The Fall of Braunschweig
and surrounding area

April 10th- April 13th, 1945

 


1945 Map of area west, click to enlarge

Vintage Film Clip of Army Air Force flight over Braunschweig just after capture.
Click to View        Window Media Player

Fuse Canal lockhouses at 820114 on above map with 30th armor pulled up waiting to cross to attack Braunschweig.  In the east side lock house is where Gen. Hobbs called for the German General Veith to surrender his troops.

Fuse Lockhouses today...thanks to Juergen Ladebeck, Magdeburg, Germany.
Google Earth link to present day lockhouses...GO TO GOOGLE EARTH LINK...must have Google Earth Program on your computer.

117th 3rd Battalion video...... moving through Fuse Canal lockhouses and advancing toward Braunschweig.  Windows Media Player required.
The National Archives description of above film lists the troops as Cos. I, K, and L of the 117th.

117th Unit Journal..April 11th / April 13th...Adobe PDF file.  24 pages

117th, 3rd Battalion Report

117th Battalion, Co. K report

117th, Co. L report of Capt. William Drunkenmiller taken Apr. 21st

30th troops attacking into Braunschweiger on April 10th.  M-4 tank with 76mm gun.

Article from the June '45, 30th "SCRAP" BOOK

Official account of meeting between Gen. Hobbs and the German commander of Braunschweig, Gen. Veith.

Film footage of the Actual Surrender meeting....tremendous shots of Gen. Hobbs and his 'entourage'!!!  Windows Media Player Note: No Sound

Film footage of the Surrender of Gen. Veith plus additional footage of liberated POWs.  Windows Media Player

Lt. Schmidt, far right, interpreter  for Gen. Hobbs and Gen. Veith, 2nd from right.

Meeting on Wedtlenstedter Schleuse (Fuse Canal lock house) Gen. Veith carrying white flag, Gen. Hobbs and Gen. Harrison backs to camera.  German photo

German photo of Gen. Veith and Gen. Hobbs after Veith's capture east of Braunschweig

Engineers of the 105th, Co. A begin to bridge the canal...see report from history book below:

105th Engineer Video of bridging the Fuse Canal...please be patient for download..Windows Media Player required.


Men of the 117th, Co. L get ready to move on to Braunschweig after crossing the canal through the lock houses.  Apr. 11th.

117th men move out toward Braunschweig

120th, 2nd Bn. moving through Bodenstedt on April 11th.

120th, 2nd Bn. moving through Bodenstedt on April 11th.

Map showing movement of the 3 120th battalions

  Crossing the canal east of Ufingen...120th Regiment.  In the 105th Eng. history book this crossing is quoted: "In the 120th sector, 1st Platoon men of C Company, using all five of the company's assault boats, ferried the doughs across against very light resistance.   They then had a floating treadway bridge across the canal by 1830 hours.

National Archives video of 120th advancing on Braunschweig...Window Media player required.

Scout car in Braunschweig liberating foreign workers.

April 12th, 1945 German newspaper flyer.

Unidentified American unit in Braunschweig in April 45.  A German photo.


1945 Map of area east, click to enlarge

Click also on this link to find a Google Earth map of the route of the 120th
Must have Google Earth program on computer
Thanks to Joerg Guensche!!

Click to view panoramic view of Gross Steinum (found on Google Earth Map above, Landmark for Gross Steinum is the point where 30th troops spotted German troops in the town).

The former sheep stable where German POWs waited for the transport to Braunschweig.  Landmarked on Google Earth map above. 

Story of the taking of Gross Steinum from the 120th History book.

Tragedy at Gross Steinum....click to access!!
 

This photo found in Workhorse is missed identified as Braunschweig.  It is actually Ochsendorf, Germany..found at 010165 on above map.  A good friend from Koenigslutter, 100090, Joerg Guensche, who is helping me with this research, drives by this intersection on his way to work each day.  On the above map please find the Braunschweig to Berlin autobahn just north of Ochsendorf.  These are probably 117th men.
Better quality print of same photo I obtained at National Archives, Summer of 2006

Today photo of above. 

Joerg also identified this photo found on page 232 of the 120th history book as Bornum, 060110, looking down the mainstreet east towards Koenigslutter.  I have received additional information on this photo from Karl-Heinz Grande of Bornum with the "Da Born" historical organization: The German civilian holding the white flag is Alwin Schweimler.  He escaped from Brunswick to his sister in Bornum.  He lived in the inn "Weisses Ross" meaning White Horse on April 12th, 1945.  The Inn can be seen on the left side of the street.  On the right side of the street is the seat of the Mayor.   A special thanks to Karl!!!

Bornum today...thanks to Juergen Ladebeck, Magdeburg

120th troops move into Bornum on April 12th Bornum today

Look from the north about Bornum to the Elm. Thanks to Karl-Heinz Grande

Look from the Elm to Bornum. In the background you can see the skyline of Wolfsburg.

Karl-Heinz Grande of Konigslutter-Bornum sent me two copies of the German history organization, Da Born, magazine.  The cover of the 2005 edition is shown here.  The first article recalls the local German citizens' recollection of the coming of the Americans.  I have used a rough translation of the article to rewrite their stories in English.  Although my retelling of the stories are a rather feeble attempt, I still believe you will find them very informative.  It is always great to 'hear' the story from both sides. 

"60 years ago-End of World War II-in Bornum"

Only the absolutely loyal National Socialist still hoped for the promised 'Wonder Weapon' that the leaders said would bring final victory for Germany in the middle of 1944.  All others including the inhabitants of Bornum knew the war was lost. 
-in Russia the German troops had to give way to Soviet pressure and the Red Army had reached east Prussia by the end of July '44.
-German troops forced back from Florence to the north in Italy when in 1943 the Allies landed.
-the Allies had landed in June '44 in France
The political scene also pointed to the end.
-the July '44 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler revealed resistance forces were serious about ending the war to save further loss of German life.
-Romania had changed alliances followed by Bulgaria and Hungary.
-Finland  signed an armistice with England and Russia in September.
-All men capable of bearing arms the "Volkssturm" 16-60 years old were called to service.
But there were also local events that signaled to local citizens that the end was very near.  In January 1944 a school class was evacuated from Brunswick to Bornum.  The pupils were put with single families.  Brunswick has become a major bombing run for the Allies.  More and more young people were moved to 'safe' villages around the city.  Bornum was one of these. The Brunswick newspaper continually listed more and more dead and missing persons with the characteristic Iron Cross.  Front line soldiers rarely came home to visit and those that did left well knowing that this was probably the last time they would see their family.   Many tears were shed at parting.  Teenagers were being called up for service.  Henry Wohld, born 3/11/27, in Jan. 1944 was called up to the anti-aircraft auxiliary at Fallersleben. 

The young girls were also called to duty to fulfill their "service to the native country".  17 year old Elisabeth Korn  was given every kind of task in helping needy families.   She also worked in an ammunition factory.  Marie Krokel decried the 'enslavement' of teenages crying that "Hitler, the scoundrel, will not quit until the whole people of Germany suffer." 
In September 1944 ten families (approximately 60 people) arrived from Eschweiler.  The evacuation was do to the government planning to make a stand at the Rhine and hold the enemy west of the river. 
In the first years of the war hostile bombers only penetrated German airspace at night and were tangled in air fights with German fighters. By 1944 bomber groups appeared in the native sky in the middle of the day and were never seriously threatened by German aircraft.  Brunswick suffered 15 heavy raids that year.  The heaviest occurred on Oct. 15th. over the entire municipal area.  The fires could be observed even from Bornum. 
In Feb. 1945 Bornumer families had to double up in homes to make room for more evacuated countrymen, this time from the Cologne area.   This billeting was accepted by the Bornumer families without grumbling sense all were fearful of the unknown enemy.  As hostile American troops moved through Hanover and Bruswick in 1945 one observed more and more German privates walking into town looking for help from the local administration.  The local officials ignored what appeared to be deserters and gave assistance. 
Prisoners of war that worked for Bornumer farmers were forced to dig a trench parallel to Circle 3 Street at a length of approximately 20 meters.  Mayor Otto Buchheister supervised the work and had to explain to the women the purpose of digging it in a zig-zag pattern as opposed to a straight line.
On the day before American troops entered Bornum a potential devastating situation for the village was avoided.  13 year old Sigrid Hadelt observed a group of men at the western end of the village in a heated argument.  The quarrel was over whether or not to set up anti-tank obstacles against American armor.  In the course of the violent discussion a man was put up against and threatened with being shoot.   The establishment of the anti-tank obstacle was abandoned.
Local citizens questioned what would it be like when hostile troops occupied the village?  How would the approximately 150 prisoners of war and foreign workers react?  Would the occupying troops take all the food supplies and other crucial items?  Village families buried preserved food in a woodsheds and other places.   Farmer Hermann Bese had an ingenious idea.  He disregarded the general rule that one plants potatoes at the earliest end of April or beginning of May.  He planted his potatoes during the 1st week of April so American soldiers could not take them away from him.  He could still expect to dig the potatoes in the fall. 
On April 12th, 1945 American troops entered Bornum coming across Empire Street.  Ilse Reinecke, whose husband was in Russian captivity, recorded this drastic event in her diary:
On April 10th she reports all the food stocks are distributed throughout the village.  Even if for only a few days...everyone will have something eat knowing the Americans will take anything they can find.  A terrible raging shakes the house.  We suspect the Miag plants have been blown up by the enemy.  Certainly tomorrow we will have to occupy the cellar. 
On April 11th everything was rather quiet.  We were twice called to air raid but nothing happened.
On April 12th the enemy is here.  There was a little resistance from the Elm, but quiet in the village.  The 'shoot-out' was not bad so soon we will leave the cellar.  A tank shell did go over the roof but did not damage.  American soldiers sleep here tonight.  I did have a little excitement.  An American soldier was looking for weapons.  He looked through all the rooms briefly.  Over our baby he even gave a SMILE.  While searching another home an American soldier found a uniform.  He wanted to know where the soldier was!!  However the uniform was of the father's...a Reichsbahn uniform ( German Railroad Organization ). 
Not everyone knew at first the Americans had entered Bornum.  Late in the morning several girls were playing "people ball" on the school play ground.  When several shots were heard the girls stopped, waited, and returned to playing their game.  Shortly an adult confronted the girls and quickly herded them into a cellar.  They stayed there until they learned American soldiers were passing out chocolate.  They hurried to the place were the American soldiers were.  When a rifle misfired the girls ran and hide...the chocolate was not that important. 
When captured Poles, Russians, and Frenchmen were freed, the pillaged the stores of Brunswick.  One cannot understand why all the beautiful things were not sold to Germans before the Americans to liberate them.  If the Americans had not been there to maintain some order, it would have been much worse for the German civilians. 
On April 21st war again came to the area.  Gen. Karl Decker had the last task force of the Clausewitz division behind the American lines in the area of the city of Uelzen.  There was a tank company of 15 battle tanks of various types.  At 1:00 American supply traffic on the road from Gifhorn to Brome was greatly reduced.  In the darkness the group reached the channel bridge at Empire St. 248.  2 German tanks had new night vision monitors and made a run through the Fallersleber municipal are and reached the woods area to the north of Wendhausen.  Heavy losses were sustained.  Various units finally reached the northern woods of the Elm.
Map of April 21st action.
Being surrounded by American tanks and troops the order was given to break into small groups and try to reach units of the Wenck army on the Elbe.  Documents were burned and money from the war-chest distributed.  First lieutenant Kempe in a car with a loudspeaker at 13:00 gave the order to cease the lost cause.  As the groups abandoned their tanks and left the woods, American artillery and tanks fired on the woods for an hour.  Then infantry combed the woods for any remaining Germans.  It was over. 
As an interesting side note: Hermann Rohrig would cut firewood with his mobile circular saw for private households in Bornum in the late 50's.  He ruined many saw blades when he would  hit shell splinters left from the American bombardment of the woods south of Abbenrode on April 21st.  End of story.

 

1945  2007

This photo also found on page 232 REMARKABLY with the help of Joerg comes with the identity of the German holding the white flag, Otto Schonekas.  Otto met the lead elements of the 120th Inf. Reg./2nd Battlion with tanks of the 823rd TD.  He met them on the western outskirts of Koenigslutter and lead them through to the eastern side.  Below is a fragile English translation of Otto's encounter:

Otto Schoenekaes, 1966, Servus was his nickname, all people called him Servus.  Born 14.03.1899    Died 14.10.1981