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The 7. Panzer-Division was formed in October 1939 from 2. Leichte-Division. It fought in Flanders and France, remaining in France until February 1941. It was refitted and sent to the Eastern front where it fought in the central sector until May 1942 when it was sent to France for refitting. It returned to the Eastern front in February 1943, this time to the southern sector. It took part in the fighting at Kursk, Kiev, Zhitomir, Kharkov and later in the long retreat through the Ukraine. It was transferred to the Baltic states in August 1944 and remained there until November 1944. It retreated west fighting the Red Army and surrendered to the British Army at Schwerin in May 1945.

Known war crimes

A soldier of the division was sentenced to 1½ year in prison post-war for shooting a soldier who had been sentenced to two years by a court martial in January 1944. (3)

Commanders

Generalleutnant Georg Stumme (18 Oct 1939 - 14 Feb 1940)
Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel (15 Feb 1940 - 13 Feb 1941)
Generalmajor Hans Freiherr von Funck (14 Feb 1941 - 06 Jun 1941)
Generalleutnant Hans Freiherr von Funck (07 Jun 1941 - 18 Nov 1942)
Oberst Nikolaus von Vormann (19 Nov 1942 - 08 Dec 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Hans Freiherr von Funck (09 Dec 1942 - 16 Aug 1943)
Oberst Wolfgang Gläsemer (17 Aug 1943 - 22 Aug 1943) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Hasso von Manteuffel (23 Aug 1943 - 01 Jan 1944)
Generalmajor Adalbert Schulz (01 Jan 1944 - 28 Jan 1944) (1)
Oberst Wolfgang Gläsemer (28 Jan 1944 - 30 Jan 1944)
Oberst Dr. Karl Mauss (31 Jan 1944 - 31 Mar 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Dr. Karl Mauss (01 Apr 1944 - 2 May 1944)
Oberst Gerhard Schmidhuber (02 May 1944 - ?? Jun 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Dr. Karl Mauss (?? Jun 1944 - 30 Sep 1944)
Oberst Hellmuth Mäder (31 Oct 1944 - 30 Nov 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Dr. Karl Mauss (30 Nov 1944 - 03 Jan 1945)
Oberst Max Lemke (04 Jan 1945 - 23 Jan 1945) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Dr. Karl Mauss (23 Jan 1945 - 25 Mar 1945) (2)
Oberst Hans Christern (25 Mar 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - Feb 1941)
Germany (Feb 1941 - July 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (July 1941 - May 1942)
France (May 1942 - Feb 1943)
Eastern front, southern sector (Feb 1943 - Aug 1944)
Baltic states & East Prussia (Aug 1944 - Jan 1945)
Poland & Germany (Jan 1945 - Aug 1945)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (2)
- Carl, Erich, 08.09.1944, Obergefreiter i. d. 3./Pz.Aufkl.Abt 7
- Heinemann, Andreas, 09.11.1944, Unteroffizier, Gruppenführer i. d. 2./Pz.Aufkl.Abt 7
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (12)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (1)
- Beck, Dr. [first name not listed], 14.08.44 [Date of Action] (550), Oberarzt, San.Kp. 2/58
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (116)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (8)
- Grosser, Herbert, 14.01.1945, Oberstabsarzt, San.Kp. 2/58
- Harbers, Christian, 22.04.1945, Major d.R., Pz.Div.Nachsch.Tr. 58
- Harms, Heinrich, 21.06.1944, Heeres-Hauptwerkmeister, Pz.Jäg.Abt. 42
- Hollmann, Wilhelm, 26.12.1944, Heeres-Hauptwerkmeister (K), I./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 6
- Luft, Friedrich, 21.06.1944, Hauptmann, Stab 7. Pz.Div.
- Müller, Dr. Wilhelm, 12.02.1945, Oberstarzt, Div.Arzt Stab 7. Pz.Div.
- Spier, Dr. Walter, 03.12.1943, Stabsarzt, San.Kp. 1/58
- Tümpling von, Hans, 28.06.1944, Major d.R., Stab 7. Pz.Div.
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (35)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (47, including one unofficial/unconfirmed)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (1)
- 7. Panzer-Division
-- Date/Place of Action: 22.06.1941 bei Olitz
-- Award Date: 03.07.1941 / Vorschlagsbuch (007)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- 2./Panzerjäger-Abteilung 42
-- Date/Place of Downing: 05.03.1943 bei Krassnuj-Jar
-- Award Date: 16.08.1943 (358)
- 5./Panzer-Regiment 25
-- Date/Place of Downing: 01.08.1944 bei Gumbinnen
-- Award Date: 00.00.0000 (578)

Order of battle (April 1940)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 58. Motorcycle Platoon
- 58. Mapping Detachment (mot)
25. Panzer Regiment
- Panzer Signals Platoon
- Light Panzer Staff Platoon
- Regimental Band
- 2 x Battalion
7. Schützen Brigade
- 2 x Regiment
- Motorcycle Battalion
37. Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Armored Car Company
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
78. Artillery Regiment (mot)
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Weather Detachment (mot)
- 2 x Battalion
42. Panzerabwehr Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Panzerabwehr Company (mot)
- Battery (of 57. Flak Battalion)
83. Signals Battalion (mot)
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Panzer Light Signals Supply Column
58. Pioneer Battalion
- Pioneer Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko B (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Supply & Support Units

Order of battle (1943)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 58. Mapping Detachment (mot)
25. Panzer Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Signals Platoon
- Regimental Band
- Battalion
6. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- Battalion (mot)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
7. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
42. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
7. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Platoon
- Armored Car Company
- 2 x Motorcycle Company
- Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
78. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- 2 x Battalion
- Battalion (mot)
- Battalion (self-propelled)
296. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)
- Light Flak Battery (mot)
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
58. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- 2 x Pioneer Company (half-track)
- Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
83. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Supply Column (mot)
58. Feldersatz Battalion
- 4 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Karl Hanke (Gauleiter of Niederschlesien, Reichsführer-SS in 1945, served in the division 1940-1941. He distinguished himself and was on his way to a Knights' Cross but his arrogance towards his commander Erwin Rommel instead lead to him being removed from the division)
Hasso von Manteuffel (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, post-war a member of the Bundestag 1953-1957 for the liberal Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP)
Dr. Karl Mauss (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds)
Hans-Bobo von Rohr (usually credited with 58 destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Erwin Rommel ("The Desert Fox", forced to committ suicide to avoid trial for involvement in the resistance against Hitler, the Bundeswehr barracks Generalfeldmarschall Rommel-Kaserne in Augustdorf was named in his honour 1961 and the Rommel-Kaserne in Dornstadt/Ulm in 1965 as was the Bundesmarine destroyer D187 Rommel)
Adelbert Schulz (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the Bundeswehr barracks Schulz-Lutz-Kaserne in Munster was named in his honour 1977)
Karl Walther (Post-war a general in the Nationale Volksarmee of the German Democratic Republic)
Joachim Ziegler (Served in the division staff, later division-commander in the Waffen-SS)

Propaganda & Culture

Lyrics to the "Das Ostlandlied der Gespenster-Division".


Troops from 7. Panzer-Division in southern France 1942
pzdiv-7-france1942
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Erwin Rommel with his staff in France May/June 1940
pzdiv-7-rommel-staff
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Oberstleutnant Adelbert Schulz wearing SS camo, June 1943
pzdiv-7-schultz-adelbert
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Generalmajor Adalbert Schulz was hit by Soviet mortar fire near Schepetowka 28 January 1944, he died enroute to the field hospital.
2. Generalleutnant Dr. Karl Mauss was badly wounded by artillery fire and evacuated.  
3. "Justiz und NS-Verbrechen" by C.F. Rüter & D.W. de Mildt.

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
François de Lannoy & Josef Charita - Panzertruppen: German armored troops 1935-1945
Klaus Froh & Rüdiger Wenzke - Die Generale und Admirale der NVA: Ein biographisches handbuch
Wolf Keilig - Die Generale des Heeres
Andris Kursietis - Die Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
French Maclean - Quiet Flows the Rhine: German General Officer Casualties in World War II
Kurt Mehner - Die Deutsche Wehrmacht 1939-1945: Führung und Truppe
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
C.F. Rüter & D.W. de Mildt - Justiz und NS-Verbrechen
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

Die 7.Panzerdivision im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Kleine Divisionsgeschichte (Traditionsverband, 2004)
Marco Bretschneider - Geschichte des Pionier-Batallions 1938-1940 und des Panzer-Pionier-Batallions 58 1940-1945 (privately published, Zeithain 2005)
Bruno Friesen - Panzer Gunner: From My Native Canada to the German Osfront and Back. In Action with 25th Panzer Regiment, 7th Panzer Division 1944-45
Huber/von Egloffstein/Hegen - Rothenburg: Details zur Regiments- und Divisionsgeschichte 1944/45 (privately published, München 1994)
Johann Huber - So war es wirklich: Das letzte Kriegsjahr an der Ostfront (privately published, München 1994)
Hasso von Manteuffel - The 7th Panzer Division: An Illustrated History of Rommel's "Ghost Division" 1938-1945
Samuel W. Mitcham - Rommel's Lieutenants: The Men Who Served the Desert Fox, France 1940
Horst Scheibert - Die Gespensterdivision: Eine deutsche Panzerdivision im II. Weltkrieg (Podzun-Pallas-Verlag 1978)
Erich Seidel - Kriegstagebuch über ein ganz gewöhnliches Leben im Panzergrenadierregiment 7 (3 Vol) (Traditionsverband, Bielefeld 1997)
Dr Russel H.S. Stolfi - A bias for action: The German 7th Panzer Division in France & Russia 1940-1941

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