2nd Panzer Army
|Some or all of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. (November 2012)|
|2nd Panzer Army (2.Panzerarmee)|
Insignia of the 2nd Panzer Group / 2nd Panzer Army
|Active||October 5, 1941 - May 8, 1945|
|Engagements||Eastern Front and the Balkans, World War II|
|Generaloberst Heinz Guderian|
The 2nd Panzer Army (German: 2. Panzerarmee) was a German armoured formation during World War II, formed from the 2nd Panzer Group on October 5, 1941. 2nd Panzer Group was originally designated as Panzer Group Guderian.
Panzer Group Guderian
In early June 1940, after reaching the English Channel following the breakthrough in the Ardennes, the Panzergruppe Guderian was formed from the XIX Armeekorps, and thrust deep into France, cutting off the Maginot Line. From then on, every unit that served in the Panzergruppe Guderian wore a large 'G' on every tank, truck or motorcycle. It was reformed later the same month. In November 1940, it was upgraded into Panzergruppe 2.
Order of battle
Organization of Panzer Group Guderian on 28 May 1940
|Panzer Group Guderian
General der Panzertruppe Heinz Guderian
|XXXIX Army Corps (mot.)
Generalleutnant Rudolf Schmidt
|1st Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Friedrich Kirchner
|2nd Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Rudolf Veiel
|29th Infantry Division (mot.)
Generalmajor Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
|XXXXI Army Corps
Generalleutnant Georg-Hans Reinhardt
|6th Panzer Division
Generalmajor Werner Kempf
|8th Panzer Division
Generalleutnant Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen
|20th Infantry Division (mot.)
Generalleutnant Mauritz von Wiktorin
2nd Panzer Group
The 2nd Panzer Group (German: Panzergruppe 2) was formed in November 1940 from Panzer Group Guderian. In October 1941 it was renamed the 2nd Panzer Army. Panzer Group 2 played a significant role in the early stages of the German invasion of the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa in 1941 when it was a constituent part of Army Group Centre.
Orders of battle
June 22, 1941
July 27, 1941
September 30, 1941
November 30, 1943
1941: The Germans had 4 panzer armies as their spearheads spread across 3 army groups at the start of Operation Barbarossa. Army Group North was given control of 4th Panzer Army, Army Group Center was given control of 3rd Panzer Army and 2nd Panzer Army while Army Group South was given control of 1st Panzer Army. Army Group Center had been assigned to capture Moscow.
- Capture of Bialystok and Minsk
As the Germans invaded deep into Russia, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army formed the southern pincer while Hoth's 3rd Panzer Army formed the Northern pincer engulfing several Russian armies during the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa. Of particular significance are the battles of Bialystok and Minsk, where substantial amount of Russian prisoners were captured and several Russian weapons captured.
- Progress slows down and the capture of Smolensk
In spite of beginning to suffer heavy rates of attrition, the Panzer Armies marched along. The Rasputitza Season (season of no movement in Russian - due to heavy rains and sluggish muddy roads) was terrible and took its toll on German equipment. Progress was often slowed down to a few kilometres a day. Nonetheless, the Germans marched on.
At this point in time, a momentous decision was taken, which some say could have changed the course of the war. The Germans were already behind the timetable of capturing Moscow, before the Winter of 1941 had set in, but were progressing slowly towards its target. After Minsk, the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Armies had succeeded in capturing Smolensk in yet another successful pincer operation that yielded around 300,000 prisoners.
- Southward Dash to Kiev
As Army Group Center inched towards Moscow, Hitler ordered Guderian to turn Southward towards Kiev. Guderian in his memoirs argues that he was against this operation, because by turning South-West ward towards Kiev, he was moving in a direction towards Germany and not eastward, which was a severe wastage of time and effort. However, he or the high command of the OKW were not able to convince Hitler. In hindsight, it must be said, that probably there was some logic in Hitler ordering this move.
Of the 3 Army Groups - North, Center and South, it was Army Group South that was facing the most stiff resistance. They were making the slowest progress compared to the other two Army Groups. This could be due to several factors, which are beyond the scope of this article. German reconnaissance had seen huge Russian armies gathering in the vicinity of Kiev, which 1st Panzer Army would have found difficult to capture on its own. It is probably for this reason, that Hitler ordered Guderian's 2nd Panzer army to immediately swing south-west and now form the northern pincer at Kiev. At Kiev, Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army and Von Kleist's 1st Panzer Army locked in a pincer around Kiev to trap - 665,000 Russian prisoners, the greatest capture of a single battle in the war.
Considering this fact, Hitler's decision to divert 2nd Panzer army southward may not have been totally incorrect. Another important aspect that had to be considered was Napoleon's disaster adventure of Russia. Napoleon had captured Moscow, but had not destroyed the Red Army. If Army Group Center had marched onwards directly to Moscow, and considering that Army Group South was made up of Romanian, Hungarian, Italian and Croatian Forces, which were not as well equipped and trained as the German Wehrmacht, it would be debatable if Army Group South on its own had enough forces to defeat the Red Army forces in the south. Under such a scenario, if Army Group South did not keep up with Army Group Center, then there was also a potential danger of a breach in the flanks between both Army Groups, and the potential possibility of a threat to Army Group Center's communication and logistics by the Red Army.
Attack Moscow from the Rear: Now, Hitler felt that the time to attack Moscow was right. The Panzer divisions had suffered severe attrition of almost 20-25% in the nonstop action of these several months, and the Panzer divisions were reinforced by what little the German armament industry could make during the months since the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The OKW now envisioned 3 Panzer armies attacking Moscow from different directions. 4th Panzer Army in the North around Leningrad would attack southward. Hoth's 3rd Panzer Army would attack east ward towards Moscow, while 2nd Panzer Army would turn North west ward and attack Moscow from her rear-flanks.
But unfortunately for the Germans, this did not proceed as expected. Winter had already set in and the tired and hard pressed front line Panzer divisions had reached their limit. The Russians on the other hand had reinforced Moscow with fresh 49th and 50th Siberian armies with better clothing and equipment, and the Panzer divisions working at their endurable limit, could not reach beyond the flanks of Moscow. They were driven back and had to retreat.
1942: 2nd Panzer Army took part in war crimes in September 1942 while conducting anti-guerrilla operations in Russia. These operations killed at least a thousand people, razed entire villages, and deported over 18,500. During these operations, Jews and suspected members of guerrilla bands were murdered by being forced to drag earth-turning implements through minefields.
In August 1943, the army's headquarters was subordinated to Army Group F and transferred to the Balkans for anti-partisan operations. From September to December 1943. III (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps was subordinated to the army. Subsequently the army became primarily an infantry formation at this point and would not command another panzer division until February 1945.
The army headquarters with some units was subsequently transferred to Hungary as part of Army Group South in January 1945. 2nd Panzer Army took part in the Battle of the Transdanubian Hills in March 1945 prior to surrendering in Austria at the end of the war.
- Generaloberst Heinz Guderian (October 5, 1941 - December 25, 1941)
- Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt (December 25, 1941 - April 10, 1943)
- General der Infanterie Heinrich Clößner (April 11, 1943 - August 6, 1943)
- Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model (August 6, 1943 - August 14, 1943)
- Generaloberst Dr Lothar Rendulic (August 14, 1943 - June 24, 1944)
- General der Infanterie Franz Böhme (June 24, 1944 - July 17, 1944)
- General der Artillerie Maximilian de Angelis (July 18, 1944 - May 8, 1945)
- Glantz, David, Barbarossa Derailed: The battle for Smolensk, Volume 2, November 2010, page 54
- www.verbrechen-der-wehrmacht.de p. 22
|This section relies too much on references to primary sources. (December 2013)|
- National archive Washington documents:
- T313, Roll 192 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943.
- T313, Roll 482 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943.
- T313, Roll 483 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943.
- T313, Roll 484 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943.
- T313, Roll 485 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943/1944.
- T313, Roll 486 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943/1944.
- T313, Roll 487 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943/1944.
- T313, Roll 488 - 2. Panzerarmee 1943/1944.
- Rendulic, Lothar (1952). GEKÄMPFT, GESIEGT, GESCHLAGEN (de). Heidelberg: Verlag „Weisermühl".