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WSS-Alarm Battalion

 

The Alarm Regiment & The battle for Neuhammer


 

 
Neuhammer camp 1939.

February 4 1945: The sounds of battle are heard for the first time at Neuhammer camp and Waffen-Obergruppenfuhrer der SS Grassy order’s a defensive line around Neuhammer and place’s the most experienced troops (some equipped with panzerfaust’s) in a semi-circle between the Neuhammer camp and the Russians. The defensive line (parts of which are in wooded area's) lies on the banks on the Bober river. 10 lorries from Waffen Kraftfahr kompamie der SS 25 ferries men on a daily basis to the front line to replace men who had been at the front.

February 5 1945 To allow time for ,,Hunyadi" and ,,Hungaria" to withdraw so the 2 divisions can carry on equiping and building Waffen-Obergruppenfuhrer der SS Grassy order’s that the two divisions (25th and 26th) should form one corps. “Hunyadi” first chief of staff officer Waffen–Standartenfuhrer der SS Adam Podhradszky informs Waffen–Standartenfuhrer der SS Bela Peinlich (previously with SS 63 Waffen-grenadier battalion) to organise it. Peinlich was doubtful if this was possible considering the shortage of equipment. Eventually the best units from 25 SS division ,,Hunyadi” and 26 SS division ,,Hungaria” (mainly the 61 & 64 regiments (1)) forms the ,,Hungarian SS Alarm regiment”under the command of Standartenfuhrer Bela Peinlich. (2)
 

February 6 1945: The "Ungarisches Waffen Alarm Regiment der SS" comes into existance this numbers 2600 men with 2450 men in 4 battalions (apporoximately 600 per battalion)  and 150 men in the Headquarters Staff

Alarm Commander: Waffen-Standartenfuhrer der SS Bela Peinlich (25 SS ,,Hunyadi")

(Military operations) Chief Officer (Ib): Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Janos Zoltay (26 SS ,,Hungaria")

Second Staff Officer (IIA): Waffen-Obersturmfuhrer der SS Ulvetsky (??)
Regimental Staff :-
HQ Staff troops
Signals platoon
Motorcycle Messenger platoon
Field Police platoon
Staff Security platoon
Mortar platoon (armed with 6 81mm motors)
Medical platoon with field dressing station
 

SS I Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Erno Solti (25 SS ,,Hunyadi")

SS II Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Alajos Duska  (25 SS ,,Hunyadi")

SS III Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Geza Pataki  (26 SS ,,Hungaria")

SS IV Waffen – Alarm battalion: Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz  (26 SS ,,Hungaria")



                                                                                                                                     

                                                            

                                                  Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz

 

The 4 companies (the heavy weapons are shared equally) are allocated 2 000 rifles, 70 machine pistols, 4 heavy machine guns, 21 light machine guns, as well as approximately 50 panzerfausts and 500 - 1000 grenades and around 100 mortar shells. Each soldier is given approximately 200 rounds of ammunition.

I and II battalions are mostly from ,,Hunyadi” and III and IV are mostly from ,,Hungaria”

Due to the fact it is only a temporary unit the Alarm Regiment has no resupply capability. No field kitchens are available so all rations are issued cold. A small 13 man 4/5 truck supply column from ,,Hunyadi” (Waffen Versorgungs regiment der SS 25) is on hand for emergency purposes (this 12 man team is commanded by Waffen-Sturmbannfuhrer der SS Denes Exerde)

The battalions are not fully equipped and have only 3 days training at Neuhammer. They are regarded as being ready for holding the Russian advance. The Alarm Battalion is left behind as an insurance with sufficient food and ammunition to cover the withdrawal of the rest of the ,,Hunyadi” and ,,Hungaria” divisions as with the speed of the Russian advance it is decided to move the divisions

The Alarm formation is told that all Hungarian formations at Neuhammer are to be evacuated. The Alarm unit’s temporary commander is Waffen-Obergruppenfuhrer der SS Grassy and he give’s the order that within 2 hours the unit is to be ready to move out. Some of the troops move to the Strans camp complex because of this the ,,Hungaria” fire regiment commander Waffen–Scharfuhrer der SS Bizco is sent to Neuhammer even though it is being evacuated.

 

February 6 1945: The ,,Hunyadi” division make quarters in the area around Oldenburg and Kloppengurg. Waffen-Standartenfuhrer der SS Jeno Temesvary Galgoc takes over command of 61 regiment. The Hungarian divisions leave on time. Approximately 55 000 – 60 000 soldiers are to be evacuated from Neuhammer and Osszesen camps.

 

February 7 1945: The remaining units of the ,,Hunyadi” division move out of Neuhammer camp and move approximately 50 kilometres to the south to the Deutschgabel area in order to develop new barracks. It had been decided during the previous German-Hungarian meeting that 4 divisions were to be sent to the area so sufficient stores were brought in.

 

February 8 1945: The Alarm regiment gradually occupies a defensive line on the Strans part of the camp on the training centres eastern part, facing eastwards on the western bank of the River Bobo. I battalion takes up positions on the left wing in and around Oberleschant including the railway line. They have a front that stretches to south of the town of Buchwald. III battalion secure’s the right wing from Strans to the Wenigtreben \ Luisenthal area. In the north the Alarm regiment is joined for one week only by a German-Russian battle group which includes a group led by Andrej Andrejevics Vlaszov. Between I and III battalions is II battalion, which is the main defensive position, which goes from just south of Buchwald and centres mainly on the Strans training headquarters. IV battalion under Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz are still training at Neuhammer camp and are held in reserve there along with an Estonian kampfgruppe (3)(actually the SS 20 panzer grenadier regiment commanded by Waffen-Obersturmbannfuhrer der SS Emil Rehfeld) and also the 1 SS Hungarian Ski battalion kampfgruppe commanded by Waffen-Obersturmfuhrer der SS Gencsy . (4) Neither the Estonian nor Hungarian Ski kampfgruppe’s are under the command of Peinlich and this later cause’s problems.The Alarm regiment defends a front between Oberleschent and Wenigtreben of almost 12 kilometres. The regimental headquarters is located at Strans camp. From this headquarters telephone lines are laid to each of the frontline battalions.

 

 


February 9 1945: In the morning I battalion sends out hourly reconnaissance patrols to locate the Russian positions. At 1000 a platoon sized outpost from I battalion based around the village of Armadebrunn (approximately 9 kilometres east of the I battalion’s defensive line) reports sighting a Russian reconnaissance patrol approaching the village in strength, the outpost troops are ordered to fall back to Oberleschant on the West Bank of the river and after a short skirmish reach Oberleschant without casulaties. At around 11.00 Brigadefuhrer Berthold Maack and two other German officers arrive at Neuhammer camp by car. It is explained to Maack that the ,,Hungaria" division is about to leave due to the Russian advancing towards Neuhammer. Waffen-Hauptsturmführer János Zoltay lets Maack know that members of his division are now forming 2 battalions of the "Alarm battalion" that is now taking up its positions around Stranz and that he has held back 6 mortars and their crews which are still at the camp and about to leave for the front. After the meeting Zoltay leaves the abandoned Headquarters building to go to the "Alarm battalion" HQ while he is leaving he notices that the remaining Hungarian staff of around 80 men want to accompany him to the front. Zoltays has no idea where the "Alarm battalion" HQ is but eventually is informed that Grassy is at an old foresters house at Koberbrunn. He informs his driver to get the VW-schwimmwagen and after 30 minutes the driver returns with the car and they drive the 6km to the foresters house. The journey takes about 6 minutes. Just after arriving the house is targeted by the Russians and shells start falling around the house. The staff inside leave the house to find safer places to shelter and within 15 minutes the house takes 2 direct hits. The shelling lasts approximately 1 hour before moving to the Nuehammer/Stranz road. Zoltay and his driver then try to reach Stranz in the Schwimmwagen but due to the shelling it proves impossible and Zoltay continues on foot. He eventually reaches the Alarm HQ and is stopped by a Hungarian sentry. Zoltay does not know the password reply so is excorted to the HQ by the sentry where he meets the adjuntant Waffen-Obersturmfuhrer der SS Ulvetsky . Ulvetsky praises the sentry for his alertness.

While this is happening during the afternoon the complete Alarm regiment arrives to meet the advanced Russian formations. 1 battalion occupies an area close to Neuhammer near Oberleschent, which they think is the main Russian thrust as it was directly north of the highway but they fail to realise that the Russians are advancing from the south west from Buchwald and have set up a bridgehead on the western bank of the River Bober. Zoltay tries to get extra equipment for the Alarm Regiment from ,,Hunyadi” and ,,Hungaria” but fails.
(5) At 1200 hrs shells start landing on Strans camp and at 1500 hrs the Russians attack with an advance on the Oberleschent railway station which results in heavy close combat. I battalion knocks out 2 Russian tanks before finally giving up ground at around 1800hrs. During the night the Russians cross the river in force and set up a bridgehead.

 On the right wing of the Alarm regiment the soviets attack successfully and capture a bridge at Urbanstreben that had not been destroyed to allow troops on the eastern bank to withdraw.. III battalion is hit hard. The company on the far right flank is isolated around the village of Luisenthal. The Russians lauch an attack across the river with the aid of boats and create a bridgehead. In the afternoon about 150 men from the SS 20 Waffen Grenadier arrive at Neuhammer to help III battalion but they do not take part in any fighting. The Ski Alarm Company takes up positions to the south of the Breslau – Berlin autobahn near Gross-Goellmisch. A round mid-day the Schi Alarm battalion repulses a Russian attack. Around 14.00 hours the Alarm battalion takes up positions near to Nitschenk
Peinlich decides that a counter attack is needed to help relieve the presure on the Alarm Battalion. Eventually Rehfeld agrees to the attack. The Estonians are chosen to lead the attack mainly due to their equipment and armament (they are equipped with winter clothing).


February 10 1945: By 0530 hrs III battalion has suffered heavy losses and is trying to defend the area to the north of Buchwead. After calling for re-enforcement’s 3 Estonian companies are sent to the front (1 to help III battalion and 2 to help II battalion) At 06.00 the SS 20 Waffen-grenadier (Estonian) kampfgruppe at last advance to the II battalion’s frontline, which is in Strans. The Estonian kampfgruppe is 300 - 350 strong (each man as 2/3 grenades). They have to cross the long bridge, which crosses the river Bobo. 3 Hungarian SS combat engineers accompany the Estonian attack to help remove anti personal mines that had been laid by Hungarian pioneers earlier and help cut the barbed wire barriers. During the advance Peinlich and his staff climb onto the roof of a house in Strans and watch the attack. The removing of the mines and cutting of the wire takes 13 - 15 minutes and when completed a torch signal is used to start the attack. Around 100 soldiers take part in the 2nd wave. The advance starts without any artillery barrage. After an advance of 500 – 600 metres and the retaking of the villages of Kochnicht and Holgerei the advance is halted.


 

A tank company (consisting of 11 tanks including 2 Sherman's) is spotted by II battalion command post This was expected to be a German column that was rumoured to be retreating towards Strans however Peinlich and the observers soon realise that the columns are in fact Russian columns . The Russians with strong armour and infantry units attack on both sides of the highway, attacking both the Estonian Alarm regiment and the bridgehead and push the Estonia Kampfgruppe behind the Hungarian lines. The dead and most of the wounded are captured by the Russians. About half of the Estonian troops who arrive back at the Hungarian lines are wounded in some way. At about 0730 hrs the Russians open fire on Strans camp with katyusha rockets/ mortars and this slows down the movement of the wounded soldiers. The wounded are dragged on stretches back to the command post at Koberbrunn. It is a journey of 2km. Shortly the Russians attack III battalion on the right wing where Hungarian and Estonian soldiers are asked to holdout. Zoltay tries to contact III battalion by phone but is unable to get through so he sends out a messenger to try to reach III battalions HQ but it is unknown whether he makes it as he has not returned by 14.00. Ammunition runs low and the Hungarians resort to using Russian weapons and ammunition taken from dead bodies. By nightfall the Russians have completely surrounded the defensive positions of III battalion. III battalion breaks out of the encirclement suffering losses.. I Battalion by this time have taken heavy casualties. Its commander Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Solti and the whole battalion staff are killed in close combat.(6) By nightfall both I and III battalions withdraw under Russian pressure and eventually reform near the river Queis and their earlier positions are occupied by the Russians. Around Strans the flank of II battalion are unprotected and so Standartenfuehrer Peinlich orders the reserve IV battalion to be deployed

 

February 11 1945: It is reported to regimental headquarters that isolated pockets from III battalion are fighting down to the last bullet with the wounded prefering suicide to being captured At 0800 hrs Russian scout troops are reported west of regimental HQ. At the same time Strans camp comes under heavy bombardment. At 0840 IV battalion is alerted to be ready to move out. It is transported by lorry to Koberbrunn to be reorganised into operational formation. It has used its 3 days at Neuhammer well, with extra training and extra equipment such as new uniforms, Hungarian issue helmet netting and extra radios. IV battalion is split into 2 assault groups with a weak company of support troops (7). In the course of the day (around 1100 hrs) 4-5 lorries from the ,,Hunyadi” supply regiment headed by Denes Exterde (he was a cavalryman with the rank of Waffen-Sturmbannfuhrer der SS)  (8) go to Neuhammer camp for ammunition (9), after encountering some problems they return to Strans camp. Whilst at the camp getting the ammunition the Russians launch an attack on Strans and over 600 Russians are killed (around 1400 Russians are killed in the fighting around Strans and Buchwald) (Due to lack a of weapons and ammunition members of the Alarm Regiment use weapons and ammunition taken from dead Russians to use in the fighting). The 1st Assault Company is ordered to attack the Russian bridgehead on the West Side of the Bobo River opposite II battalion’s weak positions. II battalion was ordered not fire in case they hit their own men in the Assault Company. II battalion was to act in support after the 1st Assault Company had reached its objectives. The 2nd Assault Company was to attack at the same time from the south. The 2 assault companies leave behind their overclothes and wear a sleeveless sheepskin jacket to allow better movement and their helmets are disguised. The attack occurs at 1200 hrs and the 1st Assault Company (using only bayonets and hand grenades) overruns the first Russian positions. They become pinned down by Russian machine guns. 5 sharp shooters had been sent in support of the attack and they swiftly kill the Russian gunners, the advance continues and the 1st assault group from IV battalion advance 3kms within an hour and enter Strans town. There the II battalion and the newly arrived IV battalion engage in serious street fighting.

At 1315 the Russians launch a massive artillery barrage which lasts approximately 10 minutes. Lacking artillery pieces the Hungarians replied with a mixed barrage of hand grenades and mortars.
(10) Hermandy and his troops attack and fight their way into the town. After 30 minutes hard fighting (including hand to hand fighting using entrenching tools and bayonets) both elements of the Assault Company link up in the town centre. II Battalion advances and clears up bypassed Russian positions. At 13.45 Regimental HQ is informed that Strans has been retaken. 47 men from the Assault Company had been killed and 80 wounded in the fighting for Strans.

At around 13.00 a lorry with SS number plates arrives and its load of anti tank weapons are split between II and IV battalions. At somepoint shortly after this delivery Zolti telephones
Hermandy – Berencz at IV battalion HQ (they knew each other from military academy) and talks to him for approximately 3 mins. During the conversation Hermandy asks if the HQ commanders are mad as they have just received approximately 100 panzerfuast's which are not needed as they is no armour in the area and that his men were not trained in how to use them and he would have prefered ammunition and grenades for his mens weapons instead of the panzerfaust's. Zolti replies that he would have liked to have sent some but they only had panzerfaust's and that they were better than nothing.

 I, II and IV battalions are now surrounded on 3 sides with only the neck at Neuhammer still open. III battalion position is unknown as contact has been lost but it turns out to be still fighting in fragments to the south-west. The drivers on their return join the fighting, they are later killed. Sometime after 14.00 the Russians once again bombard Strans camp setting several buildings alight. The ammunition supply improves as a result of a delivery (at 16.00 a lorry arrives filled with anti tank weapons – panzerfaust’s and crates of other ammunition) and they are able to hold the Russian attacks. Also at 16.00 Zolti is informed that a German officer wishes to visit the HQ, Zolti gives permission and a German Officer, his adjuntant and a driver arrives at Koberbrunn in a Horch command car and introduces himself to Standartenfuhrer Peinlich. The Officer praises the Hungarians for their actions and asks that the Alarm Regiment holds the Russians at bay for one more day. When asked about the promised armoured support, the officer replies that there are no armoured regiments in the area and that such regiments are a thing of the past. As the officer and his group leave he comments that the Hungarians must be crazy to try and hold the Russians here. After the group leaves it is realised that no one had taken note of the officers name and rank. 

At 16.25 II battalion under Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Alajos Duska (after borrowing ammunition from regimental staff so low was their supplies) attack a small Russian patrol. At 16.30 a German officer order’s the stores in the Strans camp to be destroyed.

At 17.00 the first sections start reporting a shortage of ammunition.  At around this time Zolti is informed by
Denes Exterde that the man in charge of the stores at Stranz camp thinks it is time to destroy the stores and its contents to stop them falling into the hands of the Russians. Zolti issues an order that the stores should not be destroyed as they are required by the Alarm Battalion and the Alarm Battalion will be taking over the stores. At some point Zolti visits the stores onlt to find them alight in several area's and the men suppose to be guarding them running around with torches in their hands. The officer in charge comments that the fires were started by Russian mortars and then him, a noncommisioned officer along with 4 other men get onto motorcycles and driver off towards Neuhanmmer. Zolti travels in a truck to Stranz and has a talk to Hermandy regarding the sitiuation. It lasts about 12 minutes during which Hermandy tells Zolti of the team removing wall coverings to allow them to fire the anti tank weapons and then he is shown the way back to the truck and then they meet up with the other trucks. Under cover of darkness 4 trucks carry 120 wounded back to Neuhammer camp. Zolti looks at the wounded in the trucks and see's men using underwear as bandages along with shirts and other items. Zolti gets in the cab of one truck driven by a second lieutenant. In between the two is the clergyman Dr Baan who is armed with a Russian machine gun.(11)

At 19.30 a strong Russian attack is launched against the elements of the Alarm regiments positions in Strans. It consists of at least 2 infantry regiments along with supporting armour. Within minutes IV battalion destroy 3 Russian tanks. At regimental Headquarters 100 men are given the task of retrieving as many weapons as possible
from the bodies of dead Russians (12). Regimental headquarters withdraw to new positions at Koberbrunn along with a large number of lightly wounded soldiers. This withdrawal is covered by II battalion under Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Duska. Once at Koberbrunn headquarters learn that III battalion is engaged in a fighting retreat due south of Koberbrunn. Shortly after it is learnt that 15 Hungarian SS men are with an Estonia unit 250 meters to the south. At Koberbrunn Hungarian Feld gendarmes and 70 wounded are formed into a Alarm guard by Peinlich.




   
                                                                                                                                                                                  

Neuhammer Camp 1939

 

February 12 1945: At around 03.30 Zolti is informed that communications are restored to IV battalion in Strans. Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Hermandy reports that IV battalion is surrounded and Russians are slowly breaking into his position. He requests a relief attack, as 1/3 of his troops has no ammunition and no bayonets to stop the Russians breaking through. Hermandy asks for more ammunition and hand granades if the bridge head is to be destroyed. II battalion is still holding the western part of Strans camp but is separated from IV battalion and is fighting to avoid being surrounded itself. zolti contacts Duska and Duska tells Zolti that he can send approximately 140 men back to him as they only have 1 bullet in their weapons as the rest of the ammunition has been given to the 7 machine guns to keep them firing and that some of the men are already fighting with captured Russian weapons and that II battalion needs help.The entire regimental staff is organised into a kampfgruppe and marches at 06.00 towards Strans.

At 07.15 it arrives at II battalions positions. While lying in a ditch a russian patrol is observed behind the kampfgruppe and a group of Hungarian troops without orders takes on the patrol and kills all its memmbers.
Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Janos Zoltay along with 2 gendarmes (armed with machine guns and panzerfausts) go in a VW SCHWIMMWAGEN to Neuhammer for ammunition (on an earlier trip men from the Alarm Regiment whilst looking for ammunition came across stocks of chocolate, coffee and cigerettes which had not been issued). Rehfeld of the Estonian regiment does a trade with Zoltay of 5000 rounds of ammunition in return for some panzerfausts. A Sd.kfz.233/4 (armed
with 7.5cm guns) and Sd.kfz.7/1 (armed with 20mm flak38 Vierling) arrive to support the defence of Neuhammer
(13).
During a phone call to Hermandy Zolti learns from Hermandy's adjutant ( a Obersturmfuhrer BK) that Hermandy has been wounded twice in the right arm (his arm is shot to pieces) and that he needs medical treatment. Using the two vehicles which had arrived earlier as support II battalion launches an attack to relieve IV battalion. II battalion is split into two groups each of 70 men. One group with the 233/4 in support advance on the north side of the road and the other group with the 7/1 in support advances on the south side of the road. The advance slowly progresses and 15 minutes later they enter Strans. The Russians launch a counter attack. II battalion is running out of ammunition and is now without the support of the armoured cars. They have not reached IV battalion and are now fighting for their own lives. Anyone who is left at Headquarters who can walk and fire a gun is organised into a battlgroup under Waffen-Obersturmfuhrer der SS Ulvetzky to help out in the fighting. They are armed with pistols, grenades and Russian machine guns taken from dead Russians.After fierce fighting IV battalion (which is about 400 strong) breakout towards the relieving force. This forces the Russians to withdraw.
(14)

During the course of the fighting the local army sector colonel is so impressed by the IV battalions’ performance that he places his own knights cross around Hermandy’s neck whilst on a visit to its postions (this takes place at a field hospital where Hermandy was receiving treatment for his wounded arm. After treatment Hermandy returns to his battalion) .(15) After the breakout I, II and IV battalions are ordered to withdraw (III battalion is still not in contact with the rest of the Alarm Regiment) back to Neuhammer. Approximately 48 badly wounded soldiers are carried on the few available vehicles. The 6Km journey takes approximately 2 hours. When he arrives Zolty see's Hungarian, Estonian and German troops all crammed into the partly destroyerd building at Koberbrunn. After being wounded again (in the foot this time) Hermandy is placed on a cart and during the retreat Hermandy is killed by one of his own men (the cart is blown up with a panzerfaust) to prevent him being captured by a Russian patrol . The retreat nearly turns into a rout when after 4 days of non stop fighting the Hungarian troops panic and run. Peinlich orders the commander of the Sd.kfz.7/1 to aim his weapons at the retreating Hungarians.
Peinlich along with 5 other officers and 3 field police direct the retreating men into a forest glade and machine guns are fired into the ground in front of the men. This has the disired effect and the rout is now under control and the men just fall to sleep where they lie.

Peinlich orders the two armoured cars, the Sd.kfz.7/1, his own Kubelwagen and Zoltay's Schwimmwagen back along a forest avenue in preperation of their next task which is to pick up wounded troops.  They return with around 40 wounded (8 in the kubel and schwimmwagon around 8 on each of the armoured cars and the rest on the Sd.kfz. 7/1.

By 16.20 it was possible to sort out the remaining soldiers of the Alarm Regiment. There were 200 soldiers who are classed as comba
t ready,(16) 231 troops who need resting before being ready for action,(17) 133 men with panzerfausts and hand weapons (pistols), 280 men with weapons but no ammunition and 210 wounded soldiers.(18) At 17.00 the total manpower available is 1054 men of all ranks. (19) Also at this time (17.00) the two German vehicles commander (a Heer Oberleutnant) receives a radio message to leave the Alarm regiment. They leave 4000 rounds of ammunition for the Alarm Regiment and after an exchange of compliments depart.

 

February 13 1945: After withdrawal the division takes up new positions on the river Queis. Waffen-Sturmbannfuhrer der SS Rehfeld is confident that German help will arrive the next day. At 06.30 a group of Germans (XXII Fortress Commando) arrive in 5 cars with orders to turn Neuhammer into a fortress. During talks with the commander of the Alarm regiment the Major in charge of the Fortress company promises to replenish the ammunition supplies of the Alarm regiment. Coffee and bread are made available.  Towards mid morning III battalion appears at the camp. Out of 600 troops 150 are killed or missing and 100 wounded.(20) About 150 men were ready for combat. The defensive positions were:- II battalion to the north of Neuhammer, IV battalion in the centre and III battalion to the south of the camp (there was also a small kampfgruppe of 20 Germans under a reserve captain defending the main road bridge to the south of the camp, these were armed with rifles and 5 anti tank weapons). The remnants of I battalion are held in reserve.

At 11.15 a Russian aircraft strafe III battalion on their way to their new positions . This results in 3 dead and a few wounded. Just after 12.00 the battalions take up their new positions. At 13.45 Russian tanks are seen approaching Neuhammer camp.The Major from XXII Fortress Commando tells Zoltay that the lines have to be held until the following morning as a German armoured column would be arriving to lead a counter attack which will push the Russians back to the river Bobo. It was also announced that the bridges (2 in Neuhammer and the main road bridge) were not to be demolished as Estonian and German troops were still on the east bank and required the bridges for withdrawal. A decision is made to defend the camp until morning. When the last troops had left Neuhammer then the bridges would be blown.
(21) As the afternoon progresses the artillery fire increases and IV battalion reports its first men killed at 16.00. At the same time III battalion repulses a Russian attack in which they try to cross the Queis river in boats. Some of the boats are destroyed by members of the Alarm regiment using anti tank weapons. At dusk a supply column brings hot food to the troops.

At 18.00 another heavy mortar bombardment hits the Alarm regiment and more injuries occour due to the lack of defensive positions. At 19.15 a Russian armoured column is seen approaching Neuhammer camp ( 3 tanks are later destroyed by the Estonian troops)  At 20.20 XXII Fortress Commando blow up the ammunition supplies at Neuhammer camp.  At 21.00 II battalion reports Russian tanks moving towards Neuhammer from the Hirten direction and in the fighting that follows several tanks are destroyed by panzerfaust’s. At 21.50 the advancing armoured column is altered. At midnight Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Pataki asks for permission to withdraw III battalion but this is refused and he is threatened with arrest if he tries to move his men.

 

February 14 1945: During the night of the 14th at 04.00 Pataki radios headquarters and informs them that if ammunition was not forthcoming then the battalion would be over run. Around 30 minutes later the IV battalion also annouces that they running short of ammunition. Seeing that the Alarm regiment would be over run and destroyed Penilich starts making arrangements for the blowing up of the bridges. At 05.15 Peinlich orders the withdrawal of the alarm regiment and the survivors march on foot to Halbaut. After allowing time for any survivors on the east bank to withdraw across the river, at 06.00 the bridges over the River Queis are blown up by German sappers from XXII fortress command. The wounded are transported on 3 sledges and the commanders VW Kubelwagon and VW Schimmwagen.

At 09.00 the Alarm regiment arrives at Halbaut. A German officer informs the Alarm regiment that a Russian column is close by. He also states that he cannot provide any ammunition but promises to get the wounded to hospital.  Around 20 badly wounded at last get sent to hospital for treatment. The officer informs he Alarm regiment that the area around Rothenburg maybe safer and so the troops carry on walking 25 km to Rothenburg. The troops are that exhausted that the column is forced to have 15 minute breaks every half hour. The column suffers 2 air attacks with more losses. Rothenburg is reached in the evening. On arriving at Rothenburg the local security forces on checking the retreating soldiers are puzzled by the appearance of the troops (the members of the Alarm regiment are wearing Hungarian dogtags, German soldbuchs, Feldgrau uniforms, French great coats, Hungarian back packs and a mixture of other items along with German and Russian weapons). What makes things worse is that no paper work exists containing orders of where the regiment is from and where it is suppose to be heading to. The officer gives 2 options, these are that the troops are re-deployed at the front or that they help build fortifications. Peinlich argues that the troops are to only used for the defense of Hungary and that the troops belong to SS Headquarters. After some phone calls it is decided that the troops would rest in a local school and and then the soldiers are employed for a short time digging earthworks. While this is happening Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Zoltay along with 2 field police leave in a VW Schimmwagen (they carry 4 anti tank weapons for protection) to try to find the Hungarian SS headquarters.

 

February 15 1945: Around dawn Zoltay arrives at Görlitz and after passing through 2 roadblocks without incident finally arrives around 06.00 in Zittau. Unable to find information regarding the location of the headquarters Zoltay drives around for about 60 minutes before finding the headquarters in a small village on the outskirts of Zittau. Divisional Commander Grassy agrees to the Alarm regiment moving and asks for lorries to achieve this. 11 trucks from the .,,Hunyadi” supply regiment arrive to move the remnants of the Alarm regiment. 11 more trucks join in during the day moving the men.(22)

February 16 1945: The first of the alarm regiment arrives back around 03.00 to their original units.

February 17 1945: The last of the Alarm regiment’s soldiers are relocated back to their original units and the official casualty list is complied. The Alarm regiment has suffered around 57% losses. Out of approximately 2600 men there are around 1499 wounded,killed or missing, 544 men (including 17 officers
(23)) have been killed and 955 men are listed as wounded or missing. Between 380-410 wounded are evacuated from Neuhammer and treated in German hospitals (the exact number is not known as records were not kept at the time of the wounded being transport from Neuhammer) but approximately 500 are left and they are captured by the Russians.
 

 

 




Dezso Torday
(Tordai/Torday Family)
(24)

 

March 23 1945: 10 Hungarians are awarded the Iron Cross first class, 20 receive the Iron Cross second class, Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Huba Szocs is awarded the Hungarian Golden Honour medal and one Scharfuhrer is awarded the Hungarian Great Golden Honour medal for destroying 7 Russian tanks with panzerfaust’s. 3 Russian tanks are confirmed destroyed by the Alarm Battalion and 14 by the 1 SS Hungarian anti-tank platoon. Hermandy is postumously awarded the Hungarian Knights Cross with swords. According to a Hungarian book Dezso Torday may have been awarded the Hungarian Goldern medal of bravery for Officers but that  it is claimed by one source only and is not accepted by others.
 

 
Hungarian SS soldiers at Neuhammer
 

Men listed as Killed/MIA during the battle of Neuhammer


Waffen-Sturmbannfuhrer der SS Denes Exterde
Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Erno Solti
Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Hermandy - Berencz
Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Velty
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Laszlo Berthy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Jeno Medgyesy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Sandor Szollosy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Szilard Cserfalvy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Karoly Munkacsy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Ferenc Nagy
Waffen-Untersturmfuhrer der SS Miklos Fazekas


The bodies of all the Hungarians (and Estonians) killed in the fighting are buried in unmarked graves somewhere in the Neuhammer / Stans area.

 


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1 A single source states it was the 63 & 64 regiments that made up the alarm regiment
 

2 A Kampfgruppe ,,Hammerstein” is mentioned in 2 sources, The dates are the same as the Alarm Regiment at Neuhammer

3 From the 20.SS (Estonian) Division at this time was a not fully reformed grenadier regiment.47; one abteilung of Art. reg. 20 (without weapons) and part of the SS-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz Regiment 20.When the Russians were near the Neuhammer Camp, the commanding officer of the Estonian troops in Neuhammer camp SS-Obersturmbannführer Emil Rehfeldt quickly made a alarm regiment made up from Estonian troops and sent this alarm regiment to secure the frontline. Commander of alarm regiment was Waffen-Sturmbannführer Johannes Koort. I battalion commander was Waffen-Haupsturmführer Eduard Hints. II battalion commander was Waffen-Haupsturmführer der SS Ludvig Triik and III.battalion commander was Kotte (a German officer). Regiment saw battle on 7. Feb. 1944 North-East from Neuhammer. From the left over men – Genesungskompanie and 1.company of SS-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz Regiment 20 (and some others) another alarm battalion was made commanded by German officer Schütte and Waffen-Haupsturmführer Vaino. This unit was put in the positions right by the borders of the camp.

4 Please see the section on 1 SS Schi Battalion for details

5 ,,Hunyadi” at this time has approximately 1 500 rifles, 300 machine pistols, 80 light machine guns and 20 mortars, 1600 anti tank weapons and around 3000 hand grenades for 20 000 men (these figures may include some of the weapons from ,,Hungaria)

6 About 150 survivors make it back to the lines of II battalion. 50 of these survivors are wounded.

7 Each assault company have been issued K98k rifles, 20 machine pistols, 3 light machine guns and 10 panzerfausts. Each man is issued with 2 hand grenades

8 One source states a rank of Major

9 The drivers consist of Exterde, 3 chaplains, 5 drivers and 5 assistant drivers from ,,Hunyadi”

10 2 squads from the second Assault company of IV Battalion collected all the Assault companies grenades – about 100 – and where ordered by Hauptsturmfuhrer Hermandy to throw them as fast as possible at the Russian positions

11 Included was the only survivor of the earlier convoy to Neuhammer. This was the ,,Hunyadi”s chaplain Waffen-Obersturmfuhrer der SS Dr Baan

12 Approximately 310-320  weapons along with thousands of rounds of ammunition were recovered. A veteran in his memoirs describes how  he recovered  weapons and ammunition from the bodies of dead russians. He states that he was part of the second team recovering items and that due to the smell of the dead bodies that he had to use a hankerchief as a gasmask and by the light of the burning camp buildings at Stranz, he and the rest of the team slowly searched the dead bodies and their rucksacks by touch to find the ammunition, sometimes having to move bodies to get to those bodies underneath. At the end of the search his team recovered between 170-180 PPSH machine guns and large amounts of ammunition. He states that if it was not for these weapons it would have been unlikely that he would have survived "the hell of Stranz camp" and the fighting around it.

13 These belonged to the Grossdeutschland division

14 A Hungarian source describes the fighting slightly differently it says “Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Zoltay the regiments chief officer (at approximately 11.00) arrives at the regiments command post with 2 German armoured cars (possibly Sd.Kfz.223 type) to acess the situation and find out whether the IV Alarm battalion are still surrounded in Strans. At approximately 13.00 the armoured cars return, reporting to Zoltay, that the battalion is still holding Strans but that the battalion commander is in poor health. Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Hermandy – Berencz has twice been wounded during the fighting . During this withdraw the commander of IV battalion (Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Hermandy) is killed whilst leading a counter attack  and is replaced by Waffen-Hauptsturmfuhrer der SS Gyorgy Velty.” The rest is similar with the Russians attacking HQ and IV battalion withdrawing.

15  Hermandy is later awarded posthumously the Iron Cross first class by Divisional Commander SS – Brigadefuhrer Maack Berthold. On March 23 1945 Hermandy is also awarded the Gold cross.

16 These had 5 light machine guns to use besides personal weapons, each man had approximately 50 rounds but the group had virtually no hand grenades.

17 These are armed with captured Russian weapons and approximately 150 rounds each but very little in the way of hand grenades

18 17 of these would die before being treated by doctors at Neuhammer

19 This total included 67 Estonians and 21 Germans but not included were men from III battalion.

20 These had been carried by the other troops

21 As the Alarm Regiment has no form of communication 120 of the men who have no arms or ammunition are used as messengers during the days fighting.

22 These lorries are commanded by Standartenoberjunker Priedl who was a Hungarian Volkdeutsche who had been transfered to the ,,Hunyadi" division

23 Two of these are battalion commanders. These are Solti and Duska.

24  Torday was born in Transylvania, after the war he returned there. He died in 1981

 

 

 


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