Gebirgsjäger (often referred to in Poland as Alpine Riflemen) are selected Austrian and German light infantry units designed to operate in the mountains. It is assumed that the history of Gebirgsjäger in the German army began in November 1914, when the first battalions of this type were formed. During World War II, the German army still had units of this type, forming a total of as many as 10 divisions, which were used in combat with varying intensity. The equipment of Gebirgsjäger units during World War II was similar to traditional infantry formations, but generally Alpine shooters had more machine guns (light and heavy - e.g. MG34 or MG42) and a greater amount of light artillery and mortars. Their equipment was also adapted to operating in high mountain terrain and in very low temperatures, and their training was much more difficult than that of an ordinary walker. Gebirgsjäger units were used on a large scale during the fighting in Norway in 1940, during the fighting in the Balkans and Crete in 1941, but also in the Italian campaign (1943-1945) and on the Eastern Front, especially in the Caucasus (1942 -1943) and in its northern part, on the Finnish-Soviet border. It is worth adding that the distinguishing sign of the German Gebirgsjäger is the insignia of the edelweiss (German: Edelweiss). It is worth adding that the traditions of Gebirgsjäger are now continued in the German Bundeswehr.
Operation "Mercury" (Ger. Unternehmen Merkur) is the German code name for the airborne operation carried out in Crete from May 20 to June 1, 1941. On the German side, about 22,000-24,000 soldiers took part in the operation, supported by about 1,200 aircraft of all types under the command of General Kurt Student. On the Allied side, approximately 42,000 soldiers (including, among others, 18,000 British and 11,000 Greek soldiers) fought under the command of General Bernard Freyberg. It is worth adding that Operation Mercury is the largest German operation of this type during World War II. Activities began on May 20, 1941 with an air landing carried out by the 7th Air Division and Luftlandesturmregiment in the strength of a total of approx. 10,000 people in the northern part of Crete. Despite very high losses, the German paratroopers managed to fortify the area of the airport in the city of Maleme and effectively paralyze the road traffic behind the Allied forces. General Kurt Student, despite the high losses suffered on May 20, decided to continue the fight and on May 21 to concentrate operations in the Maleme area. On the same day, the Germans seized the airport near the city, and on May 21-25, a significant part of the 5th Mountain Division and heavy equipment were transferred to Crete. On May 22, units of German paratroopers and mountain infantry attacked towards the eastern part of the island. On May 26-28, as a result of the chaos of decisions and weak command of the Allied forces, the Germans managed to take over two important cities - Chania and Sud. Despite the fact that the German side captured a very important island in the Mediterranean basin in less than two weeks, it suffered significant losses, estimated at a minimum of about 3,400 people killed and about 2,600 wounded. 370 aircraft were also destroyed or damaged.