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Battle of Šumperk (Fall Grün)

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Battle of Šumperk
Fall Grün Moravia 2
Tanks of the 3. Panzer-Division on their way towards Šumperk.
DateOctober 21 - October 22, 1938
Result German victory
Belligerents
Flag of Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Nazi Germany
Commanders
Flag of Czechoslovakia Brig. Gen. Otakar Líčka White flag Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Gen.d.Inf. Johannes Blaskowitz
Strength
Hraniční oblast 36 ”Prokop” 3. Infanterie-Division
3. Panzer-Division
Casualties and losses
720 killed,
300 WIA
1000 POWs
338 killed,
200 WIA

The Battle of Šumperk took place between October 21 and October 22, 1938 in the town of Šumperk, Czechoslovakia.

Prelude to the Battle

Despite several Czech tactical victories, the Czech forces defending the border fortifications were exausted by a week of continuous fighting, and were soon forced to retreat, as the Germans was breaking through the defensive lines.

Their first major breakthrough was achieved on October 14 in southern Moravia. The breakthrough came as a shock to the Czech commanders and as a blessing to the Germans. The defensive line had held the Germans out for a longer period of time than the Czech High Command had anticipated, but now they had to deal with the multiple breakthrough through their lines, and all reserves were ordered to the most critical sectors of operations.

By October 16, the Czech forces were in retreat and General of the Army Ludvík Krejčí ordered all the troops to fall back to the secondary lines of defences.

In northern Moravia, the Second Army had by the end of October 19 marched 30 km southwards on a wide front. On October 20, the 12. Infanterie-Division captured the town of Opava (Troppau). The same day, the 28. Infanterie-Division and elements of the 30. Infanterie-Division und 3. Panzer-Division reached the outskirts of Ostrava (Ostrau), where they immediately engaged heavy Czech defences, consisting of anti-tank cannons, howitzers, mortars and machine guns.

The Battle

The following day, elements of the 3. Panzer-Division supported by the 3. Infanterie-Division had reached the outskirts of Šumperk (Mährisch Schönberg) following a pincer movement which cut off the defenders in the city. The defenders were the main part of the Hraniční oblast 36 ”Prokop” under the command of Brig. Gen. Otakar Líčka. At 13:00 German artillery began shelling the centre and the Czech positions around Šumperk.

One and a half hour later, the first Germans appeared, but their infantry were forced to retreat due to heavy machine gun fire and artillery positioned in Brníčko. Following an air attack consisting of Dornier Do-17s of the 7./KG153 a second assault, this time supported by infantry guns, armoured cars and 50 Pz.Kpfw. I and II light tanks, attacked the Czech positions two hours later, and this time the Czechs were forced to retreat into the town itself in order to set up defences there. The Germans pursued them, but the tanks then suddenly faced soldiers with Molotov cocktails and anti-tank cannons, and thus were forced to halt the attack.

At 21:00 the Germans resumed the attack, this time supported by pioneers armed with satchel charges and flamethrower. The Czech defenders fought bravely, but the fighting was futile. At 05:30 the Germans had seized control of much of the town, and at 06:08, Brig. Gen. Otakar Líčka capitulated to a delegation representing Gen.d.Inf. Johannes Blaskowitz (the commander of II. Armeekorps) and Gen.Lt. Walter Petzel (the commander of 3. Infanterie-Division).

Aftermath

The fight for the town had been heavy. On the German side, 338 had been killed, while 200 were injured. On the Czech side, 720 had fallen in action, while 300 were injured. 1000 were taken prisoner, including its commander, Brig. Gen. Otakar Líčka. A small number of machine guns and mortars were seized by the German troops following the conquest of the town.

Following the capture of Ostrava and Šumperk, the German Second Army had now a free passage to Olomouc, the location of the headquarters of the and one of the most important cities in Moravia. However, problems with logistics and heavy Czech defences hindered them from advancing more than 12 km. In the following months, the fronts were relatively quiet, except from artillery duels, air clashes and raids against each other's positions.

See also

Invasion of Czechoslovakia
Battle of the Border
(Opava    Operation Freudenthal    Šatov    Znojmo   České Budějovice)

Bohemian front
(Plzeň    Prague)


Moravian front
(Olomouc    Brno)


Hungarian front
Komárno    Zvolen    Kosiče)

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