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|Air Assault Regiment 40 "Willi Sänger"|
— III —
Air Assault insignia (replica)
Land Forces of the National People's Army (1986-1990)
|Size||50 (HQ), approximately 800 (including services)|
|Part of|| Under the East German Army Staff|
Under the German Army Staff
|Garrison/HQ||Military training area, Lehnin|
|None; unit disbanded in 1991|
The Luftsturmregiment 40 (LStR-40) "Willi Sänger" (English: Air Assault Regiment 40) was a unit of the German Democratic Republic's National People's Army. It was formed in 1986 by expanding the existing Parachute Battalion 40 (de: Fallschirmjägerbataillon 40)) with additional air assault companies and support capability. It was directly subordinate to the Land Forces Command (Kommando Landstreitkraefte) of the East German Army.
Although initially formed based on the parachute battalion, this unit had a different mission and organization. The Air Assault Regiment 40 came about as the result of a change in Soviet tactics based on their recent experience in Afghanistan. These tactics emphasized the more mobile warfare afforded by the use of helicopter air assault operations. So while LStR 40 retained in full the airborne capability of its predecessor unit, more emphasis was placed on readiness to conduct air assault operations than had previously been the case.
Like its predecessor unit, Luftsturmregiment 40 carried the added title "Willi Sänger," in honor of a famed German Communist and resistance fighter against the Nazis.
Luftsturmregiment 40 was formed in 1986, and for the whole of its history was stationed in the vicinity of the military training area on Lehnin near Potsdam, Germany. On 3 October 1990, the 40th Air Assault Regiment was taken over by the West German Bundeswehr. On March 31, 1991, 40th Air Assault Regiment was disbanded by the German Federal Armed Forces Command East.
The Air Assault Regiment 40 never saw combat or deployment outside East Germany, except for Warsaw Pact training exercises. The events leading up to the Fall of the Wall saw the only "real" use of the Regiment. Due to the elite nature of the unit and the highly-restrictive selection process, its members were regarded as especially loyal and the unit as a whole was considered "politically reliable" by East German leadership.
As a result of the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig in November 1989, the Air Assault Regiment 40 and other selected units were mobilized for possible deployment into the city. A few days before the announced Monday demonstration, several hundred members of Luftsturmregiment 40 were sent to Leipzig, and housed in local military barracks. This was done at night and under the strictest secrecy. The regiment was to be used to assist the police and special units of the Stasi Department XXII (Counterterrorism) to suppress the popular resistance. Ultimately, the order to move in against the demonstrators was never given, and East Germany and LStR 40 eventually dissolved peacefully.
Sources / references
- The honorary name Willi Sänger was granted to the unit on September 23, 1968.