212th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

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212. Infanterie-Division
German 212th Infantry Division
212th Infanterie-Division Logo 1.svg
ActiveAugust 1939 – 1945
Country Nazi Germany
EngagementsWorld War II

212th Infantry Division
212th Volksgrenadier Division
578th Volksgrenadier Division

Divisional history[edit]

The German 212th Infantry Division was raised in August 1939 and remained on garrison duty in Germany until March 1941, when it spent three months as a coastal defense unit along the English Channel. In November 1941 it was transferred to the Eastern Front where it joined Army Group North near Leningrad and along the Volkhov Front. It continued with Army Group North until the summer of 1944, when it had been pushed back to Lithuania and was transferred to the control of Army Group Center. The division was destroyed there in August or September, and the survivors were immediately reconstituted as the 578th Volksgrenadier Division, which was renamed as 212th Volksgrenadier Division almost as soon as it had been formed.

The division retained a number of experienced officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). The replacements received were mostly from Bavaria and were rated as above-average. Rebuilt to full personnel strength the division had weaknesses shared by almost all Volksgrenadier divisions: not enough communications equipment and a lack of assault guns. The reconstituted division transferred to the western front in December 1944. The division was assigned to the LXXX Corps of the German Seventh Army which formed the southern shoulder of the German armies attacking in the Ardennes. General der Panzertruppe Erich Brandenberger, the German Seventh Army commander, rated the 212th Volksgrenadier Division as his best division. Because of this it was assigned the mission of protecting the southern flank of the Seventh Army. Placed opposite of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division, they would need to pin down as many American units as possible, in order to prevent the transfer of reserves against the main effort.

Although the troops under Sensfuss had a numerical superiority, they were at a disadvantage in one regard: The Americans had tanks, while they did not. On December 16, after making a successful crossing of the Sauer river, the 212th Volksgrendier Division was able to infiltrate through American lines, push into the streets of Echternach, and overwhelm all major resistance. They were also able to surround but not defeat a fairly large U.S. battle group at Berdorf.[1] Over the next two days, they were able to penetrate as far as Scheidgen before digging in to repulse numerous counter-attacks by the Americans. After several days of slow progress, however, the Ardennes offensive as a whole was looking increasingly non-viable. By December 28, Brandenberger ordered the 212th Volksgrenadier Division to withdraw back to its starting positions. It went on to participate in subsequent defensive operations along the Rhine, until surrendering to the Americans near the end of the war.

Commanding officers[edit]

212th Infantry Division[edit]

  • Generalmajor Walter Friedrichs, 1 September 1939 – 15 September 1939
  • General der Artillerie Theodor Endres, 15 September 1939 – 1 October 1942
  • Generalleutnant Hellmuth Reymann, 1 October 1942 – 1 October 1943
  • Generalmajor Dr. Karl Koske, 1 October 1943 – 1 May 1944
  • Generalleutnant Franz Sensfuß, 1 May 1944 – 15 September 1944

212th Volksgrenadier Division[edit]

  • Generalleutnant Franz Sensfuß, October 1944 – 1 April 1945
  • Genralmajor Max Ulich, 1 April 1945 – 21 April 1945
  • Generalmajor Jobst Freiherr von Buddenbrock, 21 April 1945 – 8 May 1945

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mitcham Jr., Samuel (2007). Panzers in Winter: Hitler's Army and the Battle of the Bulge. Stackpole Books. p. 136. ISBN 978-0811734561.
  • Cole, Hugh M., The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C., 1965
  • Arnold, James R., Ardennes 1944, Hitler's Last Gamble in the West, Osprey Military Campaign Series #5, Reed International Books Ltd., 1990
  • Ellis, John, The Military Book Club's World War II, The Encyclopedia of Facts and Figures, Copyright 1993 by John Ellis