HUNGARY AND THE END - FEBRUARY TO MAY 1945
By mid-February, the Pz.Rgt. had been transported to the Bakony Forest in Hungary. It had 13 Pz.III's, 18 Pz.IV's, 8 Jagd-Pz.IV's, and 23 Panthers on strength. The regiment advanced along the NW to the NE of Lake Balaton and on March 6 became engaged in combat SW of Budapest. On the 9th, DR panzers reinforced by III (gep.) "Der Fuehrer" overran Hill 159. On the 12th, fierce combat raged in the Kulso, Puskop, and Myr areas. Hscha. Emil Seibold in Pz.IV #831 scored his 65th kill that day. "Der Fuehrer" then advanced with the division's remaining panzers to Heinrich Major. In that area on the 17th, one day after the Russian counter offensive Operation Vienna began. Osch. Barkmann's platoon knocked out five T-34's, scoring the division's 3000 armor kill since the start of 1943.
Driven back south of Komorn during the third week of March, Das Reich personnel claimed to have met the JS-3 for the first time in combat. On the 28th, Das Reich's Pz.Rgt. had 5 Pz.IV's, 2 Panthers, and 5 Jagd-Panthers combat fit as it retreated NW toward Vienna. On the morning of April 2nd north of Baden, Stubaf. Kesten, c/o of II/Pz.Rgt. Das Reich, was killed. Assaulted by the 5th Guards Tank Corps from the NW and the 9th Gds.Mechanized Corps from the south, most of Das Reich's panzers were backed up against the Donau Canal, just north of Vienna during the second wek of April. The division's last significant tank battle was fought there on the 13th.
Early that morning, Oscha. Barkmann's Panther was put out of action, not by enemy fire, but by driving into a bomb crater and damaging its steering. In the vicinity, near the west end of the Floridsdorf bridge across the Donau Canal, a lone 6th Pz. company Pz.IV fought on, but soon was silenced. Ostuf. Karl-Heinz Boska, c/o of that company, rounded up 3 Panthers on the other side of the bridge and led them toward the German's dwindling bridghead. The 3 tanks made it halfway back across the bridge before they were knocked out and Boska wounded. Das Reich's panzer force had virtually ceased to exist.
Information gathered from Miles Krogfus' article "The Story of Das Reich Panzers", AFV News, January 1987.
Updated October 26, 2021