Luftwaffe Field Divisions

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The Luftwaffe Field Divisions (German: Luftwaffen-Feld-Divisionen or LwFD) were German military formations during World War II.

History[edit]

An Obergefreiter of a Luftwaffe Field Division in Russia

The divisions were originally authorized in October 1942, following suggestions that the German Army could be bolstered by transferring personnel from other services. The head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring, formulated an alternative plan to raise his own infantry formations under the command of Luftwaffe officers; this was at least partly due to political differences with the Heer. Göring took great pride in the degree of political commitment and indoctrination of Luftwaffe personnel (he went as far as to describe paratroopers of the Luftwaffe as "political soldiers") while the Army was considered (by Nazi standards) too "conservative" (linked to conservative or monarchical traditions and ideals harking back to the Imperial days of the Kaiser).

General der Fallschirmjäger Alfred Schlemm, the commander of II. Luftwaffe Field Corps

The plan was approved, and the divisions were raised from 200,000 to 250,000 Luftwaffe ground, support and other excess personnel. They were initially organized with two jäger (light infantry) regiments of three battalions each, along with an artillery battalion and other support units, but were substantially smaller than equivalent Heer divisions, and by Göring's personal order were intended to be restricted to defensive duties in quieter sectors. Most of the units spent much of their existence on the Eastern Front: Luftwaffe Field Divisions were present at actions such as the "Little Stalingrad of the North", the attempt to relieve Velikiye Luki; the attempted defence of Vitebsk during Operation Bagration, and the fighting in the Courland Pocket, though they also fought in other theatres.

The Luftwaffe Field Divisions initially remained under Luftwaffe command, but late in 1943 those that had not already been disbanded were handed over to the Heer and were reorganized as standard infantry divisions with three two-battalion rifle regiments (retaining their numbering, but with Luftwaffe attached to distinguish them from similarly numbered divisions already existing in the Heer) and Army officers.

Until taken over by the Heer (and in many cases for some time afterwards) these units were issued with standard Luftwaffe feldblau uniforms, and being so easily identifiable were said to often be singled out by opposite forces. Their reputation as combat troops was poor, despite the high standard of Luftwaffe recruits, at least in part from being required to perform roles (ground warfare) for which they as airmen usually had little training. An exception to the poor combat performance of Luftwaffe ground troops were fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) units, whose performance was generally good, due to better training and higher entrance standards when compared to the Field Divisions (early fallschirmjäger troops were also transferred directly from the Heer to the Luftwaffe). Field Division airmen were frequently used for rear echelon duties to free up front line troops.

Divisions[edit]

An Oberleutnant of a Luftwaffe Field Division in Russia, March 1942

Luftwaffe Field Corps[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Ruffner, Kevin. Luftwaffe Field Divisions, 1941–45, Osprey, 1997, ISBN 1-85532-100-9
  1. ^ Glantz, Battle for Belorussia, pp. 39-41
  2. ^ Kevin Conley Ruffner, Luftwaffe Field Divisions 1941-45, Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK, 1990, pp. 10-12, 16
  3. ^ Lexikon der Wehrmacht

External links[edit]