This silent German newsreel shows the training activities of the Gebirgsjäger (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈbɪʁksˌjɛːɡɐ]) light infantry. These troops are part of the alpine or mountain troops (Gebirgstruppe) of Germany and Austria. (N.B.: The word Jäger meaning "hunter" or "huntsman" is a characteristic term used for light-infantry or light-infantryman in German-speaking military context.) Troops are shown fording a river, moving artillery over rough terrain, emplacing in the mountains, and ascending to the peaks of the Alps to literally seize the high ground from the enemy.
The mountain infantry of Austria have their roots in the three Landesschützen regiments of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The mountain infantry of Germany carry on certain traditions of the Alpenkorps (Alpine corps) of World War I. Both countries' mountain infantry share the Edelweiß insignia. It was established in 1907 as a symbol of the Austro-Hungarian Landesschützen regiments by Emperor Franz Joseph I. These troops wore their edelweiss on the collar of their uniforms. When the Alpenkorps came to aid the Landesschützen in defending Austria-Hungary's southern frontier against the Italian attack in May 1915, the grateful Landesschützen honoured the men of the Alpenkorps by awarding them their own insignia: the edelweiss. Together with the Fallschirmjäger (Paratroopers) they are perceived as the elite infantry units of the German Army.
During World War II the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS raised a number of mountain infantry units.
An entire corps was formed in Norway by 1941. Its divisions were lightly equipped, with much of the transport provided by mules. These mountain infantry were equipped with fewer automatic weapons than regular infantry, however the MG 34 or MG 42 machine gunners were provided with more ammunition than their regular infantry counterparts. Mountain infantry were identified by the edelweiss insignia worn on their sleeves and their caps.
Mountain infantry participated in many battles, including Operation Weserübung, Operation Silver Fox, Operation Platinum Fox and Operation Arctic Fox, the operations in the Caucasus, the Gothic Line, the invasion of Crete and the battles in the Vosges region of France. Special equipment was made for them including the G33/40 mauser rifle based on the VZ.33 rifle.
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