Operation Knobelbecher

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'Knobelbecher' was the German evacuation of Swinemünde using naval and merchant vessels to extract some 35,000 persons to Copenhagen in German-occupied Denmark as the Soviet forces advanced to the west along the north coast of Germany (1/4 May 1945).

The Festungsdivision 'Swinemünde' was an extemporised formation under the command of Generalmajor Hermann Graf von Pfel, and was organised in January 1945 at the instigation of Kapitän Johannes Rieve, the Seekommandant der Seeverteidigung Pommern (Pomeranian naval defence commander), in the port of Swinemünde. Rieve’s command had been created in November 1944 primarily from German naval personnel with a smattering of air force personnel; its army component was destroyed by General Leytenant Aleksei S. Zhadov’s Soviet 5th Guards Army near Breslau in Lower Silesia.

Swinemünde was encircled by Marshal Sovetskogo Soyuza Konstantin K. Rokossovsky’s 2nd Belorussian Front, with General Leytenant Ivan I. Fedyuninsky’s 2nd Shock Army attacking from the west and General Leytenant Vladimir Z. Romanovsky’s 19th Army from the east. After the German navy reported on 28 April 1945 that the port was no longer of any operational value, the Germans prepared to evacuate their forces in 'Knobelbecher' for movement by sea to Denmark, where they surrendered to the British. The Soviet forces occupied Swinemünde on 4/5 May.