Brainstorming and informal planning for a potential CENTAG offensive option continued on. Many of CENTAG’s war plans assumed an offensive from the army group’s region would be directed north or northwest to blunt a major Soviet attack or breakthrough on the North German Plain. An embodiment of the cavalry coming to the rescue, so to speak. Present conditions favored an offensive directly into East Germany, however. As the afternoon progressed and the situation outside of Kassel emerged, General Otis recognized a potential opening develop in that area. This was all hypothetical though, and heavily dependent upon what transpired in NORTHAG’s region through the remainder of the day.
The East German surrender near Kassel sparked fighting in other GDR units in the afternoon. A second surrender request was presented to West German officers as dusk approached, this time by officers of the 22nd Motor Rifle Regiment. This was followed by an open radio message from the acting commander of the East German 4th Motor Rifle Division who declared that all GDR forces presently on Federal Republic territory would begin moving back towards the border at first light on D+18. If this officer’s promise was sincere, it would leave just a weakened Soviet division and a pair of equally worn down East German regiments in front of Kassel. This realization compelled Otis to have his staff look seriously at an offensive in that area, to be launched in coordination with a similar effort from NORTHAG in the coming days.
In the southern sectors of CENTAG’s area, conditions were improving by the hour. US VII Corps had a forward screen of units deployed on the Czech border. The corps was under strict orders not to cross into Czechoslovakia under any circumstances for the time being. This did not prevent VII Corps commander from making plans for such an operation if the order was given by CINC-CENT. Otis, in turn, was waiting for guidance from SACEUR, though at this point it did not seem a foray into Czechoslovakia was high on Galvin’s list of immediate priorities. The NATO commander’s attention remained fixed on the Leine river. By dawn the next morning, the same would be true for just about every NATO division, corps and army group commander in Germany.
Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay in posting. I tore my meniscus slightly while walking on the beach (seriously😊 ) and am recovering this weekend. Central Front D+17 is now officially wrapped. There are two more D+17 posts coming on Monday and Wednesday. These will center on political developments of the day, especially those taking place in Moscow. Hope you’re all having a good weekend. –Mike