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The 72. Infanterie-Division was formed on 19 September 1939 from Grenz-Division Trier. After breaking out of the Cherkassy pocket in February 1944, it was withdrawn to Poland. It was refitted there in March 1944 as part of the 24. Welle from Schatten-Division Generalgouvernement. Reformed again after suffering heavy losses at the Baronow bridgehead on the Vistula, the division surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945 in the Erzgebirge region of Czechoslovakia.

See also Operations of Encircled Forces: German Experiences in Russia.

Commanders

General der Infanterie Franz Mattenklott (19 Sep 1939 - 25 July 1940)
General der Infanterie Helge Auleb (25 July 1940 - 4 Sep 1940)
General der Infanterie Franz Mattenklott (4 Sep 1940 - 6 Nov 1940)
Generalleutnant Philipp Müller-Gebhard (6 Nov 1940 - 10 July 1942)
Generalmajor Curt Souchay (10 July 1942 - 24 Nov 1942)
Generalleutnant Philipp Müller-Gebhard (24 Nov 1942 - 17 Feb 1943)
Generalleutnant Ralph Graf von d'Oriola (17 Feb 1943 - 3 May 1943)
Generalleutnant Philipp Müller-Gebhard (3 May 1943 - 1 Nov 1943)
Generalleutnant Erwin Menny (1 Nov 1943 - 20 Nov 1943)
Generalleutnant Dr. Hermann Hohn (20 Nov 1943 - 25 Mar 1944)
Generalmajor Karl Arning (10 June 1944 - 19 June 1944)
General der Kavallerie Gustav Harteneck (19 June 1944 - 1 July 1944)
Generalleutnant Dr. Hermann Hohn (1 July 1944 - 20 Apr 1945)
Generalleutnant Hugo Beißwänger (20 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

West wall (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - Apr 1941)
Balkans (Apr 1941 - July 1941)
Eastern front, southern sector (July 1941 - Sep 1942)
Eastern front, central sector (Sep 1942 - Dec 1943)
Eastern front, southern sector (Dec 1943 - Mar 1944)
Poland (June 1944 - Mar 1945)
Czechoslovakia (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Nicknames

Gelb-Kreuz (Yellow Cross)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (9)
- Böckendorf, Peter, 00.00.0000, Unteroffizier, Zugführer i. d. 3./Füs.Btl. 72
- Brück, Heinz, 23.11.1944, Unteroffizier, Gruppenführer im Stab II./Gren.Rgt. 266
- Grimm, Franz, 31.03.1944, Feldwebel d.R., Zugführer im Stab/Div.Füs.Btl. 72
- Haß, Ferdinand, 31.03.1944, Feldwebel, Zugführer i. d. 2./Füs.Btl. 72
- Hofbauer, Franz, 28.06.1944, Feldwebel, Zugführer i. d. 3./Div.Füs.Btl. 72
- Kamischke, Reinhold, 14.10.1944, Feldwebel d.R., Funktruppführer II./Gren.Rgt. 124
- Möller, Emil, 10.12.1943, Hauptmann d.R., Führer II./Gren.Rgt 266
- Rensch, Erwin, 23.03.1945, Obergefreiter, Melder im Stab/Gren.Rgt. 124
- Ruhl, Karl, 14.10.1944, Obergefreiter, 8./Gren.Rgt. 124
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (11)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (1)
- Frey, [first name not listed], 02.11.1941 (19), Unteroffizier, 4./Inf.Rgt. 124
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (144)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (1)
- Czyrnik, Werner, 30.04.1945, Stabsarzt, San.Kp. 172
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (32)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (49)
Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class (Orden “Michael der Tapfere” III. Klasse) (3)
- Mattenklott, Franz, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 2628 / 19.09.1941, Generalleutnant, Kdr. 72. Inf.Div.
- Müller, Friedrich-Wilhelm, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 3034 / 06.10.1942, Oberst, Kdr. Inf.Rgt. 105
- Siedschlag, Günther, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 907 / 31.03.1943, Oberstleutnant, Ia 72. Inf.Div.

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 105
Grenadier-Regiment 124
Grenadier-Regiment 266
Radfahr-Abteilung 172
Artillerie-Regiment 172
Pionier-Bataillon 72
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 72
Nachrichten-Abteilung 72
Feldersatz-Bataillon 172
Versorgungseinheiten 172

Order of battle (1944-1945)

Grenadier-Regiment 105
Grenadier-Regiment 124
Grenadier-Regiment 266
Füsilier-Bataillon 72
Artillerie-Regiment 172
Pionier-Bataillon 72
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 72
Nachrichten-Abteilung 72
Feldersatz-Bataillon 172
Versorgungseinheiten 172

Christmas greetings 1941 from Generalleutnant Franz Mattenklott
infdiv72-christmas

Sources used

Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Franz Pesch, Hans May, Matthias Roth & Jupp Steffen - Die 72. Infanterie Division 1939-1945 in Wort und Bild
Werner Schulze - 72. Infanterie-Division - 342. Infanterie-Division: Dokumentation
Traditionsgemeinschaft der 72. Inf.Div - 72. Infanterie Division

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