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The 3. Panzer-Division was formed on 15 October 1935 at Wünsdorf. On 20 September 1936 the men from the Ist and IInd Battalions of Panzer Regiment 6 was asked if they wanted to volunteer for a foreign assignment, almost all of them agreed and were transferred to Spain forming the Gruppe Imker of Legion Condor.
It took part in the occupation of the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia in October 1938 and later fought in Poland and in France. It lost several units to the forming 5. Leichte-Division January 1941 and in March received replacement units from other divisions.

It fought on the central sector of the Eastern front before being transferred to the southern sector in March 1942, taking part in the drive into the Caucasus. It later fought at Kharkov, the Dnieper withdrawing through the Ukraine and into Poland before being transferred to Hungary. It fought in Hungary until April 1945 when it was transferred to Austria where it later surrendered to the US Army.

Commanders

Generalleutnant Ernst Feßmann (15 Oct 1935 - 30 Sept 1937)
Generalleutnant Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (12 Oct 1937 - 26 Sep 1939)
Generalmajor Horst Stumpff (27 Sep 1939 - 14 Dec 1939) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (15 Dec 1939 - 14 Feb 1940)
Generalmajor Horst Stumpff (15 Feb 1940 - ?? Sept 1940)
Generalmajor Friedrich Kühn (?? Sept 1940 - 04 Oct 1940) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Horst Stumpff (04 Oct 1940 - 14 Nov 1940)
Generalleutnant Walter Model (15 Nov 1940 - 21 Oct 1941)
General der Panzertruppen Hermann Breith (22 Oct 1941 - 01 Sep 1942)
Oberst Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein (01 Sep 1942 - 24 Oct 1942) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Franz Westhoven (25 Oct 1942 - 20 Oct 1943)
Generalleutnant Fritz Bayerlein (20 Oct 1943 - 04 Jan 1944)
Oberst Rudolf Lang (05 Jan 1944 - 25 May 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Wilhelm Philipps Dipl. Ing. (25 May 1944 - 20 Jan 1945)
Generalmajor Wilhelm Söth (20 Jan 1945 - 19 Apr 1945)
Oberst Volkmar Schöne (19 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1940)
Germany (July 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - Mar 1942)
Eastern front, southern sector (Mar 1942 - July 1944)
Poland (July 1944 - Jan 1945)
Hungary & Austria (Jan 1945 - May 1945)

Nicknames

Berliner Bärendivision (Bear Division from Berlin)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (16)
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (140)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (12)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (35)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (47, including one unofficial/unconfirmed)
Holders of the Knight's Cross to the War Merit Cross with Swords (1)
- Hoelck, Klaus, 21.02.1944, Oberfunkmeister, Werkstatt.Kp./Pz.Rgt. 6

Order of battle (1 August 1939)

3. Schützen Brigade
- Schützen Regiment
- Motorcycle Battalion
3. Panzer Brigade
- 2 x Panzer Regiment
- Reinforced Panzer Lehr Battalion
75. Artillery Regiment
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Weather Detachment (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
3. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Armored Car Platoon
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
39. Panzerabwehr Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 3 x Battery (mot)
- Heavy Machine Gun Company (mot)
39. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Signals Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Panzer Signals Supply Column
39. Pioneer Battalion
- 3 x Pioneer Company
- Brüko K (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Supply & Support Units

Order of battle (Summer 1943)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 83. Mapping Detachment (mot)
6. Panzer Regiment
- 2 x Battalion
3. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (mot)
- Flak Company (self-propelled)
394. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (mot)
- Flak Company (self-propelled)
75. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- 3 x Battalion (mot)
- Observation Battery (mot)
543. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
2. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Company
- 2 x Motorcycle Company
- Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
314. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)
- Light Flak Battery
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
39. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- Pioneer Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
83. Feldersatz Battalion
- 4 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Werner Adam (2nd son of Generaloberst Wilhelm Adam, was KIA on 2 Sep 1939 at Poledno/Poland as a Leutnant in Aufkl.Abt. 3)
Benno von Arent (Architect who held important cultural positions including Reichsbühnenbildner (Reich stage designer) from 1936 and Reichsbeauftragter für die Mode (Reich agent for fashion) from 1939, he designed several awards including the German Order and the Warsaw Shield, he also designed uniforms for the diplomats, served in the division during the invasion of Poland)
Karl Hanke (Gauleiter of Niederschlesien, Reichsführer-SS in 1945, served in the division 1939)
Walter Model (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds)
Nils Rosén (Swedish volunteer who refused to join the Waffen-SS, reached the rank of Oberleutnant and ended the war as a commander of a tank company)
Horst Stechbarth (Generaloberst and Deputy Minister for National Defense and Chief of the Ground Forces (1 Dec 1972-31 Dec 1989) of the German Democratic Republic; served as an Unteroffizier in Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 394 from 1943-1945)
Joachim Ziegler (Served in Panzer-Regiment 6, later division-commander in the Waffen-SS)

Insignia

Schwedter Adler (Dragoon Eagle) – Originally worn by the 1. Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment Nr.2, authorized for use by:
Regiments-Stab, 2. and 4. Schwadronen of Reiter-Regiment 6
Kradschützen-Bataillon 3 (3. Panzer-Division)
All units of 3. Kavallerie-Division
armytradbadges-kr6
Photo © Jacques

SdKfz 247 Ausf B armored car of 3. Panzer-Division
pzdiv-3-sdkfz222
(Courtesy of Ola)

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Roger James Bender - Legion Condor
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
Brian L. Davis - German Army Uniforms and Insignia, 1933-1945
François de Lannoy & Josef Charita - Panzertruppen: German armored troops 1935-1945
Wolf Keilig - Die Generale des Heeres
Andris Kursietis - Die Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb - Tagebuchaufzeichnungen und Lagebeurteilungen aus zwei Weltkriegen
Kurt Mehner - Die Deutsche Wehrmacht 1939-1945: Führung und Truppe
Lars Gyllenhaal & Lennart Westberg - Svenskar i krig 1914-1945
Samuel W. Mitcham Jr - The Panzer Legions: A guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of WWII and Their Commanders
Samuel W. Mitcham - Rommel's Lieutenants: The Men Who Served the Desert Fox, France, 1940
Richard Mundhenk - Schwedter Adler: A German cavalry commemorative (in The Military Advisor, Vol 7 No 2)
Peter Schmitz, Klaus-Jürgen Thies, Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Die deutschen Divisionen 1939-1945 (4 Vol)
Georg Tessin- Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Günther Wegmann - Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht, Teil VIII a: Panzertruppe, Band 1
Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Formationsgeschichte u. Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Streitkräfte, 1815-1990, Teile IV, Abt. 1:  Die Dienststellen, Kommandobehörden u. Truppenteile des Heeres, Oct.35-May.45
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Hans Otto Von Bernuth - Panzerjäger nach vorn: Erlebnisberichte einer Panzerjäger-Abteilung aus dem Feldzug in Frankreich
Bernd Hartmann - Panzers in the Sand
Fritz Lucke - Panzer Wedge: The 3rd Panzer Division's Drive on Moscow, 1941
Veterans of the 3rd Panzer Division - Armored Bears: The German 3rd Panzer Division in World War II

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