37th Division (German Empire)

37th Division (37. Division); from August 2, 1914, 37th Infantry Division (37. Infanterie-Division)
TypeInfantry (in peacetime included cavalry)
SizeApprox. 15,000
Part ofI. Army Corps (VIII. Armeekorps); XX. Army Corps (XX. Armeekorps)
EngagementsWorld War I: Tannenberg, 1st Masurian Lakes, Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive, Spring Offensive, 3rd Aisne, Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Alexander von Kluck, Max von Bahrfeldt

The 37th Division (37. Division) was a unit of the Prussian/German Army.[1] It was formed between March 25 and April 1, 1899, in Allenstein (now Olsztyn, Poland).[2] The division was initially subordinated in peacetime to the I Army Corps (I. Armeekorps).[3] In 1912, it was transferred to the newly formed XX Army Corps (XX. Armeekorps).[4] The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I. It was mainly recruited in the Prussian province of East Prussia.

Pre-World War I organization[]

The organization of the 37th Division in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, was as follows:[5]

Order of battle on mobilization[]

On mobilization in August 1914 at the beginning of World War I, most divisional cavalry, including brigade headquarters, was withdrawn to form cavalry divisions or split up among divisions as reconnaissance units. Divisions received engineer companies and other support units from their higher headquarters. The 37th Division was renamed the 37th Infantry Division. Its initial wartime organization was as follows:[6]

Combat chronicle[]

The 37th Infantry Division began World War I on the Eastern Front. It participated in the battles of Tannenberg and 1st Masurian Lakes. In 1915, it saw action in the Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive. The division was transferred to the Western Front in December 1916. It occupied the trenchlines in 1917, and in 1918 participated in the German Spring Offensive, seeing action in the Third Battle of the Aisne. In the subsequent Allied counteroffensives, the division fought in the Meuse-Argonne. Allied intelligence rated the division a first class shock division.[7][8]

Late World War I organization[]

Divisions underwent many changes during the war, with regiments moving from division to division, and some being destroyed and rebuilt. During the war, most divisions became triangular – one infantry brigade with three infantry regiments rather than two infantry brigades of two regiments (a "square division"). An artillery commander replaced the artillery brigade headquarters, the cavalry was further reduced, the engineer contingent was increased, and a divisional signals command was created. The 37th Infantry Division's order of battle on February 20, 1918, was as follows:[9]



  1. ^ From the late 1800s, the Prussian Army was effectively the German Army, as during the period of German unification (1866–1871) the states of the German Empire entered into conventions with Prussia regarding their armies and only the Bavarian Army remained fully autonomous.
  2. ^ Günter Wegner, Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Heere 1815–1939. (Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, 1993), Bd. 1, p.132; Claus von Bredow, bearb., Historische Rang- und Stammliste des deuschen Heeres (1905), p.234.
  3. ^ Bredow, p. 227.
  4. ^ Wegner, pp.84–85.
  5. ^ Rangliste der Königlich Preußischen Armee (1914), pp. 109–110.
  6. ^ Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935)
  7. ^ 37. Infanterie-Division
  8. ^ Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which Participated in the War (1914–1918), compiled from records of Intelligence section of the General Staff, American Expionary Forces, at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France 1919 (1920), pp. 425–428 (online).
  9. ^ Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle