Operation Weihnachtsmann

Father Christmas

This was the German third stage of the Axis offensive against the partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in German-occupied Yugoslavia which had started with ‘Wolf’ (ii) followed by ‘Panther’ (viii) (25/30 December 1943).

The operation was undertaken by Generalleutnant Hermann Niehoff’s 371st Division, Generalmajor Georg Zwade’s 367th Division and the 4th Kuban-Kosaken-Reiterregiment of Generalleutnant Hellmuth von Pannwitz’s 1st Kosaken-Kavalleriedivision some 18.5 and 21.75 miles (30 to 35 km) to the south and south-east of Zagreb in the area of Turopolje and Pokuplje, between the Kupa and Sava rivers, with the object of encircling and destroying the Yugoslav 28th ‘Slavonia’ Assault Division.

The operation was carried out according to plan, but the partisans managed to withdraw to the east, crossed the Sava river and escaped into the Moslavačka mountain region. The German forces, primarily the Cossacks, looted most of the villages as they passed through the area. Though the partisans were driven from the area, they were not brought to battle and as a result there were very few casualties on either side.