1. Infanterie Division

1st Infantry Division
1. Infanteriedivision
— 1. InfDiv —
XX
1st Infanterie Division Logo (Wehrmacht 1934-1945).svg
Unit insignia
ActiveOctober 1934 – 8 May 1945
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy (Wehrmacht)
TypeInfantry
SizeDivision
EngagementsWorld War II

The 1st Infantry Division, (German: 1. Infanterie-Division) was one of the original infantry divisions of the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht that served throughout World War II.

History[]

Before World War II[]

Originally formed as the beginning of Germany's first wave of rearmament, the division was first given the title of Artillerieführer I and only later called Wehrgauleitung Königsberg. These names were an effort to cover Germany's expansion of infantry divisions from seven to twenty-one. The division's infantry regiments were built up from the 1.(Preussisches) Infanterie-Regiment of the 1.Division of the Reichswehr and originally consisted of recruits from East Prussia.[1][citation needed] The unit's Prussian heritage is represented by the Hohenzollern coat of arms that served as the divisional insignia.

Upon the official revelation of the Wehrmacht in October 1935, the unit received its title of 1.Infanterie-Division. In February 1936, the headquarters of the division was moved from Insterburg to Königsberg.

World War II[]

Invasion of Poland[]

With the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the 1st Infantry Division advanced toward Warsaw as a component of the XXVI Army Corps in von Küchler's 3rd Army. It engaged Polish forces near the heavily defended town of Mława (see Battle of Mława) for several days, then crossed over the Bug and Narew Rivers. It fought again near Węgrów and Garwolin and ended the campaign east of Warsaw.

Battle of France[]

Playing a minor role in the invasion of France, the division returned to East Prussia in the autumn of 1940.

Eastern Front[]

With the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the 1st Infantry Division participated in the Baltic Operation as part of the 18th Army with Army Group North, advancing on Leningrad. It remained and fought in the area of Leningrad and Lake Ladoga through December 1943. (See Siege of Leningrad.) Transferred to the 1st Panzer Army, the division fought at Krivoy Rog and broke out of an encirclement in March 1944.

Defence of East Prussia[]

The 1st Infantry Division returned to its native East Prussia in the summer 1944. Except for participating in the urgent and temporary link-up with the now-isolated Army Group North in Lithuania (Operation Doppelkopf), the unit remained to defend the easternmost German province from the advancing Red Army. Alternating between 3rd Panzer and 4th Armies, the division was trapped in the Königsberg/Samland area after it was cut off from the rest of Germany by end January 1945.

At 0400 hours on 19 February 1945, elements of the 1st Infantry, led by a captured Soviet T-34 tank, spearheaded a westward offensive from Königsberg intended to link with General Hans Gollnick's XXVIII Corps, which held parts of the Samland peninsula, including the vital port of Pillau. Capturing the town of Metgethen, the unit opened the way for the 5th Panzer Division to join with Gollnick's forces near the town of Gross Heydekrug the next day. This action re-opened the land route from Königsberg to Pillau, allowing for the evacuation of civilian refugees via the port and solidifying the German defense of the area until April.

With the capitulation of Königsberg on 9 April 1945, the surviving elements of the division retreated to Pillau where most later surrendered to the Soviets and parts of the division where evacuated by sea and surrendered to the British in Schleswig-Holstein at the end of the war.

Organization[]

The 1st Infantry Division was a "Wave 1" division, meaning it existed prior to the outbreak of the war. It was equipped and organized along standard lines for a German infantry division. Its original form in 1934 consisted of two infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, a pioneer battalion, and a signals unit.

The division invaded Poland with the following units under command:

Commanders[]

The following officers commanded the 1st Infantry Division:

Operational history[]

References[]

Citations[]

  1. ^ Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr, Hitler's Legions, The German Army Order of Battle, World War II Dorset Press, New York, 1985 ISBN 0-8128-2992-1

Bibliography[]