2nd Panzer Army

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2nd Panzer Army (2.Panzerarmee)
Deut.2.PzArmee-Abzeichen.svg
Insignia of the 2nd Panzer Group / 2nd Panzer Army
Active October 5, 1941 - May 8, 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Type Tank Army
Engagements Eastern Front and the Balkans, World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Generaloberst Heinz Guderian

The 2nd Panzer Army (German: 2. Panzerarmee) was a German armoured formation during World War II, formed from the 2nd Panzer Group on October 5, 1941. 2nd Panzer Group was originally designated as Panzer Group Guderian.

Panzer Group Guderian[edit]

Panzer Group Guderian (German: Panzergruppe Guderian) was formed on 5 June 1940 and named after its commander, general Heinz Guderian, creator of the German Panzerwaffe.

In early June 1940, after reaching the English Channel following the breakthrough in the Ardennes, the Panzergruppe Guderian was formed from the XIX Armeekorps, and thrust deep into France, cutting off the Maginot Line. From then on, every unit that served in the Panzergruppe Guderian wore a large 'G' on every tank, truck or motorcycle. It was reformed later the same month. In November 1940, it was upgraded into Panzergruppe 2.

Order of battle[edit]

Organization of Panzer Group Guderian on 28 May 1940

Group Corps Division
Panzer Group Guderian
General der Panzertruppe Heinz Guderian
XXXIX Army Corps (mot.)
Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt
1st Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Friedrich Kirchner
2nd Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Rudolf Veiel
29th Infantry Division (mot.)
Generalmajor Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
XXXXI Army Corps
Generalleutnant Georg-Hans Reinhardt
6th Panzer Division
Generalmajor Werner Kempf
8th Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen
20th Infantry Division (mot.)
Generalleutnant Mauritz von Wiktorin

2nd Panzer Group[edit]

The 2nd Panzer Group (German: Panzergruppe 2) was formed in November 1940 from Panzer Group Guderian. In October 1941 it was renamed the 2nd Panzer Army. Panzer Group 2 played a significant role in the early stages of the German invasion of the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa in 1941 when it was a constituent part of Army Group Centre.

Orders of battle[edit]

(June 22, 1941)[edit]

Group Corps Division / Regiment
2nd Panzer Group
General der Panzertruppe
Heinz Guderian
XXIV Panzer Corps


Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg

3rd Panzer Division
4th Panzer Division
10th Infantry Division
1st Cavalry Division
XLVI Panzer Corps 10th Panzer Division
SS Infantry Division Das Reich (mot.)
Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland
XLVII Panzer Corps 17th Panzer Division
18th Panzer Division
29th Infantry Division (mot.)
Anti-Aircraft Regiment Hermann Göring

(July 27, 1941)[edit]

Group Corps Division / Regiment
2nd Panzer Group(Army Group Guderian)[1]


General der Panzertruppe
Heinz Guderian

VII Corps 7th Infantry Division
23rd Infantry Division
78th Infantry Division
197th Infantry Division
XX Corps 15th Infantry Division
268th Infantry Division
IX Corps 263rd Infantry Division
292nd Infantry Division
137th Infantry Division
XLVI Panzer Corps 10th Panzer Division
SS Infantry Division Das Reich (mot.)
Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland
XXIV Panzer Corps 3rd Panzer Division
4th Panzer Division
10th Infantry Division (mot.)
XLVII Panzer Corps 18th Panzer Division
17th Panzer Division
29th Infantry Division (mot.)

(Sep 30, 1941)[edit]

Group Corps Division / Regiment
2nd Panzer Group
General der Panzertruppe
Heinz Guderian
XLVIII Panzer Corps 9th Panzer Division
16th Infantry Division (mot.)
25th Infantry Division (mot.)
XXIV Panzer Corps 3rd Panzer Division
4th Panzer Division
10th Infantry Division (mot.)
XLVII Panzer Corps 17th Panzer Division
18th Panzer Division
20th Infantry Division (mot.)
XXXIV Corps 45th Infantry Division
135th Infantry Division
XXXV Corps 296th Infantry Division
95th Infantry Division
1st Cavalry Division

(Nov 30, 1943)[edit]

Group Corps Division / Regiment
2nd Panzer Army
Generaloberst
Lothar Rendulic
III SS Panzer Corps 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
SS Panzer Grenadier Brigade Nederland
V SS Mountain Corps 7th SS Division Prinz Eugen
118th Jäger Division
181st Infantry Division
369th (Croatian) Infantry Division
1st Mountain Division
XV Mountain Corps 1st Cossack Division
114th Jäger Division
264th Infantry Division
371st Infantry Division
373rd (Croatian) Infantry Division
XXI Mountain Corps 100th Jäger Division
297th Infantry Division
LXIX Reserve Corps 173rd Reserve Division
187th Reserve Division
367th Infantry Division

2nd Panzer Army[edit]

1941: The Germans had 4 panzer armies as their spearheads spread across 3 army groups at the start of Operation Barbarossa. Army Group North was given control of 4th Panzer Army, Army Group Center was given control of 3rd Panzer Army and 2nd Panzer Army while Army Group South was given control of 1st Panzer Army. Army Group Center had been assigned to capture Moscow.

Capture of Bialystok and Minsk: As the Germans invaded deep into Russia, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army formed the southern pincer while Hoth's 3rd Panzer Army formed the Northern pincer engulfing several Russian divisions during the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa. Of particular significance are the battles of Bialystok and Minsk, where substantial amount of Russian prisoners were captured and several Russian weapons captured.

Progress slows down and the capture of Smolensk : In spite of beginning to suffer heavy rates of attrition, the Panzer Armies marched along. The Rasputitza Season (season of no movement in Russian - due to heavy rains and sluggish muddy roads) was terrible and took its toll on German equipment. Progress was often slowed down to a few kilometres a day. Nonetheless, the Germans marched on.

At this point in time, a momentous decision was taken, which some say could have changed the course of the war. The Germans were already behind the timetable of capturing Moscow, before the Winter of 1941 had set in, but were progressing slowly towards its target. After Minsk, the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Armies had succeeded in capturing Smolensk in yet another successful pincer operation that yielded around 300,000 prisoners. Southward Dash to Kiev: As Army Group Center inched towards Moscow, Hitler ordered Guderian to turn Southward towards Kiev. Guderian in his memoirs argues that he was against this operation, because by turning South-West ward towards Kiev, he was moving in a direction towards Germany and not eastward, which was a severe wastage of time and effort. However, he or the high command of the OKW were not able to convince Hitler. In hindsight, it must be said, that probably there was some logic in Hitler ordering this move.

Of the 3 Army Groups - North, Center and South, it was Army Group South that was facing the most stiff resistance. They were making the slowest progress compared to the other two Army Groups. This could be due to several factors, which are beyond the scope of this article. German reconnaissance had seen huge Russian armies gathering in the vicinity of Kiev, which 1st Panzer Army would have found difficult to capture on its own. It is probably for this reason, that Hitler ordered Guderian's 2nd Panzer army to immediately swing south-west and now form the northern pincer at Kiev. At Kiev, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army and Von Kleist's 1st Panzer Army locked in a pincer around Kiev to trap - 665,000 Russian prisoners, the greatest capture of a single battle in the war.

Considering this fact, Hitler's decision to divert 2nd Panzer army southward may not have been totally incorrect. Another important aspect that had to be considered was Napoleon's disaster adventure of Russia. Napoleon had captured Moscow, but had not destroyed the Red Army. If Army Group Center had marched onwards directly to Moscow, and considering that Army Group South was made up of Romanian, Hungarian, Italian and Croatian Forces, which were not as well equipped and trained as the German Wehrmacht, it would be debatable if Army Group South on its own had enough forces to defeat the Red Army forces in the south. Under such a scenario, if Army Group South did not keep up with Army Group Center, then there was also a potential danger of a breach in the flanks between both Army Groups, and the potential possibility of a threat to Army Group Center's communication and logistics by the Red Army.

Attack Moscow from the Rear: Now, Hitler felt that the time to attack Moscow was right. The Panzer divisions had suffered severe attrition of almost 20-25% in the nonstop action of these several months, and the Panzer divisions were reinforced by what little the German armament industry could make during the months since the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The OKW now envisioned 3 Panzer armies attacking Moscow from different directions. 4th Panzer Army in the North around Leningrad would attack southward. Hoth's 3rd Panzer Army would attack east ward towards Moscow, while 2nd Panzer Army would turn North west ward and attack Moscow from her rear-flanks.

But unfortunately for the Germans, this did not proceed as expected. Winter had already set in and the tired and hard pressed front line Panzer divisions had reached their limit. The Russians on the other hand had reinforced Moscow with fresh 49th and 50th Siberian armies with better clothing and equipment, and the Panzer divisions working at their endurable limit, could not reach beyond the flanks of Moscow. They were driven back and had to retreat.

1942: 2nd Panzer Army took part in war crimes in September 1942 while conducting anti-guerrilla operations in Russia. These operations killed at least a thousand people, razed entire villages, and deported over 18,500. During these operations, Jews and suspected members of guerrilla bands were murdered by being forced to drag earth-turning implements through minefields.[2]

In August 1943, the army's headquarters was subordinated to Army Group F and transferred to the Balkans for anti-partisan operations. From September to December 1943. III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps was subordinated to the army. Subsequently the army became primarily an infantry formation at this point and would not command another panzer division until February 1945.

The army headquarters with some units was subsequently transferred to Hungary as part of Army Group South in January 1945. 2nd Panzer Army took part in the Battle of the Transdanubian Hills in March 1945 prior to surrendering in Austria at the end of the war.

Commanders[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Glantz, David, Barbarossa Derailed: The battle for Smolensk, Volume 2, November 2010, page 54
  2. ^ www.verbrechen-der-wehrmacht.de p. 22

Sources[edit]

Literature[edit]