Operation Brandfackel

firebrand

This was a German and possibly Croat operation against the partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in the Kozara mountain region and Banja Luka (11/16 January 1944).

The objective of the undertaking, which was part of the larger ‘Waldrausch’, was the destruction of the strong partisan concentrations (4th Assault Division with three brigades, ‘Kozara’ Partisan Detachment and ‘Gradiška-Lijevče’ Partisan Detachment) in the Kozara mountain region between Bosanska Gradiška and Banja Luka so that the main supply road between those two places could be reopened. The operation was effected by one two-regiment brigade of Generalleutnant Helmuth von Pannwitz’s 1st Kosaken-Kavalleriedivision and elements of Generalleutnant Josef Brauner von Haydringen’s 187th Reserve-Division.

Starting early on 11 January, the German advance moved rapidly south to Banja Luka. By the end of the second day the Germans had not yet met any partisan resistance, but when the operation concluded several days later some casualties had been incurred on both sides. The German record admits the loss of one man killed and 16 wounded, and claims 131 partisans killed and seven captured.