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Unternehmen Forelle

Page Created
April 7th, 2023
Last Updated
German Flag
Special Forces
S-Jagdverband Südost
Summer and autumn of 1944
Unternehmen Forelle (Operation Trout)
  • to disrupt the movement of Soviet vessels on the lower reaches of the Donau river so that their own operations could reinforce the fortress Budapest.
Operational Area

Donau River, Hungary

Unit Force
  • S-Jagdverband Südost / SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau
Opposing Forces
  • Sovier Shipping

Unternehmen Forelle was the codename for the German guerrilla warfare to disrupt the movement of Soviet vessels on the lower reaches of the Donau river so that their own operations to reinforce Budapest, the besieged capital of Hungary, could be implemented more readily. by the SS-Kampfschwimmergruppe of the SS-Jagdverband Südost / SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau. Strategist and planning chief was Reserve Major Friedrich Hummel. The overall leadership of the SS-Jagdverbande was SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny.

The SS-Kampfschwimmers of the subunit SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau carry out a guerrilla river war on the Donau in late summer and autumn 1944. They use of floating mines and explosive-filled boats. With four captured Motor Ships with 2-cm machine guns, the SS-Kampfschwimmers sink 30,000 GRT (gross register tons) of Soviet Army shipping (ships and barges).

By December 25th, 1944, Budapest is completely surrounded. Surrounded by almost 200,000 Soviets of the Red Army almost 70,000 soldiers, including 33,000 German soldiers (among them the two 8. SS-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer and the 22. SS-Freiwilligen-Kavallerie-Division Maria Theresa) and 37,000 Hungarian soldiers of the 3rd Hungarian Army are caught in the city. They are under the command of SS Obergruppenführer and General of Police Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch and General Iván Hindy. Budapest is considered vital to be hold because if the city would fall, Vienna would be next to come under attack.

The most famous and successful act during the operation was the supply trip of Motor Ship Walther to Fortress Budapest. On December 31st, 1944, the SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau, which operates largely autonomously, decides to attempt a breakthrough with urgently needed supplies in the darkness of the night. This because of the fact that the inhabitants and soldiers of the fortress are starving, and ammunition was almost exhausted. Although the Motor Ship runs aground on a sandbank in the New Year’s Eve just before Budapest and has to be abandoned, almost the entire cargo is brought into the fortress with the help of storm boats leaving Budapest.

Since the storm boats are already overloaded, the surviving SS-Kampfschwimmers attempt to reach the besieged Hungarian capital by swimming during the raging battle for Budapest. Only a few make it in alive.

The battle for Budapest alone costs the lives of 100,000 courageous German and Hungarian soldiers, including almost 50,000 dead among the besieged.

The remains of Skorzeny’s SS-Kampfschwimmers, do make it alive into the city. Supported the Brandenburg specialists they prepare Unternehmen “Unke-Nikolaus” and fight in the defense of the fortress city until its downfall on February 13th, 1945. They are all considered to have fallen.

The last relief of the 6th SS Panzer Army fails, but the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS (including the 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking) manages to hold and involve twenty divisions and almost 1,000 planes of the Red Army for 51 days. The Soviet leadership sees the capture of Budapest as a prerequisite for further advance. This made it possible to bring in German replacement units from the west, which prevented the Russians from advancing as far west as they would have liked. Of the over 160,000 dead on both sides in the Budapest city area, only about 5,000 soldiers and civilians could be identified by name. The Donau carried away thousands of bodies, and tens of thousands are still buried in the parks, in the city forest, and in the Buda Mountains.