Siege of Budapest

Ia of IV. SS-Pz.Korps Fritz Rentrop
SS-Panzergrenadiers of IV. SS-Pz.Korps
Nearly 35,000 Wehrmacht and 37,000 Hungarian Army (Honvédség) soldiers as well as over 900,000 civilians were trapped within the city of Budapest. The Waffen-SS troops involved constituted the backbone of the defensive effort and took the severest losses. 70,000 defenders tied up almost half a million Soviet troops. On February 13 1945 all resistance in Budapest ceased. Mass executions were committed by the victorious Red Army and the rapes and rape-murders of women that took place were of staggering proportions. The Allies took no notice as they regarded Hungary as part of the Soviet sphere of influence and therefore not worthy of attention. A day or so before the siege ended, the conference at Yalta took place, and the fate of post-war Europe was sealed. Hungary was not mentioned. The entire German-Hungarian loss of life in the battle of Budapest were about 50,000 dead and 62,000 wounded. One will never know how many German-Hungarian soldiers died in the weeks that followed the surrendering of Budapest but estimates range up to 25,000 (John Toland: The Last 100 Days). Many were murdered upon surrendering while others died during punitive “death marches” or in Soviet slave labor camps. With the exception of Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen (Operation Spring Awakening) in Hungary launched in March 1945, the Konrad Operations were the last major operations on the southern front for the Axis. Left image: Former Das Reich officer SS-Obersturmführer and Ia of the IV.SS-Panzerkorps Fritz Rentrop fell wounded into the hands of the Red Army on February 2 1945. In the postwar period rumors were spread that he was still alive but after the opening of the files of the USSR at the beginning of the 21st century it became known that Fritz Rentrop was murdered in Hungary by the Soviets the same day he was taken prisoner of war. The Knight's Cross had been awarded to him in 1941 to recognize his extreme battlefield bravery and for a single act of military valour. Photo by SS-Kriegsberichter Friedrich Zschäckel. Commons: Bundesarchiv. Right image: SS-Panzergrenadiers belonging to the Wiking or Totenkopf division in the IV.SS-Panzerkorps during Operation Konrad. Photo is taken in January 1945 near the Hungarian city of Szomor west of Budapest. Commons: Bundesarchiv.

No comments:

Post a Comment