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The Soviet Conquest of Hungary in 1944
311 pages; 14 chapters and 9 appendixes
In 1944, Soviet army groups were grinding across the borders of Hungary.
Hungarian morale was shaky, and the German Army generals wanted to retreat.
Suddenly, Hitler demanded that the Axis forces in Hungary attack and the Last
Campaigns began. First, Hitler sent reinforcements that won the Battle of
Debrecen in 1944, raising German army morale. To protect the Hungarian oil
fields and rescue a besieged Budapest, Hitler then sent the powerful 6th SS
Panzer Army and Gerneral Balck’s vaunted 6th Army to Hungary’s Lake Balaton
area. The SS troops knew that they were fighting the Last Campaigns. Included
among the panzer army’s sub units were several elite SS Panzer Divisions, the
1st SS Panzer Division, the 5th SS Panzer Division and the 12th SS
“By late 1944, Germany had lost the Rumanian oil fields. Realizing the strategic importance of Hungarian oil, Hitler
understood that the Reich’s oil reserves were all in Hungary. Transporting fuel to other theaters of operations would have
been very difficult at that point. Rail transport had collapsed and the Allies had almost complete air supremacy, reducing
the Wehrmacht to living hand to mouth and taking oil directly from the point of production. Hungarian oil reserves were
at that point very significant. Army Group South was fully supplied by Hungarian oil refineries, while Army Group Centre
was partially supplied from the same source. Fuel supply problems meant that the only army group capable of attacking
distant targets was Army Group South.
Although Hungarian oil production, which had grown to 838,000 tons of crude oil in 1943, was nowhere near sufficient to
keep the Wehrmacht on the move. In fact, Hungarian oil offered Germany the only chance to continue the war at all.
The German synthetic fuel factories had been the targets of repeated Allied air attacks since May 1944 and production
sank so drastically that, in the view of the German commanders, “the Wehrmacht itself would one day come to a
The German army used the Hungarian fuel to good effect until it was dealt a dreadful blow on March 14, when the
refinery at Komárom (north-west Hungary) lost seventy percent of its capacity during an American air raid. Two days later
the refinery at Pét was also destroyed in an aerial attack. Before this happened, though, the importance of Hungarian oil
was brought home to the German leadership in January, when an Allied bombing offensive put almost all German hydride
plants out of production. Throughout the rest of January 1945, Hungary’s Zala and Zisterdorfer oilfields supplied eighty
percent of the Wehrmacht’s entire fuel production. Hitler used that fact to justify the offensive in Hungary to General
Jodl and Admiral Dönitz. Hitler based his decision on the assumption that the continuation of the war was possible by
local successes if oil resources were available. That oil was needed by the SS Panzer Divisions, including the 1st SS
Panzer Division, the 5th SS Panzer Division and the 12th SS Panzer Division.”
Excerpt from Last Campaigns
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other books about World War 2
Together, the two armies of that powerful panzer army group fought the Russians during several campaigns that ended in
May 1945. This is their story. But, it is more. It is the story of beleaguered Hungary, of German and Hungarian infantry
and SS panzer divisions fighting desperately to save their countries against the onslaught of Russian, Rumanian, Bulgaria,
and Czechoslovakian enemies. Read Last Campaigns and learn what could have been done, as well as how it all ended.
More importantly, learn the fate of the elite SS Panzer Divisions, the 1st SS Panzer Division, the 5th SS Panzer
Division and the 12th SS Panzer Division.