ASSAULT ON BELGRADE


SS Hauptsturmführer Fritz Klingenberg

On the morning of April 12th, 1941, SS Haupsturmführer Fritz Klingenberg and members of his motorcycle assualt company approached Belgrade from Pancevo along the bank of the Danube river. Klingenberg was anxious to enter the city but the swollen river and lack of any usable bridges prevented a direct assault, and the motorcycle assault company had no bridging equipment or rafts. Klingenberg's men discovered a motor launch on the north bank of the river. With one of his platoon leaders, two sergeants and five privates, Klingenberg crossed the Danube. When the group had reached the other side, Klingenberg sent two men back for reinforcements and proceeded with the remaining six men into downtown Belgrade. Soon after entering the city, Klingenberg encountered a group of twenty Yugoslavian soldiers and without firing a shot the Yugoslavs surrendered. Later on, a group of military vehicles approached Klingenberg's men, and after a short battle, the Germans captured the vehicles. The assault group (now motorized!) headed towards the Yugoslavian War Ministry, but when they arrived the building had been abandoned, probably vacated during the Luftwaffe's attack on the city. Since there was no military command left in Belgrade, Klingenberg proceeded to the German embassy which had remained open in Belgrade. The Germans unfurled a large swastika and raised it over the embassy to declare the capture of the city. Two hours later, the mayor of Belgrade arrived at the embassy and surrendered the city to Klingenberg. It was not until the next day that a sizeable German force arrived to secure the city. For capturing Belgrade, SS Haupsturmführer Fritz Klingenberg was awarded the Knight's Cross.


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