36th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

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36th Grenadier Division
36th Infanterie Division Logo.svg
Active October 1936 – May 1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Size Division
Engagements

World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Egon von Neindorff

The 36th Infantry Division was a German infantry formation of World War II. It was formed in Kaiserslautern on 1 October 1936. During World War II it was mobilized in August 1939, as part of the first wave. It was later reorganized and re-designated the 36th Infantry Division (mot) in November 1940. It was then de-motorized, reorganized and re-designated the 36th Infantry Division on 1 May 1943. The division was destroyed at Bobruysk in June 1944 during the Soviet summer offensive. It was reformed on 3 August 1944 as the 36th Grenadier Division and renamed the 36th Volksgrenadier Division in October 1944.

Operational history[edit]

The division was formed in October 1936 with men from Kaiserslautern, and consisted largely of Bavarian Palatinates.[1] The division remained in its garrison during the 1938 German occupation of Czechoslovakia and 1939 Invasion of Poland.

France[edit]

During the German invasion of France the 36th Infantry Division was part of Army Group A's 16th Army, where it served with VII Corps. Crossing into France through the Chiers, the corps' objective was a commune by the name of La Ferté.[2] Although part of the attack force, the division saw no frontline action.[3] On 11 August the division returned to Germany, where it was reformed into a motorized division.[3] The 70th Infantry Regiment was transferred to the 111th Infantry Division during this stay.[1]

Eastern Front[edit]

The division took part in Operation Barbarossa as part of XXXXI Panzer Corps, itself attached to Army Group North.[4] On September 7, the 87th and 118th regiments made their way through woodland, making preparations to attack the same day. Attacking a small village occupied by Red Army troops, the regiments came under fire across the woodland after the Soviets dispersed into the trees. The 87th continued on its way through the woods to capture two villages decided to be essential in preparation for storming the Soviet bunkers outside Leningrad. The capturing of the villages led to the deaths of a number of men of 1st Company, who had been flanked in the woodlands; firing between the company and the Soviets lasted into the following day, when the regiment began to move onward into No Man's Land.[3]

In late October the division helped establish a bridgehead near Kalinin, which it did so while under heavy Soviet fire.[1] In November the division relieved Kampfgruppe Manteuffel at the Kalinin-Klin-Moscow railway lines near the Volga reservoir.[4] In December 1941, the division had reached just west of Klin when it came under fire from the Soviet's 365th Rifle Division. The Soviet division was forced to retreat after German forces began flanking them from the east.[5] During the winter the division took heavy-casualties.[1] In Summber 1942 the division defended Rzhev and Baranova from the Red Army, taking even more losses.[1]

The division was de-motorized in May 1943, though retained more motorized vehicles than other Infantry Divisions.[1] On July 1943, during the Battle of Kursk, the division was part of the XXXXVII Panzer Corps, a reserve unit for the 9th Army just south of Oryel. With Soviet forces slowing down Walter Model's advance, the division was put on active duty on July 6. On the 12th, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge ordered the division to retreat from Oryol to rejoin the 9th Army as the Soviets began to storm into the city outskirts. Changing his mind, he sent it back north with the 12 Panzer Divisions arrived in their full nearly four hours later.[6]

In Summer 1944 the division took part in Operation Bagration at only the size of two regiments. It was here that the division's commanding officer, Generalmajor Conrady, was captured. The division's remnants were largely destroyed, though a number of survivors managed to get back to Germany.[1]

Return to France[edit]

Replenished and reformed as the 36th Volksgrenadier Division, and containing the remnants of the 268th Infantry Division, the 36th was sent westwards to defend France; Luxembourg and the Saarland from Allied advances in September 1944,[1] though remained in reserve until September 10,[7] when it was given to the 1st Army as it defended the Moselle. With the army pulling back to the Franco-German border, by November the division had worn itself out in the two months of fighting.[7] The division was part of the January 1945 Operation Nordwind, where it served as part of the XIII SS-Infantry Corps under Obergruppenführer-SS Max Simon. By now the division was reduced to the size of a single regiment, though its morale remained stable.[8]

On March 28, the division formed part of the 7th Army's left wing as LXXXII Corps, which was now resisting American General George S. Patton's 3rd Army in central Germany.[7]

Commanders[edit]

Area of operations[edit]

  • West wall (September 1939 – May 1940)
  • France (May 1940 – June 1941)
  • Eastern front, northern sector (June 1941 – July 1942)
  • Eastern front, central sector (July 1942 – June 1943)
  • Eastern front (June 1943 – July 1944)
  • France (August 1944 – January 1945)
  • Southern Germany (January 1945 – May 1945)

Order of battle[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). German Order of Battle: Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, and Waffen Ss Divisions in World War II. Stackpole Books. 
  2. ^ Romanych, Marc; Rupp, Martin (2010). Maginot Line 1940:Battles on the French Frontier. Osprey Publishing. 
  3. ^ a b c Kurowski, Franz (2015). Infantry Aces: German Mechanized Infantrymen in World War II. Stackpole Books. 
  4. ^ a b Kurowski, Franz (2010). Panzergrenadier Aces: German Mechanized Infantrymen in World War II. Stackpole Books. 
  5. ^ Battistelli, Pier (2008). Panzer Divisions: The Eastern Front 1941-43. Osprey Publishing. 
  6. ^ Barbier, Kathryn (2002). Kursk 1943: The Greatest Tank Battle Ever Fought. Zenith Imprint. 
  7. ^ a b c Yeide, Harry (2011). Fighting Patton: George S. Patton Jr. Through the Eyes of His Enemies. Zenith Imprint. 
  8. ^ Zaloga, Steven (2010). Operation Nordwind 1945: Hitler's Last Offensive in the West.