Ludwig Wachenhausen

On 5 January 1945, at 06:40 hours, the Regimentsführer of Grenadier-Regiment 36, Major Baier, wrote an order to Leutnant Ludwig Wachenhausen. Baier ordered Ludwig to attack and regain back the lost positions. Ludwig was ordered to put his Zug (platoon) on the left of 3./Pionier-Brigade 47 and on the right of Grenadier-Regiment 116 and to attack in the direction of the Mon Schumann crossroads. After this attack Ludwig had to return to the Regimental HQ with his Zug and hand over any conquered positions to units of the Pionier-Brigade.

The original order for the attack on Schumann Eck. Written bij Major Baier for Leutnant Wachenhausen

What happend during this attack is described by the American 2nd lieutenant Lee McMillian Otts:

"The 3rd Platoon was on our right. While they were eating a cold K-Ration breakfast someone noticed a large number of Germans moving quietly up through the trees to begin a counterattack. S/Sgt. Lawrence Treff and his 1st Squad opened fire on them. 3rd Platoon defended their positions with everthing they had. Treff’s Squad mowing down some three dozen. One BAR machinegunner claimed to have killed fifteen Germens himself. Two men were kept busy passing him ammunition, and he just kept firing until his BAR got so hot he couldn’t hold it anymore. About this time lieutenant Lassiter went back to the Battalion CP "to direct mortar and artillery fire", where he stayed all day, leaving me as the only officer with the Company" The attack was beaten off and the Germans had to leave 35 dead behind".

Leutnant Ludwig Wachenhausen was not able to fullfill Major Baier’s orders. Ludwig got wounded in the attack, he was hit by shrapnell in his right thigh. But according to an "Ärztliche Benachrichtigung" (Doctor's message) it wasn’t untill 11th of January 1945 that Ludwig arrived at a local hospital.

What happened with Ludwig in the mean time is unknown to me. The German units in this area were cut-off from the rest of the German army in the so called "Harlange Pocket". Maybe Ludwig wasn't able to get out of this pocket earlier?

The German units (9.Volksgrenadier-Division, 5.Fallschirmjäger-Division and 26.Volksgrenadier- Division) weren't allowed to break out untill the 10th of January. It could be that Ludwig was with a medical unit and stuck in the pocket untill the break out.
But i am not sure about that. I have no evidence.

At 6 January 1945 Grenadier-Regiment 36 only had 1/4 of its strenght left. Therefore they received a bicycle Bataillon (120 men) of their neighbouring unit, the 5.Fallschirmjäger-Division. This bicycle Bataillon took possitions at Berlé. Most casualties of Grenadier-Regiment 36 came due to the American artillerie fire. About 15.000 artillerie hits each day were counted in the area of the Division.

On 26 January 1945 Ludwig received the Eisernes-Kreuz II Klasse (Iron-Cross second class) for his efforts in the battles around Nothum/Mon Schumann. See the document below.

On 11 February 1945 Oberleutnant Kurt Fickert (Stabskompanieführer) wrote a letter to Ludwig.
In it he congratulates Ludwig for earning the EK II Klasse and tells that of Ludwig’s Infanterie- Pionier-Zug, only 4 others (Unteroffizier Kleber, Biedebach, Jünge and Kimmer) have survived.
Everyone else of that zug, probably almost 70 men, were gone (killed, wounded or captured).
Major Baier also wrote a few lines on the letter. He hoped that Ludwig healed quickly.

Oberst Kolb (commander of 9.VGD) and Major Baier (commander of G.R.36)

On 11 April 1945 Ludwig was released from the hospital and send to his Ersatz troop.
At some date he was send back to Grenadier-Regiment 36. At this time, the Regiment was in an armybase in Friedberg, Germany. Here the Regiment was replenished with fresh new, very young, troops. But no weapons or ammunition had arrived. As the Americans closed in, the Regiment had to move to the East. They were unable to fight due the lack of weapons/ammunition. The Regimentsführer, Major Baier, was able to get some weapons, ammunition and supplies with great difficulties. Now the Regiment was able to fight. Together with parts of the 11.Panzer-Division they were attached to the 347.Infanterie-Division. They were ordered to move further east.

During the retreat the Regiment used small stosstruppen (shock-troops) to attack American supply columns to get supplies of their own. After getting the supplies they would disarm any captured American soldiers and release them as the Regiment had no means to keep them captured. On either the 5th or 6th of May, they arrived east of Plauen/Vogtland. At this point they had the Russian artillery on their eastside and American artillery on their westside. The soldiers knew that the end was coming.. but they were worried. Who would capture them, Russians or Americans?

They had luck, on the 8th the Americans arrived. The Americans disarmed the Regiment and kept them as “Disarmed German unit”. This meant that the Regiment was allowed to maintain a German army structure. Together with other disarmed German units (Remains of the 11.Panzer-Division and 347.Infanterie-Division) they had to build their own POW camp at Strassberg, south-west of Plauen/Vogtland. Inside the POW camp they made up new German POW units to have things organised. Ludwig was part of 2./Bataillon 531 and later 1./Bataillon 532, both from Regiment 855. They kept the strict German rank structure and displine. Life in the camp was not bad. They received food, supplies and help from the Americans.

The Americans added more and more Germans POW’s. The camp grew to 12.000 men. The POW camp was mostly build from tents. It had no wall or barbed-wire fence. Due to the strict German command structure no escapes were made. The thought that they survived the war and, if you got caught escaping you went to a punishment camp, probably helped.

On 24th July 1945 Ludwig was released from military service and the POW camp. Back home on the 27th he reported himself to the municipality of Langen. About a month later Ludwig resumed his civilian job as construction engineer.

Page 1 - Page 2