Führer-Grenadier Division

Created in April 1943 as the Führer Grenadier Battalion under the command of Oberst Hans-Joachim Kahler when the Führer Begleit Battalion was split into two, its personnel rotated between guard duty at the Wolfsschanze and frontline duty with the Führer Begleit Kampfgruppe. Over time, it reached a strength of seven companies. In June 1944, it was reorganised to become the Führer Grenadier Brigade, with the I and II Battalions being from the original battalion, while the III Battalion was formed at Wandern and the IV Battalion at Rastenburg. A panzer battalion was added, as were additional support units, such as the 17th (Infantry Howitzer), 18th (Flak) and 19th (Panzer Engineer) Companies. Eventually, a V Grenadier Battalion was established. In September 1944, the brigade was again reorganised, this time with the I and V Battalions being transferred to the Führer Begleit Battalion (to help expand it to a regiment) and the brigade was moved to the Fallingsbostel Training Area. It now consisted of three battalions – I (Panzergrenadier), II (Grenadier) and III (Panzer) – as well as signal, infantry gun, flak and panzer engineer companies with tank destroyer and artillery battalions being added at the same time.

In October, the brigade went into action against the Red Army near Gumbinnen, East Prussia, blunting their attacks between 21 and 27 October when it was finally forced to retreat. Quickly back in action on 2 November, it was attached to the 5th Panzer Division and took part in a counterattack that recaptured Goldap, where they discovered that a number of atrocities had been committed against German civilians. At the end of November, the brigade was pulled out of the line and sent west, to take part in Operation Wacht-am-Rhein (better known as the Battle of the Bulge). It was committed to action in the south, to defend against counterattacks by Patton's US 3rd Army. It suffered heavy casualties during intense fighting (especially in trying to retake the village of Dahl) and was eventually withdrawn on 16 January 1945, now under the command of Oberst (later Generalmajor) Hellmuth Mäder.

Along with the Führer Begleit Brigade, the Führer Grenadier brigade was upgraded to divisional status on 26 January 1945, absorbing several Grossdeutschland replacement units near Cottbus. It was far from being at full strength however – at this stage of the war, Germany lacked the manpower to bring even the elite Führer units up to full strength. It consisted of:

101st Panzer Regiment (Staff, I and III Battalions)
99th Panzergrenadier Regiment (three battalions)
911th Army Sturmgeschütz Brigade (three companies)
124th Panzer Artillery Regiment (three battalions)
101st Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion
Divisional support units

Now commanded by Generalmajor Erich von Haβenstein, it too took part in the offensive near Stettin in February 1945 which resulted in the recapture of Lauban. The division was reorganised for the last time at the beginning of April 1945. It consisted of:

2nd Führer Panzer Regiment
3rd Führer Panzergrenadier Regiment
4th Führer Panzergrenadier Regiment
2nd Führer Panzer Artillery Regiment
Führer Panzer Flak Battalion
Divisional support units

The division fought in Pomerania until late March when it was sent to Vienna. It was temporarily cut off on 7 April but quickly broke out and after the city was lost, took part in the retreat through Austria forming the rearguard for Army group South between 1 and 8 May. It surrendered to American forces at Trahwein on 9 May but turned over to the Soviets a few days later. Most of the survivors never returned home.

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How to cite this article: Antill, P (27 September 2019), Führer-Grenadier Division , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_fuhrer_grenadier_division.html

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