Operation Frühlingserwachen (‘Spring Awakening’) was the Eastern Front counterpart to the Battle of the Bulge; a powerful late-war counteroffensive dreamed up by Hitler and enacted by the Waffen-SS. Launched from the German lines around Lake Balaton, some 70km (43 miles) west of Budapest, on 6 March 1945, the operation was intended to drive the Red Army back across the Danube and reclaim the Hungarian capital.
Even more so than its western counterpart, Operation Spring Awakening was doomed from the outset. The German units involved in the offensive were demoralized and understrength, the terrain did not favor them, and, worst of all, the Soviets knew they were coming. What followed was in many ways a re-enactment of the battle of Kursk with late-war weaponry – the advancing Germans faced line after line of minefields, anti-tank guns, and dug in infantry. That the offensive made any progress at all is testament to the impressive fighting qualities of Sepp Dietrich’s Sixth SS Panzer Army.
Illustrated with color maps and contemporary photographs, Waffen-SS: Hungary ’45 tells the story of the last great German offensive of the war. It describes the brutal fighting around Lake Balaton and the Sarviz Canal as well as the desperate final thrust of I SS Panzer Corps that came close to breaking through the Red Army’s lines. It also covers the overwhelming Soviet counteroffensive, which saw the Sixth SS Panzer Army driven all the way back to Vienna in a matter of weeks.