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KIA WP - IR.544, 389.ID - Stalingrad

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    KIA WP - IR.544, 389.ID - Stalingrad

    This is the Wehrpass of Heinrich Braun. An at first glance typical clean looking Zweitschrift of one of many killed on the Eastern front. Heinrich started his active duty on 30.08.1939 and was sworn in on 11.09.1939. He started off in an Artillerie Ersatz unit based in Siegen about 80km away from his home town Niederkleen. In January 1940 he became a member of a front unit, Artillerie Regiment 230, which is part of 169. Infanterie Division. With this unit he took part in Operation Fall Gelb, or better known as the battle of France. Later that year he left AR 230 and joined another Ersatz unit. This was only for 1 day according to his Wehrpass and then there is this big gap until he joined another front unit in January 1942.

    He joined 7./ Infanterie Regiment 544, part of the 389 Infanterie Division. The soldiers of this Division were mostly veterans of the previous campaigns on the Western Front and the Invasion of Poland. From May 1942 onwards, it was employed in battles on the Eastern Front as a part of the 6th Armee. But, for some reason, before this unit was employed on the Eastern Front he was put in a genesungs unit. Maybe he had an accident or something but sadly his WP doesn’t clarify. Unfortunately his Wehrpass is unclear on his career from this point. He spend some time in recovery units but eventually ended up with Infanterie Regiment 544 again. This time it was a different ball game from when he left his unit 5 to 6 months prior. The 389th Infanterie Division had been fighting in the industrial area of Stalingrad from the very start of the offensive.

    It is possible that Heinrich was present when the first offensive against the industrial area started but unfortunately it is unclear from his Wehrpass when he actually joined his final unit. Not really a surprise with a Zweitschrift from a Stalingrad unit.

    Because of this I’ll only touch on the timeframe that he was definitely present with his unit. Fortunately there is a lot to be said about this time.



    Hubertus
    November 11th 1942, the day the final offensive of the 6th Armee in Stalingrad started.

    The operation received the code name Hubertus and was finalized as the following: The whole area from the Volga bank east of gun factory “Red October” to the fuel depot to south east of the brickyard will be attacked with all available forces simultaneously.

    The objective was to clear the remaining Soviet bridgeheads on the western bank of the Volga river: the ordnance factory “Red Barricade”, metallurgic chemical factory “Lazur”, the train yards, the “Kommissarhaus” and the “Rote Haus”.

    The main attack in the offensive was to be delivered by 305 Infanterie Division, which was reinforced with three newly-arrived Pionier Bataillons. 389 Infanterie Division was to launch a supporting attack neighboring on the left flank of 305.ID.
    The attack would be spearheaded by the pioneer units but after Paulus realized the lack of infantry support he ordered 10 battle groups to be formed in support. These battle groups were formed from parts of nearly all Divisions that were in the city but especially the 44.ID.

    The newly-arrived Pioneer Bataillons went through additional training in Kalach. Several captured t-34s were put into operation for anti-tank training purposes in order to develop skills in conditions as close to combat ones as possible.

    The units were backed-up by 2 Sturmgeschütz Bataillons which also had the new self-propelled sIG.33. The sIG.33 was specially designed for the fierce urban fighting in Stalingrad. This would the baptism of fire for this newly developed vehicle. The development was overseen by Hitler himself and its large caliber gun should be able to destroy a building in a few shots.

    The units from the combat sector of 389.ID were to attack directly towards the Volga bank and move south toward the “Rote Haus”. All other neighbouring units, along the whole front of LI Armeekorps, were to undertake supporting attacks in their sectors, so that no enemy reserves could be moved toward the northern sector.

    The most recent report about the enemy strength released by the 6 Armee stated that the Soviet Divisions were extremely weakened, with some Kompanies consisting of no more than 15 men. The true figures were very different but with this information the Germans prepared for battle.



    The start
    The units subordinated to 389.ID moved out a few minutes before the bombardment began at 0340 hours. This they preferred in order to preserve the element of surprise. The Pioneers overwhelmed the Soviet defenders just as the first volley of Artillerie erupted.

    The first attack group was Oberstleutnant Eberhard’s Pionier Bataillon 389 and Grenadier Regiment 544. The German infantry, pioneer battalions and Stug units faced the tough defensive will of the Russians and slowly bled themselves to death. Every inch of ground they gained was paid by blood.
    Pi.Bat. 389 succeeded in slicing off a part of the 118th Guards Rifle in the northern part of the bridgehead. Russian resistance proved too stiff for them to carry on attacking south towards their objective, the “Rote Haus”.

    However, overall attempt to break through to the Wolga and clear all the bridgeheads was unsuccessful. The chemist´s shop was captured yet the attack on the “Kommissarhaus” failed. The first units did break through to the Wolga but the casualties for were running extremely high. The Germans also lost two of their new sIG.33s right at the start of the offensive due to direct hits.

    Here a small excerpt from an article that speaks about the bravery of Pionier Bataillon 305 during this attack:

    Suddenly the storm troopers had to seek cover. For many long minutes the situation was desperate, the Germans were under fire from two sides. The covering infantry, Kampfgruppe 578, was held back by still active and often lone Soviet soldiers (308th and 344th Rifle Divisions) fighting for their lives from hidden and changing positions.
    The commander of 3rd platoon, Pionier Bataillon 305 drew up the following plan: The whole company fires on their two side threats and thereby covering a group of five men with a flamethrower. The remaining three groups set up heavy machine guns and fire at the window holes and known positions of the defenders to force them to take cover.

    They could only manage to keep up this fire for seconds, the Soviet snipers were a real menace for the attackers and shot very precisely. The flamethrower crew rushed, with sub-machine guns blazing around them, to the main entrance of the big austere building, the only point of cover and out of the sight of the hated snipers.

    They discover the entrance was blocked and they shouted back to their comrades and demanded a second hail of covering fire. One reckless pioneer ran back to the old positions for the shaped charges. After a few seconds, that seemed like minutes, he returned. The remaining pioneers waited in anticipation. There was a sharp explosion followed by minutes of silence. Suddenly there was a sound like a beast crying out its rage and agony. Black smoke came out of the building’s openings. The flamethrower moved room to room, floor to floor, spraying doom on the poor, helpless defenders.


    The next day, the 12th of November, the operation was resumed. After they received some fresh troops at 0950 hours, 305. ID gained control over all of the area east of the gun factory. The 389.ID strengthened their grip on the Volga bank but was again ground to a standstill. They possessed a 500 meter broad strip along the bank.

    On the 13th the Germans regrouped and attacks partially stopped. The biggest achievement that day was the capture of the “Kommissarhaus” by 305.ID and its supporting units. A big achievement to say the least which deserves a whole thread dedicated to it. 305.ID alone lost about 80 men not including the losses of the supporting units.

    The 14th was a fairly “quiet” day in the sector of the 389.ID. Fierce battles still raged in the other sectors though. Two pioneer units reached the Wolga further trying to close the cauldron. These units where actually right on top of Tschuikov’s command post. Tschuikov was aware of the situation and ordered all of his staff to take up arms and repulse the attackers. The efforts of the desperate soldiers, staff officers, clerks and the rest of units fighting in front of the command post pushed the pioneers back and secured a small 200m x 100m defensive zone before Tschuikov’s residence.

    15.11.1942, the final day of Heinrich’s life. The 389.ID spearheaded south along the Wolga with the objective of seizing the “Rote Haus”. This would be done with supporting elements of Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 244. The s.IG 33 battered the building in preparation of the attack collapsing several sections of it. In order to go to the Rote Haus, the Germans had to cross a big gully. This gully was lined with dug-outs housing Soviet soldiers but mostly rear personnel. What unfolded was dreadful and the losses on Soviet side were extremely high. Even though the Rote Haus was just across the gully, the Germans couldn’t advance and the attack stalled. They retreated and established a new line of defense in some captured Soviet trenches.
    Total losses suffered by 389.ID on this day were heavy: 26 men were killed, 44 men wounded and 15 men were missing. Among these numbers is Heinrich Braun who was most likely killed during this attack at the age of 28.

    His Wehrpass comes with an additional paper about this death

    Main sources;
    Stalingrad.net
    Island of Fire - Jason D. Mark

    Many thanks for looking,

    Mats
    Attached Files

    #2
    A nice map of the attack on the 11th and the 15th. All are from Island of Fire and belong to Jason D. Mark.

    And a photo of a sIG. 33,
    Attached Files

    Comment


      #3
      Sad but interessting Wehrpass Mats.
      Nice write up
      Searching for: 107 Panzer Brigade - Kampfgruppe Walther documents/info

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Floris View Post
        Sad but interessting Wehrpass Mats.
        Nice write up
        Thank you Floris, really appreciate it

        Mats

        Comment


          #5
          Very Nice WP Mats thumbs
          Cheers Steve

          Comment


            #6
            Fantastic WP. I'm a dedicated student of Stalingrad and have a big stack of books on the campaign to include several of Jason D. Mark's works, so I really appreciate items to Stalingrad Kämpfer.
            Love the WP and your write up!
            Todd
            Seeking photographs of Joachim Tiesler, DKiG Stalingrad, 3rd I.D. (mot.) and Clemens Freiherr von Fürstenberg, DKiG 7th Panzer Division.

            Comment


              #7
              Great Wehrpass. You don't often see ones that have been reconstituted post Stalingrad.
              Jeff
              looking for Soldbücher, Wehrpäße, or Ausweis to family names: Jung, Weihs,Adams, Kloskowski

              Comment


                #8
                Interesting Wehrpaß and great research.

                I wonder if he had any awards? I have a few that were put together after their death to give to the family that have no awards in. Sometimes you think, how could he have got this far in the war without receiving anything?

                Of course, they are not always put in and due to the combat situation in Stalingrad the records could have been lost so we will never know.

                /Ian
                Photos/images copyright © Ian Jewison collection

                Collecting interests: Cavalry units, 1 Kavallerie/24 Panzer Division, Stukageschwader 1

                Comment


                  #9
                  A fascinating account of this brave soldiers military career and final days at Stalingrad.

                  Thank you for sharing this.

                  Troy

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Hello !

                    I agree with all others :
                    Very interesting Wehrpass and great research and presentation !
                    Many thanks for taking the time andd for sharing it .

                    Best regards,

                    Archi

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks a lot for the nice comments gents really appreciate it,

                      All the best,

                      Mats

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Really nice and interesting WP.
                        I love it.

                        I have a bunch of Stalingrad deathcards of which one is from a priest (pfarrer). He spent the last christmas in one of the cellars or foxhole. He was taken POW and died in march 43 in POW camp Beketovka, South of Stalingrad.

                        Comment

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