256th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

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The 256. Infanterie-Division was a German Infantry division in World War II. They formed on August 1939 as part of the 4. Welle (wave). The division was destroyed at Vitebsk in June 1944. The remnants formed Divisions-Gruppe 256 which was assigned to Korps-Abteilung H. The division was raised in Wehrkreis IV (Dresden) on 26 August 1939.

Commanders[edit]

  • Generalleutnant Josef Folttmann (1 Sep 1939 - 10 Jan 1940)
  • Generalleutnant Gerhard Kauffmann (10 Jan 1940 - 4 Jan 1942)
  • Generalleutnant Friedrich Weber (4 Jan 1942 - 14 Feb 1942)
  • Generalleutnant Paul Danhauser (14 Feb 1942 - 24 Nov 1943)
  • Generalleutnant Albrecht Wüstenhagen (24 Nov 1943 - 26 June 1944) (KIA) (1)

Operations Officers (Ia)[edit]

  • Hauptmann Otto Deyhle (?-1940)
  • Major Albrecht von Warburg (Jun 1940-Nov 1942)
  • Oberstleutnant Adolf Hornig (Nov 1942-10 Dec 1943)

Area of operations[edit]

  • Germany (Sep 1939 - May 1940)

The division is shipped to Poland (Protektorat Böhmen-Mären) as occupation force. The division was to remain there in that role until November 1939 after which it's transported to Lippstadt, western Germany, in order to commence training for the attack on France and the Low Countries in 1940 (Fall Gelb)

  • Netherlands & Belgium (May 1940 - February 1941)

Just before the attack on May 10, the division was moved to the town of Kleve on the Dutch border where it was attached to the XXVI Corps under General der Artillerie Albert Wodrig, which was itself part of Heeresgruppe B (Army Group) under General-Oberst Fedor von Bock. Attached with the 256th Infantry Division in the XXVI Corps were the 254th Division and the so-called SS-VT (SS Verfügungstruppe). The latter would later be renamed the SS-Panzer Division 'Das Reich'. On the morning of May 10, the 256th Division got the order to break through the Dutch border defense, take the bridge at Gennep and push through to the Peel/Raam defensive line at Mill. Though making good progress in the beginning, it turned out that the bridge at Gennep was the only 'bigger' road bridge which was taken intact, making a speedy transportation of troops almost impossible. This led to the 256th Division coming to Mill in pieces after which heavy fighting ensued for almost 48 hours. You can read more about this battle and the run-up to it on this Dutch page: De Slag om Mill. General von Bock visited the destroyed defensive line around Mill on May 11.

After the Dutch defense had finally been broken, the SS division moved slightly north-east after which they participated in the most famous Dutch battle at the Grebbeberg.

The 256th continued to fight along the line 's Hertogenbosch, Tilburg, south of Breda, Braschaat, Antwerpen and then on to the Nieuwpoort/Dunkirk area where they sealed the sailiant around the last harbour used to evacuate retreating French and British forces

At the beginning of the second phase of Fall Gelb, the division was ordered to stay in the Nieuwpoort/Dunkirk area and later to Bretange where it stayed as an occupation force until February 1941.

  • Eastern front, central sector (February 1941 - July 1944)

After the division was transferred to East-Poland in order to prepare for battles on the Eastern Front, it was put on the frontline for operation Barbarossa

Order of battle[edit]

  • 456. Infantry Regiment
  • 476. Infantry Regiment
  • 481. Infantry Regiment
  • 256. Artillery Regiment
  • 256. Panzerjäger Battalion
  • 256. Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 256. Pioneer Battalion (mot)
  • 256. Signals Battalion (mot)
  • Supply Troops