List of German divisions in World War II

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This article lists divisions of the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) and Waffen-SS active during World War II, including divisions of the Army, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine.

Upgrades and reorganizations are shown only to identify the variant names for what is notionally a single unit; other upgrades and reorganizations are deferred to the individual articles. Due to the scope of this list, pre-war changes are not shown, nor are upgrades from units smaller than a division. Most of these divisions trained in Berlin, which is also where new military technology was kept and tested.

German unit designations[edit]

These designations are normally not translated and used in the German form in the unit name or description.[1]

Bodenständige
A static unit. Normally assigned to units who were deficient in transport and unable to move their own artillery. Many of these were divisions that had been mauled on the Eastern Front and were sent west to serve as coastal defence garrisons until sufficient resources were available to rehabilitate the division.
Festung
A non-standard division used to garrison critical sites. Smaller Festung units may have consisted of only two or three battalions.
Grenadier
A traditional term for heavy infantry. Also a morale-building honorific indicative of reduced strength when used alone.
Jäger
A traditional term for light infantry (Translated "Hunter"). Normally provided with horse- or motor transport with (usually) lighter artillery weapons and usually smaller size when compared to normal infantry divisions. In many cases the Jäger divisions were mountain divisions referred to as Gebirsjäger - see below. This Jäger description did not apply to the light divisions deployed in Africa (5th, 90th, 164th, 999th) nor to the five light mechanised divisions.
Gebirgsjäger
Traditional term for mountain and ski troops.
Lehr
A demonstration/training unit (Translated "Teach").
Nummer
Translates to "Number." A "placeholder" name for a division with staff but with few, if any combat assets. Normally there was no initial type description in the name - this was added when the unit had received its designation of combat assets (i.e. Division Nr. 179 became Panzer Division Nr. 179).
Panzer
Armour (Translated "Armoured").
Sicherungs-Division
A Security Division Designed for mopping-up duties in the rear areas; may consist of two reinforced regiments or of a number of independent battalions.
Sturm
"Storm" or "Assault" (Translated "Storm").
Volks
"of the People" (Translated "People's").
Volksgrenadier
A late-war reorganization with reduced size and increased short-range firepower. Many previously destroyed or badly mauled infantry divisions were reconstituted as Volksgrenadier divisions, and new ones were raised as well. Their fighting worth varied widely depending on unit experience and equipment.
Volkssturm
Translated as "Peoples Militia." A national militia in which units were organised by local Nazi Party leaders and trained by the SS. They were placed under Wehrmacht command in battle.
zbV
Abbreviation for "zur besonderen Verwendung" Meaning "Special Purpose" (Translated "For Special Deployment") divisions created to meet special requirements e.g. Division zbV Afrika.

Army (Heer)[edit]

Panzer divisions[edit]

Numbered panzer divisions[2][edit]

Named panzer divisions[2][edit]

Light mechanised divisions[edit]

The designation "Light" (leichte) had various meanings in the German Army of World War II. There was a series of 5 Light divisions; the first four were pre-war mechanized formations organized for use as mechanized cavalry, and the fifth was an ad hoc collection of mechanized elements rushed to Africa to help the Italians and organized into a division once there. All five were eventually converted to ordinary Panzer divisions.[3]

Various other divisions were dubbed "Light" for other reasons, and are listed among the Infantry Series Divisions.

Infantry series divisions[edit]

Motorized Infantry Division 1941
Motorized Infantry Division 1943

The backbone of the Heer (German Army) was the infantry division. Of the 154 divisions deployed against Soviet Union in 1941, including reserves, there were 100 infantry, 19 panzer, 11 motorised, 9 security, 5 Waffen-SS, 4 "light", 4 mountain, 1 SS police, and 1 cavalry. A typical infantry division in June 1941 had 17,734 men organized into the following sub-units:[4]

  • three infantry regiments with staff and communications units
    • three battalions with:
      • three infantry companies
      • one heavy weapons company
    • one anti-tank company (mot.)
    • one artillery company
    • one reconnaissance unit
  • one tank destroyer battalion with:
    • three companies (each with twelve 3.7 cm guns)
  • one artillery regiment
    • three battalions
      • three batteries
  • one pioneer battalion
  • one communications unit
  • one field replacement battalion
  • Supply, medical, veterinary, mail, and police

Infantry divisions were raised in waves, sets of divisions with a standardized table of organization and equipment. In general the later waves (i.e., the higher-numbered divisions) were of lower quality than the earlier ones.

Numbered divisions[edit]

Divisions are listed by number and reflect their lineage where names or designations were changed over time.[5]

1st to 99th[6][edit]

100th to 199th[7][edit]

201st to 999th[8][edit]

Named divisions[10][edit]

Mountain divisions[11][edit]

Ski division[edit]

Cavalry divisions[edit]

According to Davies, the Cavalry divisions were mounted infantry and the Cossack divisions were "true cavalry", modelled on the Russian cavalry divisions.

Landwehr divisions[edit]

Artillery divisions[edit]

Named fortress divisions[edit]

Named training divisions[edit]

Field replacement divisions[edit]

Navy (Kriegsmarine)[edit]

Marine divisions[edit]

Air Force (Luftwaffe)[edit]

Hermann Göring divisions[edit]

The Hermann Göring formations grew from a single police detachment to an entire armored corps over the course of the war. The later epithet Fallschirm ("parachute") was purely honorific.

Airborne divisions[10][edit]

To keep its existence secret, the first German airborne division was named as if a Flieger ("flier") division in the series of Luftwaffe divisions that controlled air assets rather than ground troops-named 7th Flieger Division (often translated 7th Air Division - which see: 1st Parachute Division (Germany)) The division was later reorganized to start a series of nominally airborne divisions. Though named Fallschirmjäger ("paratrooper") divisions, only some of them participated in airdrops in the early part of the war, and in practice most operated as ordinary infantry throughout their existence. The lower-numbered ones earned and maintained an élite status, but quality generally declined among the higher-numbered divisions.

Field divisions[edit]

Luftwaffe Field Divisions were ordinary infantry divisions organized from Luftwaffe personnel made available after mid-war due to the manpower crunch. They were originally Luftwaffe units but were later handed over to the Army, retaining their numbering but with Luftwaffe attached to distinguish them from similarly numbered divisions already existing in the Heer.[12]

Training divisions[edit]

Anti-Aircraft divisions[edit]

These were headquarters for controlling aggregates of flak ("anti-aircraft artillery") assets rather than ordinary combined arms divisions organized for ground combat.

Waffen-SS (Schutzstaffel)[edit]

All divisions in the Waffen-SS were ordered in a single series up to 38th, regardless of type. Those tagged with nationalities were at least nominally recruited from those nationalities. Many of the higher-numbered units were small battle groups (Kampfgruppen), i.e. divisions in name only.

Also Panzer Division Kempf, a temporary unit of mixed Heer and Waffen-SS components.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 106.
  2. ^ a b Haskew (2011), p. 74.
  3. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 78.
  4. ^ Mueller-Hillebrand B., Das Heer, 1933-1945. vol. II, E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1969, pp. 161-162.
  5. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 113-114.
  6. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 102-103.
  7. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 103-104.
  8. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 104-105.
  9. ^ de:298. Infanterie-Division (Wehrmacht)
  10. ^ a b Haskew (2011), p. 114.
  11. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 119.
  12. ^ Haskew (2011), p. 115.
Footnotes
Bibliography
  • Astel, John; Goodwin, A. E.; Long, Jason, Bengtsson, Sven Ake; & Parmenter, James D. (1998). "Orders of Battle". Data booklet from the Europa game Storm Over Scandinavia. Grinnel, Iowa: Game Research/Design. ISBN 1-86010-091-0.
  • Davies, W.J.K. (1981). German Army Handbook 1939-1945. Second U.S. Edition. New York: Arco Publishing. ISBN 0-668-04291-5.
  • Haskew, Michael E. (2011). World War II Data Book: The Wehrmacht 1935-1945. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-907446-95-5.
  • Parada, George (2004). "Panzer Divisions 1940-1945". Retrieved April 1, 2005.
  • Yeide, Harry;(2004). The Tank Killers, A History of America's World War II Tank Destroyer Force. (pg. 209). Casemate Publishers, Havertown, PA. ISBN 1-932033-26-2.