36th Grenadier Division
ActiveOctober 1936 – May 1945
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy
TypePanzergrenadier
RoleManeuver warfare
Raiding
SizeDivision
EngagementsWorld War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Egon von Neindorff

The 36th Infantry Division was a German infantry formation of World War II. It was formed in Kaiserslautern on 1 October 1936. During World War II it was mobilized in August 1939, as part of the first wave. It was later reorganized and re-designated the 36th Infantry Division (mot) in November 1940. It was then de-motorized, reorganized and re-designated the 36th Infantry Division on 1 May 1943. The division was destroyed at Bobruysk in June 1944 during the Soviet Operation Bagration. It was reformed on 3 August 1944 as the 36th Grenadier Division and renamed the 36th Volksgrenadier Division in October 1944.

Operational history

The division was formed in October 1936 with men from Kaiserslautern, and consisted largely of Bavarian Palatinates.[1]

France

During the German invasion of France the 36th Infantry Division was part of Army Group A's 16th Army, where it served with VII Corps. Crossing into France through the Chiers, the corps' objective was a commune by the name of La Ferté.[2] The 70th Infantry Regiment was transferred to the 111th Infantry Division during this stay.[1]

Eastern Front

The division took part in Operation Barbarossa as part of XXXXI Panzer Corps, itself attached to Army Group North. In late October the division helped establish a bridgehead near Kalinin, which it did so while under heavy Soviet fire.[1] In December 1941, the division had reached just west of Klin when it came under fire from the Soviets' 365th Rifle Division. The Soviet division was forced to retreat after German forces began flanking them from the east.[3] During the winter the division took heavy casualties.[1] In Summer 1942 the division fought at Rzhev and Baranovo, taking heavy casualties.[1]

The division was de-motorized in May 1943, though retained more motorized vehicles than other Infantry Divisions.[1] On July 1943, during the Battle of Kursk, the division was part of the XXXXVII Panzer Corps, a reserve unit for the 9th Army just south of Oryol. With Soviet forces slowing down Walter Model's advance, the division was put on active duty on 6 July. On the 12th, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge ordered the division to retreat from Oryol to rejoin the 9th Army as the Soviets began to storm into the city outskirts. Changing his mind, he sent it back north with the 12 Panzer Divisions arrived in their full nearly four hours later.[4]

In the summer of 1944, as the Red Army launched Operation Bagration, the division was at only the size of two regiments. The addition of a third regimental-sized battlegroup made up of remnants of other units did not help to build morale.[5] It was here that the division's commanding officer, Generalmajor Conrady, was captured. The division was largely destroyed.[1]

Return to France

Replenished and reformed as the 36th Volksgrenadier Division, and containing the remnants of the 268th Infantry Division, the unit was sent westwards in September 1944 to counter Allied advance into France; Luxembourg and the Saarland,[1] though remained in reserve until 10 September,[6] when it was given to the 1st Army at the Moselle. With the army pulling back to the Franco-German border, by November the division had worn itself out in the two months of fighting.[6] The division was part of the January 1945 Operation Nordwind, where it served as part of the XIII SS Infantry Corps under Obergruppenführer-SS Max Simon. By now the division was reduced to the size of a single regiment, though its morale remained stable.[7]

On 28 March, the division formed part of the 7th Army's left wing as LXXXII Corps, which was now resisting American General George S. Patton's 3rd Army in central Germany.[6]

Commanders

Area of operations

Order of battle

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). German Order of Battle: Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, and Waffen Ss Divisions in World War II. Stackpole Books.
  2. ^ Romanych, Marc; Rupp, Martin (2010). Maginot Line 1940:Battles on the French Frontier. Osprey Publishing.
  3. ^ Battistelli, Pier (2008). Panzer Divisions: The Eastern Front 1941-43. Osprey Publishing.
  4. ^ Barbier, Kathryn (2002). Kursk 1943: The Greatest Tank Battle Ever Fought. Zenith Imprint.
  5. ^ Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Soviet Blitzkrieg, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2008, p. 188
  6. ^ a b c Yeide, Harry (2011). Fighting Patton: George S. Patton Jr. Through the Eyes of His Enemies. Zenith Imprint.
  7. ^ Zaloga, Steven (2010). Operation Nordwind 1945: Hitler's Last Offensive in the West.
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