Operation Waldrausch

forest fever

This was a German and Croat operation against the partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in German-occupied Yugoslavia in conjunction with ‘Knapfküchen’ (3 January/14 February 1944).

The objective of this significant undertaking was to clear the partisan forces of the I Proletarian Assault Corps and V Assault Corps from the Axis lines of communication from Slavonski Brod to Konjić in central and western Bosnia, and in northern Dalmatia.

The Germans committed significant forces, in the form of major parts of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Artur Phleps’s V SS Gebirgskorps, General Ernst von Leyser’s XV Gebirgskorps, General Ernst Debner’s LXIX Corps zbV, 92nd Grenadierregiment (mot.) and 901st Panzergrenadier-Lehr-Regiment, while the Croat contribution was based on General Matija Čanić’s (from February 1944 General Franjo Pacak’s) II Domobran Corps, General Anton Prohaska’s III Domobran Corps, 1st Domobran Volunteer Regiment of Ustaše Obrana troops, and Ustaše Pukovnik Rafael Boban’s 5th Ustaše Brigade.

Ordered by Generaloberst Dr Lothar Rendulic’s 2nd Panzerarmee in December 1943, this undertaking was more of an offensive than an anti-partisan operation, and was so large that it was sub-divided into several separate operations including ‘Jajce’ (ii), ‘Knapfküchen’ and ‘Brandfackel’. It was complicated by the partisan capture of Banja Luka during the night of 31 December/1 January, and the partisans were not expelled from this town until 3 January.

Because of its size, confusing nature and absence of an after-action reports, little can be said of ‘Waldrausch’ other than it generally succeeded in reopening the roads and railway lines from the Sava river area as far to the west as the coast of Dalmatia.