logo-div-brandenburg

The Division Brandenburg was formed on 1 April 1943 by renaming of Sonderverband Brandenburg. The structure of this divisional size special formation was overtaken basically and the division was equipped and prepared to serve more and more as a regular reserve in frontline combat and anti-partisan warfare. The visible expression of this change in its tasks was that the division was taken out of the direct subordination to Amt Ausland/Abwehr and put under the command structure of Chef Wehrmachtführungsstab [WFSt] / OKW. Commando style operations of the former years and operations with small and smallest specialist teams were carried out mainly from the Abwehr’s other specialist organisation, the Frontaufklärungstruppe II, the later formed [summer 1943] Lehr-Regiment Kurfürst, which remained under Abwehr command and the upcoming Waffen-SS commando troops under Skorzeny.
The process of becoming an “ordinary” combat formation was officially ended by Verfügung OKW, Nr. 001094/44 g.K.WFSt/Op. from 8 September 1944, when it was ordered the division’s placement at the disposal of GenStdH for re-structuring into a “mot.Jäger-Division ”, movable and capable in mountain warfare. This – at the latest - can be regarded as the end of the pure and origin (divisional size) “Brandenburger”.
OB Südost was ordered to gather the troops in the area BELGRAD. The division was renamed Panzergrenadier-Division Brandenburg on 15 September 1944 already. In fact the rgts. 1, 2 and 4 were engaged in heavy combat around Belgrad actually. This situation of nearly destroyed and very much outnumbered Jäger regiments and non-existing divisional units which had to be newly formed, resulted in a formation process in practice, which took part not before October and November 1944 in Baden near Wien. Regiment 3 Brandenburg which was in separate combat in Italy was released from the division and it was used to build MG-Bataillon Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring there in November 1944.
It was ordered also that those soldiers trained and experienced in so-called “Sonderkampf” [commando style action; but also anti-partisan warfare with “Kampfdolmetscher”] – in a strength of 900 Offz., Uffz, and Mannschaften – should be transferred to the SS-Jagdverbände of the Waffen-SS.

Known war crimes

Fallschirm-Bataillon Jungwirth, a unit formed under II./Kampfgeschwader 200 made up of Ostlegionnaire-Kompanien from the Brandenburg Legionnaire Lehr Bataillon landed in an airfield set up by partisans near Vassieux-en-Vercors in France 21 July 1944 and after heavy fighting with the partisans took control of the airfield. This was followed by a massacre of civilians in Vassieux-en-Vercors that left 72 people dead. (1)

On 12 June 1944 Kampfgruppe Unger (made up of personnell from 9. Panzer-Division), Regiment Brandenburg and Luftwaffe ground troops took part in the shooting of 53 people including 26 civilians in Valréas in France. (2)

Commanders

Generalmajor Alexander von Pfuhlstein (1 Apr 1943 – 10 Apr 1944)
Generalleutnant Friedrich (Fritz) Kühlwein (10 Apr 1944 – 15 Sept 1944)

Area of operations

Germany (Mar 1943 - Dec 1943)
Balkans (Dec 1943 - Sep 1944)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (1)
- Weithoener, Dieter, 07.07.1944 (3554), Oberleutnant, Btl.Fhr. I./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 2 “Brandenburg”
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (1)
- Rauch, Anton, 27.06.1944 [Date of Action] (544), Feldwebel, III./Rgt. 4 Brandenburg
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (9)
- Breitkreiz, Robert, 02.05.1944, Oberjäger, 2./2.Rgt. “Brandenburg”  
- Frey, Ernst-Eberhard, 09.10.1944, Oberleutnant d.R., III./4.Rgt. “Brandenburg”
- Froboese, Gustav, 30.12.1943, Hauptmann, III./1.Rgt. “Brandenburg”
- Hald, Albert, 26.12.1943, Feldwebel, 15./Rgt. 4 "Brandenburg"
- Horsthemke, Erich, 23.09.1944 Oberfeldwebel, 9./1.Rgt. “Brandenburg”
- Kiefer, Karl Ernst, 13.12.1944, Oberleutnant, I./Jg.Rgt. “Brandenburg”
- Kirchner, Wolfram, 08.07.1944, Oberleutnant d.R., Verband Wildschütz/Div. “Brandenburg”
- Leipzig von, Konrad, 20.05.1944, Rittmeister, Küstenjäger-Abt. “Brandenburg”
- Töppner, Heinz-Willi, 15.12.1944, Oberfeldwebel, III./4.Rgt. “Brandenburg”
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (2)
- Leipzig von, Konrad, 17.11.1944, Rittmeister, Küstenjäger-Abt. “Brandenburg”
- Rowohl, Wilhelm, 25.03.1945, Leutnant, Wehrwirtschaftsstab 85 (Verband Wildschütz , cover designation for a Kdo. involved in anti-partisan actions)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (3)
- Koenen von, Friedrich 16.09.1943 Hauptmann Kdr III./Rgt 4 „Brandenburg“
- Steidl, Konrad 26.01.1944 Hauptmann d.R. Führer I./2. Regiment „Brandenburg“
- Wandrey, Max 09.01.1944 Oberleutnant d.R. Chef 11./Jäg.Rgt 1 „Brandenburg“
Holders of the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (1)
- Volkmann, Reinhardt, 12.08.1944, Fahnenjunker-Oberwachtmeister, Div. “Brandenburg”

Order of battle (April 1943)

Stab , Brandenburg a.d. Havel
Regiment 1 Brandenburg , Freiburg/Breisgau
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp , 4. Bttr.
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 7. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 11. Kp
Regiment 2 Brandenburg [2.(Jäger-)Rgt. Brandenburg] , Admont/Steiermark
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp , 4. Bttr.
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 7. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 11. Kp
Regiment 3 Brandenburg , Düren
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp,
-- 4.(Leg.-)Kp [disbanded summer 1943]
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 7. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 11. Kp
- 13.(Leg.-)Kp
Regiment 4 Brandenburg , Langenargen/Bodensee
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 8. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 11. – 14. Kp
- Legionärs-Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp
- 15. leichte Fsch.Kp
- 16. Kp
Panzer-Kompanie
Regiments-Batterie
Lehr-Regiment 5 Brandenburg , Brandenburg a.d. Havel
- Abwehr-Stamm-Abteilung
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- Abwehr-Ergänzungs-Abteilung
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- V-Kompanie [V-Leute, Agenten]
- Legionärs-Ergänzungs-Kp
- Abwehrschule
Küstenjäger-Abteilung Brandenburg
- 1. – 4. Kp
Nachrichten-Abteilung Brandenburg
- 1. – 3. Kp

In summer 1943 Lehr-Rgt. 5 was divided into :
Lehr-Regiment Brandenburg (from Erg.Abt.) / Division Brandenburg
I. , II. Btl.
and (from now on not part of the division)
Lehr-Regiment Kurfürst / Abwehr II
Abwehr-Stamm-Abt and Abwehrschule

In March 1944 Alarm-Regiment Brandenburg was built for the occupation of Hungary (operation „Margarethe“). Two btls. of it were included after that as III. and IV. Btl. of Lehr-Rgt. Brandenburg in July 1944.

Order of battle (Aug 1944)

Stab , Brandenburg a.d. Havel
Regiment 1 Brandenburg , Freiburg/Breisgau
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 8. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 12. Kp
-- 13., 14. Kp
Regiment 2 Brandenburg [2.(Jäger-)Rgt. Brandenburg] , Admont/Steiermark
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 8. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 12. Kp
-- 13., 14. Kp
Regiment 3 Brandenburg , Düren
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 7. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 11. Kp
-- 13.(Leg.-)Kp
Regiment 4 Brandenburg , Langenargen/Bodensee
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 8. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 11. – 14. Kp
- Legionärs-Bataillon
-- 1. – 3. Kp
-- 15. leichte Fsch.Kp
-- 16. Kp
Panzer-Kompanie
Regiments-Batterie
Lehr-Regiment Brandenburg / Division Brandenburg
- I. Bataillon
-- 1. – 4. Kp
- II. Bataillon
-- 5. – 8. Kp
- III. Bataillon
-- 9. – 12. Kp
- IV. Bataillon
-- 13. – 16. Kp
-- 17. Lehr-Kp
-- 18. Kp
-- 1. – 4. Genesenden-Kp
Lehr-Regiment Kurfürst / Abwehr II
Abwehr-Stamm-Abt and Abwehrschule
V-Kompanie
Legionärs-Lehr-Kp
Küstenjäger-Abteilung Brandenburg
- 1. – 4. Kp
Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon Brandenburg , Stendal [* 11 March 1944 from 15.(lei.)Fsch.Kp/Rgt. Brandenburg as nucleus]
Nachrichten-Abteilung Brandenburg
- 1. – 5. Kp

Insignia

The "Brandenburg" cuff title was authorized for this unit from 17 August 1944.

A memorial to the victims of the Vassieux-en-Vercors massacre
memorial-vassieux-en-vercors
(Courtesy of David Monniaux)

Footnotes

1. "Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44" by Peter Lieb.
2. "Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44" by Peter Lieb.

Sources used

Bundesarchiv - "Die Brandenburger" Kommandotruppe und Frontverband
Peter Lieb - Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44
Helmuth Spaeter - Die Brandenburger
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1939-1945
Gordon Williamson - German Army Elite Units, 1939-45
Unit insignia courtesy of Wikimedia

Reference material on this unit

Will Borcher - Division Brandenburg
Franz Kurowski - The Brandenburgers: Global Mission
Eric Lefevre - Brandenburg Division: Commandos of the Reich
Helmuth Spaeter - Die Brandenburger
Helmuth Spaeter - The History of the Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland Vol 1-3

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