VURBERK CASTLE attack by SAAF 16 sqdn 1945

23 Feb 1945: Attack on VURBERK castle, HQ of SS  Div 

Please see information on the bottom of the page kindly supplied by Gundeger Herberstein who's father owned the castle up to 1945.

Summary of publication by historian ALEŠ JAMBREK

(thanks for permission to publish here!)

Here the article:



With the help of written and pictorial historical sources, the circumstances relating the attack on Vurberk Castle have been fully clarified. It has been determined that the 16th Squadron of South African Air Force (SAAF) launched an attack on 23rd February 1945, at 12.50 pm with eight airplanes in response to the call of partisan units of the 4th Operative Zone. The attack took place because the SS headquarters was stationed in the castle. Owing to the rocketing, bombing, machine-gunning and aircraft missiles, the entire castle roof was destroyed and consequently the upper floor of the castle complex to which the roof was attached, and not two thirds of the castle according to the occupation documents. \

Based on the examined documents, the possibility that the castle had been targeted for the murder of an American pilot and had been destroyed by the Air Force of Yugoslav National Liberation Army can be excluded. However, the issues of whether the Vurberk Castle had served as headquarters of the 31st SS Volunteer Grenadier Division which included the Ustasha units, the size of the latter, or how many military units were positioned in the castle complex remain open. Indirect sources show that the death of the American pilot was perpetrated by the soldiers belonging to the Ustasha or Bosnian Croatian SS units.

It should be established whether the presence of those units strategically truly justified the attack on the castle complex. If the castle was not being used as SS headquarters the question arises whether the attack did not really happen merely due to communication problems, carelessness or private agenda. Namely because the partisan units of the 4th Operative Zone included Lackova četa (the Lacko Battalion), and partisans Albert Bračič (Miha) and Rosenfeld Alojz (Slavko) who were aware of the factual situation and the number of military units in the castle since they were responsible for intelligence collection and had informants inside the castle.

19 April 2018

Dear Tinus,


it is a long time I have written to you. My institution got necessary funds for exhibition of castle Vurberk. Once you gave me a permission to publish pictures of attack on Vurberk castle in February 1945 that you have sent me and I would like to know if that permission still stands.


Thank you for your reply.


Nice regards,


Jambrek Aleš

Oddelek za upravo in pravosodje

Zgodovinski arhiv na Ptuju

Vičava 5

2250 Ptuj

The Castle is demolished, only small portion still remains


Dear Mr. Tinus Le Roux.


It was Mr. Ales  Jambrek  who gave me your name and addresse.

I am Gundeger Herberstein the eldest son of Hubertus Herberstein until 1945 the owner of the Castle of Vurberk. I have bought the book

"Eagles victorious". Of course I am very interested in all that concerns the destraction  of the Castle of my father. Is it possible that you know anything more than what is written in the above mentioned book?

I live in Johannesburg. 

I would be happy to hear from you., or I could tell you more about Vurberk and my Family.

Best regards

Gundeger Herberstein


Dear Tinus!


Thank you for your  e mail and the indication of the web page. I am always very eager to learn about the fate of our Castle Wurmberg,

Regarding the  mention, that Vurberk Castle has been the HQ of the 31 SS Freiwilligen Grenadier Division please consider the following:

  1. If you look into the web under : 31 SS Freiwilligen Grendier Division you will see that it fought in Hungaria and then in Czeckoslwakia.

           there is a short message of Maribor, Marburg. But this town is more than 20 km away.

      2. The Castle is in no ways suitable for Military occupation.There is only 1 narrow road to the castle, a gravel road, up a steep hill, through           dense forest. A very dangerous passage, perfect for partisans attacks, or cut off by partisans. 


Dear Tinus.


Thank you for your e mail.

Regarding the mention, that Wurmberg has been the HQ of the 31. SS Freiwilligen Grenadier Division, I would have the following comments.

If you look in the  the internet under 3. Freiwilligen Grenadier Division you will see that this Division has been fighting Russian troups in Hungary and then was sent to Czekoslowakia via Austria. There is Marburg, Maribor, mentioned, but Marburg is 20 Kilometers away.

The Wurmberg Castle is in no way suitable for Military occupation. There is only a single access road, a very narrow dirt road, up a steep hill, through dense forest. A dangerous passage, perfect for umbush   attacks or cut offs by partisans. And in the woods around the Castle, all over the Region an unknown number of partisans were hiding, and attacking. After the attack on the Castle, the Castle continued to burn for several days. No fire brigade dared to fight it because of partisan scare.

Around the Castle there are no parking possibilities for Military Equipment, such as tanks, trucks, etc. The next possible place is many km away.


We, the Herbestein Family never lived in the Castle. In the 1920's it was a Hospital for "white" Russians that had flet Russia after the Sowjets had taken over the power there, and then, after the German occupation it became a "Schulungsburg", an instruction Castle for brainwashing Yougoslavs  with NS ideas.


What photgraphs, what comments,  history of the Castle would interest you?

Best regards


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