How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

Categories: Celebrities | History

Vasily Filippovich Margelov is known as the man who created the Airborne Forces and commanded these troops for many years. That is why paratroopers are called in a special way - "Uncle Vasya's troops". But Margelov became famous not only for this – he proved himself as a brave warrior and a talented leader on the fronts of the Soviet-Finnish and Great Patriotic Wars. 

There were exploits in his life, and one of the most striking was the capture of 32,000 SS men, described in the book by Alexander and Vitaly Margelov "Paratrooper No. 1 General of the Army Margelov".

How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

Everyone who happened to serve with Margelov characterizes him as a man of rare courage, who absolutely did not value his life. But at the same time, everyone as one noted that the fulfillment of the task was always in the first place for Vasily Filippovich. Therefore, all his actions were always balanced, although, sometimes, they looked like absolutely reckless.

How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

Margelov's courage had a strong psychological effect on both the general's associates and enemies. And so it happened on May 12, 1945, when the general was faced with the need to disarm a large group of German troops securely entrenched on the border of Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Despite the fact that the war was virtually over, the remnants of the three divisions - the "Death's Head", "Great Germany" and the "First SS Police Division" were not going to lay down arms. The first two divisions were "famous" on the Eastern Front for punitive actions against civilians, so they could not count on leniency.

Armed, but encircled, SS men dreamed of breaking deep into Austria, into the American occupation zone. Only there could they escape the deserved punishment for their war crimes. The goal for Vasily Margelov and his 49th Guards Rifle Division was clearly set - not to let the enemy escape and avoid responsibility.

How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

The situation of the Nazis was hopeless, so they were ready for the most desperate resistance. Vasily Filippovich understood this perfectly and wanted to avoid bloodshed. Therefore, he decided to act alone, or rather, with minimal support from a small number of officers with grenades and machine guns and one battery of 57-mm guns.

Approaching the headquarters of the enemy, Margelov ordered to direct artillery at him and went to negotiate. According to the general's instructions, the guns were supposed to "blow to hell" the headquarters and everyone inside if they did not come out in 10 minutes.

Negotiations did not take place, as only Margelov spoke. The general categorically offered the Germans to surrender, otherwise they will be completely destroyed. He informed the German commander that the artillery would start from the headquarters and they had exactly as much time to think as his cigarette was smoldering.

How Vasily Margelov single-handedly forced 32,000 SS men to surrender

This statement had a serious psychological effect on the Germans – they realized that the Soviet general was not bluffing and everything would happen exactly as he said. It took only a couple of minutes for the enemy to make the right decision and surrender.

Thus, Margelov almost single-handedly captured 32 thousand enemy soldiers, among whom were 2 generals and more than 800 officers with solid combat experience. The trophies of the 49th Guards Rifle Division were 80 tanks, about a hundred cannons and 50 mortars.

It is not known for sure, but many are sure that it was for this feat that Margelov was entrusted with the honor of leading the consolidated regiment of the 2nd Ukrainian Front at the Victory Parade in Moscow.

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