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The 31. Infanterie-Division was formed in Braunschweig on 1 October 1936. It was mobilized in August 1939 as part of the 1. Welle (wave) and took part in the invasion of Poland.
The division was destroyed east of Minsk in July 1944 during the Soviet summer offensive. The remnants were used to form the 31. Grenadier-Division.

Known war crimes

Oberstleutnant Hartwig Pohlmann noted in his war diary on 3 September 1939 that

the first days of the war have already shown that the troops and that part of the officers inexperienced in war were either not taught at all, or insufficiently trained in peacetime. The instinctive nervousness and insecurity and corresponding inhibited shootings and incendiarism shames the discipline and reputation of the army, needlessly destroys quarters and provisions, and leads to hardships for the populace that doubtless could have been avoided. (2)

 

Commanders

Generalleutnant Herbert Fischer (1 Oct 1936 - 1 Apr 1937)
General der Artillerie Rudolf Kämpfe (1 Apr 1937 - 1 May 1941)
Generalleutnant Kurt Kalmukoff (22 May 1941 - 13 Aug 1941)
Generalleutnant Gerhard Berthold (15 Aug 1941 - 21 Jan 1942)
General der Infanterie Friedrich Hoßbach (21 Jan 1942 - 28 Feb 1942)
Generalleutnant Gerhard Berthold (28 Feb 1942 - 14 Apr 1942)
Generalleutnant Kurt Pflieger (16 Apr 1942 - 1 Apr 1943)
Generalleutnant Hermann Flörke (1 Apr 1943 - 16 May 1943)
General der Infanterie Friedrich Hoßbach (16 May 1943 - 2 Aug 1943)
Generalleutnant Wilhelm Ochsner (2 Aug 1943 - ? June 1944)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Hartwig Pohlmann (1939 - Feb 1940)
Major Fritz Ulrich (Feb 1940 - 14 Mar 1942)
Major Josef Selmayr (14 Mar 1942 - 18 July 1943)
Oberstleutnant Konrad Freiherr von Wangenheim (July 1943 - Mar 1944)
Major Doda Freiherr zu Inn und Knyphausen (Mar 1944 - Aug 1944)
Major Heinz Hoffmann (Aug 1944 - 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
Belgium & France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - June 1944)

Nicknames and Honor titles

Löwen-Division (Lion Division)

Infanterie-Regiment 12 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Halberstadt 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.
Infanterie-Regiment 17 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Braunschweig 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.

III.Btl (Jäger-Btl) of Infanterie-Regiment 17 carried the tradition of Jäger-Btl 10 (hannov.),Goslar and was called "Goslarer Jäger".

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (12)
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (118)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (35)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (25) (23 RK + 2 EL)

Order of battle (1939)

Infanterie-Regiment 12
Infanterie-Regiment 17
Infanterie-Regiment 82
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 31
Artillerie-Regiment 31
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 67
Beobachtungs-Abteilung 31 (1)
Pionier-Bataillon 31
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 31
Nachrichten-Abteilung 31
Feldersatz-Bataillon 31
Versorgungseinheiten 31

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 12
Grenadier-Regiment 17
Grenadier-Regiment 82
Radfahr-Abteilung 31
Artillerie-Regiment 31
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 67
Pionier-Bataillon 31
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 31
Nachrichten-Abteilung 31
Feldersatz-Bataillon 31
Versorgungseinheiten 31

Order of battle (1943-1944)

Grenadier-Regiment 12
Grenadier-Regiment 17
Grenadier-Regiment 82
Füsilier-Bataillon 31
Artillerie-Regiment 31
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 67
Pionier-Bataillon 31
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 31
Nachrichten-Abteilung 31
Feldersatz-Bataillon 31
Versorgungseinheiten 31

Insignia

Originally worn by the Braunschweigisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.92 and the Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regiment Nr.17., the following units were authorized to display the Totenkopf tradition badge (with crossed bones positioned directly below the lower jaw of the skull): Regiments-Stab, I. and II. Abteilungen, and 1., 4., 13. and 14. Kompanien of Infanterie-Regiment 17.

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 175.

Sources used

Brian L. Davis - German Army Uniforms and Insignia, 1933-1945
Alexander B. Rossino - Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Albert Bollmann & Hermann Flörke - Das Infanterieregiment 12: Sein Kriegsschiksal im Verbande der 31.(Löwen-) Division
Dr. Erich Bunke - Osten blieb unser Schicksal 1939-1944
Rolf Hinze - Löwendivision: 31. Infanterie- und Grenadier Division, 31. Volks-Grenadier-Division
Friedrich Hoßbach - Infanterie im Ostfeldzug 1941/42
Lorenz Kördel - Grenadiere/Jäger: Quellen und Darstellungen zu einer Geschichte der Infanterieregiments 17

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