Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2012

Freikorps Werdenfels: Historical background (Pt. 2)

Freikorps Werdenfels – Assignment and action in Munich

Upon its belated arrival at Munich the Freikorps Werdenfels was assigned as reserve to the Bayerische Schützenkorps – Bavarian Rifle Corps under the overall command of Oberst Ritter von Epp. (The Rifle Corps as a whole became later sometimes referred to as the Freikorps Epp.) Task of the Bayerische Schützenkorps was to occupy the city district of Giesing. A very important and difficult task as the district was nearly completely inhabited by workers and thus considered a stronghold of the Council Republic and its supporters.

Oberst (Colonel) Franz Ritter von Epp

Hauptmann Wagner’s journal reports from various sentry, security and patrol duties performed by members of the Freikorps, they also took part in house searchings and assisted policemen in the arresting of suspicious people. On some occasions the Werdenfelser came under fire from snipers resp. hidden riflemen. Wagner gives the weapons collected by the Freikorps as follows: 1 light MG, 226 rifles, 1.400 rounds of ammunition, 1 crate of hand grenades, 1 hunting rifle and 1 army revolver. He does however not mention the number of opponents killed by the Freikorps Werdenfels. A different source claims that they killed ‘some’ (no concrete number is given) rooftop snipers and one man directing the fire of a concealed MG.

A report of a member of the Freikorps Schwaben also mentions the Werdenfelser (he prior described several exchanges of fire and how the Freikorps Schwaben occupied the Wittelsbacher bridge and took cover there):

‘[…] Zu uns gesellten sich auch Schützen vom Korps Werdenfels, die in ihrer Tracht erschienen und recht schnell mit ihren “Stutzen” zur Hand waren, wenn die Einwohner nicht rasch genug auf unsere Warnungsrufe: “Fenster zu, Kopf hinein!“ reagierten. Es war unbedingt notwendig, auch Neugierige zurückzuweisen, da man in der Hitze des Gefechts nicht unterscheiden konnte, ob einer bloss tatsächlich aus Vorwitz heraussah, oder ob er schiessen wollte.‘

   ‚[…] We were also joined by riflemen of the Korps Werdenfels, who appeared in their garb and were quick at hand with their ‘Stutzen’ (‘full stock rifle’), when the citizens didn’t respond quickly enough to our warnings: ‘Shut the windows, head inside!’. It was absolutely necessary to also keep nosey people back because in the heat of battle it wasn’t possible to distinguish between those who were just watching out of impertinence or wanted to shoot.’ 

Freikorps Werdenfels 'in action' (staged photo)

During the first days of fighting members of the Freikorps Werdenfels were on several occasions wrongly arrested by allied federal troops. Therefore the units operating in the neighboring areas received the following announcement on Mai 6th:

‘Die Angehörigen des der Gruppe Epp unterstellten Freikorps Werdenfels tragen meist Gebirgstracht. Sie haben eine gestempelte weissblaue order weisse Armbinde mit oder ohne schwarze Raute, und führen einen vom Freikorps Werdenfels, mit dem Stempel des bayerischen Schützenkorps versehenen Ausweis mit sich, der sie bis zur Verteilung der vorgeschriebenen Ausweis des A.O.K. Möhl auch zum Waffentragen berechtigt.‘

‚Members of the Freikorps Werdenfels assigned to the Group Epp usually wear mountain dweller garb. They have a stamped white-blue or white armband with or without a black diamond. They carry an identification card from the Freikorps Werdenfels with a stamp of the Bavarian rifle corps, this also entitles to the carrying of weapons until the distribution of the compulsory identification cards by A.O.K. Möhl.‘ 

On the morning of May 8th the Werdenfelser took part in a parade of the victorious ‘white’ troops through the city.

Freikorps Werdenfels on the 'victory parade'

On the Jugendspielplatz (the square was used as a parade ground) the Freikorps was inspected by Oberst Ritter von Epp und Generalmajor Möhl (the supreme commander of the ‘white’ forces). At this occasion Oberst Epp granted the Werdenfelser the following privilege: 
‘[…] in Annerkennung der tapferen Haltung […] am linken Arm den Löwen im schwarzen Rautenschild führen zu dürfen.‘

‚[…] in recognition of the brave attitude […] the permission is granted to carry the lion in the black diamond on the left arm.’ 
The von Epp lion

The Freikorps Werdenfels left Munich on May 10th. It did not suffer any casualties (besides those killed and injured in the train crash on their way to Munich).

2 Kommentare:

  1. Thank you for posting these articles. I appreciate the effort you have put forth in creating them. :-)

  2. Very interesting! There is very little of this material available in English so your efforts are sincerely appreciated.