13th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)

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13th Panzer Division
13. Panzer-Division
13th Panzer Division logo.svg
Unit insignia (1934–1945)
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-185-0139-20, Polen, Russland, Panzer in Bereitstellung.jpg
13th Panzer Division in Poland, 1941
Active 11 October 1940 — January 1945
Country  Germany
Branch Heer
Type Panzer
Role Armoured warfare
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Wehrkreis XI: Magdeburg

World War II

German 13th Infantry Division
13. Infanterie-Division
German 13th Motorized Infantry Division
13. Infanterie-Division (mot.)
Active 1 October 1934 – 11 October 1940
Country  Germany
Allegiance Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht
Branch Heer
Type Panzer
Role Armoured warfare
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Magdeburg

The 13th Panzer Division (English: 13th Tank Division) was an armoured division in the German Army, the Wehrmacht, during World War II, established in 1940.

The division was originally formed as an infantry division in 1934. In 1937 it was motorized and named the 13th Motorized Infantry Division which participated in the campaigns against Poland (1939) and western Europe (1940). Following the Fall of France in June 1940, the division was reorganized as the 13th Panzer Division. It participated in Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the USSR) in 1941 and the advance on the Caucasus in 1942. The division suffered heavy losses in the retreats of 1943 and 1944. It was partially refitted in Hungary, where it was encircled and destroyed by Allied forces in the winter of 1944-1945. The formation was reformed as Panzer Corps Feldherrnhalle in the spring of 1945 and surrendered in May 1945.

During the invasion of Poland, the troops of the division committed war crimes, including reprisal killings, using civilians as human shields and destroying a medical column.

Operational history[edit]

The 13th Motorized Infantry Division participated in the invasion of Poland, as part of the southern trust, and the Battle of France, advancing through Belgium towards Calais and on to Lyon.[1]

The 13th Panzer Division was formed in Vienna in October 1940 from the 13th Motorized Infantry Division and was immediately sent to Romania but was not part of the Balkan campaign. It served in Operation Barbarossa as part of Panzer Group 1 (Army Group South), and it contributed to the successful encirclements of the Soviet forces at Kiev. At the end of 1941, it was positioned at Rostov; however, it was forced to retreat due to fierce Soviet counter-attacks.[1][2]

In 1942 and 1943, the division formed part of the First Panzer Army (Army Group A); it was involved in the battles for the Caucasus oil fields and at the Kuban Peninsula after the Battle of Stalingrad. In the fall of 1943, it was withdrawn to Western Ukraine, where it fought defensive battles near the river Dniepr.[2]

The offensive of the Soviet Army pushed the Germans to their starting positions of June 1941. The 13th Panzer Division was attached to Army Group South Ukraine, which had orders to stop the Soviets from capturing the Romanian oil fields. The Red Army offensive of August 1944 resulted in the deaths or imprisonment of most of the division.[2]

The division was reformed in July and it received modern equipment, including the Panther G tank and the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer. In the Battle of Debrecen, the division helped to annihilate three Soviet corps; however, it was encircled in Budapest at the end of 1944 and destroyed in January 1945.[3]

In the spring of 1945, the division was reformed under the name Feldherrnhalle 2. The last engagements with the Soviets were fought on the Austro-Hungarian border. The Division surrendered in Austria in May 1945.[3]


The commanders of the division:[4]


The organisation of the division in October 1944:[5]

  • Panzer-Regiment 4
  • Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 66
  • Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 93
  • Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 13
  • Feldersatz-Battalion 13
  • Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 13
  • Heeres-Flak-Artillerie-Abteilung 271
  • Panzerjäger-Abteilung 13
  • Panzer-Pionier-Battalion 4
  • Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 13
  • Panzer-Versorgungstruppen 13

War crimes[edit]

In the invasion of Poland, the division used civilians as human shields in the battle with the retreating Polish Prusy Army and on September 8, 1939 attacked a medical column marked with the Red Cross signs near Odrzywół.[6] A day later, soldiers from the division took part in the revenge killing of 11 civilians and two Polish priests including Dean Stanisław Klimecki in the nearby town of Drzewica in retaliation for their own military losses. Killings have also been reported in nearby settlements of Gielniów, Kamienna Wola, Klwów, Ossa, Przysucha, Potok, Rozwady and Zarzęcin.[6]


  1. ^ a b Mitcham, p. 112
  2. ^ a b c Mitcham, p. 113
  3. ^ a b Mitcham, p. 114
  4. ^ Mitcham, p. 114–117
  5. ^ "Organizational History of the German Armored Formation 1939-1945" (PDF). cgsc.edu. United States Army Command and General Staff College. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Marek Ziębicki, Andrzej Badowski. "Zbrodnie niemieckie na terenie powiatu opoczyńskiego 1939-1945" [German war crimes in Opoczno county 1939-1945]. Historia grodu opoczyńskiego. Opoczno.Republika.pl.  [Also in:] "Earlier version". Webcitation.org. Archived from the original on 2009-10-19.