3rd Light Division (Wehrmacht)
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The 3rd Light Division (sometimes described as Light Mechanized or Light Panzer to distinguish it from the later Light infantry divisions) was raised in November 1938. In 1939 it 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 8th Panzer Division afterward, in October 1939.
On September 4, 1939, soldiers from the division entered the region of Katowice where they met resistance from the local Polish population. In retribution 80 Polish prisoners of war were gathered in Kosciuszko Square by German soldiers and executed.
As the 8th Panzer Division it fought in the 1940 Battle of France and then remained on occupation and garrison duty in France and Germany until joining Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941. It remained on the Eastern Front thereafter, fighting in every sector and eventually driven back into Hungary and then Czechoslovakia, where it surrendered to the Soviets at the end of the war.
On entering the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa the 8th Panzer Division had a total of 212 tanks which consisted of 49 Panzer II's, 118 Panzer 38(t)'s, only 30 Panzer IVs, 7 Panzerbef 38(t)'s (command tanks) & 8 Panzerbef's. The 10th Mechanized Corps engaged the 8th Panzer Division on 13 July 1941 along with the 177th Rifle Division isolating 8th Panzer from its neighbouring divisions for several days around Dno & costing it 70 of its 150 tanks destroyed or damaged , but the 8th Panzer Division managed to broke the encirclement
- General der Panzertruppen Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen (16 October 1939 - 20 February 1941)
- General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger (20 February 1941 - 21 April 1941)
- Generalleutnant Walter Neumann-Silkow (21 April 1941 - 26 May 1941)
- General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger (26 May 1941 - 8 December 1941)
- Generalleutnant Werner Hühner (8 December 1941 - 20 March 1942)
- General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger (20 March 1942 - 6 August 1942)
- Generalleutnant Josef Schrötter (6 August 1942 - 10 November 1942)
- General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenberger (10 November 1942 - 17 January 1943)
- Generalleutnant Sebastian Fichtner (17 January 1943 - 20 September 1943)
- Generalmajor Gottfried Fröhlich (20 September 1943 - 1 April 1944)
- Generalmajor Werner Friebe (1 April 1944 - 21 July 1944)
- Generalmajor Gottfried Fröhlich (21 July 1944 - 5 January 1945)
- Generalmajor Heinrich-Georg Hax (5 January 1945 - 8 May 1945)
- Panzertruppe, Panzer, Panzer division
- Division (military), Military unit
- Heer, Wehrmacht, List of German divisions in World War II
- David Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad 1941–1944, 2002, p45
Note: The Web references may require you to follow links to cover the unit's entire history.
- Wendel, Marcus (2004). "3. Leichte-Division". Retrieved April 11, 2005.
- "3. leichte Division". German language article at www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de. Retrieved April 11, 2005.
- Szymon Datner (1974). Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu (Crimes of the Wehrmacht)