Central Europe: Eisenach/Thuringia
By March 30, the Division had cleared all enemy in its zone east of the Rhine and was assembled in the vicinity of Bad Schwalbach and Struth. The Rhine phase of operations was ended. In twenty-eights days of combat, 89ers had made two historic river crossings and driven deep in to the soil of the Third Reich to establish themselves as aggressive combat veterans.
Easter Sunday came on April 1 and the Division received an extended rest period of three days. Most memorable was the issuance of a bottle of re-liberated French champagne to every soldier. The Germans were finished south of Remagen, where the capture of an intact bridge over the Rhine had given the Allies an unexpected boost on the road to Berlin. After concentration near Hersfeld, the 89th was to advance eastward toward Eisenach and across the province of Thuringia. The terrain was similar to that west of the Rhine, although not quite so rugged. Broad open valleys alternated will hills and forest areas. Ruins of old castles loomed darkly on the heights. A four-lane concrete highway, the Autobahn, simplified many problems of rapid movement and supply for the Division. The same super-highway, however, also provided the enemy with magnificent positions for 88s emplaced on high ground commanding a view of the Autobahn for miles. It was a storybook country, but its dragons were modernized and deadly.
On April 4, the Division CP closed at Nesselroden, beside the Dresden-Frankfort autobahn. The 89th was the eastern-most United States infantry division, and one of the closest to the Russians. After a wild, forty-eight hour dash down the blacked-out autobahn, CT 5 joined the 4th Armored outside of Gotha. During the movement of nearly 150 miles from Geisenheim, convoys speeded at forty and fifty miles per hour down a highway glistening dimly with rain, through scarcely visible detours on mud lanes by-passing demolished bridges. Squads of German soldiers lurked in the woods along the roads, attacking isolated units with Panzerfausts and machine pistols. By day, German planes strafed the column. As was customary on operations of this type, the armor had plunged headlong through German positions and towns, every gun thundering, leaving behind scattered and disorganized but nevertheless determined knots of infantry and armor which often reorganized and fought again. After armor had passed through, the Germans would close in behind the last vehicle and re-man the roadblocks. Infantry following up would meet machine guns firing from second story windows overlooking roads leading into the villages.
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