6th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)

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German 6th Panzer Division
6th Panzer Division logo.svg
6th Panzer Division insignia (1941—1945)
Active 1939-1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Allegiance Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht
Branch Heer
Type Panzer division
Role Armored warfare
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Wuppertal
Engagements World War II
Insignia
Insignia (1941) 6th Panzer Division logo 2.svg
Insignia (Kursk) 6th Panzer Division logo 3.svg

The German 1st Light Brigade was a mechanized unit established in October 1937 in imitation of the French Division Légère Mécanique, intended to take on the roles of army-level reconnaissance and security that had traditionally been the responsibility of cavalry. It included mechanized recon units, motorized infantry, and a battalion of tanks. In 1938 it was enlarged to become the 1st Light Division (sometimes described as Light Mechanized or Light Panzer to distinguish it from the later Light infantry divisions). In 1939 the division fought in the Invasion of Poland. Due to shortcomings that the campaign revealed in the organization of the Light divisions, it was reorganized as the 6th Panzer Division afterward in October 1939.

6th Panzer division troops advance into Russia, 1941

As the 6th Panzer Division, it participated in the 1940 Battle of France and then transferred east for the rest of the year. In June 1941 it joined Operation Barbarossa, fighting at first under Army Group North for Leningrad but soon transferring to Army Group Center, where it fought in the Battle of Moscow and the Rzhev-Vyazma Salient. By May 1942, it had suffered such losses that it was withdrawn to France for rehabilitation. It returned to the Russian Front at the end of the year and participated in the failed attempt to relieve the Sixth Army at Battle of Stalingrad. Thereafter it fought in the battles of Kharkov and Kursk and the defensive battles back across the Ukraine and White Russia afterward. In early 1945 it was used in the attempts to relieve Budapest and then driven back into Austria, where it surrendered to the Soviets at the end of the war.

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