Friday, January 14, 2011

Enemy Elite Friday: Otto Kumm (Germany)

"SS-Obersturmbannführer Kumm was awarded the Iron Cross Second and First Class as well as the Infantry Assault Badge during the Western campaign.  During the campaign against Russia, Kumm has particularly distinguished himself in his new role as commander of the SS-Regiment ‘Der Führer’.  He has done so through having a major share in both the swift forward advance of the SS-Division ‘Reich’ as well as in the destruction of strong Russian forces in the pocket northeast of Kiev.  At 06:00 on the 04.09.1941 the reinforced Regiment ‘DF’ attacked from Awdejewka towards the southwest.  By pushing forward the lead Bataillon in an unflinching advance the regimental commander was able to capture the important bridge at 13:30 near Rudnja already at 13:30, and also the heights southwest of Rudnja a short time later.  This was in spite of strong enemy activity on the flanks, which Kumm swiftly dealt with by deploying other forces as a shield.  Through a swiftly brought-up exploitation unit it was possible to smash a strong enemy march column in Tschernotitschi as it was getting dark.  320 prisoners were captured as well as 15 guns and a large number of vehicles, horse-drawn wagons and equipment.  On the 15.09.1941 the Regiment ‘Der Führer’ had the mission of advancing from Itschnja to Priluki, and capturing Priluki itself.  The Regiment had to conduct 3 attacks against a toughly defending enemy, and by dusk it had reached the southern edge of Kolessniki.  As a result of deploying strong reconnaissance during the following night it was possible to recognize the disengagement of the enemy at 01:00, and capture the northern part of Priluki in the early morning hours with a swift pursuit thrust.  In the process an endless column with all sorts of weaponry was smashed. 1400 prisoners were captured. 18 artillery pieces, 4 anti-tank guns, 30 mortars along with uncounted numbers of vehicles, horse-drawn wagons, horses and equipment was captured or destroyed.  This success is thanks to the actions of SS-Obersturmbannführer Kumm, who decided to conduct his nighttime reconnaissance even though his troops were totally exhausted.  The attack of a Russian column of about 200 men (from the west flank) against the Regimental command post was repulsed with bloody losses by SS-Obersturmbannführer Kumm and his handful of hastily assembled messengers and ordnance officers.  It did not interfere with the Regiment’s abilities to command.  On the 22.09.1941 the Regiment received a new mission while it was taking part in a counterattack against a Russian relief thrust east of Romny.  It was to encircle the Russian 5th Cavalry Division (reinforced by tanks) by launching a thrust from Korowinzy to the south.  In just two hours the regimental commander was able to reorient his regiment (which had previously been fighting along a front to the east with all heavy weapons and artillery) 90 degrees and commence the attack towards the south.  Following a hard village battle in Ssakunowo the Regiment crushed major elements of the 5th Cavalry Division.  Over 1000 enemy dead were counted after the engagement was concluded.  The quantities of weapons and equipment captured can no longer be counted, as the Regiment immediately had to reassemble after the battle and begin marching to be employed for new tasks by the Division.  In the intervening days the Regiment ‘Der Führer’ has been constantly either on the march or engaged in combat.  In this time it has mostly marched on foot due to the often completely muddied roads, sometimes during the night, so as to continue the pressure on the enemy.  In this regard it has succeeded in staying on the enemy’s heels, and during the time period 04.09.-23.09.1941 the Regiment captured or destroyed:
9466 prisoners
123 guns
17 anti-tank guns
40 mortars
24 tanks (including several 52 ton tanks)
Unquantifiable numbers of vehicles, horse-drawn wagons and equipment
This success is thanks to the personal bravery and tireless energy of the young regimental commander. During this time the Division was subordinated to the XXXXVI Panzer-Korps."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on 16 February 1942 as SS-Obersturmbannführer and commander of SS-Regiment (motorized) "Der Führer".
"On the 11.02.1943 the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. ‘Der Führer’ received the mission to attack an enemy force located south of Merefa that was firmly positioned among the hill and ravine covered terrain.  The enemy had brought numerous heavy weapons into position, including powerful anti-tank guns.  In the sector the Regiment was attacking the enemy infantry strength was determined to be about 7 battalions strong.  The Regiment would however enjoy support from the Panzer-Regiment of the SS-Pz.Gren.Div. ‘Adolf Hitler’.  The orders were: ‘Eject the enemy along the railway and in Borki with Panzer support.’  As such after the first attack objective was reached (the high ground along the line Hills 172.3, 161.8 and 160.3) the Panzer-Regiment was to conducting a wide-reaching thrust into the left flank of the enemy in order to lay the foundation for throwing back the much superior enemy.  The Regiment reached the first attack objective and held up in jump-off positions for the continued attack against the railway line and Borki.  The enemy put up heavy defensive fire with all available weapons, making a forward advance impossible for the time being.  Thus the Panzer thrust had to bring about a decisive result.  However this did not come to pass, as the Panzer-Abteilungen could not dislodge the enemy that had dug-in near Dahgun, and the attack had to be broken off.  The regimental commander, observing from the foremost line, realized that action now had to be taken in order to not let victory slip away. Through a thrust towards Borki it would be possible to cut off and destroy strong enemy units.  Therefore the regimental commander decided to attack without Panzer support.  Through the particularly skillful deployment of the Bataillone by the commander, the Regiment succeeded in ejecting, pursuing and destroying the enemy.  The railway line was reached, and with it the enemy’s retreat and supply route was captured.  The enemy elements cut-off by this maneuver were destroyed in the course of the subsequent operations.  As a result of his independent decisive to attack the overwhelming enemy without Panzer support, in addition to his personal intervention, SS-Obersturmbannführer Kumm succeeded in laying the groundwork for the destruction of the cut-off enemy.  On the 16.02.1943 the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. ‘Der Führer’ had the following order: ‘Regiment must reach Jefronowka and make contact with Kampfgruppe Meier’.  By this the elusive enemy could be caught in a pincer movement and destroyed. The III.(SPW)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. ‘Der Führer’ commenced its movement and noticed that only weak enemy units were moving to Jefronowka, with the bulk of their forces instead retreating towards the southeast.   Thus the regimental commander decided to deviate from his mission. Instead of only attacking Jefronowka, he would instead pursue and destroy the larger enemy forces as well.  The regimental commander gave the following order: ‘Follow the clearly recognizable enemy tracks, then fix and destroy them.’  Success made itself known a day later, when the offensive group (consisting of the SPW Bataillon and a Panzer-Kompanie) eliminated one enemy Regiment. 20 guns, numerous mortars and heavy machine guns, 30 anti-tank guns, flamethrowers and numerous dead were the confirmation that this deviation from the original orders was justified.  The pursuit of this enemy had brought success.  Over the course of these two decisive actions, and during the entire thrust as far as Bereka, a constant battle was fought not only against the enemy but also against snow and the terrain.  This success by the Division can be credited to Kumm’s iron will to advance and his continual presence among the foremost attack spearheads.  Equally important was his correct analysis of unexpected situations and the corresponding decisions concerning the employment of available units.  The achievements brought about by the leadership and the troops themselves were extraordinary."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves citation, awarded on 6 April 1943 as SS-Obersturmbannführer and commander SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "Der Führer".  "During the course of the Balkan withdrawal the 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division ‘Prinz Eugen’ managed to withdraw to the Nisch bridgehead as planned following heavy combat with strong enemy forces in the area around LeskovacBela-Palanka (against 6 Bulgarian infantry divisions and 1 tank brigade) and Zajecar (against 3 Soviet divisions).  The swift evacuation of the wounded (700), supply equipment, and ground facilities (headquarters, airbases and Flak) was necessary.  The evacuation route Brigadeführer Kumm intended to use leading northwards via Aleksinac was already blocked by strong Russian forces north of Aleksinac.  The only available weak forces (1 Bataillon) were unable to reopen the route on the 12.10.1944.  Connection to the Korps no longer existed. Consequently the divisional commander decided to allow these motorized column to escape towards the west via MramorProkuplje.  The Nisch bridgehead had to be held until the 14.10.1944 against hotly pursuing enemy forces, as the destroyed Morava bridge only completed repairs at midday on the 13.10.1944 and the approx. 1000 vehicles could only be fully led through at 09:00 on the 14.10.1944 due to the bad weather. The horse-drawn units were placed behind the motorized columns.  At around 10:45 a Bulgarian division (reinforced by a tank brigade) attacked the retreat route here from the south with their main effort along the left wing in the Merosina area (they started at 08:00 according to the Divisional command post).  Gruppe Gabelmann, positioned as security to the south with 3 Luftwaffe-Kompanien, was totally dispersed.  Brigadeführer Kumm immediately assembled all available troops (some 40 men with 3 light MGs), and with them held the southern edge of Merosina.  An ordered relief attack by elements of the II./13 from the southern edge of Nisch into the flank of the enemy did not come to fruition, as the Bataillon itself was attacked by strong enemy forces with tank support.  The vehicle column was fully shot up by anti-tank guns, tanks and artillery, its drivers and supply troops being totally scattered. However the brave resistance by the divisional commander and his handful of men held off the enemy long enough for the vehicles carrying the wounded as well as other elements of the motorized columns to pull out to the west and later to Pristina.  At around 13:00 the enemy had blocked the road along both sides of Merosina with tanks, and had penetrated into the village itself with infantry.  After running out of ammunition the Brigadeführer decided to get out of there.  Along with his troops he broke out of the village and reached the command post of the Regiment 13.  From here he ordered the Bataillone to pull out of the Nisch bridgehead, and for the assembly of all available elements of the Division at Dudulajce.  The retreat and the reassembly went according to plan, with the artillery also being taken along.  Due to a lack of ammunition and heavy weapons the divisional decided to avoid major engagements and instead cross over the ridge of the Jastrebac mountain.  He intended to break through the partisan forces along the way and once again make contact with friendly forces in the Ibar valley.  After an extremely difficult mountain march with about 4000 men and 1100 horses (in which sufficient food and fodder was unavailable) the Ibar valley was reached on the night of the 20./21.10.1944, and friendly contact was established in the UsceBare area.  Through this bold undertaking Brigadeführer Kumm managed to extract his troops from the jaws of a far superior enemy, and remain in control of a combat-capable formation.  From the 24.10.-27.11.1944 the Division (along with additional combat elements of the General-Kommando F.W. Müller) held the bridgehead at Karljevo, and in doing so enabled the withdrawal of several divisions as well as large quantities of supplies.  Retreating via Cacak, Brigadeführer Kumm took over the Ljubovija bridgehead on the 05.12.1944.  Thereafter he held the bridgehead (and with it the road to Rogacica) open until the 15.12.1944.  Starting on the 10.12.1944 the Division found itself all alone on the eastern bank of the river after the destruction of the Drina bridge.  On the 22.12.1944 the Division reached Bijeljina following hard combat with partisans, and in doing so made contact with the divisions of the XXXIV. Armee-Korps.  Already in the days afterwards the divisional commander began an operation to clear the Drina—Save triangle.  With swift thrusts the partisan forces located there (4-5 of Tito’s divisions, some of which were already there and some of which were in the process of crossing the Drina from the eastern bank) were scattered.  They were pushed back either across the Drina or into the mountains towards the west.  During an attack on the 03.01.1945, launched from the Otok area under the command of Brigadeführer Kumm, the 21st Tito Division was engaged in the KomletinciNijemci area.  With only minimal friendly losses, the enemy division was destroyed following a series of powerful strikes.  High losses were inflicted, and numerous light and heavy weapons fell into our hands.  During a further attack on the 17.-18.01.1945, following a breakthrough of enemy positions at Sotin, Brigadeführer Kumm and his men succeeded in capturing Opatovac, Lovac, Tovarnik and Sid in a swift advance.  Once again heavy losses in men and material were inflicted on the enemy."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords citation, awarded on 17 March 1945 as SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of the Waffen-SS and commander of the 7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division "Prinz Eugen".
Another deadly enemy elite,

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