Operation Schach

chess

This was a German and Croat operation against the IV Corps (8th and 34th Divisions) and 7th Division of Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s partisan forces in the area of Novi and Dvor na Uni in the Kordun and Banija region within the puppet state of Croatia in German-occupied Yugoslavia (22/30 May 1944).

The object of the undertaking was to clear the Kordun and Banija regions of the formations of the IV Corps concentrated in this area, and also to prevent them from moving to the south of the Una river toward the area of Bihać and Drvar, where the Axis command feared they might interfere with the conduct of the ‘Rösselsprung’ attempt to capture Tito and his headquarters.

The forces assembled for ‘Schach’ under the overall command of General Helge Auleb’s LXIX Corps were, as the German contribution, Generalleutnant Emil Zellner’s 373rd Division (kroatisch), 1st Kosaken-Reiterbrigade ‘Don’ of Generalleutnant Hellmuth von Pannwitz’s 1st Kosaken-Kavalleriedivision, 92nd Grenadierregiment (mot.), 1st Jäger-Reserveregiment, 54th Gebirgsaufklärungsabteilung of Generalleutnant Walter Stettner Ritter von Grabenhofen’s 1st Gebirgsdivision, and 7/Polizei Freiwilligen Regiment ‘Kroatien’; and, as the Croat contribution, elements of General Mirko Gregurić’s 3rd Mountain Brigade, 10th Jäger Regiment of Pukovnik Zinković’s 2nd Jäger Brigade, Ustaše Bojnik Petar Dujić’s 8th Ustaše Brigade, and one battalion and the Ustaše Recruit Battalion of Ustaše Pukovnik Ante Moškov’s Poglavnik Bodyguard Division.

These formations and units closed on the partisan dispositions from Bihać, Cazin, Otok, Dvor, Kostajnica, Sunja, Petrinja, Karlovac and Tounj from 22 May. The main partisan concentration was in the triangle bounded by Topusko, Vojnić and Slunj, and after some initial skirmishes the IV Corps on 27 May ordered a counterattack that had little effect as a result of the fact that the German and Croat forces were supported by armoured vehicles. After achieving most of their objectives, the German and Croat forces returned to their garrisons on 30 May.

The Germans admitted the Axis loss of 54 men killed, 137 wounded and 16 missing, and claimed 284 partisans counted dead as well as more than 1,000 estimated dead, more than 450 wounded, and 40 captured.