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Golden Prague, May 1945

Obersturmbannfuehrer Weidinger received his orders from SS Commandant of Prague, Obergruppenfuehrer Puckler, April 30, in Prague, which consisted of evacuating all those civilians who wished to return to Germany, the trains were not running so a strong and reliable military unit would have to protect the columns of civilians.

Prior to returning to his regiment Weidinger discussed with Princes Stephanie zu Schaumburg-Lippe , the German liaison with the Czech authorities, the plans she had made for all German civilians who wished to leave Prague.

The battlefield conference of Weidinger's Der Fuehrer regiment May 1 ensured loyalty was pledged to Germany, the regiment was ordered closer to the Czech capital. By May 5 the Grenadier battalions witnessed the collapse of discipline within the German army. Abandoned arms, equipment, trucks, half

tracks and even tanks in working order were abandoned at the roadsides. In the regimental concentration the night of May 5 the link up with Das Reich was no longer possible, so, Der Fuehrer was placed under command of Generalfeldmarschall Schoerner who ordered Weidinger to open and hold the road to Prague and link with General Toussaint, Army Commandant of Prague. The political events in Prague had changed considerably since April 30. The flexibility of the German Army now came into play. A Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) of 3 Grenadier Battalions, 1 armoured reconnaissance Company, a second similar company taken from an Army Division plus the 2nd Battalion of the Das Reich divisional artillery together with 2 of the Division's medical companies ensured the Kampfgruppe was ready to march at 05.00hrs. Flimsy road blocks were pushed aside by the column until a 2 metre high road block of square cobbles halted their progress. The Czech radio station captured by rebels was assaulted by the Army Recce Company. Finally a gap was opened in the road block and the great mass of vehicles roared through the night. At the Troya bridge in Prague resistance required Weidinger to make his assault at dawn May 7. During the battle a Czech officer offered to liaise between the battle group and the partisans. A second Czech offered to liaise between the partisan forces and General Toussaint, the German Army Commandant in Prague. A German officer with the KG offered to accompany the Czech officer who was to liaise with Toussaint. Weidinger issued a warning the officers must return by 15.00hrs or he would open fire. The officers returned the armistice was agreed.

Meantime, SS patrols swept the streets and squares in the immediate vicinity and found military ration stores, ammunition depots and fuel dumps. Trucks, motor bikes and cars were collected, fueled fitted with extra petrol cans and ammunition distributed thus rendering the regiment at full war establishment. The German civilians were to be loaded on the transports and Der Fuehrer would drive to Pilsen. Two messages were sent, one to HQ of Das Reich Division and one to Schoerner, announcing once the mission was complete the regiment would surrender to the Americans. On reaching the designated square the civilians were loaded and several ambulance trains with German wounded on stranded trains had to be tansferred to the transports. Some female SS signallers arrived and were loaded on the transports ensuring the column consisted of one thousand vehicles.

At 21.00hrs May 8, the convoy very overloaded headed for Pilsen, at 09.00hrs May 9 Pilsen was reached with the civilians and wounded unloaded. At 10.00hrs the lead vehicles of Der Fuehrer made contact with US Infantry Division at Rokiczany. Weidinger marched his organised military body into captivity. On their tunics were the awards and decorations honouring six years of war. They did not march far when they were surrounded by American soldiers keen to obtain souvenirs from the SS.

Weidinger demanded to see an officer there were none, soon they had been stripped of everything that could be classified as a memento with the same undignified fate awaiting any men of the battle group as they came in to surrender. Such humiliation.

Source: The Last Days of the Reich, The Collapse of Nazi Germany, May 1945, Cassell Military Paperbacks, James Lucas 2002

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