3. Kompanie Reichsgrenadier Regiment 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
Reichsgrenadier Division 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
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Hungarian Campaign late 1944 to the end in Austria 1945


By mid-November 1944 the Russians had formed a bridgehead at the confluence of the Drava and Danube rivers in Hungary. The Reichsgrenadier Division was transferred from its rest area in Udine, Italy to assist in the elimination of this bridgehead. Disembarking at Fünfkirchen, the Division was utilised in the counterattack launched towards the Batina area towards the southeast. Simultaneously, the Russians launched their own attack with very strong forces and despite stubborn resistance the Division was forced back towards the south of Lake Balaton where they took up positions in the partially completed “Margarethe Line” where the Division was able to withstand the Soviet onslaught until mid-February 1945. 



Moving from the Komarom area the Division along with others were once again tasked with attacking the Gran Bridgehead, now deeply defended by the Soviets. This mission on the 17 February 1945 was to be the last successful offensive launched by the Division and in appreciation of their success during this operation it was awarded a Divisional Cuff title “Hoch- und Deutschmeister” on the 26 February 1945. 

Soon afterwards in March, as part of 2 Army, the Division took part in Operation “Spring Awakening”. The goals of this operation was to break through the Russian positions and establish a solid front on the Danube, to secure oil and grain reserves vital towards the continuation of the German war effort and to relieve the siege of Budapest. Owing to adverse terrain and poor weather conditions and despite good early progress the offensive failed to achieve any of its objectives and on the 17 March 1945 “Spring Awakening” finally ran out of steam on the strong defensive positions at Sakeresztur. 
On the 18 March 1945 the Russians launched their own large scale offensive, “Operation Vienna”, supported by strong armoured and air forces. Despite efforts to hold their positions the Russians forced a breakthrough which threatened to envelop all German forces locally. Alongside 1st Panzer Division and other German formations the Reichsgrenadier Division supported by remaining Panzer forces was able to break out of the cauldron. Casualties were high, amongst the fallen was the Divisional Commander, GenLt von Rost and the Chief of Staff, Major i.G. Vogl. Conducting a fighting retreat the Division managed to avoid further encirclement by withdrawing to the north of Lake Balaton and then westwards towards Austria. During the last days of March the Division took up positions in the “Reichschutzstellung”, this line was to be the last line of defence before the Russians crossed into the southern borders of the Reich and it extended from Bratislava in Slovakia to the north, southwards over the Brucker and Ödenburger gate, through Deutschkreutz in Burgenland and on to the southwest to the east of Ljubljana. 

The main thrust towards Vienna was launched from the Stuhlweissenburg area and the City was lost after heavy fighting on the 13 April 1945. Although the southeast of the Reich had become a ‘sideshow’ for the Russians whose focus was now firmly on the greater prize of Berlin, the Reichsgrenadier Division, much weakened by its efforts over the last few months initially managed to hold its position at Radskerburg. However, constant and often violent confrontation with much stronger Soviet forces meant that the “Reichschutzstellung” could no longer be held. The Division now little more than a “Kampfgruppe” fell back and then via rail transport moved into lower Austria near to its peacetime garrisons at Znaim, Nikolsburg and Lundenburg (now Znojmo, Mikulov & Breclav in the modern-day Czech Republic but at that time in the Niederdonau Gau). Due to their much reduced strength the Division was no longer capable of offensive operations and was therefore assigned defensive duties in their Homeland. 

On the 7 May 1945, the Division received news of the imminent surrender and was authorised to head west and surrender to the Americans. Once at Hohenfurth, negotiations with the Americans almost faltered but the Divisional Commander, GenMaj Langhäuser, managed to persuade them to accept the Division’s surrender. The bulk of the Division managed to surrender to the Americans however those troops still in the Aigen-Schlögel camp to the east were taken prisoner by the Russians on 8 May 1945, many never to return home. 
Until the last day of the war the soldiers of the Division had performed their duty in accordance with their oath, faithfully fulfilled to the last on Austrian soil. On the date of the unconditional surrender, 8 May 1945, The Reichsgrenadier Division “Hoch- und Deutschmeister” ceased to exist, its survivors scattered to the four winds.
Records held by the “Wehrmacht-Auskunft-Stelle (W.A.St)" in Berlin show that for the period 1939 to 1945 Divisional losses amounted to approximately 34000 men, about 11000 of those were recorded as dead or missing.



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