The 17. Infanterie-Division was formed in Nürnberg on 15 October 1935 from the cover name Infanterieführer VII. The infantry regiments were formed from 21. (Bayerisches) Infanterie-Regiment of 7. Division of the Reichwehr. It was one of the units that marched into Austria during the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) on 12 March 1938.
It was mobilized in September 1939 as part of the 1. Welle (wave) and took part in the invasion of Poland.
The division was destroyed in January 1945 on the Vistula.

Reformed in March 1945, it surrendered to the Red Army in Czechoslovakia at the end of the war.

Known war crimes

On 2 September 1939 soldiers from the division looted Jewish businesses and burned the beards of Jews men in Wiersuzów. (3)

On 3-4 September 1939 soldiers from Infanterie-Regiment 95 and Leibstandarte killed close to 200 civilians in Złoczew, the reason for this massacre is not known. It was investigated post-war by both Poland and West German authorities but no clear motive was found. (2)

Commanders

Generalmajor Eugen Ritter von Schobert (15 Oct 1935 - 1 Mar 1936)
Generalleutnant Curt Haase (1 Mar 1936 - 1 Oct 1937)
Generalleutnant Erich Friderici (12 Oct 1937 - 1 Apr 1939)
Generalleutnant Herbert Loch (1 Apr 1939 - 27 Oct 1941)
Generalleutnant Ernst Güntzel (27 Oct 1941 - 25 Dec 1941)
General der Infanterie Gustav-Adolf von Zangen (25 Dec 1941 - 1 Apr 1943)
Generalleutnant Richard Zimmer (1 Apr 1943 - ? Feb 1944)
Generalleutnant Otto-Hermann Brücker (? Feb 1944 - 15 Mar 1944)
Generalmajor Georg Haus (15 Mar 1944 - 16 Apr 1944)
Generalleutnant Otto-Hermann Brücker (16 Apr 1944 - ? May 1944)
Generalleutnant Richard Zimmer (? May 1944 - 28 Sep 1944)
Generalmajor Max Sachsenheimer (28 Sep 1944 - ? Apr 1945)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Siegfried Rasp (1 Nov 1938 - Oct 1939)
Oberstleutnant Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein (Oct 1939 - Feb 1940)
Oberstleutnant Paul Gäthgens (Feb 1940 - June 1940)
Oberstleutnant Bernhard Pezold (June 1940 - Feb 1941)
Major Hans Dieckmann (Feb 1941 - May 1942)
Oberstleutnant Wilhelm Freiherr von Maltzahn (May 1942 - July 1943)
Oberstleutnant Eduard Schwandner (12 July 1943 - 27 Aug 1944)
Oberstleutnant Leo Waldmüller (27 Aug 1943 - 25 Aug 1944)
Major Hermann Kesselheim (25 Aug 1944 - 29 Jan 1945) (MIA)
Major Josef Bailer (29 Jan 1945 - 15 Mar 1945)
Major Christoph Kutscher (15 Mar 1945 - 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - July 1942)
France (July 1942 - Feb 1943)
Eastern front, southern sector (Feb 1943 - Nov 1944)
Poland (Nov 1944 - Mar 1945)
Czechoslovakia (Mar 1945 - Apr 1945)

Nicknames and Honor titles

Infanterie-Regiment 21 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Nürnberg 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (1)
- Fröbel, Karl, 25.03.1945, Feldwebel d.R., Gefechts-Schreiber Stab/Gren.Rgt. 55
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (2)
- Godron, [first name not listed], 05.01.1942 (363), Oberleutnant, Chef 11./Inf.Rgt. 55
- Kohlmann, Fritz, 22.09.1941 (3512), Major, Kdr. II./Inf.Rgt. 55
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (50)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (7)
- Bäumler, Heinz, 15.09.1944, Hauptmann, 6./Art.Rgt. 17
- Binder, Paul, 00.00.1945, Oberleutnant d.R., Pz.Jäg.Abt. 17
- Haus, Georg, 17.09.1943, Oberst, Gren.Rgt. 55
- Jooß, Ludwig, 05.01.1944, Hauptmann, I./Gren.Rgt. 21
- Klopfer, Paul, 17.07.1944, Hauptmann, II./Gren.Rgt. 21
- Kohlhase, Bernhard, 15.09.1944, Hauptmann, II./Gren.Rgt. 55
- Wittmann, Josef, 07.10.1944, Stabswachtmeister, 2./Füs.Btl. 17
Holders of the Knight's Cross (19)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army  (1)
- Infanterie-Regiment 21
- Date/Place of Action: 12.08.1941 bei Rekta
- Award Date: 10.09.1941 / Vorschlagsbuch (290)

Order of battle (1939)

Infanterie-Regiment 21
Infanterie-Regiment 55
Infanterie-Regiment 95
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 17
Artillerie-Regiment 17
Beobachtungs-Abteilung 17 (1)
Pionier-Bataillon 17
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 17
Nachrichten-Abteilung 17
Feldersatz-Bataillon 17
Versorgungseinheiten 17

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 21
Grenadier-Regiment 55
Grenadier-Regiment 95
Radfahr-Bataillon 17
Artillerie-Regiment 17
Pionier-Bataillon 17
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 17
Nachrichten-Abteilung 17
Versorgungseinheiten 17

Order of battle (1944-1945)

Grenadier-Regiment 21
Grenadier-Regiment 55
Grenadier-Regiment 95
Füsilier-Bataillon 17
Artillerie-Regiment 17
Pionier-Bataillon 17
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 17
Nachrichten-Abteilung 17
Feldersatz-Bataillon 17
Versorgungseinheiten 17

Notable members

Otto Riehs (Credited with destroying ten tanks in 12 minutes with his 7,5cm anti-tank gun, post-war supporter of numerous neo-Nazi groups)

Footnotes

1. Released from the division in December 1939 and designated Heerestruppe.
2. "Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity" by Alexander B. Rossino, page 159-161.
3. "Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity" by Alexander B. Rossino, page 174.

Sources used

Alexander B. Rossino - Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity
Georg Tessin - Deutsche Verbände und Truppen 1918-1939

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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