46th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

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46. Infanterie-Division
German 46th Infantry Division
Divisionsabzeichen der 46. Infanterie-Division der Wehrmacht.jpg
Active 24 November 1938 – May 1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Branch Heer
Type Division
Role Infantry
Garrison/HQ Karlsbad
Engagements World War II

The 46th Infantry Division was a division of the German army from 1938 until 1945. It was formed in the latter part of 1938, and was constituted of recruits from the Sudetenland.

History[edit]

The 46th Infantry Division was formed in 1938 under the command of Generalmajor Paul von Hase. It fought in the invasion of Poland in 1939, and the following year was engaged in fighting in France. It remained there into 1941 and then participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia in April. During the invasion of the Soviet Union, it was attached to Army Group South and marched through the Ukraine and into the Crimea.[1]

In December 1941 it was engaged in heavy fighting in the Kerch Peninsula in December when two Soviet Armies attacked its positions. Despite being instructed to hold its ground, the 42nd Corps commander, General von Sponeck gave the order to pull back.[1] This order was countermanded by the 11th Army commander, von Manstein, but since von Sponeck had already disassembled his wireless set, the order to hold ground was not received. The division avoided encirclement and eventually helped stem the tide of the Red Army landings at Feodosiya.

The withdrawal of the division infuriated the commander of Army Group South, Feldmarschall von Reichenau and on Hitler's orders, von Sponeck was dismissed. The division's commander, Generalleutnant Kurt Himer was also relieved of his command and von Reichenau ordered the division to be stripped of its honors.[1] He relayed a message to Himer which read:

"Because of its slack reaction to the Russian landing on the Kerch Peninsula, as well as its precipitate withdrawal from the peninsula, I hereby declare 46th Division forfeit of soldierly honour. Decorations and promotions are in abeyance until countermanded. Signed: von Reichenau, Feldmarschall".[2]

After the death of von Reichenau two weeks later, his successor Fedor von Bock restored Himer to command along with the division's honours (Himer was mortally wounded in March 1942 and succeeded as commander by Generalmajor Ernst Haccius). It participated in the Siege of Sevastopol and in the fighting in the Caucasus in the winter of 1942–43. As the tide of the war turned against the Germans, the division was forced to gradually retreat through the Ukraine. By September 1943, its strength was considerably reduced and by late 1944, having made a fighting retreat through Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains and engaged in action on the Slovakian-Hungarian front, it was effectively at regimental strength.[1]

In March 1945, the division was designated a Volksgrenadier formation, the 46th Volksgrenadier Division. With its numbers depleted, the division surrendered to the Soviets in May 1945.[1]

Commanding officers[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Mitcham, 2007, pp. 91–93
  2. ^ Carell, 1991, p. ?

References[edit]

  • Carell, Paul (1991). Hitler Moves East. Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing. ISBN 0-921991-11-8. 
  • Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr (2007). German Order of Battle. Volume One: 1st – 290th Infantry Divisions in WWII. PA; United States of America: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3416-5. 

External links[edit]