Orders of Battle – Gebirgsjäger – Mountain Troops plus Ski Division – Skijäger-Division
Gebirgsjäger – Mountain Troops
The mountain infantry of Austria have their roots in the three Landesschützen regiments of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The mountain infantry of Germany carry on certain traditions of the Alpenkorps (Alpine corps) of World War I. Both countries’ mountain infantry share the Edelweiß insignia. It was established in 1907 as a symbol of the Austro-Hungarian Landesschützen regiments by Emperor Franz Joseph I. These troops wore their edelweiss on the collar of their uniforms. When the Alpenkorps came to aid the Landesschützen in defending Austria-Hungary’s southern frontier against the Italian attack in May 1915, the grateful Landesschützen honoured the men of the Alpenkorps by awarding them their own insignia: the edelweiss. Together with the Fallschirmjäger (Paratroopers) they are perceived as the elite infantry units of the German Army.
Third Reich Era
During World War II, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS raised a number of mountain infantry units.
An entire corps was formed in Norway by 1941. Its divisions were lightly equipped, with much of the transport provided by mules. These mountain infantry were equipped with fewer automatic weapons than regular infantry, however the MG 34 or MG 42 machine gunners were provided with more ammunition than their regular infantry counterparts. Mountain infantry were identified by the edelweiss insignia worn on their sleeves and their caps.
Mountain infantry participated in many battles, including Operation Weserübung, Operation Silver Fox, Operation Platinum Fox and Operation Arctic Fox, the operations in the Caucasus, the Gothic Line, the invasion of Crete and the battles in the Vosges region of France. Special equipment was made for them including the G33/40 mauser rifle based on the VZ.33 rifle.
Heer (Army) Mountain Units
1st Mountain Division later 1st Volksgebirgs Division.
13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar – 1st Croatian.
21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg – 1st Albanian.
23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama – 2nd Croatian.
24th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Karstjäger
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2. Gebirgs Division
was raised in 1938 from the former 6th Division and German mountain troops. It fought as part of Army Group South during the Invasion of Poland (1939, attacking from the territory of Slovak State), then took part in the invasion of Norway in 1940, and attempted to relieve the beleaguered 3rd Mountain Division at Narvik. In 1941 it moved into Lapland to participate in Operation Silberfuchs, the attack on the Soviet Arctic as part of Operation Barbarossa. In late 1944 it withdrew to Norway and then transferred to Denmark. In 1945, it fought on the Western Front, where it was engaged in heavy combat near Trier.
The Allies destroyed much of the division near Württemberg towards the end of the war, with survivors surrendering to the Americans.
1st Ski Division – 1. Skijäger-Division
The German 1st Ski Division (German: 1. Skijäger-Division) was an infantry unit trained to use skis for movement during winter. It was created on the Eastern Front in the autumn of 1943 in preparation for upcoming winter operations. It was enlarged into a full division in the summer of 1944. The division fought exclusively on the Eastern Front as part of Army Group Centre, including an approach to the Vistula river and during the retreat into Slovakia, southern Poland and the Czech lands (now the Czech Republic), where it surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945.
German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History