During the winter of 1941/42 the 46. Infanterie-Division held the Kerch peninsula and defended the eastern approaches to the Crimea and when it was attacked by far larger Soviet forces divisial commander Generalleutnant Kurt Himer and the corps commander Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck decided to retreat to better defensive position against orders rather than be destroyed. The retreat saved the division and it was able to halt the Soviet advance until reinforcements arrived but both Himer and Graf von Sponeck was relieved of their commands. Himer was reinstated soon after but Graf von Sponeck was put on trial and given a death sentence, this was commuted to six years in prison but he was shot in prison after the 20 July 1944 attempt on Hitlers life.

It was destroyed in Poland on 23 January 1945.

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

Commanders

General der Pionere Walter Kuntze (15 Feb 1940 - 10 Oct 1941)
Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck (10 Oct 1941 - 31 Dec 1941) (3) (4)
General der Infanterie Franz Mattenklott (1 Jan 1942 - 22 June 1943)
General der Infanterie Anton Dostler (22 June 1943 - 5 Jan 1944)
General der Infanterie Franz Mattenklott (5 Jan 1944 - 14 June 1944) (1)
General der Infanterie Hermann Recknagel (14 June 1944 - 23 Jan 1945) (2)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - Apr 1944)
Poland (Apr 1944 - Jan 1945)

Notable members

Hans Graf von Sponeck (Arrested 1942 for disobeying Hitler's "No retreat" order and executed 23 July 1944 for suspeceted involvement in the resistance against Hitler, the Bundeswehr barracks General-Hans-Graf-Sponeck-Kaserne in Germersheim was named in his honour 1966)

Footnotes

1. Generalleutnant Theobald Lieb was acting commander of the corps while Franz Mattenklott was on detached service in January - February 1944. He was given the nickname "Der Löwe von Tscherkassy" (The Lion of Cherkassy) for his role in leading the corps during the breakout from the Cherkassy Pocket.
2. Hermann Recknagel was killed by partisans 23 Jan 1945 between Petrikau and Tomaszów Mazowiecki in Poland.
3. General der Infanterie Bruno Bieler was acting commander (m.d.F.b.) 29 October 1941 - 1 January 1942.
4. Hans Graf von Sponeck was removed from command due to ordering a retreat against orders.

Sources used

Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr - German order of battle, Vol 1
Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. - The Men of Barbarossa: Commanders of the German Invasion of Russia, 1941
Heather Pringle - Härskarplanen: Himmlers jakt på det ariska ursprunget
Veit Scherzer - Ritterkreuzträger 1939-1945
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Charles Winchester - Hitler's War on Russia

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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