Saturday, August 27, 2011
German Paratroops in Action
Berlin, April '45. The end is near. The 9th Fallschirmjaeger division has been gradually pushed back into the city by the Soviet Army and is now engaged in urban warfare. This division was raised shortly before the end of the war and was made up primarily of surplus Luftwaffe personnel. They recieved very little training on infantry tacticts and therefore suffered disproportionately high losses. By the time the battle of Berlin is over it will have ceased to exist. In the images below we see a platoon of paratroopers defending a corner house which has miraculously avoided major damage from the months of allied bombardment and the intense weeks of Soviet artillery shelling.
This is where the paratroopers have decided to make their stand. As a corner house, it is able to control an important street intersection in the city.
The paratroopers stand ready, having fortified the house as much as it's possible under the circumstances.
A prone man with a MG-42 is keeping the advancing Soviet troops at a safe distance.
The balconies offer a good field of fire, but don't offer much protection.
A PAK-40 has been positioned inside the house and is exacting a heavy toll on the armored vehicles trying to move through the intersection.
The attic also offers prime observation and firing positions.
The back of the building, facing a courtyard is also being properly defended.
Many of the paratroopers are armed with semi-automatic weapons, which provide them with a good rate of fire, but work best when the enemy is at close range, so these men are holding their fire for the time being.
The commander, positioned in a corner window in the upper floors, signals the rest of his troops to open fire on the closing Soviet troops.
All hands rush to their battle stations.
Those men with carbines are making every shot count.
The attack is coming from both streets leading up to the intersection. Fortunately, the corner windows offer a 270 degree field of fire and the men shift their aim to wherever the need is greater.
The Soviet attackers greatly outnumber the defenders and the Soviet, sensing that the final victory is within reach, attack fiercely. Soon they are within grenade-throwing range.
From the ground floor to the attic, every paratrooper is trying to do his best. They know that this time the fight is to the end.
For the now, the grenades...
...and the automatic weapons are keeping the enemy from reaching the house.
But the enemy has the house surrounded by now. The toopers rush from window to window in a desperate struggle to keep them away from the building.
By now, the MG-42 on the ground floor has been knocked out. The second and last MG is firing non-stop.
The observer in the attic is calling for mortar fire on the courtyard within a few yards of the house. The risk of a shell landing short is well understood, but there are no other options.
The men are starting to run low on ammo, and some are firing their last rounds.
The German men also feel that the end is near and a sense of rage takes over. All they want is to take a few more of the enemy with them.
But despite their best efforts, the casualties start to mount.
The first Soviet troops have reached the house and vicious hand-to-hand combat ensues.
Some Soviet men have managed to gain access to the building through the back door and are already reaching the second floor.
A paratrooper drops a few more grenades into the courtyard from one of the upper floors.
But the Soviet men are already spreading through the rest of the house and it is now only a matter of time until the clear the entire building. The fate of these paratroopers is sealed.
Here's a post of the German Fallschirmjaeger in more detail.