The photo-album of sergeant József Ködmön

To the memory of the Soviet-Russian campaign.
1941-07-02 -- 1942-01-10

This is a special presentation on this blog of some photographs from the photo-album of sergeant József Ködmön. Not much other information's exist more than that József Ködmön, a well decorated WW1 veteran, served as a staff sergeant in the mechanized transport company. His photo-album contains many interesting and unique photographs from the 1941 Hungarian participation in Operation Barbarossa.

József Ködmön, őrmester (sergeant)


I will start this photo-series with a small summary of The Gyorshadtest (Rapid Corps) and the history of the Hungary's initial participation on the eastern front.

"Együttes pihenő" - Resting together.
(Hungarian and Russian prisoners posing together)

Hungary did not immediately participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union. The invasion began on 22 June 1941, but Germany did not directly ask for Hungarian assistance. In alliance with Germany  Germany, Italian, Finnish, Slovak and Romanian troops participated in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, many Hungarian officials argued for participation in the war in order not to encourage Hitler into favouring Romania in the event of border revisions in Transylvania. On 26 June 1941, the Soviet air force bombed Košice (Kassa). As a reaction on this, Hungary declared war against the Soviet Union on 27 June 1941.

"A jó barátság" - The good companionship.
(József Ködmön between German Luftwaffe personnel.)
On 1 July 1941, under German instruction, the Hungarian The Gyorshadtest ("Rapid Corps") was sent to participate in the advancing invasion. The "Rapid Corps" name was something of a misnomer as it was only "mechanized" compared to other Hungarian units. The corps was not particularly mechanized when compared to similar units fielded by countries like Germany or the Soviet Union. The Gyorshadtest was sent far into southern Russia and saw action at many ocations, most notable at the Battle of Uman, fought between 3 and 8 August and Battle of Kiev fought between 23 August – 26 September 1941.  Hungarian participation in Operation Barbarossa during 1941 was limited in part because the country had no real army before 1939, and time to train and equip troops had been short. Hungary had also built and equipped it's army for defensive purposes and to defend its borders rather than offensive action.

"Dnyeteroban az oszlop" - The convoy in Dyetero.
During 1941, the Hungarian troops were to attack no less than eight Soviet divisions on a front almost 180 miles wide. The Gyorshadtest had a total of about 40,000 armed men to do this. The Soviet forces on the defensive had about 56,000 men. Even victories cost the Hungarians dearly. The Gyorshadtest grew weaker by the end of the summer of 1941. By comparison, the retreating Soviet armies, far from growing weaker, seemed to be growing stronger.

 "Foglyok" - Prisoners.
(Soviet prisoners of war guarded by German guards along the road)
The German commanders typically allowed little room for the Hungarians to take independent action and yet the mechanized corps fought for five months in a long campaign and covered over 1,000 miles of territory. By the end of the summer the Hungarian mechanized corps was down to six battalions. The costs was not limited to the mechanized corps itself. The costs were also too high to the whole Hungarian nation. For a country the size of Hungary, the losses were tremendous.

"Tankolás" - Fuelling up.
By the end of 1941, there were over 200 officers and more than 2,500 rank and file dead. Over 1,500 Hungarians were missing in action. At a minimum, another 7,500 were wounded. Losses in material were high as well. Gone were over 1,200 personnel carriers, 30 air-planes, 28 artillery pieces, 100 per cent of the L3 tankettes, 80 per cent of the Toldi tanks, and 90 per cent of the armoured cars.

"Karbantartás Krivojvogban" - Maintenance in Krivojvog.
In November 1941, The Gyorshadtest ("Rapid Corps") returned to Budapest.

The withdrawal of The Gyorshadtest ("Rapid Corps") did not mean the end of Hungary's military participation in the war. In Budapest, the Gyorshadtest and its remains was re-fitted and made ready for battle. Germany continued to demand a maximum effort from the Hungarians and soon the Hungarian Second Army was dispatched in the summer of 1942.

"Kiserőd Dyeszteren" - Pillbox by the river Dyester.
(German and Hungarian soldiers together)

"Orosz-tank elszállítása" - Removing of a Russian tank.
(The text of this photograph is definitely wrong: the vehicle is a German heavy armoured reconnaissance vehicle called Sdkfz. 231)

"Lelőtt Ratta" - Shot down Ratta
The term "Ratta" was used for most air-planes by many soldiers. Ratta means rat in Spanish and was used for the Soviet fighter Polikarpov 16, by the nationalist side in the Spanish civil war. The air-plane on the photograph is a Ilyushin Il-2, a ground-attack aircraft (Shturmovik).

"Dyetero" - The town of Dyetero.

Sergeant József Ködmön on top of a Soviet made BA-10 (Russian: Broneavtomobil 10) armoured car.

The Hungarian convoy heading east...

The Hungarian convoy passes by German infantry.

The Photo-album.

A Hungarian soldier stands among the ruin of a burned down house. 

Shot down Ilyushin Il-2, a ground-attack aircraft (Shturmovik).

 Hungarian soldiers stands in front of a burning oil well.

Abandoned Soviet heavy artillery.

Soldiers on-top of a M38 "Toldi" Hungarian light tank.

Sergeant József Ködmön on a STANDARD motorcycle from 1929.

Somewhere in the Soviet union, heading east.

German military cemetery.

Detail from the photo-album.

Soldiers pose for a group photo on-top of a Hungarian M38 "Toldi".

Sergeant József Ködmön, 2nd Lieutenant László Jobbágy (company commander) and sergeant Bogdán Petúl.

Silhouettes in front of the fire.

 Detail from the photo-album.

Destroyed Soviet T-26 light infantry tank.

Hungarian military road-signs on the walls of a destroyed house.

Soviet prisoners of war in a detention camp.

Destroyed Soviet housing complex.

Hungarian soldiers relax in the shade of their trucks.

Captured Soviets artillery.

Soviet prisoners of war, marching into captivity. A Hungarian soldier walks by the column.

Hungarian military cemetery.

German SS military cemetery.

Sergeant József Ködmön

 Sergeant József Ködmön and his men in the village of Rakhiv. 

 German SS military cemetery.

Hungarian soldiers in front of the chimney stacks of burned down houses. 

 The Hungarian trucks are stuck in the mud.

Sized Soviet weapons.

Traces of small arms fire on the walls.

 Struggle on the road.

Hungarian soldiers roast their corn over the fire.

Soviet prisoner.

Torn down statue of Vladimir Lenin.

The building of the military academy in Vinnytsia in 1941. 
And a photograph as it looks like today..

The last photographs are from a series  of a possible road-mine detonation. A truck probably drove on to  the hidden mine that went off and damaged the truck and injured a few of the men. No captions were added to these photographs in the album.