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A Plctorlal History with Text & M.a.ps

The Panzer Grenadier Division "Grossdeutschland" and Panzer-Korps Grossdeutschland • Panzer Division Brandenburg· Fuhrer Grenadier Division· Fuhrer Begleit Division· Panzer Division Kurmark

by Horst Scheibert Translated by Gisele Hockenberry Edited by Bruce Culve,r

From Wachkommando (Guard Command) to Motorlized Infantry R,eg,iment "GROSSDEUTSCHLAND"

The origin of all "Grossdeutschland" lorces was the command of the Wachtruppe [guard troop] In Berlin, and the infantry-training regiment in Doeberltz. This photo shows a guard company of the Wachtruppe command marching through Berlin's Brandenburg gate to Ule honor memorial In 1934.

In 1934, thie command of the Wachtruppe was renamed "Wachtrlllp,pe/Berlln.... This gU8,rd was photographed in 193ft


T'alblle showing the development of the Grossdeutschland units

I 11!-30-1840



Unconditlional surrender on May 8, 1945

Changing of the guard In front of the Relchschancery.

1-- Hj -


Guards on duty In Berlin, 1938.

On June 23, 1937. the "Wachtruppe Berl in" was redesignated "Wachregiment" (guard regiment). At this time, all members of this unit added the "W" to their shoulder tabs and patches.


In 1937. the In'antry-tralnlng baUalion at Doeberltz was expanded to a regiment. The members of this unit . carried an ilL" on their shoulder tabs. In October 1939. nearly half of this regiment joined the newly-formed . infantry regiment "Grossdeutschland".

[Above] The entrance t,o the Infantry school In Eisgrund near Doeberitz.

[Below] Combat training In the Infantry-training regiment, 1938.



The complete guard In front of the honor memorial In Berlin, 1939.

In 1939, "Grossdeutschland" was reformed as a full four-battalion infantry regiment; this was the beginning of the unit's rise to divisional size. The "Wachregiment/Berlin" provided the core of the new unit, and the name "Grosadeutschland" ("Greater Germany") was chosen because members came from all different areas of Germany.

tn September, 1939, the Second World War beg,an wiith an attack on Poland. "GO" was still reforming and did not take part 'i,n these early actions. Only after reorganiza,tion was completed did "GO" move to the Western front after training in Grafenwohr, and a period in the Westerwald.

O"J~,.,.. ........ _+ Rlilwl, TlWlipOn ,r.J'




Movements and Actions, 19'39

1939-World History

3-14: Declaration of Independence 01 Slovakia and Karpathlan Ukraine. 3-15: German troops arrive in Czechoslovakia.

3-23: German troops enter the Memel area.

3-26: Poland declines 10 leI Danzig return, and 10 allow Germany an extra-

terrttortat road and railroad route through the corridor. 3-31: English-French declaration of guarantee for Poland.

4- 7: Italy occupies Albania; Spain joins the Antl-comlntern pact.

4-13: England and France extend their declaration of guaranlee to Rumania

and Greece.

5-22: Expansion of the "Berlin-Rome Axis" to the "Steel pact".

1- 1: (Approx.) Beginning of the Wehrmacht's march a.gainst Poland, 8- 1: (Approx.) Beginning of the Wehrmacht's march to the West. 8-,23: German-Soviet non-agqreeslcn paot.

8-,24: "Oulet" mobilization otthe Wehrmacht (103 dlvlslons]. 8·25: English-Polish mutual assistance treaty.

8-30: Poland orders the mobilization 01 its armed forces.

9- 1: Beginning 01 Second World War. The German Army attacks Poland at

4:45 AM, with 37 divisions.

9- 3: Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. 9-17: The Soviet Union marches Into Poland from the Eest. 9-29: Surrender of Warsaw.

10- 1: Beginning of transfer 01 available German forces in Poland to Weslern trent,

10- 6: End of all organized resistance In Poland. 11-30.: Beginning of the Soviet attack on Flnland_

At the awarding of the name "Grossdeutschland" to the "WachregimentlBerUn" on June 14, 1939,. the town commander of Berlin, General-t,eutnant Seifert, and' the Regimental commander, Colonel von Stockhausen, inspect the regiment In the Moabiter barracks.

1939-Division Grossdeutschland

4- 6: Order to expand lhe 'WachreglmenllBerlin" to four battalions.

4-14: The new regiment Is named "Inf. Rgt. GROSSOEUTSCHLANO" (GDl,

8-23: Addition of a "Fuhrer-Escort Command", During 1939, this unit was expanded to the "Fuhrer-Escort Battalion", outside the organization of the "GO" Regiment. As such, It took part in the Polish campaign.

9- 6: tnt, Rgt. "GO" prepares lor a, mission against Poland as an airborne unit.

This mission was not carried out. 9-17: "GO" unit re-transterred to Berlin.

10- 1: End of "GO" reorganization; a guard troop remains in Berlin (flrsl In company strength, later (19401 e~panded to a battatlon).

10-21: Transfer to the Grafenwohr training area (southeast of Bayreuth) for completion of reorganization and retralnlng as a regiment.

10-25: The "Stahlhelm" (Steel helmeOlnsignla is adopted for use on unit vehicles,

11- 1 1: Transfer to the Westerwald around Montabaur and Westerburg to the XIX Motorized Army Corps, commanded by General of Armor troops, Guderian.

11-15: Assault engineer battalions (motorized) assigned 10 "GO".

Cuff band assigned to "GO" in 1940.

In September, the white "Stahl helm" [Steel helmet) symbol was adopted for use on vehicles of the regimental staff - as suggested by the regimental commander. This insignia was later adopted for all vehicles in the unit.

Departure of "GO" Infantry Regiment to Grafenwohr on Octeber 21,1939

" .. "

At this time, Oberst [Colonel] von Stockhausen was the regimental commander.

I nfanteriesturmabzeichen (Inlantry Assault Badge)

1939 was still a year of rest for the "GO" Motorized Infantry Regiment, even with the unit reorganization, reinforced training and the various transfers. From a two-battalion Guard Troop Regiment, "Grossdeutschland" had expanded to a full four-battalion Infantry Regiment, fully equipped and trained, and assigned to an Armored Corps (still called an Army Corps) on the Western front. All these units were prepared for the next campaign in the West.

In November, the Fuhrer-Escort Command, which was fo:rmed from ''he "GO" Regiment, receives its cuff band, which was la.te.r ,changed to a different leUer type.



1940 was the year of the first test in combat of "'GO" forces, and the regiment justified the hopes of those who had organized it as an elite unit. "Grossdeutschland" benefited greatly from time to train for the attack on France, and also had its own support units available as independent forces.

Sent into action at Sedan, a crucial objective in the lnltlalassault on France, "GO" units were attached to fight with various panzer divisions, but always under the overall command of XIX Motorized Army Corps, commanded by General Heinz Guderian. In the second part of the French campaign - breaking through the Weygand line - "'GO" was assigned to von Kleist's Panzergruppe, and was reassigned to various units as required by combat condtttons.

After the fall of France, and the treaty ending the conflict, "'GO" was refitted and brought up to strength in Alsace and Burgundy. It then trained and prepared for two new operations-"Sealion" (invasion of England) and "Felix" (assault on Gibraltar), Neither operation was carried out.


Movements and Actions,

Sprin'g 1940 to Summer 1941


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o Assembly Area

---oJ. Railroad Transport

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~ Major Engagement


Yugoslavia .

1.) - Montabaur 2.) - Zell/Mosel 3.] - Colmar

4 .. )- Tlraining fields-L,e Valdahon and Beltolrt 5.] - Teschen-Troppau

6.) - Zelechow .

o 100 200 300 km


1940-World History

3-12: Finnish-Soviet peace treaty slgne(l In Moscow.

4- 9: Beginning of the occupation of Norway and Danrnark.

5-10: Beginning of the campaign against France, Belgium and Holland (138 German divlslons]. British 'troops land In Iceland.

5-15: Truce with the Netherlands.

5-20: von Kleist's Panzergruppe reaches the Armel Canal.

5-28: Belgium surrenders.

6- 4: Estonia, latvia, and Lithuania accept Soviet ultimatum and are occupied by Russian troops.

6- 5: Stan of the attack on the "Weygand line" (Somme-Alsna positions).

6-;0: After halt In heavy fighting south of Amlens, tank forces Intended for the assault on Paris were rushed further to the east. On this day, Paris was occupied.

6-14: Itely declares war against Franca and England.

6-22: France agrees to end military action, capitulates 10 Germany.

6-27: Rumania surrenders Bukovina and Bessarabla to Russia after Soviet ultimatum.

7· 4: France breaks off diplomatic relations with England.

1940- Division

1-29: March from the Montabaur area to the middle Mosel region (Rgt. staff' to ZeU).

4- 4: "GO" receives Assault Gun Baltery640 (wlthS SluG III), and this becomes the 16th company of the Regiment. Regiment goes on standby alert.

5-10: "GO" regiment, supported by artillery and engineers from the 10th Panzer Division, attacks through Luxembourg to move against the southern Belgian fortifications. Simultaneously, elements ot "GO"thlrd eauauen land as 81 rborne troops.

5-12: Early skirmishes at the Samols.

5-13: Capture of the Maas River crossings at Sedan and breakthrough to the Maglnot Line. "GO" temporarily placed under command of tst Panter Division.

5-14: "GO" fights enemy tank attacks at Chemery and Bulson. 5-1515-17: Beginning of the battles on the Stonne highlands. 5-1715-19: Lull in the fighting around Bulson.

5-2015-23: "GO" marches toward St. Omer (south of Dunkirk), and engages the enemy at AIres.

5-2415-26: "GO" fights the BEF south of Dunkirk, and establishes bridgeheads at S1. Pierre Brouck.

5-2715-28: Attack on Wormhondt and Herzeele; firing continues around Dunkirk.

5-29: Battles on the Canal de ra COl me: continued engagements at Dunkirk.

Occupation of Bergnes.

6- 4: "GO" transferred to the Amlens bridgehead.

6- 6: German units break through the Weygand Line; "GO" Is attached 10 10th PO In this action.

6- 8: Beglnnl ng of the pursuit of enemy forces to the Olse River.

6-11: With the destruction of the Olse Bridge. the Germans turn northeast Into the area around Guiscard.

6-13: Start of the forced march to the River Seine via Channy-Coucy-EpaClrey· Ambleny-Cutry- Viliers-Couerets-Coupru - Dom plin - Chari y M. - VilleneuveSourdon.

6-15: Fighting for the Seine eresstnas.

6-16: Further pursuit of retreating enemy units to Lyon via Le Creusot and Macon.

6-19: Occupation ot tven.

6-2017-4: "GD" serves as occupation security troops around Lyon.

7 - 5: March to Paris.

7-10: Addition of a Motorcycle Troop COmpany to "GO". n Is formed as the 17th Company of the Rgt.

7-19: Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral for the whole regiment.

7-.26: Marchio Colmar and Schle1tstadl In Alsace.

The regimental commander In 1940 wal Oberst (Col.) Graf von Schwerin.

GO Shoulder Strap (Oberst)


1940-World History

1940- Division Grossdeutschlarrd

7-27110-26: "GO" remained In Alsace, preparing tor "SeaUon", the Invasion of England.

8- 1: Organization of the Heavy Transportation Battalion as tile 17th to 20th Companies of "GO".

8-24: A green CUff band with the name "Grossdeutschland" Is Issued to "GO" troops.

8-31: Hungary receives parts of Seibenburgen In the second Vienna partition agreement,

9- 5: Artillery Abteilung 400 (motorized) is added to "GO" for added support.

9- 7: Beginning of the Battle of Britain as the luftwaffe attacks English targets.

9-27: "Drelmachtepakt" ("Tripartite Pact") - Germany, Italy, Japan - signed in Serlin.

t 0-28: Italian troops start from Albania and Invade Greece.

10- 7: A new black cuff band, with altered lettering, Is Issued lor "GO", The Fuhrer-Escort Battalion also receives a culf band, the sign of an elite unit.

10·12: A Motorized Engineer's Company is added to "GO" and assigned as the 18th Company.

10-27112-31: "GO" Is transferred to the army training camp at Le Valdahon, near the Swiss border, where it remains till the end of 1940, The unit trains for operation "Felix", the, assault on Gibraltar.

11·12: V.M. Molotov visits Berlin; during his mission, Germany retuses further demands of the Soviet Union, for bases at the Dardenelles, in Bulgaria, and in Finland.

11·,20: Hungary lOins the Tripartite pact, 11-23: Rumania loins the Tripartite pact, 11-24: Slovakia joins the Tripartite pact.

11·29: A Motorized Flak Company Is added to the regiment as the 20th Company.

12- 8: italian troops suller a disastrous failure In Greece, as counterattacking Greek troops drive the italians out 01 Greece, and capture one third of Albania,

12-16: The 99th Motorized Infantry Replacement Battalion Is redeSignated the Motorized Infantry Replacement Regiment "Grossdeutschland" (Neuruppin).

Motorcycle troops advance Into Belgium at dawn on May 5, 1940.


Von Rundstedt


16. VOII Busch


4. Von Kluge


·12. list


IH. Gr. B

r~Jv.n •. c.

The brlidge over the Juliana Call1!.1 In tlhe Netherlandls was captured by the "Brandenburgers" I[from which the Div,fslon "Brandenburg" was later developed].

Ver'wUlnd,eten., abzelehen (Wound Badg,e)

'The Crossi'ng of the Maas, May 13, 1940


March and roule 01 attack, In1. Rgi. [rnot.] "GO"


At18Cks 01 !.R.GO

Enemy At1acks

The Fighting South of' Sedan, M,ay 14 to ,May 15, 1940


"GO" Regimental Units and Commanders, May 10, 1940



Rgt.-Fhr Rgt.-Adj.

Hptm. b. Slabe Ib

IV a

IV b

Fhr. Stabs-Kp.

Fhr. Kradschiitzenzug

I. (Schtz.) Ba!ailion 1. (Schtz.) Kp.

2 .. (Schtz.) Kp.

3. (SchIZ.) Kp.

4. (MG.) Kp.

II. (Schtz.) Batallion

5. (Schtz.) Kp.

6. (Schtz.) Kp.

7. (Schlz.) Kp.

8. (MG.) Kp.

III. (Schlz.) Bataillon

9. (scntz.) Kp.

10. (Schtz.) Kp.

11. (Schtz.) Kp.

12. (MG.) Kp.

IV. (Schtz.) Bataillon

13. (I.IG.) Kp.

14. (Pz.-J1i.g.) Kp.

15. (s.IG.) Kp.

16. (Stu.G.) Kp.

Obst!. Graf von Schwerin Hptm. Masius

Obit. von Klrchbach

Hpt. Gericke Stabszahlmeister U:>w Stabsarzt Dr. Krummacher

Obit. Hartwig

Obstlt. K(jher, Hptm. Follmer Obit. Schwarzrock

Obit. Kolb

Obit. Fabich, Obit. Bohrmann Obit. Hanert, Lt. Schiller

Major Fost, Major Greim, Adj. Obit. Benk Obit. Schneider

Obit. Von Courblere

Obit. Wackernagel

Obit. BethKe

Obstlt. Garski, Ad]. Lt. Wentges Hptm. Westphal, Lt. Dr. Usadel Obit. v. Harder, Obit. Lucke

Hptm. W. KrCiger, Lt. Vogt, Lt. Obermelr Hptm. Grosser

Major Schneider, Adj. Obit. Teubert Obit. Y. Massow, Obit. Darries

Obit. 8eck-Brolchsitter, Lt. Hintze, Lt. Janke Obit. Marz, Obit. Gerbener

Obit. Frhr. Y. Egloffsteln, Obit. WI.rth Lt. Frantz, Lt. Tiarks, Lt. Y. Werlhof

Supply column 400-with staff and tst-srd (later 4th) columns, and workshop unit.

Assigned to support "GD":

43rd Assault Eng ineers Battalion, commanded by Oberstil. Mahler, with 3 Companies (1.-3. Pi-Kp.); and Light Bridging Column "B".

IV. Btl.

Individual company lnslqnla for use on vehicles.


Schwere Kp. Schwera Kp. Schwere IKp.


1. Kp. 5. Kp. 9. Kp. 13. (I.I.G.] Kp.


2. Kp. 6. Kp. 10. Kp. M. [Pz. Jii,liIar] Kp.


I. Btl.


3. Kp.

4. Kp.


German troops and supply columns advanced throughlhe Eifel and Ardennes all the way to the Maas River. Here, part of a panzer division, with PzKpfw Ill's, advances along a dusty road toward the west.

II. Btl.


7. Kp.

e. Kp.


III. Btl.


11. Kp.

12. Kp.


15. [8.I.G.' Kp.

NachschubKolonne GO



[Below] "GD" Infantry take cover during an attack on a heavily defended poslUon .. N~ote the cuff band on the man at the right center of the photograph.

(Abovs] As German motorized troops make a detour,. sappers clear mln.es from 8 road. Note the air Id'entltlcation flag on the hood of the Horch Kfz.15 car.




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[Above] German troops enter Sedan aU.r heavy fighting against Allied terees,

[Below] "GO" troops carry rubber assault boats filled with supplies during the operation to cross the Maas River,

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v. Bock v. Rundstedt
~ ~ ~ r.- r: ~ t:
v. Kluge v.Relchenau v. Kleist [K]
F F F r
XV. XVI. XIV. Guderian [G)
Fr rtf ttft tttt. f F
1.K.D.11. 5_ Z 2_ 3_ 4.13_G.D . 9.10_ V LAH XXXI.X . XXXXI.
H-O,.-O ... ". ~ tOT rtf kkt
1_ 2_ 29_ 6_ 8. 20. Unit Organization of the German Panzer Forces-June 7,1940

The Breakthrough of the "Weygand-Line", June 6, 19'.40




The Weygand Line was broken, and the Germans pursued the retreating enemy forces.


French Positions

"G D" troops march In pursuit of French units after breaking through the Weygand Line. Note the radio team In the center. The rear man carried the pack 'or the radio batteries; the front man carried lhe radio 'Itself, while the second man opera.ted It.

Here, one 0' the tirst assault guns to see action - in Sturmar1illerie batterie 640 - advances with "GO" troops. This vehicle is a SluG illl aust A, or very earl,y ausf B, a,nd shows the inlitial confl.guraUon ,of this assauU gun serlas: note the openingl for the gunner's sight and the commander's binocular telescope.


The end of a defeated army, columns of French prisoners pass advancing German troops along roads and through captured villages. The truck ill the lowe,r photo Is, a Krupp L2H1i42 [Kfz 691 of an infantry company.



At this time, the ZbV 800 units developed the first units calling themselves "Brandenburgers", skilled in foreign languages and often used for advance reconnaissance

and other action behind enemy lines. Later, the Panzergrenadier Division "Brandenburg" would be formed from these units.

Meanwhile, the cuffband underwent various changes in color and design (first green, then black) until the end of the war.


Infantry Regiment [mot] Grossdeutschland, December 1940

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NachrlChlen-Zug Musl~-Korps


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fStlllb u, Nachr. Stallel As of September 1940

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~5~r. 400 Stab

4. [MG.] Kompanle


5.·7. (SchiJlzen] Komp. 8. [M.G.] Kompanle



14. [Pz. Jager] Kompanle

16. [SturmgeschlJtzJ Komp.

17. IKradschtzj Kp.

18. IPL] Komp.

19. [NachrichtenJ Kp.

15. [$.I.G.] Kompanie

20. [FlA] Kompanle

3. Ballerle

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I 400 S'.ab u. Na:chr. Zug 1. Ballerle 2. Ballerle


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IV. Kolonne

K'z. W,erksl. Zug

I. Kolonne

II. Kolonne

III. Kolonne

1940 brought the first great test of the regiment - combat. In action during many fiercely-fought engagements and major battles, "GO" fought well and showed the value of its prolonged training, the ability of the officers, and the high morale of the men. "GO" numbered approximately 3900 officers and men at the start of the French campaig.n .. At the end of the fighting, the regiment had sustained 1108 casualties:

Officers NCO'S Enlisted Men

Killed in Action 8



Wounded 40 1.28 662

Missing 1 8 48

Total 49 177 882





Thus, unit casualties were slightly above 25%.

As was common during hard-fought actions, the men of "GO" not only gained combat experience but also formed an effective s!ingle unit. After the campaign In France, the' men of "GO" no longer thought of their old units, from which they had been sent to "Grossdeutschland", "now they were "Grossdeutschland", and took pride In their new unit.

The regiment was expanded further. The addition of an Artillery Abtei!lung slgna.led the further expansion into a brig!ade., and eventually even a djvtslon.



Molded into a close-kntt fighting unit during the French campalqn, and re-equipped and brought up to full strength for the tralining for "Sea.lion" and "Felix", "GD" was in excellent condition lin early 1941. A second Heavy Transportation Battalion was added for greater independence and mobility.

After 3 months of lntensfvstralnlnq in and around Belfort, April brings the first action of "GD" .. Involving less combat action than the French campaign, the carnpalqn ln the Balkans and Yugosllavia finds "GD" engagiing iin transportation, advances, and ganison duties ..

ln June, 1'941, "GD" i:s assiqned to the 2nd Panzerarmee for "Barbarossa", the lnvasion of Russia. Startinq from Brest-Utovsk, the regiment attacks into Russia; during the advance, it is aSSigned to dltterent units as needs dictate, often to support assaults on major objectives. "GD" is one of the German units that reaches the glates of Moscowactually Tula, south of the city and at last at the Oka River, and then mustfiglht iln the severe wlnter rearguard battles as the Russians counterattack.

1941-World History

2- '6: Organization of the Deutsches Afri~a~orps (D.A.K_) under General Erwin


3- 1: Bulgaria joins the Tripartite pact.

3- 2: The 121h Army marches Into Bulgaria.

3· 4: British forces land in Greece (Piraeus and Volos). 3-25: Yuqcslavlajctns the Tripartite pact.

4- 2: Hitler makes the final decision to attack Russia and sets Ihe end 01 June for the attac«.

4· 5: End of the friendship and non-aggression pacts between Yug.oslavla and the Sovlel Union.

4- 6: Beginning o! the campaign against Yugoslavia and Greece.

4·13: Occupation of Belgrade.

4-17: Yugoslavlan armed forces surrender.

4-20: Greek farces agree to truce with German rorces: the battle against

British troops continues.

4-27: Athens Is occupied by German troops.

5- 2: Beginning of the fighting betwaen Iraqi troops and British forces.

S-11: The British are driven out at the Greek mainland and most or the Ge'Bek Islands, except for Crete.

5-16: Italian troops In Abyssinia surrender to British armed forces.

5-20: rhe Germans attack Crete, including large-scale use of paratroops.

5-27: The German batttesntp "Bismarck" is sunk In the Atlantic by the' Royal


6- 1 :9ritlsh troops occupy Bagdad.

6- 4: The last German Kaiser (WI'lhelm II) dies in Doorn, Holland. 6- 8: British and Free 'French forces march into Syria.

6-18: End of the German-Tur~lsh Friendship Agreement.

6-22: Beginning of "Barbarossa", the Invasion of the Soviet Union, with 141 dtvlslcns, including 19 panzsr divisions. Rumania loins the attack Immediately, with 25 divisions.

6-.23: Slovakia Joins the bailie against the Sovillt Union.

6-26: Finland Joins the campaign against Russia.

24 6-27: Hungary also enters the fight against Russia.

1941·-Div;ision Grossdeutschland

1-15: The FUhrer-Escort Battalion, formed from the "GO" Regiment, receives not only the "Grossdeutschland" cuflband, but also another band, inscribed "FOhrer-Headquarters", to be worn below Ihe "GO" at this point.

1-27/4-4: March I nto Bel fort area, and rest period there.

4-514-10: "GO" Is transported by rail 10 Vienna - from there, the unit advances via Raab, Budapest, and Szegedin 10 Rumania, where' It Is assigned to the 41 st Army Carps (motorized).

4-11: March via Arad and Temesval Into Yugoslavia.

4-12: Pursuit of enemy forces to Pancevo on the Danube River with few engag.ements_

4-13: "GO" 1 st battalion participates In the occupation of Belgrade.

4-1415-16: "GD" provides security troops In Yugoslavian Banal, east of the Danube around Welika, Klkinda,. and Wertschetz.

4-19: Use of a broadcasting station by Oberleutnant Fablch (leader of the 3rd company) which later became 'famous as "Radio Belgrade".

5-17: Beginning of rail movement via Ruma, Mltrovlca, Budapest, Pressburg to Oberschleslen, then Into the area around Freudenstadt·Troppa.u.

6-15: March Into area southeast of Warsaw, arouod Zelechow; assigned as reserve, 2nd pz Army.

6-21 : Artillery, heavy weapons, and assault guns of the 7th Panzer Division attack across the Bug River at Janow.

6-27128: "GD" crosses the Russianfranller north of Brest-Lltovsk,

1941-World History

, 941-Division Grossdeutschland

7-12: Great Britain and the Soviet Union torrn an alliance to 'fight against Germany.

6-2917-3: "GO" fights In a consolidating action supporting aseauus on surrounded Russian troops west of Minsk.

7-3/7"6: "GO" advances to Minsk, engaging enemy troops tryIng to break up the advance.

7-7/7-10: Further advances, with many Individual skirmishes, via Bereslna all the way to the Dnieper River. This advance enables "GO" to link up with armored units ahead. At this time, "GO" is assigned to 10th Panzer Division.

7-1117-16: Attack across the Dnieper followed by fighting In the bridgehead.

7-16/7-20: Continuing advance, as Corps reserve (46th Panzer Korps). Into the area west of Mstlstavl near Yelnya.

7-21/7-22: Fighting In the Desna positions at Yelnya.

7-23/8-5: Fighting strong resistance on the road to Oorogobuzh (north 01 Yelnya) and on the railroad crossing south of Yelnya, at Vaskovo.

B-6IB-8: Relief and rest In the area eround Oankovo-Vaskovo. B-918-18: Defense actions in the Yelnya salient west of Yalnya.

8-14: Announcement of the Allantic Charter, but not to be extended to Gerrnanv,

8-1918-30: End of fighting In the Vaskovo-Chochlovks-Rudnaya area.

Movements and Actions, June 22 to December 31, 1941



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~ Major Engagement

o 100 200



1941-World History

8.25: British and Soylet troops march Into Iran.

9· 2: Beginning of material deliveries by the Americans to the Soviet Union. 9· 8: leningrad is reached by German troops but not captured.

9-'0: Greenland comes under US administration.

9·19: Kiev Is occupied,

£!..25: Kharkov Is occupied.

10· 2: Beginning 01 the offensive agelnst Moscow.

10-14: K.aUnln (Tiler) Is reached, threatening Moscow,

10-16: The Soviet government withdraws from Moscow to Kuybyshev,

11·18: Beginning of the British couoter-ouensive In North Africa; the Africa Korps Is th rown back onto EI Aghel ta.

11·21: Occupation of Hostov.

11·25: Flnland,Croatla, Rumania and Denmark [otn the Antlcomlntern pact.

12- 6: The offensive against Moscow Is halted for good and the Soviet forces start cou nter-attack.

12· 7: Declaration of war by Japan ,against the USA (Pearl Harbor attack).

12·25: Hong Kong surrenders to the Japanese,

1941-Divlsion Grossdeutschland

8-25: Oberleutnant Hanert (killed In action), commander of the 1st battalion, Is the first man in "GO" regiment to win the Rltterkreuz (Knights Cross) in the Russian campaign.

9·119·4: "GO" marches south to participate In the battle lor Kiev, traveling via Roslalll, t.ukavlza, and Starodub. The unit crosses the Oesna River at Novgorod·Seversk and secures a bridgehead.

£!..5/9.a: "GO" advances south to Glukhov.

9·919·13; Assault across the Seym River at Putlvl.

9-14/9-25: Engagements at Schllkova, Konotop, and Belopolye.

9--24: Kampfgruppe Nehring, formed from part of Fuhrer·Escort Battalion leaves Rastenburg In order to gel into action near Volkhov, north of Leningrad, during the 1941-42 winter.

9·26/1()..3: "GO" holds against Russian counterattacks east of Romny. 10·4110-10: "GO" Is transferred to the Roslavl area, via Konotop and Gomel. '0-11/10·12; Continued travel via Bryansk to Karachev, moving Into a bivouac area north of the city.

10-17/10-21: Rest and recuperation In Orel,

10-22110·23; Through the mud 01 the Russian autumn, "GO" reaches a ccncentratlon bivouac area northeast of Mtsensk,

10-24: "GO" attacks and dislodges well dug·ln enemy troops.

10-29: The regiment advances to Tula, engaging In many battles with defending Russian Troops.

10·3011'·30: Engaged In battles around Yefremov and at Tula.

12·1/1.2-5: "GD" attempts 10 capture Tula from the north by enveloping the defenses from the east. During this assault on Ryazan and Kashira, the 17th Company (motorcycle 'troops) suflers a disastrous "Black Day" ,at Kolodesnaya,

12· 6: Beginning of a very severe cold wave (-40·C), and lessening of action at the front lines.

12·7/12·20: "GO" engages In repelling counterattacks around Yefremov and Tula. There are extensive battles from Tula to the defensive positions east of Orel, via Charn-Mtsenek.

12·21; Advance Into the area around Bolkhov north of' oret.

12·22112·31: Defensive engagements on the Oka River and north 01 Bolkhov.

"GO" divided, with units assigned to support three different Infantry divisions.


Ritterkreuz ("Knight's Cross")

A German column advances Into Yugoslavia, northeast of Belgrade. Even 8arly In the war, a great variety of vehicles are used in German units.

[Below] View of Pancevo.


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To Lalun ~

Diagram of location of units of the Fuhrer-Escort Battalion, formed from "GO".

Layout of the "Wolfsschanze" (Wolf's Redoubt) at Rastenburg,. FHQu (FUhrer's Headquarters) at invasion,. on June 21, 1941

(Below] Headquarters "Wolfsschanze", Gate 1.

Enlistment Papers of 8 "GD" Recruit.

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The beginning or the Russian campaign consisted largely ot rapid marches as far as the area south of Smolensk, punctuated by small battles and skirmishes against defending FI.ussian troops. Initially, the German columns moved rapidly into Sovis,t territory.

The crossing 0·1 the Bereslna River at Bor'sov brought thoughts of Napoleon's disastrous camp.aign of 18112. [Above] The ap,pr'oachto the river. [IBel;owj The first vehicles were taken across the river by ferry.




German engineers finish assembly of a heavy pontoon bridge across the Bereslna River.· As can be seen, the temporary ferry on the pr1ecedlng page was a.ctl.lally a short section of this pontoon bridge.

German Infantrymen prepare for an assault on enemy positions .. As the Wehrmacht advanced deeper tnto Russia, fighting became more frequent and more Intense.

Assaults across flat, open terrain nearly always required support from artillery, armored units [tanks and assault guns], or armored halttra.cks. [A1bovel An SIPW supports infantry crossing a wheat field. [Below] A StuG III aust B halts next to a house.

A near miss by an enemy shell forces the troops to drop down, as Inereis virtually no cover or protection In these flat fields.

The Attack from Yelnya., July 30, 1941

Mobile fire support I:s directed against Soviet positions. Here, 8 Sdkfz 10/4 half track of 8' flak battery prepares "0 fire. Note the binocular telescope used by the officer standing by the vehicle.


SluG III ausf A


Determin,ed enemy resistance otten meant that the infantry had to dismount from the transport vehicles and advance cross-country In "open order" [advancing forlmaUonj. These troops advance on a suspecled Russi'an position, whUe most of the vehicles remain on the road.

The Desna .Battles,

September 1 to September 4, 1941

The fighting in the area northeast of Orel continu.ed into the fall.

After the battle: Rifles of Russian soldiers who surrendered.

Amid the burning destruction of a Russian village, German troops p r,e,pare to ,advanc,e further. The two vehicles at the left are Horch Kfz 15's.

Because of delays in mounting and dismounting from trucks" 'ast assaults oUen found lnfantry riding directly on the tanks.

In the Russian autumn,German troops get their first taste of the bitterest enemy on the Eastern front - the weather. The numerous rivers and streams, with the very poor road conditions in bad weather, require skill and perseverance from drivers and troops. Many vehicles are lost in such poor conditions as shown here.


The higher costs of more intense fighting in the East. [Left] ObsUt. Gars1ki U.] and Obst.von Stockenhausen honor the dead from a recent engagement. [Below] The graves increase in number every day_

1941 was a bad year for "Grossdeutschlandlj .. The second six months brought the regiment every experience that can befall a combat unit: advance, attack, defensive fighting, great successes and terrible losses, victory and high morale, trustratton and loss of morale, days of rest then bitter battles with high casualties, summer with its heat and dust, the faU with rain and mud, and winter with its bitter cold, fighting in open fields, woods, and cities.

"GD" came through this early part of the Russian campaign successfully,. and earned a good reputation as a valuable fi!ghtingl unit. This reputation was bought with heavy casualties; up to January 6,1942, "GD" lost in Russi.a.:

Officers NCO'S Enlisted Men

Killed in Action 36

129 735

Wounded 89 377 2590


4 110




Total: 4070 men

(Above] Even in dry weather, the poor roads exacted a toll on the vehicles.

[Below) With a shortage of serviceable motor vehicles, most units had to resort to an earlier form of transport. Here, a horse-drawn wagon negotiates a crossing on the Oka River, near Bolkhov.


Scenes from the winter battles in the Yefremov-Tula area, 1941-42: vast expanses of snow-covered plains and low hills, littered with burning vehicles, guns, and frozen troops trying to keep their equipment oper.ational.

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1942 is a year of fierce and bitter fighting on the Russian front. But in 1942, "GO" is expanded to a full motorized infantry division. The orders regarding the reorganization emphasize "Grossdeutschland's" status as an elite unit. With these new orders, all new men taken into "GD" must be young, preferably volunteers, at least 1.70 meters in height, must have perfect eyesight without glasses. and must have no criminal record. It was further required that all members come up to "the ideal picture of the German soldier", a requirement held even more important for NCO's and especially ottlcers. In addition, Inf. Oiv. (rnot.) "Grossdeutschland" was to receive the latest and best equtpment, as soon as it was released for use by front-line units.

"GO" doesn't have much time to train as a. unit, for the all-important task of building morale, unit teamwork, and fighting efficiency. The second half of 1942 brings "GO" into many of the major battles and campaigns in the East, first in assult operations in the south, and later in the central sector, as a defensive unit.

The name "Grossdeutschland" in the meantime had become quite famous,. and with its expansion to a full dlvlslon, "GO's" fame brought more war correspondents and photoaraphers, resulting in more thorough and better photoqraphlc eoveraqe.

1942 - World History

1- 1: "Washlngton·Pact" - 26 nations decide not to make a special peace with


1· .2: Manila (Phllllppines) Is conquered by the Japanese.

1-11: Beginning of the Japanese attack on Dutch .East Indies. I-IS: Singapore conquered by the Japanese.

1-18: Signing of a MIlitary alliance between Germany, Italy, aM Japan.

2·19: Attack on Darwin (Austratte),

2-28: landing on Java by the Japanese.

3- 1: Beginning of the British bomber offensive with attacks on German industrial cities and U-Boat bases.

3- 7: Rangoon, In Burma, captured by Japanese troops.

5- 415- 8: Battie of the Coral Sea, resulting in losses for the Japanese fleet.

5- 615-18: The Kerch peninsula In southern Russia Is recaptured In the Crimean campa.lgn,

5-1715-28: Because of successtul German counterattacks, the Russian spring offenSive around Kharkov is unsuccessful In breaking the German positions.

6- 217·1: Battle of Sev8stopol, resuiling In the city's capture by siege and bombardment.

1942 - Divis,lon Grossdeutschland

1· 111·19: Battles on the Oka between Orel and Beley.

1-2011·30: Engagements against enemy breakthroughs and partisans In the woods around Gorodok.

1-31/2-8: "GO" fights to secure the area around Gorodok.

2- 1: The 2nd Battalion is disbanded and the men and equipment are spread

through the remaining battalions as reinforcements. 2- 9: Attack on Verch.

2-10: Battle to clear the BolkhOv-Yagodnaya railroad.

2-1112-18: More engagements In this area, with many casualties.

2-19: The two remaining Grenadier Battalions were reformed Into one unit. 2-20: "GO" attacks Kosovka and cnucmovo.

2-21/4·8: Consolidating the gains won, and securing the area. The disbanded cattat ions are reformed and reorganized.

4- 1: "GO" Regiment commander, Oberst Hoernleln, Is promoted to Generalmajor, and Is given command of the Division "GO" which Is to be reformed from the regiment.

4- 1/5·22: Reorganization of "GO" reglrnent Into a motorized Infantry division, ·'GO". The newly assigned units are set up al the traIning schools at Ooeberitz and Juterborg (near Berlin) and Wandern/Mark Brandenburg.

4- 914-14: "GO" Is relieved, and the old Regiment travels by truck to orer. 4-15/4-16: The unit travels by rail to Rechitsa on the Dnieper River, at Gomel. 4-17: Unit headquarters established in Rechltsa. Here the Regiment Is officially

reformed as a Motorized Infanlry Olvlslon, "Grossdeulschland"_

5- 1: The "GO" Replacement Battalion is reformed as a Regiment and moves trom Neuruppen to Cottbus at the same time.

5·23/5-31: Moving partly by rail, and the rest of the routa by truck, the units which will join "G 0" to expand II to a divl slon reach the area northwest of Fatesch (NW of Kursk) via Mlelau, Lomlza, Bialystok, Sfutsk, Rogachev, Roslavl, Bryansk, and Orel. Here the division Is assigned to the 48th Panzer Korps.

6- 1: Reformation of the Grenadier Replacement Battalion "GO" to a. Motorized Replacement Brigade.


1942 - World History

6- 416-7: Battle of Midway. resulting In disastrous loss by Japan of the heart of Its carrier force; the turning-point 0' the Pacillc war.

6-12: The Japanese land on Attu and Kiska In the Aleutians.

6-26: Attack 0' the German "Army Group South" (Operation "Blue").

7-24: Rostov is recapture by the Germans.

6- 7: U.S. troops land on Guadalcanal In the Solomon Islands.

6-14: The Canadians stage an III-fated raid on the French coastal town of Dleppe.

8-24: The Germans reach the Volga River at the northern outskirts of Stallngrad,

6-28: German troops raise their flag on the highest mountain In the Caucasus, Mt. Elbrus,

1942 - Division Grossdeutschland

6-2817,- 4: "GO" breaks through Russian positions at Tim, and pursues the retreating enemy all the way to the upper Don River at Voronezh,

7- 117-27: "GO" trains In the Fatesch area and assembles close to Shchlgry for

the summer offensive planned for southern Russia,

7· 517- 6: "GO" battles across the Don, and helps capture Voronezh. 7- 7; The Division assembles on Ihe western bank of the Don River,

7- 817-13: Advance through the big bend area encompassed by the Don - without engaging the enemy - south to Olchovskil on the Olchova.ya. 7-1417-19: Forced march with light skirmishes via Tazlnskaya 10 the Donets

River, iuSI north 01 Its JOining the Don.

7 -20; "G 0" crosses the Donats at M Ikhallovskll.

7-21/7·23: Battles north of and around Razdorskaya on the Don River. 7-2417·30: "GO" extends the bridgehead to lhe Sal River, and secures Ihe area

by taking Susatzkl.

7-3t: Rapid advance to the Many.sch River.

8- 116-14: "GO" division is relieved and assembles in Shakhty on the north bank of the Oonets as OKH reserve.

8-15: "GO" begins embarking" loading equipment 01'1'0 tralns, a-16/6-1'6:. Rail transport to Smolensk.

a-25: "GO" marches northeast from srnotensk to the Rzhev area, west of Moscow.

Movements and Actions, 1942

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cl4, Major Engagement

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Action around Melechovo (near Bolkhov)

February 29, 19'42

Panzerkampfabzeichen (Panzer' Assault Badge)

One of the churches In Bolkhov.


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Composition of Infanterie-Division (mot) "Grossdeutsch'land"

16.-18. Kompanie

RadSchUtzen Bataillon

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10. [Werle,] Ballerle [AB 1943]

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I.-II. Abtellungl2, Batlerle,

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The "GO" divisional sta.ff on the move, and at the command post. The division commander, Generalmajor Hoernlein, formerly the Colonel commanding "GO" as a regiment; Colonel Garskl, the regimental commander, ,leans. on a cane. Nole the "GO" command pennant.


Both of these p'hot.os show vehlc'les of the motorcycle troop baUalions of "G 0", ,now used for reconnaissance and scouting dulles. Above are two Sd K.fz 232 radio cars on railcars on the way to the tralniing area east of Kursk. Below are Kubelw.agens and heavier cars of the "GD" motorcycle troop baUal'ion. Note the white fender markings as well as the tactical and divisional symbols. The VW's are early models, indicated by the long rear fenders.

Summer Offensive, 1942- First Day of Attack ,June 28, 1942


1104 4. Panzer Armee

This SluG III ausl F takes on more ammunition for the 7.5 em Stu K 40. Note the early pattern pz Kpfw III headlamp.

(Below] All types of artillery from 15em field artillery [Middle) to 7.5 em infantry guns [Bottom] take partin preparations for an attack.

Early St,yle la's Pennant


[Above] "GD" Infantry, s,ml out of 'enemy range, march inl close file through a wheat fie;ld. The men ,in front carry machine gun ammunltlon,

[Below] A pair of pz Kpfw IV F1 's advance with the troops. Still armed with the short 7.5 cm howitzer, they were at a disadvantage fighting Russian tanks, but in infantry support actions, they were very effective.

[Opposite] The division commander looks at the enemy from a Sd Kfz251/6 ausf B command SPW. These vehicles were fitted with command radios and usually cryptograph code machines as well.

Attack South of Olym, June 29 to June 30, 1942

~ 9. P.O.



The Russian s1e,ppesshow their great beauty- sweeping endless, green fields, covered with flowers. The tank.s below are decorated with garlands as camouflage. These are the newer pz Kpfw IV aust F2, with the long gun.



[AboY,e] .A PzKpfw IV of "GD" passes two radio cars of the dlvlslon's motorcycle troop battalion. Note the extensive markings on all these vehicles.

[Right] Infantry wait for the attack to commence. Enemy fire is heavier as the attack progresses.

[Left} Heavy weapons advance with the infantry. Here, a heavy mortar team passes a flamethrower operator.

Russian tank attacks were often very large and fiercelyfought assaults. Many units, havi:ng insuffie,ient selfpropelled weapons, used towed antitank guns. Twoot the best weapons were the 7.5 em PAK 40 [above, towed by the 3-tonne SdKfz. 11traetorj and the 8.8 em Flak 18 [below, firing on a target].


Two G'erma.n Pz:K'Pfw IV's advance toward R.ussian positions.


[Above] A German soldier searchesa. Russian soldier immediately after his capture.

[Below] Interrogations by the front line troops often bring good results, which can be used in subsequent actions.


[Above) A battle-tested in.antry unU marches down a dirt road. Note the great variety lin the stowage of personal gear.

[Below] When the day's objective is reached, positions are dug out under protection of assault guns, in order to be safer from enemy counterattacks. These are StuG III a.usf (='5.

"Grossdeutschland" units attack, supported by tanks. [Above) A PzKpfw III ausf L. [Below] A PzKpfw IV ausf F2, followed by an F1. Again, the vast expanses of the Russian plains are apparent in this bottom photograph.


In pursuit of retrealing Russian forces, infantry ride on assauU gun,s and tanlksto keep up with the advance.


Majorl/on Usedom, 'comlmandlng officer o' the KradschUtzen battalion of "0,0", rid.ing in his SdKfz250/3 armored command halftra.ck.

Bad roads and limited river crossings ano bridges slowed many advances. This muddy road slows an advance, as many vehicles have 1.0 be manhandled Ihrough the mud.

[Below] A small temporary bridge, this one across the Tim river, creates a huge traffic Jam as hundreds of vehicles line up to crass the river.

A scene common t.,08very .army: satisfy.ing one's thirst with a drink from a helmet.

On July 5, elements of "GO" cross the Don River. Here, a SdKfz 250/3 of the Kradschi.ilzenlbattalion drives up the river bank after being ferried across the river.


A crewman of this 2 em Flak 38 looks over the plains in front of the city of Voronezh. The silhouette and markings lndlcate that one tank and a number of other targ,ets have been destroyed.

A StuG III aust F Crosses a rail line during the rapid march through the Don River bend sector. Proper grave crosses are prepared to repl;ace makeshift marke:rs.

Being in the southern Ukraine steppes during the hot summer was an uncomfortable - and unforgettable - experience.

"GID" vehicles photog,raphed during Ihe march south through the Don bend. [Above) A SdKfz232 [8 rad] radio armored car of the 1st companY,Kradschi.itzen battalion. [Below] Armored half track SPW's of the KradschiHzen [motorcycle troop] battalion. Note the small vehicle numbers on the rear comer plates.

[Opposite)IHeading lhiis column of armoredi half tracks is a SdKfz 247 n, based on the Horch heavy passenger car chassis. These vehicles had more limited cross-country performance, and were usually reserved for senior command or staff officers.




[Above] Men of the KradschiHzen battalion during a rest. At the right is a trailer from the unit. The tenl is erected from shelter quarters, carried by all German soldiers. The advance south by Ille 0011' River was marked by ra,pid movement, short rests, and skirmishes and heavier battles ..

[Below) Artillery bursts in the middle of Ihe flat plain show the lack of cover in the open ..

A SdKfz 250/3 passes an old-fashioned wooden windmill.


The lower Don, Sa'l, and Ma,l'Iytsch Rivers were reached and palrtiallytaken in combat, but not all of these rivers were in German hands. [Above] General of the Panzer troops Kempf, commanding the 48th Panzer Korps, with [at left] "GO" Division com. mander Gen.-Maj. Hoemlein. [Below] A SdKfz 250/1 SPW near the Manytsch River.


A view of the ruins 0' Rzhev.

In the middle of August, 1942, the major Soviet counterattacks come against the old "hot spot", 'R.zhev. Along with other units in the Don area, "GO" is Iransferred north 1.0 fight this new threat. Until another transfer, to the Kharkovarea in Jan. 1943, "GD"wouild face one of the most difficult periods its forces had ever experienced, with savage fighting and terrible weather.

A German soldier waits in a crater below a destroyed Russian "Va'lienUne" tank,


Duringl the advance, "GD"enters the Illime-faced mountains and hills of the Donels area.

Attack South of Rzhev, September 10, 1942

A des,t'royed T34176 model 41 burns near a ruined farmhouse.

A SdKfz 250/1 of a heavy machine gun section, showl,ri1g t,ha heavy mount for the front MG 34.

Two views of the front at Chermassovo after the battles in this area were over.

Battle of the Lutschessa Valley

262. SOY. D.

At the end of November,after 6 weeks of rest, the costly winter battle for Rzhev begins.


Note the lack of web gear and personal equipment on these two sol'diers adv.ancilng over a rise.


Heavy casualties are inevitable, but the front is stabilized, the Russian off.ensive is halted. Oberst Garski [Above] was killed on Sept. 30; Oberst Kohler [Below) was killed on December 1, 1942.

[Rfght] Casualties are evacuated by ambulance and aircraft.

[Below] Infantry attack over an obstacle ditch.

Hard-fought defensive actlone, couMerthrustsand counterattacks become daily necessUies, as the lines shift constantly under pressure from opposing forces. The flat steppes were an ideal environment for tank warfare. [Above] The flat terrain as seen from the loader's hatch of a StuG '" aust G.

Action of Kampfgruppe Kassnitz (F.R.GO) South of Byeloy, Novembe,r 26 to December 16, 1942

'----------------------~-- --~- ---

"Papa" Hoernlein [left] with his adjutant, Major Bethke. Note the heavy winter boots and G.en. Hoernlein's sheepskin-:lined coat.

Two soldiers pay last respects to a fallen comrade in the divisional cemetery at Schisderovo.

Defensive positions in the Lutschessa valley.


1942 World History

1942 - Division Grossdeutschland

8-3019-9: "GO" moves lmo bivouac area south of Rzhev. as Army reserve for AOK9.

9-10110-8: Heavy defensive battle with "GO" counterattacking south of Rzhev. as part of 27th Army Corps.

10- 1: "GO's" two Infantry Regiments are renamed; "GO 1" becomes Grenadier Regiment "GO", "GO 2" becomes Fusilier Regiment "GO". The Guard Battalion "Berlin" becomes Guard Batlallon "GO".

10- 9111-25: "GO" is relieved and transferred to Ihe rest area around Olenlno.

8-30: Luxembourg is incorporaled Into the Reich.

10- 1: Slovenia is incorporated Into the Reich.

10-15112-15: Heavy defensive acllon by Army Group Central (Rzhev-area) and Army Group North, with many casualties.

10-23: The Afrika Korps is attacked by superior British forces(8th Army),and

'thrown back 10 the western border of Cyrenaica.

11- 7111-8: British and American forces land in Algeria and French Morocco. 11- 9: German forces land In Tunisia.

11-11: Central and southern France are occupied by German troops. 11-19: Beginning of the Soviet counter-offensive al Slalingrad.

11-21: The 6th Arrnee and portions of the 4th Panzerarmee are surrounded at Stalingrad.

10-28: A ski battalion Is organized for the division.

,,-26/12·5: Beginning 01 "GO's" action in the winter battles around Rzhev, resulting In heavy casualties. In this battle, the 9th Army was stretched oyer a front of 100 km. (from Rzhev to Byeloy).

, 2- 1: Very severe fighti ng in the Lutschessa yalley.

12- 6/12·17: Flghtlngbeglna to slacken, allowing scattered units to be reorganized .

12·11: Renewed attacks by the British 8th Army force Ihe Afrika Korps out 01 Libya; the O.A.K. retreats into runlste.

12·18112-,20: "GO's" section of the Hzhev front is quiet. 12·21: First counterattack with 12th Panzer Division. 12-30: Second counterattack wl\hl2th Panzer Division.

"GO" spent the end of 1942 in defensive battles in the middle sector of the front.

It had been a very hard year-twice "GO" was nearly destroyed: as a Regiment in February, and as a Division in the Lutschessa Valley in early December. Both times, the Division had been overextended - its elite status and better than average equipment had led the High Command to overestimate the unit's capabilities, and "GO" was unable to carry out all of its asstqned missions, suffering heavy casualties in the process.

The setbacks which resulted led to disappointment in the Hi'gh Command, and often bitterness among the troops of "GO". It was reallzed,too, that "GD" had not had suttlclent training as a complete division, and that the poor weather and savage fighting of the Bussian winter resulted in a war of attrition. As "GO" units were quickly moved into gaps in the German lines, the division began to lose its unit identity and this contributed to the crises in December.

The savage fighting had one good effect: through casualties had been heavy. those who survived were "tern pered steel", and formed a core of experienced veterans who provided the spirit and skill to lead the newer men who reinforced the division. As a result, "Grossdeutschla.nd" was better prepared to fight future battles. The number of casualties for 1942 are not known exactl:y; the estimated losses were between 10,000- 12,,000 officers and men.


Battle of the Lutschessa Valley December 1 to December 3, '1942

Railroad station at Kupyansk [Ukraine]. where from Dec. 19 onward, elements of the "Fuhrer" escort battalion arrive to enter the costly heavy fighting In this sector ..

Defensive positions In a ravine at 8yeloy.

The cemetery af the Fusilier Regiment "GO" at Schisderovo.



In 1943, the growing strength of the Allies was felt on many fronts. The Soviet Army, now greatly reinforced, benefited not only from large amounts of Lend-Lease munitions and equipment, but also uninterrupted supplies from the new factories in the Ural Mountains, beyond, bombing range. With a tremendous pool of men, the Russian armed forces are able to rebuilt destroyed units and create new ones. A serious problem is that newer Russian aircraft and tanks are vastly better in quality and capablttttes, and German air and ground forces are hard-pressed to contain these new weapons.

A new front is opened in Italy, after 500,000 men are lost in Africa and at Stalingradthese men will be sorely missed in the later defensive battles of 1944 and 1945. Germany's allies (Hungary, Rumania, Italy) leave the Tripartite alliance, and withdraw thei r u nits from the battlefiel d. 1943 is to be the year of the tl rst great crises. "G 0" receives hardly any rest, less than in 1942. However, reinforcements appear with addttlonal artillery, a Tiger tank unit, and more armored personnel carriers (SPW's). The demands on "GO" are yet greater lin 1943, and the unit battles from Byeligorod to Krivoy Rog in the Dnieper bend area. Constant action is the rule as "GO" units are used to reinforce weak points in the German ltnes, The days of successful deep attacks are over; even the great offensive at Kursk (Operation "Citadel") eventually halts and ends in retreat. The fighting becomes more difficult as conditions on all fronts deteriorate.

1943 - World History

1943 - Division Grossd'eutsch land

1- 111-8: Stabilizing the Front at R.zhev. 1- 9: March to Smolensk.

1-1411-26: Casablanca can ference, at which the Allies decide to demand "uncondltlonat surrender" of the Axis torces.

1-14: The Soviets break through the 2nd Hungarian Army at the upper Don River.

1·23: Tripoli is captu red by the Allies.

2- 2: The last German troops surr-ender In the cauldron 01 Stailngrad.

1-17: "GO" embarks Irom Smolensk and travels Into the Volchansk area (between Byelgorod and Kharkov).

1·18: The Motorcycle Troop Battalion "GO" Is renamed Aufklarungs (Reconnaissance) Abtellung "GO" and Is allowed the gold-yellow color piping (waffenfarbe) of the cavalry, Later It Is renamed Panzer Au'klarungs (Tank Reconnaissance) Abtellung "GO",

1·20: In Guban, the IV Artillery Abtellung 01 "GO" Is termed.

1-2112-8: "GO" engages In battles between the Oskol and the upper Oonets east of Byelgorod,

1-18: The Sovlel forces are able to break the siege of Leningrad.

2- 3: First elements of "Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) Pohlmann" 01' the FUhrerEscort Battalion. which were engaged since Januery, return to the division and remain several months.

2- 8: Byelgorod Is lost to the Russian 'orcas.

2· 912-14: Battles along Ihe Byelgorod·Kharkov railroad, and north of Kharkov. 2-15: German troops evacuate Kharkov.

2-1612·23: "GO" engages the enemy on the Kharkov-Poltava railroad.

2-24/3·4: Most of the division is relieved, pulled out of the lines and sent to a rest area 30 km south of Poltava. Reinforcements arrive. among them the above-mentioned IV Artillery Abtellung, a Tiger I Company, and a Divisional Escort Company.

3- 5: "GO" marches to the starting point for a counterattack on Byelgorod and


3- 7: The German counterattack begins, 3-11: Bogodukhov Is taken.

3-1413·15: German and Russian tanks clash near Borlssovka.

3-18: DiY, commander Genllt. Hoernleln receives oak leaves 10 the Knight's Cross.

3-1 g.: Tomarovka Is captured.

3-2316·29: "GD" 15 relieved and tran·sferred to a. bivouac area north 0' Poltava, for rest and refitting. Additional SPW's are received, and "GO" Is assigned IIrst as Army reserve, and later placed under the control 0' 481h Panzer Korps.

3·28: Obersl (Col.) Graf Strachwllz, Kdr. of Pz. Agt. "GO" receives swords to the oak leaves of Ihe Knight's Cross.


1943 - World History

5-23: The last German troops on African soil surrender In Tunis.

7- 417·5: Beginning 01 the German offensive against the Kursk salient [operstlon "Citadel").

7-10: Allied forces land on Sicily.

7-16; Breakdown 01 "Citadel" because 01 material being withdrawn to combat the landings In Sicily, and breakthrough by strong Russian lorces to the west of Orel, through the sector held by Army Group Middle.

7-2418-3: Hamburg Is destroyed by Allied bombers.

7-25: Mussollnl reSigns and Is arrested; Marshal Ba.dogllo takes over the Italian government.

8-17: Heavy air attack on Peenem(lnde. causing heavy damage and casualties.

This results ,In a delay In the V-2 program.

Movements and Actions, January 1 to July 3, 1943


o MosCDW

o Assembly Area --iI> Railroad Transport

--. March Route

" I( I() Attack -

~ Major Engagement



o Bolkhoy

o Orel



"'I. Gomel

", ,


.... .....

• ValuYki·Nol/YY

, Oskol-Korotscha

\ .... Akhtyrka Tom8ro'k~

} 3·26/7·3 ilL. 0:" " ""

,_-,---.;"W ByeJgorod 3-7 r : 2-412-8 Bago. d'ukhoy oe Kharkoy ;:- ...... ~

pOlt~'" 2-912-15




1943 - Division Grossdeutschland

4-14: Capt. Frantz, Kdr. of the Sturmgeschutz Abteilung. receives the oak leaves to the Knight's Cross.

4-25: Transfer of detached units Into the concentration area near Akhtyrka.

5- 1: organization 01 a. Tiger Regiment in Paderborn. later 10 be deslgneted III Abtellung, Panzer Regiment "Grossdeutschtand".

6-23: "GO" Is redesignated from Motorized Inlantry Division to Panzergrenadler Olylsion "GO".

6-30: Beginning 01 the march to the staging area north of Tomarovka. for operation "Citadel".

7- 4: Start of "Citadel", with heavy engagements and some Initial advances.

7- 517-11: Difficult breakthrough lighting, with heavy casuanles, through deeply defended Ru 55 ian posltlons.

7-12IT-16: More heavy lighting at the poalttons reached In the assault.

7-18: Pl. Gren. Dlv. "GD" relieved and transferred to the area around Tomarovka. 7-21: "GO" transferred again by truck and railroad Inlo the Karac'hev area (between Orel and Bryansk) - familiar from previous action there In 1942 - and Is assigned to Army Group Middle.

7-24/6-3; Fighting In the woods near Karachev, countering the enemy advanci ng from Bol khov.

6- 4: "GD" relieved again and transferred to Army Group South to Akhturka.

Here the newly organized Tiger Abtellung Joined lhe diviSion. 8- 818-23: DefenSive battles In the area around Akhtyrka.

8-26; "GO" agsin assigned to 48th Panzer Korps.

Photos from the Lutschessa valley, Winter 1942/43.


On September tst, "GO" Ibegins the march from Rzhev [Above Left] to Smolensk and hom there by train to the Volchansk area, east of Byelgorod.

Ba'ttles around Volchansk,

1;( January 28 to

u. W· ... * ;168 February 3, 1943

,.. I.D.. c/ . '

Battles around Volchansk

1943 - World History

9- 3: British Forces land on the Italian mal nland at the southem point of Calabria.

9- 4: US Forces land on New Guinea.

9- 8: Special truce 01 Badogllo (Italy) with the Allies. Beginning of disarmament of the italian Army.

9- 9: US Armed Forces land at Salerno. 9-12: Mussollnl Is freed on the Gran-Sasso.

9-30: The Germans evacuate Naples.

10-24: Onlepropetrovsk is evacuated by the Germans. ,,- 6: Kiev Is evacuated by the Germans.

11·13: Japanese naval torces sulfer a serious defeat In a 3-day sea battle In the Solomon Islands.

11·28112-1: Teheran conference. The Allied leaders agree to tne position ot

postwar borders In Europe (demarcation line; Oder-Neisse line). 12- 6: KMS Scharnhorst Is lost In the Polar Sea, sunk by the Royal Navy.

Tiger I aust E

.A.bove: .An MG42 iin action.

1943 - Division Grossdeutschland

B-2BI9cI5·: "GO" fights in many areas, serving as B. "fire brigade" - reinforCing. critical points In the difficult battles west of Kharkov and north of Poltava.

9-1619-19: Delaying battles to the Dnieper River (Kremenchug bridgehead). AI this potnt, all available spare un lis are evacuated to the wesl bank of Ihe Dnieper. "GO" relorms as separated units, light to the German lines; "GO" Ihen moves to France for complete reflltlng_

9-29: The "GO" tank regiment has only a single operational tank!

9-30110-14: Batlles at Mlchurln-Rog against strong forces; "GO" attacks across the Dnieper.

10-15: start of the main Soviet offenSive from the bridgehead on both sides of Michurln-Rog.

10-16/12-31: Withdrawal and defensive engagements against strong enemy forces, to the south of Soflyevka (east of KrivoJ-Rog).

11-12: Malor Remer, KdT. 1 (SPW)IPz. Gren. Reg!. "GO" receives the oak leaves to the Knight's Cross.


Light infantry gun [Above] and PAK40 [Selow] In action near Byelgorod.

[Right] Destroyed Russian M3 "Stuart" light tank.

[Below left) Infantry in snow camouflage suits use captured Russian PPSH 43 submachine guns.

[Below IRight] A Ge:rma1n 8 em. mortar team opens fire.

For reasons of camouflage, the tanks and vehicles are painted white in winter. This painting is of little use In battle; it's more for protection a.galnst air-reconnaissance looking for troops and vehicles hidden I'nthe few villages ..

[Below] A column of tanks heading toward Borlssovka, west of Byelgorod.

[Right] Oberst Graf Strachwitzt commander of the Panzer Regiment "GO" In the turret of his command tank.


On the way to Byelgorod, a tank column halts for 8 rest. From left to right: Lt. Fuchs, Oberst Lorenz, Hptm. Peterait, Gefr. Schneider .. Note the camouUage suits at the right.

Cr'ewm.en load 815 cm. Nebelwerfer; the launcher is fired by remota control.


A VW type 166 "Schwlmmwagen" [Kfz 1/20].

Div. Kdr. Hoernfein eats on the march.

SdKfz 9 Famo 18-tonn8 half tracks and a Kubelwagen plow through mud and meUing snow.

On 'Ma'rch 23, "GO" was relieved a.ndsent to Poltava. During this rest period, decorations 'or past bravery are awarded.

[Above] The Panzer regiment; [Below] The Gren~ adier Regiment.

In the Slurmgeschutz ab1eilung, Ihle eernmander, Hptm. Frantz, receives the oak leaves to his Knight's Cross. [.Ab,ove) Hip.m. Fralntz with his men. [Below) With the Unterotfizier [NCO] group, and the Division Kdr.

[Above] A Heavily camouf.laged SdKtz 7 tractor tows an 8.8 em Fllak 36.

[Below] Neatly folded blouses with the distinctive "Grossdeutschland" cuffbandwait for the end of a relaxing swim during a rest period.

There is time now for group photos. [Above) An intelligence unit [note the sign!l and award ceremonies and review parades. [Below) The Sturmgeschutz abteilung "G.D" at the award of the Knlghl's Cross, to Us ecmmander ..

Snapshots and portraits for the relatives at home. [left] Hptm. Magold, Kdr. 1./StuG Abt .. "GO" personnel in the Army wore their cuffbands on the right sl,eeve; the S5 formations all wor,e their cuffbands en the left sleeve.

[Above] Major von Wietershelm

PzKpfw IV aust F2


AI Ihls time also new weapons and tanks arrive. [Above] Panther. [Below Left] sFH on self-propelled carriage [Hummel]. [Below right] slG on self-propelled carriage [Bison].


At the beginni.ng of June 1943, a newly-equipped fu'il-strength division - now designated "Panzergrenadier DIvision GO" - is ready for action. Senior army commanders announce the plans for operation "Citadel". the assault on Kursk. [Above left] Genera:1 Kempf, Kdr. of 8th Armee. [Below] GeneraloberstHoth, Kdr. of 4th Panzerarmee.

Operation Ci;tadel, July 4 to July 9, 1,943

"III'X ..

, .. ,,~~ Front

3. Pz. D.

[Above] General of the lPanz.er troops Breith - ilL/Panzer K,orps [halllds behiind his back]; with 'hi'mare Oberst Lorenz and Hptm. Chrapkowskl ..

On July 4, 1943, the heavy battles between Byelgorod and Kursk begin.

The start of operation "Zitadelle" ["Citadel"]. one of the las. major 'oUensi,ves of the German army, Infantry advances through Russian defensive positions [Above], then tanks, and SPW's advance across the Uat fields [Below].


The attack slows, and the infantry isforcedl to take cover In the Uat fields.

Operation Citadel, July 12 to July 17, 1943

Russian resistance increases steadily, and IheinHial rapid advance breaks down; the infantry now had to struggle for every small gain, with heavy casualties.

The attack stops. Casualties pile up. As fast as possible, inllned soldiers are taken to the first aid in the rear, away from the batUefieldand 'enemy fire.


Suppo~ troops are necessary for every action - every movement. [Above] A forward O.P. of the reconnaissance unit, served by lIeld telephones. [IBelow] Truciks of a transportation company.

~ -G:



7-24 1./1.

to Orel

Battles North of Karachev, ,July 24 to August 8, 1943

Forced by the breakthrough in Army Group Middle, "GO" is unexpectedly thrown into action in the wooded area northeast of Karachev. The action lasted 14 days.