Hubert-Erwin Meierdress - Battles Around Warsaw - Operation Konrad I

Operation Konrad I

The Totenkopf arrived at the Warsaw front in late July 1944. After the launch of Operation Bagration and the collapse of Army Group Centre, the central-Eastern front was a mess, and the IV. SS-Panzerkorps was one of the only formations standing in the way of the Soviet attacks. On 1 August 1944, the Armia Krajowa, rose up in Warsaw itself, sparking the Warsaw Uprising. A column of Totenkopf Tigers was caught up in the fighting, and several were lost. The Totenkopf was not involved in the suppression of the revolt, instead guarding the front lines, and fighting off several Soviet probing attacks into the city's eastern suburbs. Meierdress' panzers played a major role in these defensive victories.

In several furious battles near the town of Modlin in mid August, the Totenkopf, fighting alongside the 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking and the Fallschirm-Panzer-Division 1 Hermann Göring failed to arrest the Soviet 3rd Corps. Meierdrees' abt, now totally equipped with Panthers, fought in this battle. The terrain around Modlin is excellent armour terrain, and Meierdrees exploited this to his advantage, engaging Soviet tanks from far range.

The efforts of the Totenkopf, Wiking and Hermann Göring allowed Germans to hold the Vistula line and establish Army Group Vistula. In December 1944, the IX. SS-Gebirgskorps was encircled in Budapest. Hitler ordered the IV. SS-Panzerkorps to head south to break through to the 45,000 Germans and Hungarians trapped in the city. The corps arrived late December, and was immediately thrown into action.

The relief attempt, codenamed Operation Konrad I, was a joint attack by the Wiking and Totenkopf from the town of Táta attacking along the line Bicske-Budapest. Meierdrees' abt. was to form one of the Totenkopf's spearheads.

The operation got underway on 1 January, and the unexpected attack resulted in large gains for the Germans. Meierdrees' unit fought their way towards the city, destroying many Soviet tanks. Despite this initial success, the Red Army reacted quickly, and on 3 January defence had solidified near the town of Biscke. On 4 January, Meierdrees' unit was subjected to a ferocious enemy counterattack by a large Soviet armoured force. Meierdrees' Panther, after knocking some armour, was hit, and exploded. While his loader and driver escaped with serious wounds, Meierdrees and his gunner were killed in the explosion. Despite two subsequent offensives, the German garrison at Budapest was never reached and the survivors surrendered on 12 February 1945. The defeated Germans capitulated soon. It was, however, proved that the Germans were no match for the Red Army's assault.

Read more about this topic:  Hubert-Erwin Meierdress, Battles Around Warsaw

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