The Panzer-Division Hermann Göring was formed May 1943 when Division Hermann Göring was reformed.

If you mean to go for them, Field Marshal [Albert Kesselring], then I'm your man. (1)
Generalmajor Paul Conrath on attacking the Allies in Sicily

It was sent to Sicily to fight the expected Allied landings. Following Operation Husky (the Allied landings on Sicily on 10 July) most of the Italians unit quickly surrendered and the division was one of the few reliable Axis formations that remained. It fought at Gela and Priolo but it was forces back due to the navy naval bombings thus it fought ferociously. It continued fighting a defensive battle while the German forces were evacuated from Sicily (Operation Lehrgang) and was among the last units to leave Sicily.

It was stationed near Naples when the Italian government surrendered to the Allies and it was used to disarm the Italian troops in the Salerno area. The Allies landed at Salerio on 9 September and the division was one of the German units that fought the Allies. It performed a fighting withdrawal from Salerno and later from Naples (1 October) and the Volturno-Termoli Line (16 October). It retreated with the rest of the German troops to the Gustav Line and was removed from the front lines where it was replaced by infantry troops.

Troops from the division, led by Oberstleutnant Julius Schlegel (initially without the knowledge of the commander of the division), moved the treasures of the Monte Cassino Monastery (including paintings (da Vinci, Titian, Raphael etc), the remains of St. Benedict, 70.000 volumes and 1.200 original documents) from the monastery to safety in the Vatican, thus saving them from destruction during the battle of Monte Cassino. Schlegel was to spend seven months in Allied prisons after the war as a suspected looter and war criminal before being freed by Field Marshal Alexander and the testimony of the Monte Cassino munks.

When the Allies landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944 the division was fighting at the Gustav Line but it was one of the units rushed in, with the parts of the division which had remained in Rome was among the first to arrive. It fought ferociously at Cisterna and the Germans managed to fight the Allies to a virtual standstill.

It was redesignated Fallschirm-Panzer-Division Hermann Göring in April 1944.

Known war crimes

This unit was one of those singled out in exhibit UK-66, the British report on "German reprisals for Partisan activities in Italy" at the International Military Tribunal (IMT) war crimes trial at Nuremberg:
Evidence has been found to show that a large number of the atrocities in Italy was committed by the Hermann Goering Parachute Panzer Division. Notable offenders also were 1 Paraschute Division, 16 SS Panzer Grenadier Division and 114 Light Division. (2)

As mentioned above Julius Schlegel was incorrectly accused post-war for looting the Monte Cassino Monastery.

Commanders

Generalmajor Paul Conrath (21 May 1943 - 14 Apr 1944)
Generalmajor Wilhelm Schmalz (16 Apr 1944 - 30 Apr 1944)

Area of operations

Sicily (May 1943 - Aug 1943)
Italy (Aug 1943 - Apr 1944)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the German Cross in Gold (32)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (4) (2 RK + 2 EL)
- Oakleaves
-- Conrath, Paul [276. EL] 22.08.1943 Generalmajor Kdr Pz.Div “HG”
-- Schmalz, Wilhelm 23.12.1943 [358. EL] Oberst Kdr Gren.Brigade z.b.V. der Pz.Div „HG“
- Knight’s Cross
-- Kluge, Waldemar 02.08.1943 Major Kdr I./Pz.Gren.Rgt 2 „HG“
-- Rebholz, Robert 02.08.1943 Hauptmann Führer Pz.Aufkl.Abt „HG“

Order of battle

Stab Panzerdivision HG
- Begleitkompanie (z.b.V.)
- Feldgendarmerietrupp
- Flugbereitschaft
- Kriegsberichtertropp
Panzergrenadierbrigade (z.b.V.) HG
Panzergrenadierregiment 1 HG
Panzergrenadierregiment 2 HG
Feldersatzbataillon 1 HG
Feldersatzbataillon 2 HG
Divisionskampfschule HG (later Sturmkompanie HG)
Panzerregiment HG
Flakregiment HG
Panzerartillerieregiment HG
Panzerpionierbaataillon HG
Panzernachrichtenabteilung HG
Nachschubabteilung HG
Instandsetzungsabteilung HG
Divisionverpflegungsamt HG
Bäckereikompanie HG
Schlächtereikompanie HG
Bekleidungsinstandsetzgungzug
Sanitätsabteilung HG
- 1. Sanitätsbereitschaft
- 2. Sanitätsbereitschaft
- 3. Sanitätsbereitschaft
Feldpostamt HG
Führerflakabteilung HG
Heimatstab Panzerdivision HG
Wachbataillon HG (later Wachregiment HG)
Musikkorps HG
Flakbegleitbatterien HG
Ersatzregiment HG

Notable members

Dr. jur. Heinz Göring (nephew of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring; killed in action 29 July 1944 near Pogorzel, east of Warsaw; posthumously promoted to Hauptmann)

Insignia

The "Hermann Göring" cuff title was used by this unit.

Troops from Panzer-Division Hermann Göring transferring art treasures rescued from the Monte Cassino Monastery to the Vatican
hg-art-monte-cassino1
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Troops from Panzer-Division Hermann Göring transferring art treasures rescued from the Monte Cassino Monastery to the Vatican
hg-art-monte-cassino2
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Troops from Panzer-Division Hermann Göring transferring art treasures rescued from the Monte Cassino Monastery to the Vatican
hg-art-monte-cassino3
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. "Thanks God that's gone to the butcher 2000 quotes from Hitler's 1000-year Reich" by French L. MacLean, page 44.
2. UK-66, the British report on "German reprisals for Partisan activities in Italy" at the International Military Tribunal (IMT).

Sources used

Roger James Bender & George A. Petersen - Hermann Göring: From Regiment to Fallschirmpanzerkorps
William Fowler - The Secret war in Italy: Special forces, partisans and covert operations 1943-45
Franz Kurowski - The history of the Fallschrim Panzerkorps Hermann Göring
French L. MacLean - "Thanks God that's gone to the butcher" 2000 quotes from Hitler's 1000-year Reich
Lynn H. Nicholas - The rape of Europa: The fate of Europe's treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War

Reference material on this unit

Wolfgang Bach - Vom Garigliano zur Weichsel: Meine Zeit als Chef der schweren Kompanie der Fallschirm-Panzer-Aufklärungsabteilung "Hermann Göring" 12.Novmeber 1943- 31.August 1944
Roger James Bender & George A. Petersen - Hermann Göring: From Regiment to Fallschirmpanzerkorps
Claude Gillono - Hermann Göring Panzer Division in Sicily
Franz Kurowski - The history of the Fallschrim Panzerkorps Hermann Göring
Alfred Otte - The HG Panzer Division
Bruce Quarrie - Fallschirmpanzerdivision ‘Hermann Göring’
Gordon Williamson - The ‘Hermann Göring’ Division

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