Domazlice - Liberation - May
5th, 1945, 12:50 p.m.
Spring of 1945, in the Domažlice region was marked by continuing air strikes by
the American fighter bombers, the POW transports, and the "death
marches" of labor camp prisoners. Once the Americans completed the
destruction of the railroads, thousands of concentration camp prisoners were
moved on foot by the SS guards. Local citizens witnessed many tragedies caused
by the inhuman treatment of the desperately weakened prisoners.
By early April, the Western front approached the Czechoslovakian
border and the retreating German units entered the county. The command of a
German division, charged with defending the western border in the important
sector of Vseruby Pass-Folmava, set up camp in Mrakov. The front was getting
closer very quickly and the German units were forced to move exclusively by
their own means as American air power caused a total breakdown of the railroad
Due to early reconnaissance XII Corps Headquarters was aware that the
Germans along the Czech border were well organized and ready to resist. Behind
the rugged, border mountain ranges the 7th German Army under General von
Obstfelder was hidden and ready to fight. Divisions of this army retreated here
from the Rhine River after unsuccessfully trying to stop the Americans there.
However, until April 26th, the soldiers of the 90th Infantry Division
encountered no major resistance during their advance. In spite of the forest,
heavy terrain and muddy roads they were moving through. The turning point came
in the Waldmuenchen-Furth area, where artillery and air support had to be
was in the Domažlice area, where the German 11th Armored Division caused the
Americans to worry. The high mobility of this division presented a problem for
the American infantry. The manpower of this division was estimated at 3,500,
all experienced and fully armed men. This was a credible force not to be
Although the German resistance in the field was gradually decreasing,
their command respected Hitler's orders to defend every city as a fortress as
long as possible and to use the surrounding deep forest for prolonged
The Allied assaults were accordingly focused on the assembly areas of
German troops and the established points of resistance. For example, the
community of Klenci pod Cerchovem received a heavy bombardment. Once the Allied
air reconnaissance reported the presence of a German military column, the local
Mayor, Macek, and the German Police Commander were given a chance to surrender.
When the deadline passed, eight fighter bombers dropped incendiary and high
explosive bombs. Almost half of the 230 houses were destroyed. The fire’s glare
illuminated the whole region at the time.
The next day the Division reconnaissance men tried three times to cross
the border into Czechoslovak territory, in the Folmava-Maxov-Vseruby sector,
but each time they encountered a strong defense. The Americans had to employ
the M 7 Priest howitzers at least two times, against the tanks in Vseruby and
the artillery positions near Svata Katerina.
By the end April, 1945, the front had already gotten so close to
Domažlice, that the inhabitants heard loud and clear the thundering sound of
artillery fire from the direction of Cerchov and Haltrava, and the shells
started to hit targets around the Chodsko capital. In addition, the American
ground attack planes intensively strafed every moving German column. On the
30th of April around noon three Thunderbolt destroyed a Wehrmacht column near
the railroad station on th Klenci-Trhanov highway. In the aftermath of the
strike the so called "Lomikar Alley" was filled with wrecked APCs am
other destroyed military vehicles. However, one of the plane touched a treetop
with the tip of its wing. The plane crashed in the forest near Zadni hora pod
Hradkem and the pilot, First Lieutenant Kirkham, lost his life.
The retreating German units and the inhabitants of German villages in
many places blocked the already barely passable roads with cut down trees. In
the wide border region almost 8,000 cut down trees slowed down the U.S. Army
advance and the American Commanders had to accept the fact that since the
crossing of the Rhine they had not encountered sc many troublesome obstacles.
Many demoralized Wehrmacht units abandoned their combat positions and
tried to approach the advancing Americans with the intention to surrender.
Little did the know that by the end of April their would-be captors were
temporarily slowed down in the Domažlice border sector. h this chaotic
situation the SS Panzer division Therese starlet moving in the Domažlice County
territory, following the breakthrough of the front near Tachov. These SS units
forced the retreating Wehrmacht to resume new defensive positions also not
without dramatic moments. For example, on the slopes of the Cerchov and
Malinova mountains, the soldiers of both German armies clashed and several
Wehrmach infantrymen were hanged for desertion.
The 90th Infantry Division finally achieved a major success on the 30th
of April, when two battalions of the 358th Regiment made a breakthrough in
Capartice following a two day battle in the woods. During the fight in the deep
forest around Black River the Americans lost two tanks, 6 soldiers were killed,
ant 28 wounded. Only by evening did the U.S. infantrymen succeeded in clearing
the enemy out of several kilometers o forest, destroying one tank, and taking
110 POWs. Other unit: of the 359th Regiment advanced up to Ceská Kubice, but
then further advance on Babylon was stopped by the German defenders at a price
of two destroyed German tanks. In Mysliv a small border village near Vseruby,
the U.S. reconnaissance men surprised a group of German soldiers by a quick
mission In the fighting 7 Nazis were killed and another 12 surrendered.
On the following day, May 1st, the 90th Infantry carefully entered
without armed resistance Klenčci, Chodov, Pec, Novy Postrekov, and Parezov.
the end of April the villages around Domazlice witnessed a lot of traffic. The
army units of General Vlasov German refugees, and also the foreign workers, who
were forced to work for the Third Reich, were passing trough. TU Command and
Staff of the German division defending the important border sector from Vseruby
Pass to Folmava way forced to relocate from Mrakov to the more distant Svihov
The American Artillery even shelled Domažlice for several days and, as a
result, white Hags went up in the town However, they had to he immediately
taken down again by orders of the German Command. A local public address system
announced that the owners of all white flagged house, would be executed. In
Horsovský Tyn, a small town populated by ethnic Germans, all units of the
local self-defense force under
Hauptsturmfuehrer Meixner went to work in order to establish roadblocks
and prepare a network of resistance
any case, the overall collapse of the German Army was accelerating. Even the
artillery batteries around Domažlice,
which had shelled the American positions just hours before, left their
positions. The 90th Infantry Division
achieved some success at the very end of it's mission after taking Vseruby.
The culmination came in the morning of
May 4th, when the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division brought in from Cham a German parliamentarian with a blind
over his eyes. He was authorized by LtGen. Wend von Wietersheim to offer the surrender of all units comprising his
11th Armoured Division.
The surrender of the German general and his deputy, von Buttler, was
accepted at 11 a.m., in a military tent
in Vseruby, by the Commander of the 90th Infantry Division, Major General H. L.
Earnest. In front of the amazed and combat
worn American soldiers, all the 9,050 perfectly dressed and equipped men
of Wietersheirn's division came forward
to lay down their weapons, including 700 trucks, 300 cars, 120 off road vehicles, 85 half-track APCs, almost 40
tanks, and 59 artillery pieces. The whole act took 24 hours and, during the night, the long procession
heading for Germany had to be illuminated by searchlights.
Nazi notables surrendered in this area, including Field Marshall Edward von
Kleist, the former Commander of the
Army Group A in the Northern Caucasus and Crimea, LtGen. Francis Farkas de
Kisbarnack, the former Commander of
Hungarian 8th Corps, MjGen Russworm, the Chief of Signal Corps, and the
three-star Gen. Dr. Deyrer, the Chief
Justice of the 8th Army District.
Even earlier, while still operating in Eschlkam, Germany, the
headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division
gained access to important Nazi defense plans of the Vseruby Pass and
Folmava area fortifications, due to the
courage of Czechoslovakian Army Lieutenant Colonel Josef Herget.
After taking Leipzig, Germany, the 2nd Infantry Division was due for
rotation for accomplishing their mission. They
relocated to the Chodsko region to replace the 90th Infantry Division.
Soldiers of the famed 90th Infantry Division
entered Europe at Utah Beach, June 7th, 1944, and distinguished
themselves in some of the fiercest battles of the whole West European campaign. They fought their
way through most of Western Europe, up to the last, tough combat in the rugged terrain of the southern part of Cesky
Les and the Sumava mountains. Now it was left to another experienced unit, the 2nd Infantry Division under Major
General Robertson, to enjoy the welcome and celebrations in the Czech interior cities and villages expecting liberation.
When the Czechoslovakian flag was hoisted on the Hradek high
triangulation tower on the morning May 4th, 1945, it generated ovations and
excitement in the whole city of Domažlice. During these hours, the German military hardware and vehicles were
passing through many Chodsko communities, to places designated for the mass surrender. The last Nazi units left their
Domažlice barracks during the night of
the same day in the morning, the American divisions of the V and XII Corps
resumed major advance into the Czech
interior with a powerful push. Some units of the 2nd Infantry Division, for
example the 9th Regiment under Col.
Philip D. Ginder, advanced from Vseruby via Brudek on Kdyne, while other
units advanced on Hluboka, Loucim, and
further on to Klatovy. The third combat formation advanced to Kout na
Sumave, in order to join units arriving there in the direction of Mrakov and Tlumacov.
From the direction of Folmava via Spalenec and Pasecnice additional
combat units of the 38th Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division under Col.
Francis H. Boos cleared the surrounding woods and villages of the enemy.
On the 5th of May, the impatient citizens of Domazlice assembled in the
city square and waited for their liberators
to come in. The first to arrive were the "Indian heads" of the
2nd Infantry Division, coming from Straz and Nevolice, around the Chod’s Castle. They reached the
city Square just before 1 p.m., followed by other infantry units moving in from Havlovice, together with the 741st
Independent Tank Battalion. The city was liberated by units commanded by Captain Fred Hirres and Lt. Robert Gillbert
of the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
One eyewitness recalls:
"The first American
patrols moved in with rifles ready to fire up the street from the Chod’s Castle
to the corner of the square, which was
flooded with flags, ours as well as Allied. You can hardly describe all the
cries of joy and excitement which
sounded from all directions the very moment the first American soldiers
appeared in the city square of
Domažlice. The disciplined citizens stood on the sidewalks under the
garlands because they were told that the central area of the big square must remain clear. The infantrymen, with
their famous insignia of an Indian inside the white star on their left sleeve, split their column on
the Square into two separate lines, some 50 steps apart. Perhaps each
tenth soldier had his rifle equipped
with a whip antenna and kept a telephone earphone (walkie-talkie) close to his
ear. They never stopped but kept
walking to the gate and concurrently their other lines moved in the same
fashion through the streets parallel
with the city square. In this way they
moved forward in perfect order resembling a parade on the exercise grounds and with them the freedom
moved in... "
In the area surrounding the Chodsko capital, only occasional skirmishes
took place when the Americans encountered
some stray remains of the retreating German armies. On the afternoon May
5th, a minor shoot-out took place on the
outskirts of Horsovsky Tyn, where the Hitlerjugend units waited in
ambush for the advancing Americans.
Because the American soldiers were passing through territory full of
booby traps, it was logical that the
reconnaissance units checked all bridges, roadblocks, isolated
buildings, and church towers very
carefully. Sometimes a single shot of alone fanatic caused a temporary
stop to the advance and forced a new
reconnaissance mission into the dangerous area ahead.
By the 6th of May, the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division captured
8,000 Nazi POWs in the area between
Domazlice, Horsovsky Tyn, and Holysov.
Text is passed from book “Americans in West Bohemia
Author: Zdenek Roucka
download text (Word 2000 format)