"The 272 VGD
In Action In The Eifel" 1944/45
Günther Schmidt, Translated
by Ron van Rijt
Günther Schmidt was an officer
(Leutnant) of the 272nd Volks-Grenadier
Division who fought in the Hürtgen Forest and Westwall
battles during 1944/45. He wrote this account to
illustrate what his battalion endured from November
1944 until February 1945. Translation by Mr. Ron van
Rijt of the Netherlands.
On September 11, 1944, I arrived as the
advanced element of our command with the train at
Dallgow, and reported at the major's office, where a
Hauptfeldwebel was already Ieading the newcomers to
the barracks of their companies. I received beautiful
private quarters at the family Wegener at Dallgow. I
already received a message that I was going home for
two weeks, like all the others of our Division who
came back from the front at Normandy. I was the only
officer left from our 2nd Battalion,
Grenadier Regiment 982, together with a few men.
When I came back after my nice holiday, I lived in the
Wegener quarters. They were very kind to me. Mr.
Wegener was the county constable of the village and
sometimes he went hunting. From time to time they
invited me for dinner when he caught a rabbit or a
Our new Battalion commander, Hauptmann Schneider and
his adjutant, Lieutenant Peters, were very busy with
the re-establishment of our battalion. Several
officers of our battalion were new and unknown to me.
Every day some more newcomers came; many in Gray/Green
Kriegsmarine uniforms, or in Blue/Gray Luftwaffe
uniforms. Most of them had only short and insufficient
training. That's why the companies were mostly outside
in the field and at the training range, to teach the
men how to be infantrymen.
I was always on the move on a bicycle, having to visit
shooting ranges at the training field and having to
make suggestions. These were coordinated at the
Battalion and passed on as orders to the companies. I
was always on the move on my bicycle to check the area
for our planned training.
On a beautiful sunny day I saw a daylight attack of
one thousand enemy bombers at the nearby Siemensstadt
at Berlin. Soon the sky got dark with black smoke and
the sun couldn't be seen anymore. At the end of this
there was a fire training of all the heavy infantry
weapons, mortars and infantry guns at the firing
range. It was very impressive to see how tremendous
such a concentrated use of the guns must be to an
During the fighting in Eifel we always used
it like this and the enemy suffered many losses
because of it. In the last weekend there was a
twenty-four hour regiment training that reached as far
as the Wannsee. I received a horse and was always in
the field. It was pretty interesting to train to work
together in such a big group.
The training of the troops did not have much time
left. The moment that we were going up front was
coming closer. The troops consisted of about twenty
percent skilled infantrymen and the rest were former
Kriegsmarine, or Luftwaffe members. Officers and NCOs
were mostly from the Infantry and you could easily
recognize their experience from their medals. On
October 30, 1944 the Battalion got on the train and in
the dark we left the railroad station at Dallgow. We
rode from Magdeburg and Paderborn in a westerly
At Cologne-Mühlheim there was an air-raid warning. The
train stopped between houses, no one was allowed to
get out of the train. It was a strange feeling when
the FLAK started to shoot and some bombs fell in the
In the early morning, the train stopped before it
entered the Düren railroad station. From time to time
heavy enemy artillery fired at the railroad tracks.
Every few minutes an enemy "greeting" came rushing in,
but it didn't cause that much damage. It took about an
hour before we finally got on to Vettweiss.
There our train was unloaded under the protection of
light Flak. Shortly thereafter enemy planes appeared
and they threatened the whole area. Our companies were
marching in a long stretched column in the direction
of Nideggen while using every cover that we could
In the distance we could hear the rumbling of the
front very clearly. After marching for a while, we
recognized the explosion of every single shell. No one
knew what was going to come the next day, and the men
were in a depressed and quiet mood.
Once in a while we meet civilians with all their
belongings, some with horse-drawn carts, handcarts and
even with baby carriages or bags and backpacks for
their most important things only. Their faces
expressed what they had to live through, having to
leave their home and belongings.
The "front-thunder" was coming closer; we could hear
the bursting menace of the exploding shells. Our
tension grew when the front came closer.
I marched with our Commander Hauptmann Schneider at
the lead of the battalion. At the crossroads at Brück
I stopped a truck to ask for the road to Harscheidt.
When the truck drove on, I saw what it had loaded. The
legs and boots of about twenty dead soldiers could be
seen under the canvas. Some officer’s boots were among
them also. We shivered thinking about the reality.
After we walked the road uphill, we finally reached
hill 366 at the wood line of Harscheidt. The lead of
the column waved for the rest of the men. Rest! The
impact of the enemy artillery was very close; they
were coming from the direction of Bergstein where the
truck had come from.
Hauptmann Schneider ordered me to the
Regimental command post which was on the edge of the
village of Schmidt at the road to Heimbach to return
with further orders and a runner. It was already dark.
We barely reached the first houses of the village and
were standing between some horse carts when the first
shells came in and exploded very close. We quickly
jumped into the ditch for cover.
There was a lot of confusion in the street, horses
reared; we heard screams from the men that were hit.
Before we could think about what to do, the next round
was falling into the moving column. I decided to go
around the village on the left side through the
fields, which wasn't difficult because of the clear
night. Soon we reached the hunting lodge while Schmidt
was still under heavy artillery fire. We quickly got
back to where we came from with the orders for the
release while shells were coming in only a few hundred
yards away at the village of Schmidt.
Our battalion moved through Schmidt and into the
defenses around Rollesbroich. I talked with the
Commander and suggested that only the vehicles and
carts should go through Schmidt because of the
artillery that was coming in on the village. The men
shouldn't go through.
We started marching in a long stretched column and
went around the village. After crossing two valleys we
safely reached the road at Gerstenhof. We rested for a
short while and marched along in the direction of
Strauch. At the woods line on the right side we were
to meet some runners at a pillbox who would lead us to
their line of defense, but we couldn't find these men.
Finally our Hauptmann ordered us into a firebreak to
the right and we kept walking downhill. I had a bad
feeling about this. I thought something stinks. That's
why I suggested we walk back to the main road. If we
had followed this firebreak, we would have walked
right into Simonskall.
The next day the Americans started their attack from
the Kall Valley to Kommerscheidt and Schmidt. After
another search along the road to Strauch we finally
round the spot where we were to meet the runners.
In the meantime our vehicles had crossed the village
of Schmidt. They had some wounded. The pillbox 139/40,
which was located a few hundred meters inside the
forest, was our Battalion command post and the other
half of it was a first-aid post. We were glad that we
finally found it.
A Sergeant of the unit that we were to replace called
my name. In September we put up an Alarm Company
together at Venlo in Holland. This was just a small
experience but it helped to make me familiar with the
The burning logs in the mall stove gave a comfortable
heat. Our predecessors informed us about our new
tasks. They showed us on the maps where several
companies were, the heavy weapons and the
communications. Communication wire was partly dug in
and the rest was lying on the open ground. The other
half of our double pillbox was used as a first-aid
post. Inside was the assistant doctor, Dr. Egel. It
was still night when our companies were brought into
their new defenses.
The old troops were released and they were gone when
daylight came. Our communications unit was not far
away from us at pillbox 142. It was coming and going
at our command post. The telephone kept ringing and
the runners were coming in from all directions while
others were going again.
At daybreak we could see the steeple of the
Lammersdorf church. The Americans had a observer
positioned there and every imprudent movement at our
woods line resulted in a few incoming rounds.
Today is the 2nd of November. The weather was wet and
foggy, temperature around 32 degrees. It was pretty
miserable outside. Part of Grenadier Regiment 983 (of
the 275th Infantry Division) on our right
side were involved in a heavy fight to defend the
Forest of Raffelsbrand with the pillboxes 372, 372a,
362, 363 and 22. We could easily hear the fighting in
During the next days there was a hard and tangled
fight for Vossenack. The Americans pushed through the
Kall Valley to Kommerscheidt and Schmidt. At first we
didn't know what was going on.
On the morning of November 2nd we sent four runners
with bicycles by way of Schmidt to our supply unit at
Heimbach to lead the carts with supplies and
provisions to our new defensive positions. We waited
in vain until the next morning for the return of our
runners and our supplies.
During the next day we were informed by the unit on
our left side that the Americans had taken Schmidt and
about the hard fighting behind our backs.
The supplies still didn't come on the second night.
After a few days we were officially informed by the
Regiment about what happened behind our backs at
Kommerscheidt and Schmidt. They found the bicycles of
our runners east of Gerstenhof, but the men couldn't
be found. When I look back, I must say that it was
unjustifiable of the Regiment not to inform us about
the happenings at Kommerscheidt and Schmidt.
We should have protected the backside of the road to
Gerstenhof at once. If the Americans were a bit
faster, they could have pushed through the front to
Simmerath without meeting any resistance.
The Kall Valley south of Raffelsbrand was under heavy
mortar fire day after day. The unit on our right side
told us that there were tremendous losses. In the
meantime our companies became familiar with the half
finished defense positions. Our heavy infantry
weapons, mortars, infantry guns as well as our
artillery had ranged in their guns in certain areas.
When enemy attack took place, our battalion gave
messages to the fire command and a little later our
shells were on their way to the Americans.
We didn't have much rest at night either.
Engineers were working at the defenses. Barbed wire
and mines were brought at night. A whole battalion of
Russian volunteers was digging trenches every night.
During daylight, the Americans at the Lammersdorf
church steeple could see every little move that we
made. Our area looked as follows: 5th Company at the
road Schmidt-Simmerath, west edge of Rollesbroich, 6th
and 7th Company at the southern height of the Kall
Valley dam till the road Whs. Kallbrück. The 8th
company with heavy machine guns and mortars were west
of the Tiefen Creek.
The enemy quickly recognized our working on our
defenses. Their nightly artillery fire at our lines
was getting stronger and stronger.
One day the Russians mutinied and didn't go out front
to dig trenches because of the high losses on dead and
wounded. These dead were buried in a small cemetery at
the woods line south of the road Schmidt/Strauch.
Within a few days the enemy attacked at the east bank
of the Kall Valley dam. North of Rollesbroich and at
the dam itself the Americans succeeded to take the
east bank of the Kall Valley dam. At late afternoon
the enemy forces were pushed back again by our
counterattack. We didn't have too many losses. The
Americans probably didn't expect a counterattack and
they fled back.
The next day our battalion Commander Hauptmann
Schneider and myself visited the defenses of the 8th
Company at the Tiefen Creek Valley, pillbox 510, our
front-line at Rollesbroich and the retaken east bank
of the Kall Valley dam. Everywhere we found a lot of
equipment that the Americans left - weatherproof
sleeping bags, little tents, cans with rations, little
cookers, coffee, tea and cigarettes. They were
probably digging in and preparing for the night when
our counterattack took place.
Our own losses in the first two weeks were about 15%,
mostly by artillery fire. Our first aid post in the
pillbox beside us was a great help during those days.
From there the wounded were transported by Ambulances
by way of Schmidt and Heimbach to the field hospital
On the 15th of November our battalion was shifted to
the right. The 7th Company stayed in their
old defense at the east bank of the Kall Valley dam in
the area of the dam itself. The 5th Company
was to defend the Whs. At Kallbrück (the Pub),
pillboxes 111, 112, 113 and 115 and 6th
Company was given pillboxes P2, 22, IG3, 372 and 372a.
From this area there was no connection to other units
until the clearing of pillbox 372 at the end of
January 1945. Unit 8910,that was to be released, had
tremendous fighting in this area since November 2 and
was seriously weakened because of heavy losses.
We were just getting used to our new defenses when on
November 16 the enemy attacked pillbox 111 and held it
for a short period. Oberleutnant von Ruden, who
cleared the enemy at the Kall Valley dam was very fast
on the spot and was able to retake pillbox 111 without
too many losses after a counterattack.
Only a few Americans escaped. The rest were taken
Although we had some snipers in the area, imprudent
Americans kept crossing the firebreak in front of
pillbox 22 day after day.
During clear nights, Hauptmann Schneider and myself
often checked the defenses from pillbox 124, via
to 372a. This wasn't possible during daytime because
of enemy observation. The pillboxes were connected
with trenches. In front of the trenches there were
mines and barbed wire. Between all this lay the rest
of the completely destroyed fir tree forest.
Inside the pillboxes the men could rest after their
duty in the trenches outside, but most of all they
were safe from the constant incoming shells. It really
wasn't an easy task for an attacking force.
Our heavy infantry guns, mortars and artillery had
zeroed in very well at areas directly in front of our
defenses. Most of the pillboxes were connected by
telephone with wires buried deeply in the ground.
Wires in the open field were only laid in short
lengths between the concrete wire connecting pits
behind our front. Besides that, we had several field
radios with the forward observers.
In the next days the Americans attacked pillboxes P2,
22 and IG3. Most of the attacks ended in front of the
barbed wire because many of their men were lost in the
minefield and because of our soldiers’ defense aided
with our heavy weapons.
The supply of the 5th and 6th Companies gave
tremendous problems. The horse drawn carts with the
supplies were coming from Heimbach by way of Schmidt
to pillbox 124 alongside the road to Kallbrück. From
there we had to carry all the supplies by hand to the
front back again inside the old command post, pillbox
125. The release went without any problem.
Until the 10th of January it is real quiet at our
sector. Only now and then the Americans fired into our
positions. We could almost believe that the war had
The Ardennes offensive had disrupted the enemy, which
gave us a bit of relief. On a clear night I walked
with Hauptmann Schneider and two runners to the
defensive positions in front of pillboxes 111 to 372.
We wished all the men a happy New Year and everyone
received a small present - cigarettes, chocolate or
alcohol. That night there was hardly any firing. The
look of the snow covered forested landscape could
almost make you dream.
It took us till early morning before we were
back at our command post pillbox 125, by way of the
firebreak at pillbox P3.
The quietness seemed to last too long and we started
to worry about it. We could see that the enemy was
organizing large scale firing exercises behind their
front at Rötgen. Every day we could see an increasing
number of vehicles that were taking the road from
Lammersdorf to Germeter. There were hundreds of them.
Our own artillery fire didn't trouble the enemy that
much. During those quiet days we prepared our defenses
some more. We checked a second defense line on the
right side of the Kall River at Buhlert and with the
support of an engineer and alarm company, we started
to work. Besides that we were working on a plan to get
the two foremost companies at Ochsenkopf (Oxhead) over
the Kall River in case of a flood caused by a possible
blowing of the Kall Valley dam. Engineers stretched a
cable from pillbox 122 to pillbox 121 and we placed
two rubber boats at this spot.
The snow stays till the end of January. On January
10th it happens. The enemy attacks the whole sector of
our 5th and 6th companies, but the attack is stopped
in the minefields after the concentrated fire of all.
After about an hour the enemy concentrates the attack
at pillbox 22. Our men keep fighting from inside the
pillbox for half an hour. Till the very last moment we
have the men inside the pillbox on the phone. Suddenly
there is a crack in the line and it's over.
From there, the enemy moves to pillbox IG 3 and starts
pressing on it from all sides. In about an hour this
pillbox has the same fate as pillbox 22.
The enemy stopped its unsuccessful attack under heavy
losses around noon at the sector of the 5th Company.
During the night our reserve company arrived to try to
retake the old positions in the early daylight in an
attack from pillbox P2 and 119. Twice these attacks
were repelled under severe losses for our troops. In
the meantime they pushed in another reserve unit who
attacked a third time without the support of heavy
weapons. As it was meant as a unexpected attack, it
was a costly failure as well.
The next day the Americans attacked again and managed
to take pillbox P2 pretty quickly. Pillboxes 372 and
372a kept on fighting.
On the 12th of January another battalion arrived with
about a hundred men. Their winter clothing was not
sufficient enough. We placed our battalion command
post inside pillbox 119 where I stayed with our
commander. At 9 a.m. our heavy weapons started firing.
After a successful beginning our attack broke down in
the heavy enemy fire. In some places the enemy pushed
us back to our line of departure.
We had severe losses. Our men were lying in the snow
in the open. Without foxholes to hide, they were
exposed to the strong enemy mortar fire.
Our losses are tremendous. After a short while our
command pillbox 119 changed into a first aid post.
Severely wounded were carried inside - the wailing and
groaning - medics tried to dress the wounds.
Severely wounded soldiers were dying. They were
carried outside and new ones were brought in. At noon
there were about fifteen dead piles up at the hollow
road in front of the entrance. Other wounded were
trying to help each other while they were going
downhill into the Kall Valley.
It was late afternoon before the severely wounded
could be transported down into the valley. The badly
mauled and beaten stayed in their defensive positions.
I stayed with a few men inside pillbox 119 until
The work on our defensive positions went on night
after night. Engineers brought up our weapons.
A few days later the enemy unexpectedly started its
attack at pillbox 115. They succeeded to blow the
pillbox with a special charge, but they didn't destroy
it completely. A reserve force is sent up front to
retake the pillbox which is now manned by the
Americans. The attack is a failure despite the support
of our heavy weapons. We lost a lot of men.
We received another order from our regiment at noon.
Pillbox 115 is to be attacked again the next day and
to be retaken.
Our Hauptmann Schneider tells the commander of the
regiment Oberstleutnant Rösener that another attack on
pillbox 115 wouldn't make any sense and is
unjustifiable. Our men were lying in their foxholes in
the snow between pillboxes 119 and 372 at Ochsenkopf (Oxhead).
Our last men were lost at pillbox 115. The rising open
ground wouldn't give a chance to be successful in
Hauptmann Schneider asked the Regt. Com. to come over
to have a look himself at this area. Finally the
Divisional Commander, Gen. König, came on the line and
said that it was an order from the Führer Headquarters
to retake pillbox 115 and that this order must be
obeyed, even if it seemed impossible.
Hauptmann Schneider said that he couldn't take the
responsibility to waste his men for a useless attack,
that we were already too weak for the defense. .
It was suggested not to start the attack. They would
tell the Führer Headquarters that the new attack had
Our Regt. Commander said that he would come up front
to see that the attack started as ordered. And that's
how it went. He watched how not a single one of ten
men came back and how they all got killed.
This was a big impact on our Hauptmann Schneider
The enemy tried to take pillbox 510 in
front of Rollesbroich for several days. These attacks
resulted in great losses for the enemy. Once the
Americans asked for a
cease fire to get their wounded out and that's indeed
what took place. Finally the Americans fired for
several days with a big gun directly at pillbox 510.
Some men inside were wounded from pieces of concrete
that were falling off. Another infantry attack was
Since the 10th of January 1945 we had very little
sleep. There was always something going on. We slept
in turns. Mostly I slept between 6 and 9 a.m.
Enemy observation planes could easily make out the
paths that we made through the snow between pillboxes
and the defensive positions. The result was the enemy
mortars fired at the entrances of the pillboxes
Since January the Americans were also shooting with
White Phosphorus, but with no great effect because of
Enemy artillery increased from day to day along the
whole front. On February 2nd we received orders that
on February 3rd we were to clear several of our
defensive positions. Our engineers were to blow or to
mine the pillboxes.
We could get out without any problem or difficulty.
The new sector went from the road Schmidt/Strauch near
pillbox 190, along the line of pillboxes to pillbox
128/129 and from there on the right bank of the
Tiefenbach to Kall Valley. The men dug in as good as
possible. Some rested in the snow lying around.
The fighting at Raffelsbrand weakened the companies
severely during the last few weeks. After heavy losses
the strength of our battalion is about 20 to 25%.
The enemy artillery kept firing day and night along
the whole front and only increased. Our new battalion
command post is now inside pillbox 136.
On the night of February 5th at 3 o'clock we received
orders to increase the battalion sector for another
800 meters to the left. This order widened the line
even more and severely weakened our front. Some
company runners were called immediately. A written
order had to be made for every company.
It was pretty late to accomplish such a difficult
change of front lines. It took till the early morning
before all companies reached their new sectors. The
consequence was that we did not even have enough men
in our sector to man all the pillboxes. We
repositioned our battalion command post in the early
morning to pillbox 220/21 south of the road from
Schmidt to Strauch. The first aid post stayed inside
pillbox 139/40 and in the main line of defense.
We had hardly arrived at our new pillbox when we
received the first shocking message. This first
message was made by telephone and came from the old
RAD Camp (the barracks) where our mortars and infantry
guns were positioned. The enemy suddenly appeared
there by the hundreds from the direction of Simonskall.
There was some short fighting. It didn't take long. No
more messages from the RAD Camp (the barracks). A bit
later a message from our first aid post told us that
the Americans had broken through the defense almost
without any sound. We must give up!
Now the enemy came from the RAD Camp and attacked
along the road to Strauch without much resistance.
Finally our communication pillbox 717a near the road
was involved in the fight. I didn't take long until
the Americans take this pillbox. We could talk to them
on the telephone!
The enemy took the pillboxes along, and north of the
road to Zäunchen at noon. In the afternoon, the enemy
pressed against the pillbox that is armed with a 75mm
PAK (anti-tank gun) to the north of us. They pushed
through the forest to the south and until they could
open fire on the backside of the pillbox. This pillbox
was manned only by an officer and three men.
They ordered me with three rnen to go and reinforce
that pillbox. The firing compartment was pointing in
the direction of the dragon’s teeth and Steckenborn.
With binoculars we can see that a fight was going on
in the village, but we couldn't discern friend or foe.
The dragons teeth to the road at Zäunchen was still
free of the enemy.
The enemy fired at the backside of the pillbox from a
distance of about 120 meters in the forest. From a
foxhole at the emergency exit the defenders fired back
into the forest. Finally the gunner was killed by a
shot in the head. In the meantime they were firing
also at the big steel door on the backside.
Our way back over the open fields to our command post
was cut off. We were trapped. We destroyed the breech
of our gun - we couldn't blow the gun because we
didn't have any explosives.
The hammering of the bullets on the steel back door
became unbearable. We crawled out of the firing
compartment in the open and became prisoners. Two of
our men were wounded by a shot in the arm when this
The rest of our battalion staff gave up their
pillboxes at dawn and gathered in front of Gerstenhof.
The enemy attacked the next morning with tanks and
infantry alongside the road. After a short fight these
men surrendered to the enemy.
So the next day in a cellar of a house in Rötgen, I
met our Commander Hauptmann Schneider, Adjutant
Leutnant Peters, as well as Unteroffizier Möbius and
Unteroffizier Matzkewitz from pillbox P3 again.
Our losses in the last few days were so tremendous
that our battalion didn't exist anymore.
After this the regiment gathered all men that were
left in a small group. The last of this group was
destroyed later in the area around Leipzig.
That's how the costly fighting our battalion had found
a tragic end.
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