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Nordwind Objective
 17 SS crest insignia Waffen 17th Panzer-Grenadier Division "Götz von Berlichingen."
In Hitler's speech to his ten division commanders of December 28, 1944, three days prior to their launch of  Operation Nordwind, he declared:

"This attack has a very clear objective, namely the destruction of the enemy forces. There is not a matter of prestige involved here.  It is a matter of destroying and exterminating the enemy forces wherever we find them.  The question of liberating all of Alsace at this time is not involved either.  That would be very nice, the impression on the German people would be immeasurable, the impression on the world decisive, terrific psychologically, the impression on the French people would be depressing.  But that is not important.  It is more important, as I said before, to destroy his manpower."

To Adolph Hitler, in 1945 Nazi Germany, his survival depended upon the annihilation of GI's and American Armies.  His objective:  Kill many Yanks and in doing so erode American belief in ultimate victory.  Then negotiate a separate peace, just as the Soviets had done (de facto) with Finland and Romania.

dead german soldiers mass snow france 1944 1945It was the Fuehrer's manpower that was seriously depleted in the Nordwind offensive.   The right German flank, the German XIII SS Corps, failed to break the 44th and 100th Division lines while suffering three thousand casualties in four days on the frozen farmlands in the Rimling vicinity. 

The German Corps XIII Commander General Max Simon noted regretfully in his diary after the doomed offensive that:

 "Once again the German soldier has shown he knows how to die for the Fuehrer." 

Source: "Policy Versus Strategy: The Defense of Strasbourg in Winter 1944-1945",  Franklin Louis Gurley, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), 510-514.


Nord crest 6th SS-Mountain Gebirges Waffen DivisionThe 6th SS-Mountain (
Gebirges) Division NORD was one of few remaining undefeated divisions in the German Wehrmacht.   Nord fought alongside the Finnish army in Karelia since the summer of 1941.  The division marched on foot from Finland and through the harsh artic of northern Norway after the Finnish and Soviet peace agreement of September 1944.  Without doubt, Nord was the most capable unit in the Nordwind battle order.   Battle-hardened, well equipped and trained for winter mountain combat in the Vosges, on New Year's Day 1945,  the case can be made that Nord was the finest division available to Germany period.  
NORD Store

insignia frundsburg 10 10th waffen ss panzer divisionAnother potent German division in the Nordwind order of battle was the vaunted 10th Waffen SS Panzer Division "Frundsburg".    With an inventory of over 90 tanks,  45 PZKW Mark VI "Tigers", another 45 PZKW Mark V "Panthers" and another six "Royal" or "King" Tigers, the division Frundsburg represented sizable and well equipped armored force.   Its panzer-grenadiers were fit, morale was high.   In and around the town of Haguenau, the U.S. 79th Infantry Division and "Frundsburg" slugged it out in the final desperate days of this the last German offensive of the war.   
Frundsburg Store

Nordwind Overview - 44th I.D. Sector

The German army struck in the closing hours of the 1944 with fanatical force.  The 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division spearheaded one attack group, its initial objective being the town of Rohrbach in the eastern Sarre Valley. It was supported by two other divisions, the 19th Infantry Division and the 36th Volks Grenadier Division on its right. The 44th Infantry Division of the American VX Corps deployed between Sarreguemines and Rimling bore the full impetus of the Nordwind right flank drive. In the space of a few hours the entire divisional front was engaged.

On the left flank between Sarreguernines and Polpers-viller the 114th Infantry Regiment with the aid of concentrated artillery fire smothered a determined enemy effort to exploit his Blies River bridgehead at the bend north of the Sarreguemines airport. In the center the enemy attempted three crossings southeast of Habkirchen without success, as the 324th Infantry Regiment held inviolate the line of the Blies River.  The enemy unleashed the full fury of his attack against the 71st Infantry Regiment which held a line extending from Bliesbruck eastward to Rimling. A five company assault north of Rimling curled about the right flank of the 2nd  Battalion forcing a withdrawal of about 1,000 yards. The 3rd Battalion of the 71st Infantry moved out to help restore the overrun positions. However, three companies of the enemy had driven through the 1st Battalion on the regimental left flank and had penetrated the Bliesbrucken woods 2,000 yards to the rear of the lines. The 3rd Battalion was diverted to meet this penetration and plunged into a pitched battle in the forest. Although assisted by a reserve battalion of the 324th Infantry, troops of the 71st Regiment failed to dislodge the enemy from his positions in the woods; but they contained his penetration and reformed the line along the southern edge of the forest.  Elements of the 2nd Battalion aided by a platoon of tanks restored "their original positions" by 0600 hours on 1 January only to be dislodged again at 0730 hours. A see-saw battle raged throughout the day. At nightfall the right flank of the battalion rested on Maronville farm, which was attacked and set afire in the middle of the night. This action necessitated an additional withdrawal to a north-south line one mile, west of Rimling. Here the 2nd Battalion covered the readjustment of the remainder of the regiment before being placed in reserve. After dislodging or destroying isolated enemy groups behind the lines, reorganized troops established a line which ran west-east just below the Bois de Blies Brucken.
colonial ercil d porter portland oregon 71st regiment 44th infantry division
At the eastern edge of the forest the line slanted southeast for over two miles to cover the northeastern approaches to Gros Rederching.On 3 January the line of the 71st Regiment was again assailed by enemy tanks and infantry. The 2nd Battalion of the 114th Regiment, now also attached to the 71st Infantry, helped the 3rd Battalion of the 253rd Infantry to stabilize the situation after the latter unit had been pushed back a few miles. Although the 71st Infantry had been able to weld its elements into a line capable of withstanding severe enemy attack, strong enemy groups appeared behind that line. Rederching.  After repelling an effort by the 2nd Battalion of the 71st Infantry to retake Gros Rederching the enemy withdrew. The right flank Sarre pincer of Operation Nordwind had failed in its mission.

source: "The Seventh United States Army Report of Operations", Vol. I and II, pages 559-579, Battery Press, 1988.
"Policy Versus Strategy: The Defense of Strasbourg in Winter 1944-1945",  Franklin Louis Gurley, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), 481-514.

 

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