83rd Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

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83rd Infantry Division
Active December 1939 – April 1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Branch Heer
Type Infantry
Size Division

The 83rd Infantry Division, (German: 83. Infanterie-Division), was a German military unit that fought in several notable actions during World War II.

History and organisation[edit]

Formation[edit]

The division was formed December 1, 1939, at Bergen, and consisted of reservists from the north of Germany (Wehrkreis II, X, XI and XX).

It had the following organisation:

  • Infanterie-Regiment 251
  • Infanterie-Regiment 257
  • Infanterie-Regiment 277
  • Artillerie-Regiment 183
  • Radfahrschwadron 183 (bicycle troops)
  • Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 183
  • Pionier-Battalion 183
  • Nachrichten-Abteilung 183
  • Infanterie-Divisions-Nachschubführer 183

1940-1; France[edit]

The division took part in the Nazi German invasion of France in 1940 and spent 1941 on occupation duty. In early 1942 it was sent to the Eastern Front, being assigned to the Third Panzer Army of Army Group Centre.

1942; Velikiye Luki[edit]

Initially the division was split up and used in various sectors, some elements being employed in anti-partisan operations.

The division was present at Velikiye Luki in late 1942. The town itself was garrisoned by the division's Infantry Regiment 277, along with the divisional artillery and pioneer battalion, under the command of a Lieutenant-Colonel von Saß. This force was encircled by units of Galitsky's 3rd Shock Army in the Battle of Velikiye Luki and destroyed after a siege of almost two months.

1943-4; Nevel, Courland[edit]

During 1943-4 the 83rd Division took part in defensive battles of Army Group Centre and Army Group North, having been transferred to the Sixteenth Army in October 1943. By late 1943 it had been reduced to four grenadier battalions.[1]

Towards the end of 1944 Army Group North had been pushed into the Courland Pocket, where the division was involved in repulsing the first of the Soviet attempts to reduce the encircled force. At the end of the year it was evacuated by sea, and sent to reform at Thorn. It was now assigned to the Second Army of Army Group Vistula, where it would take part in the defence against the Soviet East Prussian Offensive.

1945; Graudenz, Samland[edit]

The staff and one regiment, Grenadier Regiment 257, were lost in Graudenz after being ordered to hold the town, which was encircled by the 2nd Belorussian Front on February 18, 1945, at all costs. The defenders capitulated on March 5.

The remaining troops were transferred by sea to Samland, where several German divisions were conducting a defence. They were pushed back towards Pillau, where elements of the 83rd Division formed the final rearguard defending the harbour mole on 25 April (the divisional commander Maximilian Wengler was killed at Neutief where the last German position was being held by Major-General Karl Henke).

Other parts of the division surrendered to Soviet forces on the Hela peninsula.

Commanding officers[edit]

  • Generalmajor Kurt von der Chevallerie, 1 December 1939 – 10 December 1940
  • Generalleutnant Alexander von Zülow, 10 December 1940 – 13 February 1942
  • Generalmajor Adolf Sinzinger, 13 February 1942 – 2 November 1942
  • Generalleutnant Theodor Scherer, 2 November 1942 – 1 March 1944
  • Generalmajor Wilhelm Heun, 1 March 1944 – 28 June 1944
  • Generalmajor Heinrich Götz, 28 June 1944 – 22 August 1944
  • Generalleutnant Wilhelm Heun, 22 August 1944 – 27 March 1945
  • Generalmajor of the Reserves Maximilian Wengler, 27 March 1945 – 25 April 1945
  • Oberst Hellmuth Raatz, 25 April 1945 – German capitulation

War crimes accusations[edit]

In 1946 several captured officers of Infantry Regiment 277, including its former commander Eduard Freiherr von Saß, were executed in Velikiye Luki for crimes committed against the civil population of the city. It should also be noted that the division took part in anti-partisan operations, such as Operation Greif at Vitebsk.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Mitcham, p.140