- Army Group Courland
Army Group Courland ( _de. Heeresgruppe Kurland) was a German Army Group on the Eastern Front which was created from remnants of the
Army Group North, isolated in the Courland peninsulaby the advancing Soviet Armyforces during the 1944 Baltic Offensiveof the Second World War. The army group remained isolated until the end of World War II in Europe. All units of the Army Group were ordered to surrender by the capitulated Wehrmachtcommand on 8 May 1945.
At the time agreed for all German armed forces to end hostilities (see the
German Instrument of Surrender, 1945), the Sixteenth and Eighteenth armies of Army Group Courland, commanded by General (of Infantry) Carl Hilpert, ended hostilities at 23:00 on 8 May 1945surrendering to Leonid Govorovcommander of the Leningrad Front. By the evening of 9 May 1945189,000 German troops, including 42 officers in the rank of general, in the Courland Pockethad surrendered. [http://eng.9may.ru/09.05.1945/eng_inform/m9004259 May 9th 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau)] part of the RIA Novosti[http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project] ]
The aggregation of troops that became named Army Group Courland was created when the Red Army reached the
Baltic Seanear the Memelriver on Tuesday, 10 October 1944.
As a result, what was then known as
Army Group Northwas cut off in Latviafrom the rest of the German Army, and was to stay cut off for the remainder of the war. Approximately 200,000 German troops in 26 divisions were in what was to become known as the Courland Pocket. Army Group Courland remained in existence until the end of the war in Europe.
Army Group Courland was created on
25 January 1945, when German dictator Adolf Hitlerrenamed Army Group North, Army Group Center, and Army Group A. Hitler's name changes meant that Army Group North became Army Group Courland ("Heeresgruppe Kurland"), Army Group Center became Army Group North ("Heeresgruppe Nord") and Army Group A became Army Group Center ("Heeresgruppe Mitte)".
Army Group Courland consisted of the
German Sixteenth Armyand the German Eighteenth Army. The two armies had been sent to Courlandpartly to protect training grounds for the remaining Nazi U-boatforces."World War II" - Willmott, H.P. et al, Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd, 2004]
Bypassed by the main Soviet thrusts, Army Group Courland remained relatively intact. Even towards the end of the war, the army was able to field between twenty-four to thirty-one divisions, with the exact number of divisions depending on how many of the associated or understrength divisions are counted. Even so, with its back to the
Baltic Sea, it also remained largely cut off from re-supply, and was unable to break out or evacuate.
Army Group Courland fought six major battles in the Courland Pocket between
15 October 1944, and 4 April 1945.Fact|date=April 2007 The dates for the six battles were as follows:
15 October 1944, to 22 October 1944
27 October 1944to 25 November 1944
23 December 1944to 31 December 1944
23 January 1945to 3 February 1945
12 February 1945to 19 February 1945
17 March 1945to 4 April 1945
7 May 1945, German Head of State("Staatsoberhaupt") and President (" Reichspräsident") Karl Dönitzordered Colonel-General Carl Hilpert, to surrender Army Group Courland. Hilpert was the army group's last commander-in-chief. [http://eng.9may.ru/eng_inform/m9004262 May 12nd, 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau Our Victory)] part of the RIA Novosti[http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project] notes that Hilpert was commander of the XXXVIII Corps, it explains why only 3 divisions surrenderd with him] Hilpert surrendered himself, his personal staff, and three divisions of the XXXVIII Corps to Marshal of the Soviet Union Leonid Govorov. Hilpert sent the following message to his troops: "To all ranks! Marshall Govorod (sic) has agreed to a cease-fire beginning at 14:00 hours on 8 May. Troops to be informed immediately. White flags to be displayed. Commander expects loyal implemenation of order, on which the fate of all Courland troops depends." [ Hans Dollinger "'The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan" -, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 290]
8 May, a General Rauser (Chief of Logistics of the Army Group) succeeded in obtaining better surrender terms from the Soviets. On 9 May, the Soviet commission in Peilei started to interrogate the captive staff of Army Group Courland. The Soviets began a general round-up of all remaining German troops in the Courland Pocket. ["The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan" - Hans Dollinger, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 278] By end of the May 11the troops of the Lenigrad Front had secured the Courland peninsula, reaching the coast of the Riga Bay and the Baltic Sea. [http://eng.9may.ru/09.05.1945/eng_inform/m9004261 May 11th, 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau Our Victory)] part of the RIA Novosti[http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project] ]
9 Mayto 12 May, 140,408 men and non-commissioned officers, 5,083 officers and 28 generals in the Courland Pocket, surrendered. The equipment captured in the same period consisted of 75 aircraft; 307 tanks and self-propelled guns; 1,427 guns; 557 mortars; 3,879 machineguns; 52,887 rifles and submachine-guns; 219 armored personnel carriers; 310 radio stations; 4,281 motor vehicles; 240 tractors, 3,442 carts loaded with military cargoes, 14,056 horses. [http://eng.9may.ru/eng_inform/m9004262 May 12nd, 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau Our Victory)] part of the RIA Novosti[http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project] ]
23 May, the Soviet round-up of the German troops in the Courland Pocket was completed. A total of about 180,000 German troops were taken into captivity. Captive German officers were turned over to the NKVD. The bulk of the captives were taken to camps in Valdai Hills. ["The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan" - Hans Dollinger, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047, Page 278]
After the surrender, some elements of Army Group Courland briefly attempted to reform itself as a
Freikorps. This was an act reminiscent of similar actions taken at the end of World War I, but atypical for the end of World War II. The formation of a Freikorpswas prevented by the Soviets, who were obviously unwilling to allow such an action by a beaten foe. In addition, the Soviets did not intend for Germans to remain settled in the Courlandarea after the war.
After the surrender, a number of German, Estonian and, Latvian soldiers evaded Soviet capture. Many of these ex-soldiers joined the
Forest Brothersresistance organization,Fact|date=February 2007 Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian nationalist partisans who waged guerrilla warfareagainst the Soviets to gain independence for the Soviet-occupied Baltic states.
15 Januaryto 27 January 1945- Commander-in-Chief Lothar Rendulic
27 Januaryto 10 March 1945- Commander-in-Chief Heinrich von Vietinghoff- Von Vietinghoff surrendered to the Allies in Italy. He was briefly imprisoned and was released in 1946. He died in 1952.
10 Marchto 25 March 1945- Commander-in-Chief Lothar Rendulic (again) - Rendulic surrendered to the Allies near Prague. He was tried, sentenced, and convicted of war crimes in 1948, serving ten years of a twenty year sentence. He was released from prison in 1958, and died in 1971.
25 Marchto 8 May 1945- Commander-in-Chief Carl Hilpert
enior officers at captulation
* General of Infantry
Carl Hilpert, Commander of Army Group Courland;
* Lieutenant-General Ferch, Chief of Staff of the German Army Group Courland;
* Major-General Rauser, Chief of Logistics of the Army Group Courland;
* Lieutenant-General Keler, chief of the veterinary service of the Army Group Courland;
* Lieutenant-General Volkamer, Commander of the Sixteenth Army;
* Lieutenant-General Ehrenfried Boege (Behe), Commander of the Eighteenth Army;
* Lieutenant-General Usinger, Commander of the I Army Corps;
* Lieutenant-General Gause, Commander of the II Army Corps;
* General of Artillery Tomaschny, Commander of the X Army Corps;
* Lieutenant-General Weber, Commander of the XVI Army Corps;
* General of Artillery Herzog, Commander of the XXXVIII Army Corps;
* Major-General Schultz, Commander of the 24th Infantry Division;
* Major-General Henze, Commander of the 30th Infantry Division;
* Lieutenant-General Benzeweni, Commander of the 81st Infantry Division;
* Lieutenant-General Strachwiz, Commander of the 87th Infantry Division;
* Major-General Schatz, Commander of the 122nd Infantry Division;
* Major-General Cheling, Commander of the 126th Infantry Division;
* Major-General Demme, Commander of the 132nd Infantry Division;
* Major-General Gise, Commander of the 205th Infantry Division;
* Major-General Bauer, Commander of the 207th Guard Division;
* Major-General Risse, Commander of the 225th Infantry Division;
* Major-General Hoeman, Commander of the 263rd Infantry Division;
* Major-General Ebert, Commander of the 300th Infantry Division;
* Lieutenant-General Mennel, Commander of the 329th Infantry Division;
* Lieutenant-General Neuman, Commander of the 563rd Infantry Division;
* Major-General Bart, Commander of a combat group of the 21st Airfield Division;
* Lieutenant-General Band, Commander of the Courland Fortified Area;
* Major-General Muller, commandant of the city of
Libava. [http://eng.9may.ru/09.05.1945/eng_inform/m9004260 May 10th, 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau Our Victory)] part of the RIA Novosti[http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project] ]
List of World War II military units of Germany
* [http://eng.9may.ru/09.05.1945/eng_inform/m9004259 May 09th 1945 (From the Soviet Information Bureau)] part of the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti [http://eng.9may.ru/eng_press/ 60 anniversary of surrender project]
* Dollinger, Hans. "The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan", Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 67-27047
* Willmott, H.P. et al. "World War II", Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd, 2004
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