US Army 2nd Infantry Division "Indian"
May 5th, 1945
Domazlice, Western Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, Europe

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Domazlice - Liberation - May 5th, 1945, 12:50 p.m.


The 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 traffic.

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 employed.

It 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 underestimated.

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 resistance.

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.

Since 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 strongholds.

In 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.

More 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  May 4th.

On 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 1945”.

Author: Zdenek Roucka

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