His Side of the Story
While Gerhard Kegler was fighting for his pension with the bureaucratic system of West Germany, he also had to defend his honor as former general of the ill-fated ‘Woldenberg Division’. As this post and next week’s post are going to be the last ones on my uncle’s military life, I consider it important to publish his own personal response to the slanderous attacks by his former commanding officer (General Busse) of the 9th Army and let Major-general Kegler have the last word on this matter.
On January 30, 1945 I received from Himmler the order to take command of the ‘Woldenberg Division’. I did not receive any orientation about the military situation nor any specific instructions. I had to locate the ‘division’ myself. I found the command center east of Friedeberg. There was no connection with any high-level command posts. Adjoining troops did not exist. Shortly before noon I took charge of the command at a time, when the hastily assembled ‘division’ had already begun its retreat in a nearly disintegrated condition.
In the morning of January 31, I was busy with the arrangements of the left-over army units in Landsberg. Then I noticed that the ‘division’ had no antitank weapons, no reserves of ammunition and food provisions, and no communication units. There was no physician for the ‘division’. The artillery consisted of two horse-drawn batteries.The ‘division’ was not a “very strong fighting unit”. The troops were definitely not battle-ready.
For the town of 45000 inhabitants no preparations had been made for its evacuation. The high command of the 9th army passed on to me through the army’s mail service Himmler’s order that I had to defend the town of Landsberg as a fortress. On that day Russian tanks had already entered the area north of the Warthe-Netze region. I ordered the Warthe bridge to be blown up.
To be concluded next week …