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The 163. Infanterie-Division was formed in November 1939 and took part in the invasion of Norway and was used in occupation duty until the summer of 1941.
It was transferred through neutral Sweden to Finland and is remembered in Sweden as "Engelbrecht divisionen", the Engelbrecht Division. A lot of heated political discussions preceded the decision to allow the division to pass through Sweden and only due to a lot of pressure from Prime minister Per Albin Hansson was a compromise made possible and it was the only division to be allowed to pass. A total of 14.712 men were transferred on 105 trains through Sweden and in veterans later remarked that they got excellent service along the way but also that the Swedish people in general were negative towards the German regime.

Most of the Jewish soldiers serving in the Finnish forces during the Continuation War served in III/JR 24 (infantry regiment 24) and that unit also built a field synagogue in the Svir sector. The German Infanterie-Regiment 310 was stationed nearby but the Germans had to accept the existence of a synagogue to avoid damaging the relations with the Finnish comrades in arms.

It remained on the northern part of the Eastern Front until late 1944 when it returned to Norway where it remained for a few months before being transferred to Germany. It was destroyed near Stargard in March 1945 and the surviving elements were used as a cadre for the 3. Marine-Infanterie-Division.

Commanders

General der Artillerie Erwin Engelbrecht (25 Oct 1939 - 15 June 1942)
General der Infanterie Anton Dostler (15 June 1942 - 28 Dec 1942)
Generalleutnant Karl Rübel (29 Dec 1942 - 8 Mar 1945)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Hugo Ewringmann (Nov 1939-Jan 1940)
Hauptmann Gerhard Michael (Jan 1940-1940)
Major Fritz Koehler (16 Sep 1940-1 Jul 1943)
Oberstleutnant Paul Übelhack (1 Jul 1943-10 May 1944)
Oberstleutnant Klaus Brockelmann (10 May 1944-1945)

Area of operations

Germany (Oct 1939 - Apr 1940)
Norway (Apr 1940 - June 1941)
Finland & northern Russia (June 1941 - Nov 1944)
Norway (Now 1944 - Feb 1945)
Northern Germany (Feb 1945 - Mar 1945)

Nicknames

Trabender Elch (Trotting Mouse)

Order of battle

Infanterie-Regiment 307
Infanterie-Regiment 310
Infanterie-Regiment 324
Artillerie-Regiment 235
- I. - III. Abteilung
Nachschubtruppen  

Mannerheim visiting the 163. Infanterie-Division on 18 July 1941
inf-div-163-mannherheim-1
(Courtesy of SA-kuva)

Mannerheim visiting the 163. Infanterie-Division on 18 July 1941
inf-div-163-mannherheim-2
(Courtesy of SA-kuva)

Sources used

Maria-Pia Boëthius - Heder och samvete: Sverige och andra världskriget
Horst Boog - Germany and the Second World War: The attack on the Soviet Union
Lars Gyllenhaal - Tyskar och allierade i Sverige
Alf W. Johansson - Per Albin och kriget
Christian Leitz - Nazi Germany and neutral Europe during the second world war
Jan Linder - Andra världskriget och Sverige: Historia och mytbildning
Hannu Reime - Un-Finnish business (Haaretz, 8 October 2010)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Hilmar Potente - Von Potsdam zum Polarkreis und zurück. Der Weg der 163. Infanterie Division (3 vol)

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