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On 03/02/2018

Cover Story: Who's Panther in the Oder Front?

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On 15/01/2018

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26 January 1945, Cottbus and Guben, Panzergrenadier-Ersatz-Brigade GD was announced to form Kampfgruppe Langkeit under the name of brigade commander, a senior tank commander and recipient of the Oakleaves, Oberst Willy Langkeit (1, 2). This formation was a response to the situation of east front when the Soviet 1st White Russian Front advanced south of Posen (Poznań in Poland at present) and aimed at Frankfurt/Oder since 12 January 1945. The back bone of the battle group came from various formations. The Alert Unit Schmelter under the command of Major Petereit became the first battalion of Panzergrenadier-Regiment with three motorized rifle companies, one motorized machine gun company and later one motorized mortar company. The second battalion of Panzergrenadier-Regiment was created under the command of Major Karl-Friedrich Schöttler (3) with three rifle companies, one machine gun company and one mortar company. The initial regimental commander was Oberstleutnant Max Klüver (4) and he formed the regimental company including one infantry gun company. The artillery regiment HQ was created under the command of Major Willi Hammerich and the 1st artillery battalion HQ was created under the command of Captain Ulrich Buboltz. The tank battalion was created under the command of Major Helmut Hudel (5) with a mix of tanks, armor patrol cars, anti-tank weapons and motorcycles. The initial destination was Frankfurt/Oder and the first unit set out for Frankfurt/Oder was the first battalion of Panzergrenadier-Regiment under Major Petereit (6).



Kempfgruppe Commander: Oberst Willy Langkeit


Ia: Major Helmuth Spaeter


Panzergrenadier-Regment Commander:

Oberstleutnant Max Klüver

Artillerie-Regiment Commander:

Major Willi Hammerich

Panzer-Abteilung Commander:

Major Helmut Hudel

26 January 1945, Frankfurt/Oder, the Ia Major Helmuth Spaeter (7) received his first assignment as follow: “Kampfgrupp Langkeit is to assemble in and around Reppen (Rzepin in Poland at present), attack the deep flank of the northeastwards advancing enemy and reach the Tierschtiegel position near Zielenig…”(6). The Tierschtiegel (Trzciel in Poland at present) position was the frontier defense belt against prewar Poland. Himmler, as commander of Armeegrupp Weichsel, ordered the V SS-Gebirgs-Korps under SS-General Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger with two infantry divisions to deploy along the north-south line of the Odra river and the Tierschtiegel position (8). The order for Kampfgruppe Langkeit seemed to link up with V SS-Gebirgs-Korps and try to stem the Soviet advance together. The KG HQ moved to Neuendorf (Gajec in Poland at present, about 18 Km road march through Kunowice in Poland at present from Frankfurt/Oder) (9) and set up command post there.

It happened here: Frankfurt/Oder to Neuendorf


1. Langkeit, Willy/World War II Gravestone

2. Willy Langkeit/IPFS

3. Schöttler, Karl-Friedrich/TRACES OF WAR

4. Klüver, Max/Metapedia

5. Major Helmut Hudel/Ritterkreuzträger

6. Spaeter, Helmuth. The History of the Panzerkorps Großdeutschland Vol.3, p213-6. Winnipeg, Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, 2000.

7. Spaeter, Helmuth/Metapedia

8. Le Tissier, Tony. Zhukov at the Oder, p32. Westport, Connecticut, London: Praeger Publishing, 1996.

9. Gajec/Google map

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