Home Page World War II Armed Forces — Orders of Battle and Organizations Last Updated 07.11.2004
German Army
Organization
1945 Panzerkorps (neuer Art)
1.01.1945
 
1945 Panzerkorps (neuer Art)
German Organizational Symbols, 1943 - 45
 
NOTES:
According to Tessin, not one of these PzK ever had all the authorized units. That's also very clear from the narratives I went through while researching this subject. We are discussing the last 4 to 5 months of the war!

Background
Hitler ordered the creation of fixed composition Panzerkorps for use on the East Front in his "Führerbefehl" of 13.09.44. Now why Hitler did this was not recorded for posterity, but it was probably based on several reasons. Which reason was paramount, or if it was a combination of reasons, is a matter of conjecture.

By the time the Panzerkorps (n.A.) were being raised, the Germans had pretty well lost most of their early war specialists, and - scraping the bottom of the barrel for warm bodies - would soon even dissolve the Training Army. This meant that there were a large amount of semi-trained or untrained men going into the Field Army. The training cadres would also transferred to the Field Army, so that, having to be very careful of the few remaining specialists, and soon the training cadres, it was deemed wise to centralize these specialists into specialized units and keep them as far away from the fighting as possible. As the Soviet Army had experienced in 1941, it was wise to pool specialists as much as possible, farming them out only as and when necessary, the rest of the time carefully hoarding them for future use. Besides a general scarcity of motor vehicles and other equipment, fuel was extremely difficult to acquire, so that training, especially of mechanized forces, was haphazard, to say the least. Interestingly enough, the Germans also raised artillery brigades and corps in 1944, (something they had not had previously), for similar reasons that the Soviets had initially raised their large formations, namely a lack of specialist personnel vs an abundance of untrained men.

Another reason could well be that the Germans had been fighting the USSR for several years, and I suspect that a certain mind set on the German side had developed. There is actually nothing wrong in copying an opponent who is beating you - in fact, it is probably a smart thing to do. The Germans had often been defeated by the Soviet Tank Corps and Mechanized Corps, which the Soviets had, by dint of very hard knocks, developed into powerful and effective combined arms formations.

The early mechanized divisions were basically offensive tools, forged in the heat of the Panzerblitz years and concentrating on attack as opposed to defense. Since mid 1943, the Germans had been on the defensive, steadily retreating. By late 1944 and early 1945, the average strength of most Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions, (obviously excluding those just refreshed), was about 30 - 40 tanks, assault guns, and Panzerjäger, and quite often less. By late 1944 and early 1945, medium tank companies had an authorized strength of 10 AFV (armored fighting vehicles), and Panzerjäger companies of 6-10 AFV.

Summing up, it can be said that the Panzerkorps 45 (n.A.) was designed to reduce the amount of specialists, logistics troops, headquarters staffs, as well as the number of motor vehicles in the mechanized divisions. The Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions divisions were bound logistically to the corps, which prevented them from being from being detached from the corps headquarters and used piecemeal on the East Front - which was probably one of the objectives.

The PzK (nA) organization was an emergency measure, born of an impossible military situation. Under normal conditions, such a large formation would have been too inflexible, as the Germans had already found out in 1939. Tactically, the PzK (nA) was not a success.

The Panzerkorps n.A.
The Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland {abbreviated GD} was officially ordered created (OKH/OrgAbt/Nr. I/21020/44 gKdos dated 28.09.1944) to comprise the Panzergrenadier Division Grossdeutschland and the Panzergrenadier Division Brandenburg {abbreviated BDB}. All PzK units received the number 500. Most units were merely redesignations of existing units. In actual fact, the GD PzK was not raised until 20.12.1944. By then, however, geographical considerations and the catastrophic situation on the East Front prevented many units and even the PzG Div GD itself from joining the PzK, and the PzK GD faced the Soviet Weichsel offensive with the PzG Div Brandenburg and the 1. Fallschirm Pz Div Hermann Göring. The corps units went into action under strength and badly trained. (Note that the Panzergrenadier Division Grossdeutschland was a non-standard division and had extra units even in late 1944 and 1945, and in actual fact had been a very strong Panzer Division ever since 1943.) However, the creation of the PzK GD meant that several of these extra units were lost, such as the Sturmgeschütz-Brigade GD, which was transferred to the Panzergrenadier Division Brandenburg, and the III./Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment GD, which was used to form the artillery regiment of the PzK GD, etc. In turn, the PzK quickly lost units that could not join it, such as the PzPionBtl 500 which became PionBtl 124, II/Artillerie-Regiment 500 which became III/ Artillerie-Regiment 124 (both of the Führer-Grenadier-Division), etc.

The creation of the Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle - {abbreviated both as "FH" and "FHH", although "FH" was used normally for the PzK units.} to be formed with PzG Div 1 FH [former PzGrenDiv FH] and PzDiv 2 FH [former 13. PzDiv] - although ordered on 27.11.1944, was not formed tactically. This was because the IV. Panzerkorps (the PzK (nA) designated headquarters) as well as the two divisions were surrounded in Budapest and had more immediate problems to concern them. All three were destroyed when Budapest fell. The FH PzDiv was ordered raised again 24.02.1945 - based on a small cadre, (FH divisional supply troops, returning leave takers, recovered wounded, etc.), and filled up with new personnel. It was not until March/April 1945 that a new PzK Feldherrnhalle is mentioned in the order of battle. All PzK FH units received the designation "Panzerkorps-FH-...", although many of them were never raised, such as Fusilier-Regiment, the artillery regiment, or the replacement regiment. Again, others were merely redesignations of existing units, such as the s.Pz-Abt FH (ex 503), etc.

The XXIV. Panzerkorps was ordered converted (OKH/OrgAbt/Nr. I/20658/44 gKdos dated 27.11.1944) with the 16. and 17. Panzer-Divisions. All PzK units received the number 424. Most units were merely redesignations of existing units, such as the Arko 424 (ex-143), the s.Pz-Abt 424 (ex 501), etc. The supply headquarters already existed, but was elevated in status to regiment echelon. The signal battalion had also been with the corps headquarters since 1941. Several units were then used to form others and did not stay with the corps, such as the PzPionBtl 424, which was redesigned as the PionBtl 120 (Führer-Begleit-Division) in January 1945; or the remnants of the badly mangled s.PzAbt 424, which were redesignated as the s. PzJgAbt 521 and became Heerestruppen again on 11.02.1945.

The XXXX. Panzerkorps was ordered converted (OKH/OrgAbt/Nr. I/20900/44 gKdos dated 28.11.1944) with the 19. and 25. Panzer-Divisions. No records have been found that indicate the XXXX.Panzerkorps, the 19. Panzer-Division, or the 25. Panzer-Divison were every joined into a PzK n.A.

The Führer-Panzerkorps , using the Führer-Begleit Division and the Führer-Grenadier Division, was ordered raised in April 1945. However geographical separation of the divisions, lack of the proposed corps units, and the terminal military situation meant that this did not occur.

It might be that eventually all Panzer units were to have been combined into Panzerkorps n.A.. However, I can find no record that other corps were specifically considered for conversion to the 1945 Panzerkorps (n.A.) organization.

An amalgamation of the Waffen-SS mechanized divisions into SS-Panzerkorps (nA) might have been planned, but the military situation probably prevented the fruition of these plans, and to the best of my knowledge, the Waffen-SS did not order the conversion of any of its corps to the Panzerkorps (n.A.) organization.

Thanks to Piet Duits for additional information.

 
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