German Winter operations in Yugoslavia 1943/1944

The fighters of the Fourth Battalion of III Sandzak Brigade in the battle with the Germans near Prijepolje.

Winter operations in Yugoslavia during 1943/1944, known as the Sixth Enemy Offensive, representing major a tangle operations both warring parties with the aim of establishing control over important strategic positions between the Sava and the Adriatic Sea, between 3 December 1943 and 15 February 1944. The operations were engaged the main strength of the second Panzer Army and the Independent State of Croatia on one side and the NLA on the other side.

In addition to engaging impressive strength (about 300,000 Axis forces and about 120,000 Partizan), this a tangle operations were characterized by the fact that the primary goal of taking over and maintaining the initiative. Both sides were trying to impose forms of struggle corresponding to them, exhausting the opponent's resources.

The Sixth enemy Ofanziva

The German plan envisaged, after bringing the NLA at a disadvantage, conquer the strategic position and causing serious, possibly decisive blows to the NLA. NLA was trying to prove is capable of with, simultaneous elastic defense in one part of the battlefield, has the power to organize an offensive on another part of the battlefield.

After a sharp maneuver struggle throughout the operational area, Second Panzer Army achieved a number of goals and achieve success, especially in the valley of Lima, the Vrbas valley, and the Croatian coast, but failed to significantly reduce the combat value of the NLA. The free territory was significantly reduced, but in the hands of the NLA and after the end of the fight countless cities and wide-open spaces.

From the fight on Mount Majevica during winter operations in late 1943 and early in 1944.

Sixth enemy offensive included the following major operations:
"Operation Kugelblitz" ("Ball Lightning") in eastern Bosnia,
"Operation Schneesturm" ("snowstorm") in Sandzak and
Operation HERBSTGEWITTER in southern Dalmatia.

Engaged forces for the operation

Axis forces:
1st Mountain Division
1st Cossack Cavalry Division
7th SS Division
114th Jäger Division
118th Jäger Division
173. reserve divisions
187. reserve divisions
264th Infantry Division
367th Infantry Division
369 legionnaires division
371. Infantry Division
1st regiment of Brandenburg
2nd Regiment Brandenburg
92. motorized regiment
901. Panzer Grenadier Regiment
202. Tank Battalion

Battalion coastal hunters Brandenburg
a larger number of special units and units of Staff Army
In the operation involved the majority of NDH forces under the direct command of German tactical headquarters.

Chetnik forces in the area of the second Panzer Army used as auxiliary power, to protect the background, or as an auxiliary attack group.

German artillery in the fight against the Partisans.

Partisan forces:
The first proletarian Corps
Second Strike Corps NLA (parts)
Third Strike Corps Partisan
Fourth Croatian corpus Partisan
Fifth Strike Corps Partisan
Eighth Dalmatian Corps Partisan
Eleventh Corps of the NLA

The course of operations

Activities began synchronized raid in the east, southeast and northeast (Kugelblitz), Southwest (cítění) and northwest (Panther) during the first days of December in 1943.

German soldiers pulled dead comrade

Germans have achieved significant initial success especially in the east, in operation kugelblitz, where they managed to break some Partisan units (second and first proletarian šumadija brigade) and to open a space in which to progress more quickly in the depth of the free territory. Operation kugelblitz was the most challenging part of the introductory operations, due to a very large territory in the triangle between Sjenica, Konjic, and Tuzla, which was supposed to cover.

Thanks to very good intelligence work, detailed planning, and energetic progress, this operation has started successfully for the Germans, and on 16, December went into the operation Šnešturm.

A significant success of the German forces has made in the operation cítění, where he conquered Livno as an important traffic point.

Germans in the fight against the Partisans in Lika

The success of the West was halfway. Germany Command assessed was successful operations in Banija, holding that has set itself a significant blow to Seven Banija Division. However, part of the operation that was supposed to link forces in Banija over Prijedor to the area of Banja Luka completely failed. This failure had significant negative consequences for further German operations.

Partisan formations entered in direct conflict with German formations at selected points of strategic importance. At such points, was carried out by a concentration of the stronger forces, while the other sectors of applied elastic retaining defense. It was a continuation of the practice of open confrontation with the German offensive columns, which was largely applied after the capitulation of Italy. This raises the level of combat operations with the guerrilla war maneuver was spotted Commander of the South East Lothar Rendulic

Scout group of fighters VI Krajina NOU brigade in the area of Travnik - Vlasic in 1944.

The German action in eastern Bosnia has received momentum in mid-December and grew into an attempt of encirclement and destruction of most of the Third Corps of the NLA (Operation Šnešturm). And this German plan ended in failure.

The German soldiers in the fight against partisans in Bosnia, winter 194344.

Partisan after giving up attack on Livno prepared a concentric operation to Banja Luka and the surrounding strongholds. The main objective of this operation was to attract German forces from the east, in order to the Third Corps relieve pressure. This operation Second Panzer Army forced the immediate intervention of 92nd. motorized and 901st. armored Grenadier Regiment and parts of 1st. Cossack and 373rd. Legionnaires Division.

Chetnik commander Stevan Leko Damjanovic with members of the SS division in eastern Bosnia, in agreement before the start of the campaign against the Partisans.

In early February, the two sides were faced with a hopeless their maximalist ambitions. Both sides have suspended offensive operation. In a series of operations in the Croatian coast and the western Lika Germans at the end of January, finally took Karlobag and Senj, the last port on the coast which were in the hands of the NLA. The Germans with Operation Emil tried to master important positions and break the forces the NLA that held the link between Lika and northern Dalmatia. The operation was completed without much success.

The result of operations

The German Command of the South East has managed to consolidate its position on the coast and in the valleys of Lima and Vrbas. Territorial gain by the Germans managed to keep were limited to the lower reaches of the river Lim, part of the flow of the Vrbas, Livno and the Croatian coast. After operations, free territory NLA was reduced, hampered communication between its parts, as well as maritime connections with the Allies.

Partisan antitank gun on Kozara, during the sixth offensive.

NLA forces during September and October 1943, completed were a mass of new fighters with no combat experience and established many new units. To them, these operations represented a difficult battle exam. However, new combat experience has significantly improved the combat value and the art of war units at all levels.



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