While the bulk of the U.S. forces advanced east towards the Elbe river, some 18 U.S. divisions remained behind to destroy the isolated forces of Army Group B. For every German city or town that capitulated, another fought on for every building. The Ruhr Pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in April 1945, on the Western Front near the end of World War II, in the Ruhr Area of Germany. Next morning, his groggy tank crews finally met actual German resistance, an ad hoc battalion thrown together by cadets from an SS Training Center, supported by sixty Tiger and Panther tanks. The ride of Task Force Richardson was an epic in miniature. Model appointed another commander and ordered him to launch a counterattack with units from 15th Army, at the precise moment that Zangen was trying to form his stragglers into a new defensive position to the east. Thousands and then tens of thousands of German soldiers responded to US loudspeaker calls to surrender, or simply made for the nearest US unit, white flag or handkerchief in hand. The locals soon learned that any sign of resistance—German sniper fire, an infantry skirmish, or a random mortar round—seemed to madden the "Amis." The presence of SS troops was a common element in most instances of all-out resistance. Model's chief of staff Karl Wagener urged him to save the lives of German soldiers and civilians by capitulating. All four immediately launched concentric drives against the outmanned and unsupplied enemy, herding the Germans into a smaller and smaller space, packing them together, and making them an even more lucrative target for US firepower. His operational plan called for a classic pincer maneuver by two armies. Assuming that the other three corps kept pace, American guns may well have fired one million shells during the two-week battle. River-crossing operations are highly complex by nature, requiring careful planning, tight cooperation between infantry, engineers, and artillery, and time to prepare. On 14 April, the First and Ninth Armies linked up, splitting the German pocket in half and German resistance began to crumble. The US Army, by contrast, came of age in the Ruhr. On the north bank the last of the Ninth Army's forces had closed to the river, signaling elimination of that part of the Ruhr Pocket. No wonder so many German soldiers were confused. Like Hitler, Model had often complained about the "cowardice" of Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus in letting himself be taken prisoner by the Soviets at Stalingrad. The attack opened before dawn on March 25th and simply vaporized the German defenders. Moreover, they did all these things at the end of a 4,000-mile logistical pipeline, and at a cost of just 10,000 casualties, remarkably light by late war standards. While the Americans maneuvered, Model and the Germans barely moved. South of the Ruhr, General Omar Nelson Bradley's U.S. 12th Army Group's pursuit of the disintegrating German army resulted in the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge across the Rhine at Remagen by the 9th Armored Division of the U.S. First Army. [15] The commander of the Allied XVIII Airborne Corps, Matthew Ridgway sent an aide bearing a white flag to Army Group B's headquarters, calling on Model to surrender but the Field Marshal refused, citing his oath to Hitler. April 16, 2020 Think of World War II as a tale of two armies. Amid the war’s final tumult, peals of relief at Adolf Hitler’s downfall, and horrifying revelations about the Final Solution, it’s easy to overlook the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket, the climax in a tale of two armies. The Allies were eager to get their hands on all German railway rolling stock and the U.S. pilots were banned from hitting this usual primary target, limiting the extent of Allied bombing operations. [12][13], Rather than surrender his command, Field Marshal Walter Model dissolved Army Group B on 15 April. When Wagener did not respond, Model answered his own question: "In ancient times they took poison." columns. The Germans had continued the fight in the pocket despite no realistic hope of relief from the start, as they were tying down 18 U.S. The 13th Infantry's thrust meant that the pocket south of the river was split into two enclaves, the larger to the west embracing the cities of Duesseldorf and Wuppertal. Model refused, as he knew Hitler would not authorize it. The First Army lost three times more, which would bring the U.S. casualties to 10,000. Communications between its units rapidly broke down and the division was held up by a stream when it deployed to "destroy" the Germans. The Division drove on to Frankfurt and then turned to assist in the closing of the Ruhr Pocket. Chapter 8 Closing the Ruhr Pocket (pp. Robert Citino, PhD, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy and the Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian... Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II, Native Americans in the 45th Infantry Division, Curator's Choice: Nuremberg Trial Visitor, "The Grave Responsibility of Justice": Justice Robert H. Jackson's Opening Statement at Nuremberg, Understanding the 'Other Side': My Visit to Futa Pass Cemetery, "Straw" Vote Gives FDR the Lager: The 1944 POW Vote. "Rhine meadow camps," the Germans called them, stretching as far as the eye could see. Der Ruhrkessel: Ende der Kämpfe im Westen – Verbrechen der Wehrmacht, der SS und Gestapo an der Bevölkerung bis zum letzten Tag, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ruhr_Pocket&oldid=987494873, Land battles of World War II involving the United Kingdom, Short description is different from Wikidata, North Rhine-Westphalia articles missing geocoordinate data, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Steady Allied offensives continue into central and southern Germany, This page was last edited on 7 November 2020, at 12:17. But one other fact deserves mention: the blistering tempo of the American rush had forced German headquarters on all levels to flee their posts or dive for cover. The Americans suffered 10,000 casualties including 2,000 killed or missing. The amount of artillery the Americans rained down on their enemies never ceased to shock the Germans, whose own artillery had to be more selective about what they obliterated. The Rhine was a serious obstacle. In the Ruhr, however, the US Army lived the dream: establishing full-spectrum dominance to win decisive victory at minimal cost. By April 11th, the pocket was half as large as it had been on the 1st; by the 14th, US attacks toward the town of Hagen had sliced the pocket in half. [13], The western part of the pocket continued a weak resistance until 18 April. Casualty totals for the 15th Army units on the western edge of the pocket are not listed in the official U.S. Within the hour, Hodges was pushing every man and vehicle he could across the bridge, forming a powerful bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Rhine. The 5th Panzer was defending the Ruhr, one of the Reich's last remaining heavy industrial centers, home to the massive Krupp Steel Works at Essen, while 15th Army stood watch against the US bridgehead at Remagen. 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