from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American soldier guards the German prisoners
American soldier guards the German prisoners
date April 1 to April 21, 1945
place Rhineland and Westphalia
output Allied occupation
Parties to the conflict

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire

United States 48United States United States


Field Marshal Walter Model
(commander of Army Group B and its affiliated associations)
Gauleiter Albert Hoffmann
(from March 24, 1945 Reich Defense Commissioner -West, commander of the Home Guard and the Freikorps Sauerland )

LtGen Courtney H. Hodges ( 1st US Army )
LtGen William H. Simpson ( 9th US Army )

Troop strength
over 300,000 soldiers approx. 250,000 soldiers

approximately 10,000 dead (including civilians); approx. 325,000 prisoners

around 1,500 dead

As Ruhrkessel one is Kesselschlacht called up in April 1945 in the Rhineland and Westphalia took place. Along with the Halbe pocket and the Battle of Berlin, it was the last major battle of the Second World War on the European theater of war. In memory of the commander of the 3rd US Armored Division "Spearhead", General Maurice Rose , who fell near Paderborn , the battle is also known as the "Rose Pocket" (otherwise: "Ruhr Pocket"), especially in the USA.


After the Allied Rhine crossing on March 23 and 24, 1945 ( Operation Plunder ), British and Canadian troops pushed further north of the Ruhr area into the German hinterland. On April 1, they met the US troops operating south of the Remagen bridgehead near Lippstadt . This meant that over 300,000 soldiers from Army Group B , remnants of around 21 divisions and millions of civilians were trapped in an area that was partly completely destroyed by previous bombing attacks . The southern front of the basin formed the Sieg , in the west the Rhine was the natural border.

Surrounded units of Army Group B

15th Army General of the Infantry Gustav-Adolf von Zangen , Chief of Staff Colonel i. G. Walter Reinhard

LXXIV. Army Corps, Infantry General Carl Püchler

LXXXI. Army Corps, General Friedrich Köchling

5th Panzer Army Colonel General Josef Harpe , Chief of Staff: Colonel Wolf von Kahlden

XII. SS Army Corps , Lieutenant General Eduard Crasemann

LVIII. Panzer Corps , General of the Armored Force Walter Krueger

LXXX. Army Corps, General of the Infantry Franz Beyer

Lüttwitz Army Department Chief of Staff: Lieutenant Colonel Graf von Bernstorff

XXXXVII. Panzer Corps , General of the Panzer Troop Heinrich von Lüttwitz

LXIII. Army Corps, General of the Infantry Erich Abraham

LIII. Army Corps , Lieutenant General Fritz Bayerlein

Command situation

The Wehrmacht units were under the command of General Field Marshal Walter Model . The civil authorities, paramilitary units of the NSDAP and the Volkssturm (including the Sauerland Freikorps ) were subordinate to Gauleiter Albert Hoffmann as chief Reich Defense Commissioner West after March 24, 1945 (Allied Rhine crossing) .

The US troops were commanded in the south and north of the Ruhr area by two commanders: Lieutenant General Courtney H. Hodges ( 1st US Army ) and Lieutenant General William H. Simpson ( 9th US Army ).


Course of the operation
Ruhrkessel in a map representation of the news for the troops from April 9, 1945 (newspaper of the Allied Propaganda)

While Allied shock wedges were advancing into northern and central Germany, US troops were pushing the Ruhr basin down to a few kilometers. On April 12th an operation to split up the combat area began: From the south, the 86th US Infantry Division advanced in a quick operation through the Sauerland towards Hagen , so that the pocket was split in two.

The smaller eastern part, including a heavy tank destroyer company with Jagdtigers , surrendered on April 15 in the Iserlohn area . The commanding general of the LIII. Army corps , Lieutenant General Fritz Bayerlein , capitulated near Menden in the Sauerland. In some cities, e.g. B. Hohenlimburg and Hagen , but in some places the fighting continued until April 17th.

The western part of the basin in the Bergisches Land and near Düsseldorf and Duisburg partially resisted until April 21. Field Marshal Model, was until recently the orders of Adolf Hitler followed, celebrated on April 21 in a Ratinger forest area south of Duisburg suicide . The infantry general in command in the southeastern area around Schmallenberg, Joachim von Kortzfleisch , fell on April 20 in Wulwesort .

A group led by Aloys Odenthal was able to arrest the police chief in Düsseldorf on April 16 and establish contact with US troops. SS units and Gauleiter Friedrich Karl Florian put down this bourgeois resistance action, known as the Rhineland Action , but bloodily; The night before the US troops marched in, a number of those involved were shot dead in court .

From February 1945, and especially during the fighting in the Ruhr basin, the Gestapo murdered hundreds of foreign forced laborers , German opponents of the regime, deserters and prisoners of justice in Dortmund ( Bittermark Memorial ), Hagen , Bochum , Warstein , Solingen and other places . Field Marshal Model and Reich Defense Commissioner Albert Hoffmann were informed of these crimes committed by the Gestapo at the end of the war . On April 7, Model had issued an order that handed over prisoners in penal institutions and remand prisons to the Gestapo for "examination".


The American losses in the conquest of the Ruhr basin amounted to around 1,500. Around 10,000 German soldiers, members of the Volkssturm and the Waffen-SS as well as civilians , prisoners of war and forced laborers were killed in the fighting from the end of March 1945. In order to avoid a formal surrender, General Field Marshal Model issued the German soldiers with discharge papers. The soldiers of the Ruhrkessel were taken to the Rhine meadow camps as Disarmed Enemy Forces and with them many civilian authorities in uniform . They were members of the 15th Army and the 5th Panzer Army , consisting of the remains of 19 divisions with around 300,000 soldiers. In these camps the prisoners lived in the open air.


  • The Ruhrkesselschlacht 1945 (100 min.) Film by Delta Productions (Gunther Dudda) in Schmallenberg.
  • End of the war on the Rhine, Ruhr and Weser . Three-part TV production by WDR (2005, repeated on WDR December 18-20, 2006).
  • The firestorm on the Rhine . DVD from Chronos Film GmbH .
  • When the Americans came. US film footage from the end of the war in Westphalia in 1945 . [1] , DVD with booklet from [LWL-Medienzentrum für Westfalen], 2015.
  • Original sequences of the films are freely available from the National Archives in Washington, DC .

See also


  • Blank, Ralf: The end of the war on the Rhine and Ruhr 1944/1945. In: Bernd-A. Rusinek (ed.); End of the war in 1945. Crimes, disasters, liberations from a national and international perspective . Göttingen 2004 [= Dachau Symposia on Contemporary History 4].
  • Blank, Ralf: End of war phase and "home front" in Westphalia. In: Westfälische Forschungen 55 (2005), pp. 361-421.
  • Euler, Helmut: decisive battle on the Rhine and Ruhr 1945. Stuttgart 1980.
  • Henke, Klaus-Dietmar: The American occupation of Germany. Munich 1995.
  • Hudel, Helmut: Operations and fights of the Panzer-Lehr-Division on the Sieg and in the Winterberg, Schmallenberg to Werdohl-Altena areas in 1945 . Military History Research Office Freiburg, Foreign Military Studies (MS), MS-B-850, 1948.
  • Huyskens, Albert : The district of Meschede under the fire roller of the Second World War . Bielefeld, 1949.
  • Köster, Markus: Westphalia 1945 in the focus of the Americans. US film footage from the end of World War II, in: Westfälische Forschungen 65 (2015), pp. 423–447.
  • Mues, Willi: The big cauldron. A documentary about the end of the Second World War between Lippe and Ruhr / Sieg and Lenne . Erwitte 1984.
  • Schäfer, Ralf Anton: The end of the war at home. Self-published 2011, Betzdorf; A representation of the fighting during the breakout of the American 1st Army from the Remagen bridgehead and the resulting fighting along the southern front of the former Ruhr basin.
  • Scherer, Wingolf: In vain resistance, the end of Army Group B between the Rhine, Ruhr and Sieg - death of Field Marshal Walter Model in March / April 1945. Helios Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-50-2 .
  • Schneider, Peter: Spies in the Sky, Allied aerial reconnaissance in the Wittgenstein area during and after the Second World War. ISBN 3-87816-092-5 , Erndtebrück 1996.
  • Spayd, PA / Wilkins, Gary: Bayerlein: After Action Reports of the Panzer Lehr Division Commander from D-Day to the Ruhr. Atglen 2005.
  • Timm, Willy: Freikorps "Sauerland". South Westphalia last contingent in 1944/45 . Unna 1993.
  • Wagner, Carl: The end of Army Group B in the Ruhr basin, March 22 to April 17, 1945, in: Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau 7 (1957), pp. 534-564.
  • Whiting, Charles: The battle for the Ruhr basin. Moewing-Verlag, 1981.
  • Whiting, Charles: '45: The end of the Rhine and Ruhr. Last fights between Cologne, Duisburg, Dortmund, Paderborn and Siegen. Aachen 2005 (Helios-Verlag), ISBN 3-938208-13-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Samuel W. Mitcham : Panzer Commanders of the Western Front , Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg 2008, pp. 120 f. and 185 f.
  2. Klaus-Dietmar Henke : The American Occupation of Germany , Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 1995, ISBN 3-486-56175-8 , p. 402 f.