Bad Frostberg burned and burned from the air bombardment. As the thick columns of smoke filled the sky above them, Arajs, Hansen and their brother SS-men dug deeper into the rubble of the town, from both experience and anticipation.
Of course, their hardened hearts and brutal instincts were correct under the circumstances—unknown to them, Rosselsprung had received the word that the North road had been closed by the Soviets a few hours earlier. The trap was complete-but Roselsprung and Gruber continued to feed units, stragglers and anything they could scrape up to the Southern while perimeter of the town.
In fact, Commissar Davidov had managed to finally move his Corps’ artillery up to the front lines and placed them—nearly wheel by wheel against the defenders of Bad Frostberg. Behind the Commissar were batteries of heavier guns and all waited the order to fire, once the tank and tank-riders moved into place for the assault.
Oddly, the Commissar’s careful plans to obliterate Bad Frostberg meant nothing to Hansen, Arajs and the Latvian S.S. men about them. All they knew was thst the deeper they dug, the safer they were.
Rosselsprung and Gruber saw the larger picture. Every resource available was sent to the Southern edge of the town. In an inspired appreciation of the Soviet military mind, they stripped the town’s flank defenses of troops and guns. It was their guess that, based on previous experience, the Russians would seek a decision on the front lines that contained their best defenses, knowing that, if such a decision were reached in their favor, Bad Frostberg must quickly fall.
Truth be told, it was an administrative triumph, on the German side, that Rosselsdpung and Gruber had managed, in the space iof a few days, to pull together the defense of the town. Communications were spotty at best and the broken units that they deployed were hardly fit for the coming fight. But Rosselsprung and his IA, Gruber, had thrown them into the furnace nonetheless. This would be a fight, as Rosselsprung intended, between Russian tanks and dug-in German infantry wielding the best of individual anti-tank weapons.
Of course, this grand scheme was lost upon the German flank guards, especially Tom and Ulrich, whose thinly armored cars watched the steady and unimpeded flow of T-34s North of the town.
No one had given them the word to not react, to not fight for their Fatherland and what became of them was a matter of luck, fate and unrewarded courage.
The Commissar opened the bombardment promptly at 0500. Russian 75mm guns and heavier Army guns opened up on the town at his order.
Artillery is a strangely blind thing. Any single gun could obliterate , by itself, a group of infantry. But an entire regiment of guns, firing to at unseen targets, could be, despite their weight of shell, totally inefficient at eliminating a dug-in and determined foe. This was exactly what happened at Bad Frostberg—by the time the Russian artillery fired, the German defenders had dug in so deep that their losses were minimal.
Commissar D, the EviL, hadn’t the least interest in the efficiency of his artillery and, afterwards, simply hurtled 30 T-34s and their tank-riders towards the Soviet lodgment of three IS-2 tanks in the Southern quarter of the town. If he could reinforce them, he knew that he would ultimately win the struggle for the town and he was fully prepared to pay a terrible price for that victory.
As a tactician, the Commissar, left on his own, would have simply bypassed Bad Frostberg and spared his troops the cost of an assault—but orders were orders--and he was bound to them as much as Rosselsprung was bound to defend his “Festung”.
There cannot be any certain insight into the minds of soldiers. Some would react to an enemy with what could charitably be called “cowardice”, while others would react, facing the same jeopardy, with what could only be called bravery or heroism. No man--General, "Fuhrer" or “Savior of the Motherland” could ever predict exactly how an individual soldier would deal with the moment of crises, because they simply never knew the men at the cutting edge of death.
How the battle of Bad Frostberg turned out was solely a matter of individual courage and sacrifice, not the designs of Generals or their masters.
Death is lighter than a Feather, Duty is heavier than a Mountain....