German general turns over the training area

The historic town gate at the city pond was demolished by American engineers on 21 April 1945 because the passage was too small for an American tank.  -- Photo Credit: Gerald MorgensternAmericans capture Grafenwoehr on 19 April 1945 – Town gate was demolished

Grafenwoehr, Germany — “Weiden, the actual target seemed to only be a small object while Grafenwoehr was a larger and more significant location” reads the after action report of the 11th US Armored Division on 19 April 1945.

The 11th Armored Division divided its units into two brigade groups, Combat Command A and Combat Command B which moved forward on two different routes. Around 06.30 a.m. American aircraft flew their first reconnaissance missions and attacked several barracks.

The attack of Combat Command A came through Speichersdorf to Neustadt am Kulm, where more resistance had been expected and were severe fights occurred. Sporadic resistance was also encountered in Pressath. The “Wingard” task force comprised of tanks and mechanized infantry units moved towards Grafenwoehr. On the Birka, a hill north of the city, the tanks took their positions while the main body of troops moved into Grafenwoehr at 3.25 a.m. Eyewitnesses report that the majority of the citizens of Grafenwoehr had taken shelter in the mountain cellars on Annaberg. The female cook of a restaurant is said to have hoisted a white sheet at the town hall.

Combat Command B advanced through Vorbach
Combat Command B advanced from Bayreuth via Chreußen and Vorbach into the Oberpfalz region. Around 1.30 p.m., the first American tanks drove through Eschenbach, where white flags had been hoisted on several houses and the church.

There was minor resistance near Stegenthumbach. Nearby, German soldiers had earlier demolished the rail-based gun Dora. Combat Command B entered the training area from the southwest through the small village of Grünhund and positioned itself in the previously destroyed stable area in front of the Water Tower.

At 4.30 p.m. on 19 April 1945 the division reported the capture of Grafenwoehr. An order from the 12th US Corps directed the division to stop their advance in Grafenwoehr. The break was used to “clean and secure” the Grafenwoehr area. Significant amounts of weapons, ammunition and materiel were secured to include “one of the largest depots of chemical weapons in Germany in a wooded distribution area (in the Mark).”

On the morning of 20 April, the training area was formally turned over. The last German garrison commander, General Rupprecht, had entrenched himself in a command post near the military cemetery. There, he is said to have turned over the garrison and the training area to the American troops without a fight.

Town gate demolished
The Americans ordered an engineering unit to Grafenwoehr in the afternoon of 21 April. A huge tank was standing in front of the lower town gate and did not fit through. The order was given to demolish the more than 300-year-old town gate. In the early morning of the next day, operations to take over Weiden began.

About the author: Gerald Morgenstern

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