FOREIGN MILITARY STUDIES ( B - 816 )

 

  LXXXI. ARMEEKORPS  ( 4 - 21 September 1944 )

 By General der Infanterie a.D. Friedrich August Schack, March 1948.

Gen. Friedrich A. Schack

 
 

PRECEDING EVENTS

 

On 4 September, 1944 I reported to General Brandenberger, Commanding General Seventh Army, at his command post in Hex,  8 kilometers west of Tongres, (Belgium) to take over the command of LXXXI Corps. I was given the following information about the general situation: 

 

The LXXXI Corps on the right and the LXXIV Corps on the left, subordinated to Seventh Army, had as mission the concentration of the remaining elements of their former units and, through a withdrawal movement northeastward, of establishing a loosely-connected defensive front along the line Louvain - Charleroi. Whether this could be done would depend upon the time and place at which the concentration was successfully achieved. Fifteenth Army, withdrawing farther north, was to attack in an easterly direction, from the area north of Lille, (France), in order to establish contact with Seventh Army. The right sector boundary for the LXXXI Corps, and Fifteenth Army boundary was established as Louvain - Hasselt - Maastricht - Duesseldorf.

 

The LXXXI Corps had at its disposal a few Kampfgruppen composed of the remains of several divisions, and the 353d Division, which had been pushed northward via Valenciennes - Brussels and was now concentrating south of Eindhoven (Holland). Louvain itself was protected by a newly-organized Kampfgruppe Viebig -- one security battalion, one assault gun battalion, and men who had been separated from their units. Farther south the reconnaissance battalion of the 116th Panzer Division protected the Rapel and the Dyle Rivers as far as Wavre. The 116th Panzer Division was in the vicinity of Gembloux and Fleury, in front of the LXXIV Corps sector, and the 347th Division, held a thin security line, north of Namur.

 

Enemy Troops. A British army group was advancing toward Antwerp, probably with the mission of capturing the V-1 bases and completing the encirclement of Fifteenth Army. It was followed by an American task force of about six to eight divisions. The bulk of the U.S. Third Army was assumed to be in the Verdun area and was expected to attack the line Luxembourg - Metz. In addition, a large airborne landing was expected at the West Wall area. Increasing numbers of French and Belgian resistance groups were taking part in the operations.

 

DELAYING ACTION BEFORE THE WEST WALL
 ( 4 - 12 September 1944 )

 

On arriving at LXXXI Corps Headquarters, in Cortessem, 11 kilometers west of Tongres, on the afternoon of 4 September I found a complete staff ready - typical during that period. Thanks to their motorization and consequent mobility, the staff and all the headquarters units had remained intact, but the troops, through lack of mobility, had again and again been outdistanced, encircled, and routed by the enemy. Nevertheless the command cadres, together with large and small groups of cadre personnel from other units, enabled us to assemble the men who had become separated from their outfits and to organize them into new units.

 

The Corps headquarters had lost contact with the 275th, 344th and 49th Infantry Divisions, formerly subordinated to LXXXI Corps. However by radio and motorcycle messengers was established with Kampfgruppe Viebig at Louvain.

 

It had been learned that enemy armor had reached Brussels during the evening of 3 September and that in the LXXIV Corps Sector, on our left, Binche had been captured after heavy fighting.

 

Toward evening strong enemy forces entered Louvain from the southeast. The 105th Panzer Brigade was therefore assigned to LXXXI Corps and ordered to move into an assembly area in the vicinity of Tirlemont, for a possible counter-attack.

 

Otherwise the day, in general, passed quietly.

 

5 SEPTEMBER

 

Kampfgruppe Viebig was withdrawn from Louvain to Tirlemont. On this day the enemy only felt out the new security line with strong reconnaissance elements from the direction of Louvain. Our intelligence discovered a few enemy tanks in the forest south of Louvain.

 

Elements of the 275th Division, who had been encircled and routed southwest of Brussels, were now in the area northeast of Louvain. However, we had no contact whatever with the sector adjacent on our right, and it was feared therefore that the area northeast of Brussels and Louvain would be open to the enemy, allowing them to complete the  encirclement of Fifteenth Army. Therefore, although the 353d Division was slated for rest and rehabilitation in Holland, it was ordered instead to take over a sector west of Hasselt, from Diest to Steenstraat on 6 September and to establish liaison with the command on our right. The weak covering parties already committed in this sector consisting of men separated from their units, were subordinated to that division.

 

Farther south, enemy forces from Wavre pushed the 116th Panzer Division back upon Jauche and Ramillies. Still farther south, Namur fell into the enemy's hands.

 

Otherwise the day passed in comparative inaction. We gained the impression that the enemy were still closing up and assembling their forces.

 

6 SEPTEMBER

 

Although the enemy advanced from Louvain via Diest toward Beeringen, with 50 tanks along the Meuse River valley from Namur via Huy toward Liege, the LXXXI Corps sector was comparatively quiet. However, on account of the enemy's progress in the adjacent sectors, the weak covering parties were withdrawn to the line Hasselt - St. Trond - Huy. By this time loose contact had been established with the adjacent units on our right, consisting of the First Parachute Army, near Hasselt.

 

While Kampfgruppe Viebig remained in Tirlemont, the 105th Panzer Brigade was committed at St. Trond. The 116th Panzer Division fell back toward Gover and Waremme, south of St. Trond. The 347th Division, committed up to now in the LXXIV Corps sector, was withdrawn in a northeasterly direction and assembled behind the 116th Panzer Division near Waremme.

 
LXXXI Corps Headquarters now moved their command post to Argenteau, 10 kilometers northeast of Liege, and army headquarters moved to Chaudefontaine, 6 kilometers south of Liege.
 

7 SEPTEMBER

 

At Hasselt the enemy broke through the weak security line manned by LXXXI Corps. While the 105th Panzer Brigade remained at St. Trond the other kampfgruppen were pushed back to the line Diepenbeek - Bilsen - Tongres - Rocourt, northwest of Liege. In the sector on our left, the enemy advanced along the Meuse River valley to the western outskirts of Liege. South of the city the enemy forces crossed the Ourthe River and turned north toward Liege.

 

Meanwhile, corps headquarters had established contact with the 49th Division, which had assembled its remaining elements in and south of Roermond (Holland), and also with the 275th Division, which had been encircled and routed southwest of Brussels. These divisions were committed on the eastern bank of the Meuse between the canal fork north of Maastricht and Liege (excluded). Their mission was to assemble all stragglers, at the bridges across the Meuse, to prepare for the demolition of these bridges, and defend the eastern bank of the Meuse River.

 

During the following days the assembly points of the Seventh Army at Maastricht, under Colonel Kosterkemper, supplied corps with so many officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted men that it was possible to organize some moderately efficient units within the framework of the 275th and 49th Infantry Divisions. In addition, the 275th Division was reinforced by a regional defense battalion and a security battalion, the remainder of an antiaircraft battalion consisting of two batteries with 5-centimeter guns, and by a light antiaircraft battery with labor service personnel as gun crews.

 

During the night 7-8 September all elements of corps headquarters were ordered to withdraw behind the Meuse River. The 347th Division, which had been squeezed into the LXXXI Corps sector, was ordered to concentrate in the area east of Maastricht and the 116th Panzer Division behind the sector east of Vise - both as corps reserves.  By orders from army the 105th Panzer Brigade was to withdraw via Vise and move into an assembly area south of Liege, in the LXXIV Corps sector, in order to deliver a counterattack on the enemy crossing the Ourthe River.

 
The LXXIV Corps command post was moved to Moresnet, 8 kilometers southwest of Aachen.
 
The 116th Panzer Division reported that its actual strength was 18 tanks, 2 heavy antiaircraft guns, and 600 men.
 

8 SEPTEMBER

 

In general the withdrawal of the remaining elements of the 347th and 353d Infantry Divisions, Kampfgruppe Viebig, and the 116th Panzer Division was carried out successfully, without any enemy interference of consequence. The following units were now committed at the Meuse River:

 
                  353d Division, with Kampfgruppe Riedel and subordinated units, organized from stragglers, in and around Maastricht.
 
                  275th Division, as far as the hills south of Argenteau, 4 kilometers south of Vise.
 
                  49th Division, as far as Jupille, northeast  of Liege.
 

The Meuse bridges, with the exception of the one at Vise, were blown up. The 275th Division had to man a bridgehead at Vise during the morning because various elements especially from the 116th Panzer Division, were still crossing over after their rear guard action or after having been dispersed by the enemy.

 

Another bridgehead was established at the Albert Canal in Maastricht, manned by two battalions from the 176th Division. These two battalions were subordinated to the 275th Division, so that the boundary between the First Parachute Army and the Seventh Army was strengthened and secured.

 
Because of the serious situation on our left, the LXXXI Corps sector was extended to the southern limits of Liege.
 

Toward noon the commanding general wanted to visit the Liege commandant, Generalmajor Bock van Wülfingen, to work out plans for mopping up and defending the city; but enemy tanks had already entered the city and ever since noon they had surrounded the citadel where the general had established his command post, therefore personal liaison was no longer possible. The 116th Panzer Division was ordered to counterattack immediately, from the Vise - Aubel area, against the eastern sections of Liege, in close cooperation with the 105th Panzer Brigade.  This attack was intended to free the encircled citadel garrison and to block further enemy advance east of Liege. As the enemy in the adjacent sector on the left had already advanced into the area west of Verviers, the 347th Division was also moved into the Liege area and was again on Army orders subordinated to LXXIV Corps.

 

The 116th Panzer Division and the 105th Panzer Brigade counterattack was not launched in time. The 116th took and inordinately long time to assemble and refuel its exhausted and battle-weary units, and prepare them for action. The 105th also lost decisive hours in refueling. The 116th's attack bogged down east of Liege and that of the 105th was confused and came to nought. 

 
During the night the armored group established a security position near Fleron.
 

The last radio message from Liege, at 2055, reported converging tank attacks on the Liege citadel. There was no more communication with the city thereafter. It had to be considered lost.

 

9 SEPTEMBER

 

During the morning, the weak forces of the 353d, 275th, and 49th Infantry Divisions held the eastern bank of the Meuse River. In the afternoon, the U.S. Twelfth Army Group launched an attack, out of the Liege area, in a northeasterly direction, and our 49th Division established a defensive flank in the line Jupille - Fleron. Farther to the left, the 116th Panzer Division, echeloned to the rear, was engaged in heavy action on the hills west of Herve, on both sides of the Liege - Herve highway, against an armored division attacking the line Herve - Verviers. The 105th Panzer Brigade was subordinated to LXXIV Corps in the vicinity of Limbourg.

 

The bridge at Vise had been blown up on 8 September, after the last stragglers had crossed.

 

The 116th Panzer Division was ordered to attack the enemy, who had reached Dison with 20 tanks, and to push through to the banks of the Vesdre River. All movement, however, was hampered by lack of fuel and the attack did not penetrate very far. During the day the left wing of the 49th Division was pushed back across the Bolland Brook. Nevertheless, the weak German forces prevented the rolling-up of the Meuse River front. The enemy penetrated as far as Limbourg, but their attacks farther south in the LXXIV Corps sector were checked along the defile on both sides of Theux.

 

That evening, Maastricht and the Maastricht bridgehead were subordinated to the 176th Division. Corps headquarters was therefore no longer responsible for this unlucky bridgehead.

 

Hilter had ordered that Fort Eben Emael, north of Liege, be occupied by one battalion and defended to the last man. This order was absurd, because all of the fort's defensive installations faced eastward. Moreover, the fort was unsuited for prolonged defense, not only because of its deficiencies in armament but in its entire planning and arrangement.

 

The 353d Division, at Maastricht with the remainder of its own elements and some newly-organized units, was ordered to transfer every non-divisional unit to the 275th Division and to man the defenses of the West Wall from Orsbach to the forest south of Aachen.

 
The LXXXI Corps command post was moved to Würselen, 3 kilometers northeast of Aachen.
 

10 SEPTEMBER

 

After a peaceful night the enemy began, early in the morning, to direct heavy artillery fire on the Argenteau area south of Vise. They had apparently reorganized their artillery and were now placing well-directed fire upon our positions, especially on the roads exposed to observation in the vicinity of Vise and on the town itself. Although lack of guns and ammunition prevented us from replying, our casualties were not heavy.

 

We got the impression that the enemy was preparing for a river crossing. Therefore we organized, out of the stragglers, an improvised motorized task force, consisting of three companies mounted on personnel carriers, commanded by Major Riedel and assigned ad subordinated it to the 275th Division.

 

That afternoon strong enemy armored forces attacked the tin security line, west of Herve, from the south and penetrated to Dalhem, east of Argenteau. We recovered the village by an immediate counterattack. The enemy was stopped along the Bevinne Brook by combat teams from the 49th Division and the 116th Panzer Division.

 

By evening the front line ran: Argenteau - Dalhem - Mortroux - St. Andre - Charneux - Clermont. In spite of heavy enemy pressure on the left sector boundary the 105th Panzer Brigade held the are west and south of Limbourg; but in the adjacent sector the security line was pierced at several points and the situation was no longer clear. Also toward evening, the enemy adjusted artillery fire, light and heavy calibers, on the main line of resistance in the Argenteau - Dalhem area. Enemy movements in strength on the hills 3 kilometers west of Julemont were reported.

 

Corps headquarters expected another enemy attack on 11 September, with the point of main effort on the southern wing toward Eupen. Therefore, we tried in every way, with the insufficient forces at our disposal to reinforce the defenses in this sector. We withdrew the left wing of the 49th Division behind the Berwinne River. On the left rear the 116th Panzer Division was staggered in depth along the Liege - Aachen highway, with outposts on the hills southwest of Henri-Chapelle. The advance elements on the 9th Panzer Division, recently subordinated to LXXXI Corps, approaching from the Kaiserslautern area, were committed at Eupen, in support of the exhausted 105th Panzer Brigade along the Limbourg - Eupen - Aachen highway. We also combined units of the 9th Panzer Division as they arrived at Limbourg, with the remaining elements of the 105th Panzer Brigade and with the 394th Assault Gun Brigade, also newly arrived, as a task force commanded by the commanding officer of the 9th Panzer Division, Colonel Mueller.

 

The 105th Panzer Brigade had lost most of its armor and had no more than 10 tanks and 20 armored personnel carriers. Moreover, only the following elements of the 9th Panzer Division had actually arrived: three companies of armored infantry, with 90 men and from 6 to 9 light machine guns each; one company of engineers, of the same strength; two batteries, 10,5 cm, with 3 guns each; two antiaircraft guns, 8.8 cm, from the division antiaircraft battalion; and some elements of division headquarters. Division headquarters was equipped with radio, but had no telephone companies. The remaining elements of the 9th Panzer Division were still somewhere between Kaiserslautern and Düren, and because of lack of fuel, combined with errors in the march organization, they did not arrive until such later.

 

The morning of 11 September Kampfgruppe Mueller occupied the line Hackelbach, 5 kilometers northwest of Limburg, - Bilstain, 2 kilometers west of Limbourg, - Limbourg itself.

 
The corps command post was moved to Weiden, 8 kilometers northeast of Aachen.
 

11 SEPTEMBER

 

The morning passed quietly but, as expected, a major enemy attack began in the afternoon. Through a heroic defense, an a tempted enemy crossing in the vicinity of Vise was repulsed. Later, strong enemy forces supported by tanks, attacked Dalhem and Neufchateau and, after a short but fierce fight, captured both towns. The 275th Division was driven from its position along the brook to a hastily-prepared rear position in the hills, which it held until evening. By an advance from Dalhem in a northeasterly direction the enemy cut off the battalion at Argenteau. This battalion was simultaneously attacked from the south, and the bulk of it fell into enemy hands.

 

The main enemy attack, as expected, was directed against our southern wing and a penetration by strong enemy tank forces, was effected at several points. At 1800 enemy tanks and mechanized infantry broke through the 49th Division security line in the vicinity of Aubel and captured Hagelstein. The two battalions holding this position were cut off. Farther south, the enemy drove back to weak covering elements in the vicinity of Hockelbach but was stopped near Henri-Chapelle by elements of the 394th Assault Gun Brigade. West of Limbourg the enemy penetrated the security line and reached the 9th Panzer Division command post at Walhorn, with 35 tanks, via Herbesthal. At 2000 enemy armor engaged elements of the 116th Panzer Division in Hergenrath.

 

While fighting was still going on around Limbourg, other enemy forces by-passed this city on their way to Eupen, captured it, and wheeled northeast toward Eynatten. In the adjacent sector enemy armored reconnaissance advanced on Monschau.

 

We concentrated every reserve available for counterattack. However, we were handicapped by lack of fuel and ammunition and every attempted movement was paralyzed by enemy fighter-bombers. They attacked even individual motorcycle messengers and light cars. By mobilizing the very last reserve we succeeded in breaking up the enemy attack sufficiently to prevent a breakthrough toward Aachen before evening. Our strength in personnel and materiel, however, was grievously exhausted. The 105th Panzer Brigade, for example, now had only two tanks available for action. On the other hand, the enemy had also suffered heavy losses. Fifteen enemy tanks and an armored reconnaissance car had been destroyed.

 

Our thin line of security had disintegrated in several places. To consolidate, we had to fall back a little, increasing the possibilities of concentration and reorganization. The 275th Division was ordered to withdraw its left wing behind the Voer Brook, and the combat teams of the 49th Infantry and 116th Panzer Divisions were ordered to reorganize and commit their units in a new line of defense running along the Voer Brook toward Moresnet.  The 9th Panzer Division concentrated its units around Eynatten, and the 353d Division in its rear, manned the West Wall as a security force. However, the insufficiency of our forces, the continuing lack of ammunition and fuel, and the overwhelming superiority of the enemy in personnel and equipment continued to make the situation critical

 
It was clear that perhaps the next day there would be a fight for the West Wall positions.
 

12 SEPTEMBER

 

The night passed quietly. The withdrawals were carried out according to plan, without enemy interference. Up to non no special engagements developed, - a circumstance of special value to us, since the bulk of our troops marched into their positions during the forenoon.

 

That afternoon, however, elements of the U.S. First Army, consisting of an armored division, and armored brigade, and a infantry division, attacked in a northerly and northeasterly direction along the whole LXXXI Corps front and, in spite of stubborn defense and local counterattacks, pierced our line of defense in several places. In the 275th Division sector, enemy forces from the area north of Vise penetrated as far as Breust, via Mouland - Eysden, and as far as Mheer, via Fouron le Comte. Schilberg was defended successfully. Strong enemy armored forces penetrated the security line of the task force of the 49th Division as far as Slenaken and, east of Remersdael, to Epen. In the 116th Panzer Division sector the enemy's advanced elements entered the Aachen municipal forest north of Hauset. In an engagement with Kampfgruppe Mueller they carried Eynatten and Raeren. In the LXXIV Corps sector, enemy armored reconnaissance cars reached the West Wall's "dragon teeth" north of Roetgen.

 

Our defense was paralyzed by the lack of antitank close combat weapons and antitank mines. By nightfall, the location of our front line was no longer clear to corps headquarters. Its disintegration at several points made the situation very serious indeed. In fact, the next day was sure to bring the struggle for the West Wall, to the southern sector.

 

We had no illusions whatever about the condition of the West Wall. But its "dragon teeth" and permanent fortifications, visible from a distance, might arouse the enemy's respect and make them cautious. And perhaps their cautious approach would allow our exhausted forces, which this fateful day had thrown into confusion, breathing-time in which to reorganize and organize a new defense system. These serious questions, and the anxiety resulting there from, absorbed the attention of every commander at the close of this fateful day.

 

FIGHT FOR WEST WALL AND AACHEN
 ( 13 - 21 September 1944 )

 

Before continuing the survey of events I would like to describe briefly the situation on the West Wall and at Aachen. At the beginning of August Hitler had ordered the repair and reorganization of the West Wall for defense. Our attempt to stop the enemy's advance at the Meuse River and on the "inverted" Maginot Line until the reorganization was completed had failed. So when our exhausted and battle-weary forces finally reached the West Wall they found only antiquated and neglected fortifications. The West Wall had been looted during the hasty withdrawal of administrative troops from the zone of communications. Many concrete pill boxes were filled with water, devoid of equipment, others were locked and the keys were missing. In addition, a great deal of the ventilation and signal communications systems were not in working condition. The field of fire was obstructed by vegetation; wire entanglements had been removed and taken for the defense of the Atlantic Wall; firing slits were clogged with leaves and dirt. The concrete pill boxes for antitank guns, built in 1939, were adapted to 3.7 caliber guns only, and were now obsolete. The type 42 machine guns, with their rapid-cycle rate of fire, could not operate in the available machine-gun pill boxes and therefore had to be used in positions in the open.

 

Responsibility for the reorganization of the West Wall and for the installing of troops in it was that of the Inspectorate of Fortifications West and the commandants of the fortified sectors. The Aachen sector was the responsibility of Sector Commandant Düren. The fortress engineer administrative agencies had not yet become used to their new job and, in addition, suffered from lack of personnel. The experienced fortification officials had become suspicious and resentful of the disorderly conduct of the administrative troops who, at the time of their hasty withdrawal, had not only billeted themselves, without authorization, in the permanent fortifications but had destroyed or stolen much equipment. Therefore when our troops showed up, they were often refused the keys to the larger installations. 

 

For every corps sector a division staff had been sent ahead to make arrangements for the actual transfer and installation of the troops. This mission was carried out for LXXXI Corps by the 353d Division's staff, as before stated. But when events developed much more rapidly than had been expected, the 353d Division was not able to do very much. The result was that the forces were not given basic information until their actual arrival at the West Wall and moreover, this information was in most cases incomplete. In addition, when the rest of the troops withdrew to the fortifications during the fighting, the appropriate information was not passed on to them. The number of maps, especially for the artillery, was insufficient. Except for a few machine guns these was no permanently-installed armament in the West Wall. There was also great lack of ammunition stores, and mines. Data on the technical details of demolition arrived too late, or not at all. Sections of the technical data regarding the cable net in the fortified areas were either incomplete or issued too late. Moreover, cables and permanently installed signal equipment had deteriorated so much from moisture they were useless.

 

The troops, upon arrival immediately started to work and they brought about a change in an astonishingly short time. However, in spite of energetic efforts, there was no remedy for the fact that the entire West wall arrangement was not suited to modern battle conditions - especially since barbed wire, entrenching tools, mines, concrete and, in short, the most basic materials for building modern field fortifications, were lacking. And all transportation of supplies was paralyzed by the enemy's absolute superiority in the air.

 

A Colonel von Osterroth had been appointed combat commandant at Aachen. With foresight and energy he had done everything possible, within the limitations of personnel and materiel. The Aachen sector was manned as follows:

 
North of Aachen, elements from the 176th Replacement Training Division;
 

In the adjacent sector from Laurensberg south to the Maastricht highway (inclusive), one fortress machine gun battalion organized by the Tenth Military District;

 
In the forest southwest and south of Aachen, two replacement training infantry battalions;
 
Some antiaircraft units, partly for antitank use and partly in lieu of artillery.
 

These units, composed of experienced but convalescent front-line soldiers and badly trained replacements of every conceivable age had been hastily thrown together. They were poorly armed. The replacement training battalions had only a few heavy infantry weapons.

 

On 20 August Hitler had drafted the local population Under Party supervision they were put to constructing trenches, antitank ditches, and so on. They worked with great eagerness. But the members of the Party acted with absolute independence and upon our arrival resisted teeth and nail, any military interference in the planning and construction of the fortifications. Therefore, a lot of absurdities were produced and many installations were built which could never be used or which, at the most, were valuable only as dummies.

 

The Party agents assumed a most unfriendly attitude toward the military. When our forces arrived at the West so unexpectedly, Gauleiter Grohe of Köln - Aachen deliberately circulated the rumor, originated by Ley, that the sad military situation was due to sabotage by the generals. Up to the very last minute the Party tried to deceive the population regarding the seriousness of the situation. When the battle for the West Wall began, no preparations had been made for the evacuation of the city of Aachen and the other towns along the Wall. Evacuation was begun only after corps headquarters had pressed the matter strongly. Then suddenly, during the night of 12-13 September, following exaggerated rumors about a penetration of enemy tanks into the West Wall area, the Party initiated a headlong evacuation and every Party agency, every member of the civil administration, and the entire police force abandoned the city, with the alleged purpose of directing the evacuation from outside. All of this made military command most difficult and in several cases it led to serious conflicts between the military command and Party. It eventually led to me being relived from command on 21 September.

 

It has seemed necessary to describe all these circumstances in order to show the difficulties our forces had to face in the Aachen area. Added to a paralyzing enemy superiority in the air, a crushing enemy superiority in tanks, artillery, and ammunition there was constant trouble, in matters both great and small, with narrow-minded, spiteful, and pompous Party officials.

 

13 SEPTEMBER

 

Our anticipation that the battle for the West Wall proper would begin on this date proved fully justified. In the morning it was reported that the enemy, driving before them our forces withdrawing along the Hergenrath, Aachen, and Eupen Highways, and beached the West Wall position around Aachen with tanks and infantry had taken pill box 161, 2 kilometer north of Hauset. The combat commandant of Aachen had immediately launched a counterattack. The breach had been contained, but for the time being pill box 161 remained in enemy hands.

 

By evening, reinforced with assault guns, our forces succeeded in mopping up the entire breach. Along the remaining front of the LXXXI Corps, our task forces, which had been penetrated at several points on 12 September, had carried out a successful night withdrawal and now manned a line of security, south of the Maastricht - Aachen highway, as follows:

 

275th Division's Kampfgruppe at the Maastricht - Aachen highway; right wing at the road running south from Heer, left wing at Margraten  (exclusive).

 
49th Division's Kampfgruppe at the West Wall
 

353d Division's Kampfgruppe together with the combat commandant of Aachen and the troops employed in the West Wall, at the Eynatten - Forstbach road.

 

9th Panzer Division's Kampfgruppe at the West Wall as far as the left sector boundary along the southern border of Roetgen toward Mambach - Hetzingen.

 

The 353d Division was moved to Vicht and ordered to man the Oberforstbach - Roetgen sector.  With the replacement training battalion of the 536th Replacement Training Division, under the staff of the 453d Replacement Training Regiment, commanded by Colonel Feind its was to prepare for defense.

 

It was corps' intention to improve and reinforce, with all means available, the second line of the West Wall in the southern part of the sector where the next main enemy assault was expected. For this reason a regional defense training battalion which was to come from Frankfurt am Main and another regional defense unit were assigned and subordinated to the 353d Division.

 

In view of the obstructions placed in front of the West Wall, the 116th Panzer Division was ordered to disengage itself from the enemy and to assemble in an area around Würselen, northeast of Aachen as a corps reserve. When the advance elements of the division reached the northeastern outskirts of the city, they found that its inhabitants had collected here awaiting evacuation although, as stated before, all the Party agencies had left. To clear the streets for the use of his troops the commanding General of the Division, Generalleutnant Count von Schwerin, ordered the excited crowds to return to their homes. This order was seized upon by the arty members, when they returned later, as an excuse for their failure. They claimed that their authorized and organized evacuation of the city had been  disrupted and prevented by General Schwerin's interference. This disagreement, which led to repeated and heated discussions and finally to my own and General Schwerin's relief from command, is mentioned here because it throws light upon a characteristic situation.

 

Our forces were still organizing a new line of security when superior enemy infantry forces and about two armored divisions of the U.S. First Army launched an attack in a northerly and northeasterly direction. The 275th Division was pushed back behind the Valkenburg defile, and while some of its elements held a bridgehead of sort in the line Amby - Heer east of Maastricht, it succeeded in organizing a new defense, in prepared field fortifications, on the line Meerssen - Valkenburg - Oud Valkenburg - Wittem. But that evening a new heavy enemy attack on Maastricht from the south and southeast flattened out the bridgehead, and some 15 enemy tanks infiltrated into the southern environs of Maastricht.

 

In the 49th Division sector the enemy advanced to the area northwest of Gulpen. By committing our last reserves, we succeeded in barely neutralizing this pocket, during the evening. Five enemy tanks were destroyed.

 

West of Aachen an enemy penetration was wiped out in an immediate counterattack by elements of the 116th Panzer Division. During the evening the gap in the neighborhood of Hauset was closed.

 

While fighting was going on in the areas mentioned above, the enemy broke through the West Wall, an a broad front, north of Roetgen, and their tanks advanced on both sides of Walheim and via Rott. Quick concentration of isolated reserve units succeeded in stopping the enemy on the lie Kornelimünster - Hahn - Mulartshuette. Four enemy tanks were destroyed in close combat. The 116th Panzer Division was moved into an assembly area behind the breach and ordered to clear the West Wall by counterattacking.

 

At the close of the day the LXXXI Corps' front showed several more or less pronounced indentures. Nevertheless a decisive enemy penetration through the West Wall or to the north had been prevented.

 

14 SEPTEMBER

 

During the night of 13 - 14 September the enemy in an enveloping attack captured, with their main effort from the south and southeast, Maastricht.

 

Contact with the 176th Division, on the left wing of the First Parachute Army, was now established 1 kilometer north of Bunde. The 275th and 49th Infantry Divisions manned the fortified positions Meerssen - Valkenburg - Orsbach, where contact was established with the West Wall, manned by troops from Aachen combat command. In neither of these sectors was there much enemy action during 14 September. The two divisions were therefore able to strengthen their defense preparations, and on the 49th Division front an enemy attack developing toward Gulpen was repelled.

 

On the other hand , the assembly of strong enemy infantry and tank forces, in the morning hours, in the Schleckheim - Walheim area opposite the southern corps sector indicated an impending major attack. In this sector the enemy entered Kornelimünster at 1030 and Breinig at 1100. Thereafter enemy pressure was exerted along the entire southern front of LXXXI Corps as far as the area west of Aachen, apparently with the intention of enveloping Aachen from both sides.

 

In the fighting for the West Wall pill boxes, strong enemy detachments, with flame throwers and all kinds of close combat weapons, supported by tanks, advanced on the pill boxes and overpowered them one at a time. The West Wallwest of Aachen and deeper penetrations south and southeast. The weak forces of the 116th Panzer Division were not able to clear up the breach. The enemy carried Ober- and Niederforstbach, and their tanks and infantry reached Rother Erde and Eilendorf.

 

The 116th Panzer Division was ordered to deliver a counterattack and for the purpose, the entire sector commanded by the Aachen combat commander with every unit committed therein, was subordinated to the division.

 

The enemy attacked from Kornelimünster toward Busbach and Breinig and from Rott toward Zweifall, where they captured some pill boxes and continued their advance toward Mausbach. Elments of the 9th Panzer Division were committed in a counterattack.

 
In the evening the situation on the left wing was no longer clear.
 

15 SEPTEMBER

 

That morning, the major engagements south of Aachen flared up anew. An enemy thrust in the vicinity of Busbach was repelled. Counterattacks against the enemy, who had advanced via Breinig and Zweifall, were carried out successfully, and the main line of resistance northeast of Busbach and Zweifall, with all the pill boxes located therein, was reoccupied. In the area west and south of Aachen the main line of resistance now ran: Vaals, south of Burtscheid - Eilendorf - Busbach, east of Rott - east of Lammersdorf.

 

During the afternoon the enemy made a penetration at Valkenburg. They crossed the brook at several places and major artillery and fighter-bomber activity were reported south of Gulpen. Here an enemy attack, delivered at 1800 in the direction of Schin op Geul, was repelled.

 

It was now our impression that the enemy was preparing a new attack in the northern corps sector.

 

Southeast of Aachen, after artillery preparation, the enemy attacked, in an easterly direction via Eilendorf on Stolberg. The 116th Panzer Division was committed for a counterstroke, which drove the enemy back. South of Busbach the enemy broke through the main line of resistance and the West Wall's second line, southeast of Stolberg, in the direction of Mausbach. The 9th Panzer Division launched a counterattack and stopped the enemy in the vicinity of Mausbach. During these engagements LXXXI Corps destroyed 24 tanks and several thousand armored reconnaissance cars.

 

During this critical situation south of Aachen the reorganized 12th Division was assigned and subordinated to LXXXI Corps - the first fresh, intact, and full-equipped division corps had had for a long time. It was intended that the new division should fill the gap between Stolberg and Zweifal. In addition, the first echelons of the 27th Fusilier Regiment was expected at Jülich and Düren on the morning of 16 September. Bad weather favored these units' detraining and transportation. Every available bus from the postal service and mines was requisitioned and every available truck used to speed their arrival. Thus as the shipment arrived they were moved toward Verlautenheide were of decisive importance to the defense of the Aachen - Stolberg gap and had to be held at all costs.

 
The corps command post was moved to Pattern.
 

The 9th Panzer Division was reinforced with 15 newly arrived tanks. Because a complete view of the terrain was difficult and telephone equipment was not available, this division's 15 kilometer sector had been found to be too wide. Therefore the southern half of the sector, with all troops committed therein, was subordinated to the 353d Division.

 

16 SEPTEMBER

 

Beginning in the early morning hours, heavy enemy artillery fire was directed on the entire LXXXI Corps sector. The 9th Panzer Division reported the assembly of about 50 enemy tanks and strong infantry forces at Mausbach.

 

As expected, the enemy launched a major attack that morning. In the 275th Infantry Division sector 25 enemy tanks entered Valkenburg, and a counterattack by that division failed, although an enemy battalion attacking Schin op Geul was repelled. An enemy attack, with 24 tanks, on Gulpen, drove the 49th Division back on Voerendaal and Ubachsberg. A counterattack, supported by the antitank battalion of the 10th SS Panzer Division, stopped these forces, but they retained Trintelen, south of Ubachsberg. An enemy attack on Eis was repelled, but an enemy regiment pushed through, with tanks, from the Mechelen area, via Nijswiller toward Bocholzerheide.

 

East of Aachen, an enemy attack reached Verlautenheide and Atsch, northwest of Stolberg. But here the 27th Fusilier Regiment from the 12th Division had just come up. This regiment was committed immediately in a counterattack from the Weiden - Eschweiler area. It drove the enemy back, retook and cleared Verlautenheide and Atsch, reached the West Wall line on both sides of Muensterberg, and established contact with elements of the 9th Panzer Division holding the group of pill boxes in the southern environs of Stolberg. The employment of these fresh troops greatly lifted the morale of both the population and the battle-weary units and closed a dangerous gap in the southern sector.

 

That evening, another enemy attack in the vicinity of Mausbach broke through the thin line of the 9th Panzer Division and reached Gressenich and Schevenhuette. The 12th Division was ordered to take over the 9th Panzer Division sector, and the remnants of the 9th Panzer Division combat team were subordinated to the 12th Division.

 

The right sector boundary of LXXXI Corps from Meerssen, west via Sittard was now shifted slightly, to extend from Meerssen via Gangelt to Birgden.

 

17 SEPTEMBER

 

Beginning early in the morning, there was heavy enemy artillery fire and much artillery air reconnaissance all along the LXXXI Corps sector. Nevertheless, contrary to our expectation, the enemy attack on the right sector, with infantry and tanks, did not develop until the afternoon. Its main effort was directed against Meerssen, on the right army boundary, and there a German battalion whose commanding officer was killed in action was overrun and suffered heavy casualties.

 

After a while the attack extended along the whole front. By evening the remnants of the 275th Division were driven back on the line Schimmert - Klimmen. In the 49th Division sector the enemy reached Heerlen. The 116th Panzer Division repelled the enemy south of Steinebrueck and Burtscheid. Heavy fighting developed in the 12th Division sector.

 

In the meantime this division had brought up two more regiments. The 27th Fusilier Regiment strengthened its position adjacent to the 116th Panzer Division, in the vicinity of Eilendorf and southwest of Verlautenheide, and extended their main line of resistance to the West Wall east of Stolberg. The newly-arrived 89th Grenadier Regiment was committed to attack Werth via Hastenrath - Scherpenseel, and the 48th Grenadiers was to attack Mausbach and Fleuth via Gressenich, with the mission of taking the Stolberg - Vicht road.

 

The 27th Fusiliers mopped up the West Wall and advanced into the southern environs of Stolberg, repelling at the same time minor attacks, in the vicinity of Verlautenheide. The 89th Grenadiers took Werth, Weissenberg, and the Diepenlinchen slopes, but suffered heavy casualties. The 48th Grenadries took Gressenich and delivered a surprise attack north of Mausbach, into the flank on an American attack directed from Mausbach, against the 89th Grenadiers, toward Diepenlinchen. They captured an American colonel and 200 men and took Mausbach.

 

These successful attacks almost closed the gap in the southern sector of LXXXI Corps. On the other hand, our reconnaissance reported strong enemy forces in Schevenhuette. Because enemy counterattacks were expected on the following day, the 12th Infantry Division was ordered to hold and strengthen the line reached and to drive the enemy from Schevenhuette during the coming night.

 

At 2300, two enemy battalions, supported by 20 tanks, launched a counterattack west of Mausbach and recaptured some of the West Wall pill boxes, 1 kilometer southwest of Stolberg. The 12th Division was ordered to mop up this pocket.

 

In the right corps sector the fragments of the 275th and 49th Infantry Divisions were withdrawn to the line Brunssum - Nieuwenhagen - Kerkrade - West Wall. The 183d Volks Grenadier Division was assigned to Corps in support of the right wing. It was to assemble around Geilenkirchen and to be committed to the right wing during the night of 19 - 20 September.

 

18 SEPTEMBER

 

That morning the enemy continued to attack. At noon attack on Brunssum failed, but in the afternoon the remnants of the 275th Division were driven out of the area, and the line of security was penetrated in the 49th Division sector, south of Nieuwenhagen. A pocket northeast of Terwinselen was cleared in a counterattack by an armored force from the 10th SS Panzer Division. An attack on Kerkrade was repulsed.

 

In the Aachen sector the 116th Panzer Division repelled thrusts on the hill north of Vaals, on Vaalserquartier, and west of Eilendorf. The U.S. 1st and 9th Infantry Divisions and the 3rd Armored Division counterattacked in the 12th Division sector. Their attacks were directed against Stolberg. The attacks on Verlautenheide were repelled. The enemy gained some ground in Stolberg, capturing pill boxes and houses in the southern part of the town. Attacks in the direction of Donnerberg were repulsed. In the center, attacks on Diepenlinchen were especially fierce, and the town was lost by noon.

 
During the evening, attacks of Hill 291, north of Weissenberg, miscarried, with heavy enemy casualties.
 

Our attack on Schevenhuette, which had been ordered for that night, was launched at dawn, just when enemy relieving parties were moving into position. There was fierce house-to-house fighting throughout the town. Two companies from the 2d Battalion, 48th Grenadiers, took it but were encircled by enemy counterattacks. After suffering grievous casualties the grenadiers hewed their way back to our lines that evening, and Schevenhuette was again lost.

 

In spite of minor loss of ground, 18 September a whole was a day of successful defense. Nowhere, during the fierce fighting, had the enemy achieved a decisive breakthrough. And, as the fusilier and the engineer battalion from the 12th Division had arrived, fresh reserves were again at the disposal of the exhausted division. Corps was therefore able at last to pull out for reorganization units of the 9th Panzer Division and the 105th Panzer Brigade, with the exception of 5 tanks which remained with the 12th Division.

 

That evening, by the end of the fighting, the front line extended: Verlautenheide south - Foersterei and Gut Schwarzenbruch - Schneidermuehle - Buschmuehle, west of Muensterbusch - Stolberg center - Niederhof - Hill 293 - Mausbach north - Krewinkel - edge of forest south of Buschhausen - south of Schevenhuette, where there was contact with the 353d Division.  Because of the obscure situation on corps right wing, the 183d Volks Grenadier Division, 14 trains of which had arrived, manned the West Wall from Birgden, 8 kilometers northwest of Geilenkirchen, to Geilenkirchen (inclusive).

 
The corps headquarters command post was moved from Pattern to Neiderzier, 8 kilometers north of Düren.
 

19 SEPTEMBER

 

By morning the remnants of the 275th Division were along the southwestern edge of the forest west of Geilenkirchen. The motorized battalion Riedel was southwest of Waubach.

 

That afternoon the enemy drove back a Luftwaffen battalion assigned to the 275th Division and broke into the forest. The division commander by his personal efforts, succeeded in establishing a new line of security on the western border and on both sides of Teveren, with elements of his division. We no longer had contact with the forces adjacent on our right. An attack by the 183d Volks Grenadier Division, launched from Geilenkirchen westward with a task force of two battalions, the 902d Assault Gun Brigade, and a antitank company, was intended to close the gap and establish contact with the adjacent sector, but it was halted by an enemy armored counterattack via Gangelt. Our casualties were heavy and the 902d Assault Gun Brigade lost 7 assault guns.

 
An enemy armored attack east of Eygelshoven was repelled by the 49th Division.
 

The 116th Panzer Division sector was quiet, except for some heavy artillery fire. The Commanding Officer, General Graf von Schwerin, was relieved and replaced by Maj.General von Waldenburg.

 

The enemy did not attack in the 12th Division sector in the morning, in the same strength as on the day before. Minor scouting raids on Verlautenheide were repulsed. That afternoon, however, after heavy drum-fire and dense smoke screening, enemy infantry and tanks attacked northward from the areas west of Stolberg and west of Mausbach. they effected minor penetrations in the western and northeastern sections of Stolberg, but these were mopped up by counterattacks. Some pill boxes on the Hammerberg, east of Stolberg, were recaptured.

 

we were under the impression that after the fierce fighting of the previous day the enemy, as well as our forces, needed some respite. judging from prisoners' statements, however, we expected new attacks, with Jülich and Aachen as objectives. The 275th Division, now dwindled to 400 men including all ranks, was ordered to disengage itself from the enemy, withdraw via Geilenkirchen, and move into an assembly area as an army contact reserve behind the 183d Volks Grenadier Division, and the latter division was ordered to establish contact with the forces on our right by attacking in a northwesterly direction.

 

20 SEPTEMBER

 

While enemy artillery laid harassing fire on the entire LXXXI Corps sector, the 183d Volks Grenadier Division reached Waldenrath and Birgden and established contact with the 176th Division on its right. It was ordered to continue the attack toward Gangelt and set up a defense front on the line Gangelt - Geilenkirchen. When the enemy attacked, with armor, from the Gangelt area, toward Geilenkirchen and farther north, and entered the forest south of Waldenrath, their attack was stopped at Beuchte and 7 enemy tanks were destroyed. In the evening, after this engagement, the 183d Volks Grenadier Division held the line Waldenrath - Bauchem, western border of Geilenkirchen - West Wall.

 

South of Aachen the enemy made only minor attacks, chiefly in company strength. The American attack was apparently slowing up.

 

A special characteristic of this day's fighting was that for the first time every enemy thrust had air support. Lightings ( ? ), in flights of three, dropped bombs on gun positions, and fighter-bombers supported the ground forces with fire from aircraft weapons.

 

The main enemy effort was directed against Stolberg. In the fighting along the main street some houses were lost and several enemy tanks were destroyed by bazookas.

 

That afternoon after artillery preparation, an enemy attack on Hill 283 and toward Werth, was repulsed.

 

A German combat patrol took some prisoners at Mausbach.

 

21 SEPTEMBER

 

On this day, also the enemy made only minor assaults, in company strength. The heaviest pressure was in the neighborhood of Stolberg, where an enemy attack was repelled at 0800. Another attack west of Werth was repelled at 1000 and 7 enemy tanks were destroyed. In addition, enemy tank assemblies near Niederheide and columns of enemy tanks and trucks on the Sussebach - Stolberg road were routed by concentrated artillery fire. On the right wing of the Corps the 183d Volks Grenadier Division repelled several infantry and armored scouting raids.

 

Up to this time every enemy attempt to break through south of Aachen and on the right wing of the LXXXI Corps had failed. Moreover, corps had strengthened the defense by committing two fresh divisions, furnishing replacements, arms, and ammunition, and by improving the fortifications. It had even succeeded in assembling mobile reserve that enabled it to await future attacks with greater equanimity.

 

Since nothing of special importance happened during the next few days, 21 September, 1944 may justly be considered the final day of the first Battle of Aachen.

 

Because of the conflict with Party agencies mentioned earlier, I was relieved on this day and replaced by General der Infanterie Köchling

 

APPRECIATION

 
Our Troops

In Section 1, I described the condition and situation of the German troops when I took over command of LXXXI Corps.

 

During the three weeks of my command we succeeded, in spite of heavy fighting and daily recurring crises, in filling out the skeleton command to such an extent that efficient units were organized with surprising rapidity. Because of the fighting spirit of all ranks, willing to sacrifice everything in their country's defense, these units, notwithstanding their motley nature with respect to ages, equipment, battle experience, and training, showed daily improvement of morale and combat technique. Indeed, even during the most serious crises every command, from corps to battalions, worked for the improvement of personnel and materiel replacements. Everywhere the most astonishing shrewdness and organizational skill manifested itself. The results, achieved in spite of all difficulties, will always be recognized by experts as enormous.

 

Again and again, however, difficulties encountered made our situation appear to be past all hope. The almost unrestricted air superiority of the enemy paralyzed all our movements by day. The Rhine River bridges were so patrolled by enemy aircraft that scarcely any transports or supplies crossed unscathed, any many trains of fuel and ammunition were destroyed. Every tank that showed itself during the day was attacked immediately by from 3 to 5 fighter-bombers. Often, therefore, we did not dare to commit the few tanks or assault guns available, although the situation would have made their employment advisable. Commanders visiting their troops in small Volkswagen, to bring their personal influence to bear at critical points, could only run from one hedge to another. Even then they were either put out of action by fighter bombers or forced under cover for such long periods that they lost much valuable time and often missed decisive moments.

 
The superiority of enemy artillery was another disadvantage factor. This disparity was increased by the lack of ammunition which kept us from using, to the full the few guns we had remaining. Corps often had to take ammunition arbitrarily away from divisions on which enemy pressure had eased and shift it to the point of main effort. 
 

The enemy also had tenfold superiority in tanks. Our few were employed continuously and had to be moved by night. The crews, therefore, were often completely exhausted and the tanks did not receive maintenance and service. Our few tanks - and assault - gun units disintegrated at a surprisingly rapid rate.

 

Lack of spare parts and the non-arrival of fuel, often at the most critical moments, bogged down our activities and time and again led to frightful crises. On 10 September, for example, when the commanding officer of the newly-subordinated 9th Panzer Division reported at Corps headquarters, he had been able to scrape up just enough fuel for his Volkswagen. Corps had to issue him more, to enable him to return to his troops. Later, when a fuel supply train had been located after hours of telephoning, and the quartermaster had driven to the train, in person, to assure the refueling of the division, the train was set afire by enemy fighter-bombers just as the gasoline and lubricant supply columns had drawn alongside. It was hours before the needed fuel could be obtained elsewhere.

 

The number of enemy infantry units was only a third greater than ours; but among all the units subordinated to LXXXI Corps only the 12th Division and the 183d Volks Grenadier Division, which arrived toward the end of the battle, could be called normal fully-equipped divisions. as stated earlier, every other task force was made up of motley units badly equipped, scantily armed, and often consisting of men who straggled in during combat.

 

The large number of fortress-, alarm-, security-, air force-, and navy battalions that arrived from time to time as replacements were organized principally from older-age groups who had only served in the communications zone and therefore had no combat experience whatever. Their armament was scanty and heterogeneous. They lacked, above all, machine guns and mortars. Moreover, the rank and file of the older-age groups were untrained in the operation of mortars. And while the storm-troopers supervising civilian field fortification workers were loafing about with new rifles, combat replacements from the zone of the interior sometimes arrived without rifles.

 

For the most part, the battalions organized in haste had no field kitchens, transports, or horses. Food supply and the transport of arms and ammunition during withdrawals were therefore greatly hampered. Often, ad especially after heavy casualties, very valuable equipment and armament, which could not be replaced because of the general deficiencies and supply difficulties were lost.

 

Replacements were entirely insufficient. They did not total a twelfth part of the casualties. Therefore efficient divisions, who had begun at war strength, lost combat effectiveness at a surprisingly rapid rate.

 

The troops themselves were completely worn out. For the most part the bulk of them, consisting of fragments of combat veteran divisions, had been fighting continuously since the enemy landings. They could not be allowed to rest because of the units' diminishing strength and the continuous withdrawals. Their socks and boots were in rage. Tired and forlorn, they literally dragged themselves along. Nevertheless they were ready, again and again, as far as their failing strength permitted, to heed the call of duty with eager loyalty. In spite of reverses, the fine relationship between officers and men of all grades held, in unfailing unity, during every action.

 

I think of my loyal and gallant officers and men with gratitude and pride. Some future time, less filled with hatred, will recognize the accomplishments of the German people in this war into which they were hurled against their will by a criminal government, after the terrible war aims of our enemy become clear.

 

I have not dwelt in detail upon the plans and orders of LXXXI Corps headquarters but have limited myself to describing the general course of events in outline, from memory. This is all that is possible in the light of imperfect maps and data, and after the loss of my notes and the sore trails that have overtaken me.

 

At the outset, LXXXI Corps' only mission was to organize some effective units and to establish contact with the adjacent forces on its right. Prevention of the encirclement of the Fifteenth Army, staggered father ahead on the north, was of vital importance. In spite of insufficient means, this mission was accomplished.

 

During the fighting on the Meuse River and west of the West Wall, the general idea was to gain time for preparing the antiquated and neglected West Wall for defense according to modern principles.  Because of the pressure of a superior enemy and the insufficiency of our own forces, this mission was not accomplished. To make the West Wall ready for decisive defense, we would have had to hold the enemy at the Meuse for at least four weeks longer.

 

The final mission - to hold he West Wall - was accomplished only imperfectly, because of the inadequacy of our forces and means of combat. Even at the end of the first Battle of Aachen, the deep pocket in the Stolberg area remained.

 

On the other hand, we succeeded in preventing the decisive breakthrough planned by the enemy south of Aachen, aimed at the Ruhr industrial area. And in spite of all the difficulties encountered, we did strengthen the defensive power of corps so much that successful defense against future attacks could be hoped for.

 

No outstanding decisions had to be made during the period of my command since, unfortunately, the enemy dictated the action. The principal activity at corps headquarters consisted of continually inventing substitutes to frustrate the enemy's designs with our weak forces and inadequate means; strengthening our units' defensive power through untiring improvisation and reorganization; and creating new units, to oppose the enemy.

 

Corps headquarters was supported in these tasks by the higher commands. All of them worked with the same energy, assigning new units, replacing arms and equipment as far as we could afford. Thus it came about that LXXXI Corps, completely without troops at the outset, was able to commit, at the Meuse River, units made up out of fragments - although without reserves - and at the beginning of the battle for the West Wall even had some reserves at its disposal.

 
The enemy

The enemy fought with chivalrous fairness. Their crushing superiority in aircraft, tanks, other armament, ammunition, and every other combat tool has been described.

 

According to German combat theory they did not utilize their superiority fully. According to the German theory the victor should pursue defeated enemy ruthlessly, to "the last gasp of men and horses", so that they cannot get any rest while in retreat or an opportunity to concentrate for a renewed defense. Such a method saves not only time but, above all, lives. This pursuit should be carried out not only by frontal pressure but by penetration and encircling maneuvers. In such a manner we often trapped and annihilated enormous enemy forces with inferior forces.

 

According to the German theory the enemy's operations were conducted far too cautiously. They seemed to intent upon their own security, even though our troops were so battered and weary that they could do nothing more.

 

The enemy's too methodical way of fighting was not adapted to the aforementioned pursuit theory. Time and again it enabled us to concentrate our battered and scattered units and to man new defense positions, so that time and again the enemy met renewed opposition. Thus they did not only lose much valuable time, but also far more lives than they would have lost through daring and ruthless pursuit.

 

Moreover, every day following the first of September their wary method of fighting increased our fighting spirit, which had shown serious symptoms of disorganization and disintegration at the Seine and the Somme Rivers. Very soon, therefore, we again had, at our disposal, steady and disciplined units devoting themselves to their country's defense with combat tried loyalty.

 

In addition, the enemy played too often with open cards. Although we had almost no air reconnaissance we could often figure out their plans through their troop movements, assemblies, and increased radio traffic. We then were able to shift accordingly our point of main effort by moving our few reserves about regrouping our artillery, and increasing the supplies of ammunition at probable focuses of battle.

 
According to both German and Russian combat theory the enemy's tank units were too scattered and were frittered away.
 

According to my own view the enemy might have advanced to better advantage, with their powerful armored forces, via Liege, Aachen, and Köln, into the plains of Westphalia, regardless of the German armies of the west which, through lack of easy mobility, could only slowly withdraw. Such an advance would not only have paralyzed and disarmed all the German armies of the West by cutting off entirely heir supply of arms, ammunition, and other equipment, but the psychological effect would have unnerved the whole German people and brought about a speedy end to the war.

 
 
 

 

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