support were some 50 static garrison battalions; the Luftwaffe (Air Force) with around 140 aircraft in Belgrade, 11 Both OKW-Abwehr and SS-Sicherheitsdienst (SD [security service]) intercepted partisan communications and tentatively located Tito at Drvar in March 1944. Although the Wehrmacht and SS worked separately (the Wehrmacht normally left the policing of occupied territories to the control of the SS and police), together a cumulative picture of Partisan activities was built up. Infiltration efforts by the OKWBrandenburg and SS-SD special forces placed agents into the heart of Partisan territory with some success in the first quarter of the year. Conventional air observation and strike reports located Allied landing and drop zones being marked by numerous small fires. Soon enough information was available for the Axis to attack when the weather favored movement. Intelligence for the effort was prepared by Army Group F and 2d Panzer Army but was only distributed to tactical units who had a “need to know.” This was reflected by the fact that the enemy situation stated in the operation orders was basically identical below the corps level.26 As reported by Schwitske: Not many comprehensive facts have ever existed of the very proud greater Serbian-Yugoslav-Bolshevist guerilla republic. But it nevertheless controlled a small part of the mountain region of the country. It is situated away from any significant habitation and important roads. It lies in the middle of the unending vastness of the . . . mountain region . . . . Therefore these shady characters could feel safe here, as it was not possible for any hostile army to advance on these valleys, without being observed. The Vojni Istoriski Institut Tito Reward Flyer. operations met with some success, but the center of the Partisan movement in the Knin-Jajce-Bihac-Banja Luka area was a refuge to which these withdrew when German pressure became too great in any particular location. Tito’s political and military headquarters in Bosnia had been transformed from a secret base in liberated territory to a rapidly expanding complex of logistics, communications, and Allied missions. The need for Allied support and political recognition had overcome the Partisan requirement for safety provided by constant movement. While rugged terrain and heavy snows gave the Partisans physical security, the Axis intelligence effort located their elusive prey. 12

Author Isbn 0160911400 File size 6MB Year 2011 Pages 82 Language English File format PDF Category History Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare This, the first of a new Studies in Battle series from Marine Corps University Press, is a study of the German Army’s World War II airborne attempt to capture Yugoslavian leader Josip Broz “Marshal Tito.” With Unternehmen Rösselsprung (Operation Knight’s Move), the late Yugoslav president’s career might have been ended by the Germans on his 52d birthday, 25 May 1944. On that date, Axis forces executed an airborne raid on the Yugoslav Partisan high command at Drvar, Bosnia, that almost succeeded in eliminating Tito. Today, it provides an example of using light infantry in low-intensity or special operations, with unforeseen consequences similar to those experienced by others against irregular opponents.     Download (6MB) Us Marine Rifleman 1939-1945: Pacific Theater Mark V Tank (osprey New Vanguard 178) The War In North Africa, 1940-1943: A Selected Bibliography F-4B/J Phantom II Illustrated Fallschirmjager: German Paratrooper 1935-1945 (osprey Warrior 38) Load more posts

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